In Remembrance of Sister Aminah Assilimi


by Jannah

Sr. Aminah Assilmi died today in a sudden car accident. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`un. She was 65 and had been ill a few years ago but had been doing much better recently. She died instantly I read. SubhanAllah, indeed it is true we do not know when or how any of us will be called back Home. I heard the news this evening and my mind immediately flashed back to all my memories of her.

I was a teenager in a MYNA camp when I first heard her speak. She walked up mature and elegant, wearing a long skirt outfit and fully wrapped Hijab. A convert to Islam she always told us funny anecdotes and stories about being Muslim. She would then pause while we laughed and go on to give us the teaching point. When I was in MSA we invited her a few times to the Northeast to speak. Usually the topic was something like ‘Behind the Veil’ or ‘Myths of Women in Islam’. She always spoke well and was very equal to answering any obnoxious questions or debating any ‘feminists’ in the audience who felt they knew better. I never knew her to turn anyone away from speaking to her. She had the same quality of the Prophet (saw) where if she was speaking to you, you felt like you were her most prized best friend in the world. She always took the time out to talk to ‘us girls’ and remembered us whenever we met.

In years since MSA, I would see her less and less often at ISNAs and ICNAs and other events. She had been ill for a long time I believe and I’d seen her in a wheelchair for a number of years. About two years ago I received an email that asked for help for Sister Aminah. She had lost her home and income and needed help. She’d been living on campgrounds because she had nowhere else to go. I remember even posting this to others, and I really thought I had sent her some money to help. But I’ve since checked and in the hurry of everyday life I did not.

This past 4th of July ISNA I met Sister Aminah again and we reminsced a little and she talked about organizing a retreat for Muslim women. I told her a little about our retreat in upstate New York and she gave me her card. I asked if we could take a picture together and she happily smiled and put her arms around me wearing the biggest, pinkest sunhat I’d ever seen.

In the 90s we were a generation that was raised in Islamic camps, conferences and university lecture halls. Our parents were Imam Siraj Wahaj, Sh. Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Jamal Badawi, Abdullah Idris, Ahmad Sakr, Sheema Khan, Haroon Sellars, Saffet Catovic, Abdullah Adhami, Aminah Assilimi… so many well known names that we heard from over and over again. Teaching us, inspiring us, motivating us. Trying so hard to give us an identity. Today, I can’t even remember all the long-forgotten names. But they made us the strong Muslims we are today. In fact, I can’t even imagine where we would be without them.

Yet when their time of need came and comes, we are not there for them. How many people received the email forward asking for help for Sister Aminah and did nothing (myself included). How many people have received the calls for help for Imam Siraj’s cancer treatment and have donated anything to help. We would be lost and astray without them, yet we are not willing to give back.

I’m reminded of another great man who died on the steps of a nursing home; alone and penniless. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, from whom millions of English speaking Muslims have benefited from. Yet he too died alone with no help from the Muslim Community.

I was unable to help Sister Aminah in life, but I am determined to help her in death and also promise to help my ‘other parents’ when they are in need inshaAllah.

May Allah have mercy on sister Aminah, give Shifaa to her son and patience to her family. May Allah reward her for all her Dawah work for the benefit of the Ummah (she was truly a da’iah for Allah) and enter her into Jannah.

Ameen.

Originally published by Jannah.org

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21 Comments

  1. Suhaib Webb says:

    Allah’s mercy be upon her. I remember the first year of my conversion, I heard her amazing story that had a tremendous impact on me. Since the late 90′s, a host of worker like her disappeared: Dawud Zwink, Jeffery Lang, Gary Miller and others? There are reasons for that, their message and dawa was suffocated by certain movements and efforts that caused some to under-appreciate their efforts, question their ijazas and where they studied, ultimately forcing them from the canvas of the community.

    Anyone who was blessed to meet those who came from that generation of converts, was truly impacted by their humility, grace; pleasure with Allah as their lord, Muhammad as their Messenger and Islam as their way of life.

    This month, at least in the States, is dedicated to Women, it is only fitting that she passed during this time, for she was, a great example of an American Muslim woman.

    She will be missed but not forgotten by those who she touched.

    Suhaib

  2. JYB says:

    Inna lilah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon. May Allah make her grave a garden from the gardens of Paradise. Ameen.

  3. Abdullah Hasan says:

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. May Allah grant her Jannat.

  4. fithria says:

    I will certainly remember a bautiful soul and person who said:

    “Without Islam i am nothing, and should Allah Ta’ala turn His Magnifiecient face fro me, i could not survive”

    May you find Allah Ta’ala higher than our assumtion in Rahman and Rahim, sister.

    Allah Humma Anta Salam wa Minka Salam Tabarokta Ya Dal Zalali wal Ikram.
    Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Rojiun.

  5. Yus from the Nati says:

    إنَّا لِلهِ و إنَّا إِليْهِ راجِعونَ.

    I remember her giving her speeches about the different types of rocks from the MYNA camps, and experience Allah’s names and attributes through them! She was definitely an interesting sister (in a good way!).

  6. Saifa says:

    One of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. May Allah grant her highest level of Jannah.

  7. Saifa says:

    One of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. May Allah grant her the highest level of Jannah.

  8. Amatullah says:

    inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.

    SubhanAllah, may Allah forgive her, have mercy on her, and enter her into Firdaws bi ghayri hisaab. May Allah make her among those believers who are relieved by death and make what is ahead of her better than what she left behind. May Allah accept her work, and make her among those who increase in their good deeds because of the beneficial aathar they left upon this earth.

  9. Br. Corey says:

    May Allah make her qabr a garden of Jannah, inshaAllah…

    Whenever I think times are tough, I look to my struggling brothers and sisters and realize my worries are indeed small compared to theirs…May Allah give me taufeeq to help those in need, inshaAllah

  10. Abu Adam says:

    inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon,
    May Allah accept her and give her paradise by his grace.
    Abu Adam, Ibrahim

  11. Laura says:

    She was a great example for all of us; her story really touched my heart. May Allah accept her, forgive her and enter her in His Jannah.

  12. She sounds like a special individual, ma-sha-Allah. May Allah have mercy on her. Thank you Sister Jannah for this view of our Islamic educators as parents and givers who deserve our mercy and assistance in their old age. I am sure many of us have not really thought of the debt we owe them in these concrete terms.

  13. Farooq says:

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. May Allah grant her the highest places in Jannah.

    Read her conversion story here :

    A Girl On A Mission
    http://www.4newmuslims.org/e/women/story2.htm

  14. Amina says:

    May Allah Ta’ala grant her Jannatul Firdaus. She was a great inspiration for me and a lot of other people I know.

  15. UmA says:

    It is unfotunate, as Br Suhaib says, that we dismiss those powerhouse da’ees who didn’t have the ‘ijazahs’ and degrees. May this be a lesson and reminder to us. As for Dawood Zwink, alhamdulillah he is active here in Canada, establishing scout troops in masjids throughout Toronto.

  16. abdifatah says:

    May Allah taa’la enter her into Jennah and guide her family and us. Ameen. I only watched a
    lecture by her couple years back and that was it. But i didn’t forget her name because she had an
    impact on me.

  17. SisAnon says:

    Ameen to all of the duas, inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajioon.

    And jazakillah khayr sis Jannah on touching on the need for the Muslim community to step up when our teachers and motivators towards the deen are in need. Indeed this is something we are lacking and can do much better in, may Allah open our hearts and give us the ability to do so.

  18. Asmaa says:

    May Allah have mercy on her and make her grave a garden of Paradise. Ameen. Indeed, to Allah we belong, and to Him we will return.

  19. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajoon -

    When I was in high school, she came to visit us in Winnipeg, in the bitter days of winter, and with total disregard to her own comfort. I got to spend the night out of the house (the only time my father ever allowed it) in a sleepover with her and a few other girls and I can honestly say that it was one of the most memorable of my life. We grilled her about everything from the best soaps for your skin to how to choose a marriage partner to how to present Islam to our non-Muslim friends to how to leave a lasting contribution for the sake of our Creator – and find contentment in the process.

    Her advice that night has influenced many of my biggest life decisions and I’m so sorry that it’s taken her death for me to reflect and feel the gratitude to Allah and then to her for that. She was real – and such a powerful example for Muslim women. A mother, indeed.

    May Allah SWT have mercy on her soul and grant her a high abode in jannah. Ameen.

    • siddiq says:

      May Allah grant her highest possition in Jannah,
      a very brave and intellegent personality,
      It is very sad, today muslim world have lost a great person.

  20. Fauzhan says:

    Inna Lillahi wa inna illaihi rojiun, the muslim world indeed lost one of the best da’ia ever live. May Allah SWT grant her the highest position in jannatul firdaus..amin ya rabb

    salam from Indonesia

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