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Those who Inspire Us — Even After They're Gone


Rabia Salim

 I am often amazed by the achievements of particular people in my community. As I mourn the tragic and sad demise of my dear friend Nadia Saba Qazi, I am left speechless at the legacy she’s already left. How did she inspire so many people around her to take action, to do better, to aim higher, and to fight stronger? 

I lost my father when he was a young 47 year old man.  At the time, in addition to my disbelief and grief, I experienced hope. I wanted to keep his amazing memory alive. “Sadqa Jariya” is an Islamic concept of paying  your good deeds forward. Therefore, when alive, if you donate to a hospital where people are treated, your good deeds bless you forever. Thus, my late father's advice, strength and guidance to me, his daughter, is a source of blessing towards his soul. Recently, I gave charity in my father's name, Farooq Ahmad Khan, towards the building of a hospital. This is our family’s way to contribute to the ‘Sadqa Jariya’.

When I told my mother of the passing of my great friend Nadia, she advised me to ask for forgiveness, for myself and the deceased, (another way of sending prayers on for the departed soul).  My dear sister in law reminded me to seek blessings from Nadia’s memory, and there are so many ways to do this. Firstly is to remember the good times, and secondly to adopt their good qualities. I posted about her in my online local women's mosque group and they in turn prayed for her soul and were inspired by her incredible characteristics. Other people have commented on what a full life she lived and how she kept strong ties with her friends.  

Good times and pristine qualities aplenty, Nadia’s memory is amazing.  One of the things Ayesha (the creator of Equal Entrance) and I have in common is Nadia’s kind treatment towards us when we were ‘newbies’ in Chicago. I met Nadia when I moved there - newly wed to, and new member of the Chicago mosque. My first memory of her was at an annual gathering. We were at a workshop about good deeds. She smiled, and stated “I promise to smile at others and make them feel at ease and welcomed.”  And everytime I saw her she always had a warm, welcoming air about her. Her intellect was sharp as an arrow. Along with one of the local presidents of the women’s auxiliary organisation of Chicago, people like Nadia unknowingly were role models to me. She was knowledgeable and kind to all, and especially magnanimous towards people of other faiths and backgrounds. This was her natural charm.  Finally, from 2016-17 I worked with her in Masroor Academy. And this is where I witnessed her in a role she was made for—as an educator. She taught my son Sami in year 1.  He’s now in middle school and many years have passed since Nadia taught him, but on hearing of her sad demise he reflected “she was my favourite teacher.”  My son reminds me of Nadia. He saw something in her that was also in him; curiosity and passion.  As colleagues, Nadia and I often talked about career, work life balance, women's rights, and how to support each other.  When we kept in touch after I moved to the UK, my birthplace, we would cheer each other on during life’s achievements.  

Like me, countless people all remark and attest the same about Nadia’s characteristics. I find myself wondering, “How is it that certain people continue to make you better even after they pass away?”  Strangers enquire from your tears why are the departed so loved? And this is the answer:

It is that such beautiful people are so beloved in this world and the next, and their good deeds keep going, never ending. Nadia was such a soul. I’m so glad that I lived in Chicago for 15 years. That experience is forever a part of me.  And Nadia’s, and other departed souls are a part of this life and the next. I pray we can follow in their footsteps.

Read Nadia's obituary here and visit her blog here.

Rabia Salim is a mother of 3 and a Speech Therapist for pediatrics, school and college aged children with a range of special education needs. In her spare time she volunteers, cooks, plays sports travels and reads. She lives with her family in the outskirts of London, England. 

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