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Last Post For a While

October 26, 2006

kr’s note: a belated Eid Mubarak to everyone. I hope that everyone’s Ramadan, despite its shortness, was beneficial and served as a much of rejuvenation. I had said in Ramadan that I’d return to update more frequently and also visit xangas regularly. Unfortunately, I have to apologize as there’s been a slight change in plans.

I’m done.

For a while at least. Who knows how long. We’ll see.

As my final post for a while, I was advised by a friend of mine to share the following piece written by Imam Zaid Shakir (may Allah protect him). Please read it, and share the story with as many people as you can. It’s definitely a story that deserves to be told to everyone.

Defender of the Flag: In Memory of Alia Ansari
By Imam Zaid Shakir


This past Tuesday, Muslims celebrated ‘Id al-Fitr, one of Islam’s two
great festivals. For me, it was a beautiful day that began with a truly
warm and vibrant ‘Id gathering at the Zaytuna Institute. God afforded
me a wonderful opportunity to see friends who had been “missing in
action,” to meet enthusiastic new converts to Islam, and to kiss so
many babies I felt like a politician. During that time, I was also able
to break away from the gathering to visit the graves of some
distinguished Muslims buried in a nearby cemetery. Visiting the local
Muslim cemetery on ‘Id day is a practice I have been able to maintain
since my earliest years in Islam. They serve as a solemn reminder that
all of us have an appointment with the Angel of Death.

I was blessed to stay at Zaytuna until the early afternoon when I
departed to attend a meeting at a local school, a reminder that we are
in America and sometimes, despite our best efforts to clear our
schedules on the day of our festivals, the requisites of our everyday
duties intervene. After that meeting, I was able to visit some of the
Muslim families in the area. All of those visits filled my heart with
awe at the simple dignity of ordinary Muslims, many of whom are
struggling valiantly to survive in this sometimes cruel, always
challenging and complicated society.

The last of those visits was to the family of Alia Ansari, the
Afghani-American mother of six who was gunned down in central Fremont
last Thursday as she walked to pick up her children from school. The
Ansari family are everyday people—and, they are proud people. As I
talked with Alia’s husband, brothers, and cousins who were gathered in
the family’s humble apartment, it became clear to me that, most of all,
they were proud to be Ansaris, descendants of the companion of the
Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and the great
Muslim mystical sage, Khawaja Abdullah Ansari. In Afghan society, they
are people who are identified with piety and they endeavor to live up
to that identification, in their various ways.

Alia Ansari migrated from war-torn Afghanistan at the age of 17. When
her father died shortly thereafter, she became a second parent to her
younger siblings. A life of hardship could not suppress her inner
beauty, expressed most readily in an irrepressible smile. Her husband,
Ahmadullah Ansari, an auto mechanic struggling to make ends meet for a
family that includes six young children, five of them girls, spoke
glowingly of Alia’s martyrdom and the place God has reserved for her in
Heaven. Her story impressed on me the truth embodied in the words of a
poet who said, “Be yourself beautiful, and you will find the world full
of beauty.”

Her husband, contrary to the caricature of the vindictive, hateful,
enraged Muslim, mentioned how the family did not wish her martyrdom be
treated as a hate crime, because he did not want her death to be a
source of agitation in the area’s large Muslim community. He also
mentioned that the family would not want the murderer executed, because
that would not bring his wife back. His wife was a martyr, her place in
Paradise secure—for him that was enough.

His gentle voice was most emphatic when he mentioned that he did not
want his wife’s death to be politicized. Rather, he wanted her spirit
of love and reconciliation to prevail after her passing as it had
during her life. He spoke of his desire that her funeral be a solemn
service, where people of all faiths could gather to remind each other
just how important it is to work to remove the pernicious stain of
racial and religious hatred from this society lest it lead to ever
deepening spirals of senseless violence.

As we sat on the floor of their sparsely furnished living room to eat a
meal of traditional Afghan food, our gathering was overseen by four
walls decorated with only an unframed picture of the Ka’aba, and a tapestry with Ayatu Kursi,
the Qur’anic Verse of the Throne (2:255), printed on it. Husband,
brothers, and cousins gathered around to tell me more about just who
Alia Ansari was. They spoke proudly of a deeply religious individual
who embodied the true spirit of the “Ansar,” the Helpers. The original
Ansar were those Muslims in Medina who welcomed into their city and
homes the faithful believers who had migrated from Mecca, fleeing the
persecution of that city’s population. The Qur’an mentions the spirit
the Ansar exhibited in the following terms:

As for those who had previously established homes [in Medina],
having adopted the faith; they show their love and affection to those
who migrated to them [seeking refuge]. You will not find their hearts
harboring any desire for that given to those migrants; rather they give
preference to them over themselves, even though they are themselves
afflicted with grinding poverty.

Alia was indeed a helper. In addition to her tireless and faithful
service to her immediate family, she was constantly helping relatives
and neighbors, many of whom themselves had recently migrated to this
country from their native Afghanistan. Her brother, Humayun, remarked
that she did the work of six people and never complained. A typical day
might find her preparing meals for the family, dropping the children to
school, taking a neighbor shopping, shuttling a newly-arrived relative
to the immigration department, watching a neighbor’s child, nursing a
sick relative, or numerous other tasks demanding the sacrifice of her
time and energy.

Although never formally educated in Islam, she was a deeply devout and
spiritual individual. Her husband noted that she never missed a prayer.
He quietly added that she would stand for voluntary prayer every night
until she wept beseeching God to save her daughters from the ravages of
the lewd, violent, promiscuous youth culture of this country. Her deep
spirituality is illustrated by the following incident. A few days
before her demise, she told her husband that she had seen her deceased
grandfather, an individual well known for his righteousness, in a
dream. The learned sage indicated that the end of her worldly struggles
was near, and a resting place in Paradise would soon be hers.

As a pious Muslim woman, she never left home without her hijab, the
traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women. She was proud of her
hijab. In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, some of
her friends and relatives, afraid of reprisal attacks, took off their
hijabs. Alia encouraged them not to compromise their religion,
especially when they had nothing to do with those crimes. As for
herself, she told them that she would never take off her hijab, even if
someone put a gun to her head demanding that she do so. Alia said that
her hijab was her flag. She could not have known as she began the
fateful walk to her children’s school last Thursday that her path would
cross that of a lone gunman who in a single act of mindless violence
would bring a close to a life of dedication and service. She could not
have known that her grandfather’s words were so close to fulfillment.
She could not have known that she would soon die defending her flag.

the believers are those who have been true to their covenant to God.
Among them are those who have given their lives, others patiently wait
their turn, having never weakened in their resolve. (33:23)

Imam Zaid Shakir
Zaytuna Institute

The author requests that you share this article with non-Muslim friends and neighbors.



From → Uncategorized

  1. but why have u decided not to have a post for such a long time???

  2. aww mannn.  ur posts will be missed 😦    wow, good idea to post the article.  subhanAllah.  may Allah (swt) grant her jannah and forgive her. and may Allah (swt) help us all through our difficult times.  ameen.  “verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” 

  3. A beautiful, yet tragic story

  4. that is a very beautiful story..
    and you’re leaving?.. how sad. i will def. miss reading your posts.. this was an excellent last one.. whenever i re-visit your page in the future this will be a good one to read..

  5. Anonymous permalink

    subhan’Allah…great article…i wont really miss your posts…more the opportunity to leave random comments about how they’re too long…nigger-ul-haq

  6. post-Ramadhan blues?

  7. Aw man…why does everyone feel like they have to be “done” with Xanga all the time??? Does it really take up that much of your time? It shouldn’t, your posts aren’t that long anyway.

  8. Death is another part of life… easy to say cliche, hard to understand in truth.
    May Allah keep her family…

  9. aww i’m sad…this was the only xanga i read regularly =( belated eid mubarak though

  10. subhan’Allah. the patience that her husband and daughters have is untouchable. subhan’Allah.i hope this isn’t some classical attempt to be featured .. haha jkdon’t leave kr156.

  11. Eid Mubarak! May Allah guide you & bless you with peace, mercy, sabr, and forgiveness. Ameen!

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