Tribute to Marhuma Sakina Ali – Part 2

By: Ather Rizvi

When Mehjabeen asked me to write some reflections about the limited time I had with the company of Marhuma Sakina and her family; a few events rushed into my mind. As I reflect back, I realize that Sakina and her family are a model family for our community. They lead very simple, yet, intricate lives, always ensuring that the boundaries of religion were kept in strict compliance, while enjoying the gifts of this world.

I had the fortunate opportunity years ago to be a MC at EEM’s Annual Prize Day being venued at 9000 Bathurst. It was Mehjabeen, Ayman, Sakina, and Sultana; who were a part of the leading team. A couple of members of the group were sitting and putting packed prizes into garbage bags. I was eating a chocolate bar and needed to discard the wrapper. Instead of walking to a trash bin, I snuck the wrapper into the black garbage bags used to store the prizes. Once they realized what I had done, I remember Sakina starting her speech on ethics, manners, etc. Those 5 minutes became a laughable memory. Sakina just knew when and how to say what, and I hope, I now have learned to use the trash bin 

Another unforgettable moment with Sakina and her family was in Windsor. Sakina’s brother Idris and my brother Meesam became good friends. When Idris moved to Windsor, Meesam had promised him that he would come for a visit. I drove Meesam and his friend the last weekend before Sakina’s family was moving back to Toronto. Spending a weekend in her family’s company, I learned a lot. I also learned that Sakina was not only an outstanding host, but a good cook, and even knew how to make Pakistani dishes.

Many years had passed and I did not meet Sakina. I was told she got married and moved to UK. However, last summer, on the night of 15th Shabaan, it was 3 am, and I pulled up my car close to the ladies side so my mother could come with ease. When I walked towards her, she was standing and talking to two young ladies. Approaching closer, I realized that it was Mehjabeen and Sakina. We had not seen each other for years. When Sakina saw me, she smiled her signature dimple oriented smile. We all stood around for a short while chatting. As all our family members were now ready to leave for home, I extended invitation for everyone to come over to my home one night for dinner so we could catch up on life. Even though it was the last week of Sakina’s stay in Toronto, she said Inshallah. Who knew that that would be God’s decree for us- we would never meet again. Alhamdulillah, her beautiful smile is what stays with me as part of my wonderful memories.

I feel lucky to have been and be surrounded by the energy of Sakina and her family. They are truly humble people and make for amazing and priceless friends. May Allah (swt) forgive all her sins and lift her to the highest of Heavens. Ameen.

“Unfortunate is he who cannot gain a few sincere friends during his life and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then lost them (through his deeds).” Imam Ali (as)

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My Daughter- Marhuma Sakina Ali
By: Kulsoom Abbas

I have adopted Sakina as my daughter. Her presence and existence in my life has always made me look at life positively. She has been around me during my happy times, and not so happy times. When she was getting married and moving to UK, I felt like I was losing another daughter. But I wished her well and gave all the blessings I could possibly give to a daughter who creates rainbows in your life.

I have so many memories of Sakina. When Mehjabeen asked me to write one thing about Sakina that I remember so clearly, I narrowed it down to her smile and her love for fragrance. Sakina always smiled. No matter what happened to her in her life, you would never see anything but a smile gleaming from her beautiful face. She taught me life’s most difficult lesson- to leave problems in the Hands of God, instead of sharing it with the world that will do you no good. She taught me to share happiness and joy with everyone instead.

She was not only beautiful but she smelled gorgeous! When she would be near me, I would say to her that you have a heavenly fragrance that goes with your beauty. During one of her trips to my house, she brought me a perfume crème. It was the same fragrance she always puts on. When I opened the container and smelled the aroma, a big smile came on my face. Sakina, I still have that crème. When I need to feel your presence, I can open it up and take a huge deep breath that brings peace into my body and soul.

I miss you very much and still love you.

Your Kulsoom Aunti.

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By Ayman Karmali

“Interact with the people in such a manner that if you were to die, they would cry over you but while you are amongst them, they are continuously inclined towards you.” Imam Ali (A.S)

Sakina means tranquility and Marhuma Sakina Ali stayed true to her name by bringing joy and laughter into the lives of everyone she knew. Sakina taught me to give without expecting a return, to always strive to be better, and to be strong in all circumstances.

Sakina was a giver.

Once when I was at Sakina’s house, I witnessed a sibling dispute. We were busy talking in the living room when Sakina left to go into the kitchen.
Suddenly, I heard whispers and then the words became audible.

“I‘ll do them,” I could hear insisting.
“No, you did it last time! I’m going to this time,” her sister pleaded.
“Look baji, just give it to me,” came the exasperated reply.
Then her mother walked out of the kitchen muttering to herself in Khachi, “What am I going to do with those two?!”

I stood awkwardly in the hallway, debating what to do. As the voices grew louder, I took a deep breath and stepped into the kitchen, bracing myself for the worst. There they were, standing by the sink full of dirty dishes, tugging the wash cloth from each other’s hands. Safa turned to look at me.
“Baji, you are busy with school and assignments. I’m free-er.” Sakina inched forward and she quickly positioned herself in front of the sink.
Shocked but relieved, I said slowly, “you are fighting over who will do the dishes?!”

We all burst out laughing and that incident makes me smile when I‘ve got a messy kitchen and no energy left to clean it. Through her life Sakina gave up her own comforts to serve others and to bring happiness to others. Whether it was giving up a trip to Ottawa because she had promised to babysit or taking her nephews and niece on the bus to a children’s outing, if it pleased those she loved, she did it. Through this selfless nature she won the hearts of many, young and old.

Sakina was a striver.

When Sakina decided something, she made sure she got it done. There was no convincing her out of it. One year during EEM my friend Mehjabeen and I had the first language class hour free, so it became a Sunday morning tradition to drive to Sakina’s place, which wasn’t very far away. During the week, we all attended different schools and lived in different parts of the city so we looked forward to meeting once a week. Some days we poured over chemistry labs, others days it was hairdos. Sometimes we debated, and others we vented, laughed or cried. Other days we dressed up and took pictures just for ourselves.

On really good days, we pulled out our Calculus books.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” we would protest many times. Having taken the course a year before, Sakina would encouragingly go through the steps with us, showing us a different way to get to the solution.

One specific problem just got to me and I exclaimed, “I’m dropping this subject. Maybe the Sciences are not for me. My teacher told me that not everybody is Math-minded.”

“No!” Sakina announced adamantly. “Don’t let him decide what you can and cannot do. You’ll get it with practice and hard work. See, I did.”
“But you are smart!” I protested!

Sakina did not give up. She spent hours going through problems with us and we learned from a teacher who really cared and wanted to see us succeed and yes, finally, we did pass that Calculus class. Through many of life’s mental, physical or spiritual challenges, it’s easy to blame others, ignore the problem or give up altogether. But through her short life, Sakina struggled, strived and achieved; whether it was in her studies, or with real life situations.

Sakina was strength.

When she announced that she was moving to Windsor I was crushed.
“How? Why? But I just got to know you,” I wailed.
“We’ll still keep in touch,” she promised.
And so we did, we became pen pals.

Although we didn’t see each other frequently, every few months we exchanged letters. Soon I couldn‘t bear it any longer so I convinced my mom and a few friends to drive down to see her.

What a sweet reunion it was! In that short weekend, Sakina must have not slept a wink. She made sure she spent individual time with each of us, until Fajr. In the morning, she rushed around showing us places, making us comfortable, and of course, helping in the kitchen. Sakina has moved many times in her life. Whether she was moving to a different house, neighborhood or city, she took it all in stride and I never once heard her complain.

Many years later, after we were both married and lived in different countries, we sporadically met in Toronto. On one such occasion, she was over at my parent’s house. This time she was helping me move. She helped label the last suitcases. She helped burp my baby as I shoved more diapers into his bag, just in case. She eased my apprehensions and we exchanged hugs one last time. We knew we wouldn’t see each other for a long time. Five years later, I arrived back from Qum to Toronto. After 21 hours of journey, happy to be home, with mom taking care of kids and food, I crashed in my old bedroom. I hit the shower while everyone was sleeping and when I came out, I heard my mom say, “dear come down and see who are here.” With my towel still wrapped around my head, I cautiously walked downstairs. There they were, Mehjabeen and Sakina with humongous smiles on their faces.

“We heard you were back in town so we decided to pop in. Now, we only have a few minutes before we have to be back…” they went on and on but I wasn’t listening. Tears of joy ran down our faces as we embraced, talking all at once, trying to caught up on the years. “May God give everybody as nice friends as mine,” I prayed silently.

This was the way Sakina and I met during the past few years when our paths crossed during our visits to Toronto. Last July, I saw her on a Thursday night, looking as beautiful as ever.

“We should meet,” she said hugging me.
“I’m leaving tomorrow,” I replied apologetically. “When do you leave?”
“Soon.” We left each other in God’s care.
Who knew that meeting would be out last!

Sakina taught me that whatever turns life takes, face it with a smile and strength. Although her leaving this world so soon, so suddenly, seems so unfair, but Allah is Just and His Promises are true. Sakina serves as a lesson for us that this world is temporary, only good deeds will remain with us forever; that life is full of trials and tests, and we may not reach old age, so we’d better thorough them with strength and patience, instead of regrets and pain; that those who persist and are pious will be victorious.

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