Reflections on a Southeast Queens Phenomenal Sister: Aminah Haqq
In The Name of Allah Most Compassionate, Most Giving
"Innaa Iillaahi Wa Innaa Illaihi Raajioon"
"From Allah (swt) do we come and to Him do we return."
I had the honor and privilege to have known Sr. Aminah Amatul Haqq (Audrey Weeks) for over 20 years. She was a mentor to my two daughters and my friend. She and my Beloved Mother were close. They were both born in the same month of April, their birthdays being seven days apart. Aminah often came over to the house and spent time with my Mother before she was sick and after she became ill resulting in the amputation of her foot and leg. They laughed, talked and grew close together in the years my Mother was here with us. I am thankful to Sr. Aminah for bringing smiles to my Mother’s face. My Mother often said “that is a nice and beautiful lady.”
I also appreciated Aminah for being there for my daughters and me when I was a single parent. As a single parent she understood the challenges I had in bringing up two girls. She and her Mother both took the girls out on different excursions. I was thankful to them both for exposing my children to life outside of our immediate community. Truly, she was a good friend to me and my family.
Sr. Aminah was a pillar and a role model for young Muslimahs to aspire and emulate. Her accomplishments were noteworthy. She was tri-lingual in English, Spanish and Arabic. She truly was a student of knowledge of the Islamic faith. We would often engage in dialogue about some of the challenges and struggles that our daughters and others faced being Black African American Muslims. I can attest to her involvement in assisting young Muslim women up and down the East Coast in the realities of being Muslim in America.
On September 27, 2017 we were together at Union Theological Seminary witnessing a presentation by Dr. Suad Abdul Khabeer, Sr. Aminah's oldest daughter. Dr. Abdul Khabeer delivered a presentation on “Muslims #Black Lives Matter & Race In America.” I remember how proud Aminah was to witness the awesome and relevant discussion presented by her daughter, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Purdue University. Sr. Aminah's youngest daughter is Dr. Sharifa Avery, a local physician. I felt proud knowing that I have shared a relationship with this family and had been close in some of the growing up experiences of this up and coming brilliant young scholar and a similarly talented medical practitioner in the health field-- "Sisters" and biological sisters of African descent. I shared with Aminah that before she arrived, Suad had spoken of her and her grandmother (Aminah’s mother) with accolades for their contributions and reinforcement of values in her development into the person (Muslima), professionally and otherwise she is today. Sr. Aminah had been an educator in the New York City Department of Education for decades while raising her children. She retired a little more than five (5) years ago and had since been more active in the North East Muslim Women's Association (NEMWA) she had belonged to for many years.
I can easily reflect on the years we had worked together among several of the co-founders of and in the development of the Muslim Women’s Help Network (MWHN). Years of meetings and activism resulted in the opening of a Women's Shelter located in Jamaica, NY that remains in operation today almost twenty years later through the current efforts of the Islamic Circle of North America's (ICNA) ICNA Relief. The challenges we faced in the late 90’s making that institution a safe haven for Muslim and non- Muslim women regardless of where they came from, who were homeless, helped to spurn the development of what are now twelve (12) such shelters being sponsored by ICNA Relief around the country. This will be a “Saddaqa Jariyah” for Sr. Aminah as long as the local shelter and others exist and the women whose lives were positively impacted and who have flourished after leaving there continue to live.
I remember, like it was yesterday, the two of us riding back together to Queens from Washington, D.C. after attending an ICNA convention. We discussed our daughters. We were laughing, enjoying the scenery, sharing our thoughts and ideas on the Muslim community. We each asked out loud what more we could do to help our community grow.
At the Janazah (funeral) held for Sr. Aminah Amatul Haqq on October 4, 2017 at Masjid Abdul Muhsi Khalifah in Brooklyn, NY there was not even standing room between a full floor and balcony area as many hundreds attended to make the funeral prayer for this admired and beloved Sister. There was a spirit of love, peace and appreciation for the life of this wonderful, giving and caring devoted believer in Al-Islam, accomplished educator, proud Mother, devoted daughter and always there friend and sister of this Southeast Queens community. Sr. Aminah made sure that she spread her joy and gift of being both an activist for just causes and a practical down-to- earth Sister involved in evolving the Islamic Sisterhood wherever she traveled. And, she did travel bringing joy and her spacious smile with greetings of peace wherever her feet touched the ground.
Our immediate du’a (prayer) when a Believer makes his/her journey beyond the life of this world is “May Allah (swt) forgive her sins and grant her Jannah (Paradise).” Amin. (Be it so.)