Age of Jahiliyah

A blog of wide and varied interest, including Islam, Muslims, Poetry, Art and much more.

Archive for the day “March 10, 2011”

Remembering Rehab al-Buri

A Trailblazing Member of the ABC News Investigative Team Passes Away

March 7, 2011

A former ABC News staffer who helped shape the network’s coverage of the Arab world, Rehab El-Buri, died Sunday at the age of 26. A trusted colleague in the ABC News Investigative Unit and cherished friend, Rehab left her position last year to devote her energies to fighting a courageous battle against cancer.

Photo: rehab 2 

ABC News
Rehab El-Buri was a trailblazing member of the ABC News Investigative Team. She was committed to… Expand
Rehab El-Buri was a trailblazing member of the ABC News Investigative Team. She was committed to reporting on the plight of those who could not speak out on their own. Her work was defined by giving a voice to the voiceless, steadfastly working behind the scenes to tell their stories. Collapse

“Rehab was wise beyond her years and brought important insights to all of ABC News,” said Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent.

“She was a fighter,” recalled Jon Banner, executive producer of ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.

Beginning as a desk assistant and working her way to the Investigative Unit, Rehab was committed to reporting on the plight of those who could not speak out on their own. Her work was defined by giving a voice to the voiceless, steadfastly working behind the scenes to tell their stories.

In 2008, Rehab was instrumental in developing a 20/20 report that investigated how some high-ranking international diplomats in the U.S. would abuse and exploit the domestic workers brought with them from their home countries. The most challenging aspect of this report was finding workers from poor and underprivileged backgrounds who were willing to speak out against their powerful employers.

“Rehab combined a strong drive to uncover the facts with a calm and reassuring presence,” said producer Joseph Rhee. “This proved invaluable in finding a way to crack this difficult story.”

Rehab was able to contact a young Indonesian woman named Siti Aisah who worked for the then-ambassador to the United Nations from Qatar. Rehab gained Aisah’s trust, meeting her on weekends and gaining permission to shoot footage of Aisah on her own with a small video camera. When Aisah finally spoke on-camera to ABC News, she told a powerful and heart-wrenching account of being treated harshly by the extremely wealthy and privileged family of the ambassador.

“I feel like what is that called, less than human. I feel like I’m like a dog or something. I don’t know I feel so small in front of them, almost invisible,” Aisah told ABC News. Rehab’s efforts helped bring this serious international issue to light, and helped lead to strong action against the abuses by the U.S. State Department.

Rehab was determined to become a journalist after her family was interviewed so often as devout Muslims living in Missouri. She decided she wanted to be the one to ask the questions, and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2007 as a radio-television journalism major.

Outside of her career, Rehab was an active community leader who continually put others before herself. Just a few months ago, despite her own illness, she raised over $20,000 through a bake sale for a friend who needed an operation. And when she learned from a chaplain at Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital, where she was treated, that a program for pediatric patients was short on funding, she snapped into action.

“Rehab, completely exhausted, with tubes coming out of her chest and IVs running into every possible vein, looked up at him and promised she would get him the money,” her husband, Zaied Abbassi, said. “Less than three weeks later, she handed him a check for $1500.” The money ensured the program would be funded for not only one year, but two.

“She said she would do something, and she did it,” Abbassi said.

Along with her husband, Rehab was survived by her parents, both of whom were champions of human rights and free speech and fled repressive regimes to raise their family of daughters in the U.S., and her sisters.

She will be forever missed by the ABC News team, whose work was made better because of Rehab’s passion and integrity as a colleague and friend.

“Rehab was a special young woman who not only profoundly influenced our journalism but warmly touched our lives,” said Rhonda Schwartz, chief of investigative projects. “We’ll carry her memory with us.”

On the Passing of Sister Rehab al-Buri

On the Passing of Sister Rehab El Buri

On March 6th 2011 Sister Rehab El Buri died of cancer at the age of 25.  Rehab, an Islamic activist, was loved by all those who knew her and a cause of inspiration for those who didn’t.  We would like to share some of Rehab’s own reflections on her trial taken from her personal blog.  We ask Allah to shower his mercy on Rehab, enter her into the company of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family).  We leave you with Rehab’s words:

I know I ended my last post pretty abruptly. At the time I was writing it, going through the play by play was difficult.

It took me about three days to accept my death. On the first day, as you read, my mind was in chaos. On the second day, I was numb. And on the third day, my husband and mother began talking sense to me, and I finally came to some important realizations:

1. We are all going to die. The people who took the news of my disease calmly and those who panicked- they are going to die one day too. Death is one of the few realities we can be certain of in this life, and yet we somehow slip into thinking that we are exempt.

2. We live this life for the next. I was living my life as a Muslim…praying and fasting, but I had somehow allowed my real goal in life to be swallowed by buying salad plates for my next dinner party, and trying to get free shipping on my next jcrew order, and finding pillows that popped against my cream sofa. In between being a consumer and entertaining myself to death, I let what really matters in my life slip away from me. If I was truly living my life for the Hereafter, I should not be so fearful of the future I had created for myself. The Quran says, “And this life of the world is nothing but a sport and a play; and as for the next abode, that most surely is the life- did they but know!” [29.64]

3. I am in the same boat as everyone else. None of us are given anyguarantees in life. Our health, our wealth, and our families are trusts give to us by Allah- and they are His to take when He, in his infinite wisdom, deems fit. We all claim to believe this, but in practice we often falter. I don’t know why I thought I could push the thought of death out of my mind for at least a good 30 or 40 years. Allah (SWT) could claim any of us at any time. I am in the same boat as everyone else- I have no idea when my time is, but I should try to live everyday as if it is my last.

4. Each day is a gift. Receiving this wake up call is such a blessing in that each day Allah grants me is an opportunity to do some more good and try to make up for some of the mistakes I made in the past. For some reason, the mornings are usually a little rough for me. I think it’s just waking up from my dreams and realizing that I still have to live with this disease. But every morning I try to tell myself, “Alhamdulilah, I feel good today, what good can I do today?”

These realizations, and the support of my mother, husband, his mother, my sisters, his sisters, my father, his father, my friends, and my community have helped me not merely cope with what I’m going through, but actually seek the reward of going through this trial, and try to sincerely accept what Allah wills for me.

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