Age of Jahiliyah

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

Archive for the day “March 11, 2011”

Core Lessons from My Beloved Rehab

by Zaied Abbassi <> on
Monday, March 7, 2011 at 3:04pm

May the Peace and Blessings of God be Upon You

On Sunday night (March 6th, 2011) I gave a very brief reflection on core
lessons I learned from the life of my beloved wife. I have tried to
transcribe that message as accurately as possibly here for those around the
country, and the world, who would have liked to be there but could not.

In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

I have spoken publicly many times in my life but I have never been as
nervous as I am tonight. I was not sure if I wanted to speak tonight – and
let me explain my nervousness for a moment.

A few months back, Rehab learned of a close friend who had an illness in her
eyes that needed an operation that costs roughly $16,000. The girl’s
father had recently passed, and I believe her brother had also recently
suffered a tragedy – in short the girl had little support.

Rehab decided she wanted to help collect the $16,000 and planned to do a
bake sale after Friday prayers. Most people thought “it’s sweet, but no way
you’ll raise $16,000 from a bake sale. If you’re lucky and people are
generous, you might get to $2,000 – but even that is a stretch”. The bake
sale generated over $20,000 in sales and donations, and Rehab drove the
money to her friend in Baltimore the next morning.

You see there was a strange barakah (blessing) in her deeds near the end of
her life. Things would just work for her. And, as I sat here earlier
listening to Islam (Dr. Islam El-Fayoumi – a local speaker and teacher) give
his talk, I thought “How perfect! This is exactly how Rehab would want this
gathering to be. People coming together to understand the Book of Allah, and
from Islam – whose classes she loved to attend” I figured Allah was
protecting this gathering for Rehab. Islam would go until 8:00 and I
wouldn’t have the chance to ruin it. But, Allah has Willed that I speak and
I hope there is some benefit in it.

In my almost 6 years of life with Rehab, I learned quite a bit. The lessons
cannot be counted. But I wanted to share today two profound lessons, and I
want to explain them by telling you two stories from the last few months of
her life.

First – In October of last year, Rehab and I were driving to Memorial Sloan
(the cancer center where she was treated) for an appointment and Rehab was
talking to me about wanting to give up many of her projects and
responsibilities. For months the news on the cancer was getting
progressively less optimistic – we found more than 20 tumors in her brain,
new tumors in her ribs, etc – and Rehab was thinking she needed to focus on
her health. When we met with her oncologist that day, we received the first
piece of optimistic news for as long as we could remember – the tumors in
her brain had been stabilized (they had stopped growing) by her radiation
treatment, and we had some hope – some more time to wait for a new drug to
become available that could systemically treat her illness. As we walked
towards the elevator after the appointment, I looked at Rehab, and with
tears in her eyes she said “Wallahi [I swear by Allah] life is about ridaa
Allah [seeking the pleasure of God], everything else is just circumstance” I
immediately knew what she meant. She felt guilty that on the car ride over,
her goals had changed. Her goal became trying to get healthy – now there is
absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on her health, mind you – but she was
guilty that her end goal had changed. On the way back to the car she kept
repeating “Life is about ridaa Allah, and everything else is circumstantial”

Second – This past week in the hospital, the Muslim Chaplain at Memorial
Sloan would stop by Rehab’s room several times a day hoping to get in to see
her and praying for her. He would come sobbing, and would bring her gifts to
keep her comfortable even though we knew we were just waiting for her to
pass. He was so emotional, yet if you wanted to stretch it you could say
Rehab and the Imam had spoken for maybe two hours in their entire
lives. Now, as I observed on Rehab’s Facebook page this past week, and
through all the phone calls, emails, and text messages we have received it
became abundantly obvious that Rehab touched people in a unique way, and I
thought the Imam at Memorial Sloan was a perfect example.

A few months back, during one of Rehab’s hospital stays in the summer; the
Imam came into her room and sat with us for roughly an hour. He talked to us
about his strategies for the hospital, challenges he faced, how he handles
working with people of other fatihs etc – a very unusual visit for a
Chaplain to make in the middle of his rounds. It was obvious during the
conversation that the Imam held Rehab in high regard. Wanting to know why
this man was so enamored with my wife while practically ignoring me in the
room, I brought up the question of “why” – why did he feel so strongly about
her. His response was simple…

A month or so before that visit, the Imam was telling Rehab and I about a
program they do every Eid where they buy gifts for all pediatric patients in
the hospital and make a celebration of it. Every year, he explained, they
would fall short in financing and would have to skimp on the gifts and
decorations. Rehab, completely exhausted, with IVs running into every
possible vain looked up at him and promised she would get him the money.
Less than three weeks later, she handed him a check for $1,500. The imam had
a surplus of cash to hold over for next year’s celebration.

So, when I asked him why he was so enamored with my wife his response was
simple “She said she would do something, and she did it. Not many people are
like that” The lesson I pulled from this was – 3amal (action) trumps
everything. When you can combine the intention I mentioned from the first
story with action – Allah will make remarkable things happen.

Believe me; these two lessons were at the core of who Rehab was. If I was to
ask you for anything today, it would be that you take heed of these lessons
and live them out in your life.

Thank you, and if I may I will end with a small prayer for my wife.

Oh Allah, all Thanks and Praise are due to You until you are pleased with us

And all Thanks and Praise are due to you if you become pleased with us

Oh Allah you are the only one to forgive sins and accept repentance –
forgive us our sins and accept our repentance

Oh Allah we ask of you Paradise, and seek refuge in you from Hellfire

Oh Allah forgive Rehab’s sins and accept her repentance

Oh Allah you have tested your slave with a difficult trial, and she was
patient and content through out so accept her as one of the martyrs.

Oh Allah accept her as one of the martyrs

Oh Allah she lived her life only seeking your pleasure so be pleased with

Oh Allah her greatest du3a [prayer] near the end of her life was to be from
among the “sabiqoon” so accept her as one of the sabiqoon.

And we end by saying All Thanks and Praise are due to Allah, the Lord of the

Former MU Student and ABC Reporter Opened Door for Diversity

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 9:17 p.m. CST; updated 7:29 a.m. CST, Wednesday, March 9, 2011
BY Lindsay Roseman

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Joanna Jennings’ name.

COLUMBIA – Rehab El-Buri aspired to become a journalist to demonstrate that a person of any faith could make an impact on the profession.
Friends and family say she did far more than that. She broadened their world.
El-Buri, a radio-television graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, died of cancer Sunday, March 6, 2011. She was 26.
Her success, openness and positive attitude at the Journalism School and at ABC News, where she was an investigative reporter, helped many understand her Islamic faith.
Jennifer Reeves, a faculty mentor and friend at the journalism school, said she admired El-Buri’s strength. She went through the entire broadcast program wearing her hijab, Reeves said.
Whether it was on TV doing live shots, or hanging out in the newsroom, she never downplayed her identity. Reeves said she particularly remembers El-Buri fitting her hands-free cell phone into her hijab.
“She was incredibly brave and so open to people asking her questions about her lifestyle, her religion and her family,” Reeves said. “I think she taught so many people so many things that we would never have the opportunity to learn.”
El-Buri’s family lived in Columbia, and she was a graduate of Rock Bridge High School. She graduated from MU in December 2006 and began working the next summer at ABC News in New York.
She worked as a desk assistant with Bradley Blackburn, now an ABC production assistant at “World News.” Although they worked together for just two years, he remembered her fondly.
“When you’re a desk assistant, you’re just starting in the company, and it can be a very competitive job,” Blackburn said.
“But the thing about Rehab was that she was always a kind person, always willing to share advice and her experiences, and she smiled — which people don’t always do in newsrooms.”
After a short period of time, she began working in the investigative unit with chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross.
“She was wise beyond her years,” Ross said. “She was a quiet yet strong force in our newsroom who took an entry-level job and turned it into a pivotal role. It is tragic she did not live to see the day when, I am sure, she would have been a senior management person at ABC News.”
Ross said that El-Buri played a crucial role in helping to shape ABC’s coverage of the Arab world.
“I relied on her heavily to guide me through some of the thorny issues raised during our coverage of al-Qaeda terrorism-connected stories,” Ross said. “She was no friend of the extremists but fought valiantly to make sure we did not paint the Arab world with too broad a brush.”
In addition to her journalistic success, friends say her open, friendly demeanor helped teach others about the Islamic community.
“I think what she taught me was about a community I would have never ever been able to feel like I was a part of without her openness,” Reeves said. “I’m honored that I can say that she was my friend.”
Asa Eslocker, associate producer in the investigative unit with Brian Ross, also worked closely with El-Buri.
“What she taught me was this incredibly beautiful lesson about the way a devout Muslim lives her life in a stressful, past-faced environment like breaking investigative news,” Eslocker said. “She was an incredibly beautiful and professional and graceful human being I’m going to miss so much.”
Joanna* Jennings, another coworker and friend of El-Buri, said they became close while working together. Jennings called herself a strong member of the Christian faith but added that it did not stand in the way of their friendship.
“We were in two jobs that were very stressful, and it’s difficult,” Jennings said. “We both relied on our faith, and we would share that with one another. It didn’t bring out the differences; it really brought out the similarities.”
El-Buri had a prayer rug in the office, and regardless of what was going on in the background, Jennings said she always made time to pray.
Zaied Abbassi, El-Buri’s husband, posted a Facebook note at 7:04 a.m. Monday with words he shared at her service the previous night.
He recalled his memory of a friend who needed a $16,000 operation. She was unable to come up with the funds on her own, so El-Buri stepped in and planned a bake sale to raise money after Friday prayers.
It raised more than $20,000.
“You see there was a strange barakah (blessing) in her deeds near the end of her life,” Abbassi said. “Things would just work for her.”
Even near the end of her life, she never lost the commitment to her faith and always remained positive.
“I miss her so much, but take comfort in the fact that she left an important and enduring legacy at ABC News,” Ross said. “It will help shape our reporting for millions of Americans who may never have heard of Rehab but will benefit from her time here nevertheless.”

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