The Death of a Star – On the Passing of Aminah Assilmi

The Death of a Star


The evening sky is a little dimmer now that one of its brightest stars has gone.  With a heavy heart and a reminder that sabr (patience) is at the moment of calamity, I mourn passing of Sr. Aminah Assilmi, who left this world in the early hours today, Friday (the best of days) March 5th.  She was as a second mother to me, a mentor, and a dear friend.  I will take the liberty (as I know she won’t mind) to say a few things.  I will not talk about her many achievements or the impact she has had on so many lives, as this would only embarrass her, as she did all that she did for the sake of Allah (God).  Those whose lives she touched know of what I speak, and those who did not have the good fortune to meet and interact with her won’t really get it.

Instead, I ask that you join me in reflecting upon important lessons we have learned from her and by her example.  Unlike random reminiscence, which holds little benefit to anyone, reflecting and acting on lessons learn benefit everyone.  The good that you do, based on what you have learned from Sr. Aminah, benefits her as sadiqa jariya (continuing charity).  And of course, the good you do, benefits you, both in this life and the next.

One.  Commitment. She was completely committed to Islam.  She lived simply and humbly.  She walked the walk and talked the talk.  Whether she was speaking to a national audience, or answering the door at 3 am for an unknown stranger – she lived the values that Islam teaches – kindness, compassion, consideration, honesty, and above all, service to others.  We would all do well to have this same commitment, especially in times of hardship, difficulty and most of all, when we don’t think anyone is around to notice.

Two. Constancy. Her term of service was no flash in the pan, not based on a level of popularity or fame.  From the time she embraced Islam, she was moving forward in her desire to serve and help others.  Although she had been diagnosed with cancer many years ago, was confined to a wheel chair for a few years, and had a serious heart condition most recently, she never stopped working for Islam, or responding to those in need.  Too often we let the smallest upsets in our lives throw us far from the path, and use any excuse to quit or slow down.  We too should be constant in our striving, looking for solutions, not excuses.

Three.  Jihad. Striving in the path of Allah, for Allah, is exactly what Jihad is about, and Sr. Aminah’s life typifies this.  Striving implies overcoming difficulties and challenges.  The more you know ofher life, the more you will know that she has had some amazing challenges – and the only thing more amazing is that she never let any of them deter her.  Whether they were health issues, family struggles, or her lifetime of very limited finances (most of us we term it poverty), she continued to answer the call and put others ahead of herself.  We need to recognize that life is not about achieving ease or avoiding hardship, but rather that we show consistency and commitment when those hardships do arise, in following through with our pledge of Shahada.

Such a combination of these three elements directed toward Allah with sincerity guarantee paradise – and this noor of Iman (light of faith) was seen on her face, and the love in her heart for Allah (God) and His messenger spilled forth when she spoke of them.  Although my heart is heavy, it is only for my own loss, and empathy for her many children (biological and otherwise).  But my heart is glad too, for her hardships of this life are over, and as Allah says, “Verily, the hereafter is better for you than the first life”.  And death is nothing more than a gateway that we shall all pass through.  I look forward to striving my best, and using the example of Sr. Aminah as inspiration, and meeting again in the highest levels ofparadise, Firdous – for only there are things truly real and permanent.

With much love,

Riyad Shamma


Although she was asked to speak around the world, and because she always responded when called, especially for the youth and our MSA’s, she received few honorariums and had very little in the way of wealth (financially speaking).  On behalf of her family, I am requesting donations to help cover the cost ofher funeral and cover some immediate family expenses caused by the accident.  Please use the link below, and you can contact me at any time for a full accounting of all donations.  Donations are fully tax deductable and you will receive a receipt from the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence (IYDE).  Any excess money will be used to start a scholarship endowment fund for youth in need attending programs of the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of which she was a board member.  This will be another sadiqa jariya for her.

I wish to make a donation to cover funeral and family expenses for Sr. Aminah Assilmi.  I understand any donations in excess of that need will go to provide scholarships for youth attending IYDE programs.