Aminah Assilmi, a national Muslim woman leader passed away

Category: Americas, Featured, Life & Society Topics: Aminah Bint Wahb, Children, Family Views: 27063

Aminah Assilmi was a renowned female scholar of Islam she traveled around the United States to give lectures, her personal story has admired hundreds of individuals, she was also President of International Union of Muslim Women, the organization that has many achievements under its belt.

"I am very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive." Aminah Assilmi

It all started with a computer glitch.

She was a Southern Baptist girl, a radical feminist, and a broadcast journalist. She was a girl with an unusual caliber, who excelled in school, received scholarships, ran her own business, and were competing with professionals and getting awards - all these while she was going to college. Then one day a computer error happened that made her take up a mission as a devout Christian. Eventually, however, it resulted into something opposite and changed her life completely around. 

Aminah Assilmi was instrumental in the 
U.S. Postal Service's 2001 issuing of the 
"Eid" stamp

It was 1975 when for the first time computer was used to pre-register for a class in her college. She was working on her degree on Recreation. She pre-registered for a class and then went to Oklahoma City to take care of a business. Her return was delayed and she came back to college two weeks into the class. Making up the missed work was no problem for her, but she was surprised to find that the computer mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, a class where students would be required to perform in front of others. She was a very reticent girl and she was horrified to think about performing in front of others. She could not drop the class for it was too late 

Failing the class was also not a choice, for she was receiving a scholarship that was paying for her tuition and receiving an 'F' would have jeopardized it. 

Advised by her husband, she went to her teacher to work out some other alternative to performing, such as preparing costumes, etc. Assured by the teacher that he would try to help her, she went to the next class and was shocked by what she saw. The class was full of Arabs and "camel jockeys". That was enough for her. She came back home and decided not to go back to the class anymore. It was not possible for her to be in the middle of Arabs. "There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens!"

Her husband was calm as usual. He pointed out to her that God has a reason for everything and that she should think about more before quitting. Besides, there was the scholarship that was paying her tuition. She went behind locked doors for 2 days to think about. When she came out, she decided to continue the class. She felt that God gave her a task to convert the Arabs into Christianity. 

Thus she found herself with a mission to accomplish. Throughout the class, she would be discussing Christianity with her Arab classmates. "I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts." They still did not convert, and so she decided to do something else: "I decided to read their own book to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false Prophet". 

At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur'an and another book on Islam. With these two books she started on her research, which she was to continue for the next one and half years. She read the Qur'an fully and another fifteen books on Islam. Then she came back to the Qur'an and re-read it. During her research, she started taking notes that she found objectionable and which she would be able to use to prove that Islam was a false religion. 

Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within which did not escape the attention of her husband. "I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant." She stopped drinking and eating pork. Her husband suspected her of having an affair with another man, for "it was only for a man that a woman changes". Ultimately, she was asked to leave, and she soon found herself living in a separate apartment 

"When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam." 

Throughout these times, she continued studying Islam and although she was changing subtly from within, she remained a devout Christian. Then one day, there was a knock on her door. It was a man in traditional Muslim robe, who appeared to her as a "man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head". His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik and he was accompanied by three other men in similar dress. She was very offended by Muslim men coming to her in nightgowns and pajamas. She was further shocked when Abdul-Aziz told her that he understood that she waited to be a Muslim. She replied that she was a Christian and she did not have any plan to become a Muslim. However, she had some questions to ask if they had the time.

At her invitation, they came inside. She now brought up the questions and objections that she noted down while she was researching. "I will never forget his name", she said of Abdul-Aziz who proved to be a very patient and soft-mannered person. "He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid." Abdul-Aziz listened to every question and objection and explained it within the proper context. "He explained that Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open - petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. Then he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding." 

It would not be long before she would externally submit to what she had already been submitting to internally during the last one and half years. Later in that same day, this Southern Baptist girl would declare in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions: "I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger." It was May 21, 1977.

Conversion to Islam, or to any other religion for that matter, is not always a simple thing to do. Except for a few fortunate ones, a new Muslim usually face consequences. The convert may face isolation from family and friends, if not pressure to go back to the family faith. Sometimes, a convert may even face sever economic hardship, as in the case of those who are asked to leave the house because of converting to Islam. Some converts are fortunate to continue to be well respected by family and friends, but most of them face minor to severe hardship especially during the first few years after the conversion.

But the difficulty that Aminah Assilimi had to go through and the sacrifice that she had to make for the sake of her conviction and faith is almost unheard of. There are few who could rely so much on Allah as she did, standing firm and meeting the challenges, making sacrifices, and yet maintaining a positive posture and influencing people around with the beauty of what she found and believed in. 

She lost most of her friends, for she was "no fun anymore". Her mother did not accept her becoming a Muslim and hoped that it was a temporary zeal and that she would soon grow out of it. Her "mental health expert" sister thought that she lost her mind. She attempted to put her in a mental health institution. 

Her father was a calm and wise man. People would come to him for advice and he could comfort anyone in distress. But when he heard that his daughter became a Muslim, he loaded his double-barrel shotgun and started on his way to kill her. "It is better that she be dead rather than suffering in the deepest of Hell", he said. 

She was now without friends and without family. 

She soon started wearing hijab. The day she put it on, she was denied her job. She was now without family, friends, and job. But her greatest sacrifice was yet to come. 

She and her husband both loved each other very much. But while she was studying Islam, her husband misunderstood her for her apparent changes. She became quieter and stopped going to the bar. Her changes were visible to him and he suspected her of having affair with another man, for whom she must have been changing. She could not explain to him what was happening. "There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know." Eventually he asked her to leave and she started living separately. 

After she openly accepted Islam, it went worse. A divorce was now inevitable. This was a time when Islam was little known, much less understood for what it is. She had two little children whom she loved dearly and whose custody should have rightfully be given to her. But in a grave violation of justice, she was denied their custody just because she became a Muslim. Before giving the formal verdict, the judge offered her a harsh choice: either renounce Islam and get custody of the children, or keep Islam and leave the children. She was given 20 minutes to make a decision. 

She loved her children very dearly. It is perhaps the worst nightmare that a mother can have: asked to willfully leave her child - not for one day, month, or year, but forever. On the other hand, how could she keep the Truth away from her children and live as a hypocrite? "It was the most painful 20 minutes in my life", she said in an interview. Those of us who are mothers and fathers, especially of young children, little imagination is needed to feel the pain and torment that she must have passed every second in those 20 minutes. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors, she could never bear another child because of certain complications. "I prayed like I had never done before ... I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied Him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah." 

She decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children - one little boy and one little girl - were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband. 

For a mother, is there a sacrifice greater than this - a sacrifice that is done for no material reason but only for faith and conviction? 

"I left the court knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing" . She found comfort in the following verse of the Qur'an: 

There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Quran 2: 255) 

Perhaps the air of Colorado was too thin for justice. Or perhaps there was a plan in Allah's greater scheme of affairs. Aminah Assilimi later fought back and took her case to the media. Although she did not get custody of her children again, a change was made in the Colorado law that one cannot be denied child custody on the basis of his or her religion. 

Indeed Allah's love and mercy engulfed her so much that, as if, she has been granted the touchstone of Islam. Wherever she goes, people are touched by her beautiful words and Islamic manners and become Muslim. 

By accepting Islam, she became a changed person, and a much better person. So much so that her family, relatives, and people around her started appreciating her mannerism and the faith that brought about such changes in her. Despite her family's initial reaction, she remained in touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility, just as the Qur'an enjoins the Muslims to do. She would send cards to her parents on different occasions, but she would always write down a verse from the Qur'an or the Hadith without mentioning the source of such beautiful words of wisdom. It was not long before she started making a positive influence among her family members. 

The first to become Muslim was her grand mother. She was over 100 years old. Soon after accepting Islam, she died. "The day she pronounced Shahada, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her "book" was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such a joy!" 

Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her after she became Muslim. Thus he brought alive the story of Umar ibn Khattab. Umar was a companion of the Prophet who persecuted the early Muslims before he converted to Islam. When he heard one day that his sister became a Muslim, he went out with an open sword to kill her. But upon hearing some of the verses from the Qur'an that his sister was reciting, he recognized the truth and went straight to the Prophet and accepted Islam. 

Two years after she (Assilmi) accepted Islam, her mother called and said that she appreciated her faith and hoped that she would keep it. Couple of years later, she called again and asked her about what one would need to do to become a Muslim. Assilmi replied that one had to believe that there is only One God and Muhammad was his Messenger. "Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?", she asked again. She replied that if that is what she believed, then she was already a Muslim! At this, her mother said, "Well ... OK. But let's not tell your father just yet". 

She was not aware that her husband (Assilmi's step father) had the same conversation with her a few weeks earlier. Thus the two lived together as Muslims for years in secret without knowing that the other was also a Muslim. Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as well. She must have realized that becoming Muslim is indeed the most healthy and sound thing to do. 

Her son, upon becoming adult, accepted Islam. When he turned 21, he called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim. 

Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. He said that he had been watching her for sixteen years and wanted his daughter to have the same religion that she had. He came to her and apologized for what he had done. He was a very nice gentlemen and Assilimi had forgiven him long ago. 

Perhaps the greatest reward for her was yet to come. Assilmi later married another person, and despite the doctors' verdict that she could never conceive another child, Allah blessed her with a beautiful boy. If Allah (swt) makes a gift to someone, who can prevent Him? It was truly a wonderful blessing from Allah (swt), and so she named him "Barakah"

The sacrifice that Assilmi made for the sake of Allah (swt) was tremendous. And so Allah (swt) turned in mercy to her and rewarded her with enormous blessings. Her family discarded her after she accepted Islam, and now by Allah's mercy, most of them are Muslim. She lost her friends because of Islam, and now she is being loved by so many. "Friends who loved came out of nowhere", she said. Allah's blessings came upon her so much that wherever she goes people are touched by the beauty of Islam and accept the Truth. Both Muslims and non-Muslims now come to her for advice and counseling.

She lost her job because of wearing hijab, and now she is the President of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures nationwide and is on high demand. It was her organization that successfully lobbied for the "Eid Stamp" and had it approved by the United States Postal Service, but it took many years of work. 

She had tremendous trust on Allah's love and mercy and she never looses faith on Him. She was once diagnosed with cancer some years ago. Doctors said that it was in an advanced stage and that she would live for another year. But her faith in Allah (swt) remained strong. "We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings." As a brilliant example of how much one can love Allah, she mentions about a friend of her named Kareem Al-Misawi who died of cancer when he was in his 20's: 

"Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and was radiating with Allah's love. He said: "Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book." His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah's love and mercy." 

Despite health issues, Sister Aminah maintained a rigorous schedule of speaking engagements around the nation and the world. Her current project included a Center for Muslim Women's Studies that would serve as a resource center for new Muslims and as a summer camp for Muslim children.

Aminah Assilmi, a national Muslim community activist, scholar,  author, and advocate for women's rights who died at March 5th, 2010 in a car accident outside of Newport, Tenn. She was returning with her son from a speaking engagement in New York. Her son, who was injured in the accident, was taken to a hospital in Knoxville.  She was 65.

She is survived by her daughter Amber, and sons, Whitney and Mohammad, as well as by several grandchildren.

  Category: Americas, Featured, Life & Society
  Topics: Aminah Bint Wahb, Children, Family
Views: 27063

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Older Comments:
Inalilahi wa inna ilahi rajiun may almighty Allah grant her janat firdaus

I was deeply touched by her story. But,at the same time happy she died a muslim. May Allah grant us His Mercy to die as Muslims, too, aamin. May Allah grant her soul aljannah firdaus.

Inna Lillahi wa ina Lillahi rajiun, may Allah grant her fridouse al jannah, Amin.

Pray Allah reward her abundantly for her sacrifice and contribution to the propagation of the deen. May He give her beloved ones the fortitude to bear the loss.

May Allah accept all her numerous sacrifices and grant her paradise.

I am inspired by the strenght of her characters: patience,perseverance,humility and reliance on God. May God accept her into His mercy.

Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Illaihi Ragioon, May Allah (SWA) rest her soul in peace, give her Magfirah and give patience to her grieved family. Ameen. It is a great loss to sisters all over. She was an inspiration to all of us especially to newly revert to Islam.
One cannot imagine the struggles and suffering she has gone through in retaining her Muslim Faith. Just imagine giving up the custody of her two young children as a mother, separating from her husband, being cut off from parents or losing her job. How much hurt she must have been but she had full faith in Allah (SWA) and His Deen. Her patience, dedication and hard work for the sake of Allah (SWA) and the religion of Islam worked like a Miracle for her, all her close family members one by one came to accept Islam . Alhomoudulliah.
I remember in late 90's how hard she worked for getting the EID MUBARAK stamp recognized, printed and circulated by United Postal Services, it was a big achievement for Muslims also her sincere dedication to help present Islam and Muslim causes in this country.
There is a lesson to be learnt for all us, believing in Allah, sincerely implementing and practicing the Deen Of Islam in our daily lives will change our destination in positive way. Insha Allah.
Once again May Allah (SWA) give her Jannah. Ameen.

Innalillahi wainailaihi rojiun. She is a real muslimah. May Allah SWT reward her in spreading Syariah Islam. Now, is anyone else eager to follow her step of Daawah.

I did hear sister amina speak in person; she was very calm and at times quite funny. where I did not agree with her was her very strong stance on polygamy. It is a shame on the whole community that this sister ended her days living in camp sites. This is so deplorable and shameful. big lavish masjids being constantly built and yet this woman was homeless. Unbelievable!!!!!

Masha Allah She lived beautiful examplary life full of devoution and commitment towards Deen. All the comments posted in her favour were evidence of her commitment justifying what She did during her short life.So this life is only an illusion therefore we better prepare and do good deeds before Malakul Maut visits us as he visited our sister Aminah. May Allah shower his choicest blessing on this woman amen.We should be ready to mount the horse of Shukr at the time of Niimah,and mount of Ikhlas at the time of doing good deeds and mount of Sabr at the time of trial and mount of istigfar and taubah at the time of commiting sins.We should live in this world like travellers who are travelling or strangers who do not know anyone in town and be prepared to meet our Creator at any time and die as Muslims wherever we may be.

We have lost yet another great Scholar......inna
lillahi wainna ilaihi raajiuun...Alfateha...

May Allah's mercy be showered upon her

this extraordinary example have to take as a reminder for those who searching a right Muslim example to follow

May Allah (SWT) forgive Sister Aminah and grant her Jannatul Ferdous. How beautiful her life was in this world ... I am really sadden that she left us ... may Allah (SWT) reward her 'with things that we never saw, with things that we never heard of and with things that we can not imagine' Ameen

surat al rahman allah said hel jasaa al ehsan ela el ehsan

Inaalilaah wa inaa ilayhi raaji uun. We all belong to Allah and we shall return to him.
May Allah grant sister Aminah Janatul Firdowsa, she was a martyr who died doing Da'awah. Her life was full of light and blessing. All I can say is: ''Yaa ayatuhal nafsul mutma ina irji'ii ilaa rabike raadiyatan mar'diyah''

Wa salaamu aleykum.

ina lillahi wa ina illaihi rajioon

I was astounded by this story. She was such an inspiration. She lived a remarkable life. How come we hear of such wonderful muslims only when they die? May Allah (swt) grant her janatul firdous..ameen

Innaa Lilaahi wa innaa ilayhi rajeun
It's so ironic that just last week I was speaking to my brother about her, since I heard doctor give her one year to live because of cancer. And today when I heard the news tears start coming out my eyes. May Allah grant janatul firdaus. Ameen

Alhamdu Lilllahi dozens of comments all in favour of this our late sister which followed my initial comment hoping that Allah showers His Blessings and reward her with the best for her sacrifice. We hope this will be a means of guidance for the entire men and women in United States and all those who sincerely need hidayah all over the Globe as She was a symbol of real sacrifice for the freedom of humanity for the legacy which she left.May Allah Bless Her with His Blessing Amen.It is really a good sign for all thse positive commments seen as we are all witnesses of Allah on the surface of the Earth hoping that Allah with His Mercy would reward her with the best reward.Inna Lillahi Wa Inna ilaihi Rajiun.

May Allah make her grave a garden of paradise

Inna Lilla7i wa Inna Ilaihe Rajiun May allah make her grave spacious ameen

Inna Lillahe wa Inna Ilaihe Rajeun. May grant her jannah. I met her while she was giving lecture in the campus of University of North Texas. I also watched her vidio giving lecture on Islam, and the women in Islam. she have very strong faith, knowledge and strong conviction on Islam. Her lecture was so clear and convinced, and there was no place of confusion. I pray to Allah Subhana Taala to grant her Jannatul Ferdouse, and keep her children and relatives comfort, ameen.

I am so sad for this Great Muslim woman from the USA. Let Allah grant her Jannath/ Paradise for her Love, Sacrifice, Service & Devotion for Islam, Holy Quran, Allah & His Prophet (pbuh).
I have passed her news to other Friends and the Face Book readers. Alhamdulillah.

Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon


I did not hear or know of her until today, may Allah bless her for all her good deeds.Most of us fail to make a notable difference as a Muslim, clearly she is an an exception.

Jawahir Deen

A good example for all and a true believer of Allah amy Allah make her grave a garden of paradise.

May Allah forgive her and shower mercy on her soul.

What a wonderful life, full of lessons of the highest meaning. Aminah's life and the huge sacrfices that she made remind me of the struggle of the first Muslims. She is in a way a sahabia of latter days. I feel small beside this woman. May Allah grant her the highest station in paradise. Amen.

Al Fathiha for my perfect sister Aminah!

A great conversion story. Goes to show that people who were most vehement against Islam can also become muslim. I am astonished by her sacrifice to become a muslim. This goes to show that if you have patience like Allah told us to have anything is possible. May Allah grant her paradise.

By reading her life one can understand how difficult for people to understand and accept Islam. Since the time of Prophet (PBUH )there are 2 types of people who are not muslims either who accept Islam and others who don,t accept and die humiliated. She accepted Islam and got everything she lost and more than that . Allah has given her a lot in this world and in the life to come may Allah reward her (Ameen) as she followed Prophet (pbuh) in spite of challenges . Now it is the duty of Humanity to understand the right thing Islam and follow it strictly .

What a beautiful life.
I had tears in my eyes

As Salaam Alaykum, may ALLAH have mercy on this sister's soul and grant her paradise for her actions.

This is a great story that makes every muslim proud of her diin. May Allah take to Jannat Al Fardowsa. Amin

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji3un.

May Allah have mercy on her beautiful soul, Amin.

Wa Innailahi Wa Inna Ilahi Raajioon...

As Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuhu,

This is the most beautiful story I have every read about someone taking shahadah Islamia. I cried so much...Her devotion to Allah SWT, her sacrifice, may Allah SWT reward her generously...SubhanaAllah!
My story is so similar, I took As Shahadah back in 1992. My family and friends turned against me, I was made fun at on the job...But it only made me stronger.
May Allah SWT help all of us become stronger in deen, let examples like sister Aminah Assilmi Rahmatulahi Alaiha , the Companions of Rasululah SAW, and many other who sacrfice for Islam everyday strenghten us all for the pleasure of Allah.

Wa Salaam Alaikum,


Lailaha ila ALLAH Muhammad rosul Allah. May Allah bless her soul. She lived beautiful life, handsome conversion story. May her soul rest in peace inshallah.

I read her story, Allah yarhamha, around ten years
ago. I never knew her even I wished but her story
affected me like she was my sister in blood. I am
saddened by her death. To God we return all. May Allah give patience to all her family and the rest
of the ummah. Ya rabi igfir laha warahima, anta
alrahman. Oow God forgive her and be merciful to
her, you are the most merciful.

I wrote sometime ago that the greatest threat to the spread of Islam is Muslims. I also said, Koran is the book that should be left alone. Sr. Amninah also got impressed because of Koran. I am not denying the concept of Hadeet, but inner circle of the Prophet was not known of quoting too may hadeet. It is said that even the first Caliph was having 500 hadeet which he destroyed it. They were very careful. Actually, it is doubtful that there was even a concept of hadeet in those days. Even the Prophet used to discourage the followers not to write his sayings. They were well aware that how the previous nations were destroyed, because they overwhelmed Talmud over Torah. Islam came to release the mankind from the bondage of manmade writings. I fully understand the necessity of Sunnah, but Sunnah is not hadeet. Later on, hadeet industry prospered on the expence of the Koran. Today, Koran is understood on the basis of hadeet instead of vise versa. Wahi supercedes everything. Since Koran is guarded by God, then everything should be understood through Koran. Then comes Jurisprudence. Today, Muslims have more time to talk on Jurisprudence than contemplating upon Koran. This is the result of lopsided approach. Muslims have lost spirituality few hundred years ago. Unless, they regain that through the Koran then Sunnah and then Hadeet than Jurisprudence, they cannot recover from the ashes. When I read the Koran in English, trust me, it is the most easiest book on the face of the earth because of its majestical language. Straight to the point instead of non-senses of other sciences. Commentaries are also available for ordinariy people, not for scholars. The commandments of the Koran are extremely simple. The higher knowledge could be left for scholars, not a big deal. Today, dumping Koran created priesthood which is not Islamic. How can you accept a hadeet which contradicts the Koran. Non-sense. We need to be very careful.

Masha Allah Tabarakallah! May Allah in His Infinite Mercy reward her with the best reward and give her Jannatul Firdaus for her sacrifice.
She was the Sumaiya of our time.What is the reward of good except good.She showed and practically demonstrated brilliant example of good conduct and the real teachings of Islam which included good akhlaq (character) being nice to everyone patient and steadfastness, perserverence and sacrifice in the face of hardship.May Allah forgive all her sins and reward her with the best reward of Jannatul Firdaus for her inspirational work.