My mother’s mother, Fatima, died Friday morning. She was 85. She is my hero.
Like 75 million other women in the Middle East, my grandmother never learned to read or write, so she could not even read the Qur’an. Yet, I guarantee that she was on her knees five times a day, every day of her life, reciting what she was taught to the only god she ever knew. All she memorized was a few little suras that didn’t even make sense to her.
My grandmother was a beautiful young woman. Her husband died when she was in her thirties, and many Muslim men came and tried to marry her. But she didn’t want that. She devoted her life to raising her eight children, including her eldest son, my uncle Ibrahim, who you can read about in my book. She was a good, loving wife and mother.
My grandmother worked hard as a housekeeper at a UN school to provide for her children. Every day, she got up at 4:30 to pray. She washed and dressed and fed her children, got them to school and went to work. Everybody loved her. She never offended anybody. She was a very honest person. When people die, friends and family try to remember the good parts of their lives, but I don’t remember anything bad about my grandmother.
Two weeks before she died, she was thinking about me. I was very special to her. My family was there, and she was saying, “God bless you, Mosab” and “I pray for you, Mosab.” She knew that I turned my back on Islam, that I was disowned and everything. But her spirit kept blessing me, regardless.
In her last hours at the hospital, my grandmother did not even recognize Ibrahim, but she kept on mentioning my sister Sabeela’s name, because Sabeela helped her so much in her life.
I couldn’t be with my grandmother during her final days or hours. I can’t go now to say goodbye to her or call my mother to say I am sorry.
But I can at least honor her in my blog.
My grandmother had no idea who Jesus Christ is. She never heard of Buddhism or Hinduism or anything but Islam.
I know that God is just and that he understands that there are hundreds of millions of Muslim women who sacrifice everything and know only Islam. They are just obedient and loyal and know nothing about God’s mercy, because they have no chance to hear about him or meet with him.
I pray that God will have mercy on her soul, because she gave so much and received nothing and because she was faithful all her life to do what she believed he wanted her to do.