Tribute to Baraka Khan By:

Ayesha Khan

Jan 16, 2018

“I’ll love you forever!”. This was one of Baraka’s favourite sentences to me, from a young age. I often wondered why she said this so often and what she meant by “forever”. It is now clear to me that by “forever”, Baraka was referring to the life of the world and the life in the Hereafter and she said this often because she wanted me to remember her. It is impossible to forget my sister Baraka.

The day that Baraka was born was the happiest and brightest day of my life. It was a beautiful day in the summer holidays when my older sister Somaiya and I went to the hospital to see her for the first time after her birth. I was so excited – I remember skipping in the hospital ward with Somaiya, my older sister, singing: “It’s a girl, it’s a girl, it’s a girl!!! ”. When I saw Baraka and held her for the first time, I felt peace and joy in my heart and I felt she was like balm to my soul.

Growing up with Baraka, I remember many remarkable characteristics that she had from a very early age. She was like a little soldier – when she was about two years old, she would sometimes hide and we would find her behind a door, asleep standing with her head leaning against the wall!

She was very intelligent and my mother taught her with the Montessori technique, which sometimes involved separating and counting different beans and seeds into petri dishes. When she and I shared a room, I remember coming back to our room from school one day and there was a strong scent of plants in a green house! I soon discovered that in addition to counting and separating beans and seeds, Baraka had quietly taken the initiative to conduct an experiment! She had lined up the shelf above the bathroom sink with petri dishes full of seeds and beans and added some water! And they had all sprouted and created what looked like a small green jungle in the bathroom! I was amazed that such a small child could nurture so many plants! Latter on in life I was to witness Baraka had the ability to planting seeds of love, friendship and great ideas which will grow into plants of lifelong friendship and movements across the world .
Baraka and I used to invent and play games together like ‘Catch the train’ and ‘Mother and Baby’, where I would be the baby even though I was older than her and she would be my mother, wearing our mother’s high heeled shoes and pushing me around in her doll’s push chair and patting me on the head!

Baraka and I learned to ride horses together with Somaiya , under the warm desert sun in Bahrain – even though Baraka was tiny, she would ride a great mare called Maggie. The two shared a great bond and had a mutually loving and trusting partnership. Maggie never once misbehaved with Baraka and Baraka in return was a caring and naturally competent rider.
Baraka was our family’s quarterback – I will never forget how brave and noble she was, when she was just a small child of three or four years of age, she stood up for me unasked, and took responsibility for an embarrassing accident I had to protect me from being bullied and humiliated by a group of older children. This incident and countless others are forever engraved in my heart.

When we lived in Bahrain, we would go cycling and swimming together and we would explore the park and compound where we lived. As children, we took part in many activities together, such as ice-skating and large obstacle courses. I remember Baraka as being brave and she used to like accompanying me when I went out for activities. We used to hand feed the camels in the local Nature Reserve (Al Areen Wildlife Park) and I remember that even though Baraka was small, she was not afraid to feed the huge camels with her own small hands.

We started our first Qur’aan lessons together and attended the same Syrian Quran School – Al Noor Qur’aan Centre. Baraka loved the Quran and would happily practice what she learned when she came home. As a child, she was often found skipping and reciting verses of The Holy Qur’aan with an ear-to-ear smile on her face. As she matured, her love for the Qur’aan deepened and grew and we would often recite together and we would be struck by similarities in the passages we both found to be inspiring and uplifting and moving. Baraka always appreciated a beautiful recitation of The Qur’aan and her own recitation was very beautiful MashaAllah, even after her diagnosis of lung cancer.

When she was in junior school, she would write me lots of letters, whenever I was unwell, they were to wish me a speedy recovery, many letters simply said “I love you” in them. When I was unwell with flu or any other ailment, she would visit me and ask to help. She would regularly prepare plates full of biscuits and cheese and washed fruit and she would bring them up two flights of stairs to share with my older sister and I.

In her Junior School days, I would often walk her into school, which she and I both enjoyed and we participated in After School Judo Club which was a lot of fun .
Baraka and I often worked together to tidy the house and we turned it into a game where we pretended to be decorators!

Baraka loved to read from an early age and worked hard at school.
When I went to boarding school, Baraka sent me lots of postcards and letters, with motivating and encouraging words. She was excellent at drawing and she began to excel in calligraphy too. Many times, she sealed her letters in the traditional way with wax and a seal with the letter ‘B’. She lent me her favourite books and we looked forward to our holidays together.
Baraka helped me to put together many school reports and helped me to write an important French Oral presentation which I did well on thanks to her help.
Before Baraka chose her GCSE subjects, she asked me for advice on which subjects to choose, which made me feel honoured and appreciated.

When we lived close to Regent’s Park, it snowed heavily during the holidays when I was visiting from school and together we decided to go for a walk in the park and have fun in the snow. Together we constructed an enormous mound of snow which was as tall as us! Some tourists soon came by and asked if they could take pictures with our construction – I said to Baraka, “we should set up a business and start charging for all these photos!”. She laughed and gently shook her head, which meant that I couldn’t set up my business in the park!

I asked Baraka to be my rowing partner on the lake in Regent’s Park. I had done some basic rowing during my time in boarding school. Baraka was the best rowing partner, she very quickly learned all the proper techniques and she loved her time on the water. We used to go rowing in all seasons, even in winter, when no one else was taking boats out onto the lake. We found out that it was probably for a good reason! Once, during winter, we were the only ones out on that lake and we were doing well when we rowed past the island. We were just about to head back when a group of coots started to watch our boat. Suddenly, they formed a v-shaped formation and began to chase our boat at a very high speed. I was worried they would board the boat, but Baraka smiled and was very calm. We increased our efforts and managed to outpace the coots and we were very relieved when we made it back to shore!

When our youngest brother was born, Baraka held him so gently that he would fall asleep easily in her arms. She would often tuck me in at night too, and once, she carefully removed a wasp that she discovered whilst saying good night to me from the wall hanging above my bed.
Baraka had a great sense of humour! She could find the funny side of many difficult situations and she was able to see the light and positive side of them.

She often organised celebrations in the family and invited friends over. Her lively presence and beautiful smile made gatherings special and happy occasions. She was a blessed person.
In the summer before she started her IB, I taught Baraka AS Level Mathematics, which she always appreciated. She was the best student I have ever taught because she worked hard and was organised and effective. She genuinely loved to learn new subjects and she asked great questions and she understood new concepts quickly. It was a real privilege to teach her.
Baraka was my best friend and was the first to agree to join me on my quest for adventure to explore new places on bike such as in Bahrain, Dubai, Milton Keynes and Northwood. Once while we were in Dubai, we decided to explore a network of lakes by night on bike. I was leading the Baraka and my brothers, but it was so dark and the paths were not all lit, so I almost led them into the lakes a few times. After a few hours and discovering that the network of lakes was much larger than we had originally anticipated we decided to turn back, and Baraka was the only level – headed member of the expedition, which helped immensely in getting us back to our starting point in safety.

Baraka was a true friend and compassionate companion. Whenever I followed her advice, I benefitted. When we travelled together and I fell ill with food poisoning, she went to supermarkets to buy herbal aniseed, chamomile and mint teas, she also went to pharmacies to buy remedies. She patiently and carefully nursed me back to health on many occasions. Whenever I was very ill, she would sit by my bedside and read Qur’aan for me.

I was blessed to have the opportunity of performing Umrah (The Lesser Pilgramage) with her in Makkah. On one occasion, we performed the rites very early in the morning and while we were walking between the two Mountains As Safa and Al Marwa, I dozed off and Baraka gently caught me just in time and carefully walked me to a place where I could renew my ablution. She helped me to finish the rites of Umrah and kept a very close eye on me throughout.
In Medinah Al Munawwarah (The City of The Prophet, Peace and Blessings of God be upon him), we visited the Prophet’s (Peace and Blessings of God be upon him) Mosque together and enjoyed the peace and happiness of The Blessed City.

Baraka was a great listener and always made time to help me when I faced difficulties. She was always available to help in problem solving and I always felt comfortable in her presence – I could be myself in her company. She was always encouraging me to do good deeds and to keep good habits and to carry on learning and exercising regularly.
Baraka liked me to sing with her. We liked to sing meaningful and devotional songs together. I always felt at ease to sing in her company.

We often remembered The Creator together, when we went on walks, admired the constellations in the night sky, appreciated all the colours of the British Skies during sunrises and sunsets and in all seasons and we even spotted double rainbows. Baraka valued the all different qualities and hues of light in the sky, which changed depending on the time of day and the weather. When she saw beauty in nature, she would recite the following verses from the scripture:
(3:190-191) “There are truly signs in the creation of the heavens and earth, and in the alternation of night and day, for those with understanding, who remember God standing, sitting, and lying down, who reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: “Our Lord! You have not created all this without purpose – You are far above that! – so protect us from the torment of the fire.”

Baraka was kind, caring and humble. If I was too tired, or had to travel, she would often wash my clothes that had piled up for me. She even used to clean my bathroom for me and empty the toilet bin. Everything she did for me, she did with such kindness that I never felt that she had been put out of her way, inconvenienced or overtaxed. She always tried to help me, in any way she could, if she knew I needed something, she would buy it for me. If she saw me struggling, she would lighten my burdens. She was one of the few people who could tell, just by one glance at my face, if there was something troubling me. She could also tell this just by hearing my voice on the phone.
She was a fabulous chef and made the most delicious dishes. She appreciated good food and always tried to find good recipes to follow. She encouraged us to eat healthily and exercise regularly.

I feel fortunate to have observed many Ramadhaans with Baraka. She was a deeply spiritual individual and she loved the fasting month, where she took the opportunity to recite the Qur’aan and attend the night prayers.
Baraka was a very trusting soul, she saw good in all those she met, she believed in good and great causes. She was a brilliant student and a great person, with a genuine, loving heart.
When Baraka told me about the cancer in 2013, she explained with strength and courage that she would do what she could to get well. She was brave and strong throughout her treatment. She was always thinking of her family and friends and putting them first and she carried out all her affairs to have the least impact on all of us until the very end.
While she was undergoing treatment, Baraka attended an Arabic Calligraphy Course that she had a natural talent for, developed in part from her interest in calligraphy at an early age. She put a lot of effort into that course and enjoyed every moment of course time and practice time. She produced some stunning work MashaAllah.

When she decided to marry, she was so considerate that she consulted all her family members, to ask if they wouldn’t mind if she held one event at home.
She was a beautiful and peaceful soul, with a clean and loving heart. She passed on peacefully in the presence of my parents and having recited the Shahada – the Declaration of Faith. I feel she was the best sister in the world anyone could have and it is a blessing to have known her from the beginning. She left behind her many good deeds and her clear planning, I often feel her presence still, I am reminded of her when in the midst of my day-to-day work, I come across her writing on files she helped me to organise, in the systems she created at home and in the charities she supported, amongst other things.

As a family, we miss her tremendously. She has passed on to the other side of the veil which we cannot see at the moment, but she is still alive and well in The Kingdom of God.
We loved her a lot, but God loves her most and He chose to call her back from all that she suffered in this world and We ask Him to keep her in the best company and in the best place always and to unite us with her in the Hereafter in Jannatul Firdaus, Aameen.