To a Beloved Sister and Friend

It's Monday evening at 6:30pm, and I'm sitting at my desk with a set of prayer beads to my right, and a little toy camera that shows pictures from Hajj. Hanan Farhat gave me that camera over a year and a half ago, sneaking one away from her bucket of goodies for her Kindergarten students, as they would receive a prize for memorizing a Sura or a few Ayats. Hanan knew I had never been to Hajj so she gave one to me, and it's been on my desk since then. I looked at it again today, half-smiling and half-crying, because while it's a good memory of Hanan, everything still feels very raw.

I have so many memories of my interactions with Hanan, from conversations, to in the classroom, shared meals at Iftar before parent-teacher interviews, and emails we exchanged over the winter holiday. Even down to Sunday night when she posted on my Facebook wall. I just re-play these memories over and over again, remembering every detail about her, knowing that I likely won't forget anything.

Hanan was amazing teacher. She had the innate ability to pick up on struggling kids early, as we'd often talk about who needed greater support. Hanan tirelessly taught and was immaculate with her work in every single way, down to the tiniest of details. Her colleagues at Calgary Islamic can attest to her dedication, and how their cutting has improved after Hanan's instructions to ensure that NO part of the black line remains! :) I often was present during her Arabic lessons to see how struggling kids would do. She was an incredible teacher, regardless of how much work she had and rising stress levels. I remember the mini-Kabaa models all the ECS kids have made over the past few years, and then 2 years ago, making models of Hajjis with white wash-clothes. She dedicated herself for ECS Graduation and Eid celebrations. And the list goes on and on and on.

And then the funniest memories I have come to the surface, which was most of my time with Hanan. Children in her class will tell you that her favourite non-Arabic phrase was 'Kapeesh?!' after she'd relay instructions to the class. She had no problem raising her voice when the kids became rowdy, but then would turn back and wink at the adults in the class too. Or, if a certain child was having difficulty, she'd beckon us to his/her desk and talk discreetly under her breath to explain the issues while beaming a smile at the child. It was hilarious! Children loved her, as they'd run to hug her or say 'Sorry I made you mad' after she was forced to raise her voice because they were chatty. Oh and her puppet shows were to be reckoned with. I've had the privilege of watching a few, and I'd be crying from laughter and rolling on the floor along with the kids. Especially when she would mistakingly use a girl's voice for her boy puppet!

As a friend, she supported me over the past two and a half years I've been CIS and transitioning to wearing a hijab. She actually read my blogs and commented on them and sent me long encouraging emails, and gave me sound advice about marriage. Hanan brought me under her wing to integrate into the Islamic circle at the school, and was there to listen when I needed someone the most. She was an integral part of the Kindergarten team at CIS, and I can't imagine working in those classrooms without her.

Lastly, she was the most humble person I knew. I wrote in an email to her last week that I admire all the knowledge she has about Islam and hope to learn half as much as she knows. Yet Hanan clarified that she continues to attend Halaqas and lectures and reads information online because the knowledge path of a Muslim never ends.

On my drive to work on Monday morning at 7am, I was thinking to myself that I'd head to the 2nd floor of CIS, see Hanan sitting at her desk, give her a huge hug and ask if I could pray Fajr prayer in the Islamic Studies/Arabic staff office. Then we'd have some time to catch up before we saw each other again in the Kindergarten classes for Arabic. Being at CIS today, I expected to see her walk off the elevator or come around a corner or enter the Kindergarten class. I looked at the Arabic characters and pictures of items on a wall hanging in one of the classes and remembered exactly how she would seat the kids in a circle and then pass around a special item they could hold while practicing a letter out loud. And I remember how I'd follow along her lessons while helping kids be able to correctly write Arabic characters.

Hanan will always not only be a part of CIS, but a part of everyone's lives she came into contact with. I miss her more than words can say and I'm making dua that Allah, SWT, grant her a place in the highest level of Jannah, Insha'Allah.

Inna lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Rajioon


  1. Wow this one very moving article. i never lknew sister/teacher Hanan Farhat, but have heard numerous good things about her. May Allah(swt) grant her a place firdaus e aala Ameen.

  2. You captured the wonderful person that Hanan was in your blog!! One can't help but let the tears follow in memory of such an incredible sister!! I worked with Hanan when she taught in London and went to university with her. She will always have a special place in everyone’s heart. May Allah grant her a place in Jannah Al-Firdos; Ameen!!

  3. Beautiful MashAllah,JazakAllahu Khairan for sharing. May Allah SWT build for her a home in the highest level of Jannah Insha'Allah. Ameen


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