In Memoriam:  Aminah Assilmi

Aminah assilmi and eid stamp

The Passing of Aminah Assilmi

Aminah Assilmi has been a tireless worker for Islam for many years.  On her passing, CAIR wrote the following:

WASHINGTON, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/—The board and staff of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today offered their sincere condolences to the family of Aminah Assilmi, a national Muslim community activist, scholar and leader who died earlier today 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.

“To God we belong and to Him we return,” said CAIR National Board Chairman State Senator Larry Shaw (NC). “We ask God to shower His mercy on Sister Aminah and to grant her loved ones strength and patience in this time of sorrow.”

Sister Aminah, who was 65, served as the Director of the International Union of Muslim Women. She was an internationally-respected author, an advocate for women’s rights and a renowned speaker on Islam. 

Despite health issues, Sister Aminah maintained a rigorous schedule of speaking engagements around the nation and the world. She was instrumental in the U.S. Postal Service’s 2001 issuing of the “Eid” stamp, which marks the two main Muslim holidays. 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.

A website has been set up in Aminah’s memry at They note that:

At 3:21 am, Friday, March 5th, 2010, a car driven by Aminah’s son, failed to navigate a curve in the road, went up an embankment and hit a tree stump.  Both passengers were wearing seat belts, but Aminah was killed on impact.  Apparently the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Janazah prayer, led by a local Imam, was held at a nearby cemetery that has a section reserved for Muslims.  Over 100 people attended.  The cemetery is located in a green and hillly area that Aminah would have loved and during the ceremony the sun was shining, a light breeze was blowing and in the distance you could hear a train going by.  After the Janazah prayer, several brothers remained to recite Quran.  It was a comfort to know that she was buried Islamically, the way that she wanted.  Eventually, there will be either a small plaque or marker placed by her grave for identification.

Aminah was the primary mover behind the effort to have a U.S. postal stamp for Eid - which did happen.  She also attended the 1993 Muslim Pow Wow in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  On the memorial site people have left messages about their memories of Aminah, and Yahya Emerick left a message remembering this event and her participation:

Assalamu alaykum,

It is with great sadness that I learned of this tremendous loss for our Ummah.  I met Sr. Aminah in New Mexico at the first Muslim PowWow back around 1993 or so.  She was so gracious and dignified in her bearing, even as she had no qualms about getting her hands dirty with the rest of us “pioneers.” 
I actually had the pleasure of riding “shotgun” in her pickup truck as we drove some camp participants to a swimming hole, not far from the masjid there in Abiquiu.  We talked about what it meant to be a Muslim and she really had some deep insights about life, family and what it was all about.  As a young
twenty-something convert, she immediately seemed like a mentor figure to me.  I only saw her once or twice in later years at conventions, and her beaming face always struck me as that of an angel, if any person could ever be so.  I pray for her safe and honorable entry into a world of joy without end and inshallah I hope her family can continue in her noble example.  Ameen.  - Yahiya Emerick



Aminah assilmi and eid stamp