Paul H. Williams, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Zubaida Khan - Photo by Paul Williams
He is from the plains of Bluefields, Westmoreland, Jamaica. She is from the mountainous Kashmir region of Pakistan, near the disputed border with India. They are Shaik Abdullah el-Faisal and Zubaida Khan, husband and wife.
You might have heard much about el-Faisal, and have read his brief biography in this newspaper. But who is this woman who chose to remain in a marriage with a man the British authorities convicted for inciting murder?
She is from the Raj Put people, a clan of rulers and fighters in Kashmir, and is possibly a direct descendant of the great Mongol warrior, Genghis Khan. The third of five siblings, she has three brothers and one sister, all born in Pakistan.
Life in England
When she was eight, her mother reluctantly took them all to live with their sickly father in London, in the late 1970s. The dreary and “depressing” British weather did not go down well with her, but she soon adapted.
Five years after settling in London, their father, who was a British Army World War II veteran, died. In 1983, their mother took them back to their homeland. But Kashmir to Zubaida was now a different place, and she had to reacquaint herself with the country. She was not going to stay, however, so she returned to Britain in 1985.
She studied biochemistry at South Bank University, in London, and she is also a licensed homeopathist (someone who treats the ill with minute doses of natural drugs).
In 1991, Zubaida met Shaik Abdullah at a mosque in London.
She was attracted to him because she thought he was good person, who had a wealth of knowledge. They married in 1992.
Zubaida has attended all el-Faisal lectures – about 150 of them – and claims she has not heard him inciting murder of anyone. So, why was he imprisoned for such?
Shefelt he was oppressed, and his incarceration was an attempt to suppress the spread of Islam in Europe. Shaik el-Faisal was getting to be too influential, as his lecture tapes were quite popular.
To cope with his imprisonment, she used the Koran, the holy book of Islam, particularly chapter 94, verse 5, to give her solace. It says: “After every hardship, comes ease.”
His truthfulness, to her, is his most adorable character trait, which is important to her, in “a world full of corruption”. She is quick to tell you her husband is no terrorist. The man who is the father of their five-year old daughter is in fact quite the opposite, she said.
However, he’s very frank and outspoken against injustices to anyone –- blacks, whites, Jews, etc. That’s why she married him, despite the negative images of Jamaicans, and blacks in general, in the British media, and her mother’s “fear of the unknown”.
Patient, hard working, steadfast and kind are some of the words she used to describe el-Faisal as a person, father and husband.
His race was never a factor in their equation of love, because racism is antithetical to Islam. She herself is a devoted Muslim and does not show her hair and neck in public.
Serving with modesty
One of her religious philosophies is “to serve God in modesty”. To that end, she even climbed Dunn’s River Falls in her hijab (head scarf) and gown. Note, she used to climb hills in Kashmir.
Zubaida came to Jamaica in late June for a limited period, and is planning to return to legally settle with her husband, here on the rock.
She is looking forward to it, as she said she found the people here to be friendly, welcoming and approachable, the “direct opposite of the media stereotype.”
When she was here, she helped to convert nine persons to Islam.