Abdul-Aleem Askia Memorial Fund

Born three months premature on August 12, 1978, Abdul-Aleem Askia came into the world a fighter. Weighing less than 2 pounds at birth, at 12 months of age Abdul-Aleem underwent surgery to place a shunt in his brain to help drain excess cerebrospinal fluid, his hydrocephalus a result of his premature birth.

After the procedure, Abdul-Aleem flourished like that of a sprouting flower.

Abdul-Aleem lived, his infectious personality ignited by the exhilarating prospect of meeting someone new. The second of four boys (and four girls), Abdul-Aleem grew into a strong, energetic man; he loved to lift weights, go to the movies, travel, listen to music, and spend time with friends and family. He also saw himself as an intrinsic part of community, and was excited about a recent opportunity to join Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Thursday, November 7th, 2013, the day after Abdul-Aleem was to meet his sister and brother-in-law and discuss a recommendation letter needed for entrance into said fraternity, he admitted himself to the hospital due to an upset stomach and chronic headache. After a series of tests, doctors concluded Abdul-Aleem needed brain surgery to correct his cerebral shunt.

In the weeks following his initial admittance, Abdul-Aleem underwent several more surgeries to his brain. His healing was slow --a tireless struggle between medical tests and stronger medication, his highest hopes and his deepest insecurities, the insufferable fatigue of a "born fighter" and the natural fears of a man in pain.

Abdul-Aleem fought as best he could, but due to complications prompted by his hydrocephalus, he suffered a cardiac arrest Tuesday, December 17th, 2013. Left without a beating heart, for approximately ten minutes, no oxygen reached his brain. Although doctors were able to resuscitate his heart and stabilize his breathing, Abdul-Aleem has been in a coma since his cardiac arrest, inundated with tubes and medicine, fighting for the gift of life.

Abdul-Aleem Askia, the man with the gregarious spirit and infectious smile, was never able to say goodbye.

Throughout the duration of his medical stay, Abdul-Aleem missed the wedding of his cousin and the Thanksgiving holiday, his twin siblings' birthday, Christmas, New Year's, and his brother's birthday.

During his medical stay, the season of our family's life changed.

Throughout the fall, the abundance of nature slows into an eventual death, its sprout falling back to the Earth from which it came, its life essence, now, shedding form while planting a seed for the formation of new life. It is within this changing season that Abdul-Aleem placed within each of our hearts the seed of a resolute faith, his spirit sprouting within us despite our challenges, Abdul-Aleem's very life the garden that will sustain his family forever.

Despite the medical intervention received to assist Abdul-Aleem's tireless fight, his hydrocephalus could not be managed, the cerebral fluids constantly increasing pressure on his brain. As a result, Abdul-Aleem lost the ability to breathe on his own, and his heart became too weak to adequately supply oxygen to his brain.

Abdul-Aleem has always been a communicator --finding pleasure in connecting to the best within people through his affable nature-- and the unfortunate complications of his condition was his way of saying he was at peace, and wanted to spread new life by transitioning to His Creator.

Abdul-Aleem Askia, appropriately nicknamed "Aleem the Dream", died Thursday, January 30, 2014. He was 35 years old.

Abdul-Aleem is Arabic for "servant of the All-Knowing." As his youngest sister, I know Abdul-Aleem as a protective brother and as a friend, as a listener and mentor, as a provider and teacher, as a tree upon which I could always cuddle, finding nourishment and shade. I know that my brother served his family, his community, and was an ardent servant of God. Despite the winter of my family's loss, we are nourished by the knowledge of Abdul-Aleem Askia's righteous life, and can find comfort within the shade of his triumphant death.

There is much for all of us to learn from Abdul-Aleem Askia; humility and compassion, altruism and selflessness, a sense of community coupled with a tenacious quest for individual greatness. We miss our son and our brother, our nephew and our cousin, our confidant and our friend, but Abdul-Aleem's gregarious and philanthropic spirit, his bubbling laugh and unfailing curiosity, his love of food and house music, his smile and his innate innocence will remain with us now...and forever.

Abdul-Aleem Askia is survived by his mother (Brenda Abdullah) and step-father (Mansur Abdullah), his father (Sterling Askia), his 5 sisters --including his twin (Muneerah Askia), his 3 brothers, his uncles and aunts, his in-laws and cousins, his nieces and nephews, and a host of valued friends.

If these words have touched you in any way, know that it is simply Abdul-Aleem's life and his love falling from the sky and holding us, his joyous soul touching the world, still.

It is in this spirit of reciprocity that Abdul-Aleem Askia's family asks for a small donation, as we would sincerely appreciate any offering of support you can give to cover Abdul-Aleem's remaining medical expenses and funerary costs.

If you simply can't commit to a donation, I thank you for reading about the life and spirit of my brother. I also thank you for your time and concern, and hope that God continues to bless you.

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Taheerah Abdul-Rahmaan 
Chicago, IL
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