(Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ, narrated by Muslim)
“When a person dies, all their deeds end except three: a continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and a child who prays for them.”
In Islam, we believe in the concept of Sadaqah Jariyah, charity that continues to give long after one’s death. Aliza Akhtar held many dreams of making the world a better place. Our intention here is simple: in order to bring together the different communities Aliza was a part of, we aim to put together charitable actions that will benefit her in the afterlife.
Aliza’s close friends, with the blessing of her family, identified trustworthy charities and causes that will benefit others for generations to come. We encourage all of you to choose a cause and/or organization of your liking to donate on her behalf so that they get the aid they need, while you help reap good deeds for our dear friend.
We especially ask that you spread your donations throughout the blessed last ten nights of Ramadan, where our deeds and worship are multiplied by Allah’s (God’s) mercy. Righteous deeds are better when done at times of virtue, and undoubtedly the last ten nights of Ramadan are better than any other night, because Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Power), which is better than a thousand months, is among them.
Below, we have four action items: 1) Engage in Acts of Charity, 2) Keep Aliza in Your Prayers, 3) Forgive Aliza for her Debts and Promises, and 4) Share Your Memories of Aliza with her Family.
Action #1: Engage In Acts of Charity
When compiling a list of possible charities to donate to, we took a few things into consideration: 1) causes Aliza was passionate about, 2) the authenticity and reach of the organizations, and 3) the longevity of Sadaqah Jariyah. Below you will find the suggested organizations/actions of charity.
- During her time at MIT, Aliza was an active member of Women in EECS. She believed strongly in closing the gender gap in the Computer Science field and had been working on a Quest UROP in the Media Lab to build Jupyter notebooks to teach high school students about AI.
- Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. Aliza was involved with Girls Who Code and credits it to be the reason why she considered Computer Science as a career.
- The people of Yemen have been in tragedy since the Yemeni Civil War of 2015, dying under the famine which persists today due to airstrikes, economic sanctions, and blockades. According to this NYT article, more than 85,000 children have died of starvation since the bombings started.
- Aliza cared about issues of high impact, and her friends believe she would have wished for funds in her name to go towards helping children in need. Possible causes to donate to:
- Aliza was an active member of the MIT Muslim Students’ Association. Serving as Publicity Chair, her emails and social media advertising became the outward face of the MSA on MIT campus and beyond.
- You may donate to CAIR, whose mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
- Donate A Wheelchair to a Hospital in Need
- After the accident, Aliza was taken in by Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. While RWJ is a well-equipped hospital, many others are not. Free Wheelchair Mission provides mobility around the world. Anytime someone is helped with the wheelchair, Aliza will receive the benefit. It is something that will be considered as Sadaqah Jariyah.
- Donate a wheelchair to a hospital with fewer resources on her behalf
- Sponsor Planting Trees Around the Worlds
- Donate to Islamic Center of Old Bridge and their Sunday School
- Aliza lived in Old Bridge, NJ and would frequent this center for Sunday School (in Islamic education). Later in high school, she was a teaching assistant for their program, and was described as a “successful, hardworking, charismatic person.”
- “If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the worshipper is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes a big fortune.” [Abu Dawud]
- Donate to Women’s Programs
- Aliza believed strongly in empowering women around the world, especially in Pakistan. She hoped to one day open up a shelter for women there. Below is a list of different avenues through which you can support women globally:
- HHRD is a global humanitarian relief and development organization responding to human sufferings in emergency and disaster situations around the world (Choose Pakistan Relief Fund under Country Relief)
- Islamic Relief dedicates an increasing number of resources for tradition education and health for women and girls. (Choose Women’s Programs under Programs/Sector)
- ICNA Relief USA offers an alternative for homeless women in need of temporary housing
- Heifer believes that women’s empowerment and social capital are critical components to establish living incomes in communities:
The Sughar Foundation is a non-profit promoting beautiful traditions and providing socio-economic empowerment to women in tribal communities in Pakistan
- Donate to the Construction of a Masjid
- Uthman ibn Affan reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, Allah will build for him a house like it in Paradise.” [Al-Bukhārī & Muslim]
Action #2: Keep Aliza In Your Prayers
- In general, please keep Aliza in your thoughts and prayers.
- Sign up to complete a Khatm (Reading of the Holy Quran with the MIT MSA) here
- Make Dhikr (Remembrance of God) for Aliza these last ten nights
- The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "He who utters a hundred times in a day these words: 'La ilaha illallahu, wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu, wa Huwa 'ala kulli sha'in Qadir (there is no true god except Allah. He is One and He has no partner with Him; His is the sovereignty and His is the praise, and He is Omnipotent),' he will have a reward equivalent to that for emancipating ten slaves, a hundred good deeds will be recorded to his credit, hundred of his sins will be blotted out from his scroll, and he will be safeguarded against the devil on that day till the evening; and no one will exceed him in doing more excellent good deeds except someone who has recited these words more often than him.
- And he who utters: 'Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi (Allah is free from imperfection and His is the praise)' one hundred times a day, his sins will be obliterated even if they are equal to the extent of the foam of the ocean." [Al-Bukhārī & Muslim]
Action #3: Forgive Aliza of her Debts and Promises
- One of the major rights of the deceased in Islam is the repayment of debt
- The Prophet Muhammad has said that a person is imprisoned by their debt even in death. God can only forgive the person partially - the person who is owed has the right to forgive.
- If you know that Aliza owes anything to anyone, or has promised to do something for someone, try to do it in her name, and if you can't, then let her family and friends know so that they may do it.
- Similarly, if she owes you anything, no matter how trivial, then forgive her, her debt, or if she ever wronged you or upset you, please forgive her and ask Allah to be your witness when you do.
- Finally, if you have anything you owe to her, even a trivial amount of money (which you can pay back to her family), or anything she asked you to do or you promised to do, then please try to do or repay it as soon as possible.
Action #4: Share Your Memories of Aliza with her Family
- We are gathering pictures & videos we have of Aliza in her time at MIT to share with her family. If you have any you would like to share, please upload here.