1st November, 2011
Salima Padhani Khalfan, aged 39, passed away on 1st November 2011 after a twenty month battle with cancer.
Salima gave all her energy and compassion to everything and everyone she touched. She was dedicated to the work of the Lady Fatemah Trust and organised the first five LFT gala dinners. She ensured that these events were professionally run and enjoyable, raising significant amounts of funds towards the LFT’s charitable projects. In 2006, she agreed to become one of its four Trustees. In spite of her illness, she guided the organisation of the sixth and seventh gala dinners. For seven years, Salima was the editor of the LFT’s monthly newsletter. She was also a teacher at the Islamic Saturday workshop for four years. She was known for being extremely well-prepared, for her love of lists and for being a teacher that her students could confide in.
Salima qualified in 1995 as a dental surgeon from the prestigious Guy’s & St. Thomas' Hospitals (University of London) with Honours. She consistently topped her class and won numerous awards. However, she was never competitive and always helped her colleagues. She was a technically gifted dentist who had high standards, often criticising her own work even when others thought it was brilliant. Her fellow students remember her as the 'perfect friend'. Upon qualification she was one of only a handful of the top students chosen to work as a house surgeon at Guy’s Hospital and then went into dental practice.
Her colleagues recall her as a dental surgeon who treated her patients as if they were an extension of her own family. Salima developed a reputation among her patients as a dentist who would treat them with dignity, kindness and with whom they could be safe. Because she was calm and patient, she was often asked by her practise to treat patients who were scared of dentists.
Despite her many, diverse roles, Salima was very modest and went out of her way to avoid being the centre of attention – rather, she tried to make sure that everything was running smoothly behind the scenes. She disliked extravagance and waste. She was a warm, funny, kind-hearted, dignified and intelligent woman. But more important than all these qualities, Salima had tremendous faith, even in the difficult times during her illness. She believed in Allah and dedicated her life to serving Him by serving her community and needy people throughout the world. She took her religious obligations very seriously. No matter how busy she was, she always made sure she allocated enough time to fully concentrate on her prayers.
Salima was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant and courageously fought the effects of the disease and the side-effects of the treatments that helped keep it at bay. When Salima was told three days before her passing that the doctors had given up hope, she answered: “Al-hamdu lillah.” Salima accepted the illness as Allah’s will and found time and strength to care for her family no matter how she was feeling. She was a devoted mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She loved to help others and always thought of them before herself – to the extent that friends and family would scold her for being ‘too nice’. Her nieces and nephews remember her as a guardian angel in their lives; a role model who never got angry with them no matter how naughty they were and who would make the most incredible flapjacks with them.
Salima was known for her sense of humour. When once accused of being short, her response was that it would be more appropriate to describe her as ‘concentrated’. She enjoyed comedy, once literally falling off her chair with laughter.
Salima leaves behind her husband, Ashfaq Khalfan, her 17-months-old daughter, Nylah Fatema, her father, Pyarally Padhani, her mother Zarin Padhani and two sisters, Mansura and Rubina. In order to honour Salima’s service and dedication to the Trust, the Trustees of the LFT have set up a project in her name. The Salima Memorial Medical Education Project will provide bursaries for impoverished students in developing countries who wish to undertake medical education, including nursing, dentistry, general practice and other medical professions. The first beneficiaries will be students in Lebanon who are orphans and hope to train as nurses. The Salima Memorial Medical Education Project will be a definitive way in which Salima’s short but inspiring life can live on through many others.
Although Salima has passed on from this life, she will be missed for her unconditional dedication and commitment to all those that knew her and for the work she did for the community. We owe it to Salima to apply her example in our own lives, and in doing so, keep her memory alive.
Amirali G. Karim
Chairman of the Board of Trustees