29 Feb 2020

Mosque shooting widower Farid Ahmed shares "Husna's story"

From Saturday Morning, 11:08 am on 29 February 2020

Mother, wife and community volunteer Husna Ahmed was of the 51 people killed in the Christchurch terror attacks in March 2019.

Her husband Farid, 44, has written a book about his wife's bravery and selflessness and his own forgiveness for her killer – Husna's Story.

Farid Ahmed holds a picture of his family

Farid Ahmed holds a picture of his family Photo: YouTube screenshot

Husna's Story book cover

Photo: Allen & Unwin New Zealand

Farid moved to New Zealand from Bangladesh over 30 years ago, looking for a safer place.

After he got NZ citizenship, he asked his parents to recommend a suitable bride – they gave him hundreds of choices of women based around the world but he didn't 'click' with any of them.

Then he remembered this interesting and popular girl he'd known of in his town. He asked his father to go and find her and his father 'fell in love' with her.

"[My father said] 'she's very smart, she's very pretty, she's all good. The only thing, my son, she's not rich.'"

But Husna and Farid chose each other and they married the day she arrived in New Zealand.

Until nine years ago, when Farid became a paraplegic after being run over by a drunk driver, the couple lived in Nelson. After the accident, they moved to Christchurch for Farid to get treatment in Burwood Hospital.

Husna was a very resilient person who lost her mother when she was very young but she also liked to be the centre of attention and make people laugh, Farid says.

"Looking at her, no-one could even imagine that she had a big scar inside of her.

"That struck me that she must have a good control mechanism in her, to turn her grief into positivity."

Husna Ahmed

Husna Ahmed Photo: Supplied

Husna was well known and popular at the ladies room at Al-Noor Mosque, where she taught children and looked after the elderly.

"Always in service" is how Farid describes his wife.

"She had two telephones. On the one hand, she was cooking, on the other hand, she was answering the phone ... 'what is the prognosis?' Giving advice... She was a 'more than full-time' social worker so she has touched so many people."

Husna also gave lessons on how to wrap a Muslim sister after death – teaching the same people who would eventually wrap her own body.

"Some people are not able to do it. They have nightmares if they see the dead bodies, dead faces, but she was very strong. She was very strong."

Husna, Farid and Shifa Ahmed

Husna, Farid and Shifa Ahmed Photo: YouTube screenshot

After Husna was killed, Farid went home and told their 15-year-old daughter Shifa that the two of them had two choices.

"One choice is we take negative from this tragedy and we destroy ourselves. Or another choice is we turn around and we say 'a cloud is there but behind the cloud the sun is smiling for us'. She said 'Dad, we'll take the second one, we'll turn it around and make our lives positive.'"

Farid is a senior leader at Al-Noor Mosque and says his Muslim faith helped him reckon with Husna's death.

"When we lose someone in our faith we say … 'I was from god and I was taken back to god'. I know that she's in the good place and I know that Allah is very merciful, Allah is very forgiving.

"God has given each one of us the ability to forgive or the ability to be angry if we choose to."

Life gives all of us a mixture of the bitter and the sweet, Farid says.

"I am determined that if life becomes bitter in the future, I'll be patient. And if it becomes sweeter I'll be thankful to god and thankful to others."

Hunsa lived in the "dark house" of Crohn's disease, yet embodied the power of positivity, he says.

"She chose to allow the light to come in so her Crohn's would not be an obstruction for her to be good, to be nice.

"The more she suffered from the Crohn's, the more she became loving, the more she became positive and the more she was committed to contribute for the best of others."

"If anyone chooses to be positive in the midst of suffering, they can do lots of good for the world."

All profits from the sale of Husna's Story will be donated to St John New Zealand.