Discrimination and injustice in America led Sister Aisha to join the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP). Her attraction to the Black Panther Party was that they were consistently “feeding Black children’s stomachs and minds.” Initially, she visited the West Philly headquarters, on Wallace Street, to see if they were for real. Then she came back to visit another time. Once she saw this organization was serious, she joined. She loved their political education classes, as well as the support the Party provided to children and communities.
Another pivotal influence on Sister Aisha was Sister Maryam El-Mekki Abdullah (Aunt Maryam). Aunt Maryam was her mother’s half-sister whom she grew very close to over the years, as Aunt Maryam was the first Muslim in her family. While visiting Aunt Maryam they would listen to Malcolm X speeches on record albums. Sister Aisha would ask her Aunt, “Who is that man?!” as she thought to herself, “That resonates with me! He’s speaking my language!” about the teachings of Brother Malcolm. Sister Aisha credits Aunt Maryam with two major introductions in her life – Islam and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X).
She left the Catholic faith but held onto her relationship with the Creator, pleading with Him to guide her spiritually. When she became a Muslim, she would say “turning the other cheek” was one of the main issues she argued about with her white nun school teachers, as it seemed counterintuitive and unjust. Islam’s perspective on justice and self-defense was inspiring and refreshing. Sister Aisha used to always say, “Allah (Glory be to Him) loves me! Allah loves me so much, I don’t know how He has time for the rest of y’all!?” This highlights her immense reliance on God and reverence for His power as the guiding force in her life.
Links: Memorial Tribute | Biography of Mama Aisha | Pray But Keep Rowing