Ignoring society’s disapproval and snide remarks, Maulana Sher Muhammad Jafari and his ‘alim’ wife Aleema Farah Jafari stood like a rock behind their daughter Mohaddesa Jafri to help her fulfill her dream and today she is being hailed as the first Shia Muslim girl from Maharashtra to become a trained commercial pilot by all.
Maulana Sher Muhammad Jafari and Aleema Farah Jafari from Mumbai’s Jogeshwari West are today proud of their 26-year-old Mohaddesa who has returned home after completing her training in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has a license as a commercial pilot in hand.
The hijab-clad Mohaddesa had a dream ever since she was a seven-year-old girl growing up in Mumbai. She wanted to fly in the skies and go into space as she had conjured up the image of Kalpana Chawla, whose life had inspired her immensely.
Mohaddesa was only seven years old when the Indo-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003.
Mohaddesa recalls asking her father about the huge TV coverage and public show of support for the Haryana-born Kalpana Chawla in India. She was intrigued by the posters and banners in various parts of the country with pictures of Chawla.
Maulana Jafari narrated the story of Kalpana Chawla to his little daughter and told her how brave she was. After hearing Kalpana’s story,a young Mohaddesa started admiring her.
Muhaddith was inspired by Kalpana Chawla who was the first Indian-American woman to go into space. She was a mechanical engineer. She had been to space three times. The first two missions were successful.
In her third flight on NASA’s Colombian space shuttle in 2003, he died along with other astronauts as the spacecraft crashed while re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
Mohaddesa's inspiration: Kalpana Chawla
This triggered her interest in Kalpana Chawla's life. She recalls reading books and hundreds of articles that she could lay her hands on to know about her ideal. She would watch her videos on social media and somewhere a dream that she wants to fly in the skies was born in her mind.
One day, Mohaddesa told her parents of her dream. She was working in an airline's office when she realized her desire to take off.
Finally, in 2020, he enrolled in a flying school in Johannesburg even as it raised a storm of protests and disapproval from her relatives and extended family.
Maulana Jafri took a hard stand and supported his daughter, for he knew it was not an un-Islamic act. “People said how could a Maulana and his alim wife make their daughter do Unislamic things, but I knew there is nothing wrong in supporting your child realize his dream,” Jafari told the media persons.