Sky’s the limit for Maha’s ‘first Shia girl’ with commercial pilot’s licence | India News

Clerics generally are not known to encourage their daughters to become pilots. But a Jogeshwari West couple, Maulana Sher Mohammed Jafri and wife Aalema Farah Jafri, both senior Shia preachers and clerics, are being toasted inside the community and beyond as their daughter Mohaddesa Jafri has just returned from South Africa with a pilot’s licence.
“She is the first Shia girl in Maharashtra to become a commercial pilot. My wife and I are preachers. It is because of blessings of Allah and Hazrat Imam Hussain (Prophet Muhammad’s grandson who was martyred at the battle of Karbala in 680 in Iraq) that she could realize her dream,” said the proud father.
Tall and slim, Mohaddesa, now 26, was barely seven when India-born American astronaut Kalpana Chawla died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003. She was out in the streets with her father and saw posters and banners of Chawla everywhere. Her father explained to her how the brave astronaut had gone to space but died when the spacecraft she and her other colleagues were travelling in disintegrated while returning to earth.
“I silently became Kalpana Chawla’s fan and as I grew up, I read several biographies and hundreds of articles and watched many videos on her. I told my parents I wanted to join the aviation industry,” said Mohaddesa, who even worked with an airline’s office in Bengaluru briefly before the bug of flying took her to a flying school in 2020 in Springs near Johannesburg, South Africa. Since his father had lived in South Africa for many years, it was easier for him to put in a flying school there.
But months before she left for South Africa and while she trained there, back home her parents had to endure “uncharitable remarks” mostly from relatives. “How could a maulana and alema (female religious scholar) put their only daughter into a pilot’s course?” was the unkind comment they heard. “We kept quiet as we knew we were not doing anything wrong. If our daughter had a dream and there was nothing irreligious or immoral in it, we had to support her,” said her mother. Her parents became the winds beneath her wings.
Both mother and daughter use hijab and Mohaddesa is ready to tackle the situation when she encounters them in future.

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