From death, light

Rockefeller’s bells were ringing as 50 people entered Bond Chapel for Amadou Cisse’s service of remembrance Wednesday evening. “Assalamu alaikum,” Professor Mahmoud Ismail began. “Peace be upon you.” Cisse, a 29-year-old chemistry graduate student from Senegal, was shot and killed November 19, 2007, shortly after completing requirements for his PhD; four men await trial for his murder.

“I prayed many times with Amadou,” Ismail said before reciting the Sura al-Fatiha, the opening verses of the Qur’an. “We’re here today to celebrate his life. He was very well trusted by his friends and very well liked by all who had moments with him. We Muslims believe that you go from this life to another life, where you wait until the resurrection. May Allah make his grave a garden full of light, and may he make his life in this stage as pleasant as possible.”

Czerny Brasuell, director of multicultural affairs at Bates College, spoke of Cisse’s time as an undergrad there, where he became a member of her family, she said. “There was no self in Amadou. There was devotedness and kindness to others.” He intended to mentor a group of West African students at Bates this past fall, she said. Instead he became “the role model they never met.” The students have all been inspired by Cisse to take extra courses and declare early majors, saying, “If he could, we can.”


The speakers encouraged the audience to act to honor Cisse. Mumtaz Champsi, MBA’86, from Hyde Park Muslim Families, said Cisse’s friends should “challenge the violence” that took his life. “Let’s start by being peaceful,” she said, “and then let us reach out: to each other and to our neighbors. May God make America dar al-salaam, the land of peace.” Omer Mozaffar, MLA’03, who first met Cisse at Friday prayer in Bond Chapel, made three requests of those present: first, “look at your relationship with yourself, the world around you, and the divine”; second, “introduce yourself to someone in this room”; and third, “work to solve the problems in our society.”

“Find a cause that you can give to,” Mozaffar said. “Make life come from this death.”

Other speakers included Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students in the University Kimberly Goff-Crews; Student Government President Matthew Kennedy, ’09; Muslim Students Association Vice President Enal Hindi, ’10; and Cheikh Balla Samb, president of the Senegalese Association in Chicago. Muhammad Hossain, ’11, sang verses from the Qur’an.

George Vassilev, an international-relations graduate student and president of the International House Residents’ Council, and the council’s representatives closed the ceremony by lighting candles and reciting the I-House pledge: “As light begets light, so love, friendship, and goodwill are passed from one to another…”

Shira Tevah, ’09

International House Residents Council recites the I-House pledge.

November 21, 2008