On December 20th, 23-year-old model Sahar Daftary died as a result of a fall from the 12th story of an apartment building in Greater Manchester (inna lillahi wa inna illaihi raji’un). May Allah have mercy on her soul. The death of this former Face of Asia has spurred many speculations in British media as to the cause of her death – was it suicide, or an accident?
Media reports inform us that Daftary was believed to have committed suicide as a result of splitting up with husband Rashid Jamil. However, her family has stated that Daftary would never commit suicide and thus have introduced suspicions of an accident.
According to news reports, Daftary met Jamil at a fashion show. They later married. However, the marriage was limited to a religious ceremony and was never registered in the U.K., thus leaving the marriage unrecognized under British law. Eventually, Daftary discovered that her husband had actually been married three times before and was still married to his third wife. This left Daftary extremely upset. In fact, it seems that she had been pregnant and had a miscarriage as a result of the revelation. This is being presented as the reason for Daftary’s supposed suicide.
Overall, the many pieces written about the tragedy seem to depict the story of a young beautiful Muslim woman victimized by a cruel, controlling Muslim man. Now, don’t get me wrong. From all accounts Jamil seems like an unsavoury and skeezy character. From the Mail Online:
Sahar’s family, originally from Afghanistan, but now based in Brentford, West London, describe him as a ‘controlling’ figure, who was unable to get over Sahar after she left him.
Additionally, this from his ex-wife:
My marriage to him was like a roller-coaster ride. I was constantly under pressure. I was constantly unhappy.
‘He didn’t want responsibility, he just wanted to be carefree. He wanted the “chase” and once he’d finished the chase, he’d move on to the next woman. He was on a power trip.
‘He always had two women on the go. Two girls turned up at my house, knocking on the door claiming they were pregnant. They said he’d promised to marry them, to divorce and leave me.
‘He would cover his tracks by saying there was nothing going on and that they were lying. I believed him, but I stopped believing him when Narhisa had her son. He supported her and left us for her.’
So, yes, I cannot sympathize with the man. However, I also cannot ignore the underlying discourse: helpless Muslim woman the victim of polygamous Muslim man. The constant references to the couple’s Muslim ceremony, as well as Jamil’s former Muslim ceremony marriages, place the blame for Daftary’s death on Jamil’s polygamy and bring Islam into the picture. In fact, this Times Online article makes the link between Muslim marriages laws in the U.K. and this particular tragedy.