Fighting for His Voice

Whenever I lost something, my parents taught me to immediately utter the du’a (prayer), Innal ilahi wa innal ilayhi raji’oon. Say it, and surely God will bring whatever you lost back to you, my parents, in-laws, and so many elders told me. This du’a is the proper thing to utter when someone passes, but also it’s a du’a for loss of any kind. The phrase comes from the Quran, Surah al Baqara, verse 156. The full verse is: “Who, when a misfortune overtakes him say: ‘Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return.’

It’s a phrase applied to situations of difficulty, death, loss or even risk. In layman’s terms, it means, “From God we come and to God we return.” God gives us bounty and blessings, God takes them away and God can give it back again. And so, when we discovered that Lil D’s iPad was lost and/or stolen on Sunday, when we realized that his voice was gone, I uttered this du’a: Innal Ilahi wa innal ilayhi raji-oon.

It’s certainly no guarantee that the iPad will be back. If something is meant to be taken from us, then there’s nothing I can do about. But, I’ve been raised to beseech God, put my faith in prayer and back that prayer up with action. Nothing gets done just by sitting on the prayer mat and talking to God. At least not with me, that is. If you have a problem, you’ve got to do something.

If you’re just joining us on this latest chapter in our autism journey with our eldest son, Lil D, click here to catch up on the sad story of how Lil D’s iPad was lost/taken/stolen on an outing to Target last Saturday where we live here in Central Virginia. After filing a police report and hounding our local Target to view the security tapes to see if they could ascertain when the iPad went missing and who might’ve taken it, I was fed up. Five days had passed when I did what I felt was the logical next step on Wednesday.

I wrote a blog post about our ordeal, I posted it to Facebook, and I put up a post on Target’s Facebook site with my complaint. As the day wore on, the post on Target’s FB page attracted lots of attention, with more than 1,000 “likes” and close to 200 comments. The blog post was shared and read widely as well. And, the outpouring of support, advice, sympathy, righteous anger, and offers to buy a new iPad for Lil D restored – and my apologies for falling back on a corny phrase – my faith in humanity.

I have much more to say on that epiphany in another post. Here, I want to bring you up to speed on what has transpired. Wednesday afternoon, after more phone calls by me to our local Target, I was told that the security guard who had been out sick was back on duty, and that if I called the police in, they would review the tapes. By that point, my message on Target’s FB page also elicited a response from the store’s corporate offices. But, when I called the number they offered, it connected me to an utterly useless and utterly maddening call center.

Pushing that aside, I spent two hours at our local Target, waiting for the police, then waiting while the officer reviewed the tape with the security guard. I knew it was a long shot, and when all was said and done, what was seen was a clear image of me, my husband, Lil D and Hamza getting a cart, with the iPad under my arm. Then you could see me getting a different cart and seating the kids in there, moving my purse over.

The next camera shot of us showed us walking down the main aisle of the store, our cart empty save for my purse. We hadn’t started shopping yet, so you could clearly see my purse in the cart, but no iPad. The police officer surmised that my purse could’ve been covering the iPad, but more than likely it had been taken by that point – probably when we switched from one cart to the other when we first entered the store. Most likely I left it in the original cart, and then someone took it. The cameras trailed us around the store, but they were unable to see who had taken the iPad.

On one hand, my goal with calling out Target on Facebook and writing the blog post had been achieved – the security tapes were finally viewed. I had known from the start that it would be a long shot that we would see who had taken the iPad, but I had to try.

Thursday I woke up thinking, ok, what now? What do I do next? We had the “Find iPad” app on Lil D’s iPad, and we had been checking that since realizing it was missing on Sunday. I had numerous conversations with Apple and Target and had sought help from friends of mine with technical expertise. But, because Lil D’s iPad was not in our network (3G capable, but the 3G was never initiated) and only used with Wi-Fi, unless whomever took it hooked into Wi-Fi, we would not be able to track it.

I went to my Thursday morning halaqa (Quran study circle) and afterwards, before meeting my husband for lunch, stopped to put gas in the car. While I was sitting in the car waiting for the tank to fill up, I casually opened up my photos on my iPhone and thumbed through them. I usually peruse the photos in my album, seeing if the kids have taken any crazy photos. I rarely look at the photo stream. But in that moment, I opened the photo stream.

And there I saw it.

Nineteen photos of people who I did not know.

Every photo in my album or in our shared photo stream belongs to my family. I know every single photo in there. But here were 19 photos of people sandwiched between photos we took Sunday afternoon from my phone and ones I took Monday night – people I didn’t know.

People who had Lil D’s iPad.

If you have iPhone (the later versions) or iOS6 (I believe), you have iCloud – this is a system where a family who shares phones and devices can have a single area where information and photos are shared. We have a photo stream, accessible through iCloud, where any photo taken with Lil D’s iPad can be seen on mine and my husband’s phone.

I never thought to check our photo stream before. I mean, who would be so daft as to take photos with Lil D’s iPad? Well, the people who have Lil D’s iPad did. And, I have their pictures.

Many of the photos are morphed, as we have an app on the iPad (that our kids love) where you can take your photo and apply all sorts of funky filters. But there are two clear shots of a woman. And there is one clear shot of a little boy, and in the background you can see Lil D’s iPad. How is that?

There is a mirror in the background of the photo, and whomever took the photo of the boy, you can see her reflection holding up the iPad, encased in Lil D’s blue grip case.

To say I freaked out is to put it mildly. I contacted the police and sent them the photos. I also sent the photos to another contact in Target’s headquarters in hopes that they could do something as well.

And today, I decided to go on the local news, which aired the story this evening (in which, the reporter says that I say the iPad was stolen. I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that. It is missing, or taken, or maybe stolen.) I debated back and forth if I would share the photos with the media, or put it online myself. Is it legally ok? I’m not accusing these people of theft. I just know they have it, and I want Lil D’s iPad back. Perhaps these people don’t understand what this iPad is used for, what it means to Lil D, how it is his voice. Maybe I’m again being too nice in thinking that these people just don’t get it.

Whatever is the case, I decided that since the photos were taken with an iPad that we own, and since they showed up on my phone, I am within my right to share them. I’m not accusing these people of theft. But I’m as certain as I can be that these are the folks who have Lil D’s iPad. So, please look at the photo of this woman carefully. (The others I have are of a boy, which I will not share, and a man with morphed, funny features. The woman is the only clear picture I have.) If you know her, contact me.

This fight is far from over.

About Dilshad Ali
  • Javed

    Dilshad, send this to lifehacker. You’ll get even more play/chance of finding the iPad

  • Nabila

    You should post all the photos, morphed or not, despite the ages. Your IPAD was stolen and you have rights over what is contained within it. Good luck, prayers are with you.

  • Cynthia

    I read about this on a friend’s facebook post, I shared it as well. I am so sorry this story is heartbreaking. Is there a place we can make a donation for a replacment for Lil’ D?

    • http://www.facebook.com/dilshad.ali Dilshad D. Ali

      Thanks so kindly for your offer to make a donation. We have a temporary iPad that Lil D is getting by on. And, we can afford to get him a new one. I also have another autism mom friend who has arranged to get one sent to him. But the point right now is that I want what is rightfully his back, because that iPad was tailored to him, bought for him lovingly through birthday and holiday money from our family. I thank you though. Very kind of you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dilshad.ali Dilshad D. Ali

      He grew his voice in that iPad, and no one should take it away from him. I hope we get it back.

  • Mac Betty

    Keep an eye on Richmond Craigslist for someone trying to sell it

  • http://twitter.com/GlaMuslim Dija

    I have followed you on your journey of motherhood through your blog and I know through your writing how the IPad allowed you a glimpse into your son’s thoughts. I pray that you will somehow recover your iPad. I just want you to know how much I appreciate and am inspired by your courage in fighting for your son’s voice. May Allah swt bless you dear sister. I know you said that you can replace the IPad, but is there any autism charity that I can make a donation to on your son’s behalf and his amazing mom?

  • Jacob

    Download this app to view the original image’s EXIF data and maybe pinpoint where it was taken from

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photosexif/id427157697?mt=8

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.chandler.37 Stephanie Chandler

    Try putting this image into google image to identify her if any image on facebook ect match this image it should pop up with her name.

  • http://twitter.com/francescalyn francescalyn

    Please post all of the images of the people that have your iPad. Someone will know who they are.

  • Aaron

    The Find My iPad didn’t work after the photos had been uploaded to Photo Stream?

  • http://twitter.com/HenaZuberi Hena Zuberi

    Really hope they return it. Lots of duas for you guys.


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