Memorial Talk by Mehri Niknam

A short talk by Mehri Niknam on the memories of her special relation with Dr Badawi

Although I knew Dr Badawi and co-operated with him on Jewish-Muslim interfaith relations for over 15 years, it is on his parental-like relationship towards me that I will speak in my short talk.

When I first met Dr and Mrs Badawi, I was studying theology and I recall clearly our first discussion: with him it was about the Mu'tazilite and with Mrs Badawi, we talked about "sublimation".

Intellectually and spiritually I felt a connection with them that was to continue and develop.

Dr Badawi always behaved towards me like a middle-eastern father, caring and considerate, but also corrective and directive. I said a middle-eastern father because coming from Iran, I appreciated and valued those aspects of a 'good father'; something that perhaps our western 20th and 21st century perspective seems to have omitted from parental responsibility. However, this did not mean that intellectually I did not hold my own since he did acknowledge my knowledge. When following a long discussion he told me: "You Jews argue too much; even with God", my repost was: "and how God loves the attention !", and he laughed with his typical guffaw. But when I wanted to go to Egypt during a politically difficult time, he strictly forbad me to go because he said I would be arrested and then he would have to come and get me out of gaol and he did not want to do that. On that occasion I bowed my head in respect and thanked him for his concern for me and for his words of wisdom.

Dr Badawi was never a man, who would not speak his mind or express his opinion, but he was one of the most pragmatic and savvy people I have ever known. Those characteristics I appreciated and benefited form in our relationship. I had the fiery passion and dedication for my vocation, and he gave me the necessary cool-headedness and detachment of a caring and experienced father.

I am not going to say how much I miss him because it would offend my feelings! but suffice to say that on the morning of his death, I sent an email to friends and colleagues saying: "Today I feel like one who has lost a father".

May his soul rest in peace and may God grant long life to Mrs Badawi and their children.