Hyderabad: Huma Abedin, a well-known political activist and former aide of Hillary Clinton, is back in the news. This time it is because of her uncommonly named forthcoming book Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds which is scheduled to be out in the market next week.
She has an Indian connection that too with Hyderabad.
Huma has been in the eye of storms, off and on since she arrived in the US when she was merely 18 years old. Though born in the US she had lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her parents and completed her school education there.
Huma who wanted to become a journalist and a writer began her career by choosing to become an intern at the White House when Bill Clinton was the President. She later joined the staff of Hillary Clinton and rose to become her main aide.
Referring to her soon-to-be-published book the news portals across the world, especially in the US and Europe have focused only on an unsavoury incident in her early American life. The incident is related to an unnamed political person, in fact a senator, who tried to force himself upon ‘twenty something’ Abedin. She resisted the assault and moved on with her life to reach a certain level of public life of her own.
She is now 46 years old.
The grit and drive she has demonstrated so far indicate that she would go a long way in public life.
I am writing this piece essentially because I had known her parents—Syed Zainul Abedin and Saleha Abedin. Though Zainul Abedin Saheb had moved to the US when he was in his twenties he never accepted American citizenship. He retained his Indian passport all along.
The more compelling reason for writing this piece is the fact that Saleha Abedin migrated to Pakistan with her parents from Hyderabad, Deccan (Telangana), when she might have been about eight years of age.
Once, Zain Saheb (as I addressed him) told me that his wife’s family lived in Chirag Ali Lane, near Abids, and moved to Pakistan somewhere in 1948. He did not share any other details.
I hardly met Saleha Abedin Saheba. I was told that she was close to the sister of Dr Abdullah Omar Nasif, an influential educator, Vice-Chancellor of King Abdul Aziz University, and later Vice President of the Shura Council or the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah. She also had good relations with other eminent Saudi personalities. Saleha Abedin Saheba first taught at Manara School and then to moved to newer and bigger institution, Dar Al Fikr. She also taught as a professor at the Women’s College of King Abdul Aziz University.
I happened to see Huma and her younger sister a couple times when I was with their father in his study. But there was no introduction, therefore, no talking. On the other hand, I met his only son Hassan a few times. I have been told by some friends in Jeddah that he was the oldest of the lot. There are reports that he is working with the Organisation of Islamic Countries.
One of the sources also said that Saleha Saheba is still residing in the Red Sea city. After the passing away of her husband in 1993 in Jeddah (I had attended his last rites in Makkah where he was laid to rest in Jannatul Mualla cemetery), she had begun to edit the Journal of Minority Affairs, the biannual research document of which Zain Saheb was the founder Editor.
Since Zain Saheb came from the Jamaat-e-Islami background and have had the opportunity to interact with Maulana Abul A’la Maududi in his younger days, the family followed a strict parda system.
Huma has been in the news off and on. That appears to be her fate. She got married to a Jewish person, Anthony Weiner on July 10, 2010. A year later she gave birth to a baby boy. She divorced Weiner around 2016 after he was found writing ‘illicit material’ to underaged girls.
Described by Hillary Clinton as her ‘daughter’ she has been through several inquiries into various aspects of her public life. But she has always come out clean. Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds is her version in her own words.
Mir Ayoob Ali Khan is a seasoned journalist who has worked with the Times of India, Deccan Chronicle and Saudi Gazette for about four decades.