Approximately 350 Emory and Atlanta community members commemorated the lives of Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain, celebrating their dedication to service, leadership and kindness July 7 at an interfaith vigil in William R. Cannon Chapel. Emory’s Office of Spiritual and Religious Life hosted “Vigil for Dhaka” to honor Kabir and Hossain, who were among 20 people killed last week in a terror attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Kabir was a rising Oxford College sophomore, and Hossain a rising Goizueta Business School junior.
Crowd overflow was redirected to the Candler School of Theology, where the vigil was projected. Live streaming was available for those unable to attend.
To begin, Religious Life Adviser Isam Vaid (93Ox 95C 99PH) sang a melancholic call to prayer while University President James W. Wagner lit a candle. The gesture was meant to represent hope and memorialize all victims of violence, Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life Reverend Bridgette Young Ross explained in the welcoming statement.
Oxford Chaplain Lyn Pace introduced a procession in which Emory community members placed Gerbera daisies into two vases opposite the Candle of Hope.
Each flower symbolized a life lost and was stemmed with florist wire so that it was “sturdy” and able to “hold [its] head up,” Pace said. “Though … grieved, we hold our heads up as we remember and hold up the lives and legacies of those who were killed.”
As drums echoed throughout the chapel, select Emory community members — most of whom were connected to Kabir or Hossain — solemnly walked in pairs, each grasping a single white flower. Goizueta Dean Erika James and Oxford Dean Douglas Hicks carried the final two daisies, which were yellow, representing Kabir and Hossain.
“[The vigil] was beautiful and a perfect testament to the character of Abinta and Faraaz,” College junior Addison Welch (16Ox), who carried a daisy, said.
After a moment of silence, Oxford Dean for Campus Life Joseph Moon read College junior Chase Jackson’s (16Ox) reflection. Jackson, who was unable to attend the vigil, had worked with Hossain and Kabir through the Student Activities Committee (SAC), a campus programming organization at Oxford, ultimately forming close friendships. Kabir and Hossain had both chaired the programming committee.
“Students [appreciated] conversations with [Hossain], his ability to provide wise insight to situations and his characteristic smile,” Moon read. “[Kabir’s] ever-present smile and genuine passion to help others made her an easy person to talk to, hang out with and seek advice from.”
Members of the audience nodded and murmured in agreement with Jackson’s description of Kabir’s and Hossain’s warm, caring personalities.
Oxford sophomore Salma Soliman, who knew Kabir and Hossain, brought the uplifting words of World War II paratrooper Hannah Senesh to the somber crowd.
“There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living,” she said.
Another memorial ceremony will be held when students return to campus for the fall semester, according to Ross.
“The Atlanta and Oxford campuses [will collaborate] to ensure that friends of Kabir and Hossain on both campuses will be able to participate,” Ross said.