Monday, June 20, 2011

Super Hijabi: Fatima Jakoet

I am SO excited to introduce you to super hijabi (and fellow South African!), Fatima Jakoet.

She has an absolutely amazing story. Initially, Fatima aspired to be a doctor. However, when that didn't work out, her background in chemistry led her to become a forensic scientist. Yes, think CSI. But ultimately, she always dreamed of becoming a pilot. When the opportunity finally presented itself, she was able to jump through major obstacles and a rigorous traning and selection process to fulfill her dream.

Currently, Fatima is based out of Cape Town and flies Boeing 737's for South African Airways, one of the biggest airlines in South Africa. Her position is First Officer.

Here is our exclusive interview with her:

Crime scenes must be so depressing, how did you manage keeping it as your job without letting it affect your psychology?

When you have a scientific approach to a crime scene you tend to search for the clues that will assist in solving a case and the gory details are just secondary. Psychologically you have to prepare yourself, as you don’t know what to expect when you get to a scene. As a narcotics expert, I was lucky as there isn’t
as much blood and guts involved. On the other hand when I look back and think of the times when I was in toxicology, really don’t know how I handled it.

Were you the first and only hijabi crime scene investigator?

Most of the time yes, it wasn’t something that I ever realised until someone pointed out that I was a journalist under cover!

When did you start wearing hijab?

My parents have always led by example alhamdulilaah and I have them to thank that it wasn’t an issue,it was a natural transition to wear hijab when the time came. And yes, I was like any other teenager who had moments when it ‘slipped’ off my head.

What inspired you to wear hijab?

My mother embraced Islam maasha Allah and she has been my biggest inspiration. At the age of 58 she learned to read the Quran and continues to read it every day.

You also eventually became the first South African hijabi pilot! How did flying planes come in to the picture?

Flying has always been a dream, a passion. I was fascinated with big metal machines soaring through the sky from a very young age. My road to becoming a pilot was an interesting one. I studied chemistry when I didn’t get into med school. The idea was to become a doctor and then pay for my pilot license and then fly in hop into my little aeroplane from one deserted town to another in Africa and heal the people.

It was one day standing in front of a Boeing 747 that I just couldn’t resist and I applied for a scholarship and was awarded a place on the South African Airways Cadet Pilot Programme in 2001. It was a dream come true! Alhamdulilaah.

Did you ever think that you can't achieve your dreams as a hijabi, because you would get rude remarks or face lots of opticals to overcome? And did you have a strategy you used to fight back prejudice?

I never thought it be an issue until I started flying passengers. Initially my motto was: ‘kill them with kindness’. Now it is: “this is my opportunity for dawah."

Unfortunately lots of girls blame hijab for their failures in life, if they were denied a job or the chance to an education, sometimes they are ready to just give up and take it off and not fight for what they believe in. What is your advice to a girl who is debating continuing to wear her hijab?

Hijab is a gift to us as women from no other that Allah. It serves not only as our protection but also as our dawah. We are a Muslim first everything else is secondary, so if you don’t get the job that you really wanted, accept that Allah has something more beautiful in better for you in store.

We are curious to know how do you deal with prayers when prayer time approaches in the sky?

I fly domestic routes and most of the time my schedule allows me to make my prayers on time or at least in time alhamdulilaah. Being at 35000 ft thikr(remembering Allah) is the best blessing to keep my soul nutured.

Also are there any duas you recite before you take off? Like the one of our prophet(pbuh) when he traveled etc.

Yes my cue is when I pull the control column back and the aeroplane becomes airborne I am reminded of Allah’s rahmah, that such a heavy piece of metal can make its way through the clear weightless air.

As a Super Hijabi, do you have any advice for our readers?

Allah has granted everyone on the dunya a special gift and bestowed on us infinite mercy. Focus on nurturing this give and embrace Allah’s love mercy show gratitude towards Allah.

That concludes our interview. We, at HijabiTopia would like to commend Fatima for being an inspiration to us all, and an amazing role model for muslim girls everywhere, masha'Allah! Fatima recently tweeted the following picture, commemorating her 10th year in aviation, with an all-female crew. You can follow her on twitter @FatimaJ

Also, for more on her story, in her own words, please click here.

Nazreen Hassan for HijabiTopia


  1. As a young South African hijabi I'm over the moon about this feature.Its really a wonderful thing, MASHA-ALLAH!!!

  2. Great interview with such an amazing and inspiring woman. Thank you Team Hijabi Topia. I would love to invite her to my Radio show if she in Dallas.

  3. I wonder, is it amazing that she is a female pilot?? or amazing that she wears a Hijab? I am confused. I am proud of her woman to woman. Does it matter that she is muslima? or that she wears a hijab? I mean no disrespect, I am just asking a ?

  4. What an amazing story, so inspirational!