Step Baba


I was around three when my mother met him.

He said I took one look at him and hid behind her dress. I peered around as he reached down to pick me up, frantically screamed and did a wiggle move out of his arms.

That was the start of our relationship.

My father (technically step-father), Halil, grew up in rural Turkey. He worked hard and was eventually offered a full paid scholarship to the University of Basel in Switzerland. That is where my mother and I would eventually settle after they met through a marriage ad in Islamic Horizons. My parents were forward thinking even in the 80’s!

His family accepted my mom and I with open hearts and arms. My sister was born in Switzerland a year after my parents married and some of my best memories as a child are with what some would call my step-family – running around with my cousins in our family owned Turkish supermarket and summer family trips to the Alps.

I must admit though, we were confusing to some people. We looked mismatched.

Here was this African, kinky haired, chocolate brown baby wrapped around a freckled faced Mediterranean looking man.

People in Switzerland – and then in the US, where we moved when I was nine – would stare and ask questions. But as a child I was unaware of the curiosity.

What I was aware of was the love and kindness he showed me. He spoke gently to me, protected me from the harshness of the world, and took care of me when I had the chicken pox. I watched his every move.

As a young girl, I was subconsciously building my idea of what it meant to be a man and father. He was setting the foundation for how I would view men and what I would seek in a future partner. In my mind, he epitomized what it meant to be a man. No one could even come remotely close, not even my own biological father, who was suffering from mental illnesses that heavily affected the relationship that I could have with him.

Now, as an adult, I sometimes look at my mid-aged father and realize how blessed I am that he was placed in my life. It amazes me how Allah places love and mercy between the hearts of people. The love He placed between my parents was Allah’s mercy to me as well – I am eternally grateful for the gift of my father.

I thank all the great men who take the risk of marrying women with children, especially those with daughters. You are a powerful model for us and we love you.

Ihssan Tahir is a twenty something self-proclaimed “SistaQueen” living in Chicago. She is a registered nurse and specializes in emergency and trauma medicine. In her spare time she enjoys writing and practicing the violin. You can follow her candid blog about her husband hunting endeavors and relationship tidbits at

27 Comments on “Step Baba”

  1. I really liked reading this one….

  2. muslimnlove says:

    Reblogged this on MUSLIMnLOVE and commented:
    Love comes in many forms. His love for my mother set the foundation as to how I would view men and relationships. I can never repay him for the love and kindness he has showed me but I can show appreciation and gratitude. This is for him.

    • KD says:

      Salam Dear: I was pleasantly surprised to see this blog of yours on a FB page I follow from Jordan. 😉 I like your writing style. Easy and forces an imagery that is real. Khala K.

  3. Zarinah Aquil says:

    beautiful on so many levels. thanks for sharing and reiterating that love sees beyond ethnicity and geography. everyone is your family was infinitely blessed to share such a bonding love.

  4. Saajida says:

    such a beautiful story, Masha Allah. May Allah forever keep them blessed and happy in this life and the hereafter. Inshaa Allah, Aameen.

  5. Is it possible, that wee met your parents whe they were in Switzerland? Didn^t your mother leave earlier, back to the States? I think, I met her then? Mention ot them my surname (Tufail) and convey our regards!

  6. I love this Ma Sha Allah, all I can say is__Beautiful 🙂

  7. This post really moved me ❤

  8. leila says:

    Beatiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of your life. May Allah bless you & your parents, always.

  9. alla says:

    Jazak allah Kheir for posting this. As a newly divorced mother of two your article has given me hope that there are good men out there. So thank you for this. God bless you

  10. Mahdia says:

    Amazing story

  11. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. A single parent of a 9yr old son has brought hope in my k=life that such men still do exist in this world.

  12. June Abdel-Razik says:

    MashaAllah Ihsan. Thank you for writing this article about your Step-baba who is truly a great man and father and about your mother, the great woman behind the great man. I pray that you remain an inspiration to all who read your stories. InshaAllah.

  13. Samiya says:

    Lovely story mashaAllah 🙂

  14. […] was reading this blog called “Step Baba” about a man who married a woman with a child and gave her the best […]

  15. bachir says:

    I wish I had such father… Thanks for the lovely story!

  16. Rumman says:

    Your story inspired me. I am a single mother with a two and half years old daughter. I am thinking of marriage again but terrified thinking what if her step-baba doesn’t treat her well. I rather live a single life than putting my daughter into an unbearable situation. May Allah help me find a husband who would be as good as your step-baba.

  17. Tamkeen Pirzada says:

    Beautifully written & so true to life. I wish more & more good Muslim men take up the courage to marry girls/ladies who have already been married with or without kids. May Allah help us all

  18. Ryad Ally says:

    Nice read. Amazing story in our day and age. I suppose these kinds of men do exist. Definitely. However there are artificial barriers (traditions alien to Islam, secular liberal values, stigma) that have been placed by society. As a result, the perception is that men with such qualities have ceased to exist. We ask Allah (swt) for His Help to make our affairs easy for us. Ameen.

  19. Rahma says:

    This made me teary-eyed Ihssan, thank you for sharing the love between you and your dad.

  20. Sierra Al-Khawlani says:

    Mashallah very beautiful!!! For those who are single mothers do not lose hope…. Alhamdulillah my children’s “step”baba is an amazing man who we definitely don’t call their step…. My ex husband takes care of his children however the boys are blessed to have two baba’s one they call daddy (non muslim) and my husband. It is possible to find love as a single mother trust me. A lot of men will accept you with open arms because our Prophet (pbuh) is their example

  21. Safi says:

    I was also raised by a stepfather, who married my mom when I was 6. I also love mine and cherish what he did for our family.
    My mom had 5 children when he married her, and they went on to have 5 more. Alhamdulillah.

  22. […] Single in the City columnist Ihssan Tahir’s beautiful tribute to her stepfather, Step Baba, went viral, resonating with readers around the […]