When she left a bad marriage, Sania Khan said some members of her South Asian Muslim community made her feel like she had “failed at life”. Through TikTok, she found support and comfort in strangers – until her ex returned and murdered her.
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Her bags were packed. She was ready to be free.
The 21st of July was to be the day Sania Khan, 29, left Chicago, Illinois – and the trauma of a relationship gone wrong – to begin a new solo chapter in her native Chattanooga.
Instead, that day, she returned home to Tennessee in a casket.
Three days earlier, officers had found Khan unresponsive near the front door of the Chicago condominium she had once shared with her estranged husband, Raheel Ahmad, 36. She had a gunshot wound to the back of her head and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Upon arrival of the police, Ahmad had turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.
According to police reports shared with the Chicago Sun-Times, the pair were “going through a divorce”, and Ahmad, who had gone to live in a different state while separated from Khan, had travelled some 700 miles back to their former home “to salvage the marriage”.
The grisly murder-suicide was the tragic final chapter in the life of Khan, a young Pakistani-American photographer who had recently found recognition on the social-media platform TikTok as a voice for women fighting marriage trauma and divorce stigma in the South Asian community.
Her death has left her friends shaken, and has reverberated with her online followers and other South Asian women who say they have felt the pressure to stay in unhealthy relationships for the sake of appearances.
“She said 29 is going to be her year and it’s going to be a new beginning,” said BriAnna Williams, a university friend. “She was so excited.”
To her friends, Khan was a joy to be around – authentic, positive and selfless almost to a fault.