He is a Salafi of the old school, who still gives side-eye to pants below the ankles and has an epic beard that gets more comments than his actual work. Thankfully, he has none of the takfeeri tendencies and worst character traits of our ideological tribe. (The word "bid'ah" remains a favourite, however - I would mimic his "wa kulla bid'atin dalaalah, wa kulla dalaatin fin-naar!" on the ride back from Jumu'ah with gusto.) I make fun of all his #VintageSalafi moments and troll his FB page gleefully because it's just too hard to pass up all the opportunities to point out how he lives in a little Salafi bubble in his head.
When I was a toddler, he used to take me with him to Masjid anNabawi, where he used to spend time with his friends and fellow students of the Islamic university; up until I hit 13, I used to accompany him everywhere - grocery shopping, Islamic classes, distributing sadaqah (charity) bags for the Muslim food bank he'd started. I listened to him, and watched him, and learned from him.
More than anything else, he ingrained in me the importance of grassroots da'wah: the importance of connecting to individuals and families, the power of a sincere smile and 'as-salaamu 'alaikum', the necessity of putting aside personal free time for the sake of Allah, the ability to develop a thick skin because in da'wah, appreciation is not something we should ever expect.
The more I learned about feminism and realized how strongly I identified with it, the more I spoke about it, and the more he would snort in annoyance and then say dumb things to make me mad. It took me a little too long to catch on and just roll my eyes at him. What he would never admit, though, is that occasionally I've managed to convince him of my own positions and prove that I'm right
During car rides, and before going to bed, I'd spend hours hanging out with my dad, making stupid jokes, showing him random stuff on the Internet, and talking about all the latest issues on the Muslim cyberscen and da'wah circles. I'd argue with him about women's issues, unsatisfied with the typical imam answers he'd give me; then he'd help me do the research for my next fiery Salafi feminist article and never admit that he was involved. (He'll forever deny that he has anything to do with my rants, but will tell me about how he has friends who read them.)
On road trips and visa runs to Thailand, Indonesia, and elsewhere, he and I would make a beeline for the malls and local markets, excited about all the fun stuff. My mom would trail behind us, complaining that she wanted to see nature, not do more shopping. Even now, he sends me pictures of all the things he knows I love and tell me that it's my mom who won't let him buy it for me.
Out of myself and my three younger brothers, we all know that I am the one most closely following in his footsteps (even if I don't have the male privilege he does when it comes to studying and opportunities lol). When he Skypes every day, sometimes twice a day, and says he really just called to speak to the Mouseling, she's the first one to point out that we're talking over her and not letting her speak. Oddly, I feel protective over him; I'd long ago developed a strong sense of gheerah for him, staring down women whom I felt were inappropriate in their interactions with him, and I have no problem sending a pointed FB message to anyone who takes their joking with him on his FB page a little too far.
Once, it used to bother me - I wanted an identity that was more than just "the shaykh's daughter" - but now, having established that individual identity of my own, I'm proud to hear those words. I know that I come nowhere close to him in the impact he has had on people's lives, that I know nothing in comparison to his Islamic knowledge, but I pray that one day, I can at least come close to it.