Remembering Laila Lokhandwalla Through Her Loving Golden Jubilee Tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam

LAILA LOKHANDWALLA

It is with deep regret and sorrow that we announce the passing of Laila Lokhandwalla in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday May 5, 2013 at the age of 55. Our heartfelt condolences go to Ms. Lokhandwalla’s family and friends, and we pray for the eternal peace and rest of Laila’s soul. Her funeral ceremonies took place at the Scarborough Jamatkhana on Thursday, May 9th, with special religious ceremonies for the departed soul later during the evening at the Headquarters Jamatkhana.

Laila Lokhandwalla was born and raised in India. Following her graduation in the early 1980’s from the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, England, Laila moved to Canada where she served with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for a number of years. She obtained her B.A. in Sociology from York University, Toronto, and thereafter, her graduate level Certificate in Teaching ESL, from George Brown College, Toronto. Professionally she was a teacher of ESL (English as a Second Language).

An articulate and engaging teacher as well as an Alwaeza (missionary), Laila also wrote beautiful and stirring poetry. Several of her poems and writings were published in Ismaili literary magazines around the world, including the flagship quarterly periodical Ilm published by the UK Ismaili Tariqah Board. In many of her poems, she sought to capture her immense love, affection and devotion to Mawlana Hazar Imam (His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims).

Following the completion of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee, Laila penned a special poem “Reflections of the Golden Jubilee” which was published on this website, along with a personal statement expressing her fondness for writing.

We pay our respect and tribute to Laila Lokhandwalla by re-publishing some of her pieces below, and invite the readers to also click on A Spring Poem for Shah Karim. We begin though with reflections about Laila from her former colleagues at the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

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Tributes to Laila from Her Colleagues

From Mumtaz Virani, Toronto

Further to the above sad announcement about Laila, I would like to inform readers that a collection of Laila’s poems that has been published is available on-line at the following link: http://thewisdomofourhearts.com/.

Laila had been a bright student during her school career. She had inherited melodious voice from her mother who used to sing at the radio station in 1960’s in India. Laila had a special flair for arts and culture and had a strong command on English language because of her convent education.

She loved music and dancing. We witnessed her Kathak dance presentations at the parties during our student days at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in early 80’s. When in good spirit she was a well rounded person and it was easy to fall in love with her.

We pray that her soul may rest in peace. Ameen.

* * *

From Alnoor B. Kassam

At heart, Laila was one of a kind… a flower ripe for He Who Is, departed at our loss, well before her time…  Her effervescence of mind was known only to those who’d sat with her during sessions of learning.  How she challenged anyone shy of intellectual rigour, and yet was always keen to adapt to innovative trends of thought!  Hers was a life we may thus celebrate.

Sure, there were challenges.  She bore them with grace.  And we know that Allah SubhaanaHu wa Ta’ala is Gracious, and He has now bestowed her with liberation of spirit.  As it says in the Qur’an ash-Sharif, those who have passed on are even more alive than we are in this world, only we lack capacity in that we neither sense nor fathom it…

Her zeal each time we had an IIS alumni conference will be held in fond memory.  Her intellectual honesty coupled with dedication to her vocation, was just as remarkable as it was sincere.

May she have well earned rest, in eternal peace, grace and blessing…

Please also see comments.

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My Interest and Love for Poetry

By Laila Lokhandwalla

I have been writing poetry in English since childhood. I started out with writing devotional poems in praise of Mawlana Hazar Imam (His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims), but I now have a collection of more than forty poems on various subjects, including politics, women’s and social issues as well as inspirational poems and poems celebrating nature. Besides poems, I have also written some geets (devotional songs set to music), in praise of Hazar Imam, in Gujarati and Urdu. I sometimes also write poetry in Gujarati and Urdu. However, most of my literary work is in the English language.

The love of religion, philosophy and social work, besides of course the pure love of language, especially the English language, have resulted in the poetry that has literally poured out of my soul. I have never really had to make an effort to write poetry. It has always automatically poured forth from my very being whenever I have been moved by anything in life. My poetry is the result of my life experiences and my feelings and thoughts on whatever I have experienced and lived.

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Reflections on the Golden Jubilee

By Laila Lokhandwalla

The sun dawned in the East and slowly but surely,

Lighted up every corner of the globe, in stages, successively,

The earth looked like a newly wedded bride in its enlightened décor,

Even as my Mawla was visiting Jamats, scattered across the globe, one after another,

Illuminating hearts and sparking minds, spreading joy and enlightenment,

Bringing prosperity and progress, breeding hope and encouragement…

This was indeed a special dawn…the dawn of a golden era,

The celebration of the Golden Jubilee of my beloved Mawla!

Excitement within, the tempo building,

Hearts in unison, merrily dancing…

Celebrating in a multitude of ways,

These unique, precious, historic days!

Canada launches several projects new,

To commemorate and celebrate this event…

And to their Imam, their vows they renew,

Pledging love and loyalty with this golden advent!

The Aga Khan Museum and for Pluralism – The Global Centre,

The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and The Ismaili Centre,

In their wake, planning a renewal,

A renaissance: cultural, social, intellectual and spiritual!

What exciting times, the future seems bright in prospect,

How immense the bounties, the blessings of the Imamat!

Could this be real, I am moved,

May I help build this future, as I am encouraged?

For that’s not all, there’s more to come…

My Imam directs, these things must be done:

Poverty must be eliminated,

Seniors must be supported,

Education and Religious Education, quality should reflect,

And walls that divide, must be replaced with bridges that unite…

Witnessing these times, I am blessed, I am thinking…

Even as I see the sun setting,

Slowly also setting upon this golden time…

Yet, the hope, the courage, the happiness, does not seem to dim!

The impact was so strong,

The memory shall linger on…

Forever more, to fuel energies and to inspire,

As to accomplish tasks and resolutions pledged, we thus aspire.

Spiritually renewed, yet humbled by all these graces,

I fall into a prayerful ecstasy, my heart races…

“Shukran, shukran, shukran”, repeats my inner soul’s voice,

In a rhythm that is endless and continuous…

For I envisage my Mawla, you’ve opened up the doors graciously,

To ever-increasing happiness and prosperity, endlessly…

Shukranalhamdulillah!

Date posted: Tuesday May 7, 2013
Date updated: Saturday, May 11, 2013.

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We welcome your messages and feedback. Please complete the comments box below or send  your an email to simerg@aol.com.

20 thoughts on “Remembering Laila Lokhandwalla Through Her Loving Golden Jubilee Tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam

  1. May Allah rest Laila’s soul in eternal peace. It aas shocking to find out about her passing. I like her poetry, only remember her as waezan and involvement in Jamatkhana duties. She was a smart, intelligent, wonderful lady but wasn’t doing so well. I last spoke to her maybe 1-2 weeks before her passing.

  2. Laila was a lovely human being. We remember her well as a student in London. May her soul rest in peace. Amin.

    Fatima & Farouk Topan

  3. I am so very sorry to hear about Laila’s passing away …way too soon….long before her time. May Mowla rest her soul in eternal peace….ameen.

    It was my good fortune to hear Laila’s lectures for hours…..sharing her immense knowledge with such a passion that time just flew.

    I have many many fond memories of her and I will not ever forget what I’ve gained from her waezes and her lectures. I am just so very sad she’s no longer with us physically.

  4. Laila has left her foot prints on the sands of time and we can only pray for the eternal rest of her soul, amen.

  5. I am very sorry to hear of Alwaeza Laila’s passing. It has been an honour to meet Laila and learn from her. I will always remember her support, generosity, and wonderful contributions to any discussion. A truly amazing, humble and intelligent human being!
    May Laila’s soul rest in eternal peace and may she be blessed with Noorani Deedar. Ameen.

  6. Innalillahi wa ina ilayhi rajiun. I am so sorry to learn about Laila’s passing away. She was my second cousin sister but we have really really lost our sister. I must thank SIMERG for remembering her. May Mawla help Ramzan Kaka and family. Amin.

  7. Knowing Laila for years was a priviledge. A person with a beautiful mind, body & soul. May her soul rest in Eternal Peace. Our prayers are with the entire family.

  8. Innalillahi wa ina ilayhi rajiun. Very sad to hear the sad demise of Laila. May her soul rest in eternal peace, Ameen!

  9. May her soul rest in eternal peace, amen. Her memory will live on through her excellent poetry.

  10. Our love and prayers for the departed soul. Our prayers for our friend Ramzanbhai (Laila’s dear father) and his family at this difficult time. May Allah keep Laila’s soul in His abode.

  11. At heart, she was one of a kind… a flower ripe for He Who Is; departed at our loss, well before her time…

    May she rest a well earned rest; in eternal peace…

    Please read more of Alnoor’s tribute in the post – Ed.

  12. She writes peacefully and articulates the journey of man’s yearning for the Nur. May her soul rest in eternal peace. Amen!

  13. Innalillahi wa ina ilayhi rajiun. I am so sorry to learn this as she was my second cousin and only thru the last poem she wrote, and thanks to Simerg I kind of touched based with my memory of her family.

    Thank you so much. I shall do the necessary rituals in Singapore.

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