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