By Abdulmalik Merchant
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of an outstanding educator and leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, (Alijah) Zulfikarali M.A. Velji Khoja, in Ottawa, Canada, on Friday, September 4th, 2015. His funeral and burial ceremonies will take place in Ottawa on Wednesday, September 9.
Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Mr. Khoja was a skilled trainer, facilitator, educational consultant and mediator. His experience and training was diverse: with a post-graduate degree in Radio Chemistry from Carleton University, Ottawa, and professional designations from the Universities of Birmingham, Queens, Ottawa, Windsor and the London School of Economics, he travelled worldwide on many consulting assignments as a Mediator. These included: The Canadian Human Rights Commission, Better Business Bureau, Ottawa-Carleton Dispute Resolution Centre,and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
As an administrator, educator and trainer, Zul worked at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. He was also headmaster, educator and trainer (Professional Development) to The Aga Khan Development Network, both in Bangladesh and Kenya. Zul’s voluntary service with the Ismaili Community and its institutions included several countries (South Africa, Kenya, Bangladesh and Canada). The services in Canada included training Management Auditors and conducting Management Audits. He also served as a Baitul Ilm teacher and held leadership positions with both the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board and the Aga Khan Council since his settlement in Ottawa in the 1970’s. Most recently he served as the Convener for Donor Services for the Aga Khan Foundation committee in Ottawa, where he resided with his wife, Khairunissa. He also leaves behind two children, a son, Sherali, and a daughter, Rozmin.
We pray that Allah may rest Alijah Zul Khoja’s soul in eternal peace, and that He may bless his entire family with courage and fortitude at this difficult time.
Mr. Khoja had contributed to this blog in numerous ways including writing a memorable piece Ismaili Penmanship in 1906 for this website’s special series, I Wish I’d Been There.
Date posted (from Halifax, Nova Scotia): September 8, 2015.
Random thought to search for a personal hero led me here. I will forever remember his cheerfulness, his teaching ability, and the way he closed every class with “Questions, comments, criticisms?”. There are few people who can make a lifelong impression on an unripe teenager, but Mr. Khoja was one. His teachings went far further than simply the science he was hired to instruct. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me, sir.
Dear Martin. My name is Sherali Khoja. I am Zul’s son. My mother and I were just talking about him yesterday. He was such an amazing father, grandfather, husband, teacher and all around great person. Today we were prompted to your comment by Mailk the editor of this site. It is so thoughtful of you to post this. Even though he’s been gone for almost 7 years, I still think about him daily. I fondly remember the “Questions, comments, criticisms.”
Although I don’t know where you met my dad, you made my day and my mother’s. Thank you for remembering him!
Zul, my dear friend and fellow South African! When I worked with you for the Nelson Mandela fund, you were the epitome of what a mentor should be: very wise, caring and leading by example. We will miss you and all that you did for your community. You will need very big wings indeed, when you get to heaven. You will never be forgotten, for your kindness, friendship and your generosity of Spirit.
Your wisdom and gentle demeanour shall be deeply missed by your fellow South Africans and Pretorians. May your soul be with your Creator in eternal peace.
May his soul rest in eternal peace, Ameen.
Zul, we will miss you dearly. Your chemistry classes at AKHS were the best. May your soul rest in eternal peace.
We have lost a dedicated member of our community whose life given by the Editor of simerg tells us of his service to all. May his soul rest in eternal peace, Ameen.
May he rest in eternal PEACE, Ameen!