Passings: Izzat Muneyb remembered through her poetic reflections on Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and the London Ismaili Centre

Izzat Muneyb (d. May 20, 2017)

By Abdulmalik Merchant

(NOTE: You may submit a condolence by clicking the COMMENTS box shown above left, beside the title — thank you, ed.).

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Izzat Muneyb on May 20th, 2017 in London, England, at the age of 75. Izzat was buried at the Ismaili cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey immediately following a funeral ceremony held at the West London Jamatkhana on Saturday, May 27th at 10:45 a.m.

We convey our heartfelt condolences to Izzat’s surviving sisters Zarin and Gulzar and their families, as well as all who knew her in the U.K. and many other parts of the world. We pray for the eternal peace and rest of Izzat’s soul.

Izzat Muneyb was raised in Mombasa, Kenya, and then pursued her further studies in the UK where she obtained an Honours degree in English from Birmingham University, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education from Kings College, London and a Masters in Curriculum Studies from London University, England. She had a varied career, working in the fields of education, health, commerce and public order. She served on various Ismaili community institutions, including the Shia Imami Ismaili Tariqah Board, Mombasa, His Highness the Aga Khan Provincial Tribunal and His Highness Aga Khan Education Board in Nairobi. As an Education Board member, she originated the concept of, and edited, the Commemorative Issue 1977-78, to celebrate sixty years of Ismaili education in Kenya. From 1983–1994, she worked at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London as a Member of the Education Unit and contributed to the Ta’lim Curriculum which is used throughout the Ismaili world to impart religious education  Over the last few years, she focused on her own creative writing in London.

Izzat contributed numerous pieces for this website, and we are pleased to re-publish her thoughtful reflections on the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah and the first purpose built Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana in the Western World that is located in London.

WE  WELCOME READERS’ TRIBUTES IN MEMORY OF IZZAT MUNEYB

We invite your tributes and messages of condolences in memory of Izzat Muneyb. You may do that by clicking on LEAVE A COMMENT (that is also shown at left of the title of this post, at top). Should you run into issues while submitting your comment, then please send it via email to simerg@aol.com, Subject: Izzat Muneyb.

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1. In Praise of Prophet Muhammad
(May Peace Be Upon Him)

BY IZZAT MUNEYB

Author’s note: This song introduces us to some of the titles by which Prophet Muhammad came to be known. They are: ‘Ahmad’, ‘Mustafa’, ‘Rahmatan li’l-‘aalameen and ‘King of law laak’. The words ‘law laak’ in Arabic mean, “Were it not for…” There is a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad, where Allah speaking to His prophet, says, “Were it not for you, I would not have created the universe – law laaka lamaa khalaqtu’l-aflaaka.” [1]

N.B: The lines marked * are sung twice.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Ahmad?*
He who is praised in heaven
Shall be praised here on earth.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Mustafa?*
The Chosen of God on earth,
You have brought us the Qur’an.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Rahmatan li’l-‘aalameen?*
God sent you as a Mercy
To the whole of creation.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you the ‘King of law laak’?*
Even God says He created
The universe for you.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb.

____________

Notes:

[1] Source: Sukheel Sharif, The Jawziyyah Institute, 2006

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2. Building the Prophet’s Mosque — Masjeedun Nabee — in Madinah

An Islamic miniature from Siyer-i Nebi (16th century, Turkey), depicting Bilal giving the call to prayer. Photo: Wikipedia.

BY IZZAT MUNEYB

Author’s Note: This ballad tells the story of how the first mosque in Islam, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, Masjeedun-Nabee, was built and how the first Muslims were called to prayer, with Bilal, a black Muslim, reciting the first adhaan. [1] The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) let his she-camel, Qaswaa’, who was “under the command of God”, choose the site. This allowed him to not have to accept land from, and thus show partiality to, any of the influential clans in Madinah.

N.B: The first line of each verse is sung twice. The ballad should ideally be sung to the accompaniment of a guitar.

Qaswaa’ the camel has chosen the ground,
Dig here, O Muslims and level the ground.        Qaswaa’.…….1

Muhammad has said, “O, here will I stay,
Here build my mosque and here shall I die”.         ..…….………2

Cut down the trees and make the pillars,
Lay down the bricks and cement with mortar.      ……………….3

The Muhaajiroon [2] and the Ansaar [3]
Work with a will in the spirit of Islam.                   ……………….4

Aly then asks how to ‘complete’ the mosque,
“How shall we call the believers to prayer?”          ..…………….5

The Muslims think hard, “O shall we use bells [4]
If not a Jewish horn, then a trumpet perhaps.”     ………………6

Then, humble and meek, Abdallah did speak,
“I dreamt, Ya Rasool, a human voice, I pray.”       ..…………….7

Muhammad then said: “O my faithful Bilal,
It is you who must say the very first Adhaan.”      ..………….…8

And so did Bilal God’s praises sing
And his powerful voice in Madinah did ring.          ..……………9

Here endeth my tale of Masjeedun-Nabee,
It still stands today in Madinah city.                       …………….10

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb
____________
[1] Adhaan is the Muslim call to prayer. Bilal climbed up a palm tree, to recite the first adhaan, because he wanted his voice to carry far and wide. Minarets appeared around eighty years after the Prophet’s death, to call the faithful to prayer.
[2] Muhaajiroon– The Emigrants, Muslims who made the hijrah or migrated from Makkah to Madinah, because of the persecution of the Makkan Quraysh. The Prophet finally made the hijrah during September 622 A.C., after all the Muslims, except Imam Ali, had left Makkah.
[3] Ansaar – The Helpers, Madinan Muslims, who helped the Makkan Muslims settle in Madinah.
[4] Ringing church bells is a Christian practice – the Muslim call to prayer had to be unique to Islam.

~~~~~~~~~~~

3. At the Ismaili Centre

Ismaili centre bismillah Entrance

The Entrance Hall of the London Ismaili Centre.

BY IZZAT MUNEYB

As soon as I enter the Ismaili Centre,
What do I see in Arabic calligraphy?

Bismi’llaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem
Is what I see. ”In the name of Allah
Most Kind, Most Merciful.”

In the name of Allah I begin all things,
In the name of Allah I conceive all thoughts;
In the name of Allah I complete all deeds.

As soon as I enter the Ismaili Centre,
What do I see in shining marble
And white plaster?

I see a star-shaped fountain, pouring out water.

The fountain is so clear,
And the water so pure…

We too must be pure in body and soul
And polish the mirror of our hearts!

Why is the fountain seven-sided?
What does it mean?

Seven is the number of perfection
And seven times seven gives us
Our forty-ninth Imam.

The guidance of the Imam of the time –
And his portrait in mosaic, crafted from lapis,
Glowing with gentle radiance reminds us –
Helps us to grow closer to Allah.

But, have you seen the grey interlace design
Around the fountain?

Yes, it is a flower of beauty.

Al-kathratu fi’l wahdati,
Wa’l wahdatu fi’l kathrati
Is what it means.

The One has originated
The multiplicity of creation;
Now, from that multiplicity we move
Towards the Unity of the One.

And as I climb the stairs of the Ismaili Centre,
What do I see hanging from the ceiling?

I see lamps luminous and gleaming,
Full of light and full of meaning.

By the light of the lamp
We read the Qur’an.
With the light of the Lamp
We begin to know.
The light of the Lamp
Leads us to the Light of God

As I climb to the next level,
What do I see?

I see a painting, vibrant,
Swirling in colour.

It tells of the Verse of Light,
The Aayat’un Noor,
It hints at the mystery of
Noorun ‘alaa Noor.

As I enter the prayer hall
What do I see on the qiblah wall
In dark columns tall?

Carved in wood and written in space,
The panels say, Allah, Muhammad and Ali,
Allah, Muhammad and Ali.

These Beautiful Names invite me
To take my place with the Jamat,
They become my rosary.

As I sit down, as I close my eyes,
What do I do? What do I say?

I remember Allah.
I say,“Ya Muhammad”, “Ya Ali”,
I say, Salawaatu’llaahi alayhumaa
Salawaatu’llaahi alayhumaa.

The Grace of God fills the hall,
The Light of God bathes us all.

Cleansed in thought and spirit,
I feel the presence of God
And am filled with His peace.

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb.

Date posted: May 27, 2017.
Last updated: May 30, 2017 (formatting and new comments).

_______________

Editorial Note: The poem was first published in July 1987 in Ilm, Volume 11, No. 2, p. 39-41. It was originally written for the younger members of the Jamat, to be recited either by an individual, or as a choric or part poem. Readers might find the movement of the poem interesting. As the individual climbs higher through the various levels of the London Ismaili Centre to the Jamatkhana hall, so also the poem marks an inner journey from a physical to a devotional and then to a spiritual plane of being.

_______________

Your tribute to Izzat Muneyb

We invite your tributes and messages of condolences in memory of Izzat Muneyb whose funeral took place on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in London, England. Readers may do so by clicking on LEAVE A COMMENT. If you encounter problems in submitting your comment, then please send it to simerg@aol.com, Subject Izzat Muneyb.

22 thoughts on “Passings: Izzat Muneyb remembered through her poetic reflections on Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and the London Ismaili Centre

  1. Deeply grieved to hear of the sad demise of Izzat. I knew her well from Mombasa. I pray her soul rests in eternal peace, Ameen.

  2. Izzat was teaching me English language and English literature while her husband, Mr. Muneyb, was our history teacher at H.H. The Aga Khan Secondary School, Mombasa, Kenya.

    We had regular exchanges via e-mails when she arrived in London and personal meeting when she visited Ismaili Centre.

    She was involved at Institute of Ismaili Studies and, as noted, contributed poetry that touched and inspired readers of this website.

    I met her sisters Zarin and Gulzar and many other relatives whom I did not know at the dilsoji (condolence) ceremony at Ismaili Centre.

    May Allah rest her soul in eternal peace – Ameen.

    Ya Ali Madad
    Huzur Mukhi Sultanali Hassanali Kassam Jivraj
    (Khoplo)

  3. May her soul rest in eternal peace, leaving us with such beautiful poems and knowledge which were so inspiring and brought back memories of our Beloved Prophet (PBUH). My profound condolences to the family.

  4. The poems are beautiful and make The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and Ismaili Centre come alive and meaningful! Izzat was an inspiring and very talented teacher. She was engaged in scholarly work until the end. She was also a much loved cousin and friend. We shall miss her and pray for the eternal rest of her soul.

  5. I am deeply sorry to learn of the passing of Izzat. May her soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen

  6. Izzat brought to our team a love of language, poetry, literature and the creative spirit that generate these rich gifts to the world. As she now leaves us physically, we robe her in words of remembrance, of appreciation, of fellowship and of faith. She was generous, kind, deep-thinking and independent. May her soul rest in peace, may her words continue to ripple out and resonate. Ameen, Anise.

  7. Izzat was a good friend, inspiring teacher and talented poet. I have fond memories of stimulating conversations with her in Nairobi and London. She will be missed. May her soul rest in peace. My condolences to her family.

  8. Izzat Muneyb was one of the best teachers at Aga Khan High, Mombasa. Her intellect, curiosity, command and use of the English language were some of her many attributes. She was an amazing teacher and her pursuit of excellence and truth were admirable; not to mention her honesty. She had a great influence on my student life and I am honoured to have been her student and a friend in later years.

    May her soul rest in eternal peace.

  9. I did not know Izzat Muneyb, but one does not have to know someone personally to appreciate the fine beauty in her poems especially that of the Ismaili Centre, London. The esoteric messages radiating from the poem, from the Centre’s architectural and artistic beauties to every step leading into the prayer hall, is worthy for each and every Ismaili to become cognizant and aware about the esoteric journey we embark on as we enter our Jamatkhanas. This and the other two poems about the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) are very well written poems. May Izzat’s soul rest in eternal peace, Amen.
    Bashir Lalani

  10. Izzat and her family, her late mother and her sisters Zarin and Gulzar, were lovely friends. Her mother, late Khatibai, was a mentor to my husband, late Rai Sadrudin Pradhan. We spent many evenings with them and it was always a pleasure to talk to Izzat during that time. Please pass my condolences to Zarin and Gulzar.

  11. May your soul dear Izzat Rest In Peace
    As you inspired us with words
    May the inspiration live on
    As you travel towards the light
    To your asal makan
    That awe you expressed
    As you entered the centre
    Of the new Jamatkhana
    May that light engulf you
    Our memories of old
    School days remain
    Just a memory of the past
    This material ephemeral
    That we leave behind
    To follow to that which
    Is ever eternal Amen.

  12. My thoughts go out to Mrs Muneyb’s family at this difficult time. May her soul rest in eternal peace, Ameen.

  13. Mrs. Muneyb was our English Literature teacher at Agakhan High School in Mombasa. Absolutely par excellence in the delivery of knowledge and her approach to students compared to some of the other teachers. RIP

  14. Ya Ali Madad. Sad to read of the passing on of such a lovely person whom I had never met but was touched to read about her devotion to education, the welfare of children and her poetic reflections. She will live in the memories of many thousands who crossed her path. May Allah grant her eternal peace and a well-deserved place in Heaven. Rest in peace. Ameen. — Shamlal Puri, London

  15. Mrs. Muneyb was my class and English teacher in 1971 – O levels at Aga Khan High School Mombasa. Her husband, Mr. Muneyb taught the boys’ class. I remember Mr Muneyb passing away just before the final exams and Mrs.Muneyb chipped in and taught both classes. They were truly excellent teachers. Mrs. Muneyb excelled not only in English language and literature, but had extensive knowledge – she told us why when you see someone yawn, your reflex action is to yawn too! I will try and e mail some photographs I have of her.

    May Mrs. Muneyb’s soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen.

    • Thank you for this fine and touching memory of Mr. and Mrs. Muneyb as well as prayers for Izzat’s soul. Please do send the photographs to me at Simerg@aol.com. I shall share them with her sisters Zarin and Gulzar and their family members, and incorporate a few in a specially updated “passings” post when I have more details about her from her sisters – Regards and Ya Ali Madad, Malik Merchant, Editor.

      • Malik: Thank you for recollecting the great contribution of Late Izzat Muneyb. I join you in praying for the rest and eternal peace of her soul. I have the 1977-78 commemorative issue with me edited by Izzat. I’d be happy to share. Keep up the good work.
        Ahamed.

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