My last moments with my loving Papa, Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928 – 2018)

Grave of Jehangir Merchant (1928 - 2018)

Grave of Alwaez Jehangir Alibhai Merchant (December 13, 1928 to May 27, 2018) bearing a temporary plaque with his name. He was buried on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at Victory Memorial Park located in Surrey, British Columbia. Photo: Nurin Merchant, taken on June 2, 2018.

By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

I found myself awake at 2:30 AM on Saturday May 26, 2018, and decided to go and spend a few hours with my dad at Normanna Nursing Care. He hadn’t spoken and eaten now for a full 2 days. I spent many hours engaging in prayers with my dad, and stayed in his room until  my mum and brother Fahar arrived to spend the rest of the day with my dad. My mum was able to spend 2 hours with my dad in mid-afternoon totally by herself. She had been married to him for 66 years. That time was deeply comforting to her. She reminded him of the years of service they had dedicated towards Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Ismaili Jamat around the world.

Jehangir and Maleksultan Merchant in his room at Normanna 2

Alwaez Jehangir Merchant and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant pictured in his room at Normanna Care Facility. Photo: Nurin Merchant, taken on February 20, 2018.

My mum returned home at 8 PM. Soon thereafter I told her that I was leaving to see dad. “Come back home by 11:00 PM, you are very tired,” she remarked. I said to myself that I would once again sit close to my dad and participate in the early morning contemplative payers as I had done earlier on Saturday morning. When I arrived in my father’s room  I began monitoring him and played recordings of Qur’anic verses, Ginans, Salwats and recited phrases from the Dua such as “Allahuma Ya Mawlana Antas-Salaam…..Wa Adkhilna na Dar es Salaam” and “Ya Imamaz-Zaman, Ya Shah Karim Ya Mawlana Anta Quwwati” (my father had asked me years earlier to take selected phrases from the Dua and recite them for my strength and courage). I had complied with his wish and advice.

At 10:45 PM the nurse came into the room and interrupted the sequence. She had come to check on my dad’s breathing and change his sleeping position. I again reverted to praying and contemplation. I was physically tired and lay down on the cushion at the ledge of the window from where I could see his face and the movement of his chest and shoulders.

Two hours quickly passed. It was now 12:45 AM, and a new day (Sunday, 27 May) had begun. For a few minutes I had seen his breathing pattern change. When the nurse came into the room to alter his sleeping position, she also noted the change in his breathing pattern. She commented that my dad would pass away that night. I asked, “How long does he have?” Very reluctantly she answered, “Maybe a few minutes or that he could be around for another few hours.” I began praying, “Wa Adkhilna Dar es Salaam”, meaning, “Usher us in the Abode of Peace”, over my dad. I sensed death was going to take place at any moment.

Jehangir Merchant and Maleksultan Merchant at BC Palace

Alwaez Jehangir Merchant and his wife Alwaeza Maleksultan pictured recently at BC Place, Vancouver, prior to the Diamond Jubilee Mulaqat with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: Raiya Suleman/Simerg

At around 1:00 AM, without any intervention whatsoever, my dad changed his sleeping position . He straightened up his head (which had been sideways), to face the ceiling. He looked straight up with his mouth fully open. His eyes had been closed, but now as he looked up, they were wide open. I bent my face over his face and said, “Look papa this is Abdulmalik.” I recited the Salwat and other prayers. How was I to know whether he recognized me?

The nurse who had changed his position a few moments earlier, stayed in the room with me, but called her colleague, a registered nurse. At this instant at around 1:05 AM, I asked the nurse to dip a long cotton swab into the Ab-e-Shifa bottle and lightly stroke his lips and tongue with the holy water. After about 2 minutes, with his face still facing the ceiling he breathed out while his mouth was still open, and the nurse told me that it was his last breath. I said, “Wait, wait, nurse that may not be the case.” I was right. My dad then licked his lips with his tongue, closed his mouth and partially closed his eyes.

I said to myself, “How can he breathe in this state with his mouth closed”, as he had been breathing through his open mouth for hours. As his mouth remained closed, I could see pressure building inside his mouth. This went on for about 30 to 40 seconds, and then astonishingly he opened his mouth and breathed out his last breath. With that last breath at 1:10 AM my dad had just passed away from this transient world into the world of spirit. He was returning to the abode of heavenly peace, the Dar es Salaam that he had many years earlier asked me to remember regularly at times other than during recitation of the Dua. I texted at 1:12 AM, “Dad has passed away.” Came the reply, “Shukran lillah walhamdulillah. Be strong.”

Victory Memorial Park Cemetery

A view of the cemetery at Victory Memorial Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, where Alwaez Jehangir Merchant was buried on May 31, 2018. Photo: Nurin Merchant.

His dilsoji (condolence meeting) which was held at Darkhana Jamatkhana on May 30 in Burnaby was attended by hundreds of Jamati members as was his funeral ceremony at Burnaby Lake Jamatkhana on Thursday, May 31. He was then buried the same afternoon at Victory Memorial Cemetery in Surrey. The Samar and Ziarat ceremonies were performed the same evening at Darkhana. We then had a small funeral reception (a bhatti) at James Grill that was attended by very close family and friends.

My family and I are immensely grateful and deeply touched by the hundreds of phone calls, messages of condolences and tributes that we have received since the death of my father exactly a week ago. We may not be able to respond to every phone call and message posted on this website or the social media pages, or sent via email. We wish to inform everyone that their condolences and tributes have given us immense strength and comfort during this difficult period of grieving.

May my loving papa, Alwaez Jehangir, rest in eternal peace. AMEN.

Date posted: June 3, 2018.

___________

We invite you to submit your condolences, memories and tributes to Jehangir Merchant by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment. Your comment may also be submitted to simerg@aol.com.

An extensive sketch of the life of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant will be published at a later date on this website. The following is a collection of Alwaez Jehangir’s writings on this website:

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52 thoughts on “My last moments with my loving Papa, Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928 – 2018)

  1. Inna li’llahi was inna ilaihi raajeoon🤲
    Shukher Alhamdulillah
    A peaceful man with a peaceful end of the journey!
    I loved listening to his Waezes.

    May his soul Rest in Peace! Ameen!!

  2. Hello Malik,

    So sorry to hear the loss of your Dad. He was a good man, always had a smile on his face. He will missed by many people.

    Our prayers are with you and the rest of the family.

    Shabir Dhalla

  3. May Alwaez Jehangir’s soul rest in peace. He and your mum were pivotal to us understanding the core of our faith. That is a gift only a few can give to others and they gave it to hundreds. May you, the family, too find the peace he is clearly in, and may his memory comfort you and leave you feeling as blessed as he is.
    Anise (Waljee)

  4. Inna lillahi wa inna elaihi rajeoon…

    May the departed soul rest in eternal peace and May Mawla grant sabr to the family…Aameen

    I realize the lost and pain as I/we also lost my/our beloved father on 4th of February 2018.

    May Mawla grant peace to all the ruhanis…Aameen.

    Kind regards and Dua
    Fatimeh Mohammad

  5. Dear Malik,

    I was very moved by your sharing this last moment with your Dad till his last breath. I felt as if I was there and your prayers and giving him Abe-Safa reminded me of my Dad giving the same to my late Doctor brother Mahomud in Calgary in 1981.

    My prayers stand for your dad – that his soul may rest in eternal peace.

    With Dua
    Zarina

  6. So eloquently written. Your family is indeed fortunate to have been blessed with so much Seva. We pray that your dad’s soul may rest in eternal peace. We also pray for courage and strength for you and your family at this difficult time. Please tell your mum that we are thinking of her.

    Azizeh and Gulam Juma

  7. May He rest in the peace that he earned……Ameen

    Continue his legacy so that his vision becomes your reality driven by your your love for him.

    Live his promise
    Be his bridge
    Reflect his strength
    Be his inner resolve
    Be his purity
    Be fair …his principles your guide.
    Be the son that was his promise to the world.
    And fulfill his mission as yours.

    Just Be at peace..you and him..
    One gene one spirit
    And always his BE light on light.

    Zaher Meghji Ahamed
    Vancouver BC
    29th May 2018

  8. Dear Malik,

    Ya Ali Madad,

    Thank you for informing us – friends and well-wishes of your family – the graphic details of your dad’s passing away in such a superbly peaceful manner, indeed. He is truly a blessed soul.

    I for one will always cherish in my heart the memory of his ever-smiling face which represented humility, vast knowledge, great wisdom and true love and compassion. You and your family have continued, and we pray insha’allah will continue, for a long time, his wonderful self-less devotion and tradition of sewa to our beloved Imam and His worldwide Jamat ….. AMEEN

    We pray that your family especially, and all of us, continue to be granted the strength and courage to bear the loss of the Alwaez’s physical presence. AMEEN

    Whenever I think of your Dad, I also think of your Mom – Alwaeza Malek Sultan, I know she has also been an immense source of inspiration to every one in your family and indeed countless murids of the Imam. I pray also particularly for her continued good health and well-being … Ameen

    With respect, kind wishes, and prayers
    Mansoor Waljee

  9. Your Papa was a blessed being who spent much time sharing the word of Imam e Zamana, through his waezin work and teachings as well as articles in Ismaili magazines and this website. What better than spending the life in Waaz (preaching) and Naseehat (advice) speaking about the Imam e Zamana, Noorun ala Noor. On this day of martyrdom of Mowla Ali, I wish I could be counted among the Nasara (helpers) of the Imam e Zamana and among the momineen have aspired for the life of your father. The deen of Islam led by Imam e Zamana is the clear and logical journey for everyone!

  10. Dear Malikbhai,

    Ya Ali Madad.
    I felt shocked by learning of the demise of your father. I & my family pray for your father. May Maula Baapa give his soul an eternal peace & strength to your family. Aamin

    With regards & prayers.

    Sultan Lakhani & family

  11. May his soul rest in eternal peace

    I will always have fond and lasting memories of Alwaez Mr Merchant.

    I still have all the religious knowledge books prepared by him for us voluntary teachers who he had trained to deliver in the classrooms for the mur ids who had not so long before had just arrived in a new country….this was a new very exciting approach in teaching our young new generation of students religious knowledge.

    The memory is still very fresh in my mind and I can still hear that gentle voice so humbly guiding me on how to use the new syllabus. Many memories come to mind of the different stories he had so wonderfully put together in the numerous ‘RE books for the different age groups. He certainly has left a beautiful legacy that has influenced and is still doing so …for the many teachers and students that trained under his tutelage
    God Bless him and may his Spirit be happy with that he achieved in his glorious lifetime.

    Rest in Peace
    Mohamood Jumani
    London, England

  12. Thank you for all your posts regarding the passing of your dad Alwaez J. Merchant.

    I feel at home as I continue reading your dad’s journey and photos starting from Portuguese East Africa. I can relate to that as I was born in Burundi and lived in the Congo (Congo Belgium) until boarding school in the late sixties in Belgium. I also remember hearing one of your dad’s waiz in early seventies in London, UK.

    Thank you again for sharing those beautiful memories with us.

    Sandra Parviza Gould
    Apex, North Carolina and Houston, TX

  13. May Allah bless his soul. He was a man of principles, never complained about anything or anybody in the institutions, always smiling. He lived a full life and has left behind wonderful sons, his legacy, to carry on the Imamate work.

  14. We have very fond memories of your mum and dad. I recall your racing with my sister in competition that who would be the first one to greet Ya Ali Madad. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace and give you all and especially your mother a lot of peace to bear this loss.

  15. We are extremely sorry for your sad loss. We pray that his soul rest in eternal peace. .

  16. Dear Malik,

    Accept my heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of your father. I knew him from Karachi when we left Tanzania. I am from Tanga.

    Your mom helped me to find a school for my daughters. I pray that his soul Rest In Peace. Aameen.

  17. Dear Malik,

    Thank you for sharing your dad’s passing with us. May your dad’s soul rest in eternal peace. Amen. My personal wish would be to pass away this Diamond Jubilee year because of the love, affection and blessings that we have experienced this jubilee year from our beloved Imam. How fortunate for your dad.

    I hasten to add that I am sorry for your loss but I personally think that the departed soul is now in Mawlana Hazar Imam’s huzur for having shared his knowledge, guidance and service to the Imam and jamat. Your late dad reached many souls through his waez and will always be remembered fondly. What a beautiful mark and legacy to leave behind. My prayers for your family for strength to bear this huge loss. Kind regards,

    Anisa

  18. May the soul rest in eternal peace and may Mawlana Hazar Imam give family strength for the loss.

    Alwaez was blessed to be in Imam sewa for so many years and we see this continued in your family. Shukran Mawla.

  19. Malik, you described the last moments of your Dad s life in a very eloquent manner and it brought a lot of sadness as well as reality of the end of life. It brought back memories of our parents and their similar last moments of their life. Shukher!!

    Both your Dad and Mum played an instrumental part during our development of our ethics and values during our childhood and understanding of the fundamentals of our religion. To this day these teachings have been part of our growth as well as our children and grandchildren. We continue to pray for Dads Soul and also for your Mum good health… Amen. Stay strong:)
    Almas and Abdul Allibhai

  20. Please, accept our heartfelt prayers for this beautiful soul of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant

    To you, your mom, as you have done, let it continue to abudantly scatter the love of the soul with humility in every walk. Shukar

    With regards
    Amin

  21. May his soul rest internal peace. May Allah grant the family with courage and strength. He was an inspiration to our whole community may Allah bless him Jhannat

  22. May Alwaez soul rest in eternal peace. The jamat benefited from his great knowledge and wisdom and we will all miss him.We pray for the family.

  23. Beautifully written. My late husband Alwaez Sadru Pradhan and I had many opportunities to meet with your parents. They used to share their experiences and knowledge. My condolences to your family. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

  24. Praying for the eternal peace and rest of a great soul, amen. He will always be remembered for the religious knowledge where he enlightened our souls from the darkness and ignorance.

    I knew him as young kid at mission class in Dar es Salaam as well as in London after we arrived in 1971.

  25. Inna li’llahi was inna ilaihi raajeoon

    Shukhr

    You brought us there to be with you, and I was there and am still there, reflecting. Now salwaats. My mother will read this.

  26. Ya Ali Madad Malik,

    Please accept and convey our condolences and prayers to all your family on the passing of your father. May Allah grant his soul eternal peace.

    Your dad was a teacher to both my parents and it is humbling to realize how many souls he has touched – and will continue touch with his legacy – in his noble path of service and sharing knowledge all his life. I look forward to learning more from his articles that I have not read.

    May Mawlana Hazar Imam grant you and your family strength and courage, fortitude and fulfillment, and spiritual enlightenment in your lives. Ameen.

    From us all, the Sacoor and Hussen Ali Families,

    Nina Sacoor

  27. Malik,

    Sorry to hear about your dad’s loss. He is in a better place and away from worldly pain or suffering.

    He is assured of an amazing eternal place, for his exceptional life time seva to the Imam and his Jamats.

    I know it is difficult for the family but I pray that you find peace and solace and satisfaction that he was close to the Imam.

    May you and the family all get strength to overcome the loss. You should walk with your head high to have been born of a family of world renowned – true and selfless Fidains.

    Your family has been blessed with seva par excellence. Thousand have benefited from your parents seva.

    And not to undermine, your amazing seva enriching the Jamat with religious and knowledge, which Imam considers of highest importance, continues from tradition of your dad and mum. You have encouraged lots of Jamat members and presented their achievements. You have also informed us all of all Mawla’s Jubilee visits with excellent photos on Simerg and Barakah. You keep us so well informed all the time.

    Your papa is smiling on you! He is united with our Mawla.

    Shiraz Nasser, Mississauga

  28. INNA LILAHI WA INNA ILAIHI,RAJEOON–Verily we come from Allah, unto Him we shall return—-May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace and be Raised to the Highest Environs of the Firdhoush-Jannaha.

  29. Your dad and mum were close to our family both in London and in Vancouver (Darkhana) where we met when I visited our family. Last time I was there was in April 2018 and was told that he was now frail and in a nursing home.

    I was Vancouver to be with my mother in her final days at Finnish Manor Home (next to Darkhana) and she passed away in April – same jamatkhana and buried at the same cemetery.

    Alwaez was a very soft spoken intelligent and well read person, who shared with us the 10 page letter he wrote to ITREB UK in 1996 regarding sukreet. Both your mum and dad as alwaezes worked closely with our Baitul Ilm and were always a great source of support to the jamat.

    May their souls rest in eternal peace, and may Mowla grant the families sabhar and strength at this time. Amen

    Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioun.

  30. A great Ismaili stalwart. I could call on him when I was Mukhi in Nottingham, UK. “Wa Ada Khilna Dar e Salaam”. May Mawlana Hazar Imam shower his blessings on him and usher him in abode of peace. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raji’un. Amen

  31. He was a wonderful person and Waezeen. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace and may He give you and the family strength to cope with such a loss. Ameen

  32. RIEP, Condolence to the Family Members;

    “Sure we were from him and we have to go to Him”

    -In this condolence my Father Huzur Mukee Mowllah Burdhi, Mother Huzur Mukeyanee Izat Begeem, I, Huzurr Mukee Baig Ali & my Spouse Shida Begum my kids, we feel this great loss, still we have to accept its “AMAR” and all of us we have to leave this temporary stage of performance for the permanent one.

    May God bless the late Alwaez Jehangir the Noranee dedar and the patience to all of YOU!

  33. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raji’un – Ameen

    May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace and grant him spiritual abode. We pray to Allah for strength and courage to cope with your loss and ease your pain – Ameen!

    Although words seem to say so little, I hope they help in some small way to ease the sense of loss that you’re experiencing today.

  34. Beautifully written. Your Dad has returned to the abode of peace indeed. “Wa Adkhilna Dar es Salaam” He went so peacefully for he knew great things await him . May he rest in eternal peace. Allah bless you and your family. Ameen.

  35. May his soul rest in eternal peace and may the family be granted strength to bear this loss. Ameen.

  36. Could not stop tears rolling out of my eyes while reading about his prep for final journey known in Holy Quran as Innalillah.. .. Learn concept of Imamat in Quran from him while in Chicago! Hadith teaches us Fortunate are the parents who leave behind children who continueously pray for the soul of departed parent. He was fortunate for sure! R I P— Alwaez Mirza Ismail, Atl.

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