Passings: Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed (1927 – 2020)

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
“Surely we belong to God and to Him we return” — Holy Qur’an, 2:156

“Life is a great and noble calling, not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can but a lofty and exalted destiny.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877-1957), 48th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.

By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed Ismaili missionary and alwaez, tribute in Simerg passings
Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed (March 17, 1927 – November 28, 2020). Photo: Family collection.

It is with deep sadness that I inform readers of the passing away of a great and learned missionary in the Ismaili community, Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed, on November 28, 2020 in Vancouver at the age of 93.

Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed, also known as Missionary Saheb, was born in Mumbai on March 17, 1927, and became an Alwaez in Mumbai studying under very prominent professors and Waezein with a group of other new missionaries that included the Late Alwaez Rai Jehangir Merchant and Alwaeza Raisaheba Malek Merchant. His wife Alwaeza Raibanu Rahematkhanu joined the Waezin training program a year later.

Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed, like his wife Missinarybanu Rahematkhanu, was a deeply religious man with an extraordinarily strong belief in the Ismaili faith, and a profound devotion and love for Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Missionarybanu predeceased him, passing away in Vancouver in October 2010 at the age of 77. 

Alwaez Sultanali Mohamed (standing 4th from left) with fellow students, including Maleksultan and Jehangir Merchant (seated 3rd and 5th from left) and lecturers of a waezin training program that was established in the early 1950’s to train new Ismaili missionaries. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.

Alwaez and Alwaez initially began their service in Mumbai, and soon after their wedding the young couple emigrated to Kisumu, Kenya, in 1957. Whilst continuing in their respective professions in Kisumu, they rendered voluntary service with dedication and devotion as Alwaezein for many years, in various cities in Kenya and to the jamats of other countries.

Alwaez Sultanali had a deep-rooted love for knowledge and spent many hours in research, which furthered his deep knowledge of Islam and the Ismaili Tariqah. He wrote a Ginan book called Wonderful Tradition, and a book on the Ismailis in Gujarat called Heroes of Surat. He also curated the content of the monthly Chandraat Bulletin in Kisumu. The books and the bulletin were published by the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for Kenya (ITREB), which was was then known as the Ismailia Association.

Alwaez was an authority in the field of the esoteric meaning of our Ginans and was a mentor to many on this subject. Until recent years, he conducted special Ginan talks on a weekly basis, and through his easy teaching style and kind and friendly nature, he touched the hearts of all who attended his sessions as well as everyone who knew him or met him. His departure is a great loss to his family, friends and the Jamat.

On a personal note, the late Alwaez was a great family friend and I vividly recall the few days we spent with his loving family in Kisumu. He made it a point to take us to the shores of Lake Victoria every evening until we would be able to sight a hippo. He fulfilled that promise, and one can imagine our delight at seeing the animal as young kids. That was my first memory of Alwaez and Alwaeza, who as I found out through the course of my life were always intimately connected with my parents.

Gujarati translation of Short History of Ismailis by Farhad Daftary. Translation by Sultanali Mohamed and Jehangir Merchant, and published by IIS. Simerg passings
The cover page of the Gujarati translation of Farhad Daftary’s book A Short History of the Ismailis. Entitled Ismailio-no Tunk Ittihaas, the translation was done by missionaries Sultanali Mohamed and Jehangir Merchant.

Indeed, my late dad Alwaez Jehangir sought his constant advice on various terms in the Gujarati language, and was proud to have him as co-translator of Farhad Daftary’s book A Short History of the Ismailis. Alwaez Sultanali was also well known for his expert knowledge of the Khojki script. His contributions to the Institute of Ismaili Studies includes the translation of some Khojki literature into English.

Missionarysaheb and Missionarybanu will be remembered fondly by the Jamat for enhancing their spiritual knowledge and by the young students that stayed in the Aga Khan Hostel in Kisumu where they were wardens for a few yew years as their beloved Sir and Bai.

Alwaez and Alwaeza are survived by their three children: daughter Dr. Nevins married to Dr. Zuheir Saeed; son Akber married to Nasira Lakha and son Amanullah married to Nimet Babul, together with five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. This is a sad moment for the family, especially with his passing coming at a time when many of us want to pay our personal respects and be at his funeral, and simply can’t because of the restrictions that are in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

His funeral will take place in Vancouver on Wednesday, December 9. Relatives, friends and well wishers of the missionary may contact Alwaez’s daughter at Nevins@shaw.ca. We also invite our readers to submit their condolences, memories and tributes to the late missionary Sultanali Mohamed by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment.

We pray for the peace and eternal rest of the soul of Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed. Amen. We also convey our deepest heartfelt condolences to members of his family for strength and courage to face his great loss. Our prayers are with them at this time of bereavement.

Date posted: December 6 , 2020.

____________________

We invite our readers to submit their condolences, memories and tributes to the late missionary Sultanali Mohamed by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment. The family of late Sultanali missionary welcomes your emails regarding any questions you might have on the funeral ceremony or other related matters. Please address your email to nevins@shaw.ca.

Simerg invites Ismaili families to submit obituaries and tributes for deceased members of their families. For guidelines, please click Passings.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.

35 thoughts on “Passings: Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed (1927 – 2020)

  1. Alwaez Sultanali was my teacher in Kisumu in the hostel. He was a kind and compassionate person. May Mowla rest his soul in eternal peace. Ameen. He will be dearly missed.

  2. Mowla rest Alwaez Saheb’s soul in eternal peace, Ameen. Mowla give family members courage and strength to bear the loss. Ameen

  3. May his Soul rest in Eternal Peace. Ameen. Sincere condolences to the family and may Mowla give them strength to face their loss. Ameen.

  4. May his soul rest in eternal peace Ameen. Our sincerely condolences to the entire family on this sad time.

  5. Rest In eternal peace Missionary. I remember him and his family when I was studying in Kisumu and staying as a paying guest in Kibuyu Flats.

  6. May his soul Rest in Peace.
    We will remember him fondly for the times we shared with him in Kisumu. He was a man of very high integrity, very disciplined, always had time to meet jamati members, always interested in district members and their jamats. Our condolences to the family.

    Amin Jiwa Shamji
    Kisii

  7. Ya Ali Madad Nevins, Amber and Aman:

    Please accept our sincere condolences on passing away of Missionary Saheb. Missionary Saheb was such a nice person full of knowledge and inspiration who I learnt a lot from. I worked with him at the Aga Khan Council for Kisumu for six years and learnt a lot from him including religion. He has been a great part of my journey. We pray may his soul rest in eternal peace and may Maula grant him Jannat. Ameen 🙏🏻. I am sure he will be missed by not only the family but entire Kisumu Jamat. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult period. Sending you all big hugs ❤

  8. A selection of messages from the social media following Simerg’s referral of Alwaez’s passing on various Ismaili groups pages

    Mohammad Faqir: خداوند کریم جنت ا لفردوس میں اعلی’ مقام عنایت کرے (May God grant him a high place in Paradise)
    Sadrudin Ladhani: May his soul rest in eternal Peace. Ameen.
    Aziz Ali: May his soul rest in eternal peace
    Shirin Dharani: May his soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen

    Arbab Sajjad: May Mawla bless his soul and accept all his sincere and dedicated services that he has rendered to Mawla paak and the jamaat and award him with a highest place in the heaven and give the bereaved family members the strength to bear this huge loss. Ameen.

    Naseem Dhanani: May his soul rest in eternal peace
    Ashu Manji: May his soul rest in eternal peace
    Rukshana Sheikh: May his soul rest in eternal peace.
    Gulshan Punjani: May mawla rest his soul rest in eternal peace
    Neelam Amin Vency: May his soul rest in eternal peace
    Arshad Shedayi: May the departed soul rest in peace.

    Zeenat Shariff: May his soul rest in eternal peace Ameen
    Zohra Aziz: May uncle’s soul rest in eternal peace.
    Mohammed Ali Ajani: Rest in eternal peace ameen
    Noorbano Farishta: May Mowla rest his soul in eternal peace AAMEEN
    Gulnar Ayaz Fazalbhoy: May his soul rest in eternal peace Ameeeen 🙏🏻
    Shaida Kala: Shukar Mawla, his soul rest in eternal peace, ameen.

  9. May Mawla rest his soul in eternal peace. Amen.
    It was a blessing to have known him even though it was a short time . Shukhar

  10. May Mowla rest Missionary Saheb’s soul in eternal peace and give family courage to bear this irreparable loss ( Ameen)

  11. I have known Sultanali Missionary since the age of 10 years in Kisumu. He was my neighbour in Kibuye Ismaili Flats – our Flat # was 22 and his was 24. He was our religious teacher and I have fond memory of teaching style and his good nature. Many of Kisumu Ismailis will concur with me that he was loved by all.

    My sincere prayers for his soul and pray to Mowla that he may rest his soul in eternal peace and absorb his soul in his Noor.

    Also, my condolences to his family and pray to Mowla to give them strength and fortitude to bear with the loss. Ameen

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