Simerg’s series entitled “Books by Ismaili Authors” continues with Shamim Murji’s book “Bloom: A Story of Diversity and Understanding.” We follow the same Q/A format as our earlier presentations of books written by Mahmoud Hirji (Toronto), Zul Premji (Calgary), Azim Jiwani (Vancouver), Naznin Rahemtulla Hébert (Montreal), Shairoz Lakhani (London, UK), Shelina Shariff Zia (New York), Ali Lakhani (Vancouver), Nizar Sultan (Toronto), Nargis Fazal (Vancouver), Nazlin Rahemtulla (Vancouver), Azmina Suleman (Calgary), Alnasir Rajan (Mississauga), Shafeen Ali (USA), Mansoor Ladha (Calgary), Zeni Shariff (Toronto) and Shamas Nanji (Edmonton). We encourage Ismaili authors from around the world to participate in this series, regardless of when their books were published. See details of the series HERE and submit your responses accordingly to Simerg’s editor, Malik, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simerg’s Interview with Shamim Murji
Simerg: What is behind the naming of the title of the book?
Shamim Murji: The word “Bloom!” in the title provokes the idea of growth and fits nicely with self-discovery and learning. In this story a young girl learns about her identity as a Shia Ismaili Muslim.
Simerg: Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it?
Shamim: I think this picture book will be appreciated by both Ismaili Muslim children specifically but also children of diverse faiths and cultures. We live in a diverse and pluralist world where teaching young children to appreciate and celebrate diversity is incumbent upon all parents and schools. Often, a fun and age-appropriate way to introduce difficult concepts is by observing nature. In this beautifully illustrated book with a clear and thought-provoking message for young readers, young girls learn that we are different, but we also have plenty in common and it’s the differences that make this world a special place. It is a heartwarming tale of identity, friendship and self-acceptance.
Simerg: What inspired you to write Bloom! A Story of Diversity and Understanding?
Shamim: I have often been disappointed not finding books relevant to or about Ismaili children either in the libraries or in my educational resources. As a secular teacher with the Peel Board of Education for 30 years, one of my favourite strategies to engage children into reading was through Readalouds. I think my picture book is an excellent Read Aloud story about inclusion and appreciation of diversity which are fundamental values for a peaceful environment in the classrooms but also in our shrinking world. This book also gave me an opportunity to explain my own faith not only to other Muslims but also non-Muslims.
Grade 5 Teacher Praises Shamim Murji’s Story Book
Thank you so much for your amazing book. I love how you used nature to convey the message of diversity. My class thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful, enlightening book. Some comments from my class include, “I love how she used the rainbows and flowers,” another student said, “I didn’t know there were different types of Muslims.” My students also enjoyed the illustrations/pictures by your illustrator. My students were all extremely engaged when I was reading the book — Tom Vozinidis, grade 5 teacher.
Ismaili Mother Praises Shamim Murji’s Story Book
I think for us it helped give the kids a language that is age appropriate, and a concrete example that they can use with friends moving forward. Our children hear the words diversity and pluralism all the time but often find these concepts are too complex for a child to be able to successfully articulate and fully understand — your book helps so much with that. All in all, we really love the book and again I am very impressed by how you found a gentle, inclusive and respectful way to tackle what I think is a very big problem that certainly affects the way Ismaili children self-identify. — Rishma Somji, a young Ismaili mother.
Simerg: How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats?
Shamim: The paperback book is available from numerous online booksellers including Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Nobles and Book Depository. I am pleased to say that the book can also be purchased from the gift shop at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
Simerg: How did you find a publisher for the book?
Shamim: I found Tellwell Publishing online.
Simerg: Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself?
Shamim: Tellwell Publishing provided me access to all their editors and illustrators. They are a comprehensive publishing company and provide continuous support to the writer through the publishing journey.
Simerg: Which was your first book and how many have you written?
Shamim: This is my first published book, and it is aimed at children. As a teacher, I wrote numerous articles for school newsletters. One piece that I wrote recently for the AKU/IED may be of interest to many of your readers and I invite them to click on Embracing Pluralism: Curriculum paving the way for an inclusive tomorrow.
Simerg: How long did it take you to write “Bloom! A Story of Diversity and Understanding” from start to finish and to begin marketing it?
Shamim: The idea of the book had been brewing in my head for a few years. However, when I retired from my full-time teaching, I had more time to work on it, polish it and get it ready for the publisher. It was published in August 2022.
Date posted: October 27, 2022.
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Shamim Murji found her experiences as a classroom teacher for 25 years (KG — Grade 8) most enjoyable as a teacher, mentor and learner. She also had opportunities to travel as a volunteer teacher and mentor to Liberia, Ghana and Uganda as a participant and team leader for Project Overseas, which is a Canadian Teachers’ Federation and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario joint venture to provide free quality professional development to teachers in the developing countries. From 2016–2017 she was seconded by the Ontario Ministry of Education to the Aga Khan Academy in Maputo, Mozambique. Her work in the summer of 2018 with street kids in Jeevapur, a small village in Gujarat, India, also confirmed to her the importance of English literacy as a life skill. Shamim lives with her husband in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
Calling all Ismaili Authors
We encourage Ismaili writers to introduce their books in a similar format as has been done in the post above. Please also see the series launch article and submit your responses to Malik at email@example.com. All submissions will be acknowledged. If a writer has published multiple books, each book will be highlighted in a separate article, and not combined with other books into one post. All writers should include a brief profile with a portrait photo.
We welcome feedback from our readers. Please click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.
Links to the Ismaili Authors’ Series (in chronological sequence, oldest article first):
- “Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity” by Shamas Nanji (series start, February 10, 2021)
- “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff (February 25, 2021)
- “Memoirs of a Muhindi” by Mansoor Ladha (March 6, 2021, and see also 15, below, by the same author)
- “To Be One With God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali (March 25, 2021)
- “Invisible Birthmarks” by Alnasir Rajan (April 13, 2021)
- “IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE – Portrait of a ‘Cowboy’ Judge” by Azmina Suleman (April 28, 2021)
- “RSVP Rice and Stew Very Plenty” by Nazlin Rahemtulla (May 28, 2021)
- “Coughdrops” by Nargis Fazal (June 12, 2021)
- “The Roots and the Trees” by Nizar Sultan (June 25, 2021)
- “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat” by M. Ali Lakhani (July 4, 2021)
- “Nairobi Days by Shelina_Shariff Zia (July 21, 2021)
- “Shine Brighter” by Shairoz Lakhani (December 8, 2021)
- “This is My Life” by Naznin Rahemtulla Hébert (February 26, 2022)
- “Humanizing Medicine – Making Health Tangible” by Dr. Azim Jiwani (March 9, 2022)
- “A Portrait in Pluralism: Aga Khan’s Shia Ismaili Muslims” by Mansoor Ladha (June 8, 2022, and see also 3, above, by the same author)
- “Malaria Memoirs: My Life Journey as a Public Health Doctor in Tanzania” by Dr Zul Premji (June 30, 2022)
- “Monkey Tales and Other Short Stories” by Mahmoud Hirji (September 10, 2022)
- “Bloom! A Story of Diversity and Understanding” by Shamim Murji (October 27, 2022)
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. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.
The editor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ya Ali Madad: What resourceful site! Tons of barakat for this and Hazar Imam’s blessing.