The Life of Jehangir Merchant: Ismaili missionary who rendered long and dedicated services to the Jamat and the Imam-of-the-Time

PLEASE CLICK: “Life of Jehangir” – includes historical photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam

Please click on image for “Life of Jehangir” in photos.

Date posted: September 11, 2018.

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Kofi Annan (1938-2018): Excerpts from an introduction by His Highness the Aga Khan and rare letters from His Highness and Prince Sadruddin to the former Secretary General

Kofi Annan (1938-2018): A Statement by the Annan Family

Kofi Annan

Photo: Kofi Annan Foundation.

It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness. His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days.

Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world. During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.

After stepping down from the United Nations, he continued to work tirelessly in the cause of peace through his chairmanship of the Kofi Annan Foundation and as chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela. He was an inspiration to young and old alike.

Kofi Annan was a son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa. He was particularly committed to African development and deeply engaged in many initiatives, including his chairmanship of the Africa Progress Panel and his early leadership of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did. He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as his staff at the Foundation and his many former colleagues in the United Nations system. He will remain in our hearts forever.

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Aga Khan Attends Kofi Annan’s Funeral

Kofi Annan Funeral

Surrounded by family, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s widow Nane pays final respects to her late husband in Accra, Ghana on 13 September 2018. Photo: UN Photo/Ben Malor.

The following report is adapted from http://www.Akdn.org.

His Highness the Aga Khan, at the invitation of the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, on September 13, 2018 joined world leaders to pay tribute to former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.  Mr Annan was laid to rest at a State funeral in Accra, Ghana earlier on September 13.

The Aga Khan, Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder of the Aga Khan Development Network, was accompanied by his daughter Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

Mr Annan was a friend of the family and a valued partner of the Aga Khan Development Network. In 2010, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism, founded by the Aga Khan in Ottawa Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre was created to advance positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies. 

His Highness thanked the Government of Ghana for bringing together dignitaries, friends and colleagues from around the world to honour Mr Annan’s accomplishments.

He paid tribute to Mr Annan’s service to the cause of peace and tolerance. “Kofi Annan fought for peace, dignity, and respect, traits which he embodied throughout his life’s work. Mr Annan was a unique leader, who, as Secretary General of the United Nations, as a member of the Elders and through the Kofi Annan Foundation, had an impact on world events which will be remembered for their contribution to help bring stability and hope to so many parts of the globe.  He was a remarkably generous individual and trusted friend.  He will be greatly missed.”

Princess Zahra, who served on the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism with Kofi Annan, also expressed her deep sadness at the loss of the visionary leader.

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Excerpts from an introduction of Kofi Annan given by His Highness the Aga Khan

2013-05-Canada-6822_Aga Khan and Kofi Annan

His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Board of the Global Centre of the Pluralism (GCP), Kofi Annan, a member of the GCP Board with Secretary General of the GCP John McNee, shortly after Mr Anan delivered the Global Centre for Pluralism’s second annual Pluralism Lecture on May 24, 2013 at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa. Photo: AKDN.

MAY 24, 2013, OTTAWA: As you know, Kofi Annan retired from his official post [UN Secretary General] six years ago. But he has in no way retired from his role as an active global statesman – tirelessly working to foster peaceful dialogue around the world.

I remember vividly – and I know you do also – the role he played when violence erupted in Kenya after the 2007 election. He led the way in bringing clashing voices together, and the result was a successful power-sharing arrangement which ended the crisis and paved the way for major constitutional reform.

Now, six years later, another election in Kenya has recently come and gone – this time without major violence. I think we all have recognized and remembered – as the Kenyan people do – how important have been the foundations that Kofi Annan did so much to build in 2007.

We also recall the political violence in Cote D’Ivoire in 2011, when Kofi Annan, in his capacity as an Elder, once again pressed for resolution. And these dramatic moments are only particular examples of his continuing efforts – day by day and year by year – in the service of global harmony.

Our honoree also leads the Kofi Annan Foundation in dealing with critical global issues such as food security, governance, climate change, drug-trafficking and HIV/AIDS. And you may know as well about his leadership role in chairing the Africa Progress Panel.

The Panel – just this month – issued a deeply stirring report. Its study testifies eloquently to Africa’s profound potential for development, but it also squarely identifies the scourge of corruption, and calls powerfully for a new strengthening of transparency and accountability, nationally and internationally, in the public and private sectors alike.

In welcoming Kofi Annan this evening, I want to emphasize what his personal example has meant to all of us. He has truly been an inspiration, demonstrating the power of patience and persistence – of a willingness always to listen – and a refusal to give up hope.

Our Global Centre for Pluralism was founded here in Ottawa in 2006 to address what I believe is the central challenge of our time – learning to live peacefully and constructively in a highly diversified and rapidly shrinking world.

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During the inaugural board meeting of the Global Centre for Pluralism in October 2010, His Highness the Aga Khan and the Board were hosted at Rideau Hall, the official Governor General’s residence in Ottawa. Shown in the picture are, from left to right, the then Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, his wife, Mrs. Sharon Johnston, the Aga Khan, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson. Photo: AKDN/Denis Drever.

As Kofi Annan has taught us, pluralism requires constant dialogue, a readiness to compromise, and an understanding that pluralism is not an end in itself, but a continuous process.

The Global Centre for Pluralism was established in partnership with the Government of Canada, and was inspired in part by Canada’s experience as a highly diverse society. We want the Centre to be a place where we can all learn from one another about the challenges of diversity – and where we can share the lessons of successful pluralism.

And on evenings like this, we also help realize the Centre’s potential as a destination for dialogue, a place where we can exchange ideas with true champions of global pluralism, like Kofi Annan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, together with you, I eagerly look forward to hearing from the Centre’s honored Lecturer for 2013, Kofi Annan.

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The Aga Khan’s Letter to Kofi Annan: “The World’s Drug Problem Must Remain a Matter of Permanent Concern”

“…For all clear thinking individuals, wherever they may be, the world’s drug problem must remain a matter of permanent concern. With the density of the Ismaili population in Gorno-Badakhshan, in Afghan Badakshan, in Chitral and Hunza and elsewhere in South West Asia and Africa, the leaders of the Ismaili Community, its institutions and I, as the Imam, must be particularly concerned with this aggressive and damaging problem…” — Excerpt from Aga Khan’s letter to Kofi Annan. Please download complete letter in PDF format below.

Please click Letter to Kofi Annan from His Highness the Aga Khan

Also, please click Letter to Kofi Annan from Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Date posted: August 18, 2018.
Last updated: September 14, 2018.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A COMMENT box which appears below. 

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.

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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:

Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018)

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.

Jehangir Merchant and Maleksultan Merchant at BC Palace

Alwaez Jehangir Alibhai Merchant and his wife 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

It is with deep sadness to inform readers that Alwaez Jehangir Alibhai Merchant passed away peacefully in Vancouver on Sunday May 27, 2018, at the age of 89 after a short illness. He is survived by his beloved wife Maleksultan, sons Abdulmalik, Fahar and Alnoor, grandchildren Naim and Nurin, as well as his sister, Banu.

Alwaez Merchant was blessed with a long period of service to the institutions of the Imamat and the Jamats worldwide. Amongst members of the Ismaili Muslim community, he will be fondly remembered as Mastersaheb, Alwaez Merchant or simply Jehangir.

Over a period spanning sixty years, he taught students, delivered waezs (sermons) and made presentations throughout the world. His literary contributions spanned five decades, and he played a pivotal role in contributing to and editing various Ismaili magazines produced in East Africa and the United Kingdom; he also wrote numerous pieces for this website, Simerg. In addition, he developed curriculum that was used within the religious education system prior to the development of the Institute of Ismaili Studies’ primary and secondary curricula.

Lourenço Marques, 1958: His Highness the Aga Khan, direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and current 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims is seen taking a keen interest as Alwaez Jehangir explains the Gujarati history texts that were used to impart religious education to Ismaili youth in Mozambique.

Lourenço Marques, 1958: His Highness the Aga Khan, direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and current 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims is seen taking a keen interest as Alwaez Jehangir explains the Gujarati history texts that were used to impart religious education to Ismaili youth in Mozambique.

The Merchant family would like to take this opportunity to thank staff at Normanna Care Facility in Burnaby for the medical attention, as well as loving care extended to Jehangir. The family would also like to thank life-long friends, including waezins, his students, Jamati and institutional leaders of the Ismaili community for their support, care and affection.

Alwaez Merchant’s funeral ceremony will take place at Burnaby Lake Jamatkhana on Thursday May 31, 2018 at 11 AM. A post burial religious ceremony will take place at the Ismaili Darkhana Jamatkhana (Ismaili Centre,  4010 Canada Way, Burnaby) later that same evening. Both will be preceded by a condolence (dilsoji)  ceremony on Wednesday, May 30th at the Darkhana following the conclusion of evening religious ceremonies.

Alwaez Merchant’s greatest mentor throughout his life was the Fatimid Ismaili da’i Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi; the following verses of al-Shirazi are poignant:

It is through you [the Imam] that Ibn Musa [al-Mu’ayyad] asks Allah for deliverance
From captivity and confinement in the worst of stopping places.
Entering shade in the courtyard of His elect,
Shady and residing in security in the refuge of the [Imam’s] palace.

The passing away of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant is a difficult moment for the family. Today, the family would like to celebrate a man who most nobly and sincerely dedicated his life to the Imamat and the Ismaili jamats worldwide, and we express our shukrana to Mawlana Hazar Imam.

Date posted: May 27, 2018.

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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:

Karl Schlamminger, Creator of Iconic Works of Art, Passes Away

By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

Karl Schlamminger portrait

Karl Schlamminger (1935-2017)

It is with much sadness to report that the internationally renowned artist and sculptor, Karl Schlamminger, passed away on Saturday, 9th December 2017 in Munich at the age of 82.

Karl Schlamminger is best known for his design of the logo for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, in which the word Allah is repeated eight times in rectangular kufic script to create an interlocking central diamond pattern.

LogoAKAA_Green

Aga Khan Award for Architecture Logo designed by Karl Schlamminger. Photo: Archnet.

Most recently, Karl Schlamminger designed the sculpture of the Global Pluralism award, wherein the three-dimensional latticework yields a plurality of intersections, offering ever new vantage points, symbolizing pluralism.

Karl Schlamminger Pluralism Award Sculpture

Global Pluralism Award sculptor designed by Karl Schlamminger. Photo: The Global Centre for Pluralism.

For Ismailis throughout the world, the extraordinary designs and distinctive calligraphies specially created by Karl Schlamminger for the Ismaili Centres in London, Lisbon and Toronto exemplify the indelible and everlasting contribution of this outstanding artist and creative genius.

Karl Schlamminger Calligraphy Ismaili Centre Toronto 1d

Basmallah calligraphy by Karl Schlamminger at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

A more detailed report on Karl Schlamminger’s artistic work on the projects of the Aga Khan Development Network and Imamat institutions will be posted next week.

Date posted: December 14, 2017.

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A Eulogy for My Mom, by Amyn Naran

Anaar Naran (1936-2017) passed away peacefully on September 14, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. Many readers responded to the post and on the social media with messages of condolences to her family as well as prayers for the eternal peace of her soul. We publish below an edited version of a eulogy presented by her son Amyn. — Ed.

By AMYN NARAN

IMG_20171001_145836-Anaar Naran with children Amyn, Navyn and Naznyn new version

Anaar Naran holding her youngest daughter Naaznyn, with son Amyn and daughter Navyn standing beside her. A photo of her husband Badrudin, who passed away in 1979 at the age of 48, is shown in the backdrop. Photo: Naran Family Archives.

My mom was like a superhero to me. No not the fly-through-the-air kind but the kind that gave me unconditional love, nothing I could say or do would diminish me.

We would talk almost everyday for a few minutes. It was important to me that she knew I cared. The phone greeting ‘hi Amyn’ or just plain ‘hi’ was sweet and gentle…the ‘love u’/ “love you ma” at the end was equally sweet. Sometimes I would just pause and say “I love you mah, you know that right ? “and she would say ‘I love you too’.

A little background on my mum, Anaar Naran: Rheumatic fever in early childhood (its bad), death of a father at 7, new father figure, limitations because she was female, 2 miscarriages, moving continents with young kids, moving continents again 7 years later, losing a husband soon after, financial challenges, loss of a father figure, loss of mother, brother, important members of her family, surgeries to back, brain, heart, multiple heart-attacks, multiple strokes, more surgeries and countless procedures.

To have had so many headwinds in life, the least I could do was provide a little love…but my love was nothing compared to that I received. NOTHING! this is what my superhero gave me – unconditional love. There is a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad that says, “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother.” Indeed!

Anaar Naran

A portrait of Anaar Naran with a photo of her beloved Imam, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in the background. Photo: Naran Family Archives.

The thing that had provided MOM sustenance was her faith; the work, resources and love for her faith were herculean. Her care for others superseded that of herself. Without a doubt that without her faith, without her faith, I don’t think she would have lived as long and been part of our lives.

Throughout my life MOM has been a fabric, a connection to the past, a connection to lives and experiences of the different members of my family…my dad, my grandmas, my chachas. Losing her is also losing all that.

On the phone we would reminisce, I’d make up stories and listened to her recent escapades. I didn’t realize I talked too fast…she ‘d tell me and I wouldn’t always get it. Y

Strokes affect the brain health..and continue to deteriorate the brain. Mom’s strokes had robbed her of sight in a strange way, her field of vision was inconsistent…imagine if you couldn’t predict what you walked on: it was there or maybe it was there ? That made her feel dizzy, and she had to cope with that problem every day.

The spoken word was both hard to process and hard to find and speak and that is why sometimes her words were sharp, and I didn’t fully get that. Sometimes on the phone she’d say how much she hurt, and that was unbearable to hear. The options she had because of all her medications were few.

Even with all the hurdles, Mom was fiercely independent and loathed the need to be dependent on anyone for help. One time when I was visiting in New Canaan, I took her to a bank. She walked to a teller and said: ‘I’ve had a stroke so please be patient with me’. A couple of times on visits to the bank, I’d just wait outside the bank and she would appreciate that because it proved she was independent. Her determination was incredible.

I say to my mum: Mom please forgive me, as whilst I loved you from the bottom of my heart, I was not perfect…I just knew that everyday, I wanted to hear your voice and make you feel loved, you, my superhero.

We often shared the following ginans and prayers. Unch thi Ayo, Kalpat Jalpat, Tarye Tu Taran, Ya Raballa, Ya Ali Aghisani, Ya Ali to Rahem Kar, Ya Rahman Ya Rahim. As I mentioned previously, her faith sustained her!

Ma, I love and will love you with all my heart till the day I die. I hope I see you on the other side.

Date posted: October 5, 2017.

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Anaar Naran (1936-2017): A Teacher Par Excellence at the Aga Khan Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

BY MALIK MERCHANT

Anaar Naran (1936 – 2017) pictured at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now known as the Canadian Museum of History) during her visit to Ottawa, Canada, in 2011. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of a beloved family friend, educator and teacher par excellence, Anaar Naran, at the age of 81. She passed away peacefully in Richmond, Virginia, USA, on the morning of Thursday, September 14, 2017. Her funeral ceremonies will be held on Monday, September 18, 2017 at 2 pm in Richmond.

She leaves behind her children Amyn, Navyn and Naaznyn. She was predeceased by her husband Mr. Badrudin Naran in 1979 at the age of 48, and brother Zafar. She also leaves behind her brother Fazli and sister Farida.

Anaar Naran will be remembered by her students, their parents and her colleagues as a fine and inspiring teacher during her tenure at the Aga Khan Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during the 1960’s. Her friends and family members will remember her as a committed and hard-working educator throughout her lifetime. She always carried a beautiful smile and exuded warmth and happiness. Anaar was absolutely dedicated to her faith as an Ismaili Muslim, and her love for Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was immense that when she talked about him, her face glowed with happiness. She remained an avid reader of literature until the last days of her life, encouraging even her daughter Navyn to produce poems.

At this sad time, our thoughts go to Mrs. Naran’s children and grandchildren, and we convey our condolences to the family of the deceased.

We pray for the eternal peace of the soul of Mrs. Anaar Naran, and for the strength of her family members at this difficult time.

Date posted: September 18, 2017.

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We invite your tributes and messages of condolences in memory of Anaar Naran by clicking on Leave a comment. Should you encounter technical or other difficulties submitting your feedback, please email your message of condolence to Simerg@aol.com under the subject heading Anaar Naran

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.

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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
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[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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

John Nuraney (1937 – 2016)

We are very sad to report that Mr. John Nuraney passed away on November 21, 2016 at the age of 79. We convey our deepest condolences to his family. The BC Premier, Christy Clark, said in a statement that Mr. Nuraney was a mentor and a friend, and the Ismaili community has lost one of its most respected leaders. Please click here for more.

John Nuraney (October 31, 1937 - November 21, 2016) by the Centennial Flame at the Lawn of the Parliament Building in Ottawa. Photo: Facebook page.

John Nuraney (October 31, 1937 – November 21, 2016) by the Centennial Flame at the Lawn of the Parliament Building in Ottawa. Photo: Facebook page. Please click on photo for his interview with Simerg.

Date posted: November 25, 2016.

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Passings: Noorunisa Maherali (1929 – 2015) – A Remarkable Ismaili Woman of Faith, Talent and Courage

“…When she was still in her early to mid-twenties,  she was involved in a remarkable rescue operation involving her best friend’s two children who had been forcibly abducted from Singapore to Karachi. Risking her own life, she made her way to Karachi, located the boys and delivered them safely to their uncle’s home…” — 1950’s

“…As is so often the case the Imam of the Time, at an appropriate time, found an opportunity to recognize her entire family during a special audience…” — 1982-83, Silver Jubilee

PLEASE CLICK: Noorunisa Maherali (1929 – 2015)

The late Noorunisa Maherali (1929-2015)

The late Noorunisa Maherali (1929-2015)

Simerg encourages readers to submit tributes or death notices for deceased members of their families. For submission details, please click Obituaries and Tributes.

Date posted: April 8, 2016.

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