Simerg’s Special Series on Books by Ismaili Authors: “To Be One With God – Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali of the USA

by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

Simerg’s series entitled “Books by Ismaili Authors” continues with USA based Shafeen Ali’s acclaimed book “To be One with God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life,” in the same Q/A format as our recent presentations of books written by Mansoor Ladha, Zeni Shariff and Shamas Nanji. We encourage Ismaili authors to participate in this series, regardless of when their books were published. See details of the series HERE and submit your responses to the editor of Simerg, Malik, at Simerg@aol.com.

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Simerg: What is behind the naming of the title of the book? 

Shafeen Ali: Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah’s following quote was my inspiration: “A man must be at one with God. … how we stand this instant and every instant toward Him matters to us more than anything else in the universe.  That is the fundamental question:- Are you in harmony with God? If you are – you are happy.” [1]

Simerg: Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it?

Ali: It is my aspiration that anyone who sincerely gives themselves to this book will find oneness with God, for a moment, if not a lifetime. This has been the experience of many of the book’s reviewers. I myself read the book when I feel despair or distant from God.

Simerg: What inspired you to write the book?

Ali: I had been married for 18 months and happy materially. But one evening, late at night, I was awakened with a feeling that I was not fulfilling my purpose in life. That night began an inner search which reached one milestone in the publishing of this book, six years later.

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Cover of “To Be One with God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali, 254 pp, available in paperback and digital formats.

Simerg: How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats?

Ali: The book is available in Paperback and Digital formats (epub, kindle, etc.). One can find all the different channels to buy the book as well as preview sample readings from each of the seven journeys on my website home page at: https://shafeenali.com/. [Readers will appreciate the options Shafeen has provided on his website; please visit it. To purchase the book at Amazon please click Paperback/Digital — Ed.]

it will be very difficult to put this book down as you will keep expecting something more meaningful and deeper to unravel”

“… appealed to my heart and soul and provided me with an unforgettably transformational experience“

Review quotes from the author’s website

Simerg: How did you find a publisher for the book?

Ali: I published the book myself through Createspace (currently Kindle Direct Publishing for Amazon, paperback and kindle ebooks) and Smashwords (for other ebook formats).

Simerg: Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself?

Ali: My book cover designer was Shaila Abdullah (please see her website My House of Design), an award winning Ismaili Muslim designer and author, and my editors were two other Ismaili Muslim sisters, Rozi Banani and Sonia Nur Mohammed (email scholastic.sessions@gmail.com).

Simerg: Which was your first book and how many have you written?

Ali: This has been my only book. I have aspirations to develop more means, including books, for people to be one with God. I have recently published a 3-Part Mini Video Series on Realizing the Inner Imam For One Humanity on my website and on Youtube.

Simerg: How long did it take you to write To Be One With God — from start to finish and to begin marketing it?

Ali: Active research, writing, editing, and publishing took around 2 years including building a website on my own to market the book.  It has now been 4 years since the book was published.

Simerg: Tell us something more about the book.

Ali: This book explores seven different journeys for man to seek oneness with God, all inspired by the inner being of the author, his “Inner Imam.” While on these journeys, readers will encounter many voices: man, God, teachers of God, and the author himself. The purpose of these voices is to harmonize the reader’s understanding and experiences of oneness with God. The teachers of God include Shri Rama, Shri Krishna, Jesus Christ, Moshe Rabbeinu, Gautama Buddha, Muhammad Rasulullah, Shri Hanuman, and the great philosopher Socrates, all of whom witnessed these journeys unfold in their own lives. 

Date posted: March 25, 2021.

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Shafeen Ali author of To be One with God
Shafeen Ali

Shafeen Ali is a Shia Ismaili Muslim who has been a faith-based teacher and speaker for the last 10+ years. He has delivered more than 150 presentations and workshops throughout the world on faith and religious education. Shafeen also has a Masters in Business Administration and has spent more than 13 years managing and executing business and technology projects and teams in the United States. The source of strength and guidance in Shafeen’s life has always been the spirit of God within, his Inner Imam. Through his book, To Be One with God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life, Shafeen is externalizing that innermost part of him with the hope and prayer that this spirit will provide strength and guidance to others just as it has done for him.

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Footnotes:

[1] Read Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah’s full quote

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CALLING ALL ISMAILI AUTHORS

We encourage Ismaili writers to introduce their books in a similar format as Shafeen Ali, Mansoor Ladha, Zeni Shariff and Shamas Nanji have done in their respective interviews. Please also see the series launch article and submit your responses to Malik at Simerg@aol.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. The Ismaili Authors’ Series so far (in chronological sequence, oldest article first):

1. “Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity” by Shamas Nanji; (article published on February 10, 2021)
2. “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff; (February 25, 2021)
3. “Memoirs of a Muhindi” by Mansoor Ladha; (March 6, 2021) and
4. “To Be One With God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali (March 25, 2021)

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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.

Simerg invites (1) Ismaili artists to provide submissions/updates for revised edition of its compendium; and (2) Ismaili authors to submit synopsis of their books for listing on the website

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

Talented Ismaili Artists

The Golden and Diamond Jubilees of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, revealed and showcased the amazing  talent of the artists in the Ismaili community. Hundreds of young children and youth as well as elderly members of the Jamat participated in locally held programs during the Golden Jubilee. Ten years later, the Diamond Jubilee became truly international in scope, and the final celebrations in July 2018 in Lisbon brought together a large gathering of a variety of artists including film makers, singers, dancers as well as fine art and visual artists to perform in front of large crowds and display works of art at an international gallery. Their high quality performances captivated audiences daily throughout the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.

compendium of Ismaili artists simerg
Please click on image to download 2014 edition of compendium. We invite new entries and updates from Ismaili visual artists for the revised edition to be published in 2021.

Some years ago, Simerg produced a highly acclaimed Compendium of Ismaili Artists dedicated to the visual arts. It requires a major and long overdue update! Simerg sincerely hopes that Ismaili visual artists from around the world will go through the compendium and submit their profiles as illustrated in the compendium. Simerg plans to update the compendium and produce a new edition by spring 2021. Please submit your profile and a work of art to Malik Merchant at his email address Simerg@aol.com.

The institutional support for the arts has been truly commendable, and we hope that such support will continue.

The Ismaili literary scene had been somewhat dormant for quite some time until the emergence of Moez Vassanji who is one of Canada’s most celebrated writers. He is a prolific writer whose published work include novels, short story collections and non-fiction collections. Moez is a two time Giller Prize winner and has received numerous other awards and recognitions. In February 2005, he was made the Member of the Order of Canada for contribution to arts/writing.

Talented Ismaili Writers

Ismaili authors
Cover pages of a few of the dozens of books authored by Ismailis.

But what about other fine Ismaili authors who have appeared in the writing scene over the past two decades? They have remained virtually unknown to the community at large. Personally, I would have liked to have seen their works to have been sold through the Jamatkhana literature counters around the world, and for the authors to be given an opportunity to do readings in front of audiences, at least at their local Jamatkhana setting. We hope that when the pandemic is over this suggestion will be taken up by our institutions and that Ismaili authors who feel they have written a book that is worthy of reading because of its overall publication quality and literary merit will be able to present themselves to the Jamat, sell their books and sign them for Jamati members who wish to purchase their works. Many authors market and sell their books via on-line sellers such as Amazon, but institutional support and encouragement is vital for their exposure to a world wide Jamat.

Simerg invites Ismaili writers to come forward and submit a synopsis of their book for publication on this website. In addition, we want each writer to respond to the following questions in no more than 50 words per question:

(1) What is behind the naming of the title of the book? 

(2) Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it? 

(3) What inspired you to write the book? 

(4) How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats (ebook, kindle, hardback, paperback?) 

Response to the following questions are optional:

(5) How did you find a publisher for the book? 

(6) Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself? 

(7) Which was your first book and how many have you written? 

(8) How long did it take you to write the book – from start to finish and to begin marketing it? 

(9) Tell us something more about your book (and its primary character).

Categories for inclusion in our listing: Novels, short stories, inspirational books, biographies, poetry, jigsaw puzzles as well as all non-fiction on diverse subjects (except religious and literary works published by the Institute of Ismaili Studies).

Languages: We will list books published in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Kiswahili, but the synopsis must be submitted in English. Books in other languages will be considered for listing at a later date.

Your response: Authors should submit their responses to the 9 questions accompanied by the book’s synopsis in English (preferably in no more than 100 words maximum) and an image of the cover page to the attention of Malik Merchant at simerg@aol.com. If your book has been reviewed or is available for on-line purchase, you may provide link(s) to the book reviews and where the book is available for purchase. If you have a website dedicated to your literary work(s), please provide the address of your website.

Simerg looks forward to a fantastic response from Ismaili artists and writers on these two projects dedicated to them.

Date posted: December 3, 2020.
Last updated: April 8, 2021. (Remove STRICT word count restriction of 100 words for responses by Ismaili authors to Simerg questions).

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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.

We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or, if you don’t see the box, please click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Malik Merchant Simerg
Simerg’s Malik Merchant at the courtyard of the Aga Khan Museum.

Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of this website, Simerg (2009) as well as two other blogs Simergphotos (2012) and Barakah (2017). Formerly an IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to family projects and his 3 websites. He is the eldest son of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions for several decades in Mozambique, Tanzania, Pakistan, the UK and Canada in both professional and honorary capacities as teachers and missionaries. Malik’s daughter, Dr. Nurin Merchant, assists him as an honorary editor of the three websites. She received her veterinary medicine degree with distinction from the Ontario Veterinary College (2019, University of Guelph) and now works as a veterinarian.