Mrs. Merchant: Excerpts From Tributes Celebrating Her Life; Alwaeza’s Funeral Today, Thursday February 4, 2021

Alwaeza Raisaheba Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant (June 9, 1931 - January 21, 2021), age 89. Photo: Shellina Karmali. Ismaili missionary and religion teacher
Alwaeza Raisaheba Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant (June 9, 1931 – January 21, 2021), age 89. Photo: Shellina Karmali.

The family of Alwaeza Raisaheba Maleksultan Merchant has been immensely touched by so many messages of condolences it has received following her passing away at the age of 89, on January 21, 2021. 

Social media pages are filled with several hundred messages and Simerg has received more than 200 messages following the publication of a tribute celebrating her life. In addition, members of the family have received numerous telephone calls as well as text messages from all over the world. 

We are deeply grateful to you all. Your love, prayers and encouragement have been a source of  strength and comfort to us at this difficult time.

Thursday, February 4th has been confirmed as the date of her funeral and burial (click iiCanada Funeral announcement). Unfortunately, Covid-19 has created challenges for attending funerals with strict restrictions on travelling and gatherings. 

The following are a selection of  excerpts from numerous tributes to our beloved mother/grandmother who passed away on Thursday January 21, 2021.

Tributes and Fond Memories of Alwaeza Mrs. Maleksultan J. Merchant (1931-2021)

We are among the generation of the Jamat who recall with gratitude the immense contribution that Maleksultanbai and your late father made to our development during our formative years in Dar-es-Salaam. They laid in our minds a strong foundation of Ismaili history and principles, as well ethics and values, which sustains to this day. From those early days, both your parents went on to serve with distinction the cause of the Imamat and Jamat in many countries around the world…..Vazir Shafik Sachedina and Vazirbanoo Nadia Sachedina

I was saddened to hear of the passing of your mum. We pray for eternal peace, rest and batuni noorani deedar for the soul of your mum. At the same time, we offer prayers for mushkil asan for all your family members. The life-long devoted services rendered to Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Jamath by both your mum and dad were an exceptional example for the Jamath…..Ameerally Kassim Lakha

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

Alwaeza was an extraordinary and effective teacher of religious knowledge. To myself as well as others, she was an example, a beloved role model and a beacon that shone brightly, guiding our values during the formative period of our lives. Since those days of primary and secondary school, there has forever stayed in my memory a debt of gratitude for her outstanding and exemplary dedication to her vocation. Her gift and excellence lay not in compulsion and harsh discipline but in noble character and conduct, leading by example. That, more than strict reward or punishment, imprinted in us the ethics of the faith that shaped our values in life. May our humble prayers and remembrances reach her companionship On High…..Shiraz Hameer

I have fondly thought of Mr and Mrs Merchant and the incredible sacrifices they made over so many years for the jamat in the UK. They struggled and suffered a lot of hardships in their work when travelling on public transport over long distances and late at night often in the cold and not having had dinner. And yet both your parents hardly complained. They both truly served the Imam. We will rejoice their achievements and dedication and lovingly remember them…..Fida Moledina

As an early teen in Dar-es-Salaam, your Mother was my coach for the first wa’ez contest that I ventured into, reckoning it would be an extension of the school talks & debates that relished. Visits to your home were encounters with a teacher who exuded a unique coupling of passion and discipline; no, a wa’ez was no ordinary talk, certainly not a debate. Patiently, she teased out and fostered the keys: pace, clarity, command of material, sincerity, lightness … The lessons remained long after the contest (yes, I won) — not just for wa’ez but for wider communication…..Amyn Sajoo

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

“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. [This] beautiful quote was instilled in me by my religion teacher in the 60s known to me as Mrs. Merchant. I will forever be indebted to her as the first religion teacher who impacted my life in such an enlightening way. May her soul rest in eternal peace and may you all have the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss…..Naznin Hajee

She was one teacher that always came to mind when we remembered Dar, a beautiful person inside out. The ginans we learnt from her, we can still sing without requiring a ginan book…..Aziza Kotadia (nee Damji)

She was my Religion Teacher at Aga Khan Girls School in Dar es Salaam. I will always treasure the fond memories of ‘Mrs. Merchant’ – as she was known- in my heart. A beautiful soul, always smiling. Bless her! She will be dearly missed. It’s a great loss to bear but alas! she had to go ‘home’ where she will be in Khudavind’s tender care, engulfed in and by His Noor, Aameen…..Layla Moledina

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

She was a very special person and had significant impact on the lives of many many people. For me — as she called me her son – she played many roles. She nurtured me and supported my health and nutrition in my teenage years. She and Mr Merchant built the foundational knowledge of our faith. I consider myself very fortunate to have had her in my life and for the opportunity I got to talk with her on Dec 24th 2020 – just recently for more almost 2 hours on the phone. Could not visit because of COVID. She will always remain as one of the most loving persons in my life and and one that played a critical role at a particular time in my life…..Alnoor Abdulla

Your Family and also the Global Jamat will dearly miss the enormous knowledge and deep understanding of our Tariqah so eloquently shared by both your Parents with the Jamat. Indeed it is a rare gift they have left with you, your Family to continue which your are doing as well. May you succeed in your most noble endeavours. A deep loss nonetheless, be brave and have courage…..Amir Rashid

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

She was a person that lived in and for faith and was such a blessing with whoever she interacted with. A caring wife ,a loving mom, a sweet aunt ,a dedicated waezin, a wise teacher but above all a humble murid of our Beloved Imam. When ever I spoke to Aunty, it was such a pleasure as she was so knowledgeable in different topics and time just flew. She bought smiles on my face and faith in my heart and showered so much Duas that filled my being with peace….Feriyal Merchant

Alwaeza was my religion teacher in Dar es Salaam. I remember her teaching the Ginan Ya Ali Khub Mijalas. Every time I sing that Ginan during Imamat Day I always think of her and her teaching the Ginan….Azmina Bandali

As a teenager both these remarkable people helped me to see life in the bigger picture. They taught me that being spiritual was bigger than anything else….Mina Crisp née Pradhan

Best teacher, best al waezine who could inspire the new generation with practical examples combining science and the spiritual world together….Mariam Ladha

Both Late Raisaheba and Late Raisaheb devoted their lives to the Imam and the Jamat. Alhamdulillah. They both were personally known to me for over 50 years. They will be dearly missed by hundreds of family members and friends around the globe. Once again, our heartfelt condolences to the entire family…..Kamrudin A. Rashid and family

I am very disheartened to hear the sad news about your mom. She was my best teacher and tutor for ginans and other religious general knowledge. She delivered great waez’s during Lailtul Qadr nights and other occasions. Always smiling, sincere and humble lady. She is in a great place and will be missed by our community…..Maheboob Merali

Both your Mom & Dad were my teachers in Aga Khan Girls Secondary School in Dar es Salaam. Most of my religious education was imparted by them which has stayed with me to-date & have passed it on to my children & grandchildren. This will continue for generations to come. Shukhar. What an impact your parents have made in our lives. Very grateful indeed. May Mowla accept their seva and grant them eternal peace. Ameen……Fatma Premji

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

We, the “Class of 1967” of Agakhan Girls’ School, Dar es Salaam, say a mournful goodbye to our dear teacher Mrs. Merchant. Mournful, because with her passing, we say goodbye to someone who represented a life of unconditional and generous giving, sacrifice, integrity, humility. She imparted with such patience and understanding of her teenaged students, her wealth of knowledge and wisdom, as she tried to instill in us the values and ethics of our faith. But our hearts simultaneously smile and are filled with gratitude, that we can claim to have been touched and influenced by one so profoundly wise and good, so loving and kind. We are richer for it, our world is warmer for it, and we pray that we can pass on a little bit of that richness and warmth. We express our gratitude once again, for our other teacher and mentor, dear Mr. Merchant. Together, the two gave immeasurably to the entire community, in many different parts of the globe. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. And so we humbly accept the will of Allah as He takes our beloved teacher home for eternal rest…..Naseem (Esmail) Jetha

Mrs Merchant was my religion teacher at Aga Khan Girls school in Dar es Salaam in my high school years. The foundation of my faith that I have personally to this day was all due to her teachings. She was also a beautiful, gentle but a strong soul and helped us get through whatever issues we would be having….Almas Allibhai

I have fond memories of our Beloved Religion Teacher, Mrs. Merchant in Dar es Salaam at the Aga Khan Girls school. Always smiling, kind and hardworking. She was instrumental to instill faith and religion to all her Students….Shamin Rahim 

When I learnt of your beloved Mum’s passing, I experienced mixed emotions. On the one hand, I could relate very much to the void left in your lives and yet also had the satisfaction of knowing that her soul is very much with your beloved Dad and in the Noor of Allah. Ameen and Shukhar. As neighbours growing up in beautiful 1960’s Dar, I have very fond memories of our time playing together and of your Dad and Mum. They were such wonderful people and showed kindness and affection towards everyone they met and interacted with, especially the kids. I remember them always patting mine and my brother’s head and saying “Acha Bacha”…..Karim Akber Hassam Ladha

Mrs Merchant at Lougheed Mall.
My mum, Mrs. Merchant, poses for a photograph in the middle of drinking a hot cup of Tim Hortons Earl Grey tea at the new food court in Burnaby’s Lougheed Mall during my stay with her from November 2019 – January 2020. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Mrs. Merchant was my religion teacher in Dar es Salaam late 60s. She was instrumental in instilling love of faith in me. Forever indebted to her memory. May her soul rest in eternal peace….Naznin Hajee

Though some of us gave her a tough time in mission class, she persisted. I can still remember her teaching, as if she were right there in front of us in one classroom at 5 Palace Gate, sharing Prophet Muhammad’s life and history, history of our imams, of different majalis, teaching us ginans and a clearly, recited dua with its meanings. Her voice and laugh remains….Sara

I remember both of your parents from my visits to Putney Jamatkhana where they would give classes after Jamatkhana. We were all in awe of your mum especially – the last thing you wanted as a child was to be told off by ‘Mrs Merchant.’ May her soul rest in eternal peace…..Amira Tharani

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

In the name of all the Ahamad Keshavjee family – a family that was so fortunate to have them not only as mentors but as family, too – we want to present you, and to your brothers Fahar and Alnoor, our most heartfelt condolences and say that our prayers are for the soul’s eternal peace and rest, under our Mawla’s infinite rahma! We also pray that you, your siblings and family find the courage and the strength to face these painful times. Maleka Bhen will always be remembered with love and affection by this family…..Faranaz Jaherali Ahamad Keshavjee

Alwaeza My Mum…..Your death took away joy from my life but will Hold on to the Beautiful Memories of times Spent with you. I will forever Love  and Adore You Mom for everything you taught me in Life. In our Hearts you hold a place no one else will ever fill. I cried endlessly but I promise I won’t let that tears mar the smiles you have given. I know you will always listen from above. Remembering You is Easy I will do Everyday but there will be an ache within my heart ♥️ that will never go away. Mother my Angel God has given you your Assignment “Always my Mother Forever my Angel”…..Farial Manji

A teacher par excellence and an Al-Waeza, she served with utmost diligence and distinction initially in Mozambique and Tanzania and later in the U.K. The glowing tributes that are being paid to her today is an attestation of her many years of dedicated services to the Imam and the house of Imam-e-Zaman. She will indeed be dearly missed…..Sultan Somani

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

Both mum and dad’s untiring and relentless sewa to Mowlana Hazer Imam will be etched in our hearts forever. The commitment and dedication to the teachers and students in the UK was exemplary. Both your mum and dad had been my mentors in London and I have learnt so much from them. We feel very privileged to have them as part of our lives. I have vivid memories of our dinner with mum when she was visiting London in 2018 and I feel so blessed to have met her then after many years….Rozmin & Mehboob Fazal

Your parents were responsible for building the foundation of our religious education. We cherish their memories. All the girls at The Aga Khan Girls school were very fond of them. They were our role models. They will be missed by many whose lives they have touched!….Razia Pullen

Hearing about Alwaeza passing away brought a flood of memories with emotions of the wonderful souls that both your parents were and what a privilege it was to have them so much as part of our lives. They were not only instrumental in working day to day with them as we launched the Bait-ul-ilms in the UK, a global name now but they taught us so much about faith, resilience, forgiveness and how to navigate through tests with sense of faith. Their unquestioning dedication to serve generations of children, and teachers and the Jamat with love through their knowledge and wisdom were a source of comfort to so many of us. They always listened and never judged and I can remember so many times when I thought one thing and they gave us different perspectives to think of that made far more sense…..Azim and Tasneem Virani

It with great sadness I have learned of the passing away of your dear Mum and our precious Alwaeza and teacher without whom we and our children would not be where we are now. Shukhar. Please accept our family’s condolences and we all pray her soul rests in eternal peace under Mawlabapa’s care where Dad is. Inshallah…..Asif, Elhaque, Yasmin and Nizar Dhanani

The accolades, tributes and acknowledgement of your parent’s contributions to our community can never be overstated. My family and I just recently felt your mother’s humanity and consciousness show in the trouble she took to comment on her positive experience on our family history, and that of the Ismaili community of Iringa, Tanzania. Her thoughtful encouragement will, forever, be etched in our memory…..Mohamed Hamir

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

A truly great teacher who was not only inspirational in her imparting her religious knowledge to the Jamat from Africa to Canada but she was a truly motivating individual who had a very positive attitude and a cheerful personality. Mum was instrumental in my foundational knowledge of our faith since Dar es Salaam, she used to be the main judge at our Dua and Ginan competitions and in London, visited the various mobile Mission classes, using the public transport, whatever the weather, to motivate the administrators and teachers. I recall as a child in Upanga where whenever mum used to give her waez, our Jamatkhana used to be packed and people who listened to her waez used to have tears in their eyes as she brought alive the historical events in our faith. Mum’s memories will always be alive in our hearts……Shenie and Roshanbai Dhanji

How can we forget your mom? She was the beacon of all Ismailis around the world. I have no words to describe her love for the Jamats and dedication in the service to our Imam-e-Zaman. We knew your mom very well as she worked (honorary seva) with my late father, Master Abdul Jaffer Devani in the Social Welfare Board in late 1960’s in Dar es Salaam. I don’t remember ever missing any of Mrs. Merchant’s Waezes in Dar! She was one of a kind and will always be remembered fondly as the best Waezin of our time! The contribution made by both your parents as religious educators for all Ismailis, young and old is immeasurable and unforgettable…..Shah and Shiraz Abdulla and the Devani Sisters

May Mowla grant you the courage to face your loss with inner strength and fortitude, and take comfort in the in the following words :

God looked around his Garden
And found some empty space
God then looked down upon the earth
And saw your tired face
He put his arms around you
And lifted you to rest
God’s garden must be beautiful
For He only takes the best

We fondly remember your mother……….ever so gracious, gregarious, warm and loving. Her commitment and love for the Imam were extraordinary, and her desire to share her knowledge and wisdom, one-on-one or during her waezes was unconditional. We will all miss her…..Shamshad and Jalal Jaffer

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

I was greatly saddened to learn of passing away of your beloved mother Al-waeza Maleksultanbai. May Mawla grant her soul eternal peace. May Mawla grant you and your family, courage and fortitude to bear this great loss. I had a great honour to work with both your parents both in Dar es Salaam as well in Europe on many occasions. Their continuous support made my work easy in my new challenge when I came to Paris in 1970s. The late Al-Waez Rai Jehangir and Al-Waeza Rai Saheba Malekbai’s selfless seva will be remembered by many. Students, religion teachers, colleagues as well as members of the Jamat all over the world…..Al-Waez Rai Muhammad Jivraj.

The Prophet declared that the path to Paradise begins from a mother’s lap. I can see her wonderful influence in the people she has touched, and am truly grateful for the kindness of her example….Andrew Kosorok

In 1962, one day after morning prayers, the then President of Ismailia Association Rai Shamshudin Tejpar told me and two other boys to accompany him. We went to Dar es Salam harbour and boarded a ship from Mozambique sailing to India. On this ship were Mr and Mrs Jehangir Merchant with their three sons, Malik, Alnoor and Fahar. After some discussion, President Saheb told us to take all their luggage off board the ship and the Dar Jamat thus was lucky to have two new religious education teachers who were also waezins….Amin Kassam

A selfless, determined, committed, hard working, teacher, who was so focused in her pursuit of the education of the young in particular. I recall on some weekends, she would start off in Ilford BUI and then travel by the underground to teach us at Harrow BUI as it was known then, before heading home in the evening. I learnt so much, and was humbled by her dedication, knowledge, courage, and love for Mawlana Hazar Imam. Quite incredible…..Al-Karim Govindji

Malek Merchant Ismaili teacher and missionary, Africa and the UK

I have such fond memories of her in my upper primary at Aga Khan Girls School in Dar es Salaam. Her trademark warm and affectionate smile coupled with the sparkle in her eyes endeared her to every student who had the good fortune to be in her class. She taught in an unconventional but a very effective way. She told enthralling stories. The dates and facts were picked up from a vast plethora of books and Quran and her favourite ginans. It was like a beautiful tapestry being woven with reds and greens and golds and silvers! It was done with such joy and passion that we remembered them like children’s stories. She became a pivot in our young lives because she took RI teaching and learning to a whole new level. It was a class you really looked forward to.

Bravo and merci beaucoup, Madame Merchant! You have left warm and fond memories behind. With your passionate and selfless seva, I daresay, you will soar like a falcon and rest on Mowla’s glove!…..Izat Velji

Date posted: January 28, 2021.
Last updated: February 1, 2021 (new photo).

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You may pen your tribute or message of condolence to Mrs. Merchant in the feedback form below (or click Leave a comment) or by visiting the page where we have posted an article about her.

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.

“Mrs. Merchant” – Alwaeza Maleksultan Jehangir – Passes Away at 89

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 Ismaili Imam

Mrs Merchantt - Alwaeza Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant
Alwaeza Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant (June 9, 1931 – January 21, 2021)
Alwaeza Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant (June 9, 1931 – January 21, 2021). Photo: Shellina Karmali.

By MALIK MERCHANT

It is with deep sadness that I am informing readers that Alwaeza Raisaheba Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant passed away peacefully at around 11:30 pm on Thursday, January 21, 2021, at the age of 89 from COVID-19 and pneumonia. She was predeceased by her late husband Alwaez Rai Jehangir Merchant on May 27, 2018.  Alwaeza is survived by her sons Malik (publisher and editor of this website), Fahar and his wife Nina, Alnoor and his fiance Shellina; grandchildren Naim and Nurin, and sisters Shahsultan Bana and Shakerkhanu (Sakuma) Vazir Ghulam Hussain Alinani.

Aga Khan in Mozambique Simerg
 Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, with leaders and teachers of the Lourenço Marques Jamat during his visit in 1958. Maleksultan is at left on second row, and Jehangir behind Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

With her husband of 66 years, Alwaeza Merchant devoted her life to the service of the Imam of the Time and the Jamat as a religious education teacher to the youth of the Jamats in Mozambique, Tanzania and the UK. She was a truly exceptional teacher and she treated each student as her own child. Her co-teachers in London would recall that during a single weekend she would take the underground to visit seven Ismaili religious education centres across London. In both her hands she would be carrying bags of religious education notes and material for distribution to students. At home, she would spend hours on the phone listening to the students’ rehearsing of Dua, Quranic verses, Ginans and Waezes before their recitations in Jamatkhana.

Maleksultan Merchant with Begum Salimah Aga Khan Simerg
Gulzar (centre) introduces Maleksultan Merchant to Begum Salimah Aga Khan at a function held in London during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s week long visit to the Jamat of the United Kingdom in September 1979. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Her oratory as a missionary (waezin) inspired Jamats around the world, enhancing  their understanding of the ethics and principles of Islam and the Ismaili Tariqah.  A particularly memorable period in her lifetime was when she and her husband undertook a year long Waez tour of the newly settled Jamats in the UK, Europe and North America at the behest of the Supreme Council under Diwan Sir Eboo’s leadership.

Outside her religious duties, her honorary work with the social welfare board in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, uplifted and transformed the lives of many in the Ismaili community who were facing poverty, unemployment and other challenging family circumstances.

Jehangir and Maleksultan Mrs Merchant Simerg
Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant (1931-2021) with Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018). They served the Imam of the Time and Ismaili institutions for more than 60 years.

Alwaeza and Alwaez were remarkable partners who worked hand in hand and supported each other throughout their years of service.  The president of the then Ismaili Association for the UK (now ITREB) Dr. Aziz Kurwa remarked  “…..with you Malekbai, I had a formidable team. Both of you supported my work and guided me all the time. The knowledge that Alwaez and Malekbai spread amongst young students in UK and abroad lives in the heart of thousands. There was not a situation where Malekbai and Jehangirbhai did not have the right guidance to offer. Diwan Sir Eboo always admired their devotion and knowledge.”

Alwaeza Maleksultan had remarkable strength of faith and always sought inspiration and strength from her beloved Imam throughout her life, and especially during the 30 month period since the passing of Alwaez in May 2018. Not a moment passed by in her life without acknowledging that Mawlana Hazar Imam was always by her side.

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

Like her husband, whose mentor was the great Fatimid da’i Al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi, Alwaeza’s mentor was Varas Ismail Gangji. As a teacher of Ginanic literature, she would often recount his life and works. In a piece dedicated to Ismaili Gangji she noted: “I have had the immense happiness of teaching and explaining Ginans to my students and members of the Jamat alike. With zeal, enthusiasm and conviction we acknowledged the profound ethical and spiritual truths contained in Ginans, which provide guidance and inspiration in our daily lives. I would like to share one incident that I have narrated frequently during the course of my career. It was an evening that became a turning point in the life of Varas Ismailbhai Gangji.” (Read article)

The passing away of Alwaeza Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant is a difficult moment for the family. Today, the family would like to celebrate an outstanding murid of the Imam who most nobly and sincerely dedicated her life to the Imamat and the Ismaili Jamats worldwide, and we express our shukrana to Mawlana Hazar Imam for the special opportunity given to her to serve the House of the Imam in a special and unique way.

Date posted: January 22, 2021.
Last updated: December 28, 2021 (typo(s) and new links added, see below).

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Mrs. Merchant’s funeral will be held on Thursday, February 4 (see new post Mrs. Merchant’s Tribute Excerpts and The Ismaili iiCanada announcement).

Condolences: We invite you to submit your condolences, memories and tributes to Mrs. Merchant by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment. Your comment may also be submitted to simerg@aol.com. Here is a tribute from several we have so far received.

‘Mrs. Merchant’ has passed? I am ever so sad!

Aga Khan Lourenco Marques Simerg Malik Merchant
1966: Dar es Salaam Aga Khan Girls Secondary School visit by Mawlana Hazar Imam, with Mr. and Mrs. Merchant seen in the photo.

By IZAT VELJI

No matter which way you cut the pie, whenever parents pass on, they leave such a huge void in our hearts that all you can possibly do is pray for their souls’ freedom in Mowla’s Light. May Mowla shower His Noor ke barish (showers of Light) on her and give her soul eternal peace and rest – Ameen.

I have such fond memories of her in my upper primary at Aga Khan Girls School in Dar es Salaam. Her trademark warm and affectionate smile coupled with the sparkle in her eyes endeared her to every student who had the good fortune to be in her class. She taught in an unconventional but a very effective way. She told enthralling stories. The dates and facts were picked up from a vast plethora of books and Quran and her favourite ginans. It was like a beautiful tapestry being woven with reds and greens and golds and silvers! It was done with such joy and passion that we remembered them like children’s stories. It was Mrs. Merchant who introduced us to figures in our history like Gazi Jawhar, Hasan bin Sabah, the development and spread of the Fatimid Empire, the establishment of Alamut – o boy, did the Ismaili history ever come to life when she handled it – hats off to her!

Her own affection and love for her Mowla became very evident in one class when she started her lesson on Hazrat Aly and by the time she came to Mowla Aly’s assassination, she could not control her tears. The pain and hurt were so real for both her and ‘her kids’ that when the bell rang, not one kid twitched. There was pindrop silence in class. Not a single other teacher could command that kind of control over a class like ours – rambunctious and high achievers. But she loved each and every one of us.

She became a pivot in our young lives because she took RI teaching and learning to a whole new level. It was a class you really looked forward to. Bravo and merci beaucoup, Madame Merchant! You have left warm and fond memories behind. With your passionate and selfless seva, I daresay, you will soar like a falcon and rest on Mowla’s glove!

Shukhar! Thanks.

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You may leave a tribute to Maleksultan 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.

A more detailed tribute to Alwaeza will appear in the coming weeks.

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