A Tribute to Late Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid (1923-2019) of Zanzibar and Toronto

Passings and Tributes Simerg Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid
Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid (1923-2019) celebrating her 95th birthday in Toronto. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection.


Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid, our dearest mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother and an extremely respected elder in the entire family passed away on July 15, 2019 at the age of 96. She enjoyed a wonderful life with her entire family, including all the extended family members, without any major ailment for which we offer our humble Shukhrana.

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simerg passings and tributes Nurbanu Abdulraul Rashid
Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid and husband Abdulrasul Rashid pictured in 1939 at their wedding. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection.

Born on June 3, 1923 in Zanzibar, she witnessed many milestone events in the family. During her lifetime she was also fortunate to celebrate the Golden and Diamond Jubilees of both the 48th and 49th Ismaili Imams, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan (d. July 11, 1957) and Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Aga Khan. Her first Deedar (lit. glimpse) with Mawlana Hazar Imam was on November 18, 1957 in the Island of Pemba, and her last mulaqat took place when Mawlana Hazar Imam was in Toronto on November 18, 2018 for the first-leg of his Diamond Jubilee visit to Canada.

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simerg tributes and obituaries passings Nurbanu Rashid
Seated left and right respectively are Sherbanu Haji Abdulla Dewsi and her husband Haji Abdulla Dewsi. The young boy in centre is Akbarali Haji Abdulla Dewsi. Standing are Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid (left), the subject of this tribute, and Abdulrasul Rashid whom Nurbanu would marry in later years. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection.
Aga Khan III, Wete, Simerg
A historical photo of Ismaili ladies and Ismaili youth volunteers outside Wete Pemba Jamatkhana with a framed portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid was an active volunteer and is pictured seated 4th from left, just in front of the framed photo. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection, Toronto.

We would like to recount a sad incident that took place in her lifetime when her own mother, Sherbanu Haji Abdulla Dewsi, who lived in Wete-Pemba and had travelled to Zanzibar for Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s visit in 1945, passed away during the Imam’s visit to Zanzibar. The visit took place before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Dar es Salaam the following year, in August 1946. Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah happened to be at an event when Sherbanu’s funeral procession to the cemetery was underway and was passing along the narrow street outside. Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah asked everyone in attendance to observe a moment of silence and pray for the departed soul.

During Nurbanu’s lifetime dozens of her birthdays were celebrated in a formal setting with many family members in attendance, including her 90th and 95th birthdays in Toronto which were organized and celebrated in style by all her grand and great-grandkids.

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Simerg, Passings and Tribute Nurbanu Rashid
Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid (front row, centre) pictured with her immediate and extended family members in 2008 in Toronto. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection. Please clik on photo for enlargement.

The greatest strength of the families that we all grew up in was living as united families. That ethical aspect of our faith has remained with us along with the ideals of faith, devotion, love and service to Mawlana Hazar Imam that our mother Nurbanu and all the elder members of our family imparted to us during their rich and noble lives. They led the family successfully through three generations.

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Passings and Tributes Simerg Nurbanu Rashid
Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid celebrating her 90th birthday with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection.

We are deeply happy to share a few memories from our photo albums. We humbly request members of the Jamat to join with us in praying for the peace and rest of the soul of Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid, as well as other deceased members of our family and the Jamats in Canada and around the world. Ameen.

Date posted: August 10, 2021.


Tributes and condolences: We invite our readers to submit their memories and tributes to Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment.

Simerg welcomes obituaries/tributes to honour past and recently deceased members of Ismaili families. Please see our guidelines for submission by clicking on PASSINGS.


Passings and Tributes Simerg Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid
Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid (1923-2019) celebrating her 95th birthday in Toronto. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid & Family Collection.

Simerg invites Ismaili families to submit tributes to their family members who have passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic

(Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

The tributes may be submitted for passings due to Covid-19 or any other cause

Some years ago, Simerg launched PASSINGS where Ismailis around the world were invited to submit obituaries or tributes to honour members of their families who had passed away, irrespective of the time frame. Over the past few years, we have seen a trickle of these obituaries and tributes flowing in, and we have graciously published them to the comfort of several family members.

Today, the coronavirus pandemic has brought great sadness to families who have lost family members during the past two months. Like other places of worship, Jamatkhanas in North America, the UK, Europe and many other parts of the world, have remained closed since around the middle of March. Whether the death has been due to Covid-19 or other illnesses, funeral, burial and post-burial ceremonies and rites have been vastly compromised, with limited number of family members and friends being permitted to attend the mourning ceremonies, both before and immediately after the person has been buried.

Restrictions have even prevented family members from being close to their loved ones during their times of illness and during the final moments of their lives. Often, the death of the individual is unknown to many due to Jamatkhana closures, as special prayers for the soul of the deceased (known as samar, which takes place in many parts of the world where the deceased is known through family and friends) can no longer be conducted. With all of these elements missing, many families who have lost their beloved have not experienced a sense of closure with respect to the loved ones that have left them.

Most recently, as readers might be aware, Simerg paid a loving tribute to Missionary Amirali Gillani. His closest family members were deeply comforted by the condolences that they were offered by friends, relatives as well as well-wishers from around the world, who made contact by phone and emails. Many submitted tributes to Missionary Amirali Gillani in the comments section of this website. We went on to report about the extraordinary funeral and burial ceremonies that took place in Toronto for the long serving and well-known Ismaili missionary.

Today, we announce a special weekly series in which we will publish tributes to deceased Ismailis or individuals who are members of Ismaili families who have passed away during the coronavirus pandemic.

The tribute that you pen is not restricted to deaths caused by Covid-19. It will be to anyone who is part of an Ismaili family and who has died from any cause – Covid-19 or otherwise – during the coronavirus pandemic. This opportunity to submit tributes is being offered to Ismaili families around the world in the spirit of the ONE JAMAT that we are, under the leadership and loving care of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Please email the tribute (preferably 75-100 words in length), along with the deceased family member’s portrait photo (if available, in jpeg format), to Malik Merchant at simerg@aol.com. You MUST include your full name and phone number where you can be reached. Anonymous tributes will not be accepted.

The Toronto Star article The Lives They Lived will help you in developing a comprehensive tribute, and Simerg’s editor will always be available to provide his assistance in formulating a good tribute, so long as you provide good information about the deceased.

Kindly note that Simerg’s tribute will be for ALL deceased Ismailis and members of Ismaili families who have passed away during the pandemic due to Covid-19 and other causes. Again, please send your tribute to Simerg@aol.com.

We hope to commence the series of tributes on Friday, May 22, 2020. In addition to English, we will also accept tributes written in French, Portuguese and Spanish with their corresponding English translations, provided by you (you may use Google translate, if you wish).

Date posted: May 17, 2020.
Last updated: May 18, 2020 (added note about submitting tributes in French, Spanish, and Portuguese).

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.


Malik Merchant

Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian. He may be contacted at Simerg@aol.com.

We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click Leave a comment. Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Simerg Invites Obituaries / Tributes to Honour Past / Recent Deceased Ismailis

Top portion of image shows plaque commemorating Ismailis who were killed in a WWII raid in Burma. Bottom half is a surreal image by Sarite Sanders of Aswan’s Fatimid cemetery.


Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos

Simerg offers to all Ismaili families around the world an opportunity to submit memorials to honour and celebrate the lives of their deceased family members. The memorials may be submitted in the form of (1) a simple short notice or (2) a tribute of up to 500 words. The memorial may be for any Ismaili who has died recently or at any time since 1950 (or even earlier). This is a FREE listing.

Substance of the Notice and Tribute

1. NOTICE: The simplest kind of tribute is a notice announcing the death of the person. This short notice may be followed by a longer tribute at a later date as described in (2) below. The following is an example of the contents of a notice:

“[Name of Deceased], author and playwright, died peacefully at home in [city], on [date]. He was the much-loved husband of [spouse name], father of [children], guardian and grandfather. The last rites were held in [name of Jamatkhana] on [date] and he was later buried on [date] at [name and city of cemetery]. Post funeral religious ceremonies were conducted at [name of Jamatkhana]. It was the wish [of the deceased or the deceased family] that monetary contributions in his honour be made to [organization, hospital, cause etc.].”

2. TRIBUTE: The purpose of the tribute will be to celebrate the person’s life. It will start with the same basic information you put in the notice (1, above), and goes on to add details about the person’s life: hometowns, jobs, family members, and personal interests activities as well as community services and awards. Anecdotes may be included from the person’s life to help family members, readers and future generations to reflect on the life of the individual. The universal tale, as is well-known, lies in specific examples and for this reason we are inviting you to write a tribute of up to 500 words in length.

For very good examples of short notices as well as tributes see your local newspapers or click The Globe and Mail. They will assist you in constructing appropriate notices and tributes.

Here is a selection of tributes we have published on Simerg:

  1. Farida Shahsultan Hassam: A Multi-Talented, Courageous and Devoted Murid of Mawlana Hazar Imam, Passes Away in Toronto After Prolonged Illness (1943-2022)
  2. A Tribute to a Great and Long-Serving Ismaili Missionary, Alwaeza Gulshan S. Alidina, As She Passes Away in Toronto at the Age of 93
  3. Kurbanali Kassamali Mulji (1935-2022)
  4. Vazir Hon. Al Noor (Nick) Kassum (1924-2021)
  5. Alwaez Nizar Chunara (1940 – 2021)
  6. A Tribute to Late Nurbanu Abdulrasul Rashid (1923-2019) of Zanzibar and Toronto
  7. Zarina Bhatia (d. July 2021): A Tribute to a Noble Ismaili Social Anthropologist from Birmingham, UK, Who Became One of My Truest Friends
  8. Dr. Vali Jamal (d. July 11, 2021)
  9. Jehangir Tejani (1946 – 2021)
  10. Sadru Velji – Our Beloved Nana
  11. A Visit to the Ismaili Cemetery at the Victory Memorial Park: I Bid Farewell to My Mum, “Mrs. Merchant,” and Pay My Deep Respects to My Beloved Dad and Other Deceased Members of the Jamat
  12. A Poem in Memory of Mrs. Merchant
  13. Alwaez Rajwani’s Very Special Bond with Mrs and Mr Merchant
  14. Mrs. Merchant (d. January 21, 2021): Reflections on a Funeral During the Year of Covid-19 as Ismaili Community Bids Goodbye to a Very Popular Teacher and Missionary
  15. Mrs. Merchant: Excerpts From Tributes Celebrating Her Life; Alwaeza’s Funeral To Be Held On Thursday, February 4
  16. “Mrs. Merchant” – Alwaeza Maleksultan Jehangir – Passes Away at 89
  17. Alwaez Rai Sultanali Mohamed (1927 – 2020)
  18. Tributes to Ismailis who have passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic: Issue no. 2 of a multipart series
  19. Alijah Mohamed Hamir Pradhan, Inspiration Behind the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Iringa, Tanzania
  20. The melodious life and legacy of Shamshu Jamal (1936 – 2019)
  21. Tributes to Ismailis who have passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic: Issue no. 1 of a multipart series
  22. Remembering Ismailis we have lost since Jamatkhana closures and during the coronavirus pandemic
  23. The Funeral of Missionary Amirali Gillani in the Midst of Covid-19 Restrictions
  24. Missionary Amirali Gillani (1944 – 2020)
  25. Nazeer Ladhani (1947-2020)
  26. Mahebub Mohamed Juma Rupani (1941 – 2020)
  27. Sultan Jessa: Noble Ismaili Muslim, Great Journalist and Recipient of Order of Canada Passes Away
  28. Salim Dawood – a Fantastic and Inspiring Math Teacher at Dar es Salaam’s Aga Khan Boys Primary School
  29. Kutub Kassam served Ismaili Imamat Institutions as curriculum developer, editor, writer and researcher for 40 years
  30. Shirin Mohamedali Khimji (1935 – 2019): A Remarkable Ismaili Widow and Woman of Faith and Character
  31. Nazil Kara (1957-2018): An Ordinary and Extraordinary Satpanthi Woman
  32. “Life of Jehangir” – includes historical photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam
  33. My last moments with my loving Papa
  34. Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928 – 2018)
  35. A Eulogy for My Mom, by Amyn Naran
  36. Izzat Muneyb remembered through her poetic reflections on Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and the London Ismaili Centre
  37. Salim-el-azhar Ebrahim
  38. Alijah Zulfikarali Khoja
  39. Laila Lokhandwalla Through Her Loving Golden Jubilee Tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam
  40. Roshan Thomas – Acting in the Path of God By Jalal Jaffer
  41. Mohammed Ibrahim Ali (d. March 15, 2014)
  42. Noorunisa Maherali (1929 – 2015): A Remarkable Ismaili Woman of Faith and Character
  43. John Nuraney (1937 – 2016)
  44. Nazarali Bapa: An Iron Craftsman Who Made a Spinning Wheel for Mahatma Gandhi
  45. A True Account of How Three Ismaili “Shaheeds” Lost Their Lives in a Tragic Accident in 1925 Near Kilosa, Tanganyika
  46. Rai Hussein Khanmohammed of Burma
  47. Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014)
  48. Mohezin Tejani: Brilliant Author, Humanitarian and Global Nomad Dead at 61

Submission Rules

Each submission must specify your relationship with the deceased person, as well as include your full name, mailing address and the phone number where you may be contacted. Along with your short notice or tribute, we ask you to submit the celebrated person’s photo. For tributes, we will accept two additional photos which have a direct relevance to the person’s life that you have described. Images should be in JPG format.

Anonymous pieces will not be accepted for publication, although the editor may at his discretion allow author anonymity once the tribute has been approved for publication. Please submit the notice or tribute in PDF, Text or Word format to simerg@aol.com. You may, alternatively, incorporate the material within your email. The editor will contact you with the draft copy once the piece has been finalized for publication. 

The 48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan (1877 -1957) said in his Memoirs that “life is a great and noble calling.” It is the life that was celebrated about which we are asking you to reflect and write about, in the form of a short notice or a longer tribute.

Date posted: February 28, 2019.
Last updated:
May 29, 2022 (new tribute, see top of page).


The editor welcomes tributes honouring your deceased family members. Please send them to simerg@aol.com

We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears below. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Please visit our Home page for links to most recent posts. For links to articles posted on this Web site since its launch in March 2009, please click TABLE OF CONTENTS.

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Passings: Honouring Lives Lived – A New Simerg Initiative by Malik Merchant


Beginning September 15, 2012, Simerg started offering to all its Ismaili readers around the world an opportunity to submit memorials to honour and celebrate the lives of beloved members of their families who have physically departed this world. The memorials may be submitted in the form of (1) a simple short notice or (2) a tribute of up to 500 words for anyone who has passed away recently or since 1950. Please read more about this initiative by clicking on the image below.

Click for details of Simerg’s initiative to honour and celebrate Ismaili lives.

Last updated: April 11, 2020.