Photo of the Day: The Beautiful Handwriting of Ismaili Teacher and Missionary Jehangir Merchant
I am addressing this post to friends and colleagues of my late dad, Alwaez Jehangir (December 13, 1928 – May 27, 2018), as well as my own family members and relatives around the world. And may I also include another group of people: everyone who appreciates good handwriting!
What a gratifying experience it has been for me to come to Vancouver and finally spend time to pay respects to my late mum, whose funeral I could not attend due to the extraordinary pandemic of Covid-19 we are living through, as well as other personal challenges. My mother, “Mrs Merchant,” passed away on January 21, 2021 at the age of 89. My dad died at the same age on May 27, 2018 soon after both of them had been blessed with the Diamond Jubilee Didar (glimpse) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. My dad’s physician, Dr. McNaulty, confided to me that my dad was waiting for that moment of meeting Mawlana Hazar Imam to occur before he would pass away, and that after my dad’s return from the holy mulaqat (visit) he saw nothing but happiness and light on my dad’s face and eyes. It was wonderful for a non-Ismaili to speak of my dad in that manner.
My 10-day stay here has resulted in me going through my parents collective works as well as texts on religious studies covering a broad spectrum of faiths. I noted in an earlier piece that my parents always wrote down their waezes (sermons) and lectures before they delivered them in front of any Jamati gathering. Of course, due to their relocations from one country to another during decades of services to the Ismaili community, its institutions and the Ismaili Imamat they could not carry with them all the material they possessed including their personal notes, sermons and photographs. A lot is therefore missing, gathering dust in the libraries they donated their material to. As a young child I marvelled at the bumper issues of some great literary Ismaili magazines going back 100 years — we don’t have them in our parent’s family collection.
My “Photo of the Day” feature has so far focused on scenes from Toronto, mainly of the Aga Khan Park, and over the past week photos that I have taken in Vancouver.
Today, my focus turns to my dad and his beautiful writing. Look at the images in this post, and you will agree with me. Yesterday, the owner of a moving company came by to provide an estimate of shipping the materials to Eastern Canada, and he wondered about the boxes of books that were being packed. I showed him two of my dad’s waez texts. He said he had never seen anything written so neatly and running across from one page to the next with so much consistency. I am proud of my dad. My mum wrote beautifully too but not as beautifully as my dad. Admittedly, she was a more popular missionary and teacher than my dad. So she was top in many ways but, in my opinion, second best in the family in handwriting! So enjoy a sample of pages that I am providing here from two of his waez texts from Dar es Salaam (1960’s) and London (1980’s). He always commenced his writing with Ya Ali Madad, seeking Mawlana Hazar Imam’s help in his endeavour to inspire the Jamat through the sermons he presented. He was a great missionary and teacher, a humble man and a wonderful father.
Date posted: April 24, 2021.
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