Zee's Notes : It is with great sadness to share with our readers the passing away of a true Ismaili Hero. Alwaez Abu Aly spent a lifetime in the service of his community and his oratory skills are indeed legendary. Such was his thirst for knowledge that he obtained his Phd at the age of 82 and never tired of passing on his knowledge right to the day he passed away.
My recollection of the Alwaez was his booming voice but as I got to know the man at Darkhana JK in Burnaby over the past few years his most becoming trait was his smile. As a youngster in Dar-es-salaam I was more scared of facing him but when I got to know him I found him to be genuinely kind and a true leader.
Much will be spoken over the next few weeks as word spreads across the Ismaili Community but let me leave you with some words from:
Mehboob Kamadia - Scholar, Lecturer & Researcher
If fame and influence are yardsticks to measure success, then Missionary-author Rai Dr. Abualy Alibhai Aziz ranks highest in the history of the 20th Century Ismaili da`wa, a teaching and proselytizing organ of the Ismaili movement. His spectacularly successful career and achievements are inextricably linked to two Holy imams: our majestic and supremely charismatic Lord Sultan Muhammad Shah and our most beloved Hazar Imam. Throughout his brilliant mission career, Missionary Abualy never failed to defend the interests of Imam Sultan Muhammad and the Imam of the Time. His two books, Radde Batil and Zahoor-e-Haqq, are a glittering testimony of his courage, boldness, knowledge and debating skills. In the 60's the Imam of the Time had dispatched Missionary Abualy to South Africa where the dai (missionary) roared as the lion of Ismaili Islam.
A Short Biography
In the end of 1915, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah instructed Mukhi Alibhai Aziz to perform a second marriage and predicted that this matrimonial union would bless him with a son who ought to be named “Hakam Abualy”. As prophesied, Khadija Jafer Sadiq gave birth to Hakam Abualy in Amritsar, Punjab, on August 21, 1919. Hakam Abualy, in the annals of history, has become acclaimed and venerated in the Ismaili world as “Missionary Abualy”. His remarkable active and eventful life of 88 years is a glowing testimony of his profoundest love, unquestionable loyalty and unflinching dedication to the House of the Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali - Peace be upon them.
At a very tender age, Missionary Abualy imbibed religious education from his knowledgeable grandfather with an uncompromising focus on the study of Ginan-e-Sherif, a unique sacred interpretation of the Holy Qur’an. At the age of four, Missionary Abualy preached among his Hindu classmates; at seven, he deeply plunged into the study of Qur’an-e-Sherif under the supervision of a Sunni Qur'anic scholar; at eleven, he commenced preaching in jamatkhanas; at twelve, he travelled to Afghanistan with his father where he came into contact with Afghan centres of Ismaili population. In 1938, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah ordered the young charismatic preacher to forever end his medical career and become “His” missionary. In instant obeisance, the 20 years old Abualy joined the Aga Khan Re-Creation Club and Institute, a predecessor of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. In 1946, the Imam made Missionary Abualy the director of Ismaili da’wa for Tanzania, Kenya & Uganda. During one of his very privileged Imam-Dai mulakats, the Imam placed Missionary Abualy's head on his knee and blessed him. The Imam placed His Hand on Missionary Abualy’s head and commanded him to speak the truth without fear. The Imam emphasized that His Hand would be upon him at all times. In retrospect, this was an unmistakable prophecy: the Imam’s dai would triumph in spite of impediments and all forms of opposition throughout his mission career. Armed with divine blessings, Missionary Abualy continuously preached in overcrowded jamats around the world for ¾ of a century.
As a genuine mujahid, a warrior for the religious cause, Missionary Abualy courageously and effectively served as a torch-bearer of Islam in general and as the 20th century spokesperson of the Ismaili Nizari da'wa in particular. In the entire history of Ismaili movement, no dai or Imam's agent has traveled as much as Missionary Abualy: He visited one hundred and twenty-three countries and delivered around twelve thousand waez (sermons) and lectures in Jamatkhanas, mosques, churches and temples. In his pioneering efforts spanning 76 years, he championed the cause of Ismaili Islam even in the remotest areas of Ismaili presence. In one of the Imam-dai communications, Mawlana Hazar Imam made a particular note of this. In the early sixties, the Imam of the Time had wished that He had 50 missionaries like Missionary Abualy in our Jamat. Bearing the foregoing Holy wish in mind, I should note that in the late 60's, Mawlana Hazar Imam had expressed in writing that He was very happy with His murids of Bombay who had taken keen interest in listening to Missionary Abualy's waez. In one of the talikas addressed to the Mukhi of Bombay, the Imam had explicitly desired that Missionary Abualy visit India every year for at least one month if not two. Three years ago, the jamats in India, Pakistan and Dubai thronged to listen to Missionary Abualy's waez. The intense craving and keen interest in listening to Missionary Abualy's waez remain undiminished in our jamats.
Through Missionary Abualy’s sermons, we discover a profoundly impressive voice and truly an exceptional intellectual, philosophical and mystical mind. In addition to passionately assisting thousands of Ismailis to ascend the ladder of salvation, this legendary giant also enhanced the material lifestyle of thousands of Ismaili murids living around the world.
The Ismaili Community has sustained an immense loss with his passing away.
May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace
Please leave a comment with your well wishes to make it a tribute from all the readers of Morning Chai - I know all of us in one way or another have been touched by the soul of Rai Abu Aly in his lifetime.