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#FatimaInspires 2017 Nominations
Nasimbai Walji Pirmohamed from Birmingham. Nominated by Fatima Bandali.
I would like to nominate a great lady who has inspired me and many others who she has taken on board to create this amazing project called Lady Zaynab Helping Hands, which is there to provide a help and support to the many orphans, widows and the displaced as result of the Syrian conflict.
She is selfless, caring, giving, enthusiastic and with a heart that sets in unison with her Lord, the Lord of Hussain, the Lord of the Worlds- Allah (SWT).
A true mo'meena and a lover of the Ahlulbayt (as) in spirit and essence!
I know nothing of her but good and admire her zeal and perseverance to constantly knocking on the door with much patience and perseverance.
She is a visionary and an example and embodiment of a woman of our time and a perfect role model in many ways; as a mother, zakira, social and welfare supporter, as a friend to name a few!
She thrives on helping others and is a great social activist. Her lovely name is Nasimbai Walji Pirmohamed and she is from Birmingham Jamaat.
I would like to nominate Mohdessa Kanani La Torre who lives in Geneva.
Mohdessa has a Bachelor in Social Studies, especially in Children's Education and behaviour.
Together with another inspiring lady, they have founded Kiddytime Geneva. This is a Saturday Islamic school for children from the ages 2 up to 7. They are taught about Islam and the Ahlul Bayt through activities, drawings, puppet shows etc.
Mohdessa creates the craftwork and encourages and inspires them to learn Islamic laws, about Ramadhan, about Muharram and our imams and the masomeens.
She gives children a very rich experience and hopes to continue on this path in order to spread the message of Imam Hussein (as) and develop Islamic knowledge in children from an early age. To move towards this goal, she uses a framework of courses based on the advice of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) on children’s education, which says: “From the ages of 0-7, play with your children. Teach them Islam by making the task easy for them and do not be harsh."
Her objectives are to spend special moments with children and their parents and have fun while learning the basics of Islam. Include time sharing ryhmes, puppet shows, stories, crafts, games and a delicious tea-break to end the session and cover different Islamic themes. She promotes having fun while learning.
I would like to nominate Sister Reyhana Merali of Toronto who is an inspiration for the volunteer work she's been doing in Zanzibar for over 5 years.
4. Shabnam Raza
I would like to nominate Shabnam Raza. She is a successful business woman who has a chain of nurseries in south London. Shabnam always tries to help fellow Muslim women looking for work in the childcare sector. Shabnam never turns away anyone who is in need or any good causes that may need financial assistance.
Zahida Aliawali was born to Shireen and Sher Ali Noorani, on 5th June 1961. Born in a socio-religious family, she was the apple of her father’s eyes who put special efforts to groom her in socio-religious affairs.
Her childhood friends describe her as a friendly child who was always respectful to others. Despite getting married at an early age and becoming the mother of three children, she continued her efforts for achieving her career goals. She worked in a community based school for over a decade and was very popular amongst students and the parents for her student-friendly approach to teaching and learning.
While still teaching, she developed an interest in Naturopathy and pursued Master’s Degree in Alternative Medicines from Mumbai, India. Since then it has been 19 years, she has been practising Alternative Medicine and being a messiah to thousands who are suffering with cancers, diabetes, chronic pain, infertility and many more illnesses.
At the same time, she trained herself in counselling. She now provides counselling to numerous clients on a voluntary basis. Her clients can vouch for her honesty, integrity and commitment to work.
Despite family and professional commitments, nothing has stopped this wonder lady to work for the community. She has served as the Chairperson of the Women’s Wing of the Khoja (Pirhai) Shia Isna Asheri Jamaat, Karachi. Under her leadership, every year a community-wide vocational training program was organised for female youths. It aimed to develop skills of young females in areas such as Self- grooming, Cooking, Crochet, Henna Art, Acupressure, Glass Painting, Stitching and various other skills. The sole intention of the program was to enable the youths to be self- sufficient to contribute towards their household. Many of the girls trained via these training sessions are successful entrepreneurs. Zahida Aliwali through organising such programs has proved that investing in the females of the community has a direct impact on the betterment and upliftment of the community.
Dr Zahida was one of the very active members of the team of Doctors working with the earthquake victims in Azad Kashmir and northern areas of Pakistan in 2005. She along with other team members set up medical camps in the earthquake struck areas and treated thousands of people who needed medical treatment. She actively works with the families of the victims of sectarian violence in the community, does fundraising to ensure that they are the necessities of life. She is trusted by donors from various communities and as such is instrumental in raising huge amounts of money to support low-income families to pay their educational, medical and wedding expenses. She is one of the senior volunteers of Mehfil- e- Murtaza and has served there selflessly.
In the past, she was also actively involved with the Family Relations Committee of Karachi Jamaat dealing with the relationship issues and counselling the couples. She also provides Ghusal and funeral at the community Ghusal Khana
She is known in the community for her signature smile that she always carries on her face.
All praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds; Most Beneficent, Ever Merciful.
A middle-aged lady (a Kaniz e Fatima) lay on bed blissfully unaware that she was suffering from a rare terminal illness (MND). Over the past nearly four years, the majority of her body parts had stopped functioning, including her hands and legs. Apart from being immobile, she was unable to speak for the past three years and was largely gesticulating with her eyes. Just two people understood what she conveyed with her eyes, her brother and his wife. That bhabhi was always at her beck and call, nursing her, feeding her, changing her. The doctors from across the town had concluded that she may die within 6 months and only a cheerful life may slightly delay that eventuality. Kaniz e Fatima’s brother and his wife did just that, kept her happy and positive. Apart from just a couple of persons, none in the family were told about that morbid fact for the fear that someone or the other might just spill the beans in front of the patient and after knowing the fact, she might lose her will-power to live. Instead of the predicted six months, by the grace of the Almighty Allah, she lived on for four years. Never did she realise that she was on the verge of dying. The fun and jokes, the 24/7 service of her bhabhi and the cheerful ambience made Kaniz e Fatima hopeful of a recovery until she finally succumbed to her illness.
In such times when people don’t even care for their own parents, here was a lady who was an epitome of compassion and personification of selflessness and an embodiment of strength, care and warmth. For four years, she tended her, nursed her, fed her, and understood her needs without even a hint of frustration or fatigue even when she was regularly summoned in the middle of the night.
And while she looked after Kaniz e Fatima, her own daughter was going through a turbulent married life. After nursing her sister in law, she lay in bed crying and pleading to the Lord for an amicable solution to her daughter’s married life. She also saw to it that her son cleared his MBA from one of the topmost colleges without being affected by the turmoil in the house. Apart from household responsibilities, she took time out to give Islamic Dars twice a week, took weekly Islamic Dars herself and volunteered for administrative work in a religious organisation. She even gave Islamic lectures and recited Ziyarat e Ashura in Muharram gatherings in a grief-stricken tone with herself lamenting the most.
The Holy Quran tells us that, “Indeed you have in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent example to follow” (Surah Ahzaab, Ayat 21). While the Holy Prophet (saw) and his Ahlul Bayt (as) are indeed the best role models for us, we often find a few personalities from amongst us, who imbibe the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Ahlul Bayt (as). The lives of such people too are – in a small way - exemplary and inspirational.
That lady had been through this earlier too. Immediately after her marriage when she was barely out of her teens, she had nursed her terminally ill mother in law in the same fashion. And when she was in her early 20s she took up the responsibility of getting her sister in law and later, her brother in law married; took care of her retired father in law and her divorced sister in law for over two decades, treating them as her own father and sister.
A lady of meagre needs, she never demanded anything even from her husband. She cried when her husband was given a chauffeur-driven car by his company because she had yearned for recompense in the Hereafter and was petrified that has Allah (swt) decided to give the entire recompense in this world itself?
Seldom would one find a husband praising his wife so profusely in the public domain. This article is one of those rare instances. Had I not written this, I would not have done justice to the lady who has been a pillar of strength and an epitome of selflessness and compassion and quite possibly one of the most inspirational KSI ladies to have lived on this planet.
May Allah (swt) grace her with His infinite Blessings in this world and the Hereafter and shower His mercies on her Marhumeen.
We received two nominations for Sherbanoo Jaffer:
1. I would like to nominate my mother Sherbanoo Jaffer as the woman who INSPIRES, not only me but the many men & women who crossed her path over the years.
Sherbanoo Jaffer left East Africa, and a life of privilege, in 1971 to come to England to raise her daughter alone due to personal reasons. That daughter was me and I was 8 at the time. She worked nights in a plastics factory to pay rent and make sure her family, and community, was cared for. In addition to me, she had a son in university in Portsmouth; a daughter recently married close by and a nephew who also moved in with us. For a while there were 7 of us in a 2 bedroom flat but never did she let that stop her from opening her home to all.
She realised there were a lot of students, mostly young boys, who were at local colleges, alone, away from their families. There was no religious institution and she was concerned that these students were going to be left without any kind of foundation. Despite her circumstances, she opened her small flat to host Majlis every Friday evening and she provided meals during the week for these students. Her door was always open. During the month of Ramadan, Iftar was offered every day to whoever wanted to attend. She felt if the students had that option, they were more likely to fast. We commemorated all events and held Amaals in our small living room. She encouraged the students to recite and to lead a lot of these events giving them the knowledge. This was the precursor of what became the Wessex Jamaat. Over the years there were countless students who attended the events at the flat, who were fed daily and who always knew “Baiji” was available at any time for anything. To this day, these men and women will tell me how much they appreciated having her there as a second mum when theirs were so far away. It always humbles me when I run into people across the globe now who still remember the chai on Friday night and the sense of community that small flat, above the furniture shop, provided everyone. My mother now suffers from Alzheimer’s and unfortunately is unable to recall a lot of these memories but I know what a difference she made in so many lives. I cannot think of anyone who deserves this more than her.
2. I would like to nominate Mrs. Sherbanoo Jaffer as the woman who inspires me, and I am confident a lot of men and women still remember, admire and thank her for her warmth and ‘motherly’ love in making their stay comfortable away from home in a foreign country.
My circumstances of meeting Aunty Sherbanoo in 1972 are unlike the other students who were at her home regularly—be it Fridays, Holy months of Ramadhan and Muharram or observing various Wafaats or Wiladats of our Imams.
I am a convert to Islam—being born a Parsi. I was invited by my ‘Muslim friend’ at that time (who is now my Husband). With HIS mercy I have now been married to the same Khoja Ithna Asheri Man for 41 years.
In the 1970’s it wasn’t very easy for a non-Muslim to be accepted wholeheartedly. At the very onset of my friendship, I had decided that I will convert to Islam, and with that in mind I went for my very first Ashura Majlis at Aunty Sherbanoo’s home. Trust me, as a young non-Muslim woman in her 20’s, I was extremely nervous.
To my absolute delight, I couldn’t have asked for a more hospitable welcome in a home. Not for a minute did I feel out of place—in fact, for the first time my fear turned into relief as I felt I could actually belong to this community!!
From that initial Majlis, visits to Portsmouth from Southampton became a very frequent occurrence during all the major religious observances and family functions. I was now a ‘family friend’, and Aunty Sherbanoo became the kind, guiding ‘mother’ to us all foreign students.
I had a lot to learn before my Nikah, and who else but Aunty would be that instrumental teacher?
No amount of words of gratitude would be sufficient to describe this lady, who selflessly devoted her life single-handedly being the backbone in keeping the religion thriving in her living room of her small Portsmouth flat.
It is now heartbreaking to observe Aunty, as she fights Alzheimer’s. I will forever be appreciative of Aunty Sherbanoo’s initial welcome that made this huge and life changing difference in my personal life.
My daughter Sakina, who was born on 10th Safar- with her name, inspires me most.
She worked hard at a reputable company in Dar es salaam for seven years and now she has joined a second firm. She always paid my household expenses with pocket money, looking after her dear father.
She typed up my novel for me which is selling worldwide on Amazon and Lulu.
CONGRATULATIONS MY DEAR SAKINA !
I was really excited when I came across this email and jumped at nominating someone who I find inspiring without any hesitation I would have to pick my MOTHER.
Her name is Kaniz Hirji Walji. She was born and raised in Kampala, Uganda. She got married at the age of 16. Moved to the US with my father and his family. She had to help the entire family adjust to a new environment and home. This was no easy task as they were the first Muslim family in Minnesota and that meant holding majalises and programs in their own homes. So my father would recite the majalis and my mother and grandmother would help support by preparing snacks / tabarruk. Welcoming their home to other Muslim families and friends.
My mother has 3 girls whom she raised with love and compassion. I have been taught from an early age that our Ahlul Bayt comes first and that they will always be our best role models. Today my mother is also my friend.
She is a loving wife to my amazing father and she has taught me through her actions that the key to a successful marriage is to be truthful, kind and patient with and of course a great cook in the kitchen.
I can't forget to mention that she is also a grandmother of 6 mashallah. She is always willing to give up her free time to spend more time with them. Continuously instilling the important teachings of Islam and the love for Allah.
The main reason my mother is my true inspiration is while growing up I have always seen her devote much of her time to the jamaat as a chair lady to the community yo also helping in our madressa. In fact, I remember a lady at our imambargha telling me " your mother is the founder of this center " She has made this community her family! I pray that my mother can continue doing all that she does with the best of health and may Allah grant her a long life inshAllah.
If I can become even half the woman she is I would say my life is complete!
10. Jamila Nasser
Children are gifts of Allah SWT. They are a reflection of their parents. So how lovely to see the continuation of a dear sister, Jamila Nasser, and also as an inspiring role model for our society
She adjusted her home routine, in an extended family (which had the blessing of great-grandfather) to drop her 3 daughters to school and pick them up, keeping the age difference in mind.
We came to know her through Qur'an Classes. Yes, that is after school and she is always there with her angels.
Her beauty continues to glow in her warm relationship with her husband, mamma (her mother in law), and in caring for her own parents, family, and the community.
Her silent actions of helping people (both Muslims and Non-Muslims), climbing flights and flights of stairs of Dar es salaam to meet their needs.
Her beauty and humble approach in words, actions and interactions with helpers at home, to drivers, fellow sisters, elders and ulema keeps us in awe. A practising pious personality! Subhanallah, we thank Allah (SWT) to have paved our paths to cross and meet.
11. Sayeeda Kermalli
I would like to nominate my wife Sayeeda Kermalli from the Edmonton Jamaat, Canada as a woman that inspires me.
Though she did not take an active role in the eyes of people but she has been my inspiration for all the active roles that I took in our jamaat as a Program Organiser/Mukhi for 4 years and as a President of the Edmonton Jamaat for 2 years. She has been an inspiration to me to be able to serve the Edmonton jamaat in the name of Allah (SWT) and the Ahlulbayt (AS). She inspired me to stay strong and focused as I completed my 4 years of Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree while actively taking the role in the jamaat. Had she not been there, I would not have been able to balance everything.
She sacrificed her career to take care of our children, and for me to focus on my career and establish a new business. She is my inspiration, motivator, and supporter.
I can go on and on to write as to how she inspires me daily.
She is always giving, forgiving, and always wants the best for people.
She is my FATIMA, she is my LADY OF LIGHT.
12. Tahera Virji
This is our mum, Tahera Virji. Her
parents, Yusufali and Sugra Bai Rashid, raised her in Bukoba,
Tanzania. She grew up in a home filled
with love and laughter, so it’s no wonder she insisted on creating the same environment for us.
But our mother also faced incredible
As the youngest of six children, she was in her early teens when she lost her father, while her mother was very ill.
Soon after, her family suffered through loss after loss, but her most difficult test was when she lost her best friend, confidante, and partner-in-crime, her brother Mohamed Rafik
Rashid in the late 1970’s. She had just moved to Canada with our grandmother and uncle.
A few weeks after moving, and a short, but aggressive battle with lupus, our uncle passed away. Our mum hit rock bottom. She had lost her zest for life, her days were dark and difficult. Many would give up, and many thought she would – but she didn’t. She realized
she couldn’t give up, and she had to make a change, and she did. Though we admire her for many reasons, her strength and resiliency – in this situation and others – are what
make her shine. A few years after this happened, she met and married our father and moved to Vancouver, and a few years after that, we came along.
The older we get, the more we appreciate our mum. Her name, Tahera, a title of Lady Fatima, means the pure one, and it’s no wonder why our grandparents gave her that
name. Through her actions, we learnt what it means to be generous with our time, be it family, friends, or complete strangers. Through her heart, we learnt what it means to give unconditionally and how to love. Through her words, we learnt diplomacy, and how to
treat people with respect and dignity. Through her humour, we learnt that it’s important to laugh as we live, and brighten people’s days as much as we can. Through her ability to listen, we gained strength and support. Through her determination and zeal, we learnt that anything is possible if we just put our mind to it. Through her eyes – though we saw pain – we saw immense strength, understanding and compassion. Through her hugs, we felt love and security. We still continue to learn more from her each and every single day, but one
thing we both know without a doubt is that we would not be who we are or where we are today without our pillar of strength and support – our mother.
She plays many roles, and she fulfills her responsibilities to each and every one of them incredibly – we really don’t know how she does it. Women often carry many titles – wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt – but our mum is also an entrepreneur, an artist, and lifelong community volunteer.
She is a creative, with an inquisitive mind, always coming up with her own creations.
Though she has many hobbies, over the past few years, she has enjoyed painting the most. Our home is filled with beautiful masterpieces, and she has been asked by many to
create artwork for their homes.
Having to cutback on her work because of health issues, but wanting to pursue her passion, she started a business from home called The Cherry On Top; baking, cooking and styling scrumptious creations for parties and special events. From creating cake pops for high-profile clients, to making a cake for a toddler’s birthday, she has done it all, and done it beautifully.
Her longest standing passion though is her community. She has always found ways to give back to not only the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre, but also to the community at large, and humanity as a whole. She has taught at madressa, volunteered at our schools, served
at the mosque, and so much more. But what has always shone through for us was her passion for people. People are our mother’s cure to any ailment, and she has taught us both the importance of giving back and maintaining strong relations with family, friends
and the community.
It is for these reasons, and so many others, that our mother continues to inspire us. She is strong, independent, intelligent and incredible. She is our guide, our role model, our mentor, and our inspiration, and every day, we’re more and more grateful that we get to
call her by her most favourite title – mum.
Submitted by: Sajeda Gangji, Allentown Jamaat (SIJPA)
Abbas Virji, Vancouver Jamaat (SMCBC)
13. Sakumaben Vazir
Sakuma Ben vazir lovingly called Sakuma aunty was an amazing lady.
She was born in the year 1951 and started her noble work in the year 1989. She was one of the few dedicated lady who worked tirelessly for the upliftment of our community and helped us all work towards our Akhirah.
Initially she started a Madressah with help of few other ladies in Bhavnagar but then she realised the great need of religious teachings and so she worked hard to increase the number of Madressah's in different areas of Bhavnagar city.
As time passed she started Madressah's in nearby small villages like sihor, Tana, Vartej, Palitana....etc. and then in other cities like Ahmedabad also.
She became a mentor, a supporter and a guide to many young girls and women. She inspired many of us to become a better person. At present many students of her are reciting Majlis in different parts of India and Africa.
She had a soft voice with perfect hijab and was very patient. She was a very good listener and gave advices when needed. She was always ready to serve the community in various ways.
She devoted her time and energy with complete dedication and with expectation of no worldly rewards.
She travelled many places around India and Africa to spread the great message of Islam by reciting Majlis. She underwent 1 month training at a Hauza in Madagascar. She also went for 40 days Islamic camp in Jameatuz Zahra (Tanzimul Makatib) Lucknow along with other girls and women in the year 2000. Alhamdolillah I was fortunate enough to accompany her in Lucknow. It was once in a life time experience and still cherish those days spend with her.
She also started social services by raising funds to help the needy by paying school fees, buying sewing machines, giving karze hasna, helping in small business.....etc.
Along the way she faced many insults and hardships but she always stayed strong and positive.
From around 2005 she started 5 day Majlis programme during Ayyame Fatimiyahh at various places by inviting Zakira Yasminben Noorani to recite Majlises, which is still continued.
In 2010 her death shook all of us. Her death was a great loss not only for her family but it affected many communities in Gujarat.
May Allah s.w.t. reward her in the Hereafter for her endless services and sacrifices and selflessness.
She is still remembered dearly.
Nusrat Asaria and
We are pleased to announce the return of our #FatimaInspires initiative for the fifth year running. Nominations are open from 9th - 26 Feb 2019. Click here to find out more.
Read our 2015 annual report to see a summary of all of our projects.