Story of an Iranian Ismaili who passed away in July 2017. We are presenting this incredible story as is, without any editing. -Ismailimail.
Ya Ali Madad,
With the auspicious occasion of Diamond Jubilee upon us, it is important for us to reflect on and connect with the world-wide Jamat. Our connections with each other can be particularly seen in Jamat Khane where Ismailis from different backgrounds, races, and cultures come together and are united by our religion–by our love and devotion to the present living Imam. This is why it is important for us to reflect on what One Jamat really means.
I come from a small village in Iran where the Ismailis in the area were a majority, but have now become a minority, however, that never stopped me or my family from practicing and living as Ismailis. Our walks to Jamat Khane were longer, but that just made our bond and faith stronger. My older sister Mahshid and I, would walk to Jamat Khane, which was about a 30-minute walk one way. I remember this walk fondly since I enjoyed being with my sister and walking with her to my favorite place.
My sister Mahshid has not had an easy life. When she was 14 years old, my sister was sitting too close to the oil heater and her clothes caught on fire. Our oldest sister Fereshteh, reached for the closest bowl of water to throw on her to put out the flames, which turned out to be hot water. The aftermath of this incident was only the beginning of my sister’s health problems. At 17 years old, my sister Mahshid was diagnosed with a heart problem. Four of her valves in her heart were closed and she had to undergo two surgeries’ in Tehran. These surgeries reopened her valves, in order to help with her severe medical condition. Mahshid was admitted to the hospital on and off repeatedly for the following years of her life, until 1987 when Mahshid was admitted to the hospital because of her heart. The doctors took one long and deep look at her and her medical record and immediately rejected her as a patient. They told my parents that they could not do anything else for her, and they advised my parents not to spend another dollar on their daughter because they did not expect her to live much longer. Because of the revolution, the Iranian hospitals did not have the medical advancements or technologies to support and help my sister, but this did not stop my parents from having faith. At the time, I was in Karachi Pakistan studying Nursing at the Aga Khan University. My mother called me and told me that she would be sending Mahshid to me, and asked me to do anything I could to help her, and to see if there was anyone in the Jamat that could also help her. This is when my search for help began.
In September 1988, my sister and I walked to the Karachi Jamat Khane in hopes of solidifying our faith again, and were provided with a miracle to save my sister’s life. I went to Vazeer Akbar Ali Karamali’s office and asked him for help for my sister. Vazeer Akbar Ali would always help the Iranian Ismailis in Pakistan for various things, anytime I would come to the State Office and he would see me, and never forget to open the door for me. I told him about my sister and he gave me Dr. Nouraddin Allahdini’s number in Canada and allowed me to use the office phone for any calls to Canada, anytime I needed. He told me to call Dr. Allahdini to find a medical doctor sponsor in Canada to help my sister. Dr. Allahdini found a group of Ismaili doctors and nurses that eventually sponsored Mahshid. Dr. Vadiwallah, from Toronto, wrote a medical invitation letter for my sister to come to Canada for open heart surgery. We were directed to a heart doctor in Pakistan, Dr. Lakhani who created a medical checkup for her, for free. In Pakistan, my sister and I were staying with Dr. Mir Baiz Khan and his lovely wife Yasmeen. We were the closest to a Jamat Khane than we had ever been, and we went every day. Going to Jamat Khane reaffirmed our love for Hazir Imam and our hope in my sister’s struggle. My sister obtained a medical visa to Canada in a month. Seven other Ismaili doctors, pharmacists, lab technicians and nurses had created a team to help a village Iranian Ismaili girl, that they didn’t even know. They flew Mahshid to Toronto, Ontario, in preparation for her 9-hour open heart surgery. Dr. Moez Valji was her radiologist and took Mahshid into his home, where his wife Yasmin Valji took care of Mahshid for two weeks. There was a nurse named Parveen, who volunteered to be Mahshid’s nurse and helped care for her and even went with her to Sudbury where Mahshid’s surgery would take place. It was also in Sudbury, where Parveen would meet her husband because of Mahshid. Dr. Alnoor Abdullah was one of the surgeons and held a dinner at his home for Mahshid and the rest of the Ismailis involved after Mahshid’s recovery from surgery. He thanked everyone involved and presented each medical professional with a bouquet of flowers, as everyone had volunteered their time and worked for free. The expenses of her surgery, hospital visits, medication, flights, and care became more than 3000 dollars and my sister, fortunately, was not charged a single penny. All these Ismaili brothers and sisters came together and paid for this surgery to happen. They donated their time and knowledge into saving my sister’s life. They gave my sister 30 more years to live.
I would like to thank these Ismaili brothers and sisters who helped my sister in any way that they could, on behalf of my whole family. I would like to thank the team, the Iranian Ismaili Jamat, and the Canadian Ismaili Jamat because this team represented what it really means to be One Jamat, what it means to be spiritual brothers and sisters. This title of One Jamat is something we should be extremely proud of and work every day to reflect. I do not know all the names of the nurses and doctors involved, however, I know they worked tirelessly and endlessly for my sister and my family will always be extremely grateful. After 30 more years of life, my sister passed away on July 5th, 2017, at the age of 57. My sisters story is one of many, where Ismailis have come together to help each other and really demonstrate the meaning of One Jamat. I pray that I am always able to help any of my spiritual brothers and sisters within the Jamat, any way that I can. Anyone who reads this story, and who knows Mahshid or knows anyone from the team who helped my sister in anyway, please email me, as I would love to thank each individual again personally.