Munira Premji

Munira Premji with her mom, Zera KurjiOne of the biggest blessings of recovering at home is spending time with my mom and sister.  We have had the good fortune of living together for the past 26 years, and we savor every moment we have with them.  This post is about my mom who is my role model.  She has the spirit of a 30-year old, the energy of a 40-year old and the wisdom of a 100-year old.

The past couple of weeks,  my mom has been sneaking into my bed before I wake up in the morning.  She lies next to me, her tiny 90-pound frame holding me while I sleep.  I hear her laboured breathing  from asthma as she strokes my bald head.   We savour this time together as we quietly contemplate the fragility of life and the gift of being together in spite of her age and my condition.

One of my favorite memories of my mom is when my son, Shayne, was about  6 years old and we would come home from work  only to find my mom playing goalie in the living room, and Shayne shooting balls at her.   Fast forward to today.  My mom and Shayne watch the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tennessee Titans games.  And they do this in style.  My mom will wear the Penguins or the Titans jersey and sit with Shayne while he explains the finer features of the game.  When there is a Leaf-Penguins game, we cheer for the Leafs and know full well what side my mom will take!

In her youth, my mom was a member of the Aga Khan Council for Moshi and Arusha.  As part of this role, she headed the Ladies Committee, the Safai Committee (weekly cleaning of mosque) and the Gusal committee where she attended to people who had died within the community.  She was also Chairman of the Ismaili Association for Moshi looking after Tariqah matters (matters  of the Faith).  I remember being so proud of her as she managed a full-time job and attended countless meetings to deal  with issues and manage complex situations.  And she did this with grace, diplomacy  and quiet leadership.

The quality I like most about my mom is her curiosity.  Everything is an opportunity for her to learn.  She spends about an hour on the computer everyday – – sending messages, reading emails, opening up links.  When she recently traveled back to East Africa to visit sisters she hadn’t seen in decades, she was known as ‘Nani Sport’ – horseback riding, jet-skiing and  long walks on the beach that even tired the askari (or security guard) out were commonplace for her.

My mom needs very little in life.  She is content with who she is and has inner peace.  Her joy comes from going to Jamatkhana everyday, mornings and evenings.

I can only imagine how tough my cancer diagnoses has been on my mom.  She is over 80 years old and should not have to worry about things like this.  I wish I could spare her the worry and anxiety.  She is strong and has reacted remarkably well.  She gives me a lot of courage and reminds  me everyday about the importance of faith and prayers.  And when I am sad, she says with a sense of certainty, “Don’t worry Muni.  Everything will be okay.”  And somehow when she says it, I believe it with all my heart.  I take my cue from my mom and credit her for who I am.

Wishing my mom and all the other mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!


  • shabira , December 13, 2015

    Love the henna. Stay strong. Your mother is an inspiration to all.

  • Noordine teja , June 10, 2013

    Such a beautiful write-up. You are all so blessed to know each other. Your mom is a gift from Mowla to all of you. Cherish her. I pray Mowla blesses you all with His rahem, for outside His rahem, all is naught.

    • Premji Family , June 11, 2013

      Hi Noordine – – Thanks for your comments and words of wisdom. I love the word cherish!

  • Anonymous , May 22, 2013




  • yezmina jaffer , May 21, 2013

    Beautiful tribute Munira …… love yez

  • David and Erika , May 13, 2013

    Wow! What a wonderful and touching tribute to your mom. What love and support you share. You are both very lucky. Cheers to all wonderful moms. Keep up the good recovery, Munira. Call as needed. Erika and Dave

  • Anonymous , May 12, 2013

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mom. Both of you are remarkable women, and wonderful mothers. Happy Mother’s Day to you both! Love, Patt.

  • Anonymous , May 12, 2013

    Zerabai is very special – and so are you. Happy Mothers Day to both you!

  • Salima Dharani , May 11, 2013

    My mom even though we are not blood related still you have given me motherly love. This post just made me cry! I love you very much! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

    Lots of love,


  • Anonymous , May 11, 2013

    Happy mother’s day to you both. Happy to read your blog. God Bless

  • Gulzar Surani , May 11, 2013

    wow-what a lady; it was wonderful to read your tribute to your Mum. Date: Sat, 11 May 2013 04:23:13 +0000 To:

  • Cindy walsh , May 11, 2013

    Wonderful picture of two beautiful women. Happy Mother’sday,

  • Anonymous , May 11, 2013

    God’s grace (Shanakhat) is around her & you all as well…I agree that she doesn’t look at all old & has lot to give us all..
    Am proud of you Zehra Mami (as my Mom calls her), & would like to honor you.

  • Annar Abdulkarim Abdallah , May 11, 2013

    What an inspiration. My story is siimilar, and my mum is remarkable, just like yours. My mum is 83 and has had to worry about me as well all last year as I went through all the treatments for breast cancer. We are Ismailis as well by the way, and I have recently been to Canada to see all my family after my treatments finished. My mum is the best, and I am not just biased. Your story has made me relive last year, and I am thankful for all the support of my mum, all my family and friends. Allah give you a happy and healthy life xx

  • Nancy Simpson , May 11, 2013

    Lovely tribute and a wonderful photo of the two of you! Happy Mother’s Day to you both.

  • Saira , May 11, 2013

    Tx that was inspiring AND timely. Was missing your blogs, mentioned it to your sister just last week. May mowla bless you both with happiness, barakah and long worry-free lives. Happy mothers day to you and all the mothers who come on your site.

  • Naz , May 11, 2013

    I was looking forward to reading this blog after you mentioned that you had finally written one after a long break. Your mum sounds like an amazing person and I’m happy you still have your mum to hug. I wish my mums were still around so I could tell them how often I still think of them and the lessons they taught me. I’m sure my mum would have been a leaf fan any my mum in law was definitely a leaf fan. Mummy Shilo, as we called her, had no choice – you see, all grandchildren are leaf fans so i don’t think she had a choice.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mum and to all mothers reading this blog.

    Sleepless in Toronto.

    By the way Munira, I love the mendi on your head.

  • Immi Hirani , May 11, 2013

    Could not agree with you more , she is an angel in disguise and you are all extremely lucky to have a mother like her, have always loved her and will continue to love her . She is an inspiration to all of us , I am proud to have Zehrabhabhi like her. Love always and a very happy mother’s day to you.

  • Anonymous , May 11, 2013

    Watch anita mum may like it too

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