Humility and Humbleness

Humbleness of Shaykh I’zāz ‘Alī rahimahumullāh

Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ rahimahumullāh relates an incident of Shaykh I‘zāz ‘Alī rahimahumullāh:

“Once, we set off from Deoband on a journey with our teacher Shaykh I‘zāz ‘Alī, known in Darul ‘Ulūm Deoband as ‘Shaykh-al-adab’ also accompanying us. When we reached the station there was still some time for the train to arrive. Shaykh I‘zāz ‘Alī said, ‘It is mentioned in a tradition that when going anywhere on a journey, someone should be appointed amīr, therefore we should appoint our leader also!’

Because we were the students and he the teacher, we said, ‘There is no need to select an amīr, a ready-made amīr is already present.’

The Shaykh asked. ‘Who?’ We replied by saying. ‘You are the teacher and we the students.’

The Shaykh remarked, ‘So you wish to appoint me as the amīr!’ We replied, ‘Yes of course, who else other than you can be the amīr?’ The Shaykh said, ‘Very well, but all the orders of the amīr have to be obeyed because the meaning of amīr is one whose orders are obeyed.’

When the train arrived the respected Shaykh lifted all the luggage of his travelling companions, some he bore on his head and some in his arms, and started  walking, We said, ‘O Shaykh, what is this injustice you are doing? Let us lift it!’ The Shaykh said, ‘You have selected me as amīr, now you have to obey me – let me lift the luggage.’ So saying he carried all the luggage on to the train.

Thereafter, throughout the journey whenever any difficult or strenuous job would arise, he would personally see to it, and if we objected the Shaykh would immediately say, ‘Look, you made me amīr and an amīr must be obeyed! Therefore obey the amīr!’

Making him our amīr turned out to be very hard on us.”

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From Cairo

From my 35th floor room on the Nile River

So my travels around the globe (rather the Middle East) once again brought me to the friendly city of Cairo, this time for a conference to discuss the emergency situation in various parts of the Middle East.

I managed to squeeze in a visit to the the very sublime and majestic (and famous) Al Azhar University.

I’ll write a post on my most recent escapade soon, inshaAllah!

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Only the Evergreen Last…

Only the Evergreen Last…

His inflamed Self looked longingly,
across the wide valley of greenery,
hoping to sight Its fire of felicity,

Upon the edge and near the boundary,
stood she with her beauty extraordinarily,
beckoning to his Self quite alluringly,

Till, a voice floated to him majestically,
“What is to be to her green expanse and finery
when it becomes used and trodden murkily?

Listen closely to my advice for prosperity,
which has been tested by men of sincerity,
who patiently endured all their calamity:

Never ever has a faithful Sunnati,
having taken this path to piety,
earned anything but a Victory.”

Truly,  an end…is just another beginning…
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Pearls from Shaykh Al Islam Husayn Ahmed Al Madni

Dr Muhammad Ashraf, the infamous leader of Indian Communist Party recalls, “In 1946 when the Muslim League advocated a separate state (in the name of Pakistan), the communist party had to research this question and its historical context and I was appointed for the job. I arrived at Deoband, in fact became Shaykhul-Islam’s personal guest at his own insistence.

I had seen scenes of devotion in collective acts of worship before but this was the first time I was given an opportunity to witness “private acts of worship”. After the end of Second World War, inflation and shortages were at an all time high but it made no dents to Shaykhul-Islam’s hospitality. If Shaykhul-Islam can invite an unknown “Non-Religionist” like me to be his personal guest and insist on hosting me you can imagine how he treated others!

When I arrived at Shaykhul-Islam’s residence there were 18 people already there so I also placed my bedding in a corner. I am petrified of the rituals and routines of religious folks but the first 2 days were torture to me, I somehow managed 5 times prayer but almost everybody at Shaykhul-Islam’s place was a “Night Worshipper”.

I had barely slept for an hour after Esha that I witnessed people engaged in Dhikr, recital of the Qur’aan etc and the same happened the next night so I went to Shaykhul-Islam and said, “Hazrat, my Akakhira may or may not benefit from staying here but my health is sure to suffer”. Hazrat smiled but on the third day I was given a different room where I had the freedom (like my own home) and I worked on gathering the relevant material for my research.

Perhaps it was the 4th night of my stay at Deoband and I was laying in my bed when I realized that someone was massaging my feet and when I realized that it was Shaykhul-Islam, I shot up like a bolt and was deeply embarrassed and tried to stop him with utmost respect and humility.

Shaykhul-Islam replied , “Why do you wish to deprive me of my reward? Am I not even worth serving a guest of your stature?”

I am unable to describe the impact of His words and mannerism upon me…”

Today after 12 years I am disclosing this incident (after his death) and if he was still alive I wouldn’t have disclosed it BUT the fact is that this is a small peak into his hospitality, generosity and good morals.

Source: “Al-Jamiat”/ “Shaykhul-Islam Number” and the book printed by Jamiatul-Ulama Hind (India)

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The Life of Shaykh Al Islam Maulana Husayn Ahmed Al Madni

From Abu Unaysah:

Hadhrat Maulana Husayn Ahmad Madni (ra) probably needs no introduction. He is among the senior khulafa (successors) of Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (ra.) He was appointed as Head Teacher and Shaykh al-Hadith of Darul ‘Uloom Deoband after ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (ra) had left the post. He filled this position for approximately 28 years. Prior to this, he had spent 18 years teaching various Islamic sciences including Hadith in Madinah al-Munawwarah. Hadhrat Maulana (ra) was also very active politically. He was imprisoned for approximately three years in the Island of Malta (by the British) with his beloved teacher Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hind Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan Deobandi (ra.) He was well known for his tireless efforts in the liberation struggle of which he was at the forefront after the Death of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hind (ra.)

Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya (ra):

Maulana Madni (ra) was an exceptional personality and for me to even try and emulate him would be an impossible task and foolishness on my part. How can I possibly emulate him whose life on journeys and at home was the same, whose hard work by night was the same by day – a man who felt no need for rest nor ever seemed to tire (after his continuous struggles and hard work.) Such a man was he that he would return from Hijaz and disembark at Karachi. From there, he would immediately board a train and travel for two days and nights arriving at Deoband at 5 a.m in the morning. And then at 6 a.m he would take his place in front of a class to teach Bukhari. This is what heppened on his last journey from Haj. How can anyone emulate him?

Last year, he often travelled hundreds of miles daily for periods of fifteen days on end giving daily lectures in various places. A few years ago he promised to deliver a weekly lecture on the life of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) here in Saharanpur. And true to his promise, for several months he came every week to Saharanpur by the night train to deliver the lecture from ‘Esha prayers till 1 a.m. Thereafter, he would go to sleep and without anyones assistance he would wake up at 3 a.m. From here, he used to proceed to the station to return to Deoband and after arriving there, teach for a period of three to four hours without a break in-between

One should also bear in mind that Maulana Madni (ra) commenced his lectureship (teaching Islamic sciences) in Madinah Munawwarah (he taught in Al-Masjid al-Nabawi.) For many years, he lived such a life of dedication and devotion, that at times, he lectured twelve or thirteen classes daily, sleeping for only two or three hours per day. The rest of his time, he spent in studying or preparing lectures for the following days classes. This man had been trained in this hard manner till he became so exceptionally proficient. Now, will it not be foolish of me to endeavour to emulate (let alone surpass) a man like that?

Now, hear about his spiritual training. He was trained by that man who is the ocean of love and divine knowledge, Hadhrat Shaykh al-Arab wa al-Ajam Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki (ra), in the blessed and Holy city of Madina, in such a blesed place as Masjid-e-Ijaabat. And under the supervision of his Shaykh he devoted himself to Thikrullah for a very long time for the sake of purifying himself spiritually. Thereafter, the completion and polishing of his training was done under the guidance of Hadhrat Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (ra) [from whom he received khilafat.] Therafter, for many years his spiritual training reached its pinnacle and maturity under the sympathetic and benign shadow of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hind [Maulana Mahmood Hasan (ra)] in the seclusion of their exile on the Island of Malta. (1)

During my life, I have heard no-one else weeping so much in Du’a before Allah in the latter part of the night as I have heard Maulana Madni (ra) and my father Very often, in spite of my deep sleep I used to be woken up by his crying. Hadhrat Madni (ra) would recite Hindi lamentations with so much pain and sorrow. I was unacquainted with Hindi and could not understand, but the wailing and crying still echoes in my ears. It was almost like a child who was receiving a hiding and is crying. As much courage as Hadhrat had, as brave as he was and as much as he encountered ordeals, I have not seen this (type of crying) in any of my elders. (2)

I pray that Allah give us all the ability to walk in the footsteps of such great men which is in essence the way shown to us by the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam and his successors.

1) Al-E’tidaal Fi Maraatib ar-Rijaal (English Translation), Islamic Book Service, Pages 34-35
(2) Aap Beti (English Translation), Darul Isha’at, Pages 375-376
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Hadhrat Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve him) relates:

My late father (Hadhrat Mufti Mohammad Shafi (Allah have mercy on him)) use to deliver the morning lecture during the month of Ramadan and had a islahi majlis on Sunday mornings throughout the year. After his death, people requested that these lectures should continue. My Shaykh ,Dr Abdul Hayy ‘Arifi (Allah have mercy on him), instructed us (Mufti Rafi & Mufti Taqi Usmani) not to do so.

Further more, a few days after the demise of our father, Hadhrat ‘Arifi instructed us  to submit our resignations from our post as deputy administrator (naib muhtamim) of Darul Uloom Karachi. He added that there is no familial succession in holding religious posts and offices. These positions requires a specific acumen, whenever you develop that then only it will be permissible for you to hold them. For now wait and make effort to develop this.

We submitted our resignations.

The rector of Darul Uloom Maulana Sehban Mehmood (Allah have mercy on him) was baffled by this information. Contemplating the difficulties in running the day to day activities of the Darul Uloom without us he made a special visit to Hadhrat ‘Arfi at his home. Hadhrat refused to discuss this issue at all and instructed him to bring this up in the official administrative meeting of Darul Uloom.

After resigning we could not even attend the administrative meeting.

However, in the administrative meeting the new designations of president and deputy president were created and Hadhrat ‘Arifi nominated us for these posts.’

Shaikh Mufti Mehmood Usmani (Allah preserve him) listened to this with amazement and commented on the tarbiyyah aspect of Hadhrat Arifi’s approach (to eliminate the love of fame and position from an aspirant’s heart).

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One Year Reflection

Kathir bin Qays rahmatullah alayh relates: “I was sitting in the masjid of Damascus with Abu Darda radiAllahu anhu. A person came to Abu Darda radiAllahu anhu and said: “O Abu Darda, I have left Madinah and come to you so that I may learn a particular Hadith from you.  I have been given to understand that you have heard this Hadith from Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. I have not come to you for any other purpose.”
Abu Darda replied: “Without doubt, I have heard Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam saying:
“Whoever takes a path seeking knowledge therein, Allah Ta’ala will make easy for him, a path to jannah. The angels, out of happiness, will place down their wings for the seeker of knowledge (laying down the wings is out of humility for the seeker of knowledge.)”

Alhamdulillah, today marks my one year as being a Taalib Al-Ilm in this Country. It’s unbelievable how fast time flies, SubhanAllah. It was just the other day I stumbled upon this foreign country not knowing the language, culture, the currency or how I would even manage to make do. But, through the Fadhl of Allah Ta’ala, this past year was perhaps the most productive and beneficial year I’ve ever had, Alhamdulillah.

The Classical Scholars of Islam have always stressed that learning Deeni knowledge can only come through sacrifice. And part of that sacrifice has always come from leaving one’s hometown and family to travel in search of this knowledge. Nearly all the great scholars that I can think of at the moment, have engaged in such a journey.

And definitely, I can see the wisdom behind it. It’s not easy to leave one’s family and comfort zone, especially when migrating from the West to a less developed nation. But, when one strives for something, they learn its true value. They don’t take for granted their limited time nor their golden opportunity. And of course, the barakah from Allah Ta’ala is being showered down constantly upon such a person, which is all one needs.

People travel for difference purposes. Some travel for marriage, others travel for wealth. In the previous generation this was common, many left their respective home countries (Middle East, SubContinent) to Western countries in hopes for  a better life.

Our Master, Sayyiduna Ali radiAllahu anhu, was asked: “What shall I gain; knowledge or wealth?” Our Master radiAllahu anhu replied:

•  Knowledge is the inheritance of the Prophets alayhissalaam  and wealth is the inheritance of Fir’awn (Pharaoh) and Qaroon
•  The more knowledge you gain, the more friends you have and the more wealth you gain, the more more enemies you have…
•  As time passes, the value of money decreases and the value of knowledge increases,
•  Wealth needs to be guarded, while knowledge guards you,
•  You will always fear the theft of money, but knowledge cannot be stolen from the heart,
•  On the Day of Judgement, Allah Taa’la will ask you two questions regarding your wealth; how it was earned and how it was spent. These are two separate questions regarding Wealth whereas one question regarding knowledge will be asked: How much you acted upon it,
•  Knowledge helps you gain money but money cannot buy you knowledge.

For me, coming to seek knowledge was the best decision I ever could have made. It has opened doors that I would not have imagined in my wildest dreams. At the same time, there are many areas I need to improve on for the coming year, inshaAllah:

1) Arabic: My Arabic is still not good for someone who has been living in this environment for one year. I need to first of all overcome my inhibitions and speak Arabic with others and be willing to make mistakes. My problem is that I only speak it, when I am sure I won’t make any mistakes, but I need to just speak without worrying. Also, I need to stop being lazy in looking up words in the dictionary.

2) Attending Duroos: I only attend my classes, but not random lessons that go on throughout the year. However, the goal is not just to study kitaabs and earn ijaazahs, but rather to embody the knowledge that you gain, and this can only be done from spending time at the feet of Ulema.

3) Staying Focused: With all that goes on in my life, sometimes I lose focus in what my purpose is here. Alhamdulillah, Allah Ta’ala has given me an opportunity not afforded to many others and I can’t let others and other things make me forget that blessing nor sway me away from making seeking knowledge my number one objective.

All in all, I can not complain. This is certainly a chance to grow in more ways than one, and I pray that Allah Ta’ala gives me the necessary tawfeeq to make the most of it!

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