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)