Home Faqihul Ummah Mawa`iz (Discourses) Discourse 22 - Anecdotes of the Islaah and Training of our Akaabir

Discourse 22 - Anecdotes of the Islaah and Training of our Akaabir

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نحمده و نصلي على رسوله الكريم

Incidents concerning Hadhrat Moulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi رحمة الله عليه

Humility of Hadhrat Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه

Moulana Fakhr-ul-Hasan Gangohi رحمة الله عليه, a bright and intelligent student, was sitting in the Bukhaari lesson (of Hadhrat Moulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi رحمة الله عليه) when the following hadeeth was discussed:

لا تفضلوني على يونس ابن متى

Do not consider me to be superior to Yunus ('alaihis salaam).

The students asked why they should not consider Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to be superior, since superiority among the Ambiyaa ('alaihimus salaam) is established in the Quraan:

تِلْكَ الرُّسُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ

“These are the messengers. We have blessed some with a higher rank than others,” (al-Baqarah: 253)

and Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is the most superior of all the Ambiyaa ('alaihimus salaam).

“This is a true sign of superiority. The one who is truly superior considers himself to be inferior to others,” explained Hadhrat Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه.

The students, however, refused to accept this explanation and lodged one objection after another. Moulana then presented an example. “Do you regard me to be a truthful person or a liar?” he queried.

“A truthful person,” they vehemently declared.

“So, if I take an oath and state something, will you believe me?”

“Most certainly, we will believe you. You are not prone to lying,” replied the students.

“Now tell me, am I spiritually superior to you or not?” The students were mystified at Moulana’s question.

“Of course you are,” they cried out in unison.

“I believe,” continued Moulana, “that each one of you is a thousand times more superior to me.”

Moulana uttered these words with such sincerity that the entire gathering was reduced to tears.

Moulana Thanwi رحمة الله عليه comments on this incident and says: “Moulana ‘slaughtered’ the entire gathering and left them speechless.”

The next day when Moulana arrived for the lessons, he asked: “Did everyone understand yesterday’s lesson?”

“We have understood it very well,” remarked the students.

The nawaab at the khanqah

Hadhrat Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه had a very unique method of making people’s islaah. Once, a nawaab came to spend a few days at the khanqah of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه. Moulana Yahya رحمة الله عليه, the father of Shaikh-ul-Hadeeth رحمة الله عليه, was in charge of overseeing to the needs of the guests. Moulana arranged for the nawaab’s quarters to be segregated from the other guests and he also arranged for a very expensive and exquisite carpet to be sent to the nawaab’s room. It was actually taken from Moulana Gangohi’s room.

Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه was not in the least bit concerned as to what type of material he was sitting on; whether it was a straw mat, a soft carpet, a mat made from palm leaves, etc. He did not feel belittled or ashamed to sit on a grass mat nor did he consider himself to be superior by sitting on an expensive carpet. When he entered his room and sat down, – Moulana had lost his sight at that time – he realised that one carpet was missing.

“Where is the one carpet?” he enquired. Nobody answered him.

“Molwi Sahib!” Moulana directed his question to Moulana Yahya. “Where is the missing carpet?”

“I had the carpet sent to the nawaab’s room.”

“I see,” exclaimed Moulana. “The nawaab must have had a shortage of carpets in his home and that is why he has come to the khanqah. He desires to sit on a carpet!” This statement of Moulana deflated half the ego of the nawaab.

The time for meals had arrived and the nawaab was sitting near Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه. Shaikh-ul-Hind رحمة الله عليه was also present. Shaikh-ul-Hind began to slowly slip away and Moulana Gangohi sensed it.

“Molwi Mahmood, if the nawaab does not like sitting in the gathering of poor students, he should sit elsewhere. We cannot tolerate your separation. We will live together and die together.”

This statement brought to the nawaab’s attention the position that poor students enjoyed in the eyes of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه and his position in Moulana’s sight. I sometimes wonder how ecstatic Shaikh-ul-Hind رحمة الله عليه must have felt at this statement of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه.

“I get the taste of unboiled water”

Moulana Habeeb-ur-Rahman Deobandi رحمة الله عليه used to serve tea to Moulana Gangohi at the time of Tahajjud. He made excellent tea and he desired that Moulana Gangohi should comment on the preparation of the tea. “Hadhrat how is the tea?” he would ask.

“I get the taste of unboiled water.” (The taste of water left in the cup after rinsing it.) Moulana’s taste buds were very refined.

This perplexed him. Hence, the next day, he took extra precaution in making the tea. He wiped the cup and then warmed it on a stove. Thereafter, he poured in the tea and served it to Moulana. Once again he asked, “Hadhrat, how is the tea?”

“Today, I do not get the taste of unboiled water,” disclosed Moulana.

The wish of Moulana Habeeb-ur-Rahman

Those who frequented the company of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه always requested Moulana to make special du‘aas for them, except Moulana Habeeb-ur-Rahman رحمة الله عليه.

“You do not ask for anything?” Moulana Gangohi asked him affectionately.

“Hadhrat, what can I say?” sighed Moulana Habeeb-ur-Rahman. “My only desire is that I have the opportunity of making Hadhrat’s khidmat in the hereafter, just as I am blessed to make your khidmat in this world.”

“Most certainly! Insha-Allah, most certainly,” assured Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه.

My father, who was present in this majlis, said that Moulana Habeeb-ur-Rahman thereafter sighed, groaned and left the gathering.

Moulana Gangohi commented: “He did not have the capacity to bear the nisbat, that is why he left the majlis.”

Incidents concerning Hadhrat Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Saharanpuri رحمة الله عليه

“Most certainly you can teach Bukhaari Shareef better than me”

My ustaad narrated an incident of Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Saharanpuri رحمة الله عليه and his childhood companion, who was also his relative. After completing the aalim course, this person pursued a career in the government department. He once visited Saharanpur and stayed there for a short while. He approached Moulana Khaleel Ahmad and suggested, “I am staying here for a short while. Why don’t you give me a few kitaabs to teach?”

Moulana pondered for a while and gave him a few elementary kitaabs to teach.

“Why are you giving me these basic kitaabs,” he protested. “Allow me to teach the more senior kitaabs like Bukhaari Shareef. I will do a better job than you.”

“Most certainly you can teach Bukhaari Shareef better than me. Where do I have the capability to teach Bukhaari Shareef? I did not give you these elementary kitaabs to teach because you are incapable of teaching Bukhaari Shareef. Astaghfirullah! Such a thought had not even crossed my mind! The reason is that the calibre of the present students is not like that of the past. The students of the past respected their ustaads but, today, that condition no longer exists. I fear that you will be greatly distressed by teaching Bukhaari Shareef because the students will pose irrelevant and unrelated questions to you, seeing that you are a new teacher. As for myself, the students make due consideration for me because I have been with them for a number of years.”

The person narrating this story coincidently was studying Bukhaari Shareef that year.

“Why did you not let him teach Bukhaari Shareef?” the student frowned. “In his vanity, he feels that he can teach Bukhaari Shareef better than you. I take an oath by Allah Ta‘ala that we would have posed such questions to him that he would have remembered the day his mother had given birth to him!”

“Make taubah and exercise caution in your speech,” rebuked Moulana. “Allah Ta‘ala dislikes pride and vanity. Reflect on what you have done.”

The caution of Moulana Saharanpuri رحمة الله عليه

Haji Mushtaaq Sahib رحمة الله عليه, a resident of Ali Aabaad, was the peerbhai (aligned to the same shaikh) of Moulana Abdush-Shakoor Lucknowi رحمة الله عليه and the khaleefah of Moulana Abu Ahmad Bhopali رحمة الله عليه, related that once he was the guest of Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Saharanpuri رحمة الله عليه. When he was about to depart, he went to bid farewell to Moulana Saharanpuri, who was busy teaching Bukhaari Shareef.

“Hadhrat,” he respectfully said, “I wish to make mashwarah (consult) with you.”

Moulana left his seat and moved to another place. After the mashwarah had completed, Haji Sahib asked: “Hadhrat, what was the need to stand up and come here? We could have spoken at the very place you were seated.”

“The madrasah has provided us this carpet to sit and conduct lessons and not to make mashwarah with friends. How can it be used for personal benefit?” explained Moulana.

Not accepting the gift of an indebted person

A person in Gangoh related his personal incident: “I was bay'at to Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه and I was working at the court in Saharanpur. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was dismissed from my post. Being a relative of Moulana Khaleel Ahmad رحمة الله عليه, I informed Hadhrat Moulana Khaleel Ahmad of my situation and asked for advice on the matter. Moulana suggested that I take up the matter in court and insha-Allah, I will receive the unseen help of Allah Ta‘ala.

“As the trial progressed, I sensed that I was losing the case. Moulana then instructed me to recite a certain name of Allah Ta‘ala twenty-one times after Zuhr Salaah, and Allah Ta‘ala would relieve me of this burden. After reciting these wazeefahs for a few days, I met a Hindu officer who needed assistance on a property related matter. I solved his problem and he was extremely grateful.

“If I can render any service to you, please inform me of it,’ the officer offered.

“I related my problem to him.

“Do not worry,’ he replied calmly. ‘The judge is a close friend of mine. I will grab him by the collar and ensure that he rules in your favour. Come to the court tomorrow and the matter will be resolved.’

“When I went to the court the next day, the clerk informed me that I had been reinstated, but the court papers are still here. They have not been removed. I gave the clerk two rupees for helping me out. Just then, I happened to meet the person who I had helped out with the property case. I told him of my good outcome and the problem with court papers. He gladly took the documents and edited it in the way that I desired.

“I was overjoyed and I went to Moulana to relate to him what had transpired. Thereafter, I presented five rupees to Moulana as a gift. Moulana very happily accepted the money and said: ‘I am sure that you must have incurred some debt during this trial.’

“I replied in the affirmative.

“It is the command of Allah Ta‘ala and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam),’ added Moulana, ‘that you live frugally until your creditors have been paid out. Thereafter, spend on your wife and children and, if you have any spare cash, you may present it to me. I have accepted this gift to please you, but now I am giving it back to you from my own side.’

“Immediately, I thought to myself that perhaps the amount is small and that is why Hadhrat has rejected my gift. But no sooner had this thought crossed my mind Hadhrat advised: ‘And you are not obligated to give five rupees. You can give me six, four, seven, three, any amount you wish.’

“‘Hadhrat,’ I sighed. ‘My wife will not believe me.’

“He asked me the personal details of my wife’s family and after pondering for a while, he said: ‘The daughter of Muhammad Ali?’ Hadhrat then asked for my address.

“‘At this place in the village of Matarbaan,’ I pointed out.

“Very well, I shall come personally towards the afternoon and explain the situation to her.’

“I thought to myself that where do these personalities have the time to spare on such trivial matters.

“‘I will come after Asr Salaah,’ promised Moulana.

“I went to court and on returning home after Asr Salaah, I discovered that Hadhrat had indeed come to my village. After enquiring the whereabouts of my family, he approached the house and knocked on the door. It was answered by one of my children. ‘Tell your mother to come and stand behind this wall. I have a message to convey to her.’

“When she arrived Hadhrat said: ‘Sister, I know that you are the daughter of Muhammad Ali. My name is Khaleel Ahmad and I teach in the madrasah. The purpose of my visit is to inform you of the glad tidings with regard to your husband’s court case. He has been re-employed by the court and as a token of his appreciation he desired to present five rupees to me. However, I declined to accept the gift because it is the command of Allah Ta‘ala and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that an individual should live economically until his debts are paid off and the remaining wealth should be spent on his family. Thereafter, he may present whatever gift he desires. I hope that you do not feel grieved that I returned the gift to your husband.’

“He thereafter returned to the madrasah. When I learnt of the incident, I became extremely ashamed that Hadhrat had come and conveyed the message in such an informal way.”

This was also the method of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه. There were no unnecessary formalities with him. Every action of his was conducted in a simple manner and from among his khulafaa, Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Saharanpuri رحمة الله عليه was a replica of him.

Moulana and the person who resorted to Hindu rituals

This same person also related another incident to me. On another occasion, a similar case was opened against him. People, who are driven by their own personal motives, will do anything to achieve what they desire.

“I resorted to whatever advice anyone gave me in order to win the case,” he related, “so much so that I even went to a pundit. He instructed me to feed peas to the monkeys and place the claw of a predatory bird in my turban. I followed his instructions, but the case was slipping away from me. Then I had a dream of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه. I dreamt that I had gone to Hadhrat’s khanqah, but I did not have the courage to enter the khanqah. Fear had overwhelmed me. Hadhrat Gangohi was lying down and Shaikh-ul-Hind was seated beside him on a chair. When his eyes fell on me he scowled and said: ‘What work does the dog of every door have with us?’ He repeated this statement.

“Hadhrat Gangohi رحمة الله عليه raised his head and looked towards me. ‘O fulaan (so and so), have you not yet repented?’ he queried with love and affection.

“‘Yes Hadhrat, I have repented.’

“‘If he has repented, then what fault do you find in him?’ Moulana directed this question to Shaikh-ul-Hind رحمة الله عليه.

“My eyes opened immediately after this incident. I was gripped with fear and I did not have the courage to go and discuss the matter with Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Saharanpuri. I enlisted the help of my friend, Hakeem Khaleel Ahmad Sahib, to accompany me to Moulana. When we arrived at the madrasah, Hadhrat Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Sahib was proceeding to teach his lessons. Hakeem Sahib caught hold of his hand and said: ‘Hadhrat, this person wishes to discuss an important issue.’ Hadhrat sat down and I related the entire episode to him.

“‘Make sure that when you go home to Gangoh, you visit the grave of Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه before going to your family,’ Moulana instructed. ‘Make muraaqabah (meditate) and whatever condition overcomes you, inform me of it.’

“I met my brother who had just returned from a journey and narrated the entire episode to him. I then hired an ox-cart to travel to Gangoh. My brother then took me along a forest pathway and said, ‘Take this route to Gangoh.’

“I reached the graveyard at Asr time, but the sky was absolutely pitch dark, as if the night had already set in. I proceeded to the fence on the western side, but the darkness seemed more intense. I lost all courage to enter the graveyard and returned home and informed my brother of what had transpired.

“He was annoyed and said: ‘You have erred. You should have entered the graveyard no matter what fear had overtaken you. Nevertheless, since the night has already set in, I suggest that you perform your Fajr Salaah near the graveyard.’

“I followed by brother’s advice, but I still lacked the courage to visit Moulana Gangohi’s رحمة الله عليه grave. I made muraaqabah in the very same musjid that I had performed the Fajr Salaah. After a short while, I experienced a great sense of tranquillity. I promptly left the musjid and went to Saharanpur to relate this to Moulana Khaleel Ahmad Sahib.

“Hadhrat said: ‘You must renew your bay'at.’

“‘I shall do as you say Hadhrat,’ I proclaimed, feeling relieved.

“‘Why was Shaikh-ul-Hind angry with me?’

“With tears in his eyes, Hadhrat replied: ‘Everyone is a sinner. However, although you were bay'at to Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه, you had sought the help of all and sundry, even a pundit! This is an insult to Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه. Do not harbour any ill feelings towards Shaikh-ul-Hind. In fact, it was his favour upon you that he drew your attention towards this. As for Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه, he had the quality of nisbat-e-Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). His heart is permeated with forgiveness and no thoughts of extracting any revenge cross his mind.’”

Incidents concerning Hadhrat Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman Ganj Muradabadi رحمة الله عليه

“Moulana is a very good person”

A mureed of Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman Ganj Muradabadi رحمة الله عليه requested Moulana for permission to visit Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه.

“Yes, certainly. Moulana is a very good person. Convey my salaam to him as well.” “He is a very good person,” was Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman’s choicest words of praise.

The mureed visited Moulana for a few days and when he was about to leave, Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه said: “Convey my salaam to Moulana, together with two messages. Firstly, he should control himself.” Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman رحمة الله عليه frequently revealed the kashf that he received.

“Secondly, Moulana must adopt the character of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).” This was in reference to the harsh approach that Moulana had with the people that came to his khanqah.

Moulana Thanwi in Ganj Muradabad

Moulana Thanwi رحمة الله عليه also related an incident of his visit to Ganj Muradabad. “I reached the khanqah after Maghrib Salaah. Coincidentally, a mureed was being reprimanded by Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman رحمة الله عليه.”

“Get out!” demanded Moulana.

“No, I will not go,” was the surprising answer from the mureed.

Moulana then instructed a khaadim to throw this mureed’s luggage into the street. When the khaadim complied, the mureed brought the baggage back into the khanqah. I thought to myself, that if this is the way how guests are treated, what is going to happen to me? I then made salaam to Moulana.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“A student,” I barely mustered the courage to reply.

“And what is your purpose of coming here?”

“I have come to visit Hadhrat,” I mumbled.

“You have come to visit!” Moulana snapped. “Has the earth not swallowed you yet? How am I going to make arrangements for your supper?”

There was no food available in the house. Thus, he sent his khaadim to his daughter’s place to fetch some food.

“So, you are the student of Moulana Yaqoob Nanotwi.” He received divine inspiration (kashf). I replied in the affirmative.

“He is a very good person,” Moulana acknowledged.

An earthenware bowl containing daal and two rotis placed on top of the bowl was presented before Moulana Thanwi رحمة الله عليه. When Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman saw this, he addressed the khaadim and said: “You fool! Why did you not cover the food and bring it?”

“There wasn’t any utensil available to cover it, Hadhrat,” the khaadim gasped.

“And what about the grass straw basket that is kept on the upper shelf behind the door?” enquired Moulana. “Why did you not cover the meal with that?”

He then turned his attention towards me and asked what the meal consisted of.

“Daal and two rotis made of wheat,” I replied.

“Enjoy it. It is a great bounty from Allah Ta‘ala. The Sahaabah y did not receive this type of a meal for lengthy periods of time.”

Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman then came closer and advised me further. I remained seated on a padded mat which he had earlier asked me to sit on, as it is the incorrect etiquette to stand and eat, and Moulana was standing.

The next morning, Moulana asked if I was going to stay for a little while longer, or whether I was departing. I replied that I was departing. He then accompanied me to my horse. I assumed that he had followed me to my conveyance because of some personal work, but I realised that he had actually come to bid me farewell. He was very compassionate towards me. I requested him to give me some wazeefah to read. He told me to read سبحن الله وبحمده سبحن الله العظيم – ‘Subhaanallahi wa bi Hamdihi Subhaanallahil `Azheem’ together with Surah Ikhlaas 200 times daily.

Although to this day, I have been unable to complete this wazeefah, I am however, pleased to have received a gift from a buzurg of his calibre. I did not go to Ganj Muradabad for my islaah, but merely to visit Moulana. But Alhamdulillah, I did not take any offence to Moulana’s treatment and my heart was not affected in any way by his rebuking. These days when people come for their islaah, they cannot tolerate being reprimanded even a little bit.

Moulana’s degree of kashf

The degree of Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman’s رحمة الله عليه kashf was such that when Moulana Ahmad Ali Muhaddith Saharanpuri رحمة الله عليه, who has written the marginal notes of Bukhaari Shareef, took a copy of his work to Moulana, he said: “So you think that you are a very great muhaddith? On this page, you have made this error and on this page you have made that error.” In that one sitting, Moulana highlighted all the errors in the kitaab.

When Moulana Abdul Hay Lucknowi رحمة الله عليه visited Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman رحمة الله عليه, Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman asked: “So, you are a great faqeeh. You have written the marginal notes of Hidaayah (book on Hanafi fiqh). Now tell me, why did you perform qasr salaah on the way?”

Moulana Abdul Hay’s journey was split into two parts. The first was from place A to place B and the second was from place B to place C and his intention was to travel only from A to B, which was not a safr distance. The distance from B to C was also not classified as a safr distance. However, the distance from A to C was a safr distance and Moulana thought that the journey originated from A, and thus he performed qasr salaah.

When Moulana Abdul Haq Haqqaani رحمة الله عليه, the author of ‘Tafseer-e-Haqqaani’, visited Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman رحمة الله عليه, Moulana asked him: “So, are you a great mufassir. And have you written the commentary of the Quraan? Tell me, what does the word ‘اِبِلِ’ in the aayat, اَفَلَا یَنۡظُرُوۡنَ  اِلَی الْاِبِلِ کَیۡفَ خُلِقَتْ mean?”

“Camel,” replied Moulana.

“That is probably what you have written in your Tafseer!” laughed Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman. “Actually the word اِبِلِ here means a cloud. Now tell me, what is the meaning of the word ‘جَمَلُ’ in the aayat: حَتّٰی یَلِجَ الْجَمَلُ فِیۡ سَمِّ الْخِیَاطِ?”

“Camel,” reiterated Moulana Abdul Haqq.

Moulana chuckled. “Here, ‘جَمَلُ’ refers to the chain or thick rope of a ship’s anchor.”

Once, Mufti Azeez-ur-Rahman Deobandi رحمة الله عليه was on his way to visit Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman when Moulana shouted from a distance, “Go back home.” For some reason, Moulana was very angry.

Mufti Azeez-ur-Rahman immediately turned around and headed back home. Moulana then received divine inspiration that this man, Mufti Azeez-ur-Rahman, was a great servant of Islam. He promptly sent his khaadim to go and request Mufti Sahib to return.

It is for this reason that Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه conveyed the message to Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman رحمة الله عليه, that he should adopt the character of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and exercise control over his emotions. When Moulana Fadhl-ur-Rahman received the message, he became upset and said: “Do people come to me for the sake of learning deen? They come only for worldly motives! Someone wants a ta`weez to win a court case, another person wants to have children and another wants a job, etc. If I do not reproach them, then what else can I do? He sits there in Gangoh and advises me to adopt the character of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).”

When the khaadim conveyed the second message (refraining from revealing his kashf), Moulana sighed and said: “I do not possess his capability. He drinks and digests spiritual oceans upon spiritual oceans and does not even give the slightest hint to it.”

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