Excerpts from the islahi letters of my respected father in the service of Sayyidi wa Sanadi Hadrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him).
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
My respected father, Hadrat Commander Shaukat Kamal (may Allah have mercy on him), passed away two years ago following a brief illness. إنا لله و إنا إليه راجعون . The letters which he wrote for his islah (self-purification) in the service of Sayyidi wa Sanadi Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) contain such discussions which may be beneficial for all of us. These discussions are being presented in this article.
It is asked from Allah Most High that He makes these beneficial for us all and a means of continuous reward (sadaqah jariyah) for my late father. Amin. A brief biography of my respected father is also being included as per Sayyidi wa Sanadi’s instruction.
My respected father (may Allah have mercy on him) was born on 3 November 1930 in Begum Saraiy Town in Allahabad. His father, Janab Khan Bahadur Muhammad Hanif, had a large family and was a very family-supportive person. Despite having been educated at Aligarh College, he had a religious outlook and took bay`ah with Hadrat Shah Mu`een ad-Din Ajmeri (may Allah have mercy on him). His own grandfather, Shaykh Salamat Ali, took bay`ah in the silsila of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid (may Allah have mercy on him) at the hands of Hadrat Muhammad Bashir ad-Din Qunuji (may Allah have mercy on him).
My respected father acquired his primary education in Allahabad and in Islamiah College, Lucknow. After the partition of India, he came to Pakistan and became an officer in the Navy. In 1976, he retired from the Navy and started working with National Refinery. It was during this period – in 1984 – because of work-related worries, my father presented himself in the service of Hadrat `Arif Billah Shaykh Dr. `Abd al-Hayy `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him). Allah Most High made Dr. `Abd al-Hamid the means of this meeting. May Allah reward him.
The alchemy-effect of Hadrat `Arifi’s company changed the direction of my father’s life. He began attending the Friday gathering regularly and started islahi correspondence with Hadrat `Arifi.
In response to a letter, Hadrat `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote, “There lies in your heart the greatness (`azmah) of Din. God-willing, you will certainly reap it’s blessings.”
However, this relationship ended in 1986 with the passing away of Hadrat `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him).
Following the demise of Hadrat `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him), my respected father presented himself in the service of various elders for his islah. However, he did not develop congeniality (munasabah) – which is necessary for benefit – with any of them. Finally, in 1988, he attended the gathering (majlis) of Sayyidi wa Sanadi Hadrat Mawlana Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him). In those days, the gathering was held in Masjid Nu`man on Lasbela Road. There, my father saw with his own eyes the same flavor of kindness, sympathy, good will, compassion, softness, and hopefulness, which was a distinguishing feature in Hadrat `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him). All Praise is due to Allah, my father then established islahi correspondence again, made bay’ah, and finally was given permission to initiate others into the path (mujaz-e-bay`at).
Due to his connection with the elders, my father passed a very clean and transparent life. He held a unique rank in his determination and resolution for worshiping Allah Most High and fulfilling the rights of others. He was honored with the opportunity of visiting the two noble sanctuaries (Makkah and Madinah) many times. In fact, he returned from a `Umrah trip just two weeks before his demise. After a brief illness, on the blessed day of Friday, 19 Sha`ban 1429 (corresponding to 22 August 2008), my respected father passed away. May Allah Most High forgive him and grant him the highest ranks in Jannah al-Firdaws. Amin, thumma Amin.
Following are some selected excerpts from the islahi correspondence of my father. May Allah make it beneficial for us all. Amin.
First Teaching: Humility
Responding to my father’s request for an islahi relationship, Sayyidi wa Sanadi (may Allah preserve him) wrote, “This lowly one is but a servant, and is available for as much service as he can provide. Whatever this lowly one knows, he will say it. You [have permission to] write letters.”
Connection with the Elders
My respected father mentioned his islahi relationship with Hadrat `Arif Billah Dr. `Abd al-Hayy `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him). In response, Sayyidi wa Sanadi (may Allah preserve him) wrote, “Having a relationship with Dr. [`Abd al-Hayy] Sahib is a great bounty. God willing, it will come in use in this world and in the Hereafter.”
Key to Success
Comment: “[In response to] The discussions I listen to in the Friday gathering (majlis), I first cross-examine myself with them and then try to act upon them as much as possible.” Response: “Precisely this concern is the key to success.”
Thankfulness (shukr) and Repentance (istighfar) in Fulfilling the Routine
Responding to my father’s feeling of lack despite consistently fulfilling the daily routine, Sayyidi wa Sanadi (may Allah preserve him) wrote, “Be thankful to Allah that however much you are able to do is completely from Allah. Many are deprived of even that. And when you feel fault in your routine, then make istighfar. This is all that should be [routinely] done. Involve yourself in the work as much as possible; do not wait for its fruits and results.”
Reality of bay`ah
Upon a request for bay`ah, Sayyidi wa Sanadi (may Allah preserve him) wrote, “Placing hand upon hand and performing bay`ah is not necessary. The actual need is establishing an islahi relationship and then constantly seeking instructions. Because you were continuously in the service of Hadrat Dr `Abd al-Hayy `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him), it is hoped that, God willing, this [our current relationship] will be enough. By making bay`ah one does receive the blessings of the spiritual chain (silsila); however, this lowly one does not take bay`ah now. If the need for bay`ah increases, it can be done with Hadrat Dr. Hafeez Allah in Anaj Bazaar, Sukkur, or with Hakim Akhtar. This lowly one will keep giving service like before, however, through letters and writing.”
Engagement in the Daily Routine
Replying to a complaint that the heart is not engaged in performing the daily actions, Sayyidi wa Sanadi wrote, ”The heart being engaged is not necessary. It is necessary to try to engage the heart; however, the action or dhikr deserves thankfulness to Allah in whatever condition it is done.”
Comment: “I am trying to please Allah Most High and keep Him pleased.” Response: “This effort should continue until the very end.”
Concern for the Hereafter
Question: “Sometimes in my heart a striking thought arises about how my end would be. Tears come to my eyes. I feel this condition every Friday during your speech (bayan).” Response: “MashaAllah, this is a good condition. May this concern for the Hereafter be blessed.”
Complete and Real Satisfaction
Question: “The daily routine has been continuing. However, I do not feel satisfied. The thought remains all the time that I do not know which shortcomings I have.”
Response: “Complete satisfaction with regards to Din should not even be there. The person who is concerned about his well being at every breath will only receive real satisfaction when he knows that Allah Most High, being sparing and merciful, has forgiven him. But on your part, keep working for your islah. It is best if you read Imam Ghazali’s (may Allah have mercy on him) book Tabligh ad-Din, and assess yourself based on its light. If there is anything to be asked then do so. Also, be careful about following the Sunnah in the light of ‘Uswai-Rasuli-Akram صلی اللہ علیه وسلم.”
Compensating the Past
Comment: “Sixty-three years of my life have now passed. My entire life has passed in shortcomings and heedlessness.”
Response: “When the thought of the past arises, immediately resort to istighfar. God willing, the shortcomings and heedlessness will be compensated.”
Actual Obligation is Effort
Comment: “I do not know which rights of others (huquq al-`ibad) and rights of Allah (huquq Allah) are not being fulfilled even now.”
Response: “Is the effort constantly there or not? If the effort exists and progress is being made, then thank Allah for that. And if there are any shortcomings they should be remedied by action (`amal) or repentance (istighfar). This is all that should be [routinely] done.”
Concern for Islah
Comment: “I do not know how Allah will deal with such a lowly person.”
Response: “Being hopeful of Allah’s mercy while constantly remaining concerned about one’s islah will bring Allah’s pleasure.”
Congeniality (munasabah) is Necessary for Benefit When accepting the request for bay`ah,
Sayyidi wa Sanadi wrote, “This lowly one had until now not considered bay`ah necessary for two reasons. The first is my lack of ability. The second was that I had informed you of elders with whom bay`ah could be taken and it was hoped that they would benefit you more than this lowly one. But, considering that you have not turned towards them despite this long period, it is learned that you do not feel congeniality (munasabah) there, which is necessary for benefit. Therefore, when you want to take this service from this lowly one despite his inability, then Bismillah [proceed in doing so]. Arrange a time over the phone and arrive. And before coming study Tas-heel Qasd as-Sabil.”
No Free Moment Until the Last Breath
Comment: “The thought often comes that hopefully it does not happen that I am unable to complete the daily routine. Then I ask Allah to continue to help me as He has helped me until now.”
Response: “All Praise is due to Allah, one should continue this reflection his entire life.” Method of Thanking Allah (shukr) Comment: “When I glance back at my life I weepingly thank Allah Most High.” Response: “At night, before going to sleep, imagine each and every bounty (ni`mah) and thank Allah with the tongue as much as you can.”
Comment: “Neither do my actions seem to have any worth nor is there anything else that satisfies me. [I worry] that the case would be the same there [in the Hereafter].”
Response: “Satisfaction will not be found through any action; think of Allah’s mercy that if He has bestowed upon you [the ability to do action] here, God willing, He will not deprive you there.
Steadfastness on the Routine and Learning of One’s Bad Traits (radha’il)
Response: “Congratulations on the steadfastness on the routine. May Allah bless you with even more inner and outer progress. Amin. Keep assessing yourself with the light of Basa’ir Hakim al-Ummah. Wherever there is any suspicion of a bad trait in an action, write and ask about it.”
Routine in Ramadan
Comment: “Du`a and advice are requested for the blessed month of Ramadan.”
Response: “In Ramadan be consistent in increasing recitation of Qur’an, increasing dhikr, protecting the gaze, and increasing du`a. It is requested that you remember this lowly one in your du`a as well.”
Feeling the Shortcomings
Comment: “I feel and acknowledge the shortcomings in my worship; my hope is only and only on Allah’s kindness.”
Response: “This is the grace and favor of Allah. Thank Allah immensely for this bounty. May Allah bless you with its light and blessings. Amin.”
Encouragement on Studying Mawlana Thanawi’s Discourses (Mawa`iz-e-Ashrafiya)
Comment: “In the past few days you had asked if I have read forty discourses of Hakim al-Ummah (may Allah have mercy on him). Because I had not counted when I read, I told you an approximate amount.”
Response: “Complete at least forty discourses, volume by volume.”
Reality of Being Content with Fate (Rida bi’l-Qada)
Comment: “During my illness my heart remained content and there was an increase in dhikr. There was no alarm or mental fear because of the illness. I remained entirely content and with full belief that whatever Allah decides, it will be best for me.”
Response: ”All praise is due to Allah, this is being content with fate (Rida bi’l-Qada), and is a cause of much reward, God willing.”
Reality of Action (`amal)
Comment: “The thought of the Hereafter persists and I believe that no action of mine is capable of being presented there. What regret will there be?” Response: “Action is nothing in itself. But it is the practice (sunnah) of Allah to be merciful on even little, broken action.”
Permission to Initiate Allegiance (Ijazat-e-bay`ah)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
My dear respected Shaukat Kamal (may your honor increase),
Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
It has been coming to my heart a strong desire to grant you permission to initiate others and instruct them. Hence, after du`a and istikhara, with the name of Allah and in His trust, I give you permission in the Ashrafiya silsila to initiate bay`ah (allegiance) and instruct. If any sincere seeker turns to you for islahi relations, do not deny him. And in due time bay`ah could be performed as well. Consider this service a joy and perform it. Through it, the teacher learns along with the student. Inform your close acquaintances [about this permission] as well. Wassalam. In this regard I will, God willing, send further instructions soon.
Help of Allah Upon Responsibility from Allah
Upon receiving permission to initiate bay`ah, my respected father (may Allah have mercy on him) entered a special state and increased in humility and obedience.
Comment: “Hadrat, I am telling you with the sincerity of my heart that I am definitely incapable and undeserving of this permission – in fact far, far away [from being capable or deserving] – how will I fulfill such a great responsibility?
Response: “This [state] is what I expected, and this precisely is how it should be. However, whenever a responsibility arrives from Allah without seeking it, then there is also help from Allah. God willing, there will be [help from Allah in this case as well]. A letter with instructions is attached; keep acting upon it.
Instructions for Mujazeen (those with permission to initiate bay`ah)
1 – Do not ever become heedless of the concern of your own islah (self-purification).
2 – Perform your daily routine with more consistency than before.
3 – Consider yourself a servant, and think you are serving those establishing islahi relations.
4 – Do not ever use service or the customary formalities of piri-muridi [the relationship between the shaykh and the murid] as a means of dignity, but instead consider them a deadly poison for yourelf.
5 – Do not deceive yourself into `ujb (self-love and praise) due to the praising of those with an islahi relationship. Instead, consider it a protection from Allah Most High that He has veiled their eyes from seeing my shortcomings.
6 – Along with consistent writing, maintain good akhlaq (character), mu`amalat (financial dealings), and mu`asharah (social etiquette), and instruct those with an islahi relationship to take care of these as well.
7 – Be consistent and include in your routine the reading of the discourses and sayings of Hakim al-Ummah (may Allah have mercy on him) and Tarbiyat-us-salik.
8 – If you do not know the answer to a questioner’s question, ask an elder and then reply.
May Allah Most High grant the ability to perform this service in the best way possible. Amin.
Intention in Speaking and Advising
Comment: “Every Friday, I gather all those with an islahi relation, big or small, and after `Asr I sit and speak about the Din. I am taking help from your books and Bahishti Zewar. I feel that in doing so [the gathering] I myself am benefiting a lot.”
Response: “Benefiting oneself is indeed what one’s intention should be.”
Warning to Mujazeen Upon an inappropriate action,
Sayyidi wa sanadi (may Allah preserve him) wrote, “Now you have to keep in mind the connections, which, by the grace of Allah Most High, you have attained.”
Awareness of One’s Mistake is Worthy of shukr
Comment: “After recognizing my mistake, I felt very regretful and sorrowful. I was discontent all night and could not sleep. I performed Salah-tu-tawba (salah of repentance) and kept making istighfar.”
Response: “All Praise is to Allah, awareness of one’s mistake and regret and repentance over it are deserving of shukr.”
Instructions on Warning Others on Issues Requiring Rectification (islah)
Response: “When warning others, one should be soft as much as possible and keep in mind a sympathetic approach to warning.”
Instructions on Disagreements in Domestic Affairs
Response: “In this world (dunya) such incidents keep coming. In [such disagreements], however much one is at fault, one should repent and make istighfar. And in situations not in one’s control, patience (sabr) and contentment with fate (rida bi’l-qada) are precisely the correct behavior of a believer. Through that [behavior], one does not face unbearable distress. He whose trust is in Allah, why should he be distressed?”
Three Actions to Do
Comment: “I have absolutely nothing.”
Response: “Make istighfar over what you have done, shukr to Allah for granting you the ability (tawfiq) for your actions, and have hope in the mercy of Allah. Keep doing these three actions.”
Being Affected by the Nation’s Conditions
Comment: “Because of the country’s condition and current affairs my heart is affected; it remains in a constricted state.”
Response: “This disposition is a sign of belief (Iman).”
May Allah Most High, through His grace and favor, grant complete forgiveness to my respected father (may Allah have mercy on him) and raise his ranks. Amin.
At the end, this lowly one mentions two excerpts regarding isaal-e-thawab (reaching of good deeds to others).
Hakim al-Ummah Hadrat Mawlana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“The preferred method of performing isaal-e-thawab comes later.
Among the first things to check and necessary to observe is whether the passed away person has any debts. If he was in debt, then first fulfill his debts. If he does not have any debts, or they have been paid off, and there remains some undetermined share, check to see if he has any will. When that is also completed and all the shares are distributed to the rightful heirs, then instead of involving oneself in the customary rituals and formalities, it is more important to check whether the passed away individual has any leftover prayers or fasts. If there are any, then their retribution(fidya) should be paid. And if there is any zakat left unpaid, fulfill that through the poor, orphans, widows, and needy in the area.
This second task takes precedent over isaal-e-thawab.”
(Al-Ifadat Al-Yawmiyyah, Vol. 7, p. 40)
`Arif Billah Hadrat Dr. `Abd al-Hayy `Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“After His own rights upon us, Allah Most High has set obligatory the rights of our parents upon us. They brought us up, took care of us, kept making du`a for us, and gave us comfort. Until you reached maturity, they remained your guardians.
And when you did mature, what service did you give them?
Look! However much you have gained in your life through good deeds and optional acts of worship, commit it all to your parents. They have an immense right upon us because Allah Most High has made them a representation of His nurturing and developing attribute(rabubiyet).
In doing so [delivering your good deeds], you will also receive an equal reward of the action you are performing – in fact, even more than the regular reward because this is an act of benevolence, which is very rewarding.
I have dedicated my entire life’s acts of worship, optional deeds, and good actions to my parents’ souls, and consider that even now their rights have not been fulfilled. May Allah Most High accept this through His immense mercy.”
(Ramadan al-Mubarak kai Anwar wa Barakat, p. 14)
Upon the Passing of His Respected Father
(Shaykh Mufti Mohammad Shafi, may Allah have mercy on him)
A poem by Sayyidi wa Sanadi Hadrat Mawlana Mufti Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him):
Why are dark and gloom everywhere in sight today?
Why are there signs of despair in every direction today?
Has my garden of hope caught on fire?
Remain, remain, for what will rise from this chest today will be smoke
The rate of breath is as if he is walking and coming
Why is the drink of life a goblet of poison today?
Has fate come and taken away my respected father?
A caravan of light is leaving to comfort today
My dear father has left to settle in Paradise
O death! Where has your dominion reached today?
In my heart there is a wave full of conflict
And the eyes are oppressors! They are dry wells today
That kind father, he my guide and nurturer
In what city are you resting in today?
Is it true that I will not be able to see him?
Or am I seeing a dream today?
Now who remains in the world who will ask Taqi
“What is he thinking? Why did he not come? Where is he today?”
Translated from Urdu by brother Ibrahim Khan, (may Allah reward & protect him. Amin!)