If not now, then when?

Our problem today is that some of us have the appearance of Sunnah without its soul, some have the words of that Aqeeda without its Noor and some have nothing.

Meaning doesn’t mean translation. It means understanding which results in effects on the self. If someone translates Sher as Tiger, he’s correct but it is only when he faces a real tiger in the jungle and has lost control of his bowels that he can claim to understand the meaning of the word Sher.

Islam today is only words. Dry words that create no effect. Words that bring no tears to the eyes, that don’t change your blood pressure or heartbeat. Words that don’t touch your emotions. Words that don’t wake you or sooth you with tranquility. Words that don’t comfort your fear, dry your tears of grief or give you new hope to get up after a fall and face the world which is still the same.

Incidentally in our lives, a pretty woman, a handsome man, a poem, a song, a musical tune, a bottle of whisky or a choice curse word can do all of the above. Yet Islam, the word of Allah, the teaching of His Messenger(S) leave us untouched.

Then we wonder why we’re today the dregs of humanity.

Khizr kyon kar bataye, kya bataye
Agar mahi kahay darya kahan?

The big question to myself is how much longer do I want to continue to live like this… The existence of the living dead?

When will I wake up and respond to my Rabb and rejoice in His company? When will His slightest wish be my command? When will I yearn to meet Him and work to make that day the best day of my life? When will I dedicate my life as He commanded me to dedicate it when He said;

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Anaam 6:162 Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Rabb of the Worlds.”

I end with asking the question that He asked:

أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ

Hadeed  57:16. IS IT NOT time that the hearts of all who have believed should feel humble at the remem­brance of Allah and of all the truth that has been bestowed [on them] from on high, lest they become like those who were granted revelation aforetime, and whose hearts have hardened with the passing of time so that many of them are [now] depraved?

My brothers and sisters, if not now, then when? 

If not we, then who?

Ramadan, a time of self-indulgence?

Ramadan, a time of self-indulgence?

So Ramadan is coming along. What are the signs that I see around me? By far the most important of them all – the cleaning of the Haleem cooking cauldrons, repairing of the tandoor ovens and the painting of signs screaming that the Haleem of that particular establishment can’t possibly be bettered in this life. Haleem for the body and soul. And in this case Haleem for Good luck – if you please.
Then is the case of Iftaar parties – those who claim first strike and those given in retaliation – do unto others what they did unto you. Yeah! I know that is poetic license but all is fair in Iftaar and war. And the conversations before, during and after the Iftaar party. Gossip galore. What to say about the political Iftaars that people vie to be invited to so that they can rub shoulders with those that ‘count’?

I shall pass by in silence looking at our women and servants slaving in kitchens cooking food for those who don’t need it sacrificing their own time of Dhikr and dua because the pleasure of their bosses is more important than the pleasure of Allah. Or I should say that the displeasure of their bosses is more visible and immediate than the displeasure of Allah.
Ask our business people and they will tell you that 70% of their business happens after Iftaar in Ramadan, especially during the last ten nights. And of course as you shop you need sustenance and so you eat. Shops are very accommodative and so they remain open all through the night. And the nights of grace and mercy pass unnoticed overhead.
I have deliberately given this article a title which may seem provocative but which I believe reflects our reality – that Ramadan is a time of self-indulgence for us, instead of being a time of self-denial, reflection, introspection and repentance.
Allah ordered us to have His Taqwa – to fear His displeasure and be aware of the fact that one day we will meet Him – when He said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
A’al Imraan 3:102.        O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allâh (fear to disobey Him) as it is His right that His displeasure shoud be feared. And die not except in a state of Islâm (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allâh.
Allah told us that He made fasting Fardh (compulsory) upon us so that we can develop Taqwa. But does that happen to us in Ramadan? Do we develop more Taqwa? Is this reflected in our lives? And if not, is Ramadan anything more for us than a date change? A social event at best; enjoyable time but nothing more in terms of the blessings that it comes with for the one who has wisdom.
Allah said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Al Baqarah 2:83. O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn 
As we can see, Allah ordered us to have Taqwa and then showed us how to develop Taqwa – by fasting. Only once a Muslim develops Taqwa then his submission to Allah can be assured and so the second part of the Ayah becomes possible.
وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
And die not except in a state of Islâm (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allâh.
The secret of obedience is to obey without question. It is not obedience without understanding. The understanding when obeying Allah is to understand who Allah is; not what the command is or the logic behind it. This is a major trap that most of our so-called intellectuals fall into. They get lost in trying to understand the logic of the command and forget who is commanding it. That is why Ramadan comes to emphasize the fact that the Muslim obeys because Allah commanded it; not because it makes ‘sense’ to him. Allah made some things Halaal and some things Haraam. But in Ramadan during the hours of daylight, He made even the things which are ordinarily Halaal, Haraam. When the Muslim obeys Allah and fasts he is essentially doing something which makes sense only when one understands whose command it is. It is emphasized for the Muslim that if he obeyed Allah during Ramadan and stayed away even from Halaal then how much more important it is for him to stay away from what Allah prohibited and made Haraam?

That is why it is so critical to know Allah, to be connected to Allah, to be conscious of Allah and to be concerned about His pleasure and approval for all that we say or do because to Him is our return. Ramadan comes to reiterate this to us every year; that we are the slaves of Allah and in being true to that is our salvation. Ramadan comes to teach us obedience. It comes to teach us the meaning of Uboodiya. It comes to teach us the meaning of being Abdullah and Amatullah and to do that because we love AllahYabove all else.
My brothers and sisters, I remind myself and you that Ramadan comes to us every year as an opportunity to change ourselves, our habits, our ways and our lives so that we become people of Jannah. Ramadan is a special time when Allah relaxes the rules and gives us special advantages with respect to our actions so that we get a chance to change. He chains Shayateen so that we don’t have to fight against the odds. He increases the reward for good deeds so that we get a handicap advantage and a much higher return on our actions. He gives us fasting which makes every action we do during it, including sleep – Ibaadah. He gives us Taraweeh in the night where we get from 10-100 rewards for every letter of the Qur’an we listen to. He gives our dua a special place of acceptance, especially duas at the time of Iftaar. He shuts the doors of Jahannam and opens the doors of Jannah. He opens the doors of His Mercy and Kindness and Forgiveness for all those who actively seek it. In the last ten nights He increases all this even more in keeping with His Majesty and Grace.

But what do we do with all these bounties? Do we take the maximum benefit from them or do we squander them in the name of socializing and self-indulgence? I remind myself and you to use Ramadan to change our lives. Allah said about those who will be successful on the Day of Judgment:
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ وَما الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلاَّ مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ 
A’al Imran 3: 185. Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).
I remind myself and you that it is we who need Allah and all His Bounties like Ramadan for our own salvation and success in this life and the Hereafter. What sense does it make to be reminded year after year about the bounty that Ramadan brings and still ignore it and squander it instead of taking its benefit?
Allah does not need us and can replace us if we don’t pan out. He warned us and said:
Ma’aida 5: 4. O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.
Allah created us to teach others how to live. He didn’t create us to live in a way that others can laugh at. That is what is happening today especially with respect to Iftaar parties. They are a spectacle that others laugh at us for. They laugh at our antics of trying to get invited to high profile parties; at our pretensions of piety while gorging on food like there is no tomorrow. Political parties and politicians use Iftaars as carrots for Muslims who are so anxious to be invited to an Iftaar party being given by this or that leader, no matter whether he is Muslims or not, no matter what his own track record of oppression is, no matter anything except that he is temporarily in power. For all power is after all temporary. But we scramble for the invitation shamelessly. It’s time to change before we reach the end of our own line.
So what to do about Iftaar and about wanting to invite family and close friends?
Invite family and close friends. Don’t do anything special. Make sure all activity in the kitchen is ended 30-45 minutes before the time of Iftaar and the people who cook for you are free to wash up and prepare for Iftaar and Dhikr and dua. Remember that Ramadan is for them also and if you give them duties that prevent them from worship you will answer to Allah for that. Eat what you normally eat. When your guests come, remember Allah and remind each other. No other conversation. Then close to the time of Iftaar maintain absolute silence and engage in individual dua. Once the Adhaan is called, break your fast with a date or two and a drink of water and the men go to the masjid for Salah. Make Shukr to Allah for granting you Ramadan and the fast and the food. After Salah return and eat a light meal and go back to the masjid for Isha and Taraweeh.
Be concerned about the poor that they have enough to eat in Ramadan and after it. After all they don’t eat only in Ramadan so I’ve never understood the rush to give hampers in Ramadan and then forgetting about them for the rest of the year. Charity is not restricted to Ramadan. Let us be charitable all through the year.

I ask Allah to make this Ramadan the best Ramadan of your lives and enable you to especially please Him and ask Him to forgive your faults and never be displeased with you.

Balancing Deen and Dunya

Below are two questions and their answers. Sharing for mutual benefit.
Yawar Baig
Sent:Friday, June 05, 2015 10:08 PM
To: Mirza Yawar Baig
Subject: Balancing Deen and Dunya.
Assalamu`Alaykum Warahmatulahi Wabarakatuhu.
Dear Sheikh,
You seem to have achieved exceptionally well in knowledge of this world and knowledge of here after(Deen).While acquiring knowledge of both worlds, Did it not create a clash or friction in your heart.?
For instance – whenever i wanna give exceptional commitment to acquire any skill of this worldly life, it makes me forget ALLAH. Salah is not at its best -Allotting time for Dhikr is constraint. Just the process of acquiring knowledge of worldly life keeps me away from ALLAH. Because you often say Focus- one Good thing at time- Ordinary Light illuminates at best and laser Cuts through steel.
One can say the focus is hereafter – but anything attached to this dunya in Excess or kind of being exceptionally well ,will invariably spoil the heart or at least forget ALLAH in the process.
To be the best at any skill one needs to love it and take it to heart.
Your talks Represent that you have done intense research on skills of this world and well same is true when you speak about deen in your fajr reminders.whats the art of doing that together- how do you partition that in your heart?
Dont knowledge of both worlds contradict each other – at least the knowledge of materialistic world which we are living is mutually exclusive with knowledge of hereafter.?
How do you keep that dunya beneath your foot – even after reaching that feet.
Whats the art of laser cutting through steels in this world and hereafter simultaneously.
There is no conflict between Deen and Dunya. Dunya is not the opposite of Deen. Deen is the way to live in the Dunya. There is no Deen after death. So there is no friction or contradiction between the two. On the contrary, you can only attain excellence in Deen through excellence in Dunya. Sadly people don’t see this and they preach the opposite which is a confusion with Hindu theology – Sanyas, leaving the Dunya for spiritual growth. There is no Sanyas in Islam. Rasoolullah said, ‘La Ruhbaniya fil Islam.’ (There is no asceticism in Islam).
Love of Dunya that people talk about has nothing to do with wealth. It has to do with the love of material things to the exclusion of the love of Allah. A beggar on the street is not the most spiritual of beings. As a matter of fact he may be far less spiritual than someone who has a lot more but is focused on charity. He loves what little he has and the fact that he believes that he has to beg all day so much that he doesn’t bother to pray. When did you ever see a beggar praying, even when they all go to the nearest masjid on Juma to beg? So love of Dunya has nothing to do with how much of it you have. It has to do with how much you love it in relation to how much you love Allah. As long as you love Allah more, you can be the king of the world but the Dunya will not distract you from Deen. So there is no friction between Dunya and Deen. They are intrinsically linked and completely indispensable for success in each other.
Secondly Dunya is the only way that you will attain perfection in the Aakhira. Dunya is the only way to earn Jannah. You don’t earn Jannah by leaving Dunya but by using Dunya. It is like telling someone sitting in a car, ‘The best way to reach your destination is to get out of your car and walk.’ You may still get to your destination but you will get there with great difficulty and very slowly. But if you remained in your car and drove on the right road, you would get there much faster and much more comfortably. This is what the Sahaba did. They had the best of both worlds. The problem is that people only tell you stories of the Sahaba in the days of the inception of Islam. Stories of deprivation and struggle. Not the stories of how they handled Dunya when the conquests started and there was literally money to burn. Did they fall into evil? Did they forget Allah? Did they leave Salah and sit in their shops? Or did they establish Islam on the face of the earth?  
Dunya, lived according to the Deen, is Ibaadah. It is Deen itself. It is the reason for the Deen. If this Dunya didn’t exist there would be no need for Deen. To live in this Dunya according to the Deen is the most powerful way to do Da’awa. Dunya is the way to attain the pleasure of Allah. Dunya is the tilth for the Aakhira – as Rasoolullah reminded us. How are you going to get a harvest if you leave your fields fallow? You want a good harvest you have to spend every waking moment in your fields, ploughing, winnowing, planting, watering and praying for success in the harvest. People who tell you to leave the Dunya don’t know agriculture. If you want to learn agriculture, go to a farmer. That is why the importance of Tarbiyya in Islam which we have completely discarded.
You should love the Dunya – but for the right reasons. You should run behind the Dunya – but for the right reasons. You should use the Dunya – in the right way.
That is the way – the ONLY WAY – to attain Jannah.
Thats my first question.?
How do you manage to get applauded on the stage and keep your heart clean?
It’s very difficult – how do you do it.??
I don’t intend to be any speaker or get applauded on stage. In fact on several instances I have chosen to my keep mouth shut even if I know cos am worried that would end me up at Ria based on past experiences.
I am simply curious about latter.
Very simple. Just make lots of Tawba all through and after the stage. That is the benefit of Tarbiyya. You learn these things. Make lots of Tawba and remember that they are not praising you, they are praising the cover that Allah  placed over you. Ask Allah never to remove that cover.  
Your students may consider you to be very wise because they know less than you. But to your teachers you’re stupid and don’t learn even the simplest of things. So which is the correct opinion?
I’d say both. One is the cover that Allah  put over you to hide your faults. The other is the mirror He shows you so that you can correct the faults. Both are signs of His great Mercy. Always realize that and thank Him.
Yawar Baig

My Shaikh added:

Add: to treat all the affairs of Dunya as the Shari’ah demands with an eye on the sense of accountability to Allah. Read: 2:201. Also the Hadith: al-Dunya MAZRA’UL AAKHIRAH (Dunya is tilling land for the Aakhirah). As it is said: TO KEEP DUNYA IN THE POCKET IS OK BUT NOT RIGHT TO KEEP IT ROOTED IN THE HEART. Akbar Ilahabadi says: DUNYA MEYN HOON DUNYAA KA TALBGAAR NAHEEN HOON + BAZAR SEY GUZRA HOON KHAREEDAAR NAHEEN HOON.  You have rightly said the Aakhirah is earned through the Dunya. There is no contradiction.

My Parents – Ordinary people who left extraordinary memories

My Parents – Ordinary people who left extraordinary memories


He was your grandfather and you are of his blood. He was very proud of you as he was proud of all his children and grandchildren. May Allah bless you and your parents. Allah is very merciful. Pappa went very peacefully and with great dignity and grace. His face was so full of Noor that it was as if he had a light shining on him. I had the honor of doing his Ghusl and Salat ul Janaza and burial as was his wish. Allah is truly merciful that he granted me this honor because until the day before he died, I was in hospital recovering from surgery and was discharged the night before on Thursday. He passed away the next day, Friday, January 5, 2007 at about 0800 am. His legacy to me was a book of Seerah – The Life of Muhammad by Haykal. I couldn’t have wanted a better or richer inheritance.
 Your grandfather was a wonderful man in many ways. If someone asks me what it is about him that I remember the most, I will say it is his habit of thanking Allah no matter what his own condition was at the time. I remember a time in our lives when we lived in one room in Aziz Bagh. Just one room with a bathroom and a tiny kitchenette which was created out of a little lean-to over what was the back door. This was because one of my mother’s cousins occupied her property, a flat that her father had built for her, without so much as a by your leave. But neither Pappa nor Mamma complained nor did they fight or disturb the harmony of the family. They left the matter in the hands of Allah.
So in that one room lived Pappa, Mamma and all of us (3 adult children) except my brother (your father) who was in America and my sister who at that time lived with her mother-in-law. Not a cent of income except what Pappa was earning at the time, working at MESCO. But never did I hear either of them ever complain about their situation or ask anyone for help. Pappa never had any savings. There was enough for our needs but given that my parents were very generous with their family and with anyone who was in need, they never had any savings. Pappa never built a house of his own. Mamma had her apartment – or so she thought – in her grandfather’s house, Aziz Bagh. Pappa and Mamma were in Guyana at the time my grandfather, Mamma’s father, died. And that was the time that Mamma’s apartment was taken over. Pappa and Mamma expected to return to live in it but when that was taken over; they literally had nowhere to live. Mamma’s elder sister gave her one room from her own apartment which they lived in until we were able to expand it. May Allah grant Khalamani the best in Jannah for her generosity to her sister. The elders in Mamma’s family, especially her uncle Nawab Ruknuddin Ahmed and her cousin Hasanuddin Ahmed and many other members of her family tried their best to talk to her cousin to return the property but to no avail. May Allah reward all those who did their best to help to ensure that justice was done. In the end it is Allah who will decide on the Day of Judgment.  Mamma however didn’t allow this incident to spoil her family relationships. Neither did my father say a word in the matter. They simply accepted the Qadr of Allah with grace and equanimity and lived with good relations with everyone. Big lesson for all of us in what it means to maintain family relations and to forgive one another even when you have been wronged. After all, when else do you have the opportunity to forgive, except when you have been wronged?
Then Pappa got a job as the resident physician and administrator of Asra Hospital and they moved to Asra Hospital. I went off to work in the tea plantations in Anamallais. At that time my sister and her children returned from her mother in law’s home to live with Pappa and Mamma. So in the little 2-bedroom apartment on the first floor in Asra Hospital lived my parents, my sister and her three children and my other two sisters and a resident lady cook. But neither Pappa nor Mamma ever complained about this. They were delighted to have the little grandchildren with them. Especially the little one who would bend double and say, “Salaaamu alaikum”. Everyone was welcome. That is how families are supposed to be. A support for everyone who is in that family.  Pappa and Mamma did not talk about that. They lived it and so we learnt the lesson.
Another thing about Pappa that I remember with a wonderful sense of warmth in the heart, is the connection he had with Allah. Allah was real to him. Allah was not a concept. He knew Allah. He talked to Allah like he talked to someone who was a close friend, confidant and protector, to whom he could always go. Hearing him speak about Allah I would sometimes feel like turning to look over my shoulder to see if Allah was standing behind me. When he spoke about Allah you could sense Allah in the room. He would make dua as if he was literally sitting in front of Allah looking at Him and talking to Him directly. He would beg Him, argue with Him, question Him and answer those questions and then say, ‘Magar aap meray ku maaf kar dena.’ (But you must forgive me for saying all this.)
I remember very clearly – and that is the reason for the sense of loss I felt when he died – my brother or I would call him and tell him about whatever difficulty we were going through at the time and ask him to make dua for us. Invariably he would say, ‘Fikr mat karo. Mayin unku pakad laytaun. Diye tak nahin chodta.’ He wouldn’t even say, ‘Whatever Allah does is for the best.’ To him, the possibility of asking and not getting didn’t exist. My father was not an A’alim but his lack of formal knowledge was a blessing. His trust in Allah was simple and pure. It was not ‘contaminated’ by theological constructs and logical arguments. All right and correct in their own place but which often become curtains that cut us off from the pure reality that our Rabb can do whatever He wants and that whatever means whatever – beyond logic and possibility. After all Allah did say, ‘Yaf’alu ma yashaa and yahkumu ma yureed.’ (He does whatever He wants and He orders whatever He desires). So who are you to put limits on that?
Hajj 22:18.    See you not that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and Ad-Dawab (moving living creatures, beasts, etc.), and many of mankind? But there are many (men) on whom the punishment is justified. And whomsoever Allah disgraces, none can honour him. Verily! Allah does what He wills.
Ma’aida 5: 1………….Verily, Allah commands that which He wills.
And He said eight times about the power of His creation – He says, ‘Be and it is.’
The most well-known of these Ayaat is perhaps from Sura Ya Seen:
Ya Seen 36:82. Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!” and it is!
My father’s trust in Allah was like the trust of a little 2-year old child in its father. For that child the father has no constraints. No limitations to what he can do. The child can’t conceive of the father not being able to do what the child asks. So if the child doesn’t get what it asks for, it doesn’t reason, ‘Maybe my father can’t do it. So maybe I should stop asking.’ The child believes, ‘The only reason I am not getting what I am asking for is because my father is not convinced yet that I really need this thing. So I have to ask more and more and try to convince him and then he will give it to me.’ And so the child will not let go of his or her father’s robe and will hang on and cry and beg until it gets what it wants. That is how Pappa was. It never occurred to him that Allah wouldn’t give. And Allah never disappoints. So He always gave him. It is this connection to Allah that I consider to be my father’s legacy to me and to all of us, his children who learnt from him. And indeed this is supported by Allah’s statement in the Hadith Qudsi where He said, ‘Ana inda zanni abdi bih.’ (I am for my slave, as he expects me to be.) My father expected His Rabb to be merciful, generous and forgiving without measure and indeed He was.
My father would say, ‘I ask Allah to give me a small hut near Him in Jannah. I don’t want the whole Jannah. Only a small hut near Him.’ That was his dua because he had a sense of who he was and who his Rabb was and what their relationship was. So dua for him was a time of great happiness and pleasure. He loved making dua.
He thanked Allah all the time and told Allah his story like I would tell it to you. He talked to Allah with the total certainty that Allah was listening to him personally and paying attention and understanding every word he said. And indeed this is our Aqeeda. But for most of us it is Aqeeda as in the knowledge of the creed. For my father it was reality which didn’t even need to be said just like you don’t say, ‘I just spoke to my friend and he listened to me and understood what I said.’ You don’t need to say that. It is understood and expected. After all that is what friendship means. I believe this is what we have lost, most of us. This sense of the active, alive presence of Allah in our lives. Allah is remote for us – even when we ask Him. It is like we know Allah in our minds but not in our hearts. Not where we live and respond from. That is what we need to repair.
All through my childhood there is one memory that stands out clearly above all others – the sound of Pappa in the bathroom at about 3.00 am every day. He would go there to make Wudhu for Tahajjud and in the days before plastics, when buckets were made of galvanized iron, he made a lot of clanging noises. Then he would pray Tahajjud and then recite Qur’an – we could hear his voice softly in the other room where we children slept until the time for Fajr when he would come into our room and loudly call out – As salaatu khairum min-an-nawm and would turn the lights on and pull off our blankets. On cold winter mornings that was definitely not something we looked forward to. But there was no choice. We had to get up, make Wudhu in cold water – because there were no electric water heaters and it was too early for the servants to light the samovar in the  garden where water was heated on a wood fire. Then I would call the Adhaan and we would all pray Fajr behind Pappa. He used to call us We Seven. Our parents and their five children. And he took great pride in that. To the best of my knowledge Pappa never missed Tahajjud for over 45 years. He loved Tahajjud because he loved Allah.
We did everything together. We would go shopping for groceries together to a store in Secundrabad called Swadeshi Store. We would go to another market also in Secundrabad to buy mutton and fish. The fish had to be live when you bought it to ensure that it was fresh. Mutton was priced differently by the cut and so you had to know what cut to ask for and which cut was good for which preparation. After all you couldn’t make Pasinday with chops. I would always ask the butcher for the scraps which he would gladly give in a newspaper which I would take back for my black Austrolop rooster who loved them and ate them with great relish. Chicken eating sheep, now that is a thought. I had a small poultry setup at home and we had fresh eggs and poultry meat from free range chickens which were colorful, healthy and had individual personalities. Many lived to ripe old chicken-ages and died a natural death as they had become friends and after all you can’t make a stew out of a friend.
Pappa would always fill twenty litres of petrol in his car, a Fiat 1100. In those days petrol was less than Re. 1 per litre. There were hardly any cars on the road and no such thing as a traffic jam. We would go every week to the fruit market in Maozzam Jahi Market and Pappa would buy whatever fruit was in season always from one vendor – Sardar mian. He and Sardar mian would have a long conversation about all kinds of things ranging from politics, to the state of the nation to the problem of transporting fruit to the market over long distances. These were the days before refrigerated trucks and stores. So you could only get fruit in season. Once the mango season was over, for example, you had to wait until the following year to eat mangoes. By the calendar, first there were apples from Kashmir in January, followed by local grapes in February. Hyderabad was a great grape growing center in the 60’s and 70’s and was surrounded by vineyards.
Then once summer started in April mangoes would start coming into the market – first the local Baiganpally and Himayat, then the mangoes from North India – Langda, Chausa, Dasseri. And of course Pedda and Chinna Rasaal, the cream of juice mangoes. This season lasted until the monsoon which began on the dot on June 7, every year. During this period at the peak of summer in May, watermelons and muskmelons would also come on the market. Not much came in the monsoon except bananas, including thick maroon bananas which have almost completely disappeared. After the rain we would get sapota, custard apples and figs and some very good guavas. Then we would be back in apple season. So there was much to do and we did it always together as a family.
In the evenings every day, especially in summer, we would sit outside in the garden and Pappa would listen to the news on radio – All India Radio and Radio Ceylon to listen to Amin Sayani’s famous Binaca Geet Mala, dominated by Mohammed Rafi’s golden voice. At that time he would also turn the radio off and recite Allama Iqbal’s poetry of which he knew a great deal by heart and would explain a lot of the difficult verses to us. Mummy was his supporter in all this as her Urdu was better than his and if he got stuck he would ask her, ‘Tho is kay kya manay hain Beeba?’ (what is the meaning of this word?) and she would tell him. Then he would continue with the explanation that he was giving. He would discuss politics and economics with us, all of us under the age of 14 as if we were adults. One thing he was always very concerned about was the Palestinian crisis and many a time said, ‘I wish I could go there to help in the hospitals.’ May Allah accept his Niyyah to help the Palestinian people in their difficulties. I was always aware of a great sense of family togetherness and knew that it was his greatest wish that his children must all live together happily.
Towards the end – and only now we know how close it was to the end – at the time he was experiencing it, he did not know how close he was to the end – he only knew that very rapidly his strength, mobility and eventually his consciousness, were all going. But when you asked him, ‘Kaise hain Pa aap?’ – his unfailing answer was a very loud and enthusiastic, ‘Alhamdulillah, bahut achcha hoon.’ (Alhamdulillah I am very well). He would say this to the point that when he was in hospital and the doctor came around on his visit and asked him how he was, Pappa would say the same thing with a big smile on his face. The doctor one day asked, ‘Then why are you here Doctor sahib?
My sister, brother or I, whoever was with him at the time would have to say to him, “Pa, please tell him your symptoms.” He was one of the best physicians I have ever known with knowledge of clinical diagnosis that I have never seen in anyone else. In his time, before all medical imaging machinery, treatment was based on the soundness of clinical diagnosis and I don’t remember him being wrong in that. So he probably knew more about what was happening to him than the young doctor who came to examine him or more correctly to look at the scan reports without which he was helpless anyway. Eventually Pappa went home where he wanted to be.
There was a period when he was sleeping most of the time. During this period when he was awake, he would simply lie apparently staring vacantly into space. One day he was lying that way when one of our aunts, (Tahira Apa) came and said salaam. He immediately responded, “Wa alaikum salaamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” It was his way to always respond with the full salaam. Then she said, “What are you looking at Anwar bhai?” He said, “Farishtay (Angels).” She asked, “What are they saying?” He replied, “They are saying  – Nayk bano. (Become good). So even in that state he did not lose his sense of humor. His laugh was famous. You could hear it in the next house. He laughed with all his heart. His laugh was infectious and everyone laughed when he laughed and he spread happiness all around.
 When Pappa was happy you could see it in his whole body. When he was angry or irritated, you could see that also. There was not a single atom of Nifaaq (hypocrisy) in my father. I bear witness to that. He never said something with some other thing in his heart. That is a wonderful quality which Insha’Allah will stand for him when He meets His Rabb. That and his Shukr.
I remember meeting him the day before he had the epileptic fit after which he went into a coma that he never came out of. At that time he was very drowsy and sleepy. But as always, he responded to my salaam and said, “Wa alaikum salaamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” When Samina and I asked, “Aap kaise hain Pa?” He said, “Alhamdulillah.” Those were his last words that I heard. Mamma said that thereafter even during his comatose state, at times when he sneezed he would say, “Alhamdulillah.” When he yawned he would say, “Astaghfirullah.” And at times he said, “La ilaha ill-Allah”. Allah stands by those who live for Him and love Him and He stood by Pappa to the end. Alhamdulillah.
So you are blessed that your grandfather was a man that we can all be proud to be the children of. I wish that when I die, you, my children, can say about me what I am able to say about my father. I ask Allah to enable me to live in such a way that when I die it can be said, “He was a man who always thanked Allah. Never complained and always spoke the truth such that it can be said that there was not a single atom of Nifaaq in his body.”
Before I close, let me tell you about your grandmother, my mother, who was married to him for 52 years. A marriage that was so good that they could not stay away from each other even for a few days. We used to live in Guyana when Pappa went to Canada on holiday. We were all living together at the time. He could not afford to take all of us and he and Mamma did not want to leave the children alone and go away. So he went alone. Three days later, he called. I answered the phone and asked him how Canada was. He said, “I am not in Canada. I am at Timehri Airport, please come and collect me.” We were all shocked. I drove the 200 kilometers from Kwakwani to Georgetown, Timehri Airport and when I met him I asked him what had happened. He said in a totally matter of fact tone, “I can’t stay without your mother.” So he returned from a 3 week holiday in 3 days and that too because it took that long to travel to and from Guyana to Canada in those days. 
 It’s not that Pa and Ma did not have difficulties or disagreements. But they resolved them. They remembered the good of each other and forgave the bad. And in the end, the day after Pappa passed away, when I went to Aziz Bagh to spend some time with Mamma, she said to me, “I prayed two Raka’at Nafl Salah to thank Allah for giving your father such a wonderful end on a Friday in Dhul-Hajjah.” And when she said this, she was sitting in her usual composed, dignified way. That’s your grandmother for you. She lived with great dignity and died peacefully in the middle of those she loved on September 13, 2014. That is as she would have wished and I thank Allah for it.
Mamma was a remarkable woman. Very petite and frail to look at but very strong internally. One of the most remarkable things that I remember about her is that I never saw her cry. I knew she did alone, before Allah but never in public. Even when Pappa died, she was the one who noticed that he has stopped breathing and called my sister who lived with them and told her. When I got there and when we had finished all the formalities of Ghusl and Kafan and were ready to take him to the masjid for the Salat ul Janaza which was to be after the Juma Salah, she came to look at his face for the last time and simply looked at him with great equanimity. No weeping or lamenting or anything of that nature. Not one tear. She understood life and death and she knew Allah and trusted in His Mercy. Dignity is the word that always comes to mind when I think of my mother. She was a very dignified person.
She came from a family that was not only aristocratic but also very learned. Her father was the Director of the Department of Religious Endowments and twice led the Nizam’s Royal Hajj Delegation to Saudi Arabia as a guest of the King of Saudi Arabia. He was invited to participate in the Ghusl of the Ka’aba and was given a small piece of the Kiswa (cover) of the Ka’aba as a memento. One of her uncles was a High Court Judge. Another was one of the most powerful noblemen of the Nizam, the last Kotwal of Hyderabad – Inspector General of Police and First Class Magistrate. He was slated to be the Prime Minister of the Nizam but was bypassed for Laiq Ali as he was already an office bearer in the government and the Nizam didn’t want to pick anyone who was already in office. As an aside it is interesting to reflect on what would have happened if Nawab Deen Yar Jung had been chosen as the Prime Minister of Hyderabad instead of Mir Laiq Ali. My mother’s grandfather was Nawab Aziz Jung Bahadur, a great Islamic Scholar who had the title of Shamsul Ulama from the Nizam of Hyderabad. He built Aziz Bagh where both my mother and I were born.
My mother was married to my father because Pappa was a doctor (my assumption). That is the only explanation that I can give for a marriage between two families whose backgrounds were as different as chalk and cheese. This was and is a highly unusual practice in our culture and for good reason. Pappa’s father, my grandfather was a guard in the Railways. He was the sole bread earner in the family but on that salary my grandmother and he brought up nine children. Four sons, one of whom died in childhood and five daughters. He educated his children and one became a medical doctor (my father) and another son (my uncle Asadullah Baig) who earned his degree in chemical engineering specializing in textiles from Germany, speaks German fluently and retired as the Asia Head for Ciba Giegy. My grandfather, all through Pappa’s medical education didn’t even buy himself a new shirt and spent his entire income only on his children’s education. My grandmother was herself a very dedicated and determined lady and ran the house and family with great patience, fortitude and focus. But all said and done, it was a very modest home with very limited means and absolutely no luxuries whatsoever. Yet all this was done without comment or talking about it. Working hard, sacrificing luxuries for long term development, investing in education and accepting whatever hardship that came with it was matter of fact in our family and not worthy of comment and definitely nothing to complain about.
So Mamma went from living in a mansion with a three acre garden, tennis courts, servants and whatnot to living in a small house with a tiled roof, no ceiling, no fans, no running water and two rooms and a kitchen where food was cooked on a smoky wood fire. There was an inner courtyard which let in air and light and was used to dry clothes, grain and simply as a living room. This house was shared with her husband, his parents, two brothers and four sisters. Knowing the cultural and economic differences between her family and how she grew up and her husband’s family I can imagine that her married life in that family couldn’t have been either easy or pleasant but she stuck it out. In today’s times when people are ready to divorce at the drop of a hat on issues of compatibility – my parents were as incompatible as oil and water. Yet their marriage lasted very happily for 52 years until Pappa died. Later Pappa and Mamma moved out as Pappa worked for the Mysore Government in remote little towns in North Karnataka (Kanara). That meant that Mamma had to sometimes make a home out of houses which not only didn’t have running water, but many didn’t even have electricity. Water was drawn from a well in the courtyard and stored in large buckets in the bathrooms. In the evening kerosene Petromax lamps were lighted which attracted lots of insects. In one place, Mama told me, in the monsoon the light would attract large scorpions. Yet Mamma didn’t allow anything to frighten her. Instead she made these houses into homes that Pappa loved more than any place on earth. My grandfather (Pappa’s father) lived with us as he was very fond of his grandchildren and couldn’t bear to live away. He was another wonderful man who passed away while I was only nine. Not only did Mamma make a success of her marriage despite whatever difficulties she had to face, she maintained the best of relationships with her husband’s family and treated them with great generosity. Two of my aunts came to live with us permanently when my grandmother went to live with my father’s brother. They lived with us, got married, had children and moved out many years later. Mamma shared her time, space and money with her sisters in law and their families without even a mention of it.
Mamma’s greatest contribution in our lives was that she taught all of us to read the Qur’an. She taught Pappa also because in his own single minded focus on becoming a doctor he had never learned to read Arabic and so when he got married he couldn’t read the Qur’an. Mamma taught him. And then when I came along, she taught me and all the others in their own turn. I recall how she would sit with a big copy of the Qur’an which had big bold lettering in black on a green paper – she always said it was easier on the eyes. She would follow the line with her finger and I would read aloud. She insisted that I didn’t mumble but that I read aloud in a clear, loud voice. She would say, ‘Let the trees and birds hear you. They will bear witness before Allah.’ After I read my portion, she would read the Urdu translation aloud to me. She spent a lot of time with me because I was the first born and for a time I had no competition for her attention. It was during that period, when I was perhaps a little over a year and a half old that one moonlit night she took me out into the garden of the house we were living in at that time, in a remote tiny town of Karnataka and pointed out the moon. Then she said, ‘Look at the moon. See how beautiful it is. We worship Allah who made that moon. We don’t worship the sun or the moon, we worship Allah.’  When people talk of spending quality time with children, I recall all these incidents – where our parents gave us almost nothing materially but in terms of their knowledge, spirit, thoughts and hopes, they gave us incalculable wealth. In those days liquid cash was in short supply and most middle class families lived on very little. Wearing hand-me-down clothes was more the rule than the exception. Everything was rationed including food but we never felt that in our daily lives as children. We had plenty of everything and the best of it. What our parents went through to give us that was never visible.
My parents allowed us space to live. I was allowed to go off to spend my vacations with Pappa’s (and my) friend, Mr. V. Rama Reddy who had a small farmhouse on the bank of the Kadam River in Sethpally, Adilabad District. That meant that I would take a bus from Hyderabad to Nirmal; change for Khanapur; change for Pembi and walk the last four kilometers to Sethpally. All this when I was in class 10 in school. I would be gone for three weeks at a time and given that there were no mobile phones (or any phones) in Sethpally and no mail, my parents didn’t even know if I was alive or dead. Yet they didn’t stop me from going. Nor did they unload their worries on me. The result was that I learnt to take care of myself from a very early age and developed confidence which has stood me in good stead all my life. Pappa was almost fanatical about reading. He would read three books at once, usually in two languages. He would give me a book and tell me to read it and that he would ask me about it. Then when I had finished reading he would ask me, ‘So what is your view?’ If I attempted to tell him what the author said, he would say, ‘I know what the author says. I read the book before you. I want to know what you say.’ Then we would talk and argue about the book. He would listen, question, disagree or agree but always he would focus on what I was learning.
Mamma got arthritis fairly early in life and so for the last perhaps thirty years of her life she became progressively less mobile. Her knees caused her a lot of pain and when we took her to an orthopedician to see if she could have her knees replaced, we discovered that she had such severe osteoporosis that the doctor said that operating on her was impossible. So she had to live with her arthritic knees and had to use a walker to move about. Moving from one room to another was a major undertaking. She visited me in my new house only once because just to get out of her house into a car was such a challenge that she simply didn’t want to attempt it.

But through all those years, through all the pain, the restricted mobility and consequently restricted social life, I never heard her complain even once. That is the remarkable thing about both my parents, that they never complained about whatever difficulties they had to face. So Mamma’s social life went to almost nothing. She used to have her sisters visiting her while they still lived in the old house. Later when my sister moved to another place and Mamma had to move with her, even that stopped. But she always had a smile on her face. And that’s how she died.
Pray for him. And pray for her. And remember them and what they taught us and practice these teachings in your own life. And pass on the message to your children and grandchildren, of obedience to Allah and of thanking Him in every state that you may be in your life. No complaints. Only Shukr. 

Pass on the message of thanking Allah not only in words but far more importantly in action – by being happy and full of confidence in the fact that you worship the One Who is the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. That would be the true tribute to Pappa and Mamma’s memory. And that would be something that would make them and their Creator most happy.
Abuse is not a right. It is wrong.

Abuse is not a right. It is wrong.

New York Times Headline of Sunday January 11 reads: “More than a million people joined over 40 presidents and prime ministers on the streets of Paris on Sunday in the most striking show of solidarity in the West against the threat of Islamic extremism since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Of course that is NYT’s take on it. What is clear of course is that the march and solidarity was against murder and not in favor of abuse of the Prophet
If you don’t believe me, ask Queen Rania of Jordan or any of the other heads of state who have significant Muslim populations, what they were expressing solidarity for.

I am making this point because there is an attempt to portray the march and solidarity as if it was in support of the work of Charlie Hedo and others of that ilk who make their living out of ridiculing and mocking what others hold sacred without a single thought to the pain and anguish they may be causing. The world seems to think of pain and anguish only when the wound is made by a sharp or blunt instrument. Not when it is made by words which are sharper than any knife, go straight to the heart and result in a wound that festers and causes pain forever. Wounds that no medicine can heal, no hospital can cure. Wounds that only forgiveness can close – but that is more difficult than one would imagine. The world eulogizes those who exemplified forgiveness not because what they did was new but because it is so rare and so difficult to do. In effect we are saying, ‘Ah! I wish I could be like that.’ I don’t see anyone attending the march saying that about those whose chosen role in life was to mock, slander and deliberately cause pain to others.

If numbers are anything to go by then 1.6 million marched to condemn the killers while 1.6 billion Muslims + all other people of faith, people of compassion, people of justice marched in their hearts against Charlie Hebdo. I think it is important to note that. Violence is not only physical. Ask the woman, man or child who is the subject of mental torture. Mental torture is not a figment of the imagination. It is real.       Its effects are damaging and last far longer than any physical wound. What’s more mental torture instigates physical violence as we saw in the case in point. To recognize this is not to sanction that violence or to justify it. But to recognize the cause to eliminate its effect and ensure that what happened to the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo never happens to anyone ever again. That can happen only if we take a holistic view of the incident and have the courage to look at the causes as well as effects.

What happened later – the publication of the new issue – is a different matter. This seems to be a deliberate attempt to force Muslims all over the world to accept that their Prophet is someone who is worthy of being mocked and that they have no choice but to accept this mockery that is being done under the title of Freedom of Expression. I want to say to all those who like to live in fantasyland – no Muslim worth the name will ever accept that his or her Prophet is someone who can and should be mocked and that they should laugh it off and forget about it. That will not happen as long as there is a single Muslim alive on the face of the planet. Those who want to answer that statement in the idiotic way that we have seen some express their genocidal views on channels like Fox that the sheer numbers argue against their ever gaining success. So there has to be a plan B.

The plan B is to come to our senses globally, take a step back and consider the bilge that we are being fed in the name of freedom of expression. Let me give you a checklist to consider the Western concept of Freedom of Expression. Ask yourself:

1.    Your wife/husband doesn’t like your mother and is critical of her – acceptable?
2.    Your wife/husband doesn’t like your mother and curses her – still acceptable?
3.    Mocking and slandering Prophet Muhammad – acceptable?
4.    Denying the Jewish holocaust – still acceptable?

I can ask many more such questions but will leave you to make up your own. The answers will be clear to anyone with any sense of justice. Critique is acceptable, abuse is not. Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad are abuse – not critique. For a Muslim even critique is not acceptable but Islamic scholars have always been open to answering argument with argument – intellect with intellect.
The most famous of these was Imam Al Ghazali whose book Al Ihaya ul Uloom is a critique that answers questions of those who hold contrary views. He didn’t take the sword to them. He took the pen. But they also didn’t wield the pen like a sword while claiming that it was really a pen.

The West must learn that hypocrisy works only thus far and no further. If you talk about absolute freedom of expression then you can’t put certain things out of bounds. If you do, then it is not absolute freedom. If denying the holocaust is a crime (because the holocaust was a crime which the West committed, not Muslims) then mocking the Prophet Muhammad is also a crime and must be punished. Give people a legal means of dealing with crime and then hold them accountable if they still choose an illegal way. But if you close all legal doors and try to force people to accept your ‘right’ to assault and wound them, then there will always be those who won’t accept your aggression as your ‘right’ and will act as they see fit. Their actions will be wrong and condemnable as much as the actions of those deliberately provoke the reaction. Honor, to some, still remains more important than life.

The West must consider the ‘excuse’ of Israel which the West supports on the use of excessive force when they shell Gaza allegedly as a ‘consequence’ of Palestinians firing rockets into their own occupied land which Israel illegally claims to be its own. Israelis say, “They brought it on themselves. If you provoke us, we will retaliate.’ Does that argument make sense?  Apparently to the West it does. Then ask why such an argument can’t also be used by others?

There is only one way to break the cycle of violence and that is to respect one another. To respect differences even if we don’t like those differences. To respect diversity. To respect that everyone has a right to his own belief, whether or not it makes sense to us. Disrespect, mockery, insulting and verbal (or graphic) assaults are all violence and must be responded to with legal action. If not they will give rise to reactions and the cycle will continue ad infinitum. So I say to you, abusing the Prophet is not a right. It is a very big wrong that violates the rights of not millions, but billions of people. So stop it right now.
Checklist for Spiritual Development

Checklist for Spiritual Development

I wrote in my book -Islam for Beginners – It has been said that true bankruptcy is a full belly and an empty soul. Religion must be a matter of conscious choice.

So here’s a checklist to show us the state of our soul.

1. How much time do you spend in personal Ibaadah, by yourself alone, daily?

2. How much time do you spend in reflection daily and do you keep notes of lessons learnt?

3. How much Qur’an do you read daily?

4. Do you pray Tahajjud daily without fail?

5. What other Nawaafil do you pray?

6. Do you fast on Mondays and Thursdays, 9 days of Dhul Hijjah and 2 days of Ashoora regularly?

7. Do you make Itikaaf for the last ten days of Ramadan regularly every year?

8. What is the quality of your Salah in terms of concentration, happiness in the heart, comfort to the soul and can you distinguish each of these clearly?

9. What is the extent of your charity?

10. What do people think and say about your Akhlaaq? How do you know?

11. How much do public approval and popularity matter to you? What’s the proof of that?

12. Do you make money out of Islamic activity especially Daawa? Because Allah told us to spend in His path, not to make money out of the path.

13. Do you have a Musleh? Who is he and how is he qualified to be a Musleh?

14. What is the condition of your heart? How do you know?

15. How much of what you tell others do you practice yourself?

16. How careful are you with what you eat? Do you eat or drink something where the ingredients are unknown?

17. Is your income Halal?

18. How careful are you with what you look at and listen to?

19. When was the last time you wept in solitude for the love of Allah?

20. How many of your actions and words are influenced by what people may think and how many are purely for Allah’s pleasure?

If all the answers are positive then rejoice because you’re at zero. Not negative but at zero. You just passed nursery. You are at the threshold. Welcome now to the rest of the journey which can only begin once we’ve crossed these hurdles.

Finally a meter with which to measure how successful we are in achieving our spiritual development:

Ankabut 29: 45. Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and establish As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents Al-Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, shamelessness) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all rebellious deeds) and the remembering (praising) of (you by) Allah is the greatest indeed [than your praising Allah]. And Allah knows what you do.

Allah states that the Salah prevents us from all kinds of sins because it keeps alive His remembrance in our minds and hearts. It reminds us about who we obey and worship and that He is our witness. How can someone who claims to believe in Allah and is aware that Allah is watching and knows what one is doing, still commit sin? So if we find ourselves praying but still lying, cheating, slandering, dealing in Riba, indulging in all kinds of shady activities, then we need to question our very belief. Knowledge that is not reflected in action, doesn’t exist except as proof against ourselves on the Day of Judgment.

Allah also mentions the reward for the one who prays – that Allah mentions him in the presence of those who are around him. What more do we need to motivate us?

May Allah help us, protect us and save us from ourselves.