Minhaj Women League and Youth Sister's League All Over the World Wish Our Quaid Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam a Very Happy 57th Birthday!
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF SAYYIDI SHAYKH-UL-ISLAM
BY GHAZALA HASSAN QADRI
Through out history men and women have always been in search of role models, hoping to follow people that they admire, whether it is in the religious or political field, the arts or entertainment industry or even great scientists and philosophers of the past. Such notable personalities have become sources of motivation for individuals, interest often bordering into obsession. In recent times the public has perhaps become less discerning as to whom they choose to follow or imitate, but nevertheless once a person achieves a certain amount of fame or is adopted as a role model an unending curiosity regarding every element of that person’s life begins. One is intrigued as to the way they dress, what their likes and dislikes are, the places they like to frequent and every possible thing related to them. Indeed the media frenzy regarding the exploits of certain celebrities is testament to the fact that the public is greedy for information regarding those they admire or aspire to become. It is the public demand that feeds the media interest which intern takes full monetary advantage of this!
Many Muslims are of course no different. Some may choose to follow famous actors or actresses, singers or artists, or people from other professions and walks of life. However those who consider Islam to be the pivotal axis in their life have begun to adopt religious and spiritual leaders, within the Islam community, as their role models hoping that a personal and spiritual link with a pious person will not only give them access to Islamic learning and knowledge but enable them to become better Muslims and ultimately better human beings. It is within this context that Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has developed an immense following, not only amongst the older generation of Muslims but from the youth of today. It is not the purpose of this article to elaborate upon the need to attach oneself to a Shaykh, since much has been written about this, nor to highlight the contribution that Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam has made to Islam, suffice to say that he has been able to build a bridge between the perceived dichotomy of living in the modern age and practicing a religion whose laws and edicts were revealed over 1400 hundred years ago. Instead this article is a collection of personal observations made over a period time, from a dedicated fan, who wishes to share a few intimate insights about a man who has given so much to the Muslim Ummah.
When I first became interested in Minhaj-ul-Qur’an I too began to develop a curiosity about its founder Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam. In the early 1990’s, Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam was very busy in forming the organizational structure of Minhaj-ul-Qur’an throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. This consisted of traveling to many cities on a relentless lecture tour, motivating brothers and sisters about the aims and objectives of this movement, and the need to become aware of our Islamic duties, to revive the principles and practices of Islam. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam would travel to one city in one day, arrive mid-afternoon and then deliver his lecture often followed by a meeting with those interested in joining. He would then set off the next day for another a city and the same routine would continue day after day, week after week, month after month through out the world. It was during one of these visits that I had the honor of meeting him personally which fuelled my desire to know more about him. I remember that during meetings I would watch the way he sat, how he held his pen and what is hand movements were. I used to peer from around the corner of walls to observe how he prayed, how did he sit in thashahud, how he raised his finger during salah, how long he took in his prayer etc etc. The list is in fact endless. I was curious about what he liked to eat, what his likes and dislikes may be, if he had any ‘hobbies’ or interests and what his views were on different subjects might be. Unlike now, during the early 1990’s Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam did not have the time to spend and sit with the youth in very long sittings. Any such meetings were very formal, where we submitted our annual working reports, presented our plans for the coming year and discussed any problems that we may have encountered. These days the youth are very fortunate in that not only are there exclusive lectures for them in English, but through camps and lectures they are able to observe many facets of his personality that we could only glimpse from afar. So in the early days Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam came across as being an impassioned man, engrossed in an all-consuming mission, bearing a heavy burden on his shoulders having been given the responsibility of expanding Minhaj-ul-Qur’an in all of the four corners of the world. So the meetings we held were intense but inspirational, brain storming sessions of how to progress the movement but having little opportunity for informality or ask personal questions about his life due to his tight schedule.
By the Grace and Blessings of Almighty Allah and the Wasila of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) I now have the honor and blessing of being part of his family and being privy to every aspect of his life. When I meet sisters now (undoubtedly the case must be the same for brothers) they ask endless questions about his private life similar to the queries that I used to have. Thus through this short article I hope to give you a glimpse of a day in the life of Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam.
During the last two years Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s life has changed dramatically. Although he has been suffering from a heart condition and high blood pressure for over twenty five years as well as a spinal problem for over 13 years this had not prevented him from continuing his rigorous schedule of lecture tours, long meetings and research work culminating in an average working day of 18 hours if not more. However the toll on his body has been grievous, resulting in doctors giving him an ultimatum to stop such a hectic schedule else his body will no longer be able to tolerate such hard endeavors.
So for the last two years Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam has left Pakistan to live in a secluded area where he can continue his scholarly work. The only exceptions are visits to Pakistan during Rabi-Awal to speak at the Mawlid Conference, attending the 10 day Ihtekaf during Ramadan and then participate in the Al-Hidayah Camp and Daura of Sahih Al-Muslim and Sahih Al-Bukhari in England during the summer months.
So excluding these times what is his daily routine now?
The day for Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam normally begins at thahajjud time when he lights some bakhur. I say normally since he will also often work thorough the night too. Fajr begins at 6:00 am so he awakes around 4:45 am to pray thahajjud and recite other forms of Dhikr. After Fajr he normally takes a cup of tea (zero fat milk!) and then will sometimes sleep for an hour or so and then begin the day or he will not go back to sleep and begin his work immediately.
The first pertinent point to note here is that Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is an extremely neat and tidy person. No matter how tired he is or the lateness of the hour he will always ensure that his surroundings are clean and tidy with nothing out of place. Thus when he awakes in the morning, if there is no member of the family immediately present, it is impossible for him to endure an untidy room for any length of time. The very first thing he will do is make his bed. Of course when I say he makes his bed, that does not mean he will just straighten his quilt cover. He will ensure that the bed sheets are completely tucked into the sides of the bed without any folds, the pillows are shaken and no longer have any dents within them and finally the quilt cover is straitened and each corner is placed symmetrical to the other corner. His prayer mat will always be completely in pristine condition pointing in the correct direction. I have never seen his toothbrush being left on the side of the sink and his toothpaste will always have its lid on, squeezed from the bottom upwards! His soap tray will never be splattered with water marks but placed symmetrically next to the side. Why am I relating these facts? Well this really gives you an insight into his personality. He is a perfectionist and this trait pervades through every ambit of life his work and life.
As soon as Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam comes out of his room, the first thing he will do is call all members of the family, give them salaams and ask how everyone is. He will kiss the younger children, even go to their rooms and pretend to help them tidy their rooms, joking with them, picking up any items of clothing strewn over the floor whilst they shriek with embarrassment and hurry to tidy their things. Whilst this is occurring the telephone begins its daily ritual of ringing incessantly. Minhaj-ul-Qur’an has members and affiliates in almost 80 countries, and even though all matters are now dealt with the office of Nazime Ala’, Dr. Raheeq Ahmad Abassi, the office of Naib Nazime Ala Sheikh Zahid Fiyaz and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) headed by G.M. Malik, there are still many issues that need his attention ranging from organizational issues to the personal matters of members. So amidst the telephone calls Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is will still notice if a wardrobe drawer is not shut properly, straighten a picture frame hanging on the wall, point out a piece of paper that needs picking up from the floor and ensure that the children kiss him goodbye before they leave for school.
Once Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam arrives downstairs in the morning, he is often still conversing on the phone. Might I just add that there can be several phone calls in the course of an hour. These will range from calls from the FMRI where Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam will dictate notes about numerous ongoing book projects in Pakistan, calls from members from around the world where a relative has died and they require him to do a du’a; someone is ill and needs a wazaif or more du’as; another has marital problems and needs counseling and advice; someone is going through a divorce and requires a legal fatwa; a person desires to be married and is seeking a prospective wife or husband. The list is endless, the types of calls are immeasurable yet Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam attends each call, giving his undivided attention to every caller as if he has nothing else to do all day.
During the morning I am often forced to make hand signals trying to elucidate whether he will take breakfast in the midst of these calls. Although breakfast is a very simple affair consisting of just tea or a low fat cereal with skimmed milk, finding the time to eat is the crux of the matter. Only once the barrage of initial calls fade will he then take his breakfast and medicines and begin his work.
Once Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam begins his work, his concentration is extremely intense. Family noises or activities do not bother him and he is able to work without interruption. Any mother with a child under three will know that it is very difficult to maintain a quiet atmosphere conducive to writing and studying, yet despite any outbursts of noise or crying, Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam will sit and work quietly, unperturbed, exhibiting patience and even humor if his grandson makes a lunge for his papers or pens.
Once Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam begins his research work, time is of no essence to him. Other than stopping for prayers he becomes so immersed in his work that hours will pass by without asking for anything to eat. Occasionally he will request some tea, but other than that it is as if he has entered another world where mankind does not exist; where time has no value and his books provide all of the sustenance he requires to survive. It will only be after several requests that he will leave his work to eat, normally done to coincide with Dhur prayer.
Of course during lunch time the telephone will again begin its ritual ringing and Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is brought back into the reality of the world and its problems, dealing with a variety of issues in between eating morsels of food. It is during these times that Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s personality is most evident. His charm, humor and wit are most visible when he is dealing with members and affiliates of Minhaj-ul-Qur’an. He is aware that they consider him their Shaykh and Quaid and thus are often in awe of his personality, becoming a bundle of nerves when they have to speak to him. I know many people who probably begin to have heart palpitations when they have to speak to him directly, palms becoming sweaty, and then they often forget the main issue that they needed to discuss with him. Since Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is aware of this he always creates a light hearted atmosphere when he speaks. He will recite some anecdotes to put a person at their ease, fondly address them by giving them long extravagant titles, ask about their family and loved ones to help them relax and then speak quietly and gently to ensure that whatever the person calling wishes to discuss is able to do so at their leisure. I find it truly amazing that time and time again, no matter how busy Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam may be, if he is asked for advice or assistance he will always listen wholeheartedly and present advice and assistance as if this is the first time anyone has asked him a question. I firmly believe that an entire book can be written on just his ‘husne akhlaq’, the way he smiles whenever he is introduced to someone, the way he enquires about their life, family and then how he has the ability to remember someone he may have met briefly in an obscure village in Pakistan and recall the circumstances of that meeting. There have been hundreds of occasions when he has praised a person, or given them confidence and then esteem in order to make them feel at ease and relaxed.
Moreover if Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is questioned on an aspect of Islam, that is when he is truly awe inspiring, for to him knowledge is knowledge and is not dependant upon the seeker’s prestige or status. I have seen Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam spend hours and hours going through books of Hadith and Fiqh with just one person who has asked a question on a particular aspect of Islam. He will not think the person is wasting his time, but instead go to the original sources, look up Qur’anic Ayats and Hadith to ensure the questioner is fully satisfied and more importantly that he himself is satisfied that he has done justice to the question asked. For this type of act, humility and piety must be the integral part of a personality, since arrogance in knowledge will never allow one to work so hard to explain an issue whose answer is totally self-evident to the one questioned. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is truly the most humble person that I know. The knowledge that he has acquired, combined with his purity in actions and speech are unparalleled in the world, yet this has never been an obstacle for him when he deals with those such as myself who have no knowledge of the Deen and certainly cannot aspire to even understand or comprehend the enormity of what he teaches.
Lunch is always an enjoyable affair since no matter what he is presented with he will always eat what has been offered with relish. If there is too much spice he will add yoghurt to temper the taste, if there is not enough spice he will add his own Arabian pickles and lemon to balance the food. I have never ever heard him complain about anything that has been cooked, anywhere. That of course is not a reflection upon mine or any other persons cooking (I can safely say I will never be considered a contestant let alone a winner on Master Chef!). It is a reflection of his own benevolence. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam never fails to appreciate anything that has been cooked for him, always encouraging and never disparaging, whether at home or abroad. Lunch and dinner times are always the best part of the day since it is a time for him to relax, enjoy the company of his family and catch up on news and current affairs (again during a barrage of calls!).
The remainder of the day will again be spent in his study, taking breaks for prayers. He will take a very light supper, often only consisting of cereal and then continue his studies late into the night and then retire to sleep.
A question that is often raised is the amount of time that he spends with his family. That would require another article but suffice to say this can only be described as valuable quality time. No matter how busy he is, or how immersed he is in his work, he will always find time to talk to his family, enquire about their health, insure every one has eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner, taken any relevant medicines, are dressed correctly for the weather outside, notice if someone is speaking too loud or laughing hysterically, explain and correct any mishap in behavior but at the same time take the time to give a hug and kiss to his children, even play games with them and take them out for tea, coffee or lunch.
Another interesting area of his life is his discipline which can be amply illustrated through how he maintains his personal effects. He is very meticulous in the way he keeps each and every item of his clothes. When he removes his socks for example, you will never see them lying on the floor. He will always join them together, fold them in half and then ask them to be put in his draw in a neat manner. His socks will always be placed in exactly the same drawer and never mixed with any other item of clothing. Next he will remove his cap. If he is wearing his formal Imama he will carefully remove it from his head and delicately place it upon his dressing table to dry if necessary. He will then ask for a clean bag, wrap it carefully in the bag and then place the wrapped Imama in a special hat box which is then placed inside a cupboard designated for them. Since his Imama is very delicate he will rarely delegate this ritual, preferring to do this himself to ensure that it is not manhandled even though he may have arrived back from a program late at night and is extremely tired! As for his Arabic dresses, these are always brushed down and hung very carefully in his wardrobe. The wardrobe itself will be dusted down first and he will place a clean sheet on the floor of the wardrobe to ensure that if any of his clothes touch the ground the floor beneath will be clean. When the Arabic dress is hung, if it is even a little lopsided on the hanger he will immediately ensure that it is put right and hung in the correct manner. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is extremely careful when his clothes are being packed or tidied away. All jackets and waist coats are hung in covers to avoid accumulating dust, and if any are used they are always placed back in their respective covers and returned in the same place. All his extra clothes are meticulously folded and wrapped in clean paper bags and stored in suitcases that are kept in a large closet lined by a clean sheet. Each suitcase is categorized into winter and summer clothes, old and new clothes and miscellaneous items.
Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is also very fond of ittar, a type of non-alcoholic perfume found in the Arab world. It is also the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet to wear ittar so whenever he is dressing he will always put a liberal amount onto his hands and clothes. Over the years he has acquired a very large collection of ittar which come in beautifully decorated bottles, often in the shape of the Holy Kab’a or contained in interesting bottles lined with intricate designs. All of these bottles are also very neatly stacked on his dressing table, symmetrically placed according to height and size. Although he has many of these bottles he is never tempted to open all of them, instead using one perfume at a time, ensuring it is completely used before opening another. He will often give these bottles as presents, but will never feel inclined to examine all of their fragrances, instead content to use which ever one happens to be available at a given time. Moreover each bottle is always contained in its original packing and thus each time Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam uses his ittar he will remove it from its packaging, open and use it and then carefully place it back into its original packing, placing it with the rest of the collection. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam will never accept gifts from the general public and has made this a formal policy for the entire family to adopt. However if he is presented with a thasbiy, prayer mat or ittar, especially from Madinah Thayyabah then he will not refuse since this is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). Thus over the last few years he has obtained rather a large collection of ittar bottles. Up until 2004 Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam was unaware of the fact that many of the ittar bottles that he has been presented with in the past are extremely expensive. Indeed ittar is actually an acquired taste as many of the perfumes available are quite strong in their fragrance and will not suit everybody’s sensibilities. Indeed it would appear that the stronger the fragrance the more expensive it is, one ounce often costing thousands of Riyal. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam had been distributing many of the gifts he had received in recent times not only to shayukh and other eminent guests but local friends, family and members. However when he went to Hajj in 2004 he was curious as to where ittar are bought from and visited a specialist shop in Makkah Muazamah. He was surprised to find that the ittar that he was most frequently gifted, and the one he often passed on to others cost in the range of thousands of Riyal! That day Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam laughed so much and said that over the last few years he must have received and then presented to others ittar totaling in the region of hundreds of thousands of riyal.
Another incident took place quite recently, which nicely illustrates his meticulous behavior regarding the possessions he owns. Last summer Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam left his current resident for a four month tour of London, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. When he was in London, due to having so many books he left some of his clothes in London before departing for Saudi Arabia and then Pakistan. Since he had left some clothes in London, on his way back from Pakistan he decided to lighten his load further and left more of his clothes in Lahore. However when he reached London one set of his Arabic jubbah’s were missing. This caused him great worry since he could not account for that set. My family in London was greatly upset since they feared that they had misplaced it somehow whilst tidying up. The entire house was searched in the space of an hour but it could not be found. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam then phoned his home in Lahore and asked them to search there too, but it still could not be found. A lesser person would perhaps let the issue rest but that was not the case for Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam. For him it is the principle of the thing. Where had his clothes disappeared too? Finally in the same space of an hour he telephoned me at home as he had remembered that he had decided to take out some clothes at the last minute and perhaps they had been left there. So when he rang me and asked, I confirmed this. However he was not satisfied with my answer until I had opened his suitcase and found the missing item in question. Once it was found he then asked for an entire inventory of all of his Arabic jubbah’s that he owned, ensured that each was put in sets, folded neatly and wrapped in clean paper bags and placed in his suitcase according to their age.
What this illustrates is his care and consideration regarding the things he owns. He is never careless and this is not dictated by the worth of the object involved. Instead he believes that everything he owns, he will not only be accountable for, but the manner in which he uses things will also be questioned. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam wears glasses and thus is very vigilant in keeping them clean which he does so with a lens cleaner. The monetary value of the lens cleaner he uses can be no more that 50 pence and he has large stock of them. However he will only use one lens cleaner at one given time. Often what happens is that he will place it in one of his pockets and then if he has changed his clothes will ask for a lens cleaner. If he is given a new one or even an old one but not the one in current use he will not accept it. He will ask for that particular lens cleaner, and have his clothes searched in order to find it or search for it himself. One may think that is very time consuming and burdensome procedure but that is not how he views the situation. For him even a minor item should never be wasted and one should take the time and energy to ensure that mishaps do not happen and be disciplined in every field of life
His shoes are also beautifully maintained. Each time he leaves the house he ensures that they are polished and cleaned and when he returns he always takes them off and puts them in his shoe cupboard without fail. One will never see any of his shoes on the floor. They will always be placed on a rack or inside a cupboard to avoid from dust. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is also very vigilant in what shoes he wears in every environment. In our current home we have a mixture of stone, wooden and carpeted floors distributed amongst the rooms. When he walks on the stone floor he will wear his slippers which have plastic souls. However as soon as he reaches the carpet he will remove his slippers and put on his carpet shoes which he will always place in the same corner. If he then has to walk across the hallway and onto the wooden floor to fetch something he will put his slippers on with the plastic souls crossing the stone floor, then take them off and walk barefooted onto the wooden floors since due to their delicate polished surface and then climb the stairs with his second set of carpet shoes which he keeps at the foot of the stairs. I can say without an exaggeration that he will never waiver from this habit. He may be talking on the phone to someone and notice that a picture hanging in the dinning area (which has wooden floors) is lopsided, so even during the call he will take off his carpet shoes, put on his slippers to walk on the marble floor then walk barefooted on the wooden floor to correct the hanging picture and return with the same procedure. Again this is done due to his inbuilt self-control and discipline and he is unable to waiver from this. For him it is a matter of principle in that he does not wish to ruin anything through his actions. Curiously enough he does not demand the same discipline from those around him, perhaps aware of the fact that none of us can ever come up to scratch and thus it would be futile and very demanding for us to even try.
It is thus apparent that no matter how busy he is in his life, or how engrossed he is in his work, he is still conscious of the world around him. If he awakes in the morning or arrives at home from a conference late in the evening the first thing he will notice are the lights. Energy saving is a big priority for him and if any unnecessary lights are on in the house he will walk around shutting them to ensure that only those lights that are needed are on. Moreover he will ask for all of the shutters to be opened in the morning and shut at night, performing this task himself if he is alone. If the shutters are opened they must be done so in a uniform manner and he requires that they are positioned at the best angle for light to enter the house.
Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam is also very particular about his personal appearance. First and foremost is hygiene. His clothes are always immaculately clean. Every movement that he makes is done with precision and control thus he will rarely tip a glass of water with his hand, or drop food or anything else on his clothes. However if during the course of the day a stain does appear on any part of his clothes he will immediately get up and wash the area or wipe it with a wet towel or ask someone to do it, even if he is in the middle of a meeting. He has often quoted that any kind of stain or dirt on his clothes is intolerable for him to bear and he must clean it if the circumstances permit. Yet despite this habit and his own wishes, he never imposes such rigorous standards on others which can be illustrated through a few interesting accidents that have occurred over the years.
Perhaps a classic incident that I will never forget occurred nearly ten years ago. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam was staying in my father’s house in London. During those days he did not have an abundant of different Arabic jubbah’s and preferred to limit himself to only a very few at a time, washing and wearing them repeatedly. At that time Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam owned a very beautiful juba which was shinning navy blue in color and had a feint checkered pattern on it. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam had often said that this was his favorite dress and had worn it during most of his visits all over the world. So during his stay in London he asked my father to iron it before leaving for a lecture. Since time was short Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam asked me to retrieve his juba quickly. When I arrived downstairs, there was a look of pure shock and horror on my father’s face. His face had turned an almost greenish color, and sweat was pouring from his face, hands visibly shaking. I had no need to enquire as to what had happened as I could quite clearly see two rather prominent burnt marks on the back of the juba. My own heart beat naturally quickened and whilst we debated on how to salvage the situation Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam called us from the top of the stairs, telling us he was getting late and to bring his clothes up. My father and I walked up the stairs in tribulation loathed to say anything. One look at our faces and Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam became upset. He asked us both what had happened? After much procrastination and stumbling over incoherent words of apology, we managed to show him the burnt clothes. At that point Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam literally laughed out aloud, something he rarely does, and exclaimed: “Oh Hajji Sahib! I thought someone had died. There is nothing to worry, the burnt marks are on the back and no one will notice.” He promptly put the juba on and wore that same Arabic dress for many years later, despite the burnt marks on the back.
In another incident that took place a few years ago, Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam was due to deliver a lecture at a camp that took place in Europe. So he instructed me to iron his clothes very carefully, pointing out that since they were light cream in color I should avoid any stains being put on them. Since the jubbah’s that he wears are very large, one has to take great care whilst ironing them so that they do no touch the floor at any point. Once he had dressed Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam asked me to brush them down a second time to remove any dust from them, and then proceeded to the lecture hall. During his lecture he requested some tea, which was diligently brought to him by one of the organizers. As the brother was carrying the tea in a saucer I detected that his hands were shaking out of nervousness and feared a disaster was eminent. Whilst Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam was delivering his lecture the brother leaned over from the side of the table to place the cup of tea on it. Unfortunately his hands were shaking so much that as he placed the saucer on the table the cup slid forward, tipped onto its side spilling some of the contents on to Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s juba. The poor chap froze in shock, waiting for a large angry outburst. However Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam merely waived him to sit down and continued his lecture. After the lecture ended and Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam returned to his residence his first request was to have the juba cleaned. However after many attempts by several different people bringing their own versions of stain remover the stain remained. The brother in question was mortified and extremely upset at the entire incident, but Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam singled him out especially during another meeting and reassured him asking him not to worry that it was just an accident!!!
More recently Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam required a very thick (and expensive!) winter jacket to be dry cleaned. Since we live very far from the main city we took it with us on one of our visits there. Again, according to Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s instructions, I hung the jacket on a nice wooden hanger, placed it in a jacket cover, ensuring the zip was properly closed and hung it from the hook in the back seat of the car. When we arrived at our destination, as Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam was giving the jacket to be dry cleaned a brother stepped forward and said “Hazoor I work in a very good dry cleaning firm and it would be my honor if you could give this to me”. Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam accepted the offer and gave him the jacket, instructing him to ensure it was returned with the cover. After a few weeks had passed Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam enquired after the jacket and commented that dry cleaning never takes more than a few days yet the jacket had not been returned. The matter was dropped until we returned to the city one day. When we arrived at our destination, the brother in question was hovering in the background, looking worried and upset, fearing to come forward. When Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam spotted him, he called him jokingly said – ‘what have you done with my jacket. I hope you haven’t sold it!’ The brother’s face turned pale and unable to look up whispered: “Hazoor the dry cleaning machine short circuited and completely burnt the jacket!” There was a stunned silence from all concerned, holding their breaths as they began to stare at him in shock. However Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam merely smiled and patted the brother affectionately on the back, and said: “no matter, it is good to give sadaqah!”
Incidents such as these are too numerous to relate suffice to say that despite his own stringent standards in looking after his possessions he does not expect the same from other individuals always very forgiving if mistakes occur. Interestingly enough the same brother who asked to dry clean Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s jacket has now prospered and recently opened his own dry cleaning business. Upon its inauguration he again requested to dry clean any of Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s clothes who in turn responded: “By all means but I hope you are not going to do another sadaqa with my jacket and open up a chain of stores!” Alhumdulilah the jacket was returned in a clean and pristine condition!
There is so much more I wish to say regarding Sayyidi Shaykh-ul-Islam’s personality; his personal dealings with family members, how he deals with members of the mission as well as the general public; his interest in natural beauty and love of traveling and of course the spiritual side of his personality; his devotion to Allah Almighty and His Beloved Prophet (s.a.w) and his deep thirst for knowledge. The list is endless so I pray that Allah Almighty gives me the strength to elaborate upon this further so a later time.