What should we do? Should we lay ourselves down and die? Why do you not join any side?
To die does not lie in the hands of men. Its time is appointed by Allah and it shall not come before or after its pre-ordained moment. The committing of suicide is absolutely prohibited. If anyone commits suicide he destroys his chances of success in this world as well as in the Hereafter. For this reason I most strongly advise you not to even allow such foolish words as: “Should we die?” to pass over your lips.
The life of this world is short. During his lifespan man should perform righteous deeni work for himself. Let it be known that man was especially created for deen. If, during his life, man neglects to perform such useful deeni work, then what is the difference between himself and four-legged animals? If it is just a question of eating and drinking, then surely those animals far surpass him because they can consume so much more than him.
Returning now to your question; it consists of two parts, one concerning myself and the other concerning yourself. And this last part can also relate to (a) the scholars and (b) the general public.
This brings us to a three-part question demanding a three-part answer.
a) As far as I am concerned, you are completely correct that as far as possible, I try to avoid joining any side. Do not think I consider this a virtue on my part. No, I look upon it as my weakness and incompetence. Hence this is not something which deserves any special attention. If because of this anyone rebukes or reproaches me, he is quite justified in doing so. It is not something to be proud of. Actually this is something to do with my inborn shyness and the way I was brought up. It stands to reason that a person virtually acquires the characteristics of the way in which he was reared in childhood. This is the chief reason why the Shaikhs have always insisted that children should become closely associated with the deen and its teachings so that the deen becomes second nature to them. And this is also the reason why Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Command your children to perform Salaah at the age of seven and punish them for not performing it at the age of ten.”
We know that a seven year old child is not yet liable and responsible for his deeds (according to Shariah). That is not the point. The point is this that when a child commences Salaah at seven years and makes a habit thereof in his childhood, Salaah becomes an easier task for him to perform throughout his life. From the age of seven years I was brought up under strict rules that up to age of seventeen I was not allowed to talk to anyone. Neither was I allowed to go anywhere except in the company of my late father or uncle. So strict were the rules that even in Madrasa, I was not allowed to take lessons from anyone except from two elders. I did not even have the permission to attend the sittings of our elder and the spiritual guide of our elders Shaikh Maulana Khalil Ahmad (Rahmatullah Alayh)-except in the company of my father or uncle, for fear that I may converse with any of the class-mates or with those around me in the sittings. Except for two or three people, I could not converse with anyone. I could not even go home alone. So stringent were the rules that only under the supervision of a few special persons was I allowed to join the congregations for Salaah. If I should relate the happenings of that period of my life, it will read like the stories in “A Thousand and One Nights.” The rules and regulations governing me were such that I was almost like a hardened criminal being kept imprisoned.
However I give great thanks to Allah that He gave me the strength and ability to bear all, the results and blessings of which I am now experiencing in this world. By way of example, let me quote one instance. It so happened that someone once removed my new pair of shoes from the Madrasa. For six months thereafter there was no need for me to buy another pair for the simple reason that for that whole period of time there never arose for me the need to proceed outside the Madrasa. Jumua prayers used to be held at the Madrasa Masjid. Outside the toilets there is always a pair of old shoes for those in need of visiting the toilet (as is the system today). And as there was no need to leave the Madrasa and so there was no need for shoes. Many similar stories can be told.
The end result of this type of childhood was that today I have a great fear of crowds. For me to attend any gathering is a tremendous ordeal. I feel so much more at ease when I am alone. And when I am in a room with the door bolted, I feel much more secure and happy tIn when the door is left unlocked. Now I ask you, how can such a shy and extremely inhibited person, for whom it is pure agony and an ordeal to be in any gathering, associate with anyone?
“The cage is all that we know, so ask us not the path that through the garden winds; For we were snatched
from our nest before our brains started to function.”
Apart from this there is another thing. In these functions it often happens that the speakers utter such unseemly and bombastic words in their zeal. Accordingly, one finds it in the light of Shariat extremely difficult to keep silent at such moments. If however one should interject and object, it causes disruption in the function. Now these words of these speakers only seem to be effective when in great enthusiasm they use these unseemly expressions. As for myself, I am a person who feels that extreme caution is required in speech and in the utterance of every word. I study every statement as to whether its utterance is permissible or not.
A few years ago I attended a function here in Saharanpur. The speaker uttered such a thing which was absolutely incorrect. The nazim (superintendent) of our Madrasa could not tolerate it and immediately corrected him. The speaker, quite annoyed, accepted the correction saying sarcastically: “This Maulana Saheb says it is like this…”
Thereafter he continued his speech. Maulana Khalilur Rahman Saheb, son of the late Maulana Ahmad Muhaddith Saharanpuri was also present. As the speaker again said something wrong, he corrected him after interjecting. Saying “all right, all right”, the speaker continued. Shortly thereafter the speaker was for the third time corrected by someone whose name I do not wish to mention. The speaker became so enraged that he immediately ended his speech in anger saying: “You people purposely interject and do not want me to address this meeting. You purposely set out to harass me!”
Immediately there was a great uproar in the crowd. The crowd became divided into two factions; one half on this side and the other half on that side. Everyone suddenly began forming their own opinion and giving fatwas in favor of this or that side as arguments raged. Some were in favor of the speaker and some in favour of the critics. The meeting ended on this note of discord with great bitterness.
Similar to this there were quite a few incidents which happened wherein I personally was involved, where the speakers spoke such words which I found extremely difficult to tolerate or re-interpret within the limits of the Shariat. For this reason I fear to participate in any of these functions.
The third point I wish to mention is this: I am involved in such work which is purely religious in nature. Its being such is unanimously accepted. Allah forbid that it shall ever be of the work of those (who in the words of the Quran):
“Whose efforts goeth astray in the life of this world, while they reckon that they do good.”
May Allah forbid that it shall ever be of the same type as the deeds of those regarding whom Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
“Many a fasting person is there who receives nothing from his fasting except hunger. Many are there spending their nights in prayer, who from their prayers receive nothing except having lost their sleep.”
Indeed do I fear that when I shall be called to account, then on account of my misdeeds I may be told:
“You are telling an untruth. You studied that it may be said of you: „You are a true scholar. „And so has it been said…”
However I cherish great hope in view of the verse:
“Never despair the Mercy of Allah.”
As I have already said, the work in which I am engaged is of a purely religious and righteous nature. None of the seekers after truth deny this. Should I also become involved in other activities there is no doubt that this will surely be a great hindrance.
The accomplishments of Hadhrat Maulana Madani (Rahmatullah Alayh)
If someone should say: “But how is it that Maulana Madani always engrossed himself in both fields?” To them I answer: Maulana Madani was an exceptional personality and for me even to try and emulate him, would be an impossible task and foolishness on my part. How can I possibly emulate him whose life on journeys and at home was the same, whose hard work by night was the same as by day – a man who felt no need for rest nor ever seemed to tire (after his continuous struggles and hard work). Such a man was he that he would return from Hejaz and disembark at Karachi. From there he would immediately board a train and travel for two days and nights arriving at Deoband at 5 a.m. in the morning then at 6 a.m. he would take his place in front of a class to teach Bukhari Shareef.
This is what happened on his last journey from Haj. How can anyone emulate him? Last year he often travelled hundreds of miles daily for periods of fifteen days on end giving daily lectures in various places. A few years ago he promised to deliver a weekly lecture on the life of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) here in Saharanpur. And true to his promise, for several months he came every week to Saharanpur by the night train to deliver the lecture from after Esha prayers till 1 a. m. Thereafter he would go to sleep and without anyone‟s assistance he would wake up at 3 a.m. From here he used to proceed to the station to return to Deoband and arriving there, teach for a period of three to four hours without a break in-between.
As for me, the final destination of my journeys is most often Delhi, about 100 miles away. A day before departing I am usually alarmed and troubled at the prospect of having to undertake a journey. Then after such a journey, I am usually very tired and fatigued. This bad effect remains with me for two or three days, so much so that I am unable to teach or write, with peace of mind.
One should also bear in mind that Maulana Madani commenced his lectureship in Medina Munauwarrah. For many years he lived such a life of dedication and devotion that at times he lectured to twelve or thirteen classes daily, sleeping for only two or three hours per day. The rest of his time he usually spent in studying or preparing lectures for the following days classes. This man had been trained in this hard manner till he became so exceptionally proficient. Now, will it not be foolish of me to endeavor to emulate (let alone surpass) a man like that?
Yes, such was his devotion and dedication in the field of knowledge and his efforts in imparting it. Now hear about his spiritual training. He was first trained by that man who is the ocean of love and divine knowledge Hazrat Shaikhul Arab Wal-Ajam Hajee Imdadullah Saheb (may Allah fill his grave with Noor). In the blessed and holy city of Medina, in such a blessed place as the Masjid-e-Ijaabat and under the supervision of his shaikh he devoted himself to Zikrullah for a very long time for the sake of purif‟ing himself spiritually.
Thereafter the completion and polishing of his training was done under the guidance of Hazrat Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah fill his grave with Noor). Thereafter for many years his spiritual training reached its pinnacle and maturity under the sympathetic and benign shadow of Hazrat Shaikhul Hind (may Allah fill his grave with Noor) as happened in the seclusion of their exile on the island of Malta. Now I ask. If such a man mixes with strangers and foreigners, what bad influence can they possibly have on him? What harm can any distraction do to him after such training and being under such trainers?
As for me, I am such that even in complete solitude I am not safe and protected against derogatory influences. How can anyone expect of me to be like him? You know the proverb of the crow who tried to imitate the gait of a swan. The result was that he not only failed but even forgot his own. There is also a famous Arabic saying:
“How can a lame and crippled ox gallop in the manner of a strong and healthy race-horse?”
This is how I am. Those to whom Allah had granted bravery and courage, and who are able and capable, having the necessary time, should definitely spend it in religious as well as political affairs for the general welfare of the Muslims. It is not for them to follow someone as incapable as I am.