By Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi
Translated by Shaykh Yusuf Karaan
A few words have already been mentioned in Fadha’il al-A’mal about the Ramadan practices of Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan Deobandi (Allah have mercy on him). Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husain Ahmad Madani (Allah have mercy on him) writes in his book Safarnama Aseer Malta:
“Because of the fact that Ramadan in Ta’if (Saudi Arabia) was a time of great unrest and upheavals, people could not obtain the necessary foodstuffs they needed and neither could they perform the tarawih salah in the mosques. The masjid of Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) is the largest masjid in the area and even there too tarawih was performed of the last ten surahs. Even then too very few people attended, while the rest either prayed in their local masjids or at home.
All this was because bullets were flying around at all times. Initially Shaykh al-Hind also performed his salah in the masjid of Ibn ‘Abbas, but because the road leading to it was one where a lot of firing took place, it became increasingly more dangerous to go there. Then also it so happened that just after Maghrib salah, while they were still performingnafl salah, the Bedouins launched an attack on the Turkish soldiers on the roof and at the doors and minarets of the masjid. The people in the masjid had to hide in the corners of the masjid as bullets were raining everywhere for quite a long time. Notarawih was performed. Only a few people performed their ‘Isha salah when there was a lull in the shooting.
Thereafter some of Shaykh al-Hind’s friends and attendants insisted that he should not continue going to the masjid, but should instead attend the masjid nearest to where he resided. This is what he subsequently did for his fardh salahs. At that time there tootarawih was only performed of the last ten surahs, but Mawlana remained in the masjiduntil suhur time performing nafl salah. Mawlana Uzair Ghul and myself also remained busy with nafl salah. As it was summer time suhur was quite early.
Then, on returning, some food was prepared, which consisted mainly of sweetened rice. No sugar was available and honey was used to sweeten the rice and tea. Most of the time rice was cooked without any meat. Even rice was extremely difficult to obtain in Ta’if. A piece of roti, which normally cost one anna, was sold for about eight annas. Fortunately a trader from Delhi, the late Janab Harun, had sent a present of some rice, which was of a very high quality and proved to be very useful. During that period of about two months, we spent about ten or twelve pounds.”
Mawlana Sayyid Asghar Hussain (Allah have mercy on him) writes in Sawanih Shaykh al-Hind:
“Ramadan was a very special time for Shaykh al-Hind, during which he remained in‘ibadah (worship) day and night. He never busied himself with anything else. During the day he did relax a bit, but the major part of the night was spent in listening to the Qur’an in salah. (Shaykh al-Hind was not a hafidh). A few hufadh were appointed to recite to him in salah. If they were from somewhere else out of town, arrangements were made for their boarding and lodging as well as their expenses. Sometimes he even insisted that the late Mawlana Hafidh Ahmad, the rector of Dar al-’Ulum, Deoband, recite the whole Qur’an for him a few times. Sometimes he made Hafidh Anwar al-Haq, with whom he had a close relationship, recite to him as he followed in salah. At other times his younger brother, Mawlana Muhammad Hussain did the reciting. Sometimes his nephew, Mawlana Muhammad Haneef recited and during the latter part of his life it was mostly Muhammad Kifayat Allah.
After tarawih he normally sat down and talked to his visitors and friends on some points of knowledge and the achievements and spiritual advancement of the saintly elders. Thereafter it was his habit to relax for a few minutes.
Thereafter it would be time for the hufadh to recite about two to four juz, after which they would go to rest. But Shaykh al-Hind would not go to rest, as another hafidh would come forward to recite their juz and move off.
The reciters changed while for hours Shaykh al-Hind remained standing to listen to them in salah, sometimes right through the night until suhur.
Sometimes he performed his salah in the masjid, and then returned home for tarawihwith a jama’ah of friends and attendants. In this manner two or four or six or even ten juzwere recited in one night. On finishing tarawih, some hufadh would come forward to commence nafl salah and the pleasure of listening to the Qur’an being recited would continue throughout the night. When because of the length of time spent in standing insalah, his feet became swollen; attendants would feel sorrow and anxiety, while Shaykh al-Hind himself would rejoice because of the fact that he had been able to follow the practice of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) whose feet became swollen under similar circumstances.
Once during Ramadan, due to little food, little sleep and long standing in salah, he became very weak and his feet badly swollen, but still he could not rest until he could hear the Qur’an recited profusely. The women in the house became so worried that they begged Mawlana Kifayat Allah to make some excuse and recite much less than normal. Mawlana recited only a little and complained of some ailment or other. Shaykh al-Hind used to be very conscious of the comfort of others and in this case immediately agreed that he be let off.
Mawlana Kifayat Allah went into his room to sleep. A short while later, Mawlana felt someone having quietly entered the room, busy pressing his legs! When he woke up fully, he discovered that it was Shaykh al-Hind himself. He felt extremely ashamed and embarrassed, jumped up and tried to avoid being treated so kindly. Shaykh al-Hind told him: ‘No Mawlana, there is no harm. After all you are not feeling well. This will give you some comfort.’“
In another place Mawlana Sayyid Asghar Hussain writes:
“After tarawih in Ramadan he came into the precincts of Dar al-’Ulum during those blessed night. Both the students and teachers gathered to listen to words of spiritual wisdom. More than half the night passed in this. Alas! Who would have thought that this was the last time and that his final departure was near at hand?”
(Akabir ka Ramadan)