Spiritual Sojourn

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Prologue

This travelogue has been due since the time the ten day sojourn occurred during 2015 winters, by the blessings of Allah in the auspicious company of the reverend Scholar of Quran, Arif Billah (One who recognizes Allah in his true sense) Hazrat Shaykh Maulana Sayyed Mohammed Talha Qasmi (DB).

Amongst numerous shortcoming’s of the writer one that has surfaced, is not being able to present this jewel of an experience with Hazrat DB’s disciples and the Muslim community at large until the beginning of 2018. The thought to note the events as they were witnessed in person was slid into the writer’s heart on 11th December 2015, five days after embarking on the journey. The writer recollects it was around 4:00 pm while speaking to Hazrat in the hotel room we were put up at who then sought Hazrat’s permission to do so. Thus began the practice to ‘ink the paper’ with occurrences as and when opportunity presented itself by the grace of Allah. The courage to write the travelogue stems from Hazrat’s advice on sharing it with the readers at large for our collective benefit.

It is the writer’s hope, the readers will Inshallah benefit, as we do, being in the company of the friends of Allah. Furthermore continue to embrace or be introduced to yet another bounty of Allah ‘Benefits of the company of Auliya’.

Day 1 – 6th December 2015

The two travelers, Hazrat Maulana Sayyed Mohammed Talha Qasmi (DB) and the writer met at the Mumbai International airport on 6th December 2015 after Zohar prayers to leave for Jeddah to perform Umrah. Brother Abdul Sattar from Mumbai had come to bid Hazrat adieu with another gentleman. Unbeknownst to the many bounties yours truly was to witness, we embarked on the journey.

One of the first occurrences was whilst we were at the check-in counter, yours truly could not locate his ticket print out to show to the airlines check-in staff. Hazrat advised to recite Surah “Wazzuha Wallaili iza Saja…” as we kept searching for the ticket. Just about a few seconds later yours truly remembered (by the sheer blessings of the Allah’s qalam (book)) the ticket was kept inside the check-in bag. The bag was kept on the check-in bag belt on the counter and was about to be taken away (Hazrat’s check-in was done by then therefore yours truly only had to show the ticket for references to the airlines staff). We took our boarding passes and performed Asr at the airport mosque. For convenience we bought two SIM cards of a Saudi Telecom company from the airport, had a cup of tea and boarded the flight soon after.

The flight witnessed turbulent weather a few minutes after take-off as we saw the seat belt sign being turned on. It was time to perform Maghreb prayers and we were waiting for the seat belt sign to turn off (since one cannot stand or walk when the seat belt sign is on). Just then Hazrat stood from his seat and in less than a blink of an eye yours truly witnessed the seat belt sign turn off. Hazrat walked through the aisle to a place where prayers to be performed and returned a while later. By the will of Allah when Hazrat returned to the seat belt sign was turned on again. As if it were asked to be turned off for Allah’s friend and be held until he can perform prayers. Yours truly performed Maghreb prayers too soon after and the journey continued. We reached Jeddah after Isha and performed prayers after reaching the arrival gates. We sat at one of the coffee outlets and refreshed ourselves with a cup of tea. We tried to activate the SIM cards we had taken from the Mumbai airport, however mine did not work. We walked to the Telecom companies counter at the arrival gate who advised us most SIM cards taken from the Mumbai airport are not functional since they are not regulated or unauthorized. However, when Hazrat placed his SIM card in the phone he was carrying, it worked, like it should. Yours truly could only smile in pride and happiness in how he could witness Allah’s help for his friends. Then writer then searched for a means of transport to reach Makkah. We found a taxi driver who could only speak Arabic. Hazrat spoke to the taxi driver, we boarded the vehicle and left thus. En-route the driver was kind in waiting at a Pakistani restaurant that served delicious lentils among other delicacies. The trio of us had our meals and continued the journey. We reached Makkah past midnight. The hotel bookings were to be taken care of by an acquaintance of a friend in India, an agent who helps book hotels. We dialed the agent’s telephone number to ask of the hotel bookings confirmation however his phone went unanswered and soon after could not be reached anymore.

Day 2 – 7th December 2015

It was well past midnight and the new day was to dawn in a few hours. We discussed on what we should do, since we were stranded without a hotel booking confirmation. It was decided we should go to the hotel. We asked the driver to drop us at the Hilton hotel (in front of Haram) who do so and left. We walked to the reception, Hazrat rested on the sofa and the writer asked for a new reservation. We were advised this was difficult since prior bookings were required and seldom do over the counter reservations occur, if so at very high prices.

One of the helps at the hotel, a Pakistani, witnessed this and walked to us and offered to help. In no time we had a reservation for us for a very economical price for the hotel compared to an otherwise ask on a normal business day. Those of us who have travelled to Makkah will be able to relate on how inconvenient it can be to secure a reservation without a prior booking. May Allah always help the Pakistani brother (the blessing of helping a brother is we get rewarded in the form of supplications from them for many a years to come). The concierge took care of our luggage, we reached the room thanking Allah for the help. We slept for a few hours and found ourselves performing Umrah after breakfast in the morning.

When we reached Haram for Umrah, the son of brother Ismail from Gujarat, Ibrahim and his newly wed wife were waiting for us. Hazrat made supplications before starting the circumambulation. Hazrat had advised us to keep our hearts engrossed in Allah’s remembrance, reciting supplications during the circumambulation. After the Saee (the walk and run between Safa and Marwah) it was time for Zohar. We performed the Zohar prayers, bid adieu to Ibrahim and proceeded to perform Halaq (trim or shaving of hair). We had lunch, headed to the hotel and rested for a while.

We left for Haram at Asr, being occupied in Muraqba (rememberance of Allah) until Maghreb and then in recitation of the Quran and Muraqba until Isha. We returned to the Hotel after Isha and had dinner. After dinner, Hazrat had a visitor in Maulana Abdullah, an Indian residing in the kingdom of Saudia Arabia for decades, with children grown up. When Hazrat visits Makkah, Maulana Abdullah’s visit is a given. Hazrat and Maulana Abdullah’s conversation touched many a subjects, some spoken off about at length and others as passing comments. Soon after Maulana Abdullah excused himself for the night and we slept.

Day 3 – 8th December 2015

The day began with prayers and remembrance of Allah followed by the intermittent snack (Hazrat had a bag of dry fruits with almonds, dried figs, cashews which intermittently would be our snack or early breakfast at times) and a cup of tea. We slept after the morning rituals. Yours truly woke up a little earlier than Hazrat and ventured outside the hotel to arrange for transportation to Madina, returning with no success. We were due to travel to Madina the next afternoon.

After breakfast and before Zohar we were sat in the hotel room where yours truly was ears to many an advice and anecdotes of Hazrat and from the lives of friends of Allah. The writer found himself asking questions, being in awe of occurrences of the events in the life of Allah’s friends as Hazrat narrated them.

It was probably during one of these morning sessions (not certain which day therefore it is being written here) Hazrat explained the reason why it is allowed for women and men to circumambulate around Qaba without any veils or different marked areas for either genders (as is done otherwise always).The reason Hazrat shared is Allah wants his slave to display his/her love for Allah such that nothing should distract the slave from remembering Allah. The presence of either gender should not distract one from reminding oneself of being in the close proximity of Allah, the sole reason one performs every ritual or should ideally do so.

The afternoon witnessed Hazrat’s young nephew Umair Khan, visit us at the hotel, who works in Makkah in the capacity of a Civil Engineer on a project within the Haram. We had lunch together in the hotel where Hazrat shared how food should be ordered based on one’s needs and not be wasted. If for some reason the food one has ordered is left over it is better to give it to someone than to throw it. Further Hazrat shared an anecdote on how once at the Jeddah airport while returning from Umrah, he saw food being wasted from fellow travelers. A woman, who was a helper (Khaddama as they are referred to in Sauidi) along with her children, in a visibly dire state was standing near the eating area, yearned for food. The waiter at the eatery was throwing the food left over. Hazrat gestured to the woman to pick the food on the tables (being wasted). Since Hazrat was a customer at the eatery the staff did not stop the woman when did so. The woman kept looking at Hazrat for a while without saying a word with teary eyes and then fed her children and herself. Hazrat said the woman’s silence had a thousand prayers in them. After Hazrat’s nephew Umair Khan left saying his goodbyes, we proceeded to Haram at Asr, engulfed in the daily practices. Hazrat met Mufti Latif Ur Rehman DB, who is also a Khalifa of Hazrat Peer Zulfiqar Naqshbandi DB after Maghreb in Haram. Hazrat Mufti Latif Ur Rehman DB, an India resident in Makkah, is an accomplished author of many a books on Hadith. Yours truly was sat in the service of the two reverend Shaykhs who were engrossed in a discussion on matters yours truly could less fathom or pretend to understand with no inkling, if any. After Isha prayers we bid our goodbyes to Mufti Latif Ur Rehman DB and reached the hotel.

It was perhaps on this day, if memory does not fail the writer, Hazrat had a visitor in Muzaffar. Muzaffar, an Indian, hails from Hyderabad and currently resides in Jeddah being employed there in the capacity of an Engineer. He perhaps knew Hazrat’s liking for fish since he bought that along for the next potential meal. The three of us then had the fish in the hotel room. Muzaffar is yet another obvious visitor when Hazrat visits Makkah. His love for his Shaykh is evident in his respectful mannerisms and seeking of opportunity to be of service to the Shaykh. Muzaffar is a very gentle and soft hearted man. Muzaffar was with us until longer than after Isha. When it was time to bed we bid our goodbyes to Muzaffar.

Day 4 – 9th December 2015

After Fajar prayers and the daily practices we had our breakfast and prepared for the departure post Zohar to Medina.

Breakfast succeeded the morning session filled with anecdotes, wisdom, questions from the seeker in yours truly and many an awe inspiring mention of the friends of Allah.

Come Zohar we finished prayers in Haram and headed to the hotel. While walking towards the hotel Hazrat happened to see a warm head cap on a fellow Muslim’s head and realized he had forgotten to bring his along. Hazrat later mentioned to the writer (he did not say this to the writer when he saw it but at a later time when we reached Madina), he thought it would have been nice had he got it. We had heard of the temperature in Madina being 5 degrees Celsius, which for people from Mumbai, where a mere 10 degrees Celsius in winters is unheard of, is like being in the Alps. Yours truly suggested we could take a taxi to avoid taking a bus under the garb of convenience. Hazrat, however, was inclined at taking the bus and he made it clear in no uncertain terms. We walked to the bus stand and enquired if the bus was to depart soon. The bus driver informed us there were only a few passengers as yet and they won’t leave the bus until it is substantially occupied. This, he said, could take another 2-3 hours. The writer boarded the bus to see there were probably 5-7 passengers inside and informed Hazrat about it. We wanted to reach Medina by or a little after Maghreb and therefore did not want to wait longer, given it was after Zohar. We then started to walk to the taxi stand, a few meters ahead, we noticed a man walking towards us. Neither did we ask for him though any gesture nor were we rooting for him. He came within audible distance and asked, ‘Where to?’. Hazrat responded, ‘Madina and something more in arabic’. He quoted SAR 700 as the fare which we declined and were walking past him. He asked for a counter and Hazrat said, ‘SAR 200’, he agreed. Hazrat then took it a notch further and said, ‘200 for the journey and not per person’. He responded with, ‘Do you want to start now or wait for a while?’ .We strolled towards his car and were bewildered to see a new car with plastic covers on the seat (signifying it was very recently bought). The journey began with the Arab driver talking to the winds and Hazrat advising him to exercise caution. The driver shared he was a resident of Madina and was returning home from Makkah. Since the journey was long he thought it may help to have co-passengers to talk to and perhaps make some money too.

Citing the recent war with Yemen, there were check posts aplenty. Vigilance at these check posts was more stringent than usual for obvious reasons. On one of the check posts our car was asked to be parked aside for a thorough checking. We debarked the car and stood aside for the police officers to conduct the search. The junior officer checked the car interiors as thoroughly as one could with seat covers, dashboard and drawers examined. Hazrat had a stick with him which he carries to walk along. The junior officer found the stick in the car and handed it to Hazrat without an eye of suspicion (he could have examined the stick for hidden content in it as some sticks are made such). The senior office then asked the driver to open the trunk which he did. We wondered if this will be a long halt where we were mere spectators. Just then Hazrat walked to the back of the car where the senior officer was looking at the trunk. Ideally, as is the case in such instances, we presumed he would open the bags and content therein for a thorough analysis. However to the writer’s bewilderment all the senior officer did was to poke the bags with his baton and let the driver close the trunk without another question or suspecting glance. This may seem trivial however being one of the only very few cars being examined given the predicament of the country is unnerving to experience. We thanked Allah and resumed our journey.

During the journey Hazrat mentioned to me, ’If it is too cold in Madina we will buy

•   a warm head cap

•   thermal wears for the body

•   warm socks

Since we do not have suitable clothes for the temperature in Madina should it be as cold as it be being predicted’, yours truly responded in the affirmative.

When it was time for prayers we performed them waiting at a mosque, helping ourselves with tea for refreshment. The driver continued to speak to the winds and we reached Madina by Maghreb. We gathered there were more than one branches of the hotel we were to be put up at with synonymous names. Not being aware of the exact address of the hotel we were after we asked the car owner to drop us near the Masjid-e-Nabwi (SAW) and we could fetch for ourselves. He however was very keen on helping us find the hotel and leave us astray. This at the cost of his inconvenience. We were not to pay him an otherwise handsome amount for him to be polite or going out of his way to help. Eventually we found the hotel and alighted, thanking him profusely for his help. May Allah, always, help the brother. We reached the hotel room, performed Maghreb prayers and were unpacking when, brother Asghar called.

Brother Asghar, is an Indian from Bangalore, had been resident in Madina for more than two decades and ran the laundry business in Medina and is a disciple of Hazrat. He sought a time to meet Hazrat and have dinner together too. Hazrat advised brother Asghar to meet us at the hotel room after Isha and accepted his dinner invitation however suggested we were tired and it could be nice if the food was got to the hotel room. Yours truly opened the door to brother Asghar and his friend at 9:30 pm who arrived with dinner and some gifts for Hazrat. If memory does not fail writer, Hazrat asked if it could be opened now or brother Asghar suggested it be opened, in either case the gift bag was opened. The writer by was was more pleased than surprised at any occurrence of a visible help from Allah for his friend. Yours truly witnessed this yet again when we saw the gift content. The things in the packet were,

•   a warm head cap

•   thermal wear for the body

•   warm socks

Hazrat looked at yours truly and smiled who was grinning from ear to ear, basking in the absolute realization of the glory called Allah’s help for his friends.

How accurate could one get in getting one gifts that were being sought, without any prior mention or understanding. Being with Hazrat through the entire journey until now, yours truly knew brother Asghar had not called Hazrat at all before reaching Madina. How then did brother Asghar choose to buy those exact things Hazrat had mentioned to yours truly during the journey a mere 3-4 hours ago before the incident, is beyond human recognition by any stretch of imagination. At dinner brother Asghar mentioned he had been praying for six months to be able to be of some service to his Shaykh and smiled at his prayers being answered finally. After the dinner and a conversation on the next day’s schedule, brother Asghar excused himself. Just before bed Hazrat mentioned to yours truly, Allah helps his feeble beings further adding it was very difficult to hold his tears of gratitude in front of brother Asghar when he noticed the packet contents. As is the wont in such instances there were two pairs of warm socks and Hazrat gave one to yours truly (who needed it too). A brief conversation on yours truly being educated on Allah’s ways preceded our sleep.

Day 5 – 10th December 2016

We found ourselves in Masjid-e-Nabwi around 1:00 am trying to secure a place in Riyazul Jannah. It is rather uncommon or scarcely seldom to find a place in Riyazul Jannah to perform prayers. When the gates opened, we walked inside Riyazul Jannah amongst the heap of human heads with no place to keep our feet. Hazrat noticed a place where two people could perform prayers, conveniently. It was as if everyone saw it but no one took that place. Astonishing as it may sound, it was only seen to be believed, as the writer was rather pleasantly surprised with yet another occurrence of Allah’s help being witnessed. We took to the seemingly reserved places and performed non-obligatory prayers with as much ease as was possible. The attendance at the Prophet SAW’s tomb was prolonged, as if someone let us stand there for as long as we wanted. No one asked us to leave. Convenient and with ease are words that limit the expression of the experience due to language constraints. Soon it was Fajar time and we left to return to the hotel. On the way to the hotel, one among many supplications that Hazrat made was may Allah make us ‘Dua wala’ (one who knows how to supplicate to Allah), adding, one who knows how to ask from Allah gets great rewards. There was also quick mention of ‘Inshallah this journey will be accepted’. These thoughts stemmed from the experiences in Masjid-e-Nabwi the night preceding. The Kaifiyat (spiritual experiences) during Muraqba were rather uncommon, simply put full of Anwaar (spiritual blessings). Yours truly noticed Hazrat sat silently in Muraqba with tears rolling down his eyes. Perhaps never before had one seen a better visual of ‘Silence speaks a thousand words’. When the writer inked the pare with this incident the below couplet seemed befitting;

Woh jinka ishq saadiq ho
Kahan faryaad karte hain
Labon pe mohare khamoshi
Dilon mein yaad karte hain

Those who know true love, do not plead with vocals, the lips are sealed and heart yearns in love. We reached the hotel had breakfast and rested until before Zohar. The day was thus spent in completing daily practices and we slept after Isha.

Day 6 – 11th December 2015

The day began with prayers and remembrance of Allah. After breakfast we occupied ourselves with daily practices. Hazrat responded to messages that were received, a brief conversation later the day witnessed Zohar’s arrivals. We performed Zohar at Masjid-e-Nabwi and returned to the hotel for lunch where the below jewel of wisdom were shared with the writer.
• Hazrat Murshid-e-Alam Hazrat Maulana Ghulam Habib (RA) used to say, when an invitation is received in Madina it is an invitation from the Prophet SAW, it should be accepted by the visitors. Kings (reference to the Prophet SAW) send their associates (residents of Madina or thereabouts) to serve their guests (visitors of Madina).
• A Saahib-e-dil (illuminated heart) elder informed Hazrat of seeing the Prophet SAW in his dream and the Prophet SAW had sent his Salam (glad tidings) to Hazrat.

We finished lunch at one of the restaurants and waited in the hotel lobby to board a lift. The lobby area outside the lift was very busy. The writer suggested we take another lift from the other side of the hotel and we began walking. It was then that Hazrat said let’s go to another lift. The lift was adjacent to the others however no one had queued there for reasons the writer does not know. We stood for a couple of seconds or a minute and the lift arrived, empty. We boarded the lift and reached the floor we were put up at. In the room the following jewels were listened to and later noted;
• In a house or room with tubes for light, bulb(s), air conditioner or geyser for hot water, all function well since they are connected to the power house or the electricity board of the jurisdiction they are at. A mere switch board in the house without a connection to the power house or electricity board would not enable anything to function for its use. Similarly, Hazrat Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi DB is the power house and all his Khulafa (deputy) are light tubes, geysers, air conditioners and have various forms to them. Each function because it is connected to the power house (the source of all power being Allah).
• It appears this journey is one of extreme affection as if a father pampering his dearly loved child.
• Become a business man in Deen (religious way of life). Transact with good deeds in this world and the hereafter.
We proceeded to Masjid-e-Nabwi at Asr and got engrossed in the daily practices, returning after Isha. The night witnessed a rather long conversation on many aspects. Some of which dealt with the writer’s experiences, realization and questions thereon. The night slept with a soul feeling an inexplicable calm.

Day 7 – 12th December 2015

The early hours of the morning witnessed us being in the Masjid-e-Nabwi. We returned to the hotel after Fajar. Hazrat suggested the writer should eat breakfast if he likes since Hazrat wanted to sleep for a while. We then decided we should both sleep and wake up at 10:00 am for breakfast since the counters were open until 10:30 am. The writer woke up a little earlier than 10:00 am. Sharp at 10:00 am, the writer witnessed Hazrat in deep slumber, thinking Hazrat may need to rest further, was about to leave the room. As the writer stood to leave, the greeting of an Assalaamualaikum was heard. Hazrat woke and said, ‘It is Allah’s blessing, Allah wakes me up at a time I intend to, never need an alarm, although I do keep an alarm since the world is a place of means’. When Hazrat proceeded to freshen up, the writer noted, ’Allah always let’s his friends stand tall, even if it were something as trivial as an intention to wake up at a particular time, which by all means, is not in one’s conscious control. If this is the reward of proximity with Allah, imagine the magnanimity of rewards the friends of friends of Allah would receive when these friends of Allah raise their hands for them in earnest (or even a passing, may Allah help you). If after realizing such bounties we do not befriend Allah through the friends of Allah then it is our loss and sheer ignorance’.

Post breakfast we decided to visit Masjid-e-Quba. Trying to reason with taxi drivers to take us to the mosque and back for a reasonable sum was daunting. After a few were let go with fares of SAR 150 being quoted, one taxi waited when Hazrat said, ’If you take us to Masjid-e-Quba and offer prayers there, you will get the reward for an Umrah besides the fare you earn offering SAR 35’. The taxi driver responded by saying, ‘I would not take passengers for that low sum of a money, but you sound different, board the taxi’. During the short travel, he heard Hazrat speak in Arabic and was amazed at Hazrat’s dialect, pronunciation and diction of the Arabic language. He enquired if Hazrat was an Arab? To which Hazrat responded, my forefathers were Arab (Hazrat is a progeny of the Prophet SAW from the descent of Imam Hussain RA). Realising Hazrat is a Sayyed, the driver was ecstatic and kept brushing Hazrat’s shoulder with his palm as if to take blessings. We finished the visit to Masjid-e-Quba and Shuhada-e-Uhad. The driver took us to a few places describing the Quranic verses that were revealed at those locations. Further he also showed us the locations of the homes of a few companions of the Prophet SAW and the by lanes. The driver then requested Hazrat to accompany him to his date farm for mere blessings. He said,’ Have dinner with me and meet my children, they will be blessed to meet a Sayyed’. ‘Come, visit me in the farm and meet my staff (signifying he had a team working for him in the dates farm) there will be Barakah (abundant blessings) in my business and house’. Hazrat assured him of supplicating for his family and business however excused himself from visiting the farm or the house. The driver then dropped us back to the hotel and bid his goodbyes but with love and affection in his heart for Hazrat.

We finished Zohar and headed towards the hotel when we met an old accomplice of Hazrat from Mumbai. While we were talking we heard voices of Deoband zindabad (Hail Deoband), Tabligh Zindabad (Hail Tabligh), an Arab gentleman was shouting slogan, albeit not very loudly, and walked towards us. He came along and hugged Hazrat and kissed Hazrat’s forehead. The Arab then asked if elders of the Tabligh work were in Madinah too to which Hazrat responded by saying he did not know. The whole incident was rather strange and seemed in genuine, if anything. However what became of the incident is any reference to something in genuine or fake in the future was referred to as, ‘This is similar to Deoband Zindabad (the slogan of the Arab gentleman)’, an euphemism to convey it can’t be trusted. We later had lunch. These jewels were noted post lunch;

•   Express your love for your wife or wives explicitly. Don’t expect her to be as explicit. She will always give you hints because of her modesty. Husbands who fail to express their feelings for their wives are the cause of great discomfort in families.
•   Auliya (friends of Allah) had busy lives too but their homes with beacons of happiness. This was because they were taught how to keep our homes happier. This is also the deen of the Khatamul Nabiyeen (Prophet SAW).
•   Haram earned is a cause of challenges in lives. It goes to hospitals, police and lawyers. Add to this the agony and depression that the challenge brings with it.

The rest of the day was spent in completing the daily practices with time from Asr to Isha spent in Masjid-e-Nabwi.

The restaurant we would have dinner at had an Indian and an Arab serve the guests. The Indian would always serve us well and the Arab would leave us to ourselves assuming we were Ajami (non-Arabs) who did not know his language (which is true for the writer). If we needed something from him, yours truly would ask of him in English and he would respond likewise. This was to be our last evening in Madina on this journey. It naturally so conspired that Hazrat had to speak to the Arab attendant, which Hazrat did in Arabic. Although the writer did not understand the conversation, one could draw conclusions ased on expressions. The Arab attendant asked Hazrat if he was an Arab too after listening to Hazrat speak thus. His smile found his lip corners touch his ears. We thanked the attendants, bid our good byes and retracted to the hotel room.

Day 8 – 13th December 2015

After the Fajar prayer, breakfast witnessed many a jewel noted during a rather long discussion with the below noted;

•   Professor Aslam Saahab DB of Pakistan is a Khalifa (deputy) of Hazrat Shaykh Zulfiqar Naqshbandi DB, who says (in a Punjabi dialect), Shaykh se mohabbat kanooni nahi janooni honi chahiye toh faiz dewaaron se aayega. (Love for the Shaykh should be passionate and not bound by a rule book, if your love for the Shaykh has passion you will witness walls oozing spiritual benefits).
•   People in this work (of Tazkiya – self reformation) will either be corrected or cornered by Allah.
•   We won’t get Qutub or Abdaal (high spiritual status for some friends of Allah) for corrections. The Ummah is full of beings with fallacies. If this were not so why would we need structures of reformation (Khanqah, Tabligh etc.)
•   One who works knowing the Shaykh’s intentions with purity of thought and deed, reaches the goal easily.
•   One who does not listen to the Shaykh and does what he wants, is devoid of Tawajjo (spiritual blessings) after a while. If this were no less a loss, his progress is stopped by Allah.

We had to leave for Al Qassim in the afternoon when Hazrat suggested it would help if brother Asghar drops us to the bus or taxi stand. When yours truly called brother Asghar he said he had already decided to do so before we called. Brother Asghar had been visiting Hazrat in the time we were in Madina bringing along delicacies.

We took a taxi from Madina to reach Al Qassim where Hazrat’s son in law Maulana Zakir is resident. A jewel noted during the travel is produced below;

•   If a car steering is fixed then the car cannot make turns. The driver not realising the constraint in the car will complain about the roads not being (since he cannot make turns). Reaching a destination roads always have a turn, there is no other way they are designed since time immemorial. Likewise for a good life one has to make turns and compromise (the words Hazrat used were Mizaaj mein lachak) where required else life becomes difficult for us and those associated with us.

The journey to Al Qassim was pleasant. We reached Al Qassim after Isha. Soon as we entered the Al Qassim city the spiritual elevation the city has among other cities in the kingdom was rather visible, or better said was felt more than seen. Maulana Zakir had advised us to wait near a taxi stand while they reached to pick us. While we were waiting for the hosts, an Arab taxi driver asked us if he could drop us somewhere. Hazrat jokingly responded but we can’t pay you. The Arab driver then smiled a smile and said, ’Be my guest and I will drop you where you like’. It seemed rather genuine than just a passing comment to respond to good humour. He even offered to pick us later and drop us to Riyadh which was our next destination as was being discussed in due course of the conversation with him. Further inviting us to his house for a meal together. When Allah puts his friends love in the hearts of people, reasons fail to reason.

Maulana Zakir’s elder brother Sajid came to pick us. Brother Sajid, Maulana Zakir and another brother’s family were resident in Unaizah in Al Qassim. The brothers have a flourishing spare parts business with more than one stores in the city. Brother Sajid being the eldest had come to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia two decades ago and had through resilience, hard work and blessings grew from strength to strength. He had played the role of being an elder brother in all earnest besides very ably and sensibly kept the family together, as most mature and good hearted elders do. Maulana Zakir is an alumnus of the University of Nadwa in Lucknow that ran under the guidance of the reverend Shaykh Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (RA). The brothers are very affectionate and forthcoming in making strangers at ease. Maulana Zakir is a close associate of the famous Maulana Tariq Jameel and is always by his side when Maulana Tariq Jameel is in Madina. We visited their stores and warehouse. Hazrat supplicated there for the well-being and progress of the brothers. A late night dinner and very pleasant conversation preceded our slumber. The writer mentioned to Hazrat of how he thought the family was very pleasing and a blessing for his daughter.

Day 9 – 14th December 2015

The morning after, we finished Fajar prayers in the local mosque where Maulana Zakir introduced Hazrat to the Imam of the mosque in his private chambers within the mosque. The trio of Hazrat, the Imam of the mosque and Maulana Zakir conversed in Arabic. The conversation was soothing to hear for the writr, who wishes to learn so, however Greek and Latin when it came to comprehending any of it, barring a few obvious references. Thereafter we had breakfast and were engrossed in a conversation discussing occurrences in India and the work of Tabligh among others. Maulana Zakir and brother Sajid then took Hazrat to meet the brothers of the Tabligh effort where Hazrat spoke for brief few minutes advising the attendees on the blessings of the work of Tabligh and the importance of self-reformation through Tazkiyah. After Zohar and lunch conversation drew itself in various spheres that were engrossing. We had to leave for Riyadh and let the hosts know of our intention. The hosts were insistent on us staying however Hazrat shared we had a schedule to work with. The brothers then dropped us at the taxi stand but not before handing parting gifts in alluring fragrances. Oudh being Hazrat’s preference (perhaps the only preference in fragrances) it did delight the guests. We left for Riyadh and took a halt en-route for Maghreb prayers. The Arab driver, from Unaizah, prayed Maghreb and Isha together, however we only offered Maghreb. The driver noticed this and had by now by virtue of the conversation with Hazrat in Arabic gathered of Hazrat’s knowledge and wisdom. When the journey resumed, the driver asked Hazrat of which method is correct (praying Maghreb and Isha together during travel or should they be prayed at their respective times). Hazrat enquired if the location of performing the prayers was within Unaizah’s boundaries or beyond. The driver responded we were outside the boundaries of Unaizah. Hazrat then responded in the affirmative stating he was correct. The drivers leading question was which Imam (from amongst the four of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Imam Ahmad and Imam Malik) was correct. Hazrat replied all are correct however Taqleed (being associated to one of the four) is important adding Allah knows best. We are not bound by answers for which Imam was more correct or less but following one of them. Sahaba (RA) had difference of opinions but they co-existed in love and respect for each other. Hazrat then shared a quote of Maulana Yunus Palanpuri DB (Khalifa or Hazrat Peer Zulfiqar Ahmad DB), ‘Us ek ke hojao, woh ek ek ko tumhare hawale kar dega’ ‘Be faithful to the one (Allah) and he will bring each one (Allah’s creations) to you’. We reached Riyadh a little after Isha’s time. Brother Haamid (from Bangalore, India) and another friend came to pick us and took us along to Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB house. Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB is the Khalifa of Hazrat Peer Zulfiqar Ahmad DB, hailed from Pakistan, was resident in Chicago in the US before moving to Riyadh. We performed Isha prayers, had dinner with the hosts and after brief meetings we took to bed.

Day 10 – 15th December 2015

The day began with praying with the host and daily routines. We rested a while after Fajar. A very interesting conversation was part of the breakfast between Hazrat and Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB. The topics of conversation ranged from perceptions, perspectives, facts, political occurrences in the day and past. The writer was a very keen and silent spectator, being educated. The conversation did arrive at a stage where Hazrat and Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB agreed to disagree on one of the topics being considered. Noteworthy was the fact that this occurred in all humility and respect. After breakfast Hazrat advised yours truly on the importance of being able to agree to disagree and yet keep hearts clean of any ill thought for the one we disagree with. While the narrative was as old as civil manners for conducive co-existence, good narratives are seldom seen in action. Yours truly witnessed the ‘Agree to disagree and keep your hearts filled with love for the other person being disagreed with’ narrative in action with the two friends of Allah. Yet another bounty that is scarce to witness. Before Zohar, Hazrat occupied himself in responding to his disciples and the writer was pleased to speak to Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB. Our conversation introduced ourselves to each other more on whereabouts and whereto. Come Zohar we finished prayers and lunch and rested for a while besides being occupied in daily practices. The jewels of wisdom session ensued with anecdotes from the lives of friends of Allah. We prayed Asr soon after and were then taken to a venue where a gathering was waiting for Hazrat for an address after Maghreb. After Maghreb Hazrat addressed the mixed gathering of Ulema (Scholars) and common men. After the address that was rendered in Urdu, yours truly noticed the gathering being in awe of Hazrat.

Isha was prayed soon after and then dinner invitation led us to a brother’s house. Amongst other guests was also Maulana Najeeb Qasmi, who hails from India and was now resident in Riyadh. Maulana Najeeb Qasmi is a columnist who saw himself sat next to Hazrat during dinner. Their discussion witnessed a multitude of topics including the challenges encountered in the kingdom in performing the work he was at, the perspective of scholars on various issues, his own recommendations on addressing the challenges that affects the generations thoughts. After the dinner we returned to Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB’s house where a few guests who were part of the gathering after Maghreb came along and sat themselves to benefit from Hazrat’s company. The below jewels were noted in the conversation;

• There is a Mukhlas (the chosen one) and a Mukhlis (one who does things for Allah alone). Allah chooses a Mukhlas and brings all the Mukhlis to him. In this day and age Hazrat Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi DB is the Mukhlas. May Allah grant us the ability to value and treasure this precious blessing in Hazrat Peer Zulfiqar Ahmad DB.
• Allah is the Khaliq-e-Haqeeqi (real provider) however we see mothers feed children in the world therefore they are Khaliq-e-Zaahiri (visible providers). One gets sustenance through mothers in the world and therefore one who is good to his/her parents, even if he/she does not believe in Allah, will always be at ease in matters of sustenance.
• Hazrat shared one of his disciples in Bangalore asked Hazrat what is the company of the Shaykh like? Since the disciple was an IT professional, Hazrat responded by saying Shaykh’s company is like WiFi. The disciple’s hearts are akin to mobile or computer devices and the Shaykh’s heart is synonymous to the router. Once the two are connected transfer to information (in this case spiritual energy) is seamless. The condition though is that the two devices should be connected. The Shaykh’s heart is always on to transmit the spiritual blessings, however the disciple should keep his WiFi mode on (keep his heart open) to be able to receive such blessings.
• When the name of the disciple is heard of in front of the Shaykh, the Shaykh then gives Tawajjo (spiritual blessings) to the disciple. It is therefore always beneficial to send greetings to your Shaykh through people who visit the Shaykh if one is not able to visit in person.
After the guests left we took to bed, Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB brought about his younger son of the two, to spend some time with Hazrat. All of perhaps less than two years, the child was Mashallah as adorable as one could get. There was a certain magnetism, as they say, in the child (Urdu speakers refer to this as Kashish) that made one want to love the child more. May Allah protect him and give him a blessed life like his father.

Day 11 – 16th December 2015

We had an early morning return flight to Mumbai. The day began with prayers and a cup of tea. Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB and two others accompanied us to the airport at 04:00 am. At the airport Hazrat and Shaykh Kashif Kareem DB were engrossed in a private conversation over tea while the writer and the two other companions were at the check-in counter. When it was our turn to check-in, the airline staff did not speak in English and was rather impolite. The airlines staff gave us two seats very far from each other. He tagged Hazrat’s bag with yours truly’s ticket tag and mine with Hazrat’s saying if the luggage gets lost he is not responsible. Yours truly could neither converse in Arabic nor understand why was this so. The writer then requested Hazrat to accompany him to the counter (The writer and friends were at the check-in counter and has requested Hazrat to be seated at the coffee outlet). When Hazrat reached the counter, he gestured through his hand for the writer to keep quiet and let him speak to the staff. Hazrat spoke to the staff in Arabic whose impoliteness was none lesser. No sooner, the writer noticed, without any hue and cry the airlines staff tore the earlier boarding passes and issued new ones that had seats adjacent to each other. It was as if an unseen power had forced him to do it, against his will. The friends of Allah are simple in their attire and speech however one should not mistake them for nobodies. One realizes one should not muddle with the friends of Allah.

We took the boarding passes, bid our goodbyes to the hosts and thanked them for their hospitality and left for Immigration. When at the boarding gates it was time for Fajar. We proceeded to perform the prayers in the mosque inside the airport. We joint the congregation. However after the prayers were finished Hazrat was visibly very upset since the man leading the prayers did not recite Quran in an audible voice which is required for Fajar. We repeated our prayers and then had some tea. We boarded the flight soon after and reached Mumbai airport at the schedule time, around Zohar in India. We performed Zohar prayers at the airport after taking our luggage. Hazrat’s son’s Shuja and Bilal were at the airport to receive Hazrat. We bid our goodbyes and headed home.

It was undoubtedly the writer’s good fortune, sheer blessings of Allah and the supplications of the elders that he had the opportunity to be in the company of this friend of Allah in Hazrat. Words fail me to describe the gratitude felt, the experience had, the calm witnessed.

Languages in the world, as Hazrat says, are a mere form of expression of thought with its constraints as is the human ability. One wishes for this bounty to be bestowed upon one’s self time and again. May Alllah grant all of us the blessing to remember him always until our time on this earth is due with the heart to endure in gratitude in the sound of Allah, Allah, Allah.
In hope and gratitude,
A Seeker in service.

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