Friday, September 24, 2010

Who was that virtuous man?

Yesterday, my friend Hamid Haroon sent me an SMS which was both awesome and soul shaking. It is about the funeral prayer of one of the most pious spiritual personalities of his times – Khwaja Bakhtair Kaki. When the saint died, a large number of devotees and saints came from all over the then Indian subcontinent to pay homage to the man who was revered both by his friends/followers and even those who differed from him on his religious interpretations and beliefs. It seemed as if the entire world has gathered to attend the funeral of this great saint. Just before the burial, his will was read which explained as to who should lead his funeral prayers. The will was both strange and demanding and when it was read, the entire gathering of thousands put down their faces with shame and utter despair.

The will read, “Let my funeral prayers be led by a person who fulfills four conditions: A person who has never skipped any of his obligatory prayers. He who has never left the four sunnahs before the Asr prayer. A person who has never left the Tahajjad, the late night voluntary prayers. And last of all, the one who had never eyed a nah-mehram (a woman one can marry) woman after reaching puberty.”

This extraordinary will fell as bombshell and the entire gathering fell silent as there was none who could fulfill all these four preconditions. Even the most pious of the pious present found it impossible to declare the fulfillment of these four preconditions. It looked as if the funeral prayers would never be led, a shame for the entire community. The entire day went by and there was no one to come forward. Everyone looked with the corners of one’s eyes to see if there was someone. But seemingly there was no one.

Then after the Asr prayers (the third prayer of the day offered in the afternoon), there rose a man and started walking slowly towards the head of the funeral congregation. Everyone was stunned to see that man as almost all knew him very well. The man with his head bowed down extremely low as if the best of his well kept secret has been exposed. He had tears rolling down from his eyes, which had drenched his shirt. I t looked as he had been weeping since the time the will was read as he perhaps knew that his secret will be exposed which no one knew before that day.

The man led the funeral prayers and after he finished, he said with a broken voice and tears still falling from his eyes, “This pious man has on this day of his death has disclosed others secrets and piety.”

Do you know who was that that man. He was none other than Shamsuddin Altamash – the then ruler of India.

The anecdote has left me without any words. If today we try to correlate the same will, perhaps there will be no one like King Altamash. Even leaving aside one’s religious obligations and responsibilities, if we try finding a man to lead us with any of the following pre-conditions, we will be utterly dismayed:

1. A man who had never evaded the taxes due to him.

2. One who had never misused his authority for his personal gains.

3. A man who has never usurped others rights or taken advantage of.

4. The one who has never taken a penny more than due to him in lieu of his services.

5. Someone who has never betrayed his electorate of the promises he made before being elected for a public office.

6. A man of honour who had never lied in his life.

7. And …..

The listing reminds me of the famous poem, God give us men a time like this demands and I find no one stepping forward.


Asghar Javed said...

I join with you in this prayer. Aameen.