By Mawlānā ‛Abd al-Bārī
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy
To Allāh we belong and to Him is our return.
Hadrat Shafīq al-Ummah rahimahullāh was an embodiment of truthfulness and purity, a pillar of grace, īmān and cognition. Allāh ta‛ālā had blessed him with lofty traits such as humility, sincerity, piety, noble character, far sightedness, spiritual passion and sympathy.
Hadrat was born in ‛Alīgarh, India on 29 Dhū al-Hijjah 1361 A.H. (6 January 1943). According to the elders in the family, Hadrat was blessed from childhood with noble temperament, courage and virtue.
The spark of divine love which glowed in his heart was kindled into a burning flame at the age of twelve when he attended the assembly of Hadrat Shāh ‛Abd al-Ghanī Sāhib Phulpūrī rahimahullāh when the latter visited Sukkhur for fifteen days. Hadrat Phulpūrī’s discourses which were held at the residence of Maulānā Muhammad Ahmad Thānwī comprised of tafsīr lessons of Sūrah al-Fātihah and poems from the Mathnawī of Maulānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī rahimahullāh. In the course of these assemblies, Hadrat Phulpūrī stressed on the need to establish a link with the close servants of Allāh ta‛ālā.
After attending these assemblies, Hadrat developed a yearning to become a “man of Allāh” and became obsessed with a quest for a true spiritual mentor. He found no peace and there was no let-up until Allāh ta‛ālā eventually guided him to his goal. At the tender age of twelve he came into contact with Hadrat Masīh al-Ummah Maulānā Masīhullāh Sāhib rahimahullāh. Since Hadrat Masīh al-Ummah also hailed from the city of ‛Alīgarh, an acquaintance was established together with ties with the family and elders.
After the bay‛ah with Hadrat Masīh al-Ummah and the initiation of formal spiritual links, Hadrat became like a household member of the Masīhīyyah family. From day one, Hadrat Masīhullāh had unbounded love and compassion for him, and treated him with much grace and favour. In return, Hadrat himself had tremendous love and faith in his shaykh. He was infatuated with his shaykh and sacrificed himself for his service.
Hadrat Masīh al-Ummah had a lot of confidence in the style of teaching and discipline of Hadrat Shafīq al-Ummah and would often say to him: “Māshā Allāh, you do not have crowds of laymen around you. There are more ‛ulamā’ referring to you for spiritual reformation.” Allāh ta‛ālā had gifted Hadrat with far-sightedness and astuteness in the reformation of people.
Hadrat lived for only six and half years after the demise of his shaykh, but in this short period, he worked day and night with remarkable zeal and enthusiasm to expand and promote the teachings of his shaykh. He used to say this quite often: “Just as my shaykh was pleased with me in this world, he must be pleased with me in the Hereafter as well. The pleasure of Allāh ta‛ālā is certainly based on the pleasure of my Hadrat.”
Allāh ta‛ālā had blessed Hadrat with an excellent memory. He remembered each and every statement of his shaykh with days, dates and places. He was a unique personality who simultaneously fulfilled the tasks of lecturing, propagation, writing, research and ministering spiritual rectification. Allāh ta‛ālā blessed him with a sympathetic heart. He was most affectionate to the seekers of spiritual rectification and would say: “They must be treated with pure compassion and nothing else.”
His lifestyle was a representation of the love for Allāh ta‛ālā and Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam. On several occasions in his lifetime, while asleep or awake, Hadrat was blessed with the vision of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam. He visited the blessed resting place of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam time and again. He used to quote this couplet of Hadrat Khwājah ‛Azīz al-Hasan rahimahullāh quite often:
I wish to go to Madīnah, come back, and then go again and again. My entire life should pass in this way.
Therefore, after each trip to Madīnah, Hadrat remained anxious to return once again.
Hadrat always explained the three objectives of his life:
1. Service to Allāh’s creation.
2. Spreading the path of Sufism.
3. Presenting himself in the blessed cities of Makkah and Madīnah.
Allāh ta‛ālā made Hadrat the epitome of humility. He possessed matchless humility which permeated his very being. Annihilation of the ego and self-effacement were dominant in his nature. Even in his teachings, he emphasised the acquisition of humility. He used to say:
Humility was the basic and fundamental quality through which Islam spread.
He also said:
If you wish to gauge what a person has achieved spiritually, then simply ascertain the extent to which he has annihilated himself. In other words, the degree of self-effacement is the level of achievement. The more one achieves, the more humility develops. What is achievement? It is nothing but self-effacement. And what is self-effacement? It is spiritual achievement.
Allāh ta‛ālā had gifted Hadrat with a very attractive and charismatic nature. Whoever met him just once would be captivated by his character and be compelled to maintain a bond with him. Hadrat possessed an effective style and pleasant manner of interaction with people. When he said something, it would become embedded in the heart.
His generosity too was unique. He possessed a heart full of sympathy towards others, and fear for Allāh ta‛ālā. He assisted widows and the destitute without the knowledge of anyone. He took over debts of students, spent with an open heart on matters of Dīn and for public amenities.
The rank of du‛ā’ and supplication was conferred on him, hence, he was one whose du‛ā’ was quickly accepted. He used to make sincere and heart-rending du‛ā’ for his friends, associates and the whole Muslim world in every single issue which affected them.
Hadrat had the honour of visiting and benefiting from the company of more than forty of Hadrat Thānwī’s khulafā’, and had gained the complete confidence of the elders. Hadrat travelled to Bangladesh in 1985 after receiving an invitation from Hadrat Maulānā Muhammadullāh Sāhib who was a khalīfah of Hadrat Thānwī rahimahullāh. In a public gathering where Hadrat was present, Hadrat Muhammadullāh Sāhib made the following remark:
It appears as if my Hadrat [i.e. Hadrat Thānwī] himself is present here today.
Hadrat’s seniors and contemporaries had great faith in his method of spiritual discipline. Many of them would therefore send their followers to Hadrat to spend some time in his illustrious company.
Journey to the Hereafter
Hadrat had been suffering from a heart ailment for about twenty years but never complained about this affliction. About six years before his demise, someone wrote to him enquiring about his health. He replied with a unique statement:
For fourteen years the bounties of Allāh ta‛ālā have been raining down on my heart in the form of this angina ailment.
The long and extensive journeys which he undertook in spite of his heart ailment were due to his obsession with the spiritual rectification of people. After his last hajj, he started suffering from a severe phlegmatic cough which caused shortness of breath to the extent that the slightest movements would make him breathless.
On Thursday night, 20th Muharram 1420 A.H./6 May 1999, Hadrat left Sukkhur by train to go to Karachi. He was accompanied by his faithful attendant, Dr. Muhammad Sābir Sāhib, his eldest son, ‛Abd al-Mu‛īd (popularly known as Bhaijān), and several other family members. Days before this journey, Hadrat had developed a high sugar level, abdominal pains and a phlegmatic cough.
He bid farewell to his mother, grandmother and other family members, and departed. Hadrat boarded the train and entered the compartment which he was to share with Dr. Sābir Sāhib. The train pulled out of Sukkhur station at about 9:45pm. The next station was the Rohri Station. Through some strange coincidence, when the train came to this junction, it stopped at the very place where, many years ago, the Saint of Jalālābād, Hadrat Masīh al-Ummah rahimahullāh had delivered a talk. Upon recollection of this fond memory, tears flowed from the eyes of Hadrat, and he remained like this for quite some time. Then with a deep sigh, he remarked: “My Hadrat was here at the Rohri Station and he delivered a most remarkable speech.”
Hadrat shared supper with Dr. Sābir Sāhib and then engaged in his nightly routine of worship, completing one tasbīh of Sūrah al-Ikhlās. At about 12:45am, Hadrat fell asleep but woke up within fifteen minutes because he was having problem breathing due to excessive phlegm, and was experiencing severe chest pains. His condition deteriorated, he took some medication but got no relief. He eventually said:
Lift me up into a sitting position so that I can lean against your chest. My final moments have now arrived. I never experienced such severe pain in my life. The pain is so excruciating, it feels as if my chest is going to burst any moment.
After he was seated, Hadrat began reading the kalimah loudly. His voiced faded gradually but his lips kept moving. No sound could be heard. The last words which were heard from Hadrat’s lips were: “Makkah, Madīnah”. It was as if visions of these sacred places were brought before his eyes. The lips were still engaged in dhikr but no sound emanated. Then at about 2:00am on this fateful Friday morning, in a final gesture of pure tauhīd, Hadrat raised his forefinger – the finger of shahādah – pointing it skywards as the soul left its earthly body and proceeded towards the Friend on High.
To Allāh we belong and to Him is our return.
The train was speeding along swiftly as Hadrat breathed his last. Dr. Sābir Sāhib lowered Hadrat on his back, making him lie down comfortably. He then informed the guard, policeman and other officials who were on the coach. After consultation, it was decided to disembark at Hyderabad, a major city where arrangements could be made for transportation. An ambulance was waiting at the Hyderabad station. Hadrat was taken back to Sukkhur and the other family members who were with him also returned.
They reached Sukkhur by 12noon. By this time, a large crowd of people had gathered at Hadrat’s house to get a last glimpse of him. Arrangements were made for Hadrat’s bathing and shrouding. The janāzah salāh was performed after ‛asr salāh in the Jāmi‛ Musjid of Sukkhur. The salāh was led by Hadrat’s eldest son, Bhaijān. People from all parts of the country attended. This was the largest funeral ever witnessed in Sukkhur. Hadrat was finally lowered in his grave, and the last rite of turning his radiant face towards the qiblah was performed by Dr. Sābir Sāhib and Bhaijān.
Finally, the respected reader is requested to make as much īsāl-e-thawāb as possible for our honourable Hadrat rahimahullāh.
* This is an edited version of an article written by Maulānā ‛Abd al-Bārī Sāhib and published by Maktabah-e-Noor. To read the complete article in English, click here.
** This article taken from the English translation of Khitābāt Ihsānī Discourses on Allah Consciousness, which is a collection of discourses by Mawlānā Shāh Muhammad Fārūq rahimahullāh. A PDF copy can be obtained from http://www.alqamarpublications.com