Lessons from a Meeting with Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

 

Maulana Rūmi has remarked in his ‘Masnavi’, “A moment in the company of the Awliyā’ (friends of Allah) is better than a hundred years of (voluntary) worshiping”. According to its commentators, he made such a claim because the company of the pious can teach a person numerous invaluable lessons that he may, otherwise, remain unaware of; even if he engages himself in voluntary (Nafl) worshiping for extended periods of time.

One fortunate day, I was blessed with the opportunity to accompany Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani on a Nikah ceremony that was to be conducted in a vicinity near Darul’Uloom Karachi (1).

To obtain his permission for accompanying him, I was waiting for him outside his residence. His car was parked at his doorstep and in its direction, his driver had opened a car door in anticipation of his arrival.

When he stepped out of of his home, l quickly moved towards him to seek his permission. As soon as he saw me approaching towards the car, he moved around the car while leaving the opened door for me. Seeing this, I was absolutely dumbfounded and I tried to gather my confidence to utter ‘Hazrat can I accompany you?’. He plainly replied ‘Yes, sure!’, while indicating towards the opened door. While I was still gazing at him in amazement, he casually opened the door on his side and got in to the car. Feeling immensely humbled, I too followed the suit by using the door that had originally been opened for him.

Thus I sat with the Shaykh on the back seat of the car (Alhamdulillāh for such a privilege). I had planned to consult him regarding a personal matter in brief but I thought to wait for him to settle well in the car before beginning to talk. Meanwhile, I was hoping that my amazement and excitement will also settle, allowing me to start the talk.

However, I noticed that as soon as the Shaykh entered the car, he didn’t let a minute of his to go in vain. He quickly started reading out some Du’aas (for protection) from a booklet. Immediately afterwards, he took out his smart phone and started reciting Qur’an on it! Since my matter wasn’t urgent, I thought to wait for him to get free.

When we reached the Masjid, where the Nikah was to be held, the Shaykh was welcomed by a crowd (which appeared large in that congested locality). He led the ‘Asr Salāh which was followed by the Nikāh. Thereafter, the same crowd accompanied him towards the car.

In a zigzag fashion, I too navigated my way through the crowd to reach the car, eager to find the Shaykh available to talk this time. Interestingly, but no longer surprisingly, he resumed his recitation as soon as he reentered the car.

It was when we entered Darul’Uloom again (and thus were about to reach Shaykh’s residence in a minute), the Shaykh finally kept his cell phone back in his pocket. Fearing that he might engage in another form of Zikr (remembrance of Allah), I took a quick breath, gathered my strength and and spoke up to put forth my query to him, while gasping between my broken words. He listened patiently and then replied to me in a polite and satisfactory manner.

Alhamdulillāh, thus I was able to experience a brief, yet an immensely lesson full, meeting with Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani (may Allah Ta’ālā preserve him and allow us to benefit from him).

 

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(1) Jāmi’ah Darul’Uloom Karachi is a renowned and outstanding University for traditional Islamic studies in Karachi, Pakistan. It is currently headed by Hazrat Mufti Taqi Usmani and his elder brother, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani.

‘Maulana Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani’ framed outside Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani’s office in Darul’Uloom Karachi
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Handwriting and Spirituality

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Many people take keen interest in the Islamic spirituality while engaging in a number of ‘overly’ deep and philosophical discussions and tending to ignore the simple basics. In this scenario, the incident mentioned hereunder sets a good reminder for all of us!

Sayyidi Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani mentioned that his elder brother, Zaki Kaifi (1), during his childhood, sent a handwritten letter (2) to Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi. In response, Hazrat Thanwi appreciated him and added “.. Try to make your handwriting further clear. This will provide ease and comfort to the reader and, by making such an intention (for the comfort of others), you will gain reward (from Allah) as well. See I am making you a Sufi during your childhood.. ”

Hazrat Thanwi would greatly emphasize on following the Islamic etiquettes and financial dealings alongside other injunctions and guidelines of Islam. He would consider adopting the ways of Islam in every walk of life as a basic part of Tasawwuf (Islamic spirituality). For this reason, while instructing the young “Zaki” to make his writing clearer, he remarked “I am making you a Sufi..” (i.e. by acting according to these rules of Islamic etiquettes, you are becoming a true adherent of Islamic Sufism).

– Adapted from what Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrated in his lectures and also in his obituary for his brother, Zaki Kaifi (now published in ‘Nuqoosh e Raftugan‘).

Hence writing properly is not only a means to communicate well, it is also an effort to avoid unnecessary inconvenience being caused to the readers. Caring about the convenience of others is a fundamental teaching in the Islamic spirituality! Talhah

(1) Maulana Zaki Kaifi was the eldest son of Mufti Muhammad Shafi. He had a passion for reading and learning which would manifest in his intellectual conversations, apart from his rich poetic taste. He settled in Lahore after the creation of Pakistan and established a bookstore by the name of Idara e Islamiyat. His progeny is also serving Islam – his son, Mufti Mahmood Ashraf Usmani, is currently a senior teacher at Darul ‘Uloom Karachi

(2) A type of letter that is generally known as Islahi Khat in Urdu – a letter wherein a seeker informs his mentor/Shaikh about his spiritual conditions and asks any relevant questions if required

Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s writing as seen in the handwritten copy of his commentary on the Holy Qur’an (entitled Bayan ul Qur’an)

Value your time!

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Once a student of religious sciences asked Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani to write him a short Nasīhah (advice) upon which Shaikh wrote the following piece of advice

“The moments of life are immensely precious – guage them meticulously and spend them for the deeds that please Allah the Most High”

The advice of Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani is his own handwriting

Gauging the “Truthfulness” of a Desire

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Many of us long to walk the path of Deen but we don’t get to do it the way we desire. Is that because our desires are not “truthful”? The following incident provides us with an important guideline in this regard!

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrated that once his elder sister asked her father, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, to pray that she may be able to do Hajj. Mufti Shafi asked “Do you have a desire to perform Hajj?”, to which she (obviously) replied in affirmative. However, Mufti Shafi remarked “No, you don’t have a (true) desire!”. Startled by this response, she insisted that she did have an immense desire. At this Mufti Shafi asked “Have you started to collect some money for it?”. Upon hearing a negation, he remarked “This shows that your desire is limited to your words. If you would have had a true desire, you would have collected some money for it!”. The daughter excused that she doesn’t get to have any savings (due to a low income of her husband) at which Mufti Shafi asked “Can’t you even save a cent (from your expenditures) for it?” The daughter replied that she could but that would be far too less to be able to afford the trip for Hajj. Mufti Shafi instructed her to at least do what she could do on her part – Allah helps those who take a step in His path. At most, even if the Hajj couldn’t be done, she will nevertheless get the reward for it. However, without taking any steps, mere “wishes” don’t end up anywhere!

Later, when the daughter passed away, a pouch was discovered among her belongings with a tag attached to it that read “Savings for Hajj” (Hajj kay lyay Paysay). Mufti Shafi’s eyes turned tearful at this sight. The collected money was given to a resident of Arabia so that he could perform the Hajj and the reward may reach the daughter. Later when Mufti Shafi went to the Hajj, he saw, probably in a sleepy state, that his deceased daughter is climbing Jabal al Rahmah (the Mount of Mercy) in ‘Arafah (this illusion was taken as a sign that Allah had accepted her “truthfull” desire and efforts for the Hajj – Talhah).

Adapted from what Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrated in his lectures and also in his autobiographical articles entitled, “Yadain”.

A Garden in Darul Uloom Karachi before the time of sunset

Advice for the Auspicious Nights

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Various approaches are implied by the Muslims to gain the most out of the nights which have been declared to be auspicious. Among these are the last 10 (odd) nights of Ramadhān which are generally thought to contain Laylah al Qadr.

Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani mentioned that these last nights of Ramadhān are meant for the servant to foster a strong relationship with his Master (Allah). Hence one should strive to worship Allah Ta’ālā by:

1. Reciting Qur’an in abundance, since this is the month of Qur’an.

2. Making lots of Du’aa – asking Allah for the bounties of this world and the hereafter.

Numerous supplications from Qur’an and Hadith have been nicely compiled in Munajāt e Maqbool (1) by Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi which may be read during these nights.

3. Offering Nafl (voluntary) Salah – whereby:

a. the Qiyām is prolonged through lengthy recitation from the Qur’an

b. the Rukū‘ is prolonged through Tasbeeh – by reciting these, for example :

سبحان ربي العظيم
لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

c. and the Sajdah is prolonged through Du’aa – a Hadith (3) mentions that the person is closest to His Rabb (Lord) in this state. Arabic prayers, that are mentioned in Qur’an and Hadith, should be whispered herein;

The person should hence strive to make the most out of these nights through personal ‘Ibādah (worshipping) in seclusion, during the darkness of these nights. On the contrary, arranging gatherings and feasts during these auspicious moments is against the purpose of these nights.

Adapted from the Jumu’ah discourse delivered (on 23rd Ramadhān 1437 A.H/ June 8th 2018) by Shaikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani

(1) It’s available with Urdu and English translations which should be used alongside to understand what is being said and asked in these Du’aas. The English translation (along with a brief commentary) had been published as “Accepted Whispers” (translated by Khalid Baig).

(2) أبي هريرة أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ( أقرب ما يكون العبد من ربه وهو ساجد فأكثروا الدعاء) مسلم ( 482 )

Darul Uloom Karachi’s Masjid underneath the Cresent moon, during Ramadhān

Istikhārah or Istikhbārah?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Despite being revered and widespread among Muslim community, Istikhārah has been mystified by a number of misconceptions. This brief post addresses the most common and basic misconception regarding it.

 

Maulānā Musharraf Ali Saheb Thānwī (رحمه الله) mentioned in a gathering that Shari’ah has encouraged us to do Istikhārah in our matters. Istikhārah (إستخارة) means ‘to seek Khair (خير) i.e. goodness (from Allah Ta’ālā)’. This is different than seeking a news – regarding whether something is expected to be good or not; which could be called ‘Istikhbarah’ (إستخبارة) meaning ‘to seek Khabr (خبر) i.e news’. Maulānā continued saying that we usually (try to) do Istikhārah (as per the encouragement from Shari’ah) but we expect it to be Istikhbārah and therefore try to seek some sort of answer (1)

Similarly, Sayyidi, Muftī Muhammad Taqī Usmānī (حفظه الله) also once mentioned during a lecture on Sahīh al Bukhārī (in Darul Hadith, Darul ‘Uloom Karachi) that in Urdu we use a wrong phrase, ‘Istikharah nikaalna’ (استخارہ نکالنا) (literally: ‘to take out Istikharah’), which indicates that we are seeking to take some information out of it (which is not what Shari’ah expects us to do).

(1) Maulana Musharraf Ali Thānwī was the step grandson of Hazrat Maulānā Ashraf Ali Saheb Thanwī (Rahimahullāh), son of Maulānā Jameel Ahmad Thānwī and son in law of Maulānā Idrees Kandhelwī. He gained Ijāzah (to initiate Murīdīn for Islāh through Bai’ah) from Hazrat Dr Abdul Haiy Ārifī. Besides, he had also been in close company of many other illustratious ‘Ulāmā’ and Mashā’ik. He headed Darul’Ulūm al Islāmiyah in Lahore. He passed away in Madīnah Munawwarah during Sha’bān (2018) and was laid to rest in the al Baqī’ graveyard. رحمه الله رحمة واسعة

An aesthetic view of Jāmi’ah Darul ‘Uloom Karachi’s Masjid at night

With the Hardship there is Ease !

 

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 

قال الله تعالى في سورة الشرح

إِنَّ مَعَ العُسرِ يُسرًا

 

“Undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease.” (Sūrah al Sharh: Verse 7)

 

While explaining this verse at a Jumu’ah lecture, Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (مد ظله) mentioned that this can have three meanings/possibilities :

1. Along with every hardship, there are numerous factors of ease as well (for example, while having a particular disease(s), a person is still saved from a thousand others).

2. Hardships are generally temporary and hence, after every hardship, there comes a period of ease.

3. Hardships allows us to gain huge rewards which we shall be able to reap in the Ākhirah (Hereafter). Hence, with every hardship in this life, there’s an increase in the ease and pleasure in the life after death.

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Hazrat Maulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Sahib (رحمه الله) used to say that the hardships are also faced by the pious (Ahlullāh) and they may even appear to be concerned, anxious and/or grieved about it. However, that anxiety and grief doesn’t enter their “heart”, due to which, the core of their “heart” remains peaceful and content.

Hazrat would also say that one can experiences proximity with Allah the Most High during the times of trials and difficulties (and this “closeness to Allah” itself renders an immense and pleasurable “ease” while being in the “hardship”- Talhah).

– Adapted from a Jumu’ah discourse of Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani and published discourses and anecdotes of Hazrat Maulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Sahib.

A view of Darul ‘Uloom Karachi on a cloudy day