Personality of Hazrat Babuji (R.A)
Hazrat Ghaus-e-Azam Syedna Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani (R.A) in his book “Fatoohul Ghaib” under the caption “the ten principles of Tareeqat” has given the following characteristics of "Ahl-e-Mujahida" and "Ulul Azm" people (Awlia-Allah - the Friends of God):
1. The man must not take God’s oath either deliberately or by oversight on right or wrong.
2. He should avoid telling lies, whether intentionally or by way of joke.
3. He should keep his word.
4. He should never curse anyone.
5. He should not pray against anyone even if someone has committed an excess.
6. He should never pronounce a firm Fatwa of ‘kufr’ or ‘shirk’ or ‘nifaq’ on any Ahl-e-Qibla.
7. He should keep away from open or secret sins.
8. He should not place a big or small burden on anyone; rather he should take away his burden from others.
9. He should not expect any favour from any Momin, and should not aspire to secure things which others posses.
10. He should not meek. Meekness means that he holds himself low and that the others are possessing a higher status before Allah against him.
No doubt, Hazrat Babuji (R.A) possessed these to an eminent degree.
The practical application of the saying to such a perfect level bears the stamp of Babuji’s own teachings, as revealed via the correspondence Babuji (R.A) maintained with his “Sangees” (Devotees were never labeled as devotees but “Sangees” meaning companion / friend, highlighting the loving, humanitarian affection he bore regardless of caste, colour or creed, for his followers).
Babuji (R.A) never held “Rahbaniyat” in high esteem. Stoicism could never replace the worth and value inherent in the actual face-to-face practical experience of the world itself. For being a part of human society amidst all conflicting demands and social duties, and then emerging as a successful person spiritually, physically, mentally and morally – an exact replica of the Sunnah and Shariah, is the ultimate truth and the highest goal to be pursued. To be cut of from the social laws and moral obligations, and set all apart in isolation in search of God is no big deal. The real gem shone in being an all-rounder, and yet apart of divine existence.
Be it as an individual, a married person or a fellow engaged in public dealings – split Babuji’s life into as many organic units as one could, the emerging image is that of a solid personality which reminds one of Sidney’s faith and philosophy that perfection and purity leaves the existence no longer a mere “imitation” of the final truth that is God, but that it becomes the truth itself.
This is what life is, and this is how it ought to be spent – managing administrative duties, looking after the believers, the provision of langar, i.e., free food and shelters; strictly training the children at home as a father; disguised at mid night as a ‘Dervish’ going from door to door collecting stale crumbs from the cottagers in an attempt to learn about social poverty, and to solve the problems concerning the penniless – as a father, a husband, the master, the free-giver, a friend and a man with an extreme spiritual devotion – Man he was but an embodiment of all the good virtually impossible in a single person. He was more than extra-ordinary. He was unique, un-matchable and par excellence.
This is one side to the validity of the statement expressed by the father Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) – his spiritual insight being the other, thus subtly unveiling the degree and the depth to which Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) himself could perceive the emergence of a soul, the present, the future – the “gradual evolution” of that final truth.
And look at the son – how he followed the bespoken version, and followed it in such a sincerity in all aspects of his private and public life that even an inimical foreboding could lift no finger at him. A friend’s comment might be held by some as highly coloured with subjectivity – biased or one-sided. The most powerfully outspoken and authentic proof, however, can be lent forth by the confession made by the critics, the opposing forces, in favour of Babuji’s perfection – his words and his deeds could never earn a criticism. Throughout his life Babuji (R.A) never tagged a person as his enemy. If someone still nurtured any jealousy against him, even that negative emotion could not eclipse their acknowledgement of Babuji’s greatness.
Analytical handling of such an experience at a level where an artist – be it the sculpture or the potter, gives a definite form to the essentially raw material, the moulding hints at the evolution of the seen from the unseen, the swift transformation of the essential nothingness into everything – so that the concrete is in reality a form of same matter.
Taken in its deeper context, such an analysis might lead to scholastic controversies. Thus in an attempt to avoid various schools of thought plunging into verbal jargon, the statement valid enough of the ultimate truth.
Time is the greatest test itself – be it a man, a saint or a prophet, the essential nobility and greatness gets tested and impinged through the temporal plus special relations to which each age, and each generation lends an ever strengthening stamp of validity beyond any doubts as lent to the name of Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) who in the past, present and for the future times to come has appeared, and proved himself to be a great religious scholar - whose very life in all its diversities (practical or spiritual) was a beacon of Sunnah and yet one who did not verbally reveal himself as a saint through each word and each aspect of his life was in accordance with Shariah. A personality as such, however, could not exercise restraint on once viewing Babuji (R.A) galloping on a horse. Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) remarked that though apparently Babuji was engaged in the act in galloping, in reality he was remembering God and was absorbed in his love – a true reflection of the soul that had never forgotten God to be its pivot (the heavenly love out flowing in Babuji’s humanitarian virtue) – an authentic proof of whatever Pir Meher Ali Shah had remarked at the birth of the son. He was viewing the gradual completion of that spiritual process set in motion.
Unlike any other father who might have commented on his physical deftness, the apparent technical perfection, Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) while looking at Babuji, comprehensively remarked about the relation existing between his son and God.
Our common mundane vision, much engrossed in the physical world, can hardly perceive what a spiritual eye can grasp and imbibe – claiming “they are still here, around us, among us, though left invisible and passed unseen by the common eye”.
In some of his letters addressed to his sons, Babuji (R.A) has regarded his world a prison and its inhabitance as mere travellers. The word “prison” is spoken of not because of the inherent suffering, self committed sins, or the recurrent punishment one encounters in this life, but in the sense that life in all its diversity is “accountable”. Man in all his action is answerable to Allah - he is the responsible one and has to answers for all his deeds: spiritual, physical and social, the individual’s personal demands and obligations.
Babuji (R.A) was an individual who lent for the word “a disciplined life” its real strength and force. A personal character to be perfected, ethical values to be upheld; looking after his children and their well-handled upbringing along with the devotees to be looked after; a practice of constant remembrance of Allah to be maintained; a strong abhorrence of the materialistic pursuits and lusts yet life to be taken as an endless effort calling for a regular fortification to be achieved. A man working for the betterment of all those related to him; a soul threading its way to achieve the universal goodness as well as the perfection on the tasks assigned, i.e., living up to one’s roll in this practical world as well as carrying out once own spiritual grooming along with an untiring effort to meet the standards set by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H)- a personal life led within the bounds of the Shariah- as an exceptional administrator, a guide par excellence. Babuji (R.A) lived up to the demands made on him from all quarters of life and fulfilled those at he highest levels of perfection as referred to by the Shariah - such as attempt is what make up the word “untiring effort” which in turn is the basic ingredient of the term “discipline”.
Babuji (R.A) led a highly discipline life. The word “discipline”, when used in its broader and more practical context, hints at the derived conclusion that it is an actual enactment of each demand and obligation at its appropriate moment- the maintenance of a certain decorum of conduct.
One type of discipline emerges when one undergoes some pressure and the regulation one carries out under strain, pressure, and duress. Another type evolves when life itself gets moulded into a “disciplined”- where one has to consciously strike a balance between apparent and the absolute, where one breathes in and lives amidst strong distractions, and yet succeeds in maintaining restraint- regarding God as the ultimate, the Final Goal and then chalking out one’s life in his service- well-committed and well disciplined.
(i) In Golra Sharif
Within such a disciplined pattern of life, Babuji’s (R.A) daily routine was as follows:
Babuji (R.A) would rise for his “Tahajjud” (late night prayers) and would continue reciting for the Holy Quran and other “Wazifa” (spiritual recitation) till around 9.00 A.M. domestic commitments would then follow with Babuji (R.A) visiting the apartments where his family members and the lady visitors would call on him. After half an hour or so, Babuji (R.A) would proceed to the audience Hall (Majlis Khana) where the visitors would meet him. Thus would begin the phase of his daily social and public commitments.
After Babuji (R.A) had met the devotees and the visitors, Hafiz Abdul Rahim Sahib would start the proceedings with recitation from the Holy Quran. At times an Alam (Scholar) would deliver a lecture on a religious topic, which would later be followed by Qawwali (Sama). Mahboob Qawwal was entrusted with the task of organizing the Sama.
As soon as the Qawwali was over (usually between 12:30 and 1 p.m.), the visitors would once more resume their meetings with Babuji (R.A) - a practice which continued late till midnight.
Babuji (R.A) regarded the visitors as Ghaus-e-Azam’s (R.A) guests and therefore took special interest in looking after them. He would listen to their problems, and lend an attentive ear to their grievances. Babuji (R.A) would personally help and guide the aggrieved besides praying for them.
Babuji (R.A) was of the view that each visitor led one to God who is the Ultimate Truth. So that each member was in reality helping him to re-established his link with God. Hence Babuji’s (R.A) ever – ready affection never let him hurt anyone’s heart – the final abode of god, nor his overwhelming sense of responsibility made him let go off the ever arriving guests. Babuji (R.A) was always there to welcome them. He made a special point in inquiring about people’s problems, there journey and looking after their welfare. As a guide Babuji (R.A) never failed any person. Weather it was a new or an old acquaintance, Babuji’s (R.A) affections embraced all. Negating his own self, Babuji (R.A) at all moments moulded his life as such to stress upon the divine supremacy of God alone.
Having met the guests, after Mehfil-e-Sama, Babuji (R.A) would retire to his family quarters where he would take his lunch and rest for some time. Round about three in the afternoon he would return to the garages where more visitors waited to see him.
Babuji (R.A) continued with his wazaifs till the afternoon prayers (Asr), after which he would leave for Rawalpindi. In the early days, the road to Rawalpindi was un-metaled. So a horse-drawn carriage was used as conveyance. In Rawalpindi, Babuji (R.A) made a stay at the shop of one of his close associates Haji Muhammad Shafi in Purana Villa near Raja Bazaar. Offering his evening prayers (Maghreb) there, Babuji (R.A) would then leave for Lal Kurti where he would make a brief stay at the residence of Munshi Rahim Bukhsh and would later proceed back to Golra Sharif.
People gathered at the above-mentioned places and explained their problems and difficulties asking for special prayers and his blessings. Babuji (R.A) would continue with his wazaifs during this period as well.
After Isha prayers (late evening prayers), Babuji (R.A) would take his dinner along with his sangees, his servants as well as the visitors who happened to be there. Babuji (R.A) never took his dinner alone - following in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H).
Babuji (R.A) would retire to bed after having met the visitors and inquired about their journeys and problems, - the wazaifs however would continue till late midnight.
With reference to Babuji’s (R.A) going of to sleep at night, it needs to be interpreted in the light of a statement made by Seth Ismail of Karachi, who reported that in the year 1964, when Babuji (R.A) was on a visit along with his companions, Babuji (R.A) made a remark hinting at the spiritual calibre of religious saints. Babuji (R.A) said,
“We are nothing but as for the religious Saints their physical presence is not a limiting one thou they appear before us and are seated right before our eyes, ---- they are elsewhere as well. Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz pays a visit in his Urs in person and so does Hazrat Ghaus-e-Azam (R.A)”.
The saints physical enactment of a resting gesture does not imply that the saint is fast asleep – this act of apparently being of to sleep rests beyond any layman’s comprehension. In short, Babuji’s (R.A) whole span of life – physically or spiritually was intensely saturated with Divine love – he was simply engrossed at all times in remembrance of his Lord so that each moment was spent with him.
Referring back to the analogy of this world as a prison house, one realizes the validity of the practical code of conduct – it’s value in helping a prisoner get freed and released if his conduct and behaviour remains up to the mark. A variety of people indulging in all sorts of crime, as well as a varying degree of criminality, tend to make a demand on each new entry – who in turn has to make a conscious effort to avoid falling into the pit. To lead one’s prison term gracefully and cautiously not via an imposed virtue but an inner discipline and molding. This is what Babuji (R.A) meant by calling this world a prison i.e., nature’s attempt at exploring and redefining the terms: Man, life, and conduct.
Character and attributes
Middle statured, clad invariably in white, wheaten-complexioned, curly- haired, and with captivating eyes - Hazrat Babuji's total image was altogether enchanting and adorable. He looked much younger than his years. He walked more briskly than much younger people. Babuji (R.A) displayed an infinite valour, stamina and courage. Babuji (R.A) possessed tremendous courage and an indefatigable stamina. He could walk for miles and miles without feeling tired and could sit in one posture for hours at a stretch.
Gracefully attired in his white well-starched Shalwar Kameez, a black waistcoat well stitched, Babuji (R.A) was a picture to look at. Beautifully simple, his outfit added to his grace and allegiance – a race combination hardly found in those bedecked and bejeweled persons around. Neat and clean, prim and proper; Babuji (R.A) showed a refined taste in every thing he did. Simple yet unique, grace was his hallmark.
Babuji (R.A) preferred a simple layout. Whatever he ate was shared with his Sangees while free langar was accessible to all. He loved simple food, and used earthen vessels for eating and drinking, as per the Holy Prophet's (P.B.U.H) Sunnah (practice)
Babuji (R.A) possessed a subtle sense of humour and enjoyed it. He liked the sparing blossoms blooming in the gardens of Peshawar; the pink tea and Roghni Naan (Oven-baked bread) for breakfast.
Babuji (R.A) was an excellent horse rider. Babuji (R.A) was trained at an early age and had mastered the skill in horse-riding. He often rode to the nearby village of the Maira Badiyah (one-time haunt of his late august father) in the mornings.
Loftiness of thought and vision
The thinking and vision of Hazrat Babuji (R.A) were lofty right from his childhood. In every matter, whether relating to knowledge, scholarship or even sport, he was given to deep thinking and thorough analysis. Like Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (R.A), he used to draw erudite inference and conclusions from things instead of scratching at their surface only. In general, his thinking was greatly influenced influenced by that of Rumi, whom he held in very high esteem. The Mathnavi of Rumi featured frequently in the sama sittings presided over by Babuji after he succeeded Hazrat on the spiritual throne of Golra. In a way, this devotion to Maulana Rumi also amounted to following in the foot steps of Hazrat himself, who had taught the Mathnavi for years during his daily sittings. As a token of his special regard for the Maulana Rumi (R.A), Hazrat Babuji visited Konya (Turkey) several times in order to pay his respect personally at the Maulana's tomb there.
Humility of Hazrat Babuji (R.A)
Babuji (R.A) once said to a devotee “A beggar ought to beg according to the status of the person from whom he is begging. When you beg from God, request Him for nothing else than Himself, as other things have no significance before Him. The beggar should present before Him such presents which He does not possesses and that is humility alone.”
As stated earlier, self-denial and humbleness of spirit were deeply ingrained in Hazrat Babuji's nature. He strongly disapproved any one indulging in eulogies about him. If any one tried to do so in his presence, he would deftly change the subject without the person being even conscious of it. This was because he sincerely believed that even well merited praise was apt to create a feeling of pride and vanity in the praised person, which conflicted with the principles of true virtue. As the great Rumi exhorts in his famous Mathnavi: