Photo Credit: Xainab Shafi

Learning the Love of Deen from my Father!

When I look back at my father’s life, I realize with the utmost gratefulness that he was an exceptional human being, towering above all around him. May Allah Ta’ala forgive his shortcomings, erase his
sins, grant him Firdaws for his best deeds and raise his status to be with the illiieen.

When he became a doctor, the first in his family, everyone called him Dr Bhai Jan. His extra ordinary good looks, green eyes, aquiline nose, fair skin and beautiful brown hair (which remained thick till the end of his eighty ears) added to his charismatic personality. He used to tell us that he was the only one who did tilawat of Quran at Fajar in Nishtar medical college hostel.

When he did house job in Dadar, a scenic place set amidst the mountains, he was clean shaven. But soon after, he met Dr. Israr Ahmed rahimahullah and his life changed 360 degrees. He only went to the
clinic in the evenings and gave up medical practice in the morning. Mornings he spent learning the Magnificent Quran, Hadith, Arabic and the Deen from Dr Israr. He started growing a beard, mostly wore white and frequented the masjid. When I was born, he named me Ayesha after Ummul Momineen so I could be a leader of the righteous women like her. It is worth noting that only two and a half years ago, he had named his firstborn after a popular actor of his time.

When I was about two, he was afflicted with magic and became bed ridden. He could not walk and that episode brought him even closer to the Majestic Quran. He was cured by the Grace of Allah and thereafter devoted his life for service to the Deen with a determination and passion that remains unsurpassed in our family.

The earliest memories of my father is how he let children climb on his chest and play with his beard, how when he used to walk to his clinic, children would come running to shake his hand and he would say salaam (greetings) to each one of them. He was a doctor par excellence bi idhnillah and this will be verified by thousands of his patients who were so enamored of him. He was not like any regular doctor; rather he treated them with compassion and gave them sound Islamic advice. His mind was so brilliant by the Grace of Allah that he used to tell us that he could just look at his MBBS books and learn them by heart. Somebody would come and he would sit on his cycle to make a house call. People would ring the bell at 2 am at our house and he would go see the patient carrying his smart black medical box wherever he went. He would joke with the elderly women, make the children laugh and give the poor money out of his own pocket for juice and medicines.

Once he referred a patient of his to an affluent practitioner and he scoffed at the crumpled piece of paper that he had sent, saying doesn’t Dr Sahib have a decent pad? Somebody told him that he had
made a secret arrangement with doctors that if he refers a patient with a tattered note from him, it would mean to waiver his fees. It amazes me that I can go anywhere and still meet somebody who knew him
and remembers him with the utmost affection and reverence Alhamdulillah. My cousin’s daughter who lives in London told me that she was travelling on the subway when she met somebody from Lahore.
They exchanged notes and the woman said that she used to live in Shadbagh so my cousin mentioned that her uncle and aunt also lived there and when she told her my father’s name, she let out a scream
and said gleefully that he was their family doctor and was just like their family member.

My father led a very simple life. The sofas in our drawing room were, I believe, more than half a century old. The refrigerator was so ancient that when the door refused to close on its own, they put a “kundi” (latch) on it. He ate very little and had no abdominal fat on his lean body. I can still see him opening the fridge and eating leftovers in my mind’s eye. He loved to feed other people, did big dawats (gatherings) but for himself, he did not like to indulge. All the extra money that he earned that was beyond his needs was spent for the propagation of the Deen and to help the needy (which he didn’t disclose himself. It came to be known only after his death how many people he was assisting).

He slept in the basement of our house on a charpai (wooden bed made of rope) without an air conditioner or cooler all his life except for the very last months when he had difficulty climbing stairs. The only furniture there was two charpais, one chair and Islamic books lining three walls.

When he drove us to school, he had asked us to recite darood sharif all the way. So, all of us eight cousins who were jam packed in the car recited darood out loud the half hour that we commuted. Later in
life when he didn’t drive himself, he was always, always reading the Quran while travelling. He had a pocket-sized Quran that stayed in the glove compartment. It was an old car with no air conditioning and even for young, energetic people, it is almost impossible to drive in a hot car through the messy and unruly traffic of Shadbagh Wassanpura and get to places like Shadman, Model Town and Gulberg etc, Yet, he would venture out daily on a mission to spread the message of Islam. He had a target to achieve every day and Allah Ta’ala put barakah in his time, efforts, capabilities, money,energy…..

He did not preach Islam forcefully to us, rather led by his example and took us to lectures and duroos with him. We spent the entire Ramadan nights in Quran academy attending night long taraweeh sessions
when we were still in school. I do not remember him ever lecturing us like I do with my children (you gotta do this, you can’t do that) but he made lots and lots of duas in Tahajjud. He did itikaaf for many
years and every time he came back, I remember him looking hopefully towards me to see if I had changed with his duas, but I would still be the same, not doing purdah properly and not showing much inclination towards the Deen.

Every member of our big extended family looked up to him as a mentor and sought his council. He was their doctor, friend, advisor, teacher and everybody looked up to him. Not only family, but the whole
neighborhood and beyond would consult him in all their problems. Sometimes it seems unbelievable how he managed to do so much at so many fronts. No doubt, it was the fruits of his selfless devotion to
Allah Ta’ala and the duas of his pious parents

I remember him always praying 4 rakaat before leaving home, after having showered, putting on white clothes and having parted his thick hair in the middle. He wore a black achkan and Jinnah cap when
attending medical or Islamic conferences. He went to Children Quran Academy’s meetings right till the very end when he could barely walk.

When he developed Parkinson’s as his father before him, he had Parkinson’s induced dementia which made him forget everything, all the important people in his life but he didn’t forget namaz, Quran and
darood sharif. He would be sitting in his chair looking at the clock and when time for prayer set in, he used to just raise his hands and start praying whether he had wudu or not and whether he even remembered the words of salat. Sometimes he didn’t even recognize his own children but if somebody was doing recitation in his presence and made a mistake, he would correct him.

He always had darood shareef cards in his shirt’s front pocket. He would reach out with his trembling hand and give them to whomever he met. I saw him get out so many times from his bed with so much
difficulty, shuffle to the front door of our house and stand in the scorching heat there, waiting to give the cards wordlessly to any passerby. That was his silent Dawah when he could no longer form
coherent speech. He was so worried about his mission, he used to look into my eyes and ask me who would do this work after I pass away.

Countless precious memories flood my mind and warm my heart but the best of them are those that I spent sitting by his side. He used to call me Malka and I pray that he be crowned as a badshah under the
Shade of the Arsh.

Written By:

 

Ayesha Khawaja

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