An Anecdote: Haz Sheikh's Ramadhan
One can imagine the amount of time Ĥađrat devoted to worship during the month of Ramadan by the following incident, as narrated by Ĥađrat in his Āap Bītī:
My close friend, Ĥakīm Ţayyib Rāmpūrī [the father of another of my close friends Shaikh ‘Āmir] came to visit me frequently in those days. He came for a very short time and was good at providing quick rundowns of the latest news, so he was allowed to visit whenever he wished.
Once, in Ramadan he came at 8 or 9 a.m. He said to Maulwī Naśīr,
“Open the door.”
Maulwī Naśīr responded, “It is Ramadan.”
He decided to knock on the door himself, but Maulwī Naśīr stopped him. Maulwī Naśīr explained, “If he is sleeping, you will ruin his sleep, and if he is awake, he is probably praying voluntary śalāt. So knock if you want, but you’re probably not going to get a response.”
Ĥakīm Śāĥib got angry and walked on to the school. On the way, he met Shaikh Manżūr Aĥmad Śāĥib who said, “Ĥakīm Śāĥib, what are you doing here? Don’t you know the Shaikh is in Ramadan?” Hearing this, Ĥakīm Śāĥib felt his anger towards Maulwī Naśīr cool. After this, he entered upon Nāżim Śāĥib [the dean of the school] who was dictating letters at the time. Nāżim Śāĥib was surprised and said, “Ĥakīm Jī, what are you doing here? The Shaikh is in Ramadan.”
The Ramadan of Shaikh Ĥusain Aĥmad Madanī
Shaikh ‘Abd al-Ĥamīd A‘żamī wrote a book on the Ramadan [1365/July, 1946] of Ĥađrat Madanī in Silhat [Bangladesh] which I have condensed below. Though this subject has been prolonged, the fact is that we do not find as much detail of the Ramadan of any of our elders as we do of Ĥađrat Madanī. It is for this reason that I wished to narrate at least some of Ĥađrat Madanī’s Ramadan . He writes: Ĥađrat stayed at Commissioner ‘Abd al-Sattār’s residence and prayed all five śalāt in a beautiful grand masjid about a quarter of a mile [440 yards] from the house. All the visitors and devotees came to this masjid from all over to spend the month of Ramadan with Ĥađrat.
Since Ĥađrat spent the whole month in i‘tikāf, he made the intention to stay for more than fifteen days [iqāma] [thus, praying full śalāt-translator] and was the imam for all the śalāts. After Ẓuhr, he blew on the dozens of bottles placed around the imam’s place and then removed the notes that collected under the prayer rug before Ẓuhr time. He pulled each note out one at a time and called the person [who had written it] forward, helped him with his need then pulled out the next one. He wrote ruqya (amulets written with ayas of Qura’n) for some and for those who requested for him bai‘a, he told them to wait in one corner of the masjid.
Once he finished with the notes he came to the people waiting for him and took them in bai‘a’. After a short talk and some advice he returned to the residence. Sometimes, he fell asleep immediately after; at other times , he recited the Qur’an and responded to any remaining letters. During this time, he also met with people privately. Usually by then it was time for ‘Aśr . Ĥađrat attended to his personal needs and left for ‘Aśr. After ‘Aśr, he recited one and a quarter part with Shaikh Ĥāfiż Muĥammad Jalīl [teacher at ‘Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband]. They recited to each other quarter by quarter until one and a quarter part was completed. If they finished by Maghrib, Ĥađrat sat in meditation and others started their dhikr and ashgāl (meditative devotions).
The Ramadan Of Hazrat Maulana Ilyaas Saheb
Although Maulana Ilyaas has been mentioned already in ‘AAP BETI’, I now only wish to mention something here about his Ramadan routine. It was the general habit of this uncle of mine that whatever he was to eat at night was eaten at iftar time. He did not have a habit of drinking tea. His meal was indeed a very simple one - not the “meal of your fathers” as mentioned in the hadith of Abu Dawood Shareef.
The hadith says that if the time for Esha is at hand and the evening meal was ready, than the evening meal should be eaten first. Then it so happened that a certain person in surprise said to Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbaas that we have heard the word of Rasulullah (SAW), and if we are going to get busy with the evening meal, the congregational prayer, will be lost. Thereupon Sayyiduna Ibn Abbaas said:
“How do you think was their meals? Do you think it was like the” meal of your fathers”?”
In other words: Do you think it was such a multiple-course meal, which took such a long time to eat like that to which your fathers are used to? Their meal merely consisted of a few dates and a cup or two of 'abattu’.
And so was the meal of my uncle in its simplicity. It sometimes consisted only of a piece of roti. In any case after iftar, he performed Maghrib salaah. After maghrib it had always been his practice to perform long raka-’aha of nafl salaah, but in Ramadan, it used to be so long that he finished very near to the time for Esha.
Ramadhan of the Pious (Akaabir Ka Ramadhan) by Sheikh Zakariyya (ra)
The practices of the saintly Elders during Ramadan have already been mentioned in the “VIRTUES OF RAMADAN”. Thereafter, while working on “AAP BETI” and upon the demands of some friends I also made mention of some of the practices and habits of Hazrat Saharanpuri (May Allah fill his resting place with noor). Now, because of the subject under discussion, I will again refer to those practices in the booklet.
A list of questions regarding how Hazrat Hakeemul Ummat Maulana Thanvi spent Ramadaan was sent to Kwaja Azizul Hasan Saheb. After receiving his reply, it was the request of some friends as well as my own desire to answer those same questions with reference to the Ramadan habits of Hazrat Saharanpuri. Hence, first of all, I shall write down those questions and then explain how Hazrat Saharanpuri, Moulana Khaleel Ahmad spent Ramadan.
LETTER ADDRESSED TO KHWAJA AZlZUL HASAN SAHEB:
Dearest Khwaja Saheb, (May Allah increase your worthy efforts). Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah.
On hearing that you have been residing in Thana Bhavan for some time, I was greatly pleased. May Allah grant you many degrees of spiritual progress. The reason for writing this letters is to trouble you about something special, and after much thought I have decided to ask you a favour. At this time there is perhaps no one who has a more intimate relationship with Hazrat Moulana (Thanvi) than you. Hence it will be quite easy for you. It is my desire to find out what are the general habits and practices of Hazrat Moulana during Ramadan.