There are many still alive who have seen the leader of the Ahraar Maulana Habibur Rahman and those acquainted with his name are even more. in the end he was a man with great love and affection for me, Numerous were the times when he expressed the desire to reside near me in Saharanpur rather than in Delhi. But because of his usefulness and my uselessness I always declined.

However initially my relationship with him was very bad indeed. In those days he never even entered Mazahirul Uloom. I, on the other hand had to visit Deoband quite often, sometimes as messenger on behalf of Hazrat Khalil Ahmad Saheb to check something in the library or to consult with the principal over some matter or another. I used to go with the 1 o-clock train and return the same day.

The Ra-eesul- Ahraar knew me quite well that I was the son of so and so, a teacher in the Madressa. As far as he was concerned, I only knew that he was a student from Ludhiana who had no real interest in studies but tried to be a student leader. Because he was just roaming about if always so happened that I had to bump into him two or three times on my visits to Deoband. When he saw me he used to shout to make me hear him in his extreme anger because he was politically inclined while he knew that I had absolutely no interest in politics and in newspapers. In those days the habit of reading newspapers did not even reach Deoband and Saharanpur. The teachers and students of both Deoband and Saharanpur did not even know what newspaper-reading was in those days.

Here by Hazrat's place one or two newspapers used to lie about after Asr which some of the guests used to read. In Deoband Mauiana Izaz Ali Saheb and others like him were very much against the reading of newspapers while Maulana Shabir Ahmad Usmani and others used to read them sometimes.

Whenever the Raeesul Ahraar used to see me, he used to scream aloud: "The presence of this person on earth is a calamity! The inside of the earth is better for him than the outside!”

I never had the courage to answer him back. But some students who on seeing me, accompanied me, and answered him with a message: For that person it is haraam to eat the Madressa's bread. The moneys collected for the Madressa is not meant for people trying to be leaders. For those students who have no interest in studies, do not attend classes, it is haraam to eat the Madressa's bread. It is haraam for him to stay in the Madressa and to make use of any of the Madressa's facilities." etc. On receiving this message the Raees became even more enraged. The same thing continued to happen for quite a few years. But Allah guided him and in the latter part of the life of Hazrat Abdul Rahim Raipuri he became a mureed of Hazrat at the hands of Hazrat Shah Abdul Qadir Raipuri. In those days because of Hazrats extreme weakness, 'bay'at' was accepted on his behalf by Hazrat Abdul Qadir Saheb, who dictated the words of 'bay'at'. No doubt, the placing of your hands into the hands of the saintly is not devoid Of blessings. Thus this bay'at connection too was not without its special colour. Later he developed great love for Hazrat Abdul Qadir and through him with me also.

Raees Saheb spent a large part of his life in continuous travelS. Almost daily he had to travel to Bombay, Calcutta, Peshawar etc. For almost all of these Saharanpur was a junction. So when he had to travel through Saharanpur he always visited Raipur for a day, or to return after spending a night there. Many are the ones alive to this day who can confirm how much love Hazrat Maulana Abdul Qadir had for me. My friend Soofi Iqbal of Medina previously a worker in Pakistan. Whenever Hazrat Raipuri visited Pakistan, Soofi Iqbal wrote to me asking me: 'When you reply my letter, please send greetings to Hazrat Raipuri (in Pakistan), because in the Majlis after Asr if I say to him that I have received a letter from my Sheikh who gives salaams to you, I am quickly called to come near to the bedstead on which Hazrat is seated and he asks about your welfare. In this manner I get the opportunity to sit near his bed till Maghrib time." People have come to know of his connection with me. Hence, whenever they go to Raipur from here, the first question Hazrat asks is : "Did you meet Sheikh before com ing here?" If the person says "Yes" he spoke to them quite freely, asking about my welfare and whether I had perhaps sent some message. And if the person answered 'No', then he did not take any notice of him after that. In any case he treated all of them according to the degree of contact with me. Because of this many people were quite disappointed in that they had to merely come here to me to stand and shake hands with me before going to Raipur even though they did not really want to meet me. Of those was Raees Saheb. They came to meet me in order to be able to say that they have come from Saharanpur, have met me and that I had sent greetings.

And I too, in spite of not wanting to do so, as far as some people were concerned, and in spite of my very busy schedule with very urgent duties, called such people and asked them to pass on my salaam to Hazrat. I feared they will lie in saying that they have met me and that I had sent salaams, while it was completely untrue. For many years this was the type of meeting with Ra-eesul Ahraar. One morning at 10 0'clock I was extremely busy in my room when Moulvy Naseer came to inform me that Ra- ees Saheb was there, enroute to Raipur wanting to shake hands with me. I called him up to my room. He came up and while still climbing the stairs greeted me stretching his hands towards me saying: "l am going to Raipur. I want to put one question to you before I go. The day after tomorrow I shall come here in the morning for the answer. The question is; What is this thing called tasawuf? What is its reality? Immediately while shaking hands with him I replied: "All it is, to correct one's niyat. Nothing else. Its beginning is: 'Verily all actions are judged by the in tentions" and its end is 'That you worship Allah as if you see Him."

Hearing this answer of mine, he fell silent and replied: "While travelling from Delhi I have been thinking that if you say this, then I will raise this objection. And if you say that, I will raise that objection. But this answer which you have given, I have not even anticipated.' I said: "Go now. Your tanga is waiting. And futhermore my time is also being spoiled. You may continue to try to think up some objections to find fault with it. I am afraid that during the day I will not find time to discuss anything at length. Perhaps I will be able to spare a few minutes, but if you so wish for a longer discussion, then it may be possible after Maghrib." The very next day at Maghrib he was back saying: "It was difficult for me to stay over in Raipur last night, because I had to attend a certain function and tonight it has become necessary for me to spend the night here with you. For this reason I have come away one day earlier." He said further: "Do you know that I never had any faith in you nor any love." I retorted: "The feeling was mutual.' Then he said: "But I must admit that the reply you gave me yesterday made a tremendous impression upon me. I have been thinking about it since yesterday and have not been able to come forth with one critical objection against it. I answered: Inshallah Maulana, you will never be able to find any fault with it... This is the first stepping stone of tasawuf and the last step 'That you worship Allah as if you see Him". This is what is called 'Nisbat' (contact). This is (remembrance) or 'Hudoori' also called 'Yad dasht' (presence). I said: "Maulana Saheb, all the excercises are merely to attain this state. The zikr aloud is for it. All the Mujahida and Muraqaba are for it. And whomsoever Allah has granted this wealth out of His Infinite Generosity, in any way, he will not require anything else.

The Sahaba Radiallahu anhum acquired this high state of spiritual blessings through only one look of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and thereafter they did not require anything else. Thereafter the elders and saintly forebears of this Ummat had prescribed various forms of treatment for the many sicknesses of the heart just like doctors prescribe treatment and medication for physical diseases. The doctors of the soul have out of their experiences in every age prescribed various treatments for various spiritual illnesses according to the needs of the time. These prescriptions are derived from the experiences of the earlier elders of the Ummat. Some people derive benefit from them immediately and are healed while others take longer to effect a cure for their ills. Then I related many incidents, one of which I had heard from my late father many times and which I had related to the students of hadeeth as well as the attendants of my majlis.

The story is: "There is a village called Kernal in the district of Panipat. Through which the Jamuna River flows. I do not know if it still is so. All along the Jamuna people are able to cross over with their shoes in their hands in the dry months. And when there is much water there are boats and for a small fee the boat-riders will take you across. When the river is in flood no one can cross over. A man accused of murder in Kernal came to cross the river while it was in flood. He begged all the boat owners to take him across but none of them were prepared, saying that to try and cross the river in that state was to commit suicide by drowning. The poor fellow was in great distress as he had to cross over. Someone saw his anxiety and said to him: 'If you do not mention my name, I will show you a way. Further along the Jamuna there is a simple house Wherein you will find a faqir type of person. Go to him, beg him,
plead to him for help. Do whatever you can to stir his sympathy and as much as he may scold you even if he should beat you, do not turn away from him."

The man went to the faqir and started to beg. First of all the faqir as was his habit, scolded him badly: "Am I some sort of god? What is there that I can do?" However when the man stood crying in front of him. The saintly faqir said to him. "Alright go to the river and say to it, the person who never ate any food nor ever approached a woman has sent me to you to ask you to give me place to cross.' He went to the river, said as he was advised and the river allowed him to cross over. In this way his problem was solved.

The saintly faqir was living with his wife and children in the same house. (It is common for the wives of holy men to be an antagonist . While he tried his utmost to be kind so that no injustice is done to her, she on the other hand tries to take unfair advantage thereof). The wife started crying: "You say you have not eaten all your life! But how is it that without eating you have become like an elephant? But leave that alone, how can you say that you have never approached any woman. From where have these children come?" The poor man immediately assured her: "These are my children. I have never denied fatherhood of my children!"

The woman in spite of this assurance again started crying bitterly screaming: "You have insulted me. You have disgraced me. That man will go to everyone to say that peer Saheb has never ever approached a woman, so where do the children come from. All will look upon me with scorn." The poor saintly faqir went out of his way to try and explain the true meaning of his words, but no matter how much he explained, she just could not understand. She just continued crying and after she had a long session of wailing, he said to her: "Throughout my life, I have indeed eaten solidly. Praise be to Allah. And I have always had sexual relations with you as you well know. The truth of the matter is that during my childhood I heard a learned divine say in a lecture: "Whatever work is done for Allah's sake, infact becomes deen and is not of this world. It becomes an act of worship for which reward is received." From that time since now, whenever I have eaten anything, it has been either with the niyat of acquiring bodily strength and energy for ibaadah or for the sake of pleasing the heart of Him who brings me the food or prepared it and feeds me. Similarly since having married you I have indeed approached you numerous times, but (I have already previously heard the advice of the Maulana) and thus whenever I approached you I made the intention of doing my duty to you and to satisfy you, because Allah had placed certain rights due to women upon the shoulders of men."

There should be no hesitation in accepting the veracity of the story. The miracles of the prophets of old have given way to the wonder works (Kara'mat) of the saints. Even the walking upon water is an act known to have been performed by the Sahaba Radiallahu Anhum. There is a Special book (of mine) 'The Miraculous Deeds of the Sahaba' (Karamaat Sahaba) which was written on the order of Hazrat Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh. Among the stories therein is one about Sayyidina Alaa bin Hadry who during the jihad against Kisra, he threw himself and his horse into the river to cross over in such a manner that his saddle did not even become wet. The commander of Kisra on seeing this while sitting in a boat, decided to flee as it would be useless fighting such people. (This has been reported by Hafiz Abdul Bar and by Tajuddin Subki in shortened form.)

I have heard this story many times from my late father, but when Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi wrote Malfoozaat (saintly utterings) of Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Yakoob Saheb Mujaddidi, Naqshbandi of Bhopal, the story is told in a different manner on page 356. There it goes like this: "Hazrat once said: One holy man was living on the bank of a river with another staying on the other side. The one, living on the one side had a wife and family. He said to the wife: "Fill a plate of food and take it to the saintly man on the other side and give it to him to eat.' The wife said: "The river is very deep. How will I be able to cross over?" He said to her: "When you place your feet in the water, mention my name and then say: 'If such relations took place between me and my husband which normally take place between husband and wife, then let me sink, other. wise let me cross over The wife said this and immediately the river withdrew and she was able to cross over safely, with the water only reaching her knees. She gave the food to the other saint. He ate it alone. When it was time for her to cross over once more, she became worried. She knew the formula for com ing but did not know the formula for returning. The saint saw her anxiety and asked her to which she replied: ' 'How will I be able to return across the river?"

To be Continued...

Extracted from Aap Beti by Hazrat Shaikh Zakariyya Rahmatullah alayhi