ONE HISTORICAL DAY IN BRITAIN
A Student of Darul Uloom, Holcombe, Bury, U.K.
" ‘Allahu-Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest)! How great a place of bounty it is."
My purpose of writing this is to recount a historical day in Britain. Never has there been such a significant day in British history. Fifty years ago it had been hard, if not impossible, to think that such a day would come. It is only the grace and bounty of the Almighty Omnipotent that He honoured the people of Britain with the auspiciousness of this blessed time.
Britain has, in the past, been favoured by the visiting of saints to its land. However, the coming of Hazrat Sheikh-ul-Hadith, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Zakaria Muhajir Madani (May Allah enlighten his grave) to the land of Britain was of such honour that can be realised by whosoever has even a slight attachment with saints.
He came, despite being over eighty-five and being unable to move around owing to various illnesses for some period of years.
Hazrat Sheikh Zakaria rahmatullahi alaihe is he who spent not only a year or two but his whole life teaching Ahaadith. He taught Ahaadith for 55 years, wherein 45 years were spent in teaching Bukhari Sharif.
As an author he wrote many important books. Awjazul-Masaalik, commentary of Muatta Imam Malik in fifteen volumes and La’miud-Dirari, commentary of Sahih-al-Bukhari, consisting of over ten volumes. These are just a couple of the many books he has written. He has also written a compilation of books on virtues in various different subjects, which have already been distributed throughout the world with the helping hand of the Tablighi Jama’at.
These books on virtues have also been translated into many different languages. Some Ulama say that the most read book after the Holy Qur’aan could possibly be this very compilation of books on virtues. Namely (The teachings of Islam) & (Fazaile-Sadaqaat & Hajj).
Hazrat Sheikh Zakaria rahmatullahi alaihe has over a hundred spiritual successors from whom most are still alive and paying service to Islam in various different countries in the rectification of the soul and environment.
In his last days Hazrat Sheikh Zakaria rahmatullahi alaihe caught an illness wherein a watery substance would fill into his eyes. He inevitably had to leave his lectures on Ahaadith. On the other hand it was a cause for the fulfilment of his long lived wish; to say farewell to India and spend his last days by the Beloved Prophet e in Madinah Munawwarah, where he could also be buried in the graveyard ‘Jannatul-Baqe’e.’ However, Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe trip to England in his old age from the Beloved Prophet e blessed city, although for a short while, can only be due to some sign from unseen.
Apparently his reason for travelling to the United Kingdom was his beloved spiritual successor Hazrat Maulana Yusuf Motala sahib (May Allah give him a long life) who is the principal of Darul-Uloom Al-Arabiyah Al-Islamiyah, Holcombe, Bury. Hazrat Maulana Yusuf Motala sahib had founded this madrasah in 1974 upon the order of Hazrat Sheikh Zakaria rahmatullahi alaihe.
Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe turned his full attention towards the advancement, welfare and prosperity of this madrasah. The very first financial aid had been from him, a two hundred pounds donation of that time. As for his spiritual attention and prayers, only Allah knows better.
Once the true word of Allah had begun to stream from the madrasah, Hazrat Sheikh Zakaria (May Allah enlighten his grave), travelled to this region of darkness, infidelity and polytheism (kufr and shirk) to enlighten the Muslims with the noor (light) bestowed to him by Allah.
On the twenty-fourth of June 1979, eight o’clock in the morning he set out from Jeddah and at ten-thirty p.m. the oncoming night he arrived in Darul-Uloom. His stay was only to be for approximately five days. During his stay, throngs of people came from all corners of the country to benefit from his spirituality. On arrival, they were put onto the same schedule that was practised by Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe in the blessed month of Ramadhaan. The schedule follows:
4:15 am Fajr Prayer. Recital of daily routine prayers, i.e., Tasbeeh etc.
8:30 am Breakfast. 10:30am -11:30am. A congregational reading from one of Hazrat Sheikh Zakaria rahmatullahi alaihe books on mysticism and rectification of the heart.
3:30pm Zuhr prayer followed by Khatme Khajgaan
(A ritual of 1. Durood-shariff, 2. Reciting of La howla wa la quwata illa billah La malja’a wa La manja’a minallahi illa ilaihe and 3. Surah Alam-Nashrah, All three are prayed 360 times each on 360 date seeds which are distributed amongst the gathering. After this, Dua is made. This ritual has been experienced and approved for protection and removal of calamities).
After Khatme Khajgaan ‘Zikr’ takes place for those prescribed with Zikr, and those who are not prescribed with Zikr read Durood Sharif, Tasbeeh (glorification of Allah) and Istighfaar (repentance from sins).
6:00pm Tea. 6:30-7:30pm speech by Hazrat Maulana Mufti Mahmood-ul-Hasan Sahib rahmatullahi alaihe.
8:00pm Asr Prayer. Supper is served.
9:45pm Maghrib Prayer. Gathering for approximately 45 minutes held by Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe within the main Prayer hall. Everyone is allowed to attend. After the gathering, those interested would swear an oath of allegiance to Hazrat Sheikh. (This is known as bay-at). Young children intending to memorise the Holy Qur’aan would begin their memorisation by reciting the opening verses of the Blessed Qur’aan to Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe.
11:15pm Eisha Prayer.
The above stated schedule was presented to you to show as to why Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe travelled to England: To let the creation of Allah benefit by the good fortune of His name and so that those people who abundantly remember Allah increase in number and at the same time rip open the darkening curtains of falsehood with the light of His remembrance.
Throughout the event, there were many people. Tents were put up owing to insufficient accommodation. The mornings and evenings were the peak times of the coming and going of the people. Quite a few hundred stayed permanently in Darul-Uloom from the very arrival of Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe till his departure.
The prime time of Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe gathering began at six in the evenings, when people from the nearby towns closed their offices, shops and factories and came to Darul-Uloom. The gathering at this time numbered to thousands. This gathering would be at its highest peak after the Maghrib prayer. Immediately after the Maghrib prayer Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe would be seated at the centre of the gathering. This time was the conclusion of the twenty-four hours. All were advised by Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe to read Durood Sharif a thousand times. On the very first day Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe said, "My dear brothers! You will not gain anything by gathering to sit by me and to look at me. You will gain whatever you are to gain by doing something. In the process of doing something recite Durood Sharif at least a thousand times."
The whole gathering would remain busy in the recitation of Durood-Sharif. The atmosphere of those moments is hard to explain. One Maulana who was present said, "The descent of tranquillity and of light (noor) upon the hearts could plainly be felt, and why shouldn’t it be, when a faithful bondsman of Allah is seated in the middle of the gathering in meditation with absolute attention from the heart. Around him the whole gathering, with devotion and great respect, is busy head down in such a ritual upon which the reward is promised to be at least ten times more. The gathering’s sole intention is to attain a little noor."
Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe returned to Madinah after twelve days. Among the blessings of this journey something worth mentioning here is that Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe planned stay in Darul-Uloom was for five days, and only a few hundred people were expected to come. A stock of food and cooking oil was bought respectively and put into a small room. Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe stay prolonged to a total of twelve days instead of the planned five days and the gathering exceeding to a few thousand. Despite this, there was still some stock left over.
Lectures on Mishkat, one of the books on Hadith, were to commence this year. Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe gave the first lecture on the last day of his stay. His stage was underneath the shadow of the sky in an open atmosphere. It seemed like the angels had spread their wings and were keeping the atmosphere warm. This is why we say that Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe laid the foundation of teaching Ahaadith in Darul-Uloom.
This was a brief mentioning of the first journey of Hazrat Sheikh-ul-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakaria rahmatullahi alaihe.
Approximately two years two months after his first visit Hazrat made a second trip to England. After having spent the month of Ramadhaan in South Africa he stopped over at Zambia for a few days and then arrived in England on the 25th August 1981. Hazrat’s routine and the organisation of the daily events for visitors remained as they had done on his previous visit.
With such a poor condition Hazrat rahmatullahi alaihe could not participate in the gatherings with punctuality like he did on his previous visit.
However the people who attended exceeded the previous number and they were occupied in their duties adequately.
A person remarked that, "The creation of Allah that is visiting this place in thousands is well aware that Hazrat does not deliver speeches, nor do they have a firm belief whether they will be fortunate enough to meet Hazrat, but still they flock in such large numbers, how is the Greatness of Allah."
Throngs of people flooded into the madrasah and special provisions were made to cater for their needs. Large tents were put out to act as shelters and students dutifully emptied out their rooms to provide accommodation for visitors. As a further gesture of hospitality, have access to their bedding, preferring for themselves to sleep on the floor.
The most outstanding feature and highlight of this trip however was the lecture delivered by Hazrat Sheikh concerning the last Hadith of Bukhari Sharif. This lecture for many students marked the end of a six-year Islamic studies course and was to our knowledge the last of the Hadith lessons ever conducted by him.
This not only memorable, but an event of extreme historical importance to British Muslims was staged on Sunday 6th September 1981. It was on this day that for the first time in the lengthy history of this country 51 students graduated in various fields of Islamic studies and honoured they were honoured with the swathing of a turban round their heads, as a public acknowledgement of their commendable achievements. This was to be the first in a long chain of graduation ceremonies that would annually assemble to herald highlight of the college year. The graduation of young talented men qualifying as Islamic scholars ready and equipped to meet the challenges of the modern age.
It was a remarkably well-attended function. The crowd was over willingly large. All the tents that had been put out and the college building itself were full to capacity. Even parking facilities proved to be inadequate. To keep the congregation occupied, Maulana Abdul Jabbaar sahib was requested to give a talk from 10:30 a.m. to 12 o’clock p.m. After the talk dinner was served following which the crowd once again congregated for Zuhr Salaah. Once Salaah had been performed Khatme-Khajgaan took place and following dua guests settled down for a session of Zikr.
Apart from a handful the greater part of the congregation had completed Zikr when suddenly the names of the students graduating were announced from the stage. The crowd in absolute silence listened attentively to the address that was delivered by Maulana Abdul Haq sahib. He shed light on the short history of Darul-Uloom, the original uses of its premises, the choosing and take over of the site and the charity displayed by Muslim mothers and sisters and the Muslim community at large in raising funds to make the acquisition of the building possible. He also mentioned the sacrifices borne by those running the institute and paid tribute to the group of tutors who in the course of their duties were martyred in a fateful road accident. It was a short simple address but being carefully worded the crowds response was one of emotion and sentiment. Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe carefully listened from his sleeping quarters. As tears welled up in his eyes touching prayers escaped his lips.
After this brief update Maulana Abdul-Jabbaar sahib took his place on the stage and in his vigorously delivered speech he expressed the importance of Sunnah and adherence to Prophetic teaching in all aspects of life laying stress on the importance of keeping a beard he warned of the consequences of abandoning this Sunnah. His manner of speech seemed too vast a spell over the congregation and a magnet-like force pulled their attentions towards him. His every utterance penetrated their heart without the slightest resistance. Many were moved to tears by his heart-rending words and occasionally these emotions broke out into cries of ‘Allahhu-Akbar’.
At 5:30p.m. Hazrat Sheikh having performed wudhu was brought on to the stage. Upon his arrival Maulana Abdul Jabbaar Sahib brought his speech to a close. Hazrat Sheikh’s august and honoured self-presence now graced the stage. Students with books of Hadith laid out in front of them, formed a U-shape directly in front of him, eagerly a waiting commencement immediately upon receiving the signal Mufti Shabir (current Mufti of Darul Uloom Bury) commenced the recitation of Hadith-e-Musalsal - Bil Awwaliyah. There was a deafening silence prevailed in the crowd. At the completion of the Hadith Hazrat remarked, "I also confirm that this is the first Hadith, which I heard from my tutor Maulana Khalil Ahmed Sahib rahmatullahi alaihe."
Following this, the tutor of Bukhari Sharif at that time Hazrat Maulana Islam-ul-Haq rahmatullahi alaihe recited the final Hadith of Bukhari Sharif."
As the following year’s Bukhari Sharif had yet to start, a student from the Bukhari class recited the first of its Ahaadith. There after the founder of Darul Uloom, Maulana Yusuf sahib recited some opening Ahaadith of Awwail-e-Arbaeen in his tuneful voice.
After this, the head tutor of Darul-Uloom Maulana Hashim Sahib read out the opening Hadith of Mishkat Sharif. At his completion Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe explained,
"Imaam Bukhari rahmatullahi alaihe having commenced his book of Ahaadith with the Prophetic statement, ‘Actions are according to intentions’. And completed it with the Hadith, ‘There are two words which are dear to the Most Beneficent and very easy for the tongue to say, but very heavy in the balance. They are: ‘Subhan Allahi wa bihamdihi’ and ‘Subhan Allahil Azim.’"
He indirectly conveyed a very profound message to the Ummah. Which amounts to this: - "There are only two things to be done in this world, 1. To be sincere in the heart and 2. To praise Allah with the tongue."
Following this Hazrat Salmaan Sahib addressed the gathering. Having recited the Qur’aanic verse he offered a few words of wisdom and advice to the graduating students. In his lecture he emphasised the importance of always maintaining some form of involvement and contact with religious knowledge and being careful not to fall prey to vanity and self-admiration. Pointing out the adversities resulting from such conduct he related and incident regarding a great religious scholar and Sufi, Sheikh-ul-Islam Mohiyudeen Ibn-e-Arabi rahmatullahi alaihe.
He was once travelling abroad a ship when unexpectedly a severe storm broke out. The ship was tossed in all directions. In desperation the Sheikh, turning to the sea exclaimed, "Oh unrelenting ocean, come to a halt immediately, for an ocean of knowledge travel upon you!" Although upon this order the violent thrashing waves immediately became serene beast, Allah disliked the tone of Sheikh’s pronouncement (as it implied self-importance).
A short while later a mammoth of a fish raised its head above the surface of the water and became a towering obstacle in the ships progress. Then through an astonishing display of Allah’s power it appeared to communicate with the Sheikh. The Sheikh was made to comprehend the message of the fish. In fact it was asking a question!
"If a woman’s husband is metamorphosed and he is alive, which Iddat (waiting period of a widow or a divorced woman) will she undertake? Iddat of separation or Iddat of death?"
Because Ibn-e-Arabi rahmatullahi alaihe did not know the answer to this question he lowered his head and sank into deep thought. After some while he raised his head and admitted his ignorance in this respect. The fish replied, "Aren’t you the ocean of knowledge who does not know the answer?"
Maulana Salmaan sahib concluded his talk within approximately twenty-five minutes. When he left the stand there seemed to be an indescribable aura blanketing the entire congregation. Many were overcome with emotion and wept incessantly. Others were praising and admiring.
Now it was time for the ceremonious swathing of the turban. Firstly three tutors of Darul-Uloom: Maulana Islam-Ul-Haq rahmatullahi alaihe, Maulana Yusuf Motala sahib and Maulana Hashim Sahib, each received a cap and turban from Hazrat Sheikh. After them followed the students graduating that year. Hazrat Sheikh would place the cap on their heads and Maulana Abdul Hafeez Sahib would wind turbans around them. Then came the turn of the Qurraa (students graduating in methods, rules and regulations governing the correct recital of the Qur’aan). The procedure was quite straightforward. One end of the turban would be placed in Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe hands and Maulana Abdul Hafeez Makki rahmatullahi alaihe would wind a portion of it around the student’s head leaving the remainder for Maulana Islam-Ul-Haq rahmatullahi alaihe to complete. After the Qurraa, thirty-five Huffaaz, all of whom had finalised their Hifz at Darul-Uloom, followed suit.
It was a most extraordinary sight. In a country in which the forces of evil and vice run rampant, love of materialistic gain dominant rules the hearts and minds of people, in an environment non-conductive to religious and moral reform, Muslims from all over the country, for the first time witnessed a remarkable ceremony. It was assembled not to celebrate some community festival or as a social function, or commemorate the birth or death of an insignificant historical figure or even to attend the graduation of doctors, scientists, lawyer or engineers. It was there for a purpose. An event that they hoped would pave the way forward for a religious renaissance, a dim glimmer of light in the distant horizon, a glow of whiteness, a ray of hope, perhaps heralding the approach of something much greater in proportion much more lasting in its effects much more embracing in its influence, something totally alien to the lowlands and highlands, pastures and hills, hamlets and villages, towns and cities of this country.
The expectations, hope, joy and delight that played with the hearts of the crowd that day cannot be satisfactorily described in words. The same land which fifty years previously was barren of Muslims now played host to an event which eluded the foresight and intellect of the most far-sighted. In all fifty-one students graduated that day, some as Islamic scholars, others as ‘Qurraa’, and a third group as Huffaaz.
May this institution continue to produce scholars of a great calibre and May Allah keep it under his protection and watchful eye, as it is a Islamic College in this country that offers students studying opportunities till the Bukhari stage, a full and complete Islamic studies course.
After the graduation ceremony Maulana Abdul Hafeez Makki sahib led the congregation in a final Dua that brought the gathering to a close. As the time of Asr Salaah had commenced, Azaan was promptly given and Salaah followed shortly.
The congregation could be estimated to be in the region of 7 000. An astronomical number considering the facilities available. A friend of mine was put to task finding a space to perform Maghrib Salaah. After a search of the tents, all the College classes and the first and second floor of the main building he finally found a place on the third floor. I myself faced similar circumstances. Performance of wudhu in itself posed a daunting task. Having some how managed my way to a wudhu khana I found the area swarming with people hurrying back and forth like army ants on the move. Once wudhu had been completed I struggled in vain to find a convenient place to perform Salaah. In the end I settled for a spot on a stair case landing.
Not only the numbers of people participating in this programme, staggering the assortment of people, it had attracted was also most diverse. They came from all walks of life and were of all characters and personalities. Some unseen force seemed to be arousing their inner conscience and directing them to this forlorn, unfrequented part of the country. Those rarely seen attending the mosque flocked to this event like moths bewitched by the flickering flame of a lantern. It was all quite uncanny and unexplainable.
Even the British weather notorious strangely enough displayed complete co-operation. Despite it being the month of September, marking the imminent approach of bitter winter days, the weather remained remarkably warm. In fact one felt that the tents served little or no purpose. These assumptions later proved to be quite accurate when on the final day of events, because the hire period for the tents had expired, they had to be dismantled. Non-the-less the crowds without the slightest inconvenience were able to perform their Salaah on open fields.
A few touching moments made Hazrat Sheikh’s visit all the more memorable.
One English woman who lived in the neighbourhood paid him a visit. Her brother who suffered from cancer accompanied her. She explained how she had planned to catch a glimpse of him upon his arrival. Unfortunately, when she reached the road leading to the madrasah his car had already passed by. She further mentioned the reason for her visit that Hazrat pray for her and her brother. Hazrat agreed whole-heartedly which prompted her to produce a gift she had brought for him, and had wrapped in decorative wrapping paper. Hazrat rahmatullahi alaihe declined her offering consoling her that he would pray for her without the presentation of a gift. The woman insisted that he excepts and assured him that it had no connection with her request for prayer. She had brought it purely as a gesture of goodwill. Upon this show of sincerity Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe excepted her gift.
On another occasion an Englishman came to visit Hazrat Sheikh rahmatullahi alaihe and had his heart set on taking his picture. It was explained to him that this was Islamicly unpermissable. Somewhat he asked permission to photograph Hazrat’s rahmatullahi alaihe bedroom door. When it was granted to him he beamed with delight, snapped up his camera.
In this journey Hazrat rahmatullahi alaihe became very ill and had to be admitted to Bury General hospital for a few days.
Then having spent 21 days in this region of darkness, on the 16th of September Hazrat rahmatullahi alaihe returned to Madinah Munawwarah where he breathed his last on the 24th of May 1982.
May Allah Ta’ala give Hazrat the best reward for his efforts and enlighten Hazrat’s grave and grant him a high rank amongst those who are closest to Him. Ameen.