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.
After these nafls he used to lie down for a while in the masjid while some of his attendants pressed his legs to restore strength. About half an hour later it would be time for Esha and taraweeh, which he himself led. After taraweeh, he again lay down for a while without there being any majlis.
Very often he used to tell me that he feared that he would fall asleep as soon as he gave the salaam for Witr and before a pillow could be placed for him to rest his head upon. But when I visited there if he happened to be my guest, that time after taraweeh was my time for eating my evening meal. At such a mealtime, there always used to be some fruits brought along by some friends. My uncle generally joined in and in fact, I insisted on his partaking of it with us. He then used to spend about fifteen minutes or so with us.
At night it was his fixed routine to wake up at twelve O’clock, at which time his attendants would give him two boiled eggs, still warm. The eggs were boiled while he was busy with his toilet preparations. Having eaten the eggs, he busied himself with tahajjud salaah. This continued for a long time till the last moments of sehri time and then he ate sehri. There are times when I have seen him with a morsel of food in his right hand asking for someone to bring water, with which to rinse his mouth while at the same time telling someone to call the azaan. While the muezzin will ascend onto the roof, he will finish that little morsel, finishing just as the azaan is called.
There is a little story about wild figs. Hazrat and myself had a relative, who is an Imam somewhere in Delhi. He used to think my brother is the spiritual guide of everybody and that many things are disclosed to him in Ramadan in unseen manner. Once I spent the night there. At the time of iftar my uncle asked: “Is there anything to eat?”
Some people replied: “Only some wild figs which had been left over from last night."
My uncle replied: ‘How nice! Bring it.”
At the time for Sehri he again asked whether there was something to eat and again they told him: “Only some of the same wild figs which had been left over from last night."
Four or five such figs were then taken for sehri
The whole story can be read in ‘AAP BETI’.
Uncle performed his salaah at the earliest time. In Ramadan he did not have the habit of giving a lecture after fajr salaah. This was started by Maulana Yusuf Saheb. Hazrat used to remain seated on his musallah until Ishraq time making zikr and reciting his wazeefas.
All the attendants used to perform fajr and then go to sleep to wake up some time later at their own times. Hazrat remained busy and performed Ishraq salaah.
Generally he felt a bit tired at that time and if he had time he lay down to rest for a while. Otherwise he would give words of advice for the jamaats about to leave for Mewat or conversed with guests. In accordance with their standing he treated his visitors, looked after them and bore the expense of hosting them himself. And if anyone, who was a Sayed, happened to arrive, he gave them extra special attention. He even emphasised to me the importance of showing honour and respect to such people. If any of his mureeds or students was a Sayed, he was prepared to pardon and overlook faults.
Once I complained to him about one of him mureeds and students, who was also one of his attendants. Hazrat replied:
“I know of his fault; but he is a Sayed.”
Maulana Ali Mia writes in his book: ‘MAULANA ILYAAS AND HIS DEENI DAWAT’ “Maulana Mueenullah Nadwi reports: “I was once sick during Ramadan. My food was being brought to me in bed where I lay sick. Maulana Ilyaas was about to perform his nafl salaah and said to the boy responsible for bringing the food: “Leave the food. I will take it to him.”
The boy did not understand properly and brought the food to Maulana’s room. When he had finished salaah, he said: “I said to the boy, leave the food, I will take it away.” Thereafter Maulana himself brought the food and sat down by my bedside. For a long time he sat there talking to me in sympathetic terms and to comfort me.”
The fact that Maulana Mueenullah was a Sayed had a lot to do with this great respect shown to him.
Hazrat also had the habit of sleeping for two or three hours in the afternoon, but for the period after Zuhr to Asr he retired to his private room and converse with visitors until Asr time. If he had arranged to teach any students some kitab, this was the time for that. After Asr he busied himself with loud zikr until Maghrib time. In the days other than during Ramadan, this zikr was performed in the latter part of the night, after tahajjud till Fajr time. This could be done at that time because in those times Fajr was performed a bit late at the onset of the greyness of dawn.
I have not seen any of my Elders so punctual about loud zikr as my late uncle. Before the last few years of his illness, he regularly recited the twelve tasbeehs and zikr of the ‘Ismi zaat’ in the latter part of the night, while in Ramadan he did so from Asr till Maghrib.
My uncle’s third Haj journey commenced in Ramadan. Maulana Ali Mia writes: “In 1351 A.H he went for his third Haj. The new moon heralding in the month of Ramadan was sighted in Nizamuddin and taraweeh was performed at Delhi station. After the taraweeh salaah he left for Karachi.”
I had also gone to Delhi to see him off at Delhi station to bid him farewell. After having placed all the luggage on board the train, he performed taraweeh salaah on the station. Not only those who were to accompany him on the Haj journey, but also a large number of the residents of Delhi followed him in salaah. Many of them had already finished their taraweeh in the various mosques in the city, where salaah finished quite early. They were able to join in this congregation because this salaah started quite late.
Hazrat commenced his reading from Alif Laam Meem and performed the taraweeh in his own easy and comfortable manner as he was used to doing in his own mosque. The train left late and he had about (two) hours for the taraweeh.
Hazrat was a man who at all times talked about ‘tableegh’ and the ‘tableeghi movement’, just like the late Maulana Yusuf Saheb. He always engaged his listeners in such talks, even while eating and even in the compartments of a train or on a station. Many are still around who will be able to testify to this great missionary spirit of Maulana Yusuf.
Brother Maulana Thaani writes in his book: Sawaanih Yusuf: “Maulana Muhammad Ilyaas attached tremendous importance to the month of Ramadan. Numerous jamaats from Mewat used to arrive at the central headquarters during this month, and many jamaats left from there for all corners of the land. And at the centre itself the work carried on diligently.”