by Hazrat Sheikh Zakariyya (Rahmatullah alayhi)
My late father had a fixed programme and routine for Ramadan. The programme changed annually according to prevailing circumstances. I cannot remember any of his travels in Ramadan while resident in Gangoh. I have already said that in the last Ramadan of the life of Hazrat Gangohi in 1322 A.H my late father led the taraweeh salaah in Gangoh at the instruction of Hazrat himself.
That was the year when for the first time since having memorised the Quran, he sat down on the 29th Sha’baan to recite 1-1/4 paras from the Quran as preparation for taraweeh out of fear for Hazrat Gangohi and out of fear for making a mistake. After the first day of recitation, the fear left him and thereafter he never again had to make ‘daur’.
I have-already mentioned repeatedly that my father was so addicted to Quranic recitations by heart, that he did the manual work of running a bookshop, taking out books, making parcels, addressing them, while all the time reciting Quran.
During his stay in Saharanpur, I do not remember him having performed taraweeh in any other place, except for the year 1332 A.H when the mosque of the old Darul Talabah was being erected. On the erection of my late Shaikh, Maulana Saharanpuri, my father was the first person to recite the Quran from the mehrab of this mosque in 1332 A.H.
During his stay in Saharanpur, my father’s routine was that he spend most of his time in the Masjid of the shoemakers next to the house of Hakeem Yaqoob Saheb. This was apart from the time he used to spend in teaching. It was here that he performed iftar without any special preference for anything special. Of course, if there were some dates and zam-zam available, these were given preference over all other things. (At the iftar table of Hazrat Maulana Khaleel Ahmad Saheb great importance was given to having dates and zam-zam for iftar. Any dates and zam-zam brought to him by Hajis, as presents were stored away in tins and in bottles. In those days there was not this free availability of dates and zam-zam as is the case in our times when Allah made travel so fast and easy.
After Maghrib salaah my father generally performed nafl salaah very lightly before going home to eat a light meal either by himself or in the company of one or two guests. He usually liked to refrain from eating with a lot of people as that took up a lot of time. After the meal he lay down on his bed, reciting softly by himself the para, which he was to recite in taraweeh. The recitation of the day (which he did continuously) is a different khatam from this one. After taraweeh he came home to rest for a short while. He always complained about difficulty in falling asleep and of sleeping very little. If it so happened that he could not fall asleep, or if he woke up from sleep, he started reading Quran.
Sehri was taken at the very last minute. Here too there was no special preference, and neither was it fixed that he should drink milk or tea or anything else. Anything that was cooked at home was welcome. But at that time it was quite common that in our family roti and kofta were eaten and thus these things were generally put before him.
I have already explained in ‘AAP BETI’ that in our home village of Kandhla it was our family tradition for generations, which was respected by the Elders, that in Ramadan after Asr, a huge pot of ‘pulao’ was cooked daily. It was usually ready just before Iftar time. From it smaller pots were filled and sent to the houses of the village. The rest was then brought to the traditional family home near the masjid and placed there on a small platform. There, in the open field next to the mosque, the elders of the family performed iftar.
When anyone passed near them, they would call him and insist that he join them for iftar. Having eaten ‘pulao’ for iftar, they then went to perform Maghrib in the masjid nearby and remained busy with nafl salaah up to Esha time.
In the masjid apart from the muazzin, there were two safs in which all the musallis were hafiz of the Quran. The muazzin came there as a young man from somewhere else who had run away from home and found himself begging from door to door. The elders of the village told him: “Better than begging will be for you to serve our masjid. Why not become our muazzin and caretaker? You will receive your meals, clothes and daily needs.” He accepted and until the last day at the age of 80, he remained the muazzin of the mosque.
Sometimes they used to say to him light-heartedly:
“O Mullah, they have kept you here. Actually among the musallis of this mosque there is no non-hafiz.
The elders always remained busy with nafl prayers up to or near the time for Esha. Those who resided near the mosque then went home performed wudoo and other necessary tasks before gathering for Esha. Everybody performed Esha salaah together where after the younger ones returned homewards to continue performing nafl salaah till sehri time.
Because there was great emphasis upon not more than three muqtadees for nafl salaah behind one Imam, the lady muqtadees were changed continuously and so were the Imams. The Hafiz Saheb would perform four raka-’ahs with such and such relatives in one place. Then he would go to another place to perform four raka’ahs with some other relatives as muqtadees. This continued until sehri time. For sehri everybody - old or young - again gathered in their own homes to eat sehri with their own families.
As already stated, for sehri roti and ‘kofta’ was very necessary together with ‘mithi chori’ (a kind of sweetmeat) as the third indispensable. People used to believe that because these things take a long time to be digested, one did not experience hunger in Ramadan.
Fajr salaah was performed in the ‘awwal waqt’ soon after the azaan. After the salaah everybody went to sleep and some would get up a bit later, others earlier. Then throughout the day they remained busy with tilawat until shortly before Maghrib, some reading by themselves, others reciting to others.
I have written in VIRTUES OF RAMADAN’ as well as in VIRTUES OF THE Quran ‘about the women and the girls of our household. May Allah grant them more strength to do more. In spite of their duties in connection with preparations for meals, and in spite of their manifold duties of rearing children of which each one of them had several children, they spend the nights of the month of Ramadan listening to various hafizes in salaah and during the day they each read (up to 14 or 15 paras per day. In this manner they competed with and emulated each other.
My paternal grandmother (as I have mentioned before) was herself a hafiza of the Quran. Hence it was her daily routine to recite one ‘manzil’ per day by heart. But during Ramadan she recited fourty paras daily. In other words, one full khatam plus ten more paras. Apart from that she also recited hundreds of various tasbeehs daily, which altogether totalled 17000. The details of all this is to be found in TAZKIRA-E-KHALIL.
The story of my father’s grandmother is also mentioned there. She listened to the whole Quran in one rak-’ah recited by her son Maulana Ra-ooful Hasan. Allah be praised that the love for the recitation of the Quran is still alive in my family. These females do not find much time left for sleep or rest. The time of the night is spent in listening to the Quran being recited at a time when the children are asleep. The poor children are forcibly kept awake by day. Should a child wish to fall asleep during the day one of them will pinch him to stay awake and another will start making all kinds of noises to drive away sleep. Sometimes I used to feel very sorry for these poor children. May Allah accept all the efforts of these women. Ameen!
Maulana Muzaffar Hussain writes regarding the practices of the MASHAA-IKH KANDHLA:
“During the month of Ramadan they spend the whole night in ibadat, and never slept for a moment, neither lay down on their beds. For the fear of the day of Judgement, tears streamed from their eyes.”
All this has merely been mentioned by the way.
My father’s main pleasure lay in performing salaah at its earliest time. At that time, however, fajr salaah in all the Saharanpur mosques was performed at isfaar time, and he also did so. In Hazrat Saharanpuri’s time in all the other eleven months it was performed at isfaar time but in Ramadan it was done about fifteen minutes earlier. After fajr salaah my late father also used to go to sleep. He normally woke up about three hours later to busy himself with his ‘ilmi’ activities, teaching some of those students who remained in the madressa and had a special close relationship with him. During the day he did not have the habit of making ‘daur’ of the Quran nor of reciting to anyone.
I have already mentioned that during the time he was resident in Gangoh, he loved to call out the Maghrib azaan. He had a loud voice and recited quite a long azaan. He used to say that the reason for pulling the azaan so long was so that people could be perform their iftar at home and come to the mosque without having to hurry themselves unduly and still be in time for salaah. His azaan used to reach quite far. He said:
“On hearing my azaan, people can perform iftar without haste. And after it they can leave their homes and with ease they are able to join Hazrat Imam Rabbani Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi in the first takbeer.”
At Hazrat Gangohi’s place there was the practice of synchronising clocks and watches daily at midday. My father says:
“About one or two minutes before sunset, I used to ascend onto the roof of the khanqah and await sunset, upon which I normally picked one or two blades of grass, which I chewed by way of-breaking my fast before giving the azaan. The azaan was given in loud and lengthy manner.”
The incidents about my father in Meerut, the Nawab wali masjid, Delhi and in the village of Bahut have already been mentioned. In MASHAAIKH KANDHLA is written:
“It was the fixed routine of Maulana Mohammad Yahya to go to Kandhla every Ramadan to recite the Quran in salaah to his mother and grandmother and on completing a full recitation in three days, he returned. In the year in which he passed away, in Zil Qada, he completed a full khatam for them in one single night and returned from there the next morning.”
My father also had the habit of reciting the Quran aloud in the latter part of the night, both in and out of the salaah. Quite often I was woken up from deep sleep by his loud recitation and his crying before Allah. There are two of my Elders whose late night crying in supplication before Allah I have observed - one is Shaikhul Islam, Maulana Madani and the other is my father. Whenever Hazrat Shaikhul-Islam had to travel to any place in the neighbourhood of Saharanpur, for a lecture or to attend some function. I was almost always his companion. His travels were always fast and quick affairs. He would arrive here in his motorcar by four o’clock, pick me up and proceed to places like Rerhy or Dhulapura, for example, for a public lecture and thereafter drop me off again on his return by late night or early morning.
Once in this manner I happened to go with him to Abha. There he instructed that my bed should be placed in the same room where he was to sleep, even though some of his special attendants were with us. It was winter time and quite cold. The other attendants were put in another room.
The people of Abha had close contact with all the Shaikhs of Deoband, Saharanpur, Raipur and Thana Bhavan. Hence they were a very brave outspoken and courageous group. One of them said to Maulana Madani:
“Why is it that his bed should here in your room while the others have their beds at another place?”
Before Hazrat could reply, I said: “Through Hazrat’s being here in your midst, there is the possibility that he may suffer some harm. Hence one body-guard should be on the outside and the other on the inside.”
The truth of the matter is that whenever Hazrat Madani, Hazrat Raipuri, and Hazrat Meerut came here, they all insisted that my bed should be near their sleeping places. As for my father I always used to sleep near him. That was how I always used to see and hear him cry bitterly (for the welfare of the Umma) in the middle of the night before Allah, like a child.
I have heard that Hazrat Gangohi used to seclude himself in his private room after Zuhr and at times the sounds of his crying in dua before Allah used to be so loud that it could be heard outside the room.