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).
Ifţār consisted mostly of dates, Zamzam, pears, pineapple, bananas, guava, mangoes, Baśrī dates, coconut water, papaya, sweet and regular rice, and fried eggs. It was hard to find the common Indian-style toasted rice and beans and other such things on the mats. I thought to myself that maybe these foods [Indian-style toasted rice and beans] are not common in these areas but later learned that they never put it in front of Ĥadrat because they considered it menial food. Despite all this, Ĥađrat’s ifţār was simple and small. The spirit and mood of ifţār was lively and crisp. People were busy running here and there and there was much hustle and bustle [there are two joys for the one who fasts81- Zakariyyā] but Ĥađrat was in a state of absorption [istighrāq] and silent. The place of ifţār was close to the masjid. After Ĥađrat had finished reciting with Shaikh Jalīl, his absorption was such that he sometimes needed to be informed that the adhān had been called [I saw this on many occasions in ‘Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband. Many times, people sitting around Ĥađrat would be talking and arguing loudly about political affairs and suddenly he would say haiń, haiń (what, what?). Then I knew that Ĥađrat wasn’t even with us- Zakariyyā]. Despite all the different things for ifţār, as mentioned above, Ĥađrat took dates and Zamzam, a piece of fruit, drank some coconut water, and occasionally a cup or half a cup of tea but he never stood up from the mat until it was wrapped up. Sometimes, he cracked jokes at this time or made some witty remark.
Ifţār took 8 to 10 minutes, and then Ĥađrat led Maghrib with short suras, followed by two long voluntary śalāt in which Ĥađrat prayed for 1/2 hour. Then, the gathering or whoever was free from their devotion came and attended the du‘ā Ĥađrat made after the voluntary śalāt. After that, if he was invited somewhere Ĥađrat went straight from the masjid to that place, otherwise he returned home. Two types of mats were laid out at the time of ifţār, one for Ĥađrat and those who ate chappati and the second for the guests who ate rice. Amongst Ĥađrat’s helpers were his sons Shaikh As‘ad, Arshad and Raiĥān. All three of his sons ate rice and sat on the second mat. Ĥađrat occasionally said, “I have two bengalis also, put some rice for them.” There were a variety of different rice on the mat since most attendees were Bengalis, who love rice. Parātha [chappati prepared in clarified butter-translator] is a common dish here but [quite surprisingly] they have no idea what chappatis are or how to make them. Another necessary item besides meat was the dessert, usually something like ĥalwā or shāhī tukre [toasted bread prepared in saffron and syrup-translator], papayas, or sometimes gourd sawayiāń [vermicelli] prepared so well no one could tell it was made from gourd. Carved nepalian red peppers were also a necessary item on the mat. Though Bengal is known for fish, I wondered why there was no fish on the mats. Another vegetable dish like bamboo was also placed on the mat. Later we learned that this vegetable curry was made from the pulp of a genus of bamboo found only in Bengal. As common amongst the Arabs, it was Ĥađrat’s habit in Deoband and here that people sat in a circle around a large dish filled with curry. A cloth full of warm chappatis was placed next to Ĥađrat, who handed them out as needed to the guests. If anyone left his plate full or unclean, Ĥađrat would clean it himself. If he saw any pieces of chappati on the mat he picked it up and ate it. After that, people picked up on this habit and started doing the same thing. Ĥađrat sat on his knees. He held one chappati in his left hand and took small bite-size pieces from it as needed. He was the first to start eating and the last to finish. After dinner, everyone drank tea. These are the details of an invitation. If there was no invitation, Ĥađrat left after śalāt for the residence. The food was prepared and laid out on the two mats, one for Ĥađrat and the chappati-eaters and the second for the rice-eaters. He usually finished quickly when he ate at his residence and then sat for a few minutes after.
His devotees sometimes sat and discussed current affairs or juridical issues during this time. Ĥađrat also participated in the discussions and then rested for a short while. As everyone knows, Ĥađrat’s unique recitation and his concentration [khushū‘] in śalāt was known in the Indian Subcontinent but also in Arabia and Ĥijāz. In Silhat, Ĥađrat lead tarāwīĥ himself. Hundreds of people came from all over to listen to Ĥađrat in tarāwīĥ and tahajjud and left the next morning for their homes [whatever has been written about Ĥađrat’s recitation and śalāt is absolutely true. I have stood hundreds of time behind Ĥađrat in obligatory śalāt but never had the opportunity to spend time with him in Ramadan. Though I did listen to Ĥađrat’s tarāwīĥ two times, the first time in Ramadan of 1363/August, 1944, when Ĥađrat was freed from Ilāhabād jail and arrived in the morning at Sahāranpūr on the 14th of Ramadan/ September 1, 1944 and took the train to Deoband immediately after. He stayed one night in Deoband and left for Dehli the next day [on a Monday] in the afternoon.
Since my uncle died that year on the morning of the 21st of Rajab/ 04 July 1944, Ĥađrat arrived at the station after Maghrib and went straight to Niżām al- Dīn to offer his condolences. At tarāwīĥ time, Ĥađrat said, “Whoever is the imam for tarāwīĥ should lead.” I said, “Who has the courage to lead in tarāwīĥ when you are here. Only you will lead today.” Ĥađrat recited from half of the 14th part to the end of Sura Banī Isrāīl. He recited the part in twenty rak‘as so calmly it was truly an enjoyable experience. The second time was in 1364/ 1954 in which Ĥađrat lead the first tarāwīĥ in the railway station of Sahāranpūr. On the morning of 29th of Sha‘bān/ August 8, 1945, Bukhārī was completed at 4 a.m. That night, Ĥađrat came with his family on an omnibus from Deoband to Sahāranpūr, arriving at the station at 12 a.m. There, he led a large gathering of people in tarāwīĥ. As students, teachers, and city people finished their tarāwīĥ in their places, they gathered at the station and joined behind Ĥađrat to pray voluntary śalāt behind him. Ĥađrat told Zakariyyā, “Stand by me, you are going to be my listener.” I said, “You think it’s easy to correct you? There are many good ĥuffāż in the crowd. I will call one of them for you.” Ĥađrat refused and I gained the honor of being Ĥađrat’s listener].”
Since people came from all over, near and far, the masjid was full by the time the adhān was called and no space was left for latecomers. A small opening was made in the middle for Ĥađrat to pass through. When Ĥađrat entered, the caretaker of the masjid awaited Ĥađrat in front with a glass of water. This was because Ĥađrat drank tea at home then ate pān. Once he washed his mouth he set off in the car straight for the masjid. One or two people were always present to say takbīr loudly because of the scores of people and the growing numbers in the last ten days. Two and a half parts were recited in tarāwīĥ. Shaikh Jalīl recited one and a quarter part in the first four rak‘as while Ĥađrat repeated the same one and a quarter part in the next sixteen rak‘as. The intervals were very long. Sometimes, while reciting Ĥađrat became passionate and an electric feeling passed through the crowd [a feeling known only to them]. Tarāwīĥ was followed by a long du‘ā in which people sobbed, cried and trembled. Sometimes the whole masjid resonated with their cries. After tarāwīĥ, Ĥađrat sat there with the devotees and his helpers to drink tea. After approximately ten minutes, he stood up and gave a talk. People who had prayed tarāwīĥ elsewhere also assembled inthe masjid to listen to Ĥađrat. The masjid was so full there was not an inch of space. In fact, people were standing outside on the street to hear the talk. Since Ĥađrat’s voice could not be heard outside, a loudspeaker was installed.
Thousands of people sat and were served tea quietly as the talk went on and not one person was left out who did not receive tea. People finished their tea by the time Ĥađrat finished talking. The talk was purely inspirational, the objective being to bring people closer to Allah u. Rarely was a political point raised except to liven up the talk. During the talk, Ĥađrat received notes that were read out to him. He would respond accordingly, sometimes in detail if need be. When Ĥađrat became sick in the middle of Ramadan, others took his place in delivering the talk. Though he was sick, Ĥađrat attended these talks and did not leave until they ended. One hour after the talk, people shook hands with Ĥađrat. Although every measure was taken to assure that Ĥađrat arrived quickly to the car, it took him some time to reach the car. After arriving at the residence, snacks were served and everyone who was present joined in this gathering. By the time the gathering ended, it was usually 1:30 a.m. After that, Ĥađrat left for his room and if the need arose, talked privately to his confidants. Then Ĥađrat rested for half an hour and woke up for tahajjud [I saw many times and experienced how my Ĥađrat Sahāranpūrī and Ĥađrat Madanī had complete control over their sleep. When they wished to sleep, they close their eyes and they were asleep. If they set a time to wake up, there was no need for an alarm or any person to wake them up, they would wake up at the appointed time on their own. I have mentioned this in Āp Bītī- Zakariyyā]. After he attended to his personal needs, he departed for the masjid for tahajjud.
The people who came from afar usually reached the masjid before Ĥađrat or at least caught Ĥađrat in the first rak‘as. Shaikh Jalīl and Ĥađrat both led in tahajjud. Ĥađrat was careful about not making any noise or waking anyone up when he left for the masjid to pray tahajjud. However, usually people were already awake since they looked forward to the ramada n o f s h a i k h m u Ĥammud zakariyyĀ 150 praying tahajjud behind Ĥađrat. Since little time was left after voluntary śalāt for seĥr, the mat was quickly laid out in the house and everyone ate swiftly with eyes fixed on the clock and ears listening for the adhān. Ĥađrat rested for a short time after seĥr and then prepared for Fajr. He departed for the masjid and led Fajr shortly before sunrise. In the last ten days, Fajr śalāt began at its beginning time and finished shortly before sunrise [i.e. the Fajr was very long-translator]. All the departees who prayed tahajjud with Ĥađrat came to meet him before he left for the house. When he arrived at the house, he lay down immediately and one or two of his helpers massaged his body while another massaged his head with oil. If Ĥađrat fell asleep while talking, the others would also leave to sleep. After a little rest, Ĥađrat woke up, attended to his needs, performed ablution and sat down to recite Qur’an. Then, people who had appointments with Ĥađrat started coming in at about 10 a.m. If Ĥađrat had any free time in between, he continued reciting or otherwise attended to the mail.
Sometimes this continued to Ẓuhr and if any time was leftover, Ĥađrat rested half an hour before Ẓuhr. This year Ĥađrat became extremely sick and ran a high fever from the middle of Ramadan. Seeing his condition, some of his helpers felt it was better that he not perform i‘tikāf this year. They asked, “Ĥađrat, you will have difficulty in i‘tikāf.” Ĥađrat replied, “No, I have made the intention for i‘tikāf.” Thus, Ĥađrat’s place was set up in one corner of the masjid. Sometimes, he felt cold in śalāt due to the fever and wrapped a thick shawl around himself and the ceiling fans were turned off. In this condition, he drank a bit of tea during the interval and then stood up for śalāt again. He did the same in tahajjud, standing for long periods reciting Qur’an. Ĥađrat was extremely sick and stayed in the house because of which the congregation that gathered for tahajjud was cancelled for four days. This increased the burden on Ĥađrat since he now had to recite more Qur’an in tahajjud in order to finish it within the last ten days. In addition, it was difficult for Ĥađrat to stay inthe masjid due to the noise and large number of people in i‘tikāf. The half and hour rest he gained in the house was not possible in the masjid. Therefore along with all the devotions and worship, Ĥađrat had little time for rest while in i‘tikāf.
In the last ten days the crowd was massive, even the street leading to the masjid was full. As the numbers grew, the number of notes placed under the rug and the people who wished to take bai‘a also increased. The murīds and seekers of the path who wished to explain their spiritual situations and get instructions from Ĥađrat was the largest group waiting on Ĥađrat. To accommodate them, they were given numbers. As the the number was called out, the respective person went in. The departees who wished to meet Ĥađrat after Fajr was also very large. Once Ĥađrat had shaken hands with all of them he went into his quarter. After he rested for a short time, while others slept after a whole night of worship and devotion, Ĥađrat quietly tiptoed his way to the bathroom and started his devotions after ablution. The number of people on the night of 27th of Ramadan, often thought to be the night of Qadr, was greater than on any other night of Ramadan. The number of notes coming in before Ẓuhr has also increased and the bottles brought in [to be blown into] surrounded Ĥađrat’s praying area. As Ĥađrat raised his hands for du‘ā after tahajjud, the whole masjid began weeping and crying. Ĥađrat’s own spiritual state, his liveliness and passion, was such that it simply cannot be put in words.
On that night, people were discussing the night of Qadr in Ĥađrat’s gathering. I [Shaikh ‘Abd al- Ĥamīd] asked, “The friends of Allah u can feel when it is the night of Qadr. Allah u knows best which day it was on this year.”Ĥađrat replied, “In my view, it was on the 23rd.” After the moonsighting on the 30th [Wednesday], Ĥađrat left for his residence after Maghrib. On the night of Eid, Ĥađrat led everyone in the longest tahajjud of the holy month. Ĥađrat led the Eid śalāt at 9 a.m. the next morning.