By: Shahid Moyeen Qasmi
I feel it my solemn duty to offer a few sentences in tribute and homage to my loved teacher and the teacher of thousands of Islamic scholars. I mean hadhrat Mufti Sa’id sb, Palanpuri (r.h) – the former head teacher of Darul Uloom Deoband, India. Millions of Muslims are grief-stricken due to his demise. He was a multi-dimensional personality and specialist of many areas of knowledge. A single individual, but a walking library of Islamic knowledge. He, in himself, was a complete and comprehensive syllabus. Along with the expertise in Islamic education, he also new different languages. He was endowed with boundless intellect and bestowed with formidable confidence and single-minded dedication to his multiple academic domains. He managed his time with extraordinary strictness. In this regard he was immune to the vicissitudes of life. He did experience sad moments, rough and tough times in several points of his life, but he stood like a rock against all adversities. Nothing could blunt his enthusiasm or dent his confidence.
In spite of being a great personality, he was quite affectionate and kind. His fatherly demeanor in gatherings would encourage scholars to ask him questions on any academic point, his personal life and achievements, to which he would respond in a mellow way.
He would not mind interruption or counter question. Therefore, scholars would not only gain knowledge from him but would also learn from him the art of overcoming the adversities of life. Hadhrat’s daily majlis (gathering) after Asr, at his residence in Deoband always used to be full of students, teachers and guests from across the world, though the residence was far from Darul Uloom. And this was the true of every majlis wherever he was.
On one Firiday, I and Mualana Rashid sb Qasmi Palanpuri (Goregaon, Mumbai) attended his Majlis at his house in Deoband. He was clipping his nails by himself – like the habit of many Islamic scholars to carry on small work while meeting the common people to save their precious time. Maulana Rashid sb sought his permission to clip the nails, but hahdrat mufti sb(r.h) didn’t allow. I saw him with my own eyes clipping his nails while his fingers were shaking when pressing the nail-cutter against the nails of feet. Perhaps, it was the end of 2016 and he was almost 75- year old.
Maulana Rashid sb submitted saying, it is convenient to clip the nails directly after shower when they are soft. Hadhrat said twice, “Yes, you are right. But there is one more point. Tell that too.” It showed that, hadhrat Mufti sb(r.h) had his own reason , but even then he didn’t discourage.
When the majalis was getting over, Maualan Rashid sb extended a packet of sweet through someone else. Hadhrat accepted that and said, “Surely, none other than Maulavi Rashid brought it. He should not have done that”.
There was another occasion of Fiqhi seminar of Jami’at-e- Ulam-e- Hind in 2016 in Chennai, India. We attended his Majlis after Isha, in the room where he was put up. As was usual with his majalis, the room was full of people. Scholars were sitting till the edge of the door.
In that majlis, significantly, hadhrat Mufti Zaid sb Mazahiri, Nadwi asked him questions about his personal attainments. Zaid sb said, “You’re the one upon whom Allah swt has showered many bounties. You have a huge amount of knowledge, many children, popularity, acceptance and wealth”. So hadhrat Mufti sb replied in vivid detail. “In the beginning, we had a little bit financial constraint. So I would dispense with tea and beetle leaves in the last week of the month to maintain the family. After the compilation of Hidayatul Qur’an (his commentary on the glorious Qur’an), blessings started in livelihood.”.
Answering the question on how to make the family content with the financial constraints due to the paltry salaries and poor facilities in madaaris, he illuminated saying: “A person should give what he has to his wife and say to her: “This is what we have to maintain our family. Take it and run the family. When she knows the veritable condition with absolute certitude, and believes that now it is up to her how to adjust, she will be content and cooperative.”.
He further elaborated: “If we are sincere, serious and wise, Allah paves the way. Prosperity is paved with adversities. The entire family is moulded. I exhorted my wife to learn the glorious Qur’an by heart. She commenced, but latter she found it onerous to do on account of domestic chores. I said: You may have someone to assist you or may leave the chores, but you should not let this magnificent attainment evade you. And alhamdulillah , she became a hafizah and many other female children could also follow in her footsteps by her help.”
Uniqueness to lighten weighty matters
Especially in a lengthy and highly academic seminar, he would speak in his unique style. He would dispel the fatigue cased by the length and the subject matter into sheer joy by examples and anecdotes, though the discourse would remain purely academic and intellectual. There would have never been any cheap joke or rumour but the presentation itself used to make the listeners feel fresh and elevated.
On the occasion of the fiqhi seminar in Chennai, Mualana Husain sb Madrasi, Qasmi (a Shaikhul Hadeeth of a Madrasa in Madras), invited him to breakfast. His house was situated at a distance from the Madras Hajj House where the seminar was hosted. Despite that, hadhrat (r.h) accepted the invitation and honoured his house by his blessed arrival. His advent at the house of Maulana Husain sb, was so simple and friendly that I am unable to portray its sublime and awesome picture in my words. While having breakfast, he behaved in an informal manner as if he was in his own home. He ate, fed and taught many relevant things.
Following the breakfast, he came in the personal library of Husain sb. Husain sb said, “Hadhrat! All the books belong to you. Please take whatever you like.”. Hadhrat (r.h) replied: “I would have taken some, but nowadays I don’t study any book, I study only the glorious Qur’an and write the commentaries. I have fully read every book of my library! Whatever book I ever took, I studied that. But now, only the glorious Qur’an.”
He further said, “Some people fancy buying good books and aspire to have their own library and they do have, but they don’t study any book.”
Inspiration & Appreciation
Hadhrat (r.h )asked Maulana Husain sb about the books he was teaching. Mualana told, I teach Bukhari Shareef. Hadhrat (r.h ) encouraged him saying: “Bukhari is a book which can be taught by anyone (like you)”. And he affirmed it with a euphoric and benevolent smile.
Likewise, he repeatedly said to the seminar participant Muftiyan- specialists in Islamic jurisprudence, “I participate in this seminar only to meet you, the selected scholars from across the country”. This when he himself was one of the leading lights of the seminar!
His words of appreciation on the books of several scholars reflect his academic generosity and manifest the trait of inspiring the new generation. His overwhelming sentences on the books of Mufti Ishtiyaque sb, teacher of Darul Uloom Deoband, Mufti Zaid sb Mazahiri ,Nadwi teacher of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama and Mufti Shoaibullah Khan sb, Bangalore, are glimpses of that generous spirit.
Maulana Ejazul Haq sb Qasmi Saharanpuri informed me that he presented my humble effort of a book “Arabi Me Ma’haarat Ke Tareeqe” (written in Urdu) to hadrat Mufti sb(r.h). He reported that when he presented the book to hadhrat mufti sb in his majlis of after Asr, hadhrat himself read one paragraph from it which discusses the ways of reading any Arabic text and the techniques to learn therefrom the usage, vocabulary and phrases. Thereafter hadhrat (r.a.) said to the present students , “Read this! What is written in this book is the main principle.”
Such open hearted recognition from such a learned personage is something which I will always treasure.
During the same night in Madrass, when hadhrat Mufti Zaid sb and others were asking him questions, I, Mualana Rashid sb Palanpuri and other scholars were massaging his blessed heels and feet. He was not allowing us make any effort in that, just permitting a light touch. During these blessed moments, like his other pupils, I too had to report on my activities in detail. Though it was late night, he listened with all attention and stirred me to do more saying: “ This work is the need of hour. Carry on this endeavour!”. I specially mentioned one speech of mine in more detail, he listened to it fully. One of the scholars, who was present in the majlis suggested some addition to that speech, however, hadhrat Mufti sb said: “What Maulawi Shahid spoke was only advisable and relevant to the topic”.
Source on the ancestors life stories
He was very close to his loved teachers and ancestor scholars and had intimate knowledge on their day-to-day practices, profiles and attitudes. He talked about many great scholars on that day, many of whose names I unfortunately forgot. However, one name that I recollect is that of hadhrat Mualana Umar sb Palanpuri (r.h). Hadhrat Mufti sb(r.h) spoke about him in a particular context: “ Mualana Umar sb Palanpuri(r.h) was something different. He was very sincere. He would come to meet the teachers of Darul Uloom Deoband, present gifts to them and seek their blessings.”
Respect for all while retaining his individuality
In some issues, he differed from rest of the scholars, but he respected all and exhorted his pupils and adherents to follow the view of majority. He always represented Darul Uloom’s Darul Ifta publically and advocated its views. His speeches in Masjid-e- Umar Mominnagar, Jogeshwari, Mumbai and other places witness that. He would say, “We ourselves designated these scholars as the Muftis of our Darul Ifta, now how can we oppose their verdicts?”.
His role in keeping Shari’ah pure & safe
He always stood opposed to innovation or addition to “Shar’iah”. In this regard, he didn’t consider anyone’s relation, popularity and status. He would occasionally speak on this during the class. He would not hesitate to pull up anyone, if he found him straying from the right direction on any issue.
He was among the most discussed Personalities
Hadhrat Mufti sb(r.h) was among the most discussed personalities of the contemporary era. About 23 years ago, I was a student of Madrasa Arabia Baitul Uloom Saraimeer Azamgarh U.P, India. The former students of the madrasah used to come from Darul Uloom Deoband and would discuss with the teachers: “ Hadhrat Mufti Sa’id sb spoke so and so on so and so issue”. Thereupon the teacher would reply, “ Yes, Mufti sb deserves to speak so”.
Right now, I recollect the name of Mualuan Iltifat sb, Nandawa from the same area. He would come in vacations and discuss with my beloved teacher hadhrat Mufti Jamal sb (d.b).
My teacher hadhrat Maulana Abdurrasheed sb Sultanpuri, Mazahiri (d.b) would mention hadhrat Mufti sb (r.h), in the class with great respect. He would say with pride, “ I met hadhrat Mufti Sa’id Ahamad sb Palanpuri in so and so programme and discussed with him so and so issue and he replied so and so”.
As I recall now, my beloved teacher hadhrat Mufti Jamal sb Azmi (d.b) said, “If hadhrat Mufti Sa’id sb teaches anyone fully, it will be enough for him. I mean he would not have to go anywhere to learn any further!”.
Power of realizing the “munkar” (evil)
In the above mentioned journey of Chennai, he graced a Qur’an completion ceremony of a madrasah and delivered a sermon on the magnificence of memorizing the glorious Qur’an. During his sermon he asserted, “A hafiz student can excel in any subject, but sometimes a hafiz child deviates and does nothing further on account of his self-delusion that he has become supreme and he will reign supreme and some people also misguide him by their unnecessary praise”.
While departing from the Madrasah, he saw some small children wearing “Lungi”. On the spot, he strictly asked the rector not to allow Lungi for any child. He especially stressed on bed time exhorting, “All should sleep in ‘Pa’ijam’ only”.
Hadhrat Mufti sb (r.h) was very humble. His high rank in knowledge and post of the head teacher and Shaikhul Hadeeth of the world famous seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband, did not impede him in getting his high share from morality and humbleness. Once I was sitting in his majlis after Asr, in Deoband. Mufti Ishitiyaque sb the teacher of Darul Uloom Deoband came. Hadhrat Mufti sb (r.h) said to him, “Come on! Come on!”. He sat pretty close to him. Hadhrat Mufti sb (r.h) asked him, “Where were you yesterday?”. Maulana replied, “I was in a programme”. Hadhrat further asked, “On which topic did you address?”. I forgot his answer.
In the same majlis hadhrat(r.h) was informed that hadhrat Maulana Noor Alam Khalil Al-Amini sb (d.b) -senior professor of Arabic literature at Darul Uloom Deoband and the Editor of its Arabic Magazine “Al-Da’i”- is grief-stricken as his father -in- law had passed away. Hadhrat Mualana Noor Alam (d.b) himself was recently discharged from hospital and his wife was fasting that day. Hadhrat (r.h) just waited for Maghrib. Having performed Maghrib he directly walked to visit hadhrat Mualana Noor Alam sb(d.b) to offer his condolences, although their residences were far from each other. Hadhrat Mufti sb climbed the long flight stairs to reach the house of hadhrat Mualana Amini sb to console him.
The memories and experiences associated with Hadhrat Mufti Sa’id sb Palanpuri (r.a.) will be cherished forever. I pay my heartfelt condolences to his entire family and to all those who are in mourning. May Allah swt shower His bounties on hadhrat Mufti sb, grant humanity his better substitute and inspire us to follow his footsteps.
Note! The author is a multilingual speaker.