(Extracted from Haz Sheik's Ramadhan of the Pious (Akaabir Ka Ramadhan)
I have written in AAP BETI No 6 under the heading of spiritual exertion, that while dictating the practices of Hazrat Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi in Ramadan, I wanted to note it down because of its relevance to the subject. There I wrote:
“His extreme exertion in spiritual exercises were such that onlookers felt pity for him. Such was he that in Ramadan, even when his age had advanced beyond seventy, he fasted the whole day and then in Owabeen, instead of six rakats, he used to perform twenty rakats, during which he never recited less than approximately two paras. So long did he stay in ruku and sujood that onlookers thought that he had forgotten himself. On finishing this salaah, he proceeded homeward to partake of the evening meal. Even during this time too he would not remain idle, but en route and waiting for the food etc, he also finished reciting several paras.
Soon he would commence Esha salaah and taraweeh, which did not take less than an hour or an hour and a quarter at least. Thereafter he would lie down at about half past ten only to rise again at about two O’clock or half past two for tahajjud. At times his attendants and assistants found him performing wudoo at one O’clock. At this time of the night he used to spend 2-1/2 hours to three hours in tahajjud. Sometimes it happened that an attendant would go to him at five O’clock to join him for sehri and would find him in salaah.
After Fajr he remained busy reciting wazeefas, wirds and engrossed in meditation until eight O’clock or half past eight. Then it was time for Ishraq salaah. Thereafter for a few hours he would rest.
During this time the mail would arrive and he would begin answering letters and writing fatwas or dictate them. Thereafter it was time for Salatul-Duhaa (Chasht), and on performing this salaah, he would have his daytime sleep.
After Zuhr salaah he usually closed the door of his private room and busied himself with the recitation of the Quran until Asr time. Note that in the year for which this was his practices, he was suffering from extreme old age and various other sicknesses to such an extent that to walk from the toilet to his room - a mere fifteen paces - he became so tired that he had to sit down somewhere along the way to rest. In spite of this condition he never performed fard or nafl salaahs sitting down, but remained standing for hours. On several occasions attendants implored him: “Hazrat, today you should perform taraweeh from the sitting position. This seems quite appropriate.”
He always replied: “No! that is a sign of lack of courage and perseverance.”
All I can say is this that it is no easy task to be a true follower of him who is reported to have answered:
“Shall I then not be a grateful slave?”
During Ramadan there was a marked increase in his ibadat and exertion especially as far as his recitation of the Quran was concerned. Even when going to and from his house he never spoke. If an estimate of the total amount of his daily recitations in and out of salaah is made, it comes to about half a khatam of the Quran daily. On the morning of the first day of fasting he used to say:
“From today all noises of conversation shall cease. If any man allows Ramadan to be wasted, it is a great sorrow indeed.”
Now, what was his diet for such severe efforts? So little did he eat for the whole of Ramadan that the total of it all amounted to less than five 'seer’ (5kg) of grain. In his biography - “TAZKIRA-E-RASHEED” written by the successor (khalifa) of the Imam Rabbani, Hakeem Is-haq Saheb, his Ramadan habits are discussed:
“During Ramadan he used to emerge from his private resting place late in the morning. In summer he generally came out about ten O’clock because he used to greatly increase his nafl salah, tilawat of the Quran, his moments of silence and meditation as compared with other months. In this time he slept very little, spoke very little, only retiring after Maghrib for a while to eat something. Initially he himself used to lead all twenty raka-’ah s of taraweeh salaah and later performed it behind his son, Hafiz Hakeem Muhammad
Mas’ood Saheb. After that he performed two long raka-’ahs of nafl salaah, sometimes standing up and sometimes sitting down, thereafter remaining seated for a long time facing the Qibla and reciting. Thereafter he performed one sajdah-e-tilawat and stood up. From hearing some of the word he recited softly, I deduced that he recited Surah Mulk, Surah Sajdah and Surah Dukhaan.
He usually fasted the ten days of Zi1 Haj, the days of Ashura and the middle of Sha’baan.”
My late father on many occasions told the following story:
“During Hazrat’s last Ramadan I led the taraweeh prayers (for him and his attendants). It so happened that because of some reason or other, Hazrat’s son, Hakeem Muhammad Mas’ood was unable to perform it.”
For quite some days before the commencement of Ramadan Hazrat said:
“Mas’ood Ahmad Saheb is indisposed and not available to lead taraweeh prayers. Who is going to recite the Quran for us in Taraweeh?”
On every occasion I wanted to offer my services and declare my readiness, but out of respect I refrained from doing so. Two days before Ramadan Hazrat said:
“Moulvi Yahya Saheb, you are also a hafiz of the Quran?
I replied: Yes Hazrat, I am indeed. But I recite the Quran in a Persian tone. You are used to hearing the recitation of Hakeem Mas’ood Ahmad Saheb, who is indeed a fine Qari.”
Hazrat replied: “No, I have already heard your recitation. You shall lead in taraweeh.”
My father says: “On the first day it was a great burden for me. By way of preparation, I had to recite one and a quarter para of the Quran by looking into the Quran. I had memorised the Quran at the age of seven. Thereafter for six months I had to look into the Quran and daily recite one full khatam. And since then I have never looked into the Quran to recite it. The first day, in order to prepare myself properly, I recited 1-1/4 paras from the Quran, but from the second day onwards the fear, nervousness and anxiety disappeared. Thereafter there was no further need to look into the Quran.”
My late father (May Allah fill his resting place with noor) was indeed a very good hafiz with tremendous energy to recite the Quran by heart. He had a bookshop where he himself made up the parcels to be posted, and wrote the addresses himself. While doing that he was all the time reciting the Quran in audible fashion without ever becoming confused or struggling over the ‘mutashaabihaat’.
Maulana ‘Ashiq Ilahi writes about him in “TAZKIRA-E-KHALEEL’:
“Once upon my request he was invited to Meerut to lead taraweeh prayers and recite the Quran in Ramadan. I saw that wherever he went, he was all the time busy reciting by himself so that he finished a whole khatam daily. When it was time for Iftar, he was reading: “Qul a’oothu bi rabbinnaas...”
When he arrived by rail at Meerut it was Esha time. Being a man who was continuously in a state of wudoo, he entered the mosque and immediately proceeded to the musallah to lead the prayers and in three hours recited ten paras so clearly, without any struggling over difficult patches as if the Quran was an open book in front of him. So comfortable was his pace of recitation, that he completed a full khatam of the Quran in three nights and departed. So good a hafiz was he that there was no need to revise his reading beforehand; neither was there any need for someone to stand behind him and listen with a view to correct if needed.”
My father also used to say about this visit to Meerut: “When the word got around in Meerut that a certain man was coming to complete a full khatam of the Quran in salaah within three days, thirty or fourty hafizes arrived from far and wide to stand behind him and test him.”
My late father never had trouble with fever in Ramadan like myself. On the invitations and insistence of friends, he often went to their places to finish a khatam in two or at the most three nights before returning home. In mosques he generally did it in three nights and in other ibadat-khanas he generally did so in two or even in one night. Once on the invitation of the late Shah ZAHID HUSSAIN he completed a khatam at Shah Saheb’s house in two nights.
I can still remember his recitation in the Nawab-wali Masjid in Qasaabpura, Delhi. A certain Moulvi Naseeruddin was busy performing taraweeh in the Hakeem Ishaq Masjid. At that time my father arrived in Delhi from somewhere. He went to rest a little in the resting place of Hakeem Ishaq attached to the Masjid. It so happened that Moulvi Naseeruddin was reciting the 14th para and making heavy weather, so that he had to be corrected time and again. My father went into the Masjid and as soon as Moulvi Naseeruddin gave the next salaam, he asked him to vacate the spot, and he himself took over. In the next sixteen rakaats he recited sixteen paras. No doubt, the musallis must have found the going tiring and exhausting. But it is a fact that people are more pleased with finishing the Quran quickly than they are worried about a bit of hardship. To have been able to finish the Quran on the 12th night made them forget their exhaustion.
I can also remember his recitation of the Quran in the house of Ummi Bi in Kandhla. She is Amatur Rahman, the daughter of Maulana Muzaffar Hussain, my father’s maternal grandmother who became known as Ummi Bi. In answer to a special request he remained reciting the Quran throughout the night in nafl prayers. Because of the fact that according to us (Hanafis) it is not permissible to have more than four muqtadees in nafl prayers, the ladies behind him had to be changed continuously, while my father continued reciting.
My late uncle (Maulana Ilyaas) also used to visit Kandhla in Ramadan because of the presence there of Ummi Bi. At such times the Quran khatam used to be completed in about one single night. At such times he performed Esha salaah in the Masjid and thereafter go to the house of Ummi Bi to perform taraweeh there from after Esha until sehri time, thereby completing fourteen or fifteen paras. Maulana Raooful Hasan Saheb is the uncle of my late father and the father of my late wife. His story has already been mentioned in ‘AAP BETI’ under the heading: TAQWA. On the 30th Ramadan he recited from Alif Laam Meem until Qul a-’oothu bi rabbil falaq... in one single raka-’ah and in the second raka-’ah he recited only Surah ... al Naas! Then at sehri time he told his mother Ummi bi:
“I have now performed two raka-’aha. Will you now perform the other eighteen?”
During all that time the mother listened to the Quran while standing, behind him in the salaah!
(The above is quite relevant to the subject under discussion and also refers to the Ramadan of the Elders. That is why it is mentioned here).