By Ali Mohammad Rajput
Special to Simerg
“My child, you are going to UK, very different to your country of origin, always remember my words of advice and never forget as it is for your own good. Pick up their good principles and make them your own, and leave their vices and bad habits to them alone.”
I would like to share with my readers the personal feelings I have towards my Imam. Having been blessed with several opportunities to have audience with my 48th as well the present Imam, I have unforgettable memories in mind which have guided me through out my life. Here I describe an hour and twenty minute meeting; a murid in the presence of his Imam.
It would be useful to familiarize my readers with this writer: I belong to the Punjab Ismailia Jamat which was converted to Islam personally by the Imam himself. My father, Rai missionary Inayat Ali was amongst the first of 12 pioneers in this conversion. I have described this historical incident in my contribution on this Web site’s series, I Wish I’d Been There, and I invite you to read A Unique Moment in the Life of the Punjab Jamat.
On pages 4 and 5 of his Memoirs, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah makes a reference to the conversion as follows:
“‘As I look back, there is one memory, one piece of self–knowledge, which gives me the utmost satisfaction. I had myself, personal responsibility for the conversion to Islam of some 30,000 to 40,000 Hindus, many of them of the upper, professional classes. They had been a people without faith who now were introduced to this faith. Neither my father nor my grand father had been asked to attempt a religious task of this magnitude. Its fulfilment has had one important and interesting effect: had the great majority of these converts remained Hindu, they would in all probability have suffered the mass displacement and destabilization that accompanied the Partition of Pakistan in 1947.”
I am happy to share, that through opportunities, both public and private, to meet the Imam of the age, I have felt him to play the role of a parent or grand parent, always giving right and sound advice to his spiritual children: he sometimes remembers your name and minute details of your problems for which he offers you sound counsel to solve them. He takes interest in all the problems both material and spiritual of his murids.
I stood up and lo! she brought the Imam in a wheelchair; I fell at his feet in prostration and then she left us alone and I heard a voice, “Stand up, bring that chair and sit beside me.”
The Imam visited Punjab Jamat at Lahore in 1948. During this visit, he was told that I, Ali Mohammad son of missionary Inayat Ali, age 22years, had achieved an MA Degree at highest levels at Punjab University. He then summoned me into his presence and ordered Aitimadi Hussain Ali Javeri, his private secretary, to allow me to proceed to UK for a doctoral education at the expense of the Imamat. It took 6 years of correspondance with his secretaries to attempt securing this scholarship without result. Ultimately, during the Platinum Jubilee in 1954 in Karachi, the Imam recognised me in the crowd, welcomed me into his personal audience and furnished me the funds for my doctoral program to UK.
The first leg of my journey was by boat from Karachi to Egypt and the latter, was by train from the Italian port of Genoa to Liverpool in UK, in September, 1954. The train route took me along the French Riviera. When we arrived in Cannes, I remembered that this was where the Imam resided. Could I be blessed by his holy Deedar? I departed the train and telephoned Yakimour with my request. I suppose that a secretary was on the other side of the line; I was told this request was impossible as His Highness was in bed with temperature. I insisted, and he agreed for me to talk with Her Highness, the Begum. I felt very happy to hear the voice of Mata Salamat; her initial response was that a meeting would not be possible. But she said she would see His Highness in his room and convey to me on the phone, whatever firman was given for me. I was thrilled with the outcome and waited for a couple of minutes, and I heard the voice of Mata Salamat saying, “How fortunate you are, as His Highness has asked you to come straight away to Yakimour for an holy audience.”
The Audience with Noor Mawlana Sultan Mohammad Shah, The Hazar Imam
Yak zamane suhbate ba auliya, Bihtar az sad sala ta’at bi riya – Rumi
A short time in the company of a ‘Friend of Allah’ is several time more fruitful than a thousand years of sincere devotional prayers to God
With a bouquet of flowers as token of a symbol of my utmost humble love and devotion, I hopped into a taxi. The next I remember, I was at the front door of Yakimour and Mata Salamat herself was opening the door. She took me into the lounge and said, “You may have to wait here in this lounge for a while before the Prince will see you. I will come back when he is ready.”
After half an hour, she returned, “I will bring him in a couple of minutes, be ready.” I stood up and lo! she brought the Imam in a wheelchair; I fell at his feet in prostration and then she left us alone and I heard a voice, “Stand up, bring that chair and sit beside me.”
I stood up; the lounge lit up with the Noor of Imamat. I did as asked and sat beside the Imam of the Age, lost in deep thought.
To calm me, the Imam gently asked, “How was your journey from Karachi to Yakimour?”
“Khudawand, it was very good, being my first trip to Europe; it has been very exciting for me.”
“How are my Jamats in Punjab and Frontier?”
I replied, “Khudawand, they are doing well, although our Jamats are far behind in material strength including in education and need Mawla’s material assistance as well as Imam’s blessings.”
“How is the political situation in Pakistan these days?”
“Khudawand, I am not a politician, but the country was quite normal when I left.”
“I give dozens of scholarships for higher education to Pakistan Government. Why do our Ismaili students not take advantage of it?”
“Khudawand, there is no fair play in Pakistan, only those students who have some approach to the Government authorities receive the benefit”, I replied.
He then said:
“My child, you are going to UK, very different to your country of origin, always remember my words of advice and never forget as it is for your own good. Pick up their good principles and make them your own, and leave their vices and bad habits to them alone. The good habits, you should adopt are their truthfulness, punctuality, sense of duty and the bad habits you must reject are, drinking, smoking, gambling and other vices. Your foremost duty is to attend to your educational activities and never forget your religious obligation.”
I responded, “Khudawand, Hazar Imam is very kind.”
There was raz-o-niaz between the Imam and his humble murid for some time. I looked at my watch and realised that I was in that exalted company for nearly one full hour. His humble servant who could not secure 5 minutes of Mawla’s time a little while ago, had exceeded his limits. I felt guilty of overstaying and with this thought in mind, I stood up from my seat to take my leave.
“Would you not like to have a photograph with your Imam before you leave?” he asked.
I was struck with awe, and humbly replied, ”Khudawand, I dare not ask your Highness, but I would very much like to have such a remembrance for the rest of my life if Mawla pleases.”
“Call my chauffeur who is waiting outside.”
I went outside and called the chauffeur and Hazar Imam instructed him to fetch the camera and asked the Begum to come for a photo session. Hazar Imam said to me, “I will post the picture to you at your London address.” The photo reached me within a week.
Mata Salamat then wheeled the Imam to his room.
The audience of Mawlana Hazar Imam indeed changed my whole life. I was in the presence of Hazar Imam all alone and I saw my Mawla in full glory as Hujjat-i-Khudawindi on this earth. Although his station had been an exalted one, he never for a moment let me feel nervous: in His Person I felt engulfed within a palpable aura of Noor. He let me feel as if I was in the company of my loving grand- father, full of love and affection and naught else, the words of wisdom engraved on my heart and always a light in the Tariqa, the Sirat al-Mustaqeem.
Publication date: November 11, 2010
About the writer: Dr Ali Mohammad Rajput was born on Navroz, 21st March, 1924, in Kalianwala, a small village where his father had built the first Jamatkhana in 1910. After completing his early education in a local village school, he pursued his University education at Lahore where he qualified with a Masters in Math and Statistics. He proceeded to the United Kingdom (as described above) and completed his PhD in 1957 in Mathematical Statistics and then another Masters degree in Islamics in 1985 . He retired from his university teaching career in Birmingham in 1983 and has devoted the rest of his life to a better understanding of his faith and service to the Ismaili community. In 1991, the current Imam asked him to visit his headquarters in Aiglemont, where Dr. Rajput was assigned to go on a mission to Tajikistan in March, 1991.
Ever since that time he has been in the service of the people of Badakhshan, where he spends his summer working as Professor Emeritus at the University of Khorog. He spends the remainder of the year in Birmingham, England.
Please also read the author’s contribution A Unique Moment in the Life of the Punjab Jamat.
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