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Friday, 14 January 2011

PASSING AWAY OF HAZRAT SYEDNA PIR MEHER ALI SHAH (R.A)

Illness and debilitation
As hinted at various places either, Hazrat (R.A) had been used to eating, sleeping and speaking sparingly throughout his life. Constant remembrance of Allah and indulgence in related spiritual exercises had made him indifferent to worldly comforts and luxuries. As once admitted by himself, he used to go without food for several days during his student life without experiencing any hunger. Possibly as a result of this austere regimen, the stomach ceased to function properly in life, and the troublesome ailment of hiccough set in, sometimes to continue for weeks on end.
Sensitivity to the misfortunes and hardships of devotees
Despite the aforesaid austere schedule and other occasional ailments, Hazrat’s general health remained quite good until the age of about 71-72 year. In 1928-29, however, symptoms of debility started steadily increasing. This was due not only to physical illness, but also in appreciable measure to the multiple spiritual pre-occupations and especially to the mental distress caused by tales of woe narrated by the devotees arriving in Golra in large numbers almost daily from different places. In addition, numerous letters were received from devotees with similar tales of sorrow and grief. Due to Hazrat’s practical adherence to the principle of Wahdat-ul-wajood the troubles of others had become his own, and he felt them no less acutely than the persons concerned themselves. In this respect, Hazrat’s sensitivity reflected that of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) himself. According to Syedah Aysha Siddiqah (R.A), his wife of revered memory, the Prophet Muhammad’s  (P.B.U.H) health had been very good in the beginning. Towards the closing years of his life, however, concern for the fate of the Islamic ummah had emotionally affected him so deeply that his health underwent a rapid decline. The result was that he was obliged to say his nawafil, (supererogatory prayers) in a sitting posture. Sometimes he would recite the following Quranic ayah of Surah Al-Ma'ida ayah 118, in his prayers at night and then burst into tears:  
Translation: "If Thou dost punish them, lo! They are Thy slaves: and if Thou dost forgive them, Thou are the Mighty, the Wise".     (V,118)
Spiritual progress
As Hazrat (R.A) advanced in years, his visionary capacity also steadily increased. Alone or in company, a state of obliviousness to everything around him absorbed him. He spoke less and less even when in company, and remained mostly occupied in silent contemplation. His complexion kept changing hues, reflecting his constant inner spiritual activity. Occasionally, he would raise his hand and heave a sigh of distress. During this period, he often recited the following Urdu verse which provided an indication of his inner state:  
Translation: "In the place where my heart has set up its camp, there is room neither for speech nor quest".
Clues to Hazrat’s inner state
Around this time, some devotees of Hazrat (R.A), who were deeply concerned about his health, were re-assured through dreams and visions that Hazrat’s condition was not due to anything wrong with his health, but was rooted elsewhere. One such devotee, belonging to Multan, had the privilege of seeing Syedna Ghaus-e-Azam (R.A) in a dream and heard him say that Hazrat was in fact traversing a spiritual stage at that time, which had to be crossed entirely on one’s own since no external spiritual succour could be provided to help one out. Even so, Syedna Ghaus-e-Azam added, one eminent spiritual personality (meaning himself) was providing guidance to Hazrat in successfully passing through this stage.  
Because of the physical weakness, Hazrat (R.A) had by this time been obliged to discontinue his riding schedule. Since, however, the doctors insisted that some way must be found for him to have a little daily exercise, he tried for a few days to take a short stroll after Asr prayers. This, too, could not be kept for long. Hazrat Babuji, therefore, bought a car and arranged for Hazrat (R.A) to take daily rides in it for few miles.
A letter from Allama Muhammad Iqbal
During the early stages of Hazrat’s spiritual absorption, a letter, addressed to him by the late Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, world-famed poet-philosopher of the East, was received in Golra Sharif. In this letter, the Allama had sought clarification by Hazrat (R.A) of the contents of a chapter of Futuhat-e-Makkiyah (The Meccan Revelations), the renowned book by Hazrat Shaikh Muhyuddin Ibn-ul-Arabi on the subject of Wahdat-ul-Wajood (Ultimate Oneness of Being). The letter was read out to Hazrat (R.A) during one of his rare moments of respite from Istighraq (spiritual absorption). Hazrat (R.A) listened carefully to the contents of the letter, and asked to present the letter at some other time when he was in better state of mind. Accordingly, the letter was presented after a few days but due to continued illness and discomfort, however, Hazrat (R.A) asked the devotee, to write back expressing regret that he was unable to respond to the letter due to his illness.
English translation of Allama Iqbal’s letter in question is given below for the benefit of the reader:
Respected Hazrat Qibla,
                                      Assalam-o-Alaikum,
I have wished for long time to have the privilege of meeting you, but have unable to do so. I am now trying to make amends by writing this letter. Even though I am afraid it would not be easy for you to respond (in the present state of your health), I am nevertheless taking the liberty of writing the letter because “there is no other door in India which could be knocked at for the purpose which I have in view.” Relying on your generosity of mind, therefore, I do hope that the letter will be vouchsafed a reply.
Last year, I had given a lecture in England on Mujaddid Alf-e-Sani (Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind). The lecture had been well received in the fair-minded circles of that country. I am now planning to speak this time on Hazrat Muhyuddin Ibn-ul-Arabi. In this connection, I set out below certain questions which seem to me to need clarification:
(i)  What views had Hazrat Shaikh-e-Akbar (i.e., Muhyuddin Ibn-ul-Arabi) expressed on the subject of Haqiqat-e-Zaman (i.e., reality of time) in his various writings? How do his views differ from those of other leading scholars on this subject?
(ii)  In which books of Shaikh-e-Akbar has his views expressed on this subject been set out, and where on each book? I ask this because I would wish to study the relevant books personally as well.
(iii) Have any other sufi ulama also discussed this subject in any of his writings? If so, these may kindly be identified. The late Maulvi Syed Anwar Shah had once given me an Arabic booklet titled “Dirayatuz-zaman” (analysis of Time) sometime ago, which dealt with this subject, and which you also must have seen. I have found the booklet to be too brief, however, and would wish to have more light shed on the subject.
      Having been told that your good self had discontinued teaching for sometime, I was reluctant to write this letter. Since, however, my sole object is to serve the cause of Islam, I expect you to be kind enough to excuse this intrusion on your time.
                                                                                                     Sincerely,
                                                                                               Muhammad Iqbal.
Passing Away of Hazrat (R.A)
In the early years of his spiritual journey, Hazrat had imposed upon himself an exceptionally exacting regimen of prayers, contemplation, and physical self-denial. This included very sparing intake of food and long spells of fasting, even outside the obligatory fasting enjoined during the Holy month of Ramadan. His stomach therefore gradually became less and less used to food, and its digestive capacity was impaired in consequence. Towards the later years of his life, this gave rise to the onset of the persistent and prolonged spells of hiccoughs, an exceedingly distressing malady. This was followed by an ailment, which defied diagnosis by doctors and physicians. These different afflictions, which continued more or less for a period of about ten years, intensified during the closing 4 or 5 years, when Hazrat was almost constantly bed-ridden.
Despite this most trying situation, Hazrat continued to meet the un- ending stream of visiting devotees regularly, to pray for them, and to answer their various questions. Even though Hazrat Babuji was taking care of large numbers of visitors in order to relieve Hazrat of a part of his burden, Hazrat (R.A) nevertheless continued discharging his responsibilities himself as long as he was able to do so. This indicated the precedence over every thing else even at the cost of his own comfort.
The state of almost total Istighraq lasted for about 2-21/2  years towards the end. During this state, a devotee had to convey the requests of visiting disciples to Hazrat several times in order to attract his attention to elicit his prayers. Once Hazrat recited the following prayer during this period: 
Translation: "O Allah! Make our beginning good, and our end also good and settle all our affairs on a good and blessed note, for the sake of thy Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), the paragon of all good."    
Occasionally, Hazrat (R.A) would try to make some conversation, but would soon relapse into unconsciousness. Indeed these spells caused even greater strain and distress to him than usual. Although the real reason for this can be understood only by those who actually pass through such experiences it seems probable that the distress resulted from commuting between two totally different worlds, i.e., the physical world and the world of spirit, a move towards spiritual absorption.
On one such occasion Hazrat Babuji had all the doors of Hazrat’s room opened so that those desirous of having a glimpse of him could do so. As far as it can be recalled, Hazrat asked the late Qari Ghulam Muhammad to recite Surah Yusaf (Joseph-XII of the Holy Quran) on this occasion, and was moved to tears at some points while listening to the Surah. At the end of the recitation Hazrat Babuji took the opportunity to request Hazrat to pray for all those present at the time, which he readily did.



  
  

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