Updated: Jun 19
"What would nana suggest if he were here?" The question constantly rings in my head as the time to decide my discipline for my master's degree descends upon me. It's only been a fortnight since he's gone, yet it feels like we haven't heard his voice in months. He was the foundation of our family – the very first brick that strengthened the construction. He brimmed with knowledge. His judgment was the soundest; hence, all of us confided in him for the most trivial of our dilemmas. How could we not? He had always been the most equipped to guide us. He taught us to explore every aspect of the problem before coming up with a solution. Besides his well-constructed suggestions, it was his and Nani's unfeigned prayers for each of us that became the cause of our success. Be it our academic results looming over our heads or any other trouble that became an obstacle, one request for prayer, and they'd spend nights making duas in the best of our interests.
The personality of my nana Jaan dripped off profundity and simplicity. Allah had given him everything he could ask for: good children, a loving family, utmost respect amongst everyone, and substantial wealth. Yet, he never prioritized the Dunya over deen. He did his Doctorate in Islamic History from the University of Karachi. He primarily became a teacher there and eventually took the mantle as the Chairman of the department. Because of his earnest accomplishments, he was soon appointed as Dean Faculty of Arts and Commerce. After his doctorate, he did his bachelor's in law and also studied homeopathy, which he later put into practice. He very evidently excelled in everything he took an interest in. Although he never practiced law, his knowledge of it was quite apparent in his writings. He was quite literally our flambeau – a flaming torch that illuminated our lives with his knowledge and his mere presence.
He was also an award-winning writer. It would be safe to say that his writing skills were birthed from his love for Islam. He never wasted his time writing aimlessly. All his manuscripts were focused on one goal, and that was to preach the ahkam of Allah and His beloved (P.B.U.H). The first time he ever wrote – his professor refused to believe that it was his writing – he was in college. He was asked to write again – this time in front of the professor – and so he did. His professor was awe-stricken at his capability to deliver. The way his words used to be adorned on the blank pages, as though they were pearls. He wrote several books in the span of his lifetime – all of them pertaining to one topic only: Islam. He was granted tons of awards for his work and research on seerat. It took him 37 years to compile the very last Khutbah of Hazrat Muhammad S.A.W (commonly known as the sermon of Hajjatul Wida) in his book of the same name.
My nana spent all his life working and researching on the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). The testimony lies in the room at his home solely dedicated to books – all thousands of them that vouch for him and his deep love for our beautiful deen. He did his best to make us love Islam as much as he did and to follow the Quran and its guidance. For this purpose, he held an occasion of exhortation (dars-e-Quran) every month. Whether it was our youngest cousin or our oldest uncle, everyone at home was decreed to partake. And because he had been a teacher, discipline, punctuality, and effective management were his expertise. It was quite evident that he wished to see all of us in Jannah with him.
His principles of life were founded on the teachings of the Quran, and I can say this with much pride that he never compromised on them. He was always strict when it came to morals. Sometimes, his strictness took the form of words, and when it did, he would critique us for not following the orders that came directly from Quran. That is also because he loved us so much. Now that I think of it, no love could have ever been so selfless, so solicitous. Not only did he love us but adored all of us to bits. It manifested in his gleaming face whenever we would visit him, in his heartfelt, cuddly hugs, his lingering caresses, and of course in random rewards of money whenever he was happier.
He had learned how to balance deen and Dunya side by side, and he did so flawlessly. I remember how he used to tell me the stories of his childhood at night when he'd lay down to sleep. And as I massaged his legs, he would tell me about how he used to walk to school to save money to buy himself books. He didn't become religious as he got older; instead, he told me that he had never once missed salah since he was nine years old. When he got Covid last year, it restricted him to bed until his passing, and he could not perform salah the way he wished to. He couldn't go for Jummah's prayers, and only he knew how much he yearned for it. A Friday before his demise, he kept insisting on the fact that he had gone to pray Jummah at Masjid. We thought that it must have been his dream, but he was positive that he went to Masjid by himself and offered the Jummah prayer alongside others. Now that I think of it, it must have been Allah who comforted his heart by placing the feeling inside of him as if he really did offer the prayer in Masjid.
On the 25th of January, a seminar was held in the University of Karachi in my nana's regard, courtesy of the Chairman of the Department of Islamic History, Dr. Muhammad Sohail Shafiq, who was also his former student. While his life and achievements were being discussed by an esteemed consortium of scholars, his students, and his loved ones, all I could think of was how my beloved nana was not appreciated nearly enough for everything he'd done for us – the coming generation. He spent his life in such a humble manner that we could never have guessed how renowned of a personality he was. His conversations were laced with humility and, although each word he uttered brimmed with knowledge and capability, I never saw his head held high with arrogance. My mother tells me that he was just as proficient in handling house chores as he was in everything else. My Nani was a working woman; therefore, my nana never hesitated to take turns cooking, doing dishes, and helping kids with their homework.
I loved my Nana. More than I thought it was plausible to love someone. He was so much of everything. Everything he said, advised, and did was exemplary. There are so many aspects of his personality that cannot be expressed. I find myself so lucky that Allah chose him to be my nana jaan. I got to spend twenty years of my life under the silk drape of his selfless love and infinite knowledge, and I can't be more grateful to Allah ta'ala for it. The only regret is that I didn't get to spend more time with him. My heart sinks as I realize that he will not be able to experience the happiness of our future milestones. However, I must admit that he may be gone physically from this world, but his being and his teachings have been integrated into our souls, and will remain so.
Grief was the only emotion I had been unfamiliar with – gladly. Now that I am somewhat qualified in navigating emotions, I have realized that this might be the most suffocating out of all. As someone who has long learned to make sense of my feelings and emotions through the art of writing, it is very painful to realize that every single emotion that I ever felt could be contained in the blank pages of my journal. However, grief refuses to be tamed in words; it tears itself away from the syllables that formulate sentences and washes over my body like a cold shower in chilly weather. It draws shivers from every part of it and becomes grueling to endure.
But I am so afraid that I will lose it, this grief. I feel that if I ever let go of this pain and grow around it in some years, I will forget my nana. I will no longer make dua for him the way he deserves. Or that asking for his maghfirat will become just one of the duas after salah. I will no longer miss him in my moments of happiness. All of this terrifies me. Hence, I wish that this grief stays with me for as long as I live and breathe. Because it will allow me to keep him and his teachings etched into my soul. And he needs that more than anything. All this sadness also makes me feel helpless. The only thing I am capable of right now is making countless prayers for his peace, which I will continue to do so. May Allah accepts all his endeavors in the path of Islam, all his good deeds, forgive him for all the times he was led astray, and reunite us all in Jannah, Aameen.
"The sun has set forever, but its light will continue to shine on our path as we move forward." – Bazigah.