“O’ Moon of the dark night”: A walk along the coast and lessons on life by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud r.a.

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Ataul Fatir Tahir

Poets are known to echo their opinions about society, often drawing on the changing world around them. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was a man who would reverberate the realm of spirituality and lessons of life not only through his prose, but, as a well-established poet, his poetry would disseminate spiritual pearls to understand the nature of God, while also enabling his readers to take action and lead a practical life.

In 1940, during his stay in Karachi he took an evening stroll with his family along the coast. The Moon was shining bright that night and as a result, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra spontaneously began to utter couplets with relation to the Moon, God and World War II.

The (Urdu) couplets were later published as a poem entitled “Yoon anderi rat mein ay chand tu chamka na kar”, “O Moon of the dark night, why shine so bright”.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, when publishing the poem, also wrote a prologue to the couplets and how they developed as he walked along Clifton Coast with his family. I have taken some extracts from this fascinating prologue and wish to share them with the Al Hakam readers as a means of inspiration. It shows how Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was able to merge reflection upon nature into beautiful and inspiring couplets.

He was truly an epitome of the Quranic verse:

“Those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth…” (Surah Aal-e-Imran, Ch.3:V. 192)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:

“A walk along the coast during a moonlit night is very pleasant indeed. One night, during our stay in Karachi, we went for a walk along Clifton Coast. I was accompanied by my youngest wife, Sadiqa Begum Sahiba, may Allah bestow her peace, my three daughters, Nasira Begum, Amatul Rashid Begum, Amatul Aziz and Amatul Wadud, may Allah bestow peace on them, and also Mansoor Ahmad, may Allah bestow him peace.

“At 11pm, during the night, the shimmering of the Moon reflected through the waves of the sea made the Moon look beautiful and up in the sky, it looked yet more wonderful. As we walked along the sand, the pleasure [of such an atmosphere] increased and we could see the omnipotence of Allah the Almighty … My gaze, once again, fell upon the sky and I saw the Moon displaying its glow in the most unique manner. At that moment, the memory of a night that had passed 50 years prior flashed before my eyes, when a holy man who possessed divine insight, a beloved of God, after observing the Moon drew a sad sigh. Then, the next day, in his memory, the world was given the following message:

As I gazed at the Moon last night, I became extremely restless;

For its glow was reminiscent of my Beloved’s beauty

“For a while I recited this couplet and then, addressing the Moon, I uttered some couplets of my own in memory of that Beloved [God]:

O Moon of the dark night, why shine so bright;

And why remind a lover, of his vibrant beloved’s sight

“My attention then drew to the true Beloved, who the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, was referring to in his couplet. Remembering that Beloved friend [God], I said some couplets of my own while looking at the Moon:

Keeping distance from your lover, indeed is not appropriate;

You tend to shine far in the sky and watch me in despair

“It is certainly possible to see the beauty of Allah within the Moon. At times, however, for a lover, this does not suffice. They desire their Beloved not to merely glance at them from above, but to enter their heart and manifest Himself before their eyes. [They desire] for Him to apply an ointment to their wounded heart and become the very medicine for their sorrow because without this remedy there is no treatment.”

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra then begins to draw lessons from the sea that was reflecting the glowing Moon:

“My gaze then fell upon the waves of the sea which were reflecting the Moon. As I stepped closer [to the reflection of the Moon], it grew further away. I again moved closer but the reflection drew further. As a result, my heart ached and I said it is exactly in this manner that sometimes a seeker is treated; he tries to meet God but his efforts apparently arrive face-to-face with failure. His worship, his sacrifices, his remembrance and his cries bear no fruit. This is because Allah the Almighty tests his steadfastness and, as a result, the seeker believes his efforts to have no effect. Many of the faint hearted lose hope while others who are courageous continue their efforts until their goal is achieved. However, these days are extremely testing and the heart of a seeker remains discouraged at every moment; his morale diminishes.

“The best example of the Moon’s reflection drawing further away is while one is aboard a ship that travels for miles on end, yet the Moon’s reflection still runs further away from it. Due to this reason I said:

When I glide in the boat of love, to come, O’ beloved, your way;

Why, but, like the Moon, do you slowly drift away”

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra then teaches the meaning of this couplet to his daughters while entering into the sea with them; he points out how the Moon’s reflection was drawing further away as they advanced into the sea. Discussing this he writes:

“In the same way, at times, one’s efforts towards meeting with God are rendered useless and the more he strives to draw closer, the further away Allah the Almighty moves. At such an instance, there is no cure except for imploring Allah the Almighty’s mercy. One should only desire His beneficence so that God puts an end to the trial and grants His communion.”

World War II was at its peak during the time of this incident, particularly on the shores of France in Dunkirk. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, as with all our Khulafa, was a man very aware of the world around him; he deeply understood politics, business, the sciences, comparative religion, modern history and the current affairs of the time. With regard to the war, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra draws inspiriting and inspiring motivation from the sea:

“My sight then fell upon the waves of the sea that were rising like mountains in the moonlight. [At that point] my eyes began to look at that side of the sea towards which hundreds of thousands were giving their lives in the battlefield of France. I thought to myself, that on the one hand there are those courageous and brave people who, for the honour of their country, are offering sacrifices. And on the contrary, there are our people of India who are constantly engrossed in seeking ease and rest. I began to think of our women; how they are being wasted and bereaved of true effort and striving.

“O’ how I wish that our men and women also develop a passion to act, exert effort and practically do something. May they understand that, after all, those [people in France] are also humans who are risking their lives on the waves of the sea for their nation. They are adorning the battlefield with their blood and care not about the fate of the loved ones they leave behind. At this point I uttered:

To act is to succeed and to die is to live eternally;

Dread not the high tide, leap forward into the wave [of endeavour]”

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’sra passion and desire for his nation to wake up and venture for the betterment of their country was a constant theme throughout his life. He was a passionate, motivational and inspiring leader who would enable people to take action, eschew laziness and become proactive towards development and success.

As he said this couplet, Hazrat Amatul Wadood Sahiba began to profusely tremble. When Huzoorra asked her the reason, she simply brushed it off as nothing. Later, when she passed away, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’sra wife, Hazrat Sadiqa Begum Sahiba told him that Amatul Wadood Sahiba, after the incident of her body trembling at the couplet, once told her that she thought Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said the couplet about her and inadvertently she trembled hearing it. Commenting on this Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra wrote:

“She had just given her [final] exams and as her journey of education was ending, her practical life was about to begin. Her pious nature gathered that I was addressing her when I said this couplet; that now you should step into the practical life and, enduring every danger, should achieve something for Islam. It was God’s decree that she was not able to see success in her practical life but Allah the Almighty granted her life through death. He is the All Powerful, as He wills, He is able to grant life:

To act is to succeed and to die is to live eternally;

Dread not the high tide, leap forward into the wave [of endeavour]”

Every poem of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra carries lessons and insight into the world of spirituality and Islam; often sprouting from his observations of nature and world events. Since the time of the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, the poems written by the Khulafa-e-Ahmadiyyat have always aimed to serve Islam and Muslims in one way or another; their purpose was not to be poets, rather to inspire people towards the truthfulness of Islam, serving religion and establishing a relationship with Allah.

(The prologue to the poem was published by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra in Al Fazl on 6 July 1940 and can also be found in Kalam-e-Mahmud)

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