Where stars descend – Chapter 4 (Subduing the ego) – Part I


Asif M Basit

In the previous chapters, I have spoken about having had the good fortune of being able to narrate personal experiences and observations of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa. The main reference point of these encounters has been the daftari mulaqats (official audience with Huzooraa).

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Before commencing with this article, I deem it appropriate to make one clarification:

Usually when using the term daftari mulaqats, people may imagine a strictly work-related meeting with the head of an international organisation. However, this is not the case. The fact is that daftari mulaqats are distinct in nature from general mulaqats in that guidance is sought from Huzooraa concerning Jamaat-related matters and discussing personal matters is avoided unless Huzooraa himself enquires about something personal. But even in the daftari mulaqats, Huzoor’s spiritual light and wisdom is at its apex. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would give his Companionsra wisdom and insight into state related affairs and even then, he enlightened his Companions with his spiritual strength and divine wisdom.

In the same manner, when the Imam of this final community of God gives us guidance in our administrative matters, he does so through the exalted teachings of the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. Now, I wish to share some instances below that can exemplify what I have mentioned above.

When talking about work, there are bound to be interdepartmental conflicts or differences. In fact, it is quite natural for there to be differences of opinion between people from the same department. However, if the conflicts begin to escalate and become a means of the waste of working hours, then it is inexcusable.

On one occasion, someone sent a letter to Huzooraa as a complaint against my department. Huzooraa sent this letter to me with a question mark on it. It was the first time I had encountered someone sending Huzooraa a letter of complaint about me and the letter being sent back to me with a question mark. It made me restless beyond words. I was agitated about the letter of complaint already, but I was even more distressed due to the question mark that had been sent to me. What does this mean? What am I to do in response?

When I entered Huzoor’s office for my next mulaqat, I assumed that the first thing Huzooraa would do was ask me about that letter. I did not know if I could bear to see Huzooraa angry with me, God forbid. But when I entered, there was no trace of displeasure. I sought guidance from Huzooraa on the matters I had brought, in order of the list I had made in my notebook. Very lovingly, Huzooraa gave guidance on each matter.

Towards the end of the mulaqat, I submitted to Huzooraa, “What should I do in response to the letter sent by Huzoor with the question mark? Should I write back to Huzoor or the individual?” Huzooraa instructed me to write to the individual. Thus, in accordance with Huzoor’s directive, as soon as I left the office, I wrote a reply to the letter of complaint.

The matter had already been presented to Huzooraa, so I sent a copy of the letter to Huzooraa as well. For several days thereafter, a painful sequence of events took place wherein the person who sent the original letter of complaint would send a letter to me and a copy to Huzooraa, to which I would reply with a copy being sent to Huzooraa, and this continued.

After a few days, I received a message from the private secretariat saying that Huzooraa had instructed that we both meet Huzooraa together.

Now, the situation was even more serious than before. I began thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have sent copies of my letters to Huzooraa. But as humans, we find thousands of excuses to justify our wrongdoings and to supress the sounds of our inner conscience. So, I began to justify myself in my mind. He was the one who started it. I was compelled to respond. Does the matter lie in Huzoor’s hands now? Will only one of us be proven innocent? There is no room for self-justifications and explanations before Huzooraa. It is a place where utter submission and obedience must be shown.

After a lot of deliberation, I decided that no matter what happened, I would apologise and would never partake in such an exchange of letters again. Th e day of the mulaqat arrived. We entered Huzoor’s office and Huzooraa smiled and very lovingly asked, “What is this series of letters you two have started?” Thereafter, Huzooraa told us about the matter and explained to us how the solution was so simple.

“The issue is being unnecessarily prolonged.”

Huzooraa gave us many solutions and told us how to resolve the matter. We both thanked Huzooraa and apologised for wasting Huzoor’s precious time. As we were about to leave, Huzooraa instructed, “Pick up that bag behind you.” I picked it up, to which Huzooraa asked, “What’s in it? Show me.” As I peered into the bag to show Huzooraa, I saw two cushions in the shape of a heart with the Tahir Heart Foundation logo on them. Huzooraa smiled and said, “Both of you take one, place it on your heart and carry on with your work peacefully.”

I was left dumbfounded! What I thought would happen was the exact opposite of what actually occurred! We were shocked, ashamed and thankful, all at the same time. It was a minor issue, which resulted in a waste of time. But the biggest concern for us both was that Huzoor’s precious time was wasted.

When I went for my next mulaqat, Huzooraa enquired, “Phir? Masla hal hogya tha?” (So, was the matter resolved?) I replied in the affirmative. The problem had been resolved and I apologised once again that Huzoor’s valuable time had been wasted.

Huzooraa replied, “In this sort of exchange of letters, the problem becomes secondary and a competition to put the other person down becomes the objective. If you meet in person, then the matter can be resolved within a matter of minutes.”

There was a profound lesson in what Huzooraa had said. When I reflected, I realised that it was exactly how Huzooraa had portrayed. Somewhere along the line, we seem to become too focused on trying to avoid appearing false so that we may prevail as the truthful ones and the actual matter, which is of real importance, gets blurred.

Come what may, the decision made by Khalifatul Masih will be in the best interest of the Jamaat. There should be no question of winning or losing. Th e only thing that becomes a hindrance in sitting down together and discussing issues is our egos. Had we sat down and discussed the matter, instead of competing in an “expressive writing competition”, we would not have been in this situation.

Similarly, on one occasion, Huzooraa informed me that a certain someone had a personal grudge with me. I replied that I was aware of this. “Huzoor, I try my utmost, but his heart is never cleansed.”

Here, an ordinary person would have had one of two responses; either to be sympathetic towards me or sympathetic with the other individual. Obviously, I thought that I was more worthy of sympathy, but Huzoor’s response was perfectly balanced with wisdom and depth, beyond what I had expected.

Huzooraa replied, “Maybe your attempt is not satisfactory for him. Tum jhuk jao [Humble yourself in front of him].” I replied to Huzooraa that I had shown humility myself, but Huzooraa again replied:

”اور جھک جاؤ۔ اگر اگلا تمہارے اتنا جھکنے سے راضی نہیں تو اور زیادہ جھک جاؤ۔ اتنا جھک جاؤ کہ اگلے کو خود شرم آجائے اور اس کا دل نرم ہو جائے“۔

(Humble yourself even more. If the other is not satisfied with your effort, then you should humble yourself a step further. Humble yourself to the extent that the other feels embarrassed and thus, softens his sentiments for you.)

Huzooraa explained a principle of life, without showing any sympathy with anyone. Ultimately, we are both like Huzoor’s own children. Why should Huzooraa be sympathetic towards me and condemn the other’s actions?

Now, my responsibility was to humble myself and continue to submit myself in humility. Obviously, Huzooraa knew that it was not an easy task. Thus, Huzooraa made it easier by saying:

“The Promised Messiahas has said:

 بد تر بنو ہر ایک سے اپنے خیال میں

“(Consider yourself lower than everyone else.)

“When you bear this in mind, submitting with humility will become easier.”

What a wonderful principle that the Promised Messiahas has conveyed to us and reiterated by his Khalifa!

Similarly, on another occasion, Huzooraa said:

“You should read the following line from the poem of the Promised Messiahas with mein hoon [I am] instead of mein tha [I was]:

میں تھا غریب و بے کس و گمنام و بے ہنر

“[I was poor, helpless and without any skill].”

At another instance, Huzooraa said:

“God Almighty revealed to the Promised Messiahas:

تیری عاجزانہ راہیں اس کو پسند آئیں

“[He is pleased with your humble ways].

“So remember, Allah is only pleased with those who tread the path of humility.”

All these incidents took place during daftari mulaqats. But they are a guiding light in our day to day lives taken from the teachings of the Holy Quran, ahadith and sayings of the Promised Messiahas.

If we benefit from this, then we are certainly victorious. Otherwise, it is extremely unfortunate.

In relation to an administrative matter, a certain individual wrote a lengthy letter and sent it to me, a large part of which contained grievances. A copy of the letter had been sent to Huzooraa also. I was aware that Huzooraa did not appreciate matters like this being extended unnecessarily and therefore, I replied to the letter by answering each and every concern individually so that the matter could be settled once and for all. I am not aware of the reply he received from Huzooraa, but the reply I received was:

“Your response should have been no longer than three lines.”

What I understood from this was that not only did Huzooraa mean that the number of letters should not be unnecessarily lengthy, but also that the contents of the letter should not be lengthy either. I realised what I had done wrong and understood the lesson.

Thereafter, whenever I have received a letter from that individual, I have never written more than:

“Dear Sir, I have received your letter. In my opinion, the matter is not how you have said but it is like this … If I am wrong, however, I humbly apologise.”

Huzooraa practically explained how I should act upon Huzoor’s guidance and instruction of humbling myself. In essence, Huzooraa explained that the ego could not fulfil its desire in a mere three-line letter. In fact, three lines could only express one’s humility.

On one occasion, there was an issue with a foreign MTA studio. The matter was presented to Huzooraa for guidance, to which Huzooraa gave ample guidance. Huzooraa then instructed that I write a letter to the MTA studio in light of the guidance Huzoor had given during the mulaqat. I wrote the letter but thought that because it was an instruction of Huzooraa, therefore I should present the letter to Huzooraa for final approval.

Thus, I presented it to Huzooraa during a mulaqat. Whilst examining the letter, Huzooraa noticed a loophole in how I had written the letter. Huzooraa said that such and such point that he had mentioned could be invalidated by such and such response and I would have to write another letter. Huzooraa then said, “Whenever you write a letter, always bear in mind the queries that can arise as a result of what you have written. Your sentences should be so comprehensive that they should not beg any further questions. Otherwise you will end up writing letters and the responses to their replies and so on and so forth. This will waste time.”

Huzoor’s farsightedness in our administrative matters is incredible. By the grace of God, I have witnessed incidents like this countless times, some of which I shall now share with you. From time to time, I make it a point to mention the names of my colleagues and their efforts before Huzooraa with a request for prayers. There is not much else that we can do for them other than to present their names to Huzooraa so that they too can partake of the blessings in Huzoor’s prayers.

MTA International broadcasts Jalsa Salana UK throughout the course of three days. In-between the various Jalsa sessions, discussion programmes and live continuities are shown on MTA. All the presenters’ names are sent beforehand to Huzooraa for approval and prayers. By the grace of Allah, each year, the Jalsa broadcast has been successful.

On one occasion, when the Jalsa had come to a close, I hastened to write a letter to Huzooraa the following Monday morning informing him of the broadcast. I wrote that alhamdolillah, the Jalsa broadcast had been a success and all programmes were well-received by the viewers. I also sent a list of the presenters and requested prayers for all of them. Thereafter, I received a reply from Huzooraa saying:

Alhamdolillah. Dua [Prayers]. There wouldn’t have been any harm had you written [his] name too.”

My palms became sweaty holding the letter. How could I have forgotten his name? The individual in question was a key-member of our presenters’ team and worked diligently throughout the Jalsa period. I had written the letter so hastily that I didn’t bother checking the original list of presenters and thus, their name had been left out. I became very upset that it had happened, but among all other emotions, shame was what I felt the most. I was astonished that I had left that name out, but above all I was astounded that the one name I had missed out, Huzooraa remembered it without consulting any list.

I wrote another letter to Huzooraa, seeking apologies and wrote about the individual I had left out as well as their efforts during Jalsa Salana. Although it was an honest mistake to miss out that name, it was another lesson for me. First of all, I learnt that when writing to Huzooraa, one should have all details of information available and should not rely on one’s memory.

Secondly, one should never be too hasty in writing letters to Huzooraa. The letter that I wrote consisted of a report and a request for prayers; there was no urgency in the matter, nor was I seeking guidance on an issue. It truly would not have harmed me if I had checked the original list and copied all the names from there. The divinely guided person I wrote this letter to is a person who is either already aware of any shortcomings or God Almighty causes his vision to settle on that very place where there is a shortcoming. This has been experienced not once, but numerous times during Gulshan-e-Waqf-e-Nau classes.

Quite literally, hundreds of Waqifeen sit before Huzooraa during those classes. Huzooraa has noticed a child sitting in a distant corner of the hall and would asked him, “Your name is Zafir, but the organisers have spelt it with a ‘Dh’ instead of a ‘Z’.”

We have always been left astounded at such occasions. Among all those Waqifeen, Huzooraa noticed the one Waqif-e-Nau whose card bore a spelling mistake. From such a distance, Huzooraa was able to read his name card and notice the spelling mistake.

The material that is read out during these classes is placed on a table in front of Huzooraa, so that if Huzooraa wishes to check something or clarify something, he may do so. I also possess a copy of the material and as a child delivers his speech, I too follow him by reading it to myself. It has so happened that a child had just begun his speech, I noticed a typo ahead or some other mistake, the child had not yet reached that place when Huzooraa picked up his copy, flicked through the pages – one, two, three, four – stopped at the place where the mistake was, looked up at me, smiled and then put the copy back down.

At times, Huzooraa has even corrected the mistake there and then or waited until after the speech. Everyone is aware how busy Huzoor’s schedule is. Huzooraa has himself at times told us that he has very little time for television and at most, Huzooraa watches the news. But I say this without any exaggeration that many a time, it has happened that either in a mulaqat or through the private secretary or directly on the telephone that Huzooraa has said that he was just watching MTA or that he was watching MTA the night before when he noticed something wrong with a programme or something that was said or the way it was said and instructed me to correct it immediately.

Everyone is aware of Huzoor’s routine. For those who do not reside in London, or, for whatever reason, are not aware of Huzoor’s routine, Abid Waheed Khan Sahib’s diaries and the private secretary’s interview (broadcast on MTA in August 2016) shed ample light on Huzoor’s busy schedule. It is my faith that those programmes were decreed by God to be broadcast at that time so that Huzooraa would notice those errors.

The perfect depiction of God blessing his chosen ones with knowledge of the unseen can be witnessed today in the person of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.

Click here for Part II

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