Moulvi Sheikh Ali Ahmed

Delhi-lond-illust-1858
The City of Delhi Before the Siege – The Illustrated London News Jan 16, 1858

Moulvi Sheikh Ali Ahmed

Sheikh Ali Ahmed was Moulvi Sheikh Makhdoom Baksh’s younger son, he too was born and grew up in Laherpur and received his early schooling at home. After the death of their father, and upon attaining gainful employment Sheikh Ahmed Ali took on the responsibility and care of his younger brother. He took him with him to Delhi and arranged for his education there. Although Ali Ahmed Sahib did not complete the formal course of prescribed schooling, his mastery of Arabic, Persian, Mathematics, and other subjects were exemplary. His Arabic reading and comprehension were effortless as was his fine perception of Persian poetry and discourse; what is more, he took a deep interest in all aspects of knowledge and learning. So much so, that late in life, during his period of employment in the State of Dujana, he undertook the study of the Hadith under the guidance of Moulvi Imam Uddin Sahib a learned religious scholar and received a Sanad from him. He was an avid connoisseur and collector of books; it is doubtful that any other remember of our family had as fine or large a library as his and at that time his library was considered one of the finest in Delhi. When Nawab Saddiq Hasan Khan Sahib, Rais[1] of Bhopal came to Delhi to attend the Imperial Darbar in 1877, he expressed a desire to view Moulvi Sahib’s Kitab Khana. Maulana Moulvi Nazeer Hussain Sahib Muhaddis Dehlvi Ala al-Reham facilitated the visit and accompanied Nawab Sahib on his visit. Nawab Sahib spent a considerable amount of time looking through the books and was clearly inspired by the collection. And if my memory does not fail me, perhaps a couple of hand-written manuscripts of Fan-e-Hadiths were also presented to him as Nazar; some books were also borrowed for copying as well.

Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib had acquired the skills to practice the Khaat Shifea under the tutelage of his elder brother Moulvi Ahmed Ali, but the script he regularly used was somewhere in between the Nastaliq and the Khaat Shifea, and by virtue of its neatness and refinement it was very pleasing to behold.

While he was still a student, with his education yet incomplete,Moulvi Ali Ahmed had without the knowledge of his mother or elder brother  contracted a marriage in Delhi with a young woman who was not from their clan or extended family. For quite a long time no one (else) had any knowledge about this. Eventually,  however, when they were informed, his mother and brother found this marriage completely unacceptable. The reason for this was that in those days (amongst our people) marrying outside one’s biradari and one’s own vatan was considered inadmissible no matter how respectable or high-born or noble the individual might be. Furthermore, Moulvi Sahib’s engagement to Bibi Aleemah, the oldest daughter of Sheikh Umeed Ali had already been agreed upon and this complicated the entire matter even more.  Moulvi Sahib possessed a sensitive temperament and an independent disposition and taking umbrage at his mother and brother’s obvious display of disapproval stayed away from home for several days. How could his mother and brother possibly be comfortable with this situation? A couple of days later he was duly summoned and warmly embraced, and with this reconciliation, family relationships were restored. Nonetheless, this new relationship made him realise the necessity of standing on his own two feet no matter how, and to achieve this he had to seek employment. His education had already been interrupted, now the quest for employment brought it to a total halt. This went entirely against the wishes of his older brother who was of the opinion that his education must continue and once that was completed there would be no problem in securing a suitable government post. But this reasoning did not appeal to Moulvi Ali Ahmed’s intrepid character. In those days, the ruler of the State of Alwar was a man whose fame, virtue and nobility of character was universally spoken of in northern Hindustan, one is of course referring to Maharaja Shri Sheodan Singh (1857-1874), whose generosity, benevolence and tolerance had elevated a minor State like Alwar to an extraodinarily elevated status. Munshi Amu Jan Sahib, a scion of one of Delhi’s noblest families, was the Honourable Dewan of the State. With both ruler and minister of one mind and cut from the same mould the small State of Alwar became a centre for many renowned scholars and experts in the arts. If one were to write a history of all the well-known people who were gathered at Alwar in those days it would constitute a fairly substantial book on its own. To sum things up, since Moulvi Ali Ahmed was well acquainted with Munshi Amu Jan and his kith and kin, and since he was in search of a job, he too headed to Alwar and through the mediation of the late Munshi Sahib was assigned the post of Nazir [2] of the State workshops. The Department of Manufacturing was considered an important department within the State where items ranging from cannons and rifles to all the necessities from the smallest of small items were produced. This department was such that almost every employee of the State had some exigency associated with it which could not be met without the assistance of the Nazir. Because of this, the Nazir of this particular department held an exceptional position amongst the State officials. Moreover, Moulvi Ali Ahmed, in contrast to his older brother, was not one who sought solitude or a sequestered life. Within a short period, he had through his affable behaviour, his resourcefulness and compassion attained a position that commanded both eminence and respect from the State officials. Unfortunately, Munshi Sahib Marhoom’s ascendency and his influence was resented by the kinsmen of the Maharaja and a communal coterie  formed which constantly intriguing and conspired against him. The Maharaj nonetheless had total trust and confidence in Munshi Sahib and therefore none of these schemes was able to reach fruition. This unusual ruler was an ardent patron of knowledge and learning and had surrounded himself with Muslims, predominantly a large congregation of shurafa from Delhi. He had little in common with his rustic brethren and his unlettered, uneducated and ignorant relatives and took a genuine delight in the company of the well-educated and the learned. Spending excessive time in their company he changed his lifestyle, his manner of dressing and behaviour, and began learning Arabic. This gave an opportunity to the discontent adversaries to, through different means, spread the rumour throughout the kingdom that the Maharaj had become a Muslim or was desirous of becoming one. This news created extreme anger and resentment amongst the Maharaj’s clan and courtiers, and they all together, came to the conclusion that until Munshi Amu Jan and those associated with him remained, they did not stand a chance of gaining any influence over the Maharaja. The first step then was to remove Munshi Sahib. Consequently, one night about a thousand men descended on and attacked Munshi Amu Jan’s house, and although Munshi Sahib managed to escape with his life, some of his relatives fought valiantly and lost their lives in the process.  As a result of this all those shurafa from Delhi who had assembled under Munshi Sahib’s auspices, demoralised and disheartened, scattered and dispersed and returned to Delhi. Amongst them was Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib along with the wife he had married in Delhi. Wary of the high possibility of dangerous attackers on the road, Moulvi Sahib decided that rather than take any jewellery or valuables with them, they should leave them behind in the safe custody of a trustworthy individual. His wife, however, did not agree with him on this and had all her jewellery and gold buried in various places within the house. Overnight a caravan of people assembled and departed from Alwar. They encountered no misfortune on the way since the raia or common subjects of the State were in fact very happy and contented with the ruling clique. Actually, it was because of this select coterie that the stability of the State structure was maintained, and the extraordinary eminence and reputation of this tiny State was courtesy of their administrative skills. There have been many noblemen since Maharaja Shri Sheodan Singh, but none have left such an enduring imprint and splendid legacy in the scholarly world. “Gulistan Alwar”, a book written by Rashid Agha Sahib, a student of Mohammad Amir Punjhakush Khush Naves was considered the pride of the Maharaja’s splendid library and was one of the most magnificent items in the world. It is said that the very upkeep of this collection, the constant care it required meant that just the expenditure on the employees’ salaries added up to a lakh of Rupees in those days. The Urdu translation of “Bostan-i-Khyal”[3] is also a result of the Maharaja’s munificence. An elegy by none other than the peerless Ghalib has ensured that the Maharaj’s name will remain alive as long as the Farsi language is around.

Needless to say, when Moulvi Ali Ahmed returned to Delhi safe and sound his mother and brother were absolutely delighted and overjoyed to see him. Since enough time had passed since his marriage, and now there was a child born of this union as well, the need for secrecy was no longer possible or desirable. Moulvi Sahib procured a house near his brother’s and took up residence there. Luckily the strategy his wife had conceived for safeguarding her gold and jewels proved successful; other people’s jewellery and gold which had been left behind in trust was misplaced and lost, but her entire collection remained untouched and intact. After the unrest died down in Alwar, she went back, rented the same house again, established her residence there and dug up her belongings from the places they were buried. The amount was considerable although a good portion went towards her travel and living expenses in Alwar.

Once more Moulvi Ali Ahmed found himself anxious, in search of employment. He was able to secure a Government job in the Police Force and for several years was the Superintendent at Mund and Bhawana Police Stations in close vicinity to Delhi. He was immensely respected and liked at each and every place he was posted and the relationships and friendships he developed with a number families and individuals were such that they lasted until the very end of his life.  Moulvi Ali Ahmed remained in the Police Force for forty to fifty years. Although I was just a child at that time, I clearly remember the constant visits of people and the love, regard and esteem that they held him in was outstanding; often people stayed over for extended periods and the hospitality and graciousness with which they were looked after was beyond description.

During his early years of employment, the insistence on his marriage once again resumed from Fatehpur. Those were the days before telegrams and regular mail; the journey from Delhi to Fatehpur took twenty to thirty days, but travel was commonplace, and people constantly journeyed back and forth. How could the news of Moulvi Sahib’s marriage to a non-kinswoman be kept concealed? This news was a source of great distress and anxiety for the extended family, particularly Sheikh Umeed Ali Sahib and he accordingly wrote a letter to Moulvi Sahib’s older brother Moulvi Ahmed Ali to confirm and substantiate this disconcerting report. Moulvi Ahmed Ali found himself in a very difficult position, on the one hand, his obvious preference and earnest desire was for his brother to marry within their circle of relatives and brethren so that the family relationships be reinforced and sustained, on the other was the actual fact of the Delhi marriage. The dilemma that Moulvi Ahmed Ali faced in informing the family was that other than confirming his brother’s deceit, it would mean a long-standing engagement would be broken and as a result would create difficulties later in securing marital alliances within the clan. After much thought and deliberation, the reply was couched in such terms that it neither affirmed nor negated the news that had drifted all the way to their vatan. But more than that, what allayed all consternation amongst their relatives back home was Moulvi Ahmed Ali’s assurance to them that he would personally take on the responsibility of ensuring that the girl would not face any kind of discomfort or distress. This proved extremely reassuring to his Rishtay kay Chacha, Sheikh Umeed Ali Sahib, and subsequently, Moulvi Sheikh Ali Sahib took an extended leave of absence and made the journey back home to his vatan.

Travel was not an easy matter in those days and travelling to the State of Awadh was particularly difficult. To enter the Kingdom of Awadh from the British controlled territories one had to obtain a travel permit and for those seeking to ensure an untroubled journey, it was necessary to enlist the services of an adequate number of armed guards and retainers. Thus, when he set out, Moulvi Ali Ahmed  had in his service two horses, a baggage-waggon and four to five servants. The entire journey passed without any mishap, but when this small party reached the edge of the qasba of Fatehpur a strange incident occurred. Sheikh Baqar Ali Marhoom’s house was located in the north corner of the town; news that government officials in an endeavour to recover and collect land-revenue were on their way had reached them and Sheikh Baqar Ali along with his sons and retainers were ready and prepared to confront them. It was evening by the time Sheikh Ali Ahmed Sahib and his people entered the orchard that was located north of Sheikh Baqar Ali’s house adjacent to Suraj Mukhi Talab (Sunflower Pond). (This orchard has since been cut down and left as open ground.) Sheikh Baqar Ali Sahib’s people thought the Revenue Collectors had arrived and without hesitation fired a round of two to three volleys. Moulvi Sheikh Ali Ahmed was an astute gentleman and immediately grasped the situation at hand, instead of retreating or trying to escape he stood his ground and called out loudly, “It is I Ali Ahmed, and I belong to this place.” On hearing this Sheikh Baqar and his son hurried towards the orchard to make sure no one had been injured and were relieved and overjoyed to discover none had been hurt. They hosted Moulvi Sahib for a while and then bade him farewell. News of this incident spread rapidly throughout the qasba, and the process of welcoming and inquiring about his well-being continued till late into the night. This anecdote was related to me by Chacha Marhoom himself. In Fatehpur, Moulvi Sheikh Ali Ahmed Sahib took up residence at the home of his Rishtay kay Chacha Moulvi Hafiz Hakeem Mohammad Ali Sahib and in keeping with the family tradition it was from this ancestral abode that his marriage was also solemnised.  Since his mother was with her older son Moulvi Ahmed Ali Sahib in Delhi, his Chachi, the mother of Hakim Masoom Ali Sahib, undertook all the preparations and arrangements for the wedding and bought the eldest daughter of Sheikh Umeed Ali Sahib, Bibi Aleemah, home after the marriage ceremony. At the culmination of the event, Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib returned to Delhi with the understanding that he would send for his new bride later. Within a year or two of Moulvi Sahib’s return to Delhi, the calamity of Ghaddar broke out in Hindustan and this plan had to be postponed temporarily. In the end, after Ghaddar, Sheikh Muzaffar Ali Marhoom escorted her from Fatehpur to Delhi. At the time of Ghaddar Moulvi Sahib was the thanadar at Borwane when a large band of mutineers attacked the thana and tehsil at Borwane, looted the treasury and burned down both buildings. The few guards posted at the station were no match for the larger, well-armed group of mutineers, some were killed, and others fled. Consequently, this part of the country was soon free of British authority and influence.  Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib tried to establish a new thana elsewhere, but people were afraid of the mutineers and unsuccessful in this endeavour, he returned to Delhi. After the rebellion had been put down and British administration restored, Moulvi Sahib returned to his post and continued to serve in government administration for several years. The story of his parting ways from government service was related by Moulvi Sahib himself; “There used to be a weekly bazar close to the thana where I was based. It was market day and two labourers who were unloading a cart of red sugar with shovels got into an argument over something, one man hit the other on his head with his shovel as a result of which he instantly fell down and died.” When an account of this event was reported to the District Magistrate an adverse report was issued which questioned the competence of the thanadar under whose very nose this event had occurred. Moulvi Sahib immediately wrote back in response that, “this report clearly indicated that the senior official is not familiar with the working of the local government at the district level otherwise such an adverse report would not have been issued.  An altercation had taken place between two men, one hit the other on the head in the event of which a fatality unfortunately occurred. This in no way reflected on the competence or incompetence of the local authority.” As a consequence of this rejoinder, he was summoned by the superintendent and advised him to take his words back which he refused to do and instead of apologising he handed in his resignation. After relinquishing this job, Moulvi Sahib did not seek government service again. Nor was he of an age, at this junction, to restart an official career anew elsewhere. He spent the rest of his life in comfort and peace serving at some of the minor Hindustani States bordering Delhi. His first appointment was in the State of Pataudi where he remained till the death of the Rias which was followed by a succession dispute and litigation. After his departure from Pataudi, he was unemployed for a short period before he took up the post of a lawyer and counsellor to a gentleman whose estate lay within the district of Meerut.  The progenitor of this family, a gentleman by the name of Skinner, figured amongst the important people pf the time. Colonel Skinner played an active role in the British-Mahratta wars; eventually the British made a pact with him and weaned him away from the Mahrattas. At this time, a large portion of the family property is in the districts of Bulandshahr, Meerut and the nearby areas. When this job ended he remained unemployed for an extended duration after which he managed to obtain a post in the State of Dujana in the district of Rohtak. There were ongoing lawsuits between Nawab Saadat Ali Khan the ruler of State and his paternal uncle Sher Ali Khan. Nawab Sahib engaged Moulvi Sahib to represent him in these cases. This entailed extensive travel to Lahore and Shimla and wherever the Lt Governor Punjab sojourned Moulvi Sahib had to follow. After several years of continuous representation and effort, the British government decided in favour of the Nawab Saadat Ali Khan and recognised him as the rightful ruler of the State. All the other lawsuits were also ruled in his favour.  Although the Nawab was well-known for his penurious habits, in this instance he displayed considerable generosity. Besides  bestowing Moulvi Sahib with a khilat [4] in recognition of his exemplary service, an ample sum of money was also awarded to him along with a written order that a fixed monthly stipend of …be allocated to him for the duration of his life by the State no matter where he chose to reside. After all the litigation was concluded, Moulvi Sahib continued to reside in Dujana although no particular task was assigned to him and every second or third day he would go in the evening and pay his respects to the Nawab Sahib. After the death of Nawab Sadaat Ali Khan, his son Nawab Mumtaz Ali Khan became the ruler. Unlike his parsimonious father, Nawab Mumtaz Ali Khan was excessively generous (to a fault) and was also appreciative of Moulvi Sahib. However, in his zeal to commence his state rule with administrative reforms he also reduced the stipend Moulvi Sahib was receiving at that time. This was not acceptable to Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib and he subsequently handed in his resignation, returned to Delhi and began to lead a retired life there. It was at that time that his eldest daughter Bibi Ruqiya was married to Hakim Mehmood Ali Sahib  this author older brother.

Because Moulvi Sahib’s offsprings and nephew (i.e. the author) were still young and their education incomplete, and since the income he received from the rent of his properties did not adequately meet his extensive and ever-increasing expenses, the prospect of seeking employment arose once more. Moulvi Mohammad Samiullah Khan Sahib CMG, who was at that time Sub-Judge in Aligarh and an old friend of Moulvi Sahib had come home on leave to his vatan, Delhi. Moulvi Sahib paid him a visit during which, among other matters, Moulvi Samiullah inquired about the state of the children’s education upon which Moulvi Sahib updated him with the particulars of our schooling. This was during the period when Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib was working diligently with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan Bahadur KCISI as his right-hand man in the difficult but imperative task of setting up a Madrasah-ul-Uloom Muslimoun in Aligarh. The fact is that Moulvi Samiullah played a major role in the establishment of the madrasah although many people deny that now. At that time there was a widespread storm of opposition to Sir Syed everywhere; the larger section of the population was unaware of the exigencies of the time and were unfamiliar with Sir Syed’s objectives, they viewed him and his endeavour with extreme suspicion and doubt and would not accept the idea of sending their children to his madrasah. In my opinion, the various strategies employed by Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib were exceedingly effective in overcoming this resistance and the laurels of these successes ought to rest on his head alone. Among other strategies, one scheme was aimed at admitting the children of those respectable and aristocratic families who were unable to meet all the madrasah expenses on their own by either allowing them to pay half or even quarter of the expenditure or by offering them assistance through monetary grants. On principle, the late Sir Syed Ahmed Khan Sahib was not particularly interested in this course of action but was persuaded by Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib to agree to this proposal and admissions were being undertaken accordingly. Having heard the full extent of Moulvi Ali Ahmed’s predicament, Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib suggested that “if you are interested in taking advantage of this scheme, I can make the necessary arrangements for you.”  Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib replied that “other than my nephew, none of my children are of the age that they can be removed from home and sent off on their own to the madrasah. The only way I can take care of my children’s education is by seeking employment and residing in Aligarh myself.” Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib was a man of few words but abundant resources. Hearing this he replied, ‘”there is every possibility of something like that, but why would you have any objections to sending your nephew?” Moulvi Sahib had no choice but to accept the offer. In short, with this assurance, Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib returned to Aligarh. One does not know what transpired between him and Raja Mohammad Baqar Ali Khan Sahib, Rais of Pindriwal, district Aligarh, but the Raja sent for Moulvi Ali Ahmed from Delhi and offered him the position of his Agent, based in Aligarh and  for accommodation purposes, assigned him a large mansion commonly referred to as Kala Mahal. Thanks to the auspiciousness and abundance of Moulvi Sahib’s noble intentions, and our good luck and fortune God Almighty thus provided for our education during that period of our lives. For Moulvi Sahib, otherwise, sending three to four children to the Aligarh Madrasah for schooling would have been prohibitive. At the time when Moulvi Sahib’s association as an employee of the State of Pindriwal began I was passed childhood and was of an age of clear comprehension and understanding, therefore all the events of this period are from my own memory of what I saw and heard. In actuality, Raja Baqar Ali Khan Sahib was the sovereign of Kotaha a tiny State in Punjab. This is the very same Kotaha that is mentioned by Mirza Sauda Rafi in one of his poems. He had inherited the State of Pindriwal in the district of Aligarh from his maternal family. And although Raja Baqar Ali was a minor aristocrat, because of his inherited nobleness, his personal virtue, his scholarship and simple tastes he was considered amongst the premier Muslim rais’s in the Aligarh region, and the administrators of that district held him in high regard and respect. Compared to the other Estate managers, who like him resided in Aligarh, Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib enjoyed a superior lifestlye of high dignity and prestige and was personally well acquainted with a large number of the administrative officials of the times. A result of this was that where agents of other estates failed, he managed to resolve issues with great success. Raja Sahib was extremely pleased with him, and he, in turn, was satisfied with the respect and confidence Raja Sahib placed in him. The selection and appointment of legal representatives in lawsuits, the selection of gifts and presentations, arrangements for celebrations and receptions were all Moulvi Sahib’s responsibilities and because of this, he had access to both the administrators and familiarity with the common man.  Raja Sahib always and only referred to him as “Moulvi Jee”. In this manner Moulvi Sahib spent fifteen to sixteen years of his life in the employment of that State and was thus able to fulfil his most important responsibility, that is of providing us with a good education. Towards the end, he would affirm that “the objective and aspiration with which I left Delhi and took up residence in Aligarh was realised with God’s grace and now residing here is no longer a necessity.” It was around this time that an unforeseen emergency compelled Raja Sahib to reduce his expenses and he sought to decrease the emolument that Moulvi Sahib received from the State. Moulvi Sahib did not accept this, he resigned and returned to Delhi.

Nawab Mumtaz Ali Khan Sahib, Rias of Dujana who had always shown great respect to Moulvi Sahib and addressed him as Chacha in view of the services he had rendered the State during Nawab Sahib’s father’s lifetime, and, who was thoroughly ashamed of having withheld the permanent stipend (from the State) promised to Moulvi Sahib now sent for him and declared. “Chacha,  I will not let you go back and forth now, you have been away from me for much too long. If you like you can take on the responsibility for any task within the State, and even this is not necessary, you have the option to live wherever you choose to live.” Moulvi Sahib who loved Nawab Mumtaz Ali Khan as he did his own children could not reject the Nawab’s heartfelt offer, he thanked him and thus resumed his association with the State of Dujana. This affiliation remained until the end of his life. It was during this later period of his life that he made frequents visits back and forth to our vatan, at times staying there for prolonged periods, several months at a time.

Unlike his father and older brother Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib lived a good long life. It is related that in his early years he was very slender and slim but in his youth, he apparently put on some weight. After the age of forty or fifty, around the time I reached the age of comprehension, he had a fit and healthy body well moulded by exercise. A broad chest, full arms, oval face, a finely chiselled long nose, and a wheat colour complexion; all these taken together presented a very pleasing sight. At durbars and government functions, he favoured the old-fashioned, traditional folded (Mohammad Shahi) turban, which was part of the conventional court dress of the Delhi aristocrat. In my time I have come across many other Muslim families where the elders favoured this type of pugree, for instance, the late Hakim Mehmood Khan Sahib and the late Hakim Mohammad Raza Khan Sahib and others who wore the same style of turban. In some Hindu families, this is still the established headgear although this traditional style is no longer customary amongst Muslims. Because of his height and built, his style and manner of dress and appearance, it was impossible for Moulvi Sahib to be present at a gathering and not draw the gaze of the other attendees. After seventy, eighty years of age, he began to lose weight and in his final days, he had become very thin again. His complexion had turned sallow and feebleness made walking around arduous. He avoided travel and his greatest desire was to end his days on the soil where he had spent the best years of his life and find a place in the sanctuary of Sultan Al-Masheikh whom both brothers had long venerated. Although there was no reason for him to continue residing in Delhi since all his children were either in Fatehpur or Hyderabad the magnetic pull of his profound devotion to Sultan Al-Masheikh would not allow him to leave Delhi.

Towards the end, at all times, the wait was for that final day, and for months the preparations for the inevitable had been underway. In consideration of the distance to the Dargah Sharif from Delhi, a light-weight charpoy had been ordered. Cleansed and purified it had been placed safely on a raised dais. He had himself purchased the burial shroud, had it stitched and placed in a chest. So much so that he had bundles of wood for heating the water purchased, washed and put away on the dais as well. All this was done so that when the time came no one would need to search for anything or be imposed upon in any way. He suffered a mild fever for a couple of days, unfortunately, we were all at far-flung locations, only Azizi Fareeduddin Ahmed (Moulvi Sahib’s younger son) who was at the Aligarh Madrasah came as soon as he heard of his father’s illness. Moulvi Sahib was prone to collapsing into a stupor even with the lightest of temperatures, young Fareeduddin alarmed at seeing his father’s condition and being all by himself immediately informed Shifa-ul Mulk Hakim Abid al-Majid Khan Sahib with whom we had old, established family ties. Hakim Sahib arrived promptly, examined the patient, read his pulse and was writing out his prescription when Moulvi Sahib came to, opened his eyes and asked, “Mian Abid al-Majid what are you doing?” Hakim Sahib replied, “I am writing out your prescription.” Moulvi Sahib responded, “Are you a child? This is not the time for medicine, this is the time for prayers.” Having uttered these words he closed his eyes ones again. Soon after Hakim Sahib had written out his prescription and left the premises he passed away. Everything required had been bought and readied beforehand and thus within a short time, the funeral procession was on its way. The cortege comprised of prominent neighbours and friends was indeed substantial in number. The Dargah of Hazrat Sultan Al-Masheikh Nizamuddin Auliya is situated at a considerable distance from Habsh Khan Phatak where Moulvi Sahib resided, hence Shifa-ul Mulk Hakim Abid al-Majid Khan Sahib Marhoom and Janab Moulvi Samiullah Khan Sahib CMG Marhoom had arranged conveyances for all those who did not possess their own means of transport which provided great comfort to the travellers. Suffice to say that with great love, affection and grief a significant crowd of old friends and family members offered their last services to Moulvi Sahib. His grave is situated outside the enclosure of Hazrat Sultan Al-Masheikh’s Dargah Sharif facing the Nustha Khumba.

Through the assistance and services of Maulana Khawaja Hasan Nizami Sahib, this grave along with that of my father have been fortified and an epithet written by me has been inscribed on it. With my permission Khawaja Sahib later had the grave included under the canopy covering his own family graves.

At the time of his death, Marhoom left three sons and two daughters. Nizamuddin Ahmed from his Delhi wife and Qutabuddin Ahmed BA, Fareeduddin Ahmed, Bibi Ruqiya and Bibi Kulsoom from Bibi Aleemah the wife from his own vatan and brethren.

 

[1] Nobleman

[2] Treasurer

[3] The Garden of Imagination

[4] Robe of honour awarded as a mark of distinction

 

Bibi Maryam

The only daughter of Sheikh Makhdoom Baksh, Bibi Maryam was younger than her two brothers Sheikh Ahmed Ali and Sheikh Ali Ahmed. She was still a child when her father passed away and she grew up under the loving guardianship of her mother and older brother Sheikh Ahmed Ali. It was he who arranged her marriage to their brethren and his brother-in-law Sheikh Barkat Ali Sahib.  He returned to Fatehpur to organise this marriage with extraordinary ceremony and style, sparing no expense, far beyond what was considered the norm in those days.  In those times, it was rare for shurfa women in our qasba to be able to read and write, but Bibi Maryam had grown up in Delhi with her brothers, and learning was considered paramount in that household. Consequently, she was fluent in reading the Quran Majid along with its translation as well as books dealing with theories and problems (in Urdu). Strict adherence to namaz, rooza and religious rituals and practices were stringently observed while her skills in cooking and other domestic tasks were exemplary. At the time of her marriage there was hardly a lady amongst her in-laws who could read the Quran, but in no time, she changed all that and before long not only did the women of that family but girls from the neighbourhood learn to read and write and very soon were far advanced in education to women of other families. She passed away after a brief illness at the age of twenty-six leaving behind, as her memento an only daughter Bibi Rasool Bandi.  

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