As we grow older, we often close our eyes and revisit old memories. This happens to me quite a lot lately. Thanks to the Almighty, I have had a good, eventful life to look back on. Growing up in Bhopal was like living in paradise on earth.
I had loving parents. The city was beautiful and had scenic mountains, lakes, abundant wildlife, and many fruits growing in the forest that we used to pluck from trees. I was lucky to have excellent, committed and kind teachers in a friendly school atmosphere that was conducive to learning. We played hockey and football and fished and swam in the lakes. I could not have wished for a better childhood.
During school holidays, we would read our historic literature. ‘Alif Laila’ (Arabian Nights), ‘Tilism-e-Hoshruba’ and ‘Fasana-e-Azad’ are all still clear in my mind, as are the Islamic history books I read – notably those written by Abdul Haleem Sharar and Naseem Hijazi. We found these history books particularly interesting because they not only contained chronicles of war and heroism, but also carried stories from the daily lives of valiant, simple, down-to-earth commanders.
There were the stories about Khalid bin Walid, Tariq bin Ziyad, Malik al-Zaheer Baybars, Marwan bin Abdul Malik, Yousuf bin Tashfeen and the very brave and valiant Sultan Nuruddin Zangi. Sultan Zangi was blessed with a miracle of sorts. He was the son of Sultan Imaduddin Zangi. They were members of the Oghuz Turkish Zangi dynasty that ruled the Syrian province of the Seljuk Empire. They ruled this province from the 12th century until the early 13th century.
After the treacherous murder of Sultan Imaduddin Zangi at the hands of his servants, the army and nobles appointed Nuruddin Zangi as his successor. He was a brave and valiant warrior who defeated the Christian armies in the Crusades.
One night Sultan Nuruddin went to sleep after Isha prayers. He had a dream in which he saw our Holy Prophet (pbuh) who informed him that miscreants were planning to harm his (the Prophet’s) body. The sultan was a little perplexed by the dream, but didn’t pay too much attention to it. The following night, he once again had the same dream. This time, he became worried about it.
On the third day, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) appeared in his dream again and reprimanded him for not doing anything about the matter. He told him that two miscreants in particular were troubling him. In his dream, the sultan even clearly saw their faces. Troubled by the dream, he took a contingent of soldiers and travelled to Madina the following morning. In those days, the journey to Medina took around 25 days. But the sultan and his soldiers covered it in just 16 days.
On reaching Madina, he ordered all gates to be closed and asked the governor to invite all the men of Madina to dinner on a plain. During this dinner, the sultan personally inspected each and every person present at the dinner, but didn’t see the two men he had seen in his dream. He then inquired if there were any other men in the city who had not attended the dinner. The governor informed him that there were two elderly foreign pilgrims who were staying in a small house near Masjid-e-Nabvi. He told the sultan that both men spent the entire day praying and were seen at Jannatul Baqi in the evening, providing water to visitors. They had been in the city for quite some time.
The sultan asked the governor to take him to see the two men. When he entered the room, he immediately recognised them as the men he had seen in his dream. The room was dilapidated, with only a few pots and pans strewn across it. There was a mat on the floor. When the sultan put his foot on the mat, he noticed that it felt hollow underneath. The sultan asked his soldiers to remove the mat and found the entrance to a tunnel underneath it.
He asked the men who they were. They started trembling and replied that they had been commissioned by Christian rulers to steal the body of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in order to defame Islam. The sultan became extremely angry, pulled his sword from its scabbard and chopped off the heads of both men. When he entered the tunnel, he saw the feet of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) at the very end of it; he kissed them and wept.
He told the governor and his soldiers that it had been a real blessing from Almighty Allah that he had been chosen for such an important task. He continued to weep until he reached the governor’s residence. The next day, he ordered a deep trench to be dug around the grave of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), which he then filled with molten lead to ensure that nobody could reach the grave in future. This miracle ought to be remembered by everyone.
Unfortunately, the young generation is no longer interested in the old classics, poetry and history of our region. Their interests nowadays are focused on smartphones and social media, which often isolate them from personal connections with their family and friends, and following current events. I saw a picture/video (on my smartphone) of a warning by Albert Einstein of how technological advancements will destroy family interactions, the warmth of friendship, and personal communication between family members. The video showed people who were busy on their phones and weren’t communicating with each other or appreciating their surroundings. This is exactly what we see nowadays.