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Random thoughts

February 25, 2019

The power of humility


February 25, 2019

In my previous column ‘The power of loyalty’ (Feb 18), I drew attention to the attitudes and behaviour which we, as Muslims, are supposed to follow. Great emphasis has been placed on politeness, kindness, forgiveness, equality, avoidance of discrimination, etc.

Special attention has been drawn to the importance of keeping promises and fulfilling oaths while the act of forgiving the mistakes of others as been equalled to a Divine act. The Almighty has emphasised that a person with a good and kind character is superior to one who merely prays but does not put into practice in daily life that which is of vital importance.

We have been told that once, Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) was having a meal with his guests when a servant spilled food onto his robe. There was an instant reaction of anger on his face. But the servant, a Bedouin, immediately recited the Quranic verse 3:134: “Those who spend freely, whether in prosperity or in adversity, who restrain anger and pardon all (for their mistakes), they are the ones whom Allah loves.” Imam Hussain then smiled and told the servant that he had nothing to worry about and that he was now a free man and no longer a slave.

The loyalty of Ayaz, slave of Sultan Mahmood of Ghazni, was mentioned in the last column as well. The important point to be noted there was that the order/instruction of the master (king) took priority over all other considerations. The king, angry that his command had been ignored for the sake of a coloured stone, desired to kill the Amirs. The story then continues as follows:

“Ayaz, gentle and loving soul that he was, sprang up and ran to the throne of the mighty sultan. He made a prostration and spoke with bated breath saying: ‘O Emperor, generous and noble one, whose acts of nobility eclipse all others; forgiveness is the trait by which the strong prevail. Whom should he who treats your command with insolence have to support him except for thy pardon? The irreverence of these sinners arises from their heedlessness and they depend on the abundance of your pardon, O infinite source of pardon. The forgiveness that we see in the world is but a fraction of your forgiveness, O you from whom comes every fortune. All forgiveness is a song in your praise and has no comparison. Grant these people their lives and do not banish them from your presence. Have mercy on them for they have seen your face: how can they endure separation from you?

“You speak of separation and banishment. Do whatever else you might wish, but not that! A hundred thousand times sixty deaths would not be comparable to separation from you. Place the bitterness of banishment not on them, O you whose help is besought by sinners! It is sweet to die in the hope of union with you while the bitterness of banishment is worse than fire.”

Ayaz was merely a slave to the sultan, but he was loyal to the core of his heart and the sultan knew this. The amirs and courtiers were extremely jealous of him (that vice was prevalent, even at that time and seems to be inherent in human nature!).

Ayaz had, for his personal use, a small room to which he would retire. He kept it heavily locked. In it he had an old sheepskin jacket and torn shoes. When alone in his room he would sometimes put on these old, tattered things and he would say to himself: “These are your old things; never let your present eminence go to your head.” The jealous amirs and courtiers complained to the sultan that Ayaz had hidden stolen treasure – gold etc – in that room.

The sultan knew that Ayaz would never do a thing like that. He gave the amirs permission to search Ayaz’s room and to remove any valuables they might find. Their raid revealed only the truth. The sultan was furious and disgusted at the jealousy of the amirs and his respect and love for Ayaz grew because of his loyalty and humbleness.

Obituary: A dear friend, a gallant soldier, a highly competent, successful diplomat and an administrator par excellence, Brig (r) Amir Gulistan Janjua expired on February 18, 2019 in Rawalpindi. He was 95.

Brig Janjua belonged to the martial race from Chakwal and was closely related to another good friend, late Prof Ghulam Hussain Raja, a good palmist, whom he used to affectionately call “Flex”. During my service at Kahuta we met many times – first during his diplomatic assignments to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Nepal – and later during his tenure as governor of the then NWFP.

He was MS to Gen Yahya Khan and attended the grand coronation ceremony of the late Shah of Iran in Teheran. He once told me of some embarrassing moments experienced there. It was during his governorship that we had regular contact, as I was project director of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute at Topi, Swabi. He donated the land for the institute to us and provided us with all possible assistance.

It took approx 30 colleagues from KRL and myself hardly two years to establish that state-of-the-art engineering institute. The institute was built as a tribute to Ghulam Ishaq Khan for his immense contribution to our nuclear programme. Later, there were many who tried to lay claim to the credit of its establishment. During one meeting where this was again the case, Brig Amir Janjua bluntly said that they would not have been able to put up even the boundary wall and that all the credit went to me.

May Almighty Allah rest his noble soul in eternal peace and grant patience and courage to his near and dear ones to bear this loss with fortitude – Ameen.

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