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Random thoughts

October 14, 2019

Serving humanity

Opinion

October 14, 2019

A few days ago I saw on TV, the prime minister holding a meeting with my dear friend and great social worker, Muhammad Bashir Faruqui, chairman of the International Seylani Welfare Trust.

This trust is an example to follow. They daily feed almost 100,000 people (slaughtering 500 goats), run vocational training centres, provide dowries for poor girls, provide meat to poor families at least once a week, help students with fees and books, help the poor start their own small business, etc. They also have doctors, a clinic and a medical store to treat poor patients and give them medicines. One of their latest projects is a Computer Software Institute to teach students the latest technologies.

An agreement has been signed by the trust with the government for 112 ‘Langer Khanas’ (soup kitchens) in different parts of the country. It has always been a great pleasure for me to attend the trust’s functions and learn more about their welfare work.

Maulana Rumi had this to say on the subject of feeding the poor: “A certain dervish said in a night-talk that he had seen those saints who possess mystic knowledge. I said to them: ‘Where can I get a daily portion of lawful food to eat that is not harmful?’ They took me towards the mountainous country where they shook down fruit from the trees in the forest saying: ‘God has made this fruit to taste sweet in your mouth because of our benedictions. Come, eat this fruit, which is clean and lawful and free of reckoning and without trouble.’

“From that daily provision there appeared in me a gift of speech, the spiritual ability of transmitting words to people’s minds. But I felt this was temptation of this world, so I said: ‘O Lord of the world, bestow upon me a gift hidden from everyone else.’ Consequently, speech forsook me but I gained a joyous heart: I was bursting with rapture, like the pomegranate. I said: ‘If there is nothing else in Paradise for me but this delight which I have within me, I will desire no other blessing. I will not be diverted from this delight by the houris and sugarcane of Paradise.’

“Of my former earnings one or two coins remained with me, sewn into the sleeve of my jubba. These I intended to give to a carrier of firewood I had seen nearby since I had obtained my daily provision through the miraculous gifts of the saints. This particular poor man was carrying firewood and was weary and exhausted, so I intended to give him my small pieces of money. I will give this money to this toil-worn man, so he, for two or three brief days, may be made happy by food. The wood carrier immediately knew my mind because his inner knowledge came from God. To him, no thought or mental conception was secret. Thus this wondrous man was muttering to himself in answer to my unspoken thought. ‘You think in that way concerning Paradise and the spiritual kings. How would it be possible for you to receive the daily provision unless they provided you with it?’

“I did not understand his words but his rebuke smote my heart mightily. He approached me with the mien of a lion and laid down his bundle of firewood. By the way he laid down his firewood, I started trembling. He said: ‘O Lord if You have elected one whose prayers are blessed, I beseech You to become an alchemist and turn this bundle of firewood into gold.’ Immediately his firewood was turned into gold, gleaming brightly on the ground like fire. At this I became mightily bewildered, which bewilderment lasted for a long time. He said afterwards: ‘O God, if those great saints are fleeing from celebrity then, without delay, make this golden bundle of firewood just as it was before.’ Immediately the branches of gold turned back into firewood. My intellect and sight were amazed at his miraculous work.

“After that he took up the firewood and left towards the town in great haste. I wished to follow that spiritual king, ask him about some difficulties and hear his answer. But the awe he inspired in me made me feel that the vulgar have no right to be in the presence of the elect. And if anyone should be allowed into his presence, let him hang his head in utter devotion, for that admission into his presence comes from their mercy and their drawing him towards them.

“Therefore, when you gain companionship with a siddiq (true saint), deem that to be a divine favour conferred on you and value it as a precious opportunity. Do not be like the fool who wins the favour of the king and then lightly and easily falls away from the path of favour. When more of the king’s favour is bestowed upon him, he says: ‘Surely this is the thigh of an ox’ (ultimate favour) while in fact it appears only so to him because he is an ass. This is a royal gift devoid of any corruption: this is pure generosity springing from a great mercy.” (Free rendering of the translation of Rumi’s ‘Masnavi’ by R A Nicholson)

Moral of the story: accept charity with humility and gratitude, for it is a gift springing from the generosity God’s mercy has placed in the soul of the donor.

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