Friday Sermon: Tribute to Syed Abdul Hayee Shah sahib

December 23rd, 2011

Every person who comes in this world has to leave it one day. This is the law of nature. The Holy Qur’an mentions the subject of: ‘Every soul shall taste of death…’ (3:186) in many places and in different ways thus drawing attention that man should be mindful of passing away from this world. This helps in keeping one mindful of God. God has informed us that with the exception of His Being everything that exists in the entire cosmos will perish. Life after death is the real and enduring life and by obeying God’s commandments in this world one can be a recipient of blessings in the Hereafter while disobedience can also make one liable of chastisement. Fortunate are those among us who give precedence to the Hereafter over this life, who are ever on the lookout to please God and spend most of their lives in trying to please their Beloved God. They excel in giving precedence to faith over worldly matters to such an extent that they have no interest other than to serve religion. They fulfil the dues of others because this is one of God’s commandments. They honour their pledges for the pleasure of God and for this they do not care about any impediment along the way. For them there is only one objective no matter what they are going through; be it time of adversity or ease, illness or good health. Their objective is to be able to fulfil the covenant made to God and honour the trust that is given to them. These are the kind of people about whom the Holy Qur’an states: And of men there is he who would sell himself to seek the pleasure of Allah…’ (2:208). Their faces exude serenity at all times as if they are a personification of Nafse Mutmainnah (soul at peace).

An elder of ours who possessed such qualities and was certainly a great asset of the Community recently passed away. His name was Syed Abdul Hayee Shah sahib. Inna lillahi wa inna illaihi raji’oon. May God grant him a place near His dear ones and may God through His grace alone make good this loss of the Community and may God create numerous others like him so that the convoy of Ahmadiyyat can carry onwards and upwards towards its destination.

Shah sahib was born in June 1932 in Kashmir. He came to Qadian and later, at the partition of the subcontinent he went to Pakistan. His mother remained in Kashmir and he was separated from her for forty years. He endured this separation for the sake of faith. His grandfather was Syed Muhammad Hussein Shah who was from Srinagar, Kashmir. One of his sons, Syed Abdul Mannan Shah sahib took his Bai’at at a young age and accepted Ahmadiyyat and spent his life in humility. History of Ahmadiyyat records about Syed Abdul Hayee Shah sahib that he devoted his life (Waqfe Zindagi) in 1945 and joined Madrassa Ahmadiyya. After the partition of India he re-joined Jamia Ahmadiyya and passed the exam of Maulwi Fazil and stood first in the Punjab University. He passed the exam of Shahid in 1955, later he gained MA with distinction in Arabic. He gave lengthy service to Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya. He served as the editor of monthly AnsarUllah for a few years and was the printer of the journals Khalid and Tasheez al Azhan for twelve to thirteen years, he was the manager and printer of Zia ul Islam press and president of Al Fazl board. He was the first managing director of MTA Pakistan. He was also director of Fazl e Umer foundation and Tahir foundation. He was the Nazir e Isha’at and was also the acting Nazir e Ala and Ameer muqami. He reviewed the Kashmiri language translation of the Holy Qur’an and supervised the computerisation of Ruhani Khaza’in. He made indexes and wrote forewords for several books. He was enabled to render many services as regards the translation of the Holy Qur’an by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) as well as publication of his lectures on homeopathy.

He was a simple-natured, forbearing, ingenious and quiet person who spoke measuredly. He researched matters thoroughly and then gave his opinion. He tried to fulfil the tasks given by the Khalifa of the time in optimum time. He guided his team in preparation of books and other publication matters and gave sound advice. Nazir e Isha’at needs to have experience of printing and he was knowledgeable about the printing apparatus and had a lot of technical know-how and gave specific and substantial guidance.

Al Fazl reports that although Abdul Hayee Shah sahib decided to devote his life in 1945 he did not fill in the required paperwork until 1950. He passed his matriculation exam while he was a student at the Jamia. He gained 1st position in the district in his Maulwi exam. His first Jama’at appointment was in 1956 and he served in various departments. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) appointed him Nazir e Isaha’at. He rendered services for the Darsul Qur’an series of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him), often staying up till 3am with his team to finish work. He would not rest until he faxed the required material to London. He also provided academic assistance with Friday sermons. He was a member of the compilation team of the Quranic translation as well as the homeopathy book of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) and discharged of this duty very well. He was enabled to serve in the publication of Quranic translations in Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto and Saraiki. In 1997, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) paid tribute to him in a Friday sermon and said: ‘I have observed this quality in Syed Abdul Hayi sahib that when a specific matter is explained to him, even if he does not have personal knowledge of it, he looks for people who do. It has never happened that I have given him instruction about a book and he has not prepared exactly what was asked for. With the grace of Allah he has deep insight and studies everything in minute detail.’

Hudhur said when Hudhur told him in 2008 that Ruhani Khaza’in should be computerised, Shah sahib accomplished the task with great hard work. Apart from many other distinctive features of the computerised set, one is that it is exactly in accordance with the previous editions so that references can be looked up easily. The new set also has some essays and Arabic poems of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which were omitted in earlier editions. Acknowledging the services of others, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote in an introduction to his Urdu Quranic translation: ‘A team of scholars have continually worked with me here in London on the translation of the Holy Qur’an that is being presented here. Similarly, a team of scholars in the centre Rabwah worked under the direction of Syed Abdul Hayee sahib (Nazir e Isha’at). Having reviewed the translation, they assisted me with their valuable advice and opinions. If I did not have the collective help of all of them, it would not have been possible for me to carry out this task on my own.’ In 1997 Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote to Syed Abdul Hayee sahib about the publication of the Mahzarnama (The Memorandum) which was presented in the National Assembly of the country. He wrote: ‘The publication of Mahzarnama is very good. MashaAllah you work very hard and with flair.’ In another letter Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote to Syed sahib: ‘Your report has been received. MashaAllah, you are working prolifically and are very productive. With the grace of Allah you are the only Nazir who does not ever need reminding about entrusted tasks…’ Hudhur explained that such commendation increased Syed Abdul Hayee sahib’s humility and he worked harder still.

In the time of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) the ten volumes of Malfuzat were changed into five volumes. All the Quranic references were incorporated in the five volumes, where required new headings were included and new indexes were formulated. When Syed Abdul Hayee sahib came for Jalsa earlier this year, Hudhur Aqdas asked him to restore the ten volumes. Hudhur said he feels that smaller volumes are easier to read and this was the reason why he recommended returning to ten volumes. These books [Malfuzat] are comprised of pronouncements of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and can be read while travelling or relaxing and it is more convenient to read smaller volumes. Syed Abdul Hayee sahib promptly replied that he would start work on ten volumes straight away. Hudhur said there was not even a hint of hesitation on his part in context of all the hard work that had been put in by him on altering the ten volumes into five. He also prepared a most comprehensive index for the ten volumes of ‘Tafseer e Kabeer’, a treasure of a commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him). Syed Abdul Hayee sahib served as member of many committees and he also had the honour of serving imprisonment in the cause of God.

Recalling his first meeting with Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) after he was given some important responsibilities, Syed Abdul Hayee sahib said that he was in deep awe and due to nervousness his hands shook. Seeing this Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) said, ‘there is no need to be nervous. You should get to understand the work fully from me and then undertake it with complete diligence.’ Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) then took Syed Abdul Hayee sahib’s hand in his hand which eased him. He said Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) did not readily take one in his trust but once he did, he would show complete affection, guidance and pardon. Hudhur explained it was common for editors and publishers in Pakistan to have arrest warrants issued in their names. As such, an arrest warrant was issued for Syed Abdul Hayee sahib. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) convened a meeting with him and lawyers. After the meeting Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) sent one of his sons to Abdul Hayee sahib with the message that he should not worry. The son told him that after the meeting Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) had prayed and God made him utter the words: ‘He [God] never lets His pious people go to waste.’ Hudhur said indeed a most grave case had been hatched up against Abdul Hayee sahib but the matter was finished in a few days. Hudhur explained that God’s disclosure to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) is also a testimony that in God’s eyes Syed Abdul Hayee sahib was a pious person who remained in God’s refuge. At a later time though, God enabled him to be imprisoned in His cause. This came to pass over the publication of a particular line in a pamphlet for which the scribe of the pamphlet and Abdul Hayee sahib were taken to court and imprisoned.

Syed Abdul Hayee sahib related that in early days the allowance Waqfe Zindagi devotees received was meagre and it was difficult to make ends meet. Once his father-in-law said to him that he was also highly educated from a worldly perspective, perhaps he should find his livelihood in that sector. Syed sahib replied, ‘I have made two pacts; one of marriage with your daughter and the other of devoting my life with God. Tell me, which pact shall I break?’ He later added, ‘how can I break the second pact while keeping the first?’ His father-in-law did not broach the subject again. Syed Abdul Hayee sahib related that later on, God blessed him immensely throughout his life. Hudhur said his father-in-law had only had the thought temporarily, borne of human frailty but after Shah sahib’s response he did not say anything.

Syed Abdul Hayee sahib was extremely kind and considerate with those who worked for him. His accountant of 15 years recalls that with the exception of one instance, he did not remember any occasion when Syed sahib had been angry. Once his office sent some books to another office without his permission and Syed sahib was extremely annoyed at this and because of this the accountant did not go into his office for two days. After two days Shah sahib called him to his office and smiled and offered him some biscuits.

Another of his helper/worker Muhammad Iqbal sahib writes that he worked for Shah sahib for twenty years and throughout he treated him like a son. His demeanour was dervish-like. If he helped any of his workers no one knew about it. He used to help his workers at the time of their children’s weddings.

Amer sahib of Arabic Desk writes about Shah sahib’s extensive knowledge. During translation work on Ruhani Khaza’in, at times he needed guidance and instructions from Abdul Hayee sahib which he gave each time in a cheerful manner. His reply would be well-reasoned, satisfying, affectionate and replete with courtesy.

Mubasher Ayaz sahib writes that once Abdul Hayee sahib came to Jamia to give away prizes and was introduced in the following manner: people work in different ways, there are those who work with one hand and clap with the other, meaning they work but are always promoting what they do. Then there are those who clap with both hands, that is, they do not do any work and simply publicise. Then there are those who work with both hands and they are not concerned if anyone sees their work or praises them. And Syed Abdul Hayee Shah sahib was such a person. Hudhur explained that this was 100% correct. Hudhur saw him working quietly, regardless of ill health. Hudhur said his feet would be swollen and Hudhur would ask him did it not hurt and he would say that he was so engrossed in work that he did not feel anything. Hudhur said he spoke little; Hudhur observed that he did not say much even in the Anjuman meetings, but when he did, it was of substance.

Mubasher Ayaz sahib also writes that he worked as Shah sahib’s deputy and found him a dervish-like person who was extremely hard-working. He would start work as soon as he arrived at the office and did everything himself. He would be unaware when it was closing time and everyone had gone home, he would be sitting working away. There was not even a hint of hypocrisy in him, although he worked extremely hard, he always remained cheerful. He used Jama’at funds with utmost caution and care.

A murrabi sahib writes that during work on Ruhani Khaza’in he realised how much belief Shah sahib had in the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). In the narrative of the court case of Henry Martin Clark the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has always referred to the judge as Douglas. However, in Ruhani Khaza’in vol. 15, in the book ‘Teryaqul Qoloob’, page 349 he refers to him as J. R. Drummond. Various departments were approached about this and they deemed this to be an error in scribing. Shah sahib was of the opinion that such a big error could not be, therefore he did not refer to it in a footnote and left it as it was. When work was been done on Ruhani Khaza’in vol. 18, ‘Nuzul ul Masih’, it was found that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) writes on page 578 that Abdul Hameed was arrested again after two and a half years and he gave the same testimony. This proved that the different name of the judge was from the second sitting of the case.

The librarian sahib of Khilafat Library, Rabwah writes that Shah sahib did all his work in spite of ill health. Once he needed to work on all the volumes of Braheen e Ahmadiyya that Hudhur had asked for and rather than have them send over, he came in person to the library to access them. In spite of having difficulty when walking he went and checked all the books himself. He said he did not want any of the older editions to be damaged in any way.

Ahmad Naeem sahib of our Arabic Desk writes that preparing index of Tafseer e Kabeer required immense diligence and attention to detail in the pre-computer days which Shah sahib prepared with great assiduousness. There are a few printing errors in the current edition of Ruhani Khaza’in. Whenever this was pointed out to him he would acknowledge most graciously and wherever he had an explanation to give he would give it. Hudhur explained that he had proof-read the manuscripts most diligently but it is human that mistakes remain. He was very sad about the mistakes that remained in the beautiful print.

A murrabi sahib, Kaleem Ahmad Tahir writes that in eleven years he always found Shah sahib busy in work. He was a quiet person who did everything with the utmost of responsibility. It was astonishing that he worked so hard at his senior age. During the work on Ruhani Khaza’in, he personally proof read each word.

Hudhur said in short he was an academic person who worked extremely hard. He would recall the early times when there were no unnecessary facilities. He recounted how a ceiling fan was operated with the help of a rope. Once Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) sent Shah sahib with a message to occupied Kashmir. He could not find any transport in Rawalpindi, so he started walking to Kashmir because he wanted to fulfil the instruction of the Khalifa of the time in optimum time. Shah sahib had fostered a girl whom he brought up like his own children. He arranged her marriage with a murrabi sahib. He was very kind and considerate with his family and did everything with simplicity. He was very mindful of preserving a child’s self-respect and did the finest Tarbiyyat of his children. He was a model of steadfastness and never complained about his pain, be it ill health or any other problem. His patience was exemplary; he bore the news of the passing away of his mother with resoluteness. He was most hospitable. At Jalsa when guests arrived from Kashmir to stay at his house he would move into a store room with his family and offer them the entire house.

In later years he regularly visited his children most of whom live abroad. His son Ahmad Yahya sahib is the chairman of Humanity First. His family would insist that he stayed with them and his answer would be that he had devoted his entire life, not a short while. During his last illness he had to go to hospital five times and each time he asked when he would be able to return to office. Two days before passing away he was again taken to hospital. He asked for his papers to be brought over and he sat up in bed working.

Hudhur said each time a fax was sent to him from here he would send a hand written reply although he had difficulty writing. He hand wrote his last letter to Hudhur although his hand would shake due to weakness, but he took time over writing. On 14 December he remained in office till 11.30am. It was his wish to pass away in his office. While in hospital he said it was his wish to do the correction work on all the mistakes in Ruhani Khaza’in, but he did not get the chance to do that.

A murrabi sahib from Nazarat e Isha’at writes that on 17 December Shah sahib saw a dream in which his [deceased] wife asked him had he not obtained a ticket yet? He said no he had no. But a little later he told her in the dream that he had obtained a ticket and had also got a boarding pass. On the day of passing Shah sahib called his son Imran over and murmured to him that his flight had come. The son did not hear him properly and leaned forward to listen carefully but Shah sahib passed away.

Hudhur said this servant of the Community was devoted to the Community till the last and gave it precedence over everything else. He acquired religious knowledge and he also put it in practice. He always tried to honour dues of God and dues of mankind. Hudhur said when he was Nazir e Ala Hudhur found Shah sahib to be perfectly obedient and after God granted Hudhur the mantle of Khilafat, his sincerity and loyalty increased to a great degree as is the due of the office of Khilafat. He understood the essence of Bai’at and honoured it. May God elevate his status and may He continue to grant Khilafat e Ahmadiyya such dedicated devotees.

Hudhur announced that he would lead funeral Prayer in absentia of Shah sahib as well as of few others whose names are as follows:

Imatiaz Begum sahiba, sister Zainab Waseem, Amatul Rahman sahiba, Syedda Waseema sahiba, Mian Abdul Quyyum sahib, Muhammad Mustapha sahib, Nazir Ahmad sahib and Fateh Muhammad sahib. May God elevate the status of all the deceased and may He grant steadfastness to the bereaved and keep them firm on virtues and may they serve the Community with sincerity.