Translated by Dr76
At last the day approached when I had the nobility to present myself at Thanabhawan, the tales of which were narrated by several visitors since past many years…
Now I had the opportunity to behold it myself… it is said that a flower reveals its true shape resting on the twig or in the garden…
Apparently it was 1942 and the month of May or June.. I remember the intense hot weather and the blowing heatwave.. I was travelling along with Maulana Ilyas sahab on the narrow gauge Railway line.. which ran from Shahdara to Saharanpur..
Along the way lied all those places and hamlets… which were historically attached to the Mashaikh of Deoband.. for eg, Kandhla.. Thana Bhawan..Nanota..Rampur Maniharan..
I do not quite recollect whether it was preplanned or the thought evolved during the course of journey that a trip to Thana bhawan should also be made. The schedule was such that after resting in Kandhla along with Maulana ilyas sahab (rah), which was his native, I had to reach Rampur maniharan. Thana Bhawan lied in between Kandhla and Rampur.
I took permission from Maulana Ilyas sahab (rah) that I shall be leaving a day advance from Kandhla… and after spending 24 hours at Thana Bhawan, board the same train on which Maulana would leave for Rampur.
Maulana himself was amongst the votaries of Thana Bhawan and considered Maulana Thanwi (rah) to be from the rows of his Mashaikh… he was very pleased to hear that and permitted me with great vivacity and happiness..
Some known person from Thana bhawan was on his way back and I intended to hand him the letter informing of my arrival. That he could present there himself. He replied saying it was against etiquettes.I then requested him to drop it in the post box to which he agreed.
I stayed at Kandhla for a day and left for Thana Bhawan. Exactly at 2’o clock noon.. The train reached Thana Bhawan. The Khanqah Imdadiya wasn’t much far away from the station. Taking a coolie along.. I walked towards the Khanqah.
After hearing so much about the rules.. regulations.. decorum.. and having being narrated tales of accountability and penance.. anxiously I set my foot in the Khanqah.
The feeling was more like a student gaining entry into a Madrassa.
There was a prevailing stillness around.. more so because of the heat and being noon time. Residents of the Khanqah were resting in their rooms. Keeping my luggage at one place, I settled down. After sometime the Azaan for zuhr was called. Maulana entered.. performed wudhu.. I did not feel it proper to introduce myself at this moment..
The portion at the entrance lying south of the Masjid was the gathering place of Hazrat Maulana after zuhr, … The Majlis had just progressed.. only a select few were present.. I recognized Khwaja Azizul hasan sahab Majzoob among them.. I drew near and sat at one corner..
The moment I reached Seh-dari (the place where he was seated, literally meaning a portion that opened to three doors) my eyes were fixed on the desk before Maulana… on which were placed letters and stationery… and kept in between them was a copy of Seerat sayyid Ahmed Shaheed which was published three years back..
Iam not sure whether Maulana had brought it out on the same day just to cheer me or increase familiarity…or may be this was the place where it was usually kept… looking at it I felt as if a very dear friend was present there for my introduction and assent.. its presence made a considerable difference in subduing the feeling of alienness..
Maulana was busy replying to the letters… after a few minutes he turned towards khwaja sahab and said “Khwaja sahab..! the brother of Dr Abdul Aliyy sahab was supposed to come.. hasn’t he arrived..?”
Now I did not feel it appropriate to remain silent..i stepped forward and affirmed my presence.. said.. “you did not tell me..come forwards..” and stretched his hand forward for musafah (handshake).. I said “speculating hazrat’s constraints I remained quite..” said “ what could have been a greater constraint that I remained unaware of your arrival.. I would have felt ashamed.. regretful.. sorrowed..” said few more words in continuity..
And most the astonishing thing he said was “Because of You, today I had completed most of my letter work in advance… so that I had the chance to peacefully converse with you…” this infact was an extreme favour and honour from Hazrat.. which was beyond the wildest dreams of this anonymous youngster..
Then after asking about my well being.. with great affection he inquired if I had any other companion along.. about my dietary habits.. restraints to any particular food….
I could now understand that Hazrat would make me his own guest…
This also went against common reports and general observations… also, the great affection and exclusive treatment of the guest… that upon informing him of being free from any abstentions of food… he expressed remorse saying “I wouldn’t be able to join you at lunch due to my wavering health… please do not mind..”. then he inquired as for how long did I intend to stay and I informed of my departure the next day noon..
He said.. “for such a brief stay..” then continued “ I do not strain my friends to stay longer.. that it may not lead to inconvenience.. and the persons who come even for such a short interval may not get overwhelmed”
Then the Majlisi discourse began.. much of the talk centered around the Family of Hazrat Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlwi (rah)..Hazrat Shah Abdul Aziz (rah) and Hazrat Shah Ismail Shaheed (rah)..
Dinner arrived from the house of Hazrat Maulana.. the food consisted of delicacies cooked with refinement. early in the morning, after Fajr prayers , khwaja sahib reached with a message from hazrat informing that such a time is reserved for me.. wherein only a select few are permitted to attend.. but if deemed necessary,I could even offer some exclusive time for you.. I replied saying I have nothing personal to converse..i have come only to gain blessings and for a visit.. that I shall attend this special gathering..
At around Dhuha (chasht) I presented myself at his service..there were about four people..i remember Khwaja Azeeul Hasan sahab among them.. Hazrat said to khwaja sahib:
“Khwaja sahib bring along my Jaal (dragnet)..!”
khwaja sahib rose to abide.. but did not understand.. Hazrat said “ Khwaja sahab do you understand what my jaal is..?” Khwaja sahab replied in negative.. to which he replied
The Majlis was covered with great liveliness from beginning till the end.. leave aside any harshness, there wasn’t even any sign of desiccation or parchedness..
Cheerfulness… comforting oration.. vibrance.. and revealing of subtleties blossomed the Majlis to a garden in spring..
The supposition regarding Thana Bhawan which was conceived, as far the personality of Hazrat Maulana was concerned, had an element of exaggeration and misunderstanding.. surely there were regulations but exceptions were also made.. and owing to students and those under tutelage.. there was accountability and penance..
But for visitors and those who attended occasionally, also persons not under his Islahi training .. were treated with benevolence and affection.
The environs of Khanqah, in absoluteness, as I gauged, were not in parity with the temperament and nature of Hazrat . Neither was it a total reflection of his Jamiyyat (collectivity) and wisdom.
Also, it wasn’t a wholesome representation of Hazrat Maulana or a visual translation of his personality. Possibly, the credit for Thanabhawan’s fame that spread across the country… of wielding dread and awe… and that of accountability… attributed much to the role of these inhabitants that posed as the anointers of rigidity…
I shall recount my own experience.. that after taking leave from Maulana’s Majlis, the wait for the train was quite long. There was a Madrassa at the northern portion of the khanqah, where a Maulvi sahab was teaching a lesson.
being not habituated to sitting idle or aimless.. and the old ailment of being a student.. , I sat down in a corner.
The Mudarris gestured a student towards a slate hanging on the wall that was inscribed on with the words ‘Attendance is Prohibited for visitors while the class is in progress’.
He carried the slate forwards and displayed it to me.. I stood up feeling embarrassed. Likewise, I inquired someone about the opening hours of the library.. and instead of answering himself.., said that the time table is written on the slate and to read it myself..
Perhaps this verbal rigidity and imposing regulations were appalling for many strangers and conflicting this very stance.., Maulana was the master of these protocols. he wasn’t subjugated by it. He was the legislator but not bound by it. Wherever and to whomsoever he wished, relaxed these protocols and deemed it as the favored protocol for the occasion.
(Yadgar Mulaqaten, p. 351-4)