Words Arwa J.
Photograph Husain P.
Three years on, I still remember that day with crystal clarity, as many others do, the 16th of Rabi-ul-Awwal 1435. I had just sat down to work on a paper for my Masters class; I was three months pregnant and wanting something to eat. I got the call that stopped my heart and stole my senses. Masjid ma sagla haazir thaye, Burhanuddin Maula R.A wafat paya che. It was unbelievable, it was incomprehensible. It couldn’t be possible. That day and the next, I still could not believe that the world no longer had my Moula in it. My child would be born into a world where Burhanuddin Moula R.A no longer resided. I had too much to say. I had not seen my Moula for over 10 years, he could not be gone. I had only to close my eyes to see him, but these eyes had thirsted to see him in person; to fall at his feet, to take his hand, and to just look at him. I had been hoping that I would take my child after he was born and we would go into Burhanuddin Moula’s presence together. I had prayed that I would have a son who would be named Burhanuddin so I could say in front of Moula, “This is your blessing, this child of mine was given by you.” But I was looking at my Moula’s janaza instead. I was so far and yet my soul, my heart wanted to fly there and touch his janaza, ask for his forgiveness and say Moula please embrace me.
The days passed and the grief was a constant. Grief is such an incomplete word; it fails to encompass the death of someone who was everything. Huzn; is an Arabic word one which in its literal translation means sadness or sorrow, but means so much more when experienced. Sufis use the word huzn (sadness) as the opposite of rejoicing and joy, and to express the pain one suffers while fulfilling his or her duties and realizing his or her ideals. For each Dawoodi Bohra, our Moula’s sayings and his ideals were those which everyone aspires to reach, how to deal with the world when that Moula was no longer with us. Huzn is a constant, something that is always there. Syedna Idris Imad-ud-din, the nineteenth Dai of the Dawoodi Bohra’s uses huzn to describe the death of Imam Hussain in his verse, wherein he says that so great is my grief at the death of Imam Hussain, it is like a flowing river which will always go on until the end of my life. Similar was everyone’s grief for Burhanuddin Moula R.A because so many of us had believed he would always be there, somewhere, yet in this world.
I prayed that I would soon reach Mumbai, enter the Raudat Tahera and kneel at the Rozat-ul-min-Riyaazal-Jannah. Mufaddal Moula T.U.S visited Karachi for a day before going to Karbala, and I only prayed for one thing while looking at my Moula’s face, that I would soon get to go to Mumbai. My son was born, and he was Burhanuddin, the name that would be a constant reminder of my Moula. Every time I looked at him, I knew I was blessed. There was still a constant ache I had yet to visit the Raudat Tahera. The months turned into a year, and my whole family left for the first Urus of Burhanuddin Moula R.A and my heart and eyes bled. I could not go with them and it was unbearable. Yet my Moula was there, I had to close my eyes and I could see his face, his beautiful smile, hear his voice. I only had to ask and my Moula would fulfill my every dua, but one remained.
We did our paperwork, got our visas but the date of departure for Mumbai could not be fixed. The second Urus of my Moula had also come and passed and I was stuck here. Every time we decided on a date, something or the other would come up, my anger and my grief combined to make me rail at the fates that conspired to keep me from my Moula’s ziyarat. I asked Mufaddal Moula, begged him to ask Burhanuddin Moula R.A to call us, the thirst was no longer endurable.
Finally, we set out, from Karachi to Lahore on to Amritsar and then Mumbai, in the wee hours of a rainy morning. All through the train journey was an overwhelming thought, I was going to my Moula. It was raining heavily that morning and we walked from the Musafir Khana to Raudat Tahera, not knowing the way but following the white canopy. We entered and my heart was so full, words are incapable of describing it. A verse I had memorized by heart kept playing over and over in my head and my heart.
Ae Saif-e-deen (TUS) ab sabr kaise mein karun (O Saifuddin, How do I still this aching heart)
Lene tassalli tarf rozat k mein chalun (I will walk towards this grave to gain solace)
Aur bakhtiyon ko apne ghutnon se charhun (And kneeling on my knees I will climb these stairs)
Rozat pe rakh k sir ye araz kar jilun (Put my head on this grave and speak out my heart’s desire)
I had finally reached my manzil, my goal, and I sat there for two days each time persuading my heart and my feet to walk out. I would sit there asking my Moula not to let so much time pass again before calling me back and the tears would keep on flowing. I took my son and taught him how to do ziarat asking Moula to bless this child that was his namesake. Mumbai was also gloomy and pouring in the early morning we left, an outward expression of my feelings. I wanted to stay there, being able to visit every day. No amount of time would be enough. I envied the people who lived there, who could walk to the Raudat Tahera each day. But as Moula always says, mein tamara dil ma wasun chu (I live in your hearts). This gave my aching heart some calm as we went on to Ahmedabad and Surat.
Coming back to Pakistan all my wishes, my desires were fulfilled when Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin T.U.S visited first Rawalpindi and then Karachi. We had initially planned to return from Pindi to Karachi two days before Moula’s visit, due to work commitments, but both Maula heard my prayers and me and my son stayed. My journey had reached a most fulfilling end. The ache will always be there, the tears flow as I write this, and the heart yearns to fly to that place of Jannah again and again, I just pray it will be soon that my Moula calls me again. It will be three years, yet the huzn will always be fresh, a constant.