On 7th April 1978 around Maghreb, my father, Saiyyid Sibtul Hasan popularly known as Fazil-i Hanswi, left us all and returned back to his maker. The day is still fresh in my memory. I had just joined the University for my graduation. Being the youngest in the family, I was jealously shielded from the tremors of the loss by my elders, who never let a shadow of deprivation fall on me.
I had gone to fetch the ambulance from the Medical College when he passed away. It was only when I returned with the ambulance that I realised that he was no more. My sisters informed me that just minutes before his last breath, he asked to lie him facing the Qibla and asked them and my mother to recite prayers. My mother kept calling him and till his last breath he kept replying to them. He also told her not to worry as a large mansion awaited them both in the other world.
He had retired from service in 1971 and till 1978 when he left this world, he had been denied his pension. But just a week before, a team of Ulama from Irān had come to him, as they used to come earlier. Usually they would arrive at our house, offer prayers behind my father and then leave. But this time one of them had forcibly put ₹500/- in his pocket. And it was this money from his pocket which financed his shroud!
It was a general belief that he was one of the few who had had the fortune to meet the Twelfth Imam. Once when in late 1940’s he lost his way in the desert while heading for Mecca. The driver of the jeep, he and his friends were travelling in, lost direction. It was getting dark in the desert and they decided to stop for the night on a sand dune. Suddenly a man appeared and enquired where they were headed for. When informed that they intended to go to Mecca but had lost their way, he offered that as he was going the same direction he could lead them. He hopped on to the jeep and led them till a point where he asked the driver to stop. Hopping down he turned to my father and pointedly told him to convey his salām to his ancestor (jadd). And then he disappeared in the darkness after pointing out that they should go in that direction. My father used to say, that it occurred to none of the occupants of the jeep to inquire who this man was and why he was getting down in the middle of wilderness!
If one reads his diary, he had a number of such anecdotes connected with his life. But he would never boast of them nor easily narrate them to others.
His was a life totally devoted to Imam Husain and percolation of his message. Not a Friday in his life passed when he did not offer ‘amāl-i āshūr, not the shorter versions, but the full detailed vigil! In the evening after that he would hold a majlis, even if the participants were only family members!
In the procession of shab i āshūr ( night of 9th Muharram) he would himself through out hold the Alam. He would never refuse anyone who called him for the majlis, but would never agree to take anything in return except the exact conveyance charges.
I remember that when he would go for any meeting of the Mazār of Qazi Nurullah at Agra, he would travel by an ordinary bus and haggle for even half a rupee with the rickshaw wala. But when he would be traveling for some personal errand or taking us somewhere on holidays, he would pay whatever the rickshaw puller asked him for. Once I asked him the reason and got the reply:
“When I go for a meeting, it’s the money of the community which is involved! When we go on our own, it’s my money!”
He had not been a man of this world and the only material inheritance which he left me with was his library, and a thirst to read! Though a well known Shia divine, his readings were not confined to Islam or Shi’ism; he had a Hebrew Bible in his collection which he used to read. He was well versed with Ramayana and Mahabharata, and their philosophies. Having been brought up on the ghats of Banaras, he was well versed in the Hindu mythologies and he could even sing Alha Udal, when he was in the mood.
As a staunch religionist he taught me respect of all. The best way to attain the will of God, is through good behaviour with the people, irrespective of their faith!
Tolerance to him was the key to salvation: He would say:
‘Live like Ali, and die like Husain!’ Your intolerance should be against the Unjust and Injustice, he taught. He never bowed before any dictator or dictatorial attitude and taught me to resist them at all costs.
Thats what I have learned and practice- miss you Abba!