“Want to walk?”…………He asks. Everyone is asleep except for the two of us, night birds. I nod assent and we walk out into the silent street of the subdivision. The moon is brilliant like a lamp and the sky is filled with diamonds.
He stops to light his cigarette and as he blows the smoke into the still night air, we begin our walk, quietly gently and slowly, talking.
He has something on his mind… I can tell. Finally he says it: “ I need to find a Sheikh”,
I am surprised” A Sheikh! You are the smartest man alive, who can you find as a teacher or a Sheikh and for what?” I ask thinking of all his honors and lists of University accolades from all over the academic world.
“ I need a spiritual teacher to find the path” he says something to that effect sheepishly, a little unsure at this stupendous statement which even to himself seems foreign. Visions of Pirs and dargahs flit through my mind and I recoil at the idea of my brilliant brother frequenting “those” places. I can tell from his contemplative silence that he has been thinking of it for sometime.
“Can’t you self learn ” I ask. A stupid comment in retrospect. He remains silent and never mentions it again.
He died a year later. It was not till five years later when I too was searching for spiritual sanctuary that I truly understood his hesitant words that night.
Sometime later in a state of grief after Tariq and Ammi have both left me, I am in Makkah in tawaf around the Kaaba.
As I reach the Hateem, out of the blue, I remember his statement. I now fully understand his need for a teacher to guide him to the spiritual path of peace.
As I approach the curve of the Hateem, hands outstretched I ask Allah Subhanawataala to forgive him, to give him what he wanted so desperately but never got it in this world.
I pray for his soul, for the solace he yearned for but never found while alive. I fervently ask Allah to give him the peace that he so well deserved.
His search for peace in the inner dimensions of spirituality had come empty in both the tumult of yuppie urban Karachi and in the quiet of the western suburbs of America.
Guilt smites my heart; I was at that time ignorant of the hidden world of spirituality inside which every sensitive heart finds refuge. I did not give him good advice; I had not had the experience I have now.
I was unaware of what it is like to be in such pain that one feverishly seeks sanctuary in the spiritual world of our Deen, away from the frivolities of this world.
The lights of the Hateem have come on as I continue my tawaf. As I round the corner and approach the Yemeni corner I pray again, fervently, for solace, for peace and for forgiveness for my brother H who died without finding what his sensitive soul searched for.
I feel as I round the Yemeni corner that Allah Subhanawataala knows the anguish of His creatures that search for Him all their lives and yet sometimes are unable to connect with him in this world.
He Subhanawataala also knows that it is finally in His Subhanawataala’s arms that they ultimately find rest…
Inna lil lahi wa inna elayhe rajaeown
This memory is dedicated to all my “teachers” who pointed me to the path of Spirituality and immense gratitude to Allah who took me to His sanctuary and opened the doors to the beauty of our faith………and guided me to his promise of “no fear and no grief”.
Growing up, I was my brother’s one person audience as he read urdu poetry to me…..so in his memory here is something from Faiz Ahmad Faiz