5.17 Natural Taste for Tasawwuf
Since his Asaatizah were paragons of practical and spiritual virtues, therefore, in his student days a natural taste for Tasawwuf developed in him. Together with academic studies he commenced studies in Tasawwuf during that period. He became obsessed with the way of Tasawwuf, which the Junaid and Shibli of the time, Shaikhul Arab wal Ajam, Hazrat Haji Imdaadullah (Quddisa Sirruhul Azeez) picked up through his illuminated insight sitting thousands of miles from Deoband, in Makkah Mu’azzamah. For observation he called him there. Details of this will appear in the Chapter on Bai’t.
During his student days when the nobleman of Meerath, Shaikh Ilaahi Bakhsh (by whom his father enjoyed private estate ownership) came to visit Moulana Shah Rafee’ud Deen Saheb, the Principal of Madrasah Darul Uloom Deoband, he became astounded at his [Hazrat Thanwi’s] appearance and student image. Spontaneously he remarked to Hazrat Muhtamim Saheb:
“Hazrat, you have made the lad totally Fana fish-Shaikh!”
[Fana fish-Shaikh is a term in Tasawwuf meaning: to be a complete replica of the spiritual mentor.]
5.18 Total Simplicity
The foregoing was precisely the reason for him adopting total simplicity in the Madrasah. Not only did he take from his Asaatizah academic knowledge, he moreover embraced their way of life. Thus, in emulation of the illustrious staff of Madrasah Deoband he abandoned his family’s style trouser and started wearing the style of his Asaatizah.
In his dress and appearance, ways and habits, in short in everything simplicity stood out. Once, during his student years he came home during holidays. In total simplicity he wrapped himself in a blanket. He had not donned the blanket properly with both sides equal; without any side hanging. His honourable father was astonished at this sight and said to him: “Don’t you know how to put on a blanket?”
Notwithstanding that he would have a lot of fear for his father; he would show a great amount of respect. On that occasion, however, he spontaneously responded:
“Hazrat! If you had in mind that I must learn how to put on a blanket then you shouldn’t have sent me to Madrasah Deoband. There, no one knows the art of putting on a blanket. All are haphazard.”
His father said nothing to him despite his hot temperament. Nor did he reprimand him over such things.
Looking at his student days of simplicity and the extravagant and stylish dress of students in the era of his Masheekhat [Spiritual Mentorship] he laments much and says:
“This is proof that their gaze is not sublime and they are out of touch with Ilm. Otherwise they would never pay attention to such frivolous and inferior things.”
5.19 Preaching at Home
He would similarly beg to differ with his honourable father in general household matters and in particular regarding Masaail of permissibility and non-permissibility.
Once, his father kept someone’s land in mortgage. This was whilst he was still pursuing Ilm. When this news reached him then in execution of the duty of Tableegh he wrote to him that this is na-jaaiz. Upon this his honourable father complained to a Hindu acquaintance:
“We sent our son to learn Arabic. Over everything he criticizes us, that this is against the Shariat and this is na-jaaiz. He advises us to leave mortgage, and so forth.”
The Hindu said upon this:
“Munshi Jee! This is something to be very happy about. It seems that your son is very able. He wishes the best for you. If you had sent him to learn astronomy he would have spoken to you about the stars; if you had taught him constitutional law he would have told you about the law of the land; if you had taught him medicine he would have informed you of harmful and healthy things. You sent him to learn Deen. So obviously he is going to tell you about Deen. Make shukr. He is very able; very concerned. He saves you from the chastisement of the Aakhirat. You ought to be happy that whatever you are spending in his education is bearing fruit.”
In his student days caring for Tableegh and opposing the ideals of his family, Subhaanallah! This was proof of him being a Man of Allah Ta’ala.