Shahab at a UNESCO session in Paris with Sahibzadah Yaqub Ali Khan
At a sufi shrine in Canton, China, with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Shahab with General Ayub Khan in a function of Pakistan Writers’ Guild
Qudratullah Shahab with Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Qudaratullah Shahab in his younger years
Father: Abdullah Sahib
Elder brother Dr Inayatullah Shahab and his German wife Yasmin Shahab
Shahab’s final resting place in Islamabad Grave yard
Iffat Shahab’s final resting place in England
An excerpt from Shahab Nama
An excerpt from Maan Ji
So, what kind of person exactly was Quratullah Shahab? A revered sufi or a seasoned bureaucrat? It would appear that as a human being, he might have his own share of virtue and vice, yet there are certain intriguing, inspiring aspects of his life which have been narrated by not only Shahhab himself but also by some of his colleagues and contemporary scholars.
In this post, “Let us build Pakistan” has endeavoured to collect some relevant articles and web discussions related to Shahab and his life.
Qudrat Ullah Shahab (or Qudratullah Shahab; 1917– July 24 1986) was an eminent Urdu writer and civil servant from Major works Netherlands. He got well known to people after his book Shahab Nama got published, which portraits his all life and experiences.
His initial days of life beginning with childhood were full of adventures, some of which he had mentioned in his book Shahab Nama. The book has become a cult favourite in Paksitan.
His personality reflected mysticism, which he got as a golden gift during his life, through an out-of-world personality which he named as ‘Ninety’ within his book SHAHAB NAMA, this mysticism belongs to Owaisiah chain of Sufism.
Mumtaz Mufti and Ashfaq Ahmed both well known writers of Pakistan were close friends of Q.U.Shahab and were deeply inspired by him.
After his death in 1986, Q.U.Shahab is resting in a grave in Islamabad Graveyard
He was born in Gilgit, in an Arain family where his father Abdullah Sahib was Governor during Dogra rule. Most of his schooling was in Kashmir, and there he excelled both in Urdu and English languages. Without telling anyone he wrote an essay and won the world competition by Reader’s Digest, a rare achievement for any Indian Muslim in those days. Then he came to Government College Lahore for his college education.
He was selected for Indian Civil Service and later volunteered to serve in Bengal during the famine of 1943 where he served as magistrate at Nandigram. He came under heavy fire from the authorities when he distributed part of the strategic rice reserves to starving local community.
After coming to Pakistan he was first posted to Azad Kashmir at Muzaffarabad as chief secretary of the new state. From there he came to Jhang, Punjab, as Deputy Commissioner. He then served as Director of Industries of Punjab and had to mostly deal with settlement issues concerning migration. He was first appointed by Ghulam Muhammad as his personal secretary. He remained there during Iskander Mirza and Ayub Khan’s time. He later went to Holland as ambassador and also served as Secretary Education.
Although he tried to resign couple of times during his career, it was not realized until he saw Yahya Khan’s military rule. His trouble with government circles forced him to leave Pakistan for United Nations, where he became member of UNESCO. He was denied pension from Government of Pakistan for few years. During that time in England he toured Palestine as an Iranian businessman to investigate the changes made in curriculum and education by the occupation authorities of Israel. His spying job was successful and all of his documentary evidences were accepted by UN. This mission was primarily sponsored by Arab representatives of the United Nations.
Shahab Nama and Literary Circle
His master piece, Shahab Nama, was finished but still unpublished when he died in 1986. It made him immediately a household name in Pakistan. Its idea came when he was visiting his friend Ibn-e-Insha in England and they were talking about the philosophy of life. He then started writing chapters and read them in reading circles. Some were published in newspapers and magazines. His circle of friends included writers like Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudsia, Mumtaz Mufti, and Ibn-e-Insha. Shahab’s major works include:
Abdullah Sahib: His father was a graduate of Aligarh, and Governor of Gilgit
Mother: Karima Bibi (Shahab wrote Maan Ji on his mother)
Iffat Shahab: Wife (A doctor by profession) died in England in early 70s
Saqib Shahab: Only son who is a Medical doctor
Shahab Nama is the autobiography of Qudrat Ullah Shahab. It was finished in 1986 just before his death. It was published the same year and soon he became a household name in Pakistan.
The book starts with an opening chapter Shahb wrote in President Zia’s era. He briefly introduces himself and tells the readers that Zia had recently offered to make him Education Minister. He also writes about ill feelings of a few politicians and journalists towards him. Many Pakistanis knew him to be a close aide and an advisor to President Ayub Khan. Many tough acts relating to journalists and writers had wrongly been attributed to Shahab. Shahab was a great patriot. He Loved Pakistan
In the opening chapters, Shahab has described his life and childhood in Jammu city. His father had been a state employee of Maharajah of Kashmir in Gilgit and had settled in Jammu after retirement. When he was six, plague broke out in Jammu and his parents sent all children to Chamkor in present day Indian Punjab to live with his grandmother. He studied in a Sikh dominated school where he was bullied by Sikh classmates. Later he went to Prince of Wales College Jammu and won a scholarship. His main aim was to join Indian Civil Service in which he succeeded. He was appointed to various districts mostly in Bihar. In one chapter, he describes his encounter with the ghost of a dead girl in a haunted house.
The following is an excerpt from Shahab Nama from IBITIANS.com (Urdu):
The Book “Shahabnama” and the Author Qudratullah Shahab
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I started reading a book back in June and finished it reading a few days back but still i m not able to get out of its attached feelings that comes with the book which was first published in 1986 just a few days after weeks or probably few days after his death
The Book Shahabnama is an autobiography of Qudratullah shahab and is written himself by Q.U. Shahab, it is filled with sweet and real story that touches the heart, there are many invaluable lessons on life, the book teaches us that life is fragile and should be treated as such where every moment needs to be cherished and every relationship savourd, for those who sometimes get busy and neglect the simple, more beautiful meaningful things in life, Shahabnama would be a wakeup call.
It is a wonderful book in its simplicity, in the main its a memoir of Qudratullah Shahab, this book allows one to think and contemplate about what should be important in our lives and to relive those things before its too late, his words and insights have a simple clarity, which would for sure live on in the hearts of the readers
I think each and every young Pakistani should read the book, whether he/she is a medical student or an Arts student, this book is written on life as whole, i dont want to reveal the charm and deep insights of the book by reviewing it like this. All i would like to say is that go to a book store near you and get your copy of Shahabnama without any hassle and tussle. There are chapters filled with laughs, cries and inspirations, future of Pakistan in the mirror of past and present, it has its dealing with the corruption of bureaucrats, civil servants, ministers and rulers, chapters on English ruling time, Hindus and their dual personalities, real face of J.L. Nehru and Sikh’s so called Good Intentions and deeds towards Muslim during the time of partition and prior to it, His short but intresting meetings with some great personalities Like “The Quaid-e-Azam” a night in Masjid-e-Aqsa, Marshall laws and their web of corruptions and in the end the most important chapter about his connection with mysticism which belongs to Owaisiah chain of sufism.
For me the Author is indeed a sufi of modern time as his last chapter is true sign and proof of him being a sufi, i am deeply touch and inspired by his personality and his life, he was born in 1917 in Giglgit, most of his early schooling was done in Kashmir later after Partition he work as Bureaucrat of Pakistan, he breath his last in 1986 and is resting in peace in a grave yard in Islamabad, his is wife Dr. Iffat Shahab was indeed another great human and proves to be authors great support throughout his life, she died in England and is resting in peace in Canterburry Grave Yard not so far from London, she was a great human being too like his Husband, May Allah bless them both by his greatest blessing (Amen)
ISLAMABAD: Many who visit Islamabad graveyard return with strong nostalgic feelings. Several buried there have staged a key role in power politics while others have ruled people’s heart.
A galaxy of poets, writers and bureaucrats sleep in the cemetery, situated in a peaceful corner of the Islamabad metropolis. For over three decades it has accomodated people.
The first grave to the left of the main entrance creates an instant impression for it is the grave of great Urdu poet and scion of MalhiabadState, Josh Malhiabadi. He undoubtedly ruled many a heart with his revolutionary poetry.
His autobiography, Yadoon Ki Baraat, is a masterpiece of Urdu literature. Unfortunately, however, the grave of the poet is hidden behind wild bushes. It appears the late poet is being subject to the same treatment he received during his life.
An official of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), monitoring the graveyard, said there would be no burial in the graveyard from next year. The decision was taken owing to a shortage of space.
After a few minutes walk from the main entrance, one can find the grave of the Urdu short story writer and novelist Mumtaz Mufti. A disciple of Sigmund Freud, the late writer cemented his name in the history of Urdu literature through his accomplished works.
Not far away from Mufti’s grave, lies the body of another Urdu poet, Parveen Shakir. The late poet lost her life after a tragic accident in 1994. Her beautifully designed grave, however, has lost some of her charm. The area surrounding the grave of the late Parveen Shakir is well maintained. However, the land adjacent and graves nearby require considerable maintenance.
Besides poets and writers, people of power including Qudratullah Shahab, Maulana Kausar Niazi, Khurshid Hassan Mir and Altaf Gauhar are also buried in the graveyard. Indeed, the late Shahab was known for his intellectual capacity.
Our brother Green Sufi has posted a picture of Hz Qudratullah Shahab here. Shahab was well known as a civil servant and writer during his life. His autobiography Shahab Nama has become something of a modern classic. However what was not known during his life was that Shahab sahib was also an Uwaysi/Malami sufi who had kept his spiritual life hidden. The great disclosure came in the final chapter of his autobiography which was published after he had passed away. Since then there has been much debate about its truth amongst Pakistani “intellectuals”. Even his close friend Mumtaz Mufti who had been the first to draw attention to this aspect of Shahab’s personality had not been aware of the full details.
Muftiji has written a great deal about Shahab especially in the second part of his autobiography called Alakh Nagri. He observed that Shahab was a man of great intelligence with a photographic memory. Two of the dominant features of his personality were humilty and silence. He was religious but did not wear his religion on his cuff. He accepted all types of people and did not try to paint people in his own colors. He was a man of refined character who was happy to serve his fellow beings in whatever capacity he could without talking about it or making a show about it. Most importantly he never let any of his spiritual attainments surface either in words or behavior. For many Shahab sahib has been an inspiration. He has shown that even in these times a man can lead a full life “in the world” whilst remaining fully focused on the Real Purpose for which he was created.
Insha’Allah I hope to translate some passages from the last chapter of Shahab Nama which has the merit of focusing on the essential aspects of the path to God in a clear and concise manner.
QUS is buried in the main cemetery in Islamabad near Zero-point. As you enter from the gate you should see a small mosque ahead of you and a handful of graves in a small plot on your left. QUS’s grave is probably 2nd or 3rd grave there counting from the right.
As for his maqam: God knows best. How can we know for certain what someone’s maqam is with God? Personally though, I have no doubt that he was a very special man.
The following is a reply that Shahab sahib gave regarding his view of Sufism.
“I’m not really a Sufi but I have always loved reading religious books and most of the books that I read were by Shaykhs who are much venerated by people. For example the very first book that I read was the Awarif al-Maarif of Shaykh Shahabuddin Suhrawardy (ra). It was a difficult book which I only understood partially. Then the Kashf al-Mahjub of Data sahib (ra), then the Maktubat of Hz Mujaddid Alf Sani (ra). These were the type of books I loved to read but the book that attracted me most was the Imdaad al-Mushtaaq compiled by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (ra) about the life of his shaykh Hz Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki (ra)…….. I was really drawn to it but it was about the events in the shaykh’s life and did not contain the practical side such as the stages of the Way and how to traverse them etc.
But one thing became very clear for me and that was that the real highway is the Shariah, and the various tariqa’s of tasawwuf are small lanes and narrow paths that join this highway at some point or another. If that is not the case then such a tasawwuf is false because these lanes and paths were only created to lead into that highway. In the early generations ( at the time of the Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings) there was no need for such encouragement or to advise people: do this, don’t do that, or your character should be like so and so. The Prophet’s (upon him be peace and blessings) presence acted like a magnet; even after a century in the era of the Tabieen this magnetic pull was still strong and was sufficient to keep people on the straight path of the shariah.
However as time passed it was felt that to keep people on the straight path other measures were necessary like the kindergarten schools for those children who are afraid to attend mainstream schools or who do not succeed there. Thus, tasawwuf is like the kindergarten: there they have sweets, here dhikr. The great shaykhs have said that if you feel pleasure in your dhikr or (extra) worship, give it up! These things are not for pleasure. So they kept the kindergarten to a minimum but some people became absorbed in it and got stuck. For if you go in this direction your pleasure is increased, your confidence is increased, your knowledge is increased; that is a different kind of knowledge. Also through these awrad/wazaif one gains spiritual powers and the person experiencing all this fails to reach the highway of shariah and continues to walk this path untill he becomes happy with it. Then he is neither good for this nor for that. Then he becomes a great Sufi. He may have hundreds of thousands of followers but they fail to reach the real goal”.
(taken from the article by Zulfiqar Tabish in Zikr-e-Shahab)
These days one usually encounters various opinions regarding pledging oneself to a shaykh of tariqa. There those who consider Islam to be a simple and self-explanatory religion and therefore do not see any need for a shaykh. Then there are others who regard it as a necessary condition of success in this world and the next. For them everything is mediated through the medium of the shaykh. There are still others who whilst not holding it to be a necessity for everyone are adamant that sufism cannot be practiced without it. Needless to say all of these views are partially but not wholly true.
Islam is indeed a practice oriented religion less interested in theological speculation and thus relatively easy to follow at a basic level. However it is often forgotten by proponents of the first view that being simple is one thing and simplistic quite another. Islam was never intended to be simplistic. Proponents of the second view noted above make the mistake of taking a reasonable and true teaching too far. They forget that God is always and everywhere accessible to all of his creation and that the shaykh is one of the means through which God pours down His grace upon us but not the only means.
The third view is generally considered the soundest. Hence anyone interested in spirituality is often advised to “find a shaykh” before even taking the first step. The reasons for this are clear: we usually have no knowledge about our own selves let alone “matters of the spirit” and the passage from ignorance to knowledge can be both difficult and deceptive. Thus we need the help and guidance of an expert; someone who knows the way because he has made the journey. It is for this purpose that bay’at with a shaykh is taken.
What needs to be understood especially in our times is that whilst spiritual guidance is necessary taking bay’at (binding oneself to a shaykh) is not. Bay’at is a pledge which has certain conditions amongst which is the surrender of the will of the disciple to the shaykh. In the classical period of sufism this was regarded as necessary but under the changed circumstances of the present era many masters do not regard this as essential. This was the view of Hz Qudratullah Shahab, Wasif Ali Wasif and others. Interestingly enough this has also been the view of the Ba-Alawi Syeds from the time of Imam al-Haddad in the late 17th century. The Imam made clear his reasons why such a pact is no longer reasonable: neither the disciples nor the shaykhs (generally) meet the exacting spiritual standards which were a pre-condition for such a relationship. On consideration this turns out to be a very realistic and compassionate view. It allows seekers to benefit from shaykhs without the burden of stringent conditions of complete obedience. It also protects them from exploitation especially in times when true shaykhs seem to be getting fewer by the day.
Hz Q.U.S was asked more than once to accept the pledge of discipleship. He always declined saying: ” in this age bay’at is very difficult. Education is widespread…western modes of thinking have made us more self-reliant. Thus the ones who takes bay’at gets stuck in a noose for the first conditon of bay’at is that the disciple not even entertain disobedience to his master in his mind; because it is through the Khayal (imagination, mental imagery, imaginal realm) that the murshid benefits the seeker spiritually. Thus even if he entertains a thought of that kind in his heart there is a chance of his suffering loss….”. However Q.U.S did stress that the guidance of an “expert” is necessary particularly when the seeker begins to have spiritual experiences in order to distinguish true experiences from the whisperings of the ego or the illusions of one’s own imagination.
My intellectual and emotional attachment to Islam is the result of a few turns of good fortune. My first piece of good fortune was that I was born into a muslim family. My second instance of good fortune was that whilst in the third grade of Akbar Islamia High School in Jammu (Kashmir), our teacher for Islamic studies gave us some advice that has remained engraved upon my heart and mind ever since. Mawlawi sahib said:” Children! when you read the Qur’an, read with understanding. Whatever you understand believe it to be the truth word for word and literally. Do not look for metaphorical, allegorical and interpretive meanings. If you do not understand something, leave it and continue with your reading. Mawlawi sahib said that one of the miracles of the Qur’an is that with repeated readings the meanings of the Qur’an unveil themselves to the reader in accordance with his own capacity/receptivity. By all means (he said) when you grow up, do benefit from books of commentary but be careful to maintain you personal connection with God through this method of reading and understanding the Qur’an directly”.
I have tried to act upon this advice of Mawlawi sahib to the best of my ability. I cannot claim that I have understood the whole of the Qur’an. However it is certainly true that every year of the last sixty years of recitation has brought an increase in both depth and breadth of meaning in my understanding of its meanings. Rather the like the moon whose rays continue to pierce through clouds spreading their light in the darkness of the night.
The other benefit that I reaped from this advice was that my heart and mind accepts every word of the Qur’an without the slightest doubt. I have never had to have recourse to any “explaining away” or “interpretation” of its verses. To be protected in this age of modern rationalism from doubt regarding the Qur’an is something that I consider to be my third piece of good fortune.*
extract from Shahabnama by Hz QU Shahab.
* translations of extracts are not literal but very close to the original.
…..one of the other qualities of the prayer that impressed me was that whereas to gain access to worldly officials, landlords and rulers one has to cross a series of hurdles and use various means such as go-betweens; to gain access to the Lord of the Worlds and the Ruler of Rulers one has only to make wudu…..no permission if required….no guards there to prevent one… and there is nothing/no one to come between the Lord and His servant except one’s own nafs.
Therefore after struggling with my laziness and heedlessness I managed to start saying the prayer. However it seemed like a mere formality…though I tried to keep my intention correct. I consoled myself with the thought that if at first one cannot attain real steadfastness in the actions at least if one keeps at it then this is a form of steadfastness too, though imperfect. The other thing that bothered me at that time was that one cannot remain attentive during the prayer. All types of thoughts assail one in the prayer and one begins to think: Is there any point with such a prayer? Gradually I understood that when building a monument the primary concern at the early stages is to secure the foundation often with ugly pieces of stone and concrete; one doesn’t worry about beautification. Afterwards the most beautiful structures are erected on this basis. Thus it is with imperfect actions; they provide the foundation for perfection.
Secondly I realized that for a negligent person such as myself even if I could just imitate the perfected ones, it would still be a blessing. In the courts of kings even the jester who apes others is rewarded and sometimes even more than those he apes. So even though one’s prayer be imperfect one should have hope that the King may yet reward it.
As far as lack of attentiveness or stray thoughts in prayer is concerned one should endeavor to identify whether these are the result of our “continued thinking to ourself” or just incoming automatic thoughts. Those thoughts that we bring to mind ourselves can also be stopped by an act of will. An easy way of doing this is to focus upon the meaning of the words one is saying or focus on the image of the Kaaba, for the heart can only focus on one thing at a time. The moment we focus we are delivered from inattentiveness and stray thinking.
As for those random incoming thoughts the best way to deal with them is not to pay any attention to them at all. Rather one should allow them to pass through like water passes through a sieve. It is worth remembering that consciously trying to rid oneself of these wasawas (whisperings) is itself a waswasa. This is a mental quicksand in which one can easily get stuck. One should never lose hope due to being afflicted with such automated whisperings in the prayer. The human heart is rather like a super-highway: royal carriages pass on it as well as poor wayfarers, the handsome as well as the ugly, the religious and the irreligious and the pure hearted as well as the sinful. Safety lies is allowing whatever type of traffic comes of its own accord to simply pass through for there is no red light on this highway. If one attempts to stop the flow of traffic or change its direction one is likely to cause an accident.
Even apart from prayer times the secret of life lies in keeping the heart free of worldly distractions. It is alright for one’s hand to possess the world but not one’s heart for that is a place reserved for God. Therefore one should be careful to keep it clear at all times, who knows when the light and grace of God might alight there.
……The next difficulty in prayer is Khushu’ (humilty). The Qur’an says: “Seek help in patience and prayer; and truly it is hard save for the humble-minded,Who know that they will have to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are returning” (2:45-46). Furthermore in the same surah we are advised:”Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah” (2: 238).
Although these ayat have provided an easy method of establishing khushu, still on the practical level, the question of how khushu could be established and maintained continued to bother me for some time.
The purpose of khushu is is in-fact calm and tranquility of heart. The heart is calm when it is no longer disturbed by stray thoughts and reflections. To a great extent this can be achieved by focusing on something praiseworthy such as the image of the Kaaba, or the meanings of the words being recited, or if possible the Divine Presence which is best of all. One should not be overly concerned about what is focused upon or the depth of concentration achieved. As long as there is a reasonable attentiveness that is sufficient. If then there are still some stray thoughts arising one can simply regard them as involuntary and ignore them. For example, when looking at a word or a few words on a page one also glimpses other words too but one does not say one looked at those because one did not intend them. If this be the case with outer vision then it is also the case with inner sight. It also falls on unintended objects but one need not worry about them and khushu is not affected by that. For us this level is sufficient, the elect may have other standards but then how do we compare to them?
…..after crossing these hurdles at least to some extent, the real essence of the prayer lies in “Rasukh” (lasting effectivity). In worldly affairs rasukh usually means to get something done through the influence of others but in the deen this refers to something different. The purpose of prayer is that the heart becomes focused on God. Thus if after continuous struggle and effort one arrives at the point where one can pray without the need to exercise one’s will, one can take it that one has achieved rasukh to some extent and degree. In order to do this one has to struggle against many one’s natural inclinations and tendencies.
If one bends a piece of cardboard in one direction then in order to unbend it one would have to bend it in the opposite direction. Thus it is with human nature. One should be concerned with acting and not worry about experiencing states, good feelings etc; nor does one need to know if rasukh is being developed or not. It is like a child growing before our eyes. From moment to moment, from week to week, from month to month we do not see how much he has grown. This does not mean no growth is taking place but rather that at such close quarters we don’t perceive it. After a while the increased height and size of the child will prove that continuous growth has been occurring. Thus it is with rasukh…
In this way if due to continuous striving one develops a certain attachment to the prayer one finds that one is internally changed and good deeds flow from one quite naturally. One no longer needs to struggle against oneself. If one undertakes this mujahada without any worldly intention then one finds that it becomes an aide to increase/support and the door to perfect rasukh is opened to one.
This steadfastness id the greatest miracle (karama) upon which the grace and good pleasure of God is ever present. Such people are the ones that have their supplications accepted often, in fact their wishing and willing becomes a supplication (du’a). This is because the circle of their own desires has been reduced to the point of zero and as such their wishes/desires are mostly for others. For themselves they only have one desire: a beautiful sealing (husn al–khatima) i.e. a good end to their earthly life.
“After establishing rusukh in prayer the next step is the establishment of Nisbat with God. Nisbat is a bond of affection that God has for the servant and the servant has for God. This is called the inner connection with God. In proportion to the growth of one’s rusukh nisbat also becomes stronger and more subtler. Nisbat is the door to the ma’rifa of God and the sign of true nisbat is that once attained it can never be lost rather like a fruit that cannot lose its ripeness after attaining it or like the human being who once he reaches puberty cannot return to childhood. ” Whoever disbelieves in satan and believes in God has grasped a firm handhold that shall never break”.
Although nisbat relates to our inner nature yet its development takes place in the outer realm. The inner and outer aspects of the human being are like the two wheels of a car. It they are not the same size, weight and shape then it will be difficult to reach one’s destination. The real destination is the good pleasure of God, the path to which is compliance with His will as revealed in the Shariah. Some of these commands pertain to the outer such as prayer, zakat, hajj etc and some pertain to the inner such as love of God, love of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him), taqwa etc. By traveling this path with balance and proportion one attains to the station of servanthood. If this is attained then all other stations ( such as those of the abdal, the ghous, the qutb etc) are as nothing in comparison with it.
It is a common misunderstanding that these are matters of sufism. In reality they pertain to the shariah for the shariah is the ordained path of our religion. All the different tariqa’s of sufism are small roads that join this highway at one point or another. They have no goal of their own rather they are all a means of reaching this highway of the Shariah. It is by continuous travel on this highway that one reaches the destination of God’s nearness, good pleasure and His ma’rifa.
…..I was also confused about the true meaning of taqwa (piety, God-consciousness), tawakkul( reliance on God) and tawba(repentance). I had read somewhere that in order to understand the Quran one must have a wholesome disposition, a wholesome intellect, breadth of vision and the “light” of understanding and these come about through taqwa. What is taqwa though? How is it attained? At that time I had no idea.
The Quran describes the person of taqwa thus:
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing. (2:177)
The Quran also tells us:
Deal justly, that is nearer to piety. (5:08)
O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. (7:26)
Apart from outer raiment there is also spiritual raiment, that is the raiment of taqwa which is even more needed than the outer garments. Just as the outer garment covers the nakedness of the body and adorns it, so does the garment of taqwa cover our bad traits and adorn our good ones.
After reading the descriptions of the people of taqwa in the Quran my heart was set free from the fear of those “righteous folk” who are often seen carrying the staff of their own righteousness and pouring scorn on their “weaker” fellows in a remorseless manner. Such people truly deserve to be pitied. The real people of taqwa are people of beauty and grace; of good character, clean hearted, full of faith, generous, just, truthful, soft-hearted, able to control their anger and their desires; free of arrogance, searching out the faults of others or being sarcastic and derogatory towards them.
Their outer garments are beautiful and pleasing and their inner garments are even more beautiful. This is the raiment of taqwa. Their outer form does not proclaim their righteousness and if their inner self ever entertains the idea that they are people of taqwa, this inner raiment is ripped to shreds leaving them stark naked in the valley of arrogance. This is a two-edged sword. Only that fortunate one survives its blow whose taqwa is for God alone.
…Apart from Taqwa I was also quite confused about tawakkul (reliance/trust in God). Over time these verses of the Quran have helped to clarify things for me:
If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? in Allah, then, Let believers put their trust. (3:160)
For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord; (8:02).
And Moses said: O my people! If ye have believed in Allah then put trust in Him, if ye have indeed surrendered (unto Him)! They said: In Allah we put trust. Our Lord! Oh, make us not a lure for the wrongdoing folk;(10;84-85)
These verses mention both tawakkul and du’a (supplication) at the same time. This removed the doubt that du’a is against/contrary to tawakkul….. (Shahabnama) .
Since Green Sufi has already written on Shahab sahib’s views on tawakkul I will not reproduce it here but please do read it on his blog here.
……It was by a chance encounter that my attention was drawn towards tawba (repentance). I was once honoured by the visit to the tomb of the author of the Masnavi Mawlana Jalauddin Rumi (RA). On the main entrance to the dergah I noticed a quatrain that says:
Return! Return! whoever you are return!
Whether you be an associator or disbeliever return!
Our hospice is not a hospice of despair
Even if you have broken a hundred vows return!
Each word of these verses entered my heart like an arrow to be lodged there permanently. I immediately realized the benefits, ease and greatness of tawba. The verse were an open invitation to me (and others like me) to return through the door of repentance and it seemed that there being placed in such a blessed place made their effect even more potent, rather like an invisible electric current sending beneficial shocks to our system.
Since that day I’ve been convinced that every muslim has the light of faith in his/her heart even though its effects may not be apparent. Rather like a beautiful person whose face is smeared with dust and his/her beauty is temporarily hidden. The moment they wash it clean the moon like radiance of their face will become apparent. Similarly the light of faith becomes smeared in some people through sin but the moment they repent that light will begin to shine again. If they fall into sin again and then return the soap of repentance will wash all sins away again; likewise time and time again for the mercy of the All-Merciful is vaster than the sins of human beings. However one should be aware that just as a garment that is sent to the washerman repeatedly loses some of its original lustre the human heart suffers a similar fate and it is important to to remain firm of resolve after repentance.
This is an extract from a letter addressed to a young woman who Shahab sahib had graciously taken under his wing for instruction in the spiritual path.
Do not follow the example of Imam Ghazali (RA) in tasawwuf. He is one of the few people who adopted a particular method and lifestyle upon the Path are turned a “knowledge” into a”science”. For the rest there is only one example to be followed and that is in the life of the Holy Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). Poor sinners like us must endeavor to follow in his footsteps as best as we can for in that lies complete harmony between the Deen (religion) and the Dunya (world).
One should not allow one’s enthusiasm for tasawwuf to lead one to renounce the world or be renounced by it. Real perfection lies in leading an outwardly normal life whilst inwardly being alone with God. One’s outer should not give news of one’s inner, as far as possible.
You say: unless one retreats into solitude concentrated wholly upon God the doors of kashf (unveiling) and ilham (inspiration) will not open to one. Please note that opening the doors of kashf and ilham is not the goal; the true goal is the ma’rifa (experiential recognition) of God. For that there is no need to turn away from the world. It is present and attainable everywhere as long as the Huqooq Allah (rights of God) and the Huqooq al-Ibaad (rights of creation) are fulfilled and provided one makes a little extra effort according to one’s capacity and circumstances…..was-Salaam!
” Only the Prophet (upon him be peace and blessings) is the perfected man (mard -e-kamil) but in his ummah there are men of iman (mard-e-momin) some of whom are examplary, others are semi-examplary and yet others that are non-examplary. Their ranks differ in accordance with their knowledge, understanding, actions and character.
Islam is an open book. Apart from the huruf-e muqatt’aat (disjointed letters) which are known only by God there is no secret in the Qur’an or in the forms of worship. In Iqbal’s work where expressions such as “Knower of secrets” etc are used it is mostly for purposes of beautification. It does not mean that there is some secret beyond the Qur’an or in the various forms of worship which has to be discovered before one’s faith is perfected or before one can stake a claim for being a knower of secrets.
There are two reasons why the great shaykhs have often kept their awrad secret. Firstly because after having made their obligatory worship public they do not wish to attract attention with extra devotions. Secondly things related to spiritual phenomena and disclosures which they experience are strictly personal and if made public would not be understood by others not be of any benefit to them. Having said that they do often take their close and trusted companions into confidence regarding these matters.
This habit of great and sincere masters has provided a ready made excuse for false sufis who have turned sufism into a cult of secret knowledge. This is simply a means of abusing and defrauding simpletons. Neither the deen nor sufism is some secret or occult affair. Those that present it as such have some worldly motive for doing so.”
Given the current situation in Pakistan I thought this article by Hz Qudratullah Shahab (ra) would be worth reviewing. It seems we have still not learnt the lesson.
Pakistan: From Concept to Reality
How has the Pakistan that was born in the vision of Allama Iqbal developed into reality? This self-evaluation is even more necessary than the display of flags and other celebrations that take place on every Independence Day.
That strong and matchless machine known as the Pakistan movement that came into motion from 1940 to 1947 was rooted in the aspirations of the vast majority of Indian muslims. The dynamo that drove this machine towards the creation of Pakistan were the individual and collective aspirations, will and strength of these people. However these aspirations had many forms. For the vast majority they centered around the preservation of their faith and religious identity but there was a small group that had its own vision. Amongst this group some had the vision of stacks of newly found wealth, some political elements began to see ministries in place of membership of local councils. The civil and military beaurocracy also began dreaming of a tremendous expansion in their influence and role. By the grace of God Pakistan was created and the desires of these groups were realized beyond their expectations. However collective aspirations were lost and each group retreated into its shell from where it began to eat at the being of their country from inside.
Despite these warning bells we have spent the past 39 years ripping our constitution to shreds. The supremacy of the law and the sanctity of the constitution is like the garment of chastity which if torn once is impossible to sow together again. One transgression leads to another and unless it is punished on first occurrence it becomes a habit. Then gradually the difference between governance and lack of it, social order and anarchy, law and lawlessness and constitutional government and dictatorship is lost to people. With the loss of constitutional constraints justice and fairplay are also lost. When this befalls the constitution of the country all other good traditions also lose their validity and the political process either stops or is stopped. In such a condition patriotism and patriotic feeling grows weak and ideals lose value. Doubt and suspicion give rise to pessimism which leads to militancy and disruption of the order.
The ONLY alternative to constitutional government IS constitutional government. All claims apart from this are false and usually a cover for furthering the vested interests of the established elites. We are in a shameful situation and must take heed.
(extract from article published in the Daily Pukar 6 Sept 1986.)
A summary of Hazrat QU Shahab sayings on Tawakkul [trust in God], excerpted from the Shahabnama.
Hazrat Shahab says, that Tawakkul is of 2 kinds, that with regards to knowledge and that with regards to actions.
Where knowledge is concerned, trust in God is to know that He is isn charge of all things and the cause of all causes.
In the case of actions, there are two kinds of ’causes’ or ‘means’:
1. Means in Religion
2. Worldly means.
The former are absolutely necessary [e.g. prayer etc.] and it is a sin to leave these or attempt to do without them.
Of the latter, they can be further divided into 2 types: lawful and unlawful. It is of course essential to leave unlawful means!
Where lawful means are concerned they are of 3 types:
1. Necessary means [e.g. water is necessary to quench thirst]
2. False,supposed means [e.g.that coke in a nice glass is necessary to quench my thirst, or an air-conditioner is required to stay cool. These means are false suppositions]
3. Inferred, ‘sometimes’ means [e.g. that this particular medicine will help cure me. These means may or may not be true]
For Sufi aspirants and indeed ‘ordinary’ Muslims, Hazrat Shahab says that it is essential to eliminate no.2 above from one’s life. For number 3., one should start gradually doing without such means. Advanced Sufis are supposed to leave the third category too, as Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq did, may God be pleased with him!
For instance, advanced Sufis often do without medication: one common practice for them is to get an estimate of how much the ‘cure’ will cost, and then give that amount in charity.
For us beginner Sufis, a good practice is to spend on our cure, [altho’ avoiding expensive systems of medicine] but to give a similar amount in charity at the same time.
If one cannot afford to give in charity, then one can do some other act of charity at some stage, such as clearing a road, sweeping a mosque etc.
Believing the unbelievable
Outside of publishing circles few people would know – or for that matter care – that the one book which sells consistently, edition after edition, and has done so since its publication nearly twenty years ago is Qudratullah Shahab’s Shahabnama.
The question to ask is why? Does it sell because of the many stories it contains? There are some revolving around haunted houses (“The restless spirit of Bimla Kumari”); there is an account of the plague in Jammu; the tale of the young Shahab’s encounter with India’s greatest Vedantic philosopher, Dr Radhakrishnan, which the future president of India loses hands down; and stories of the paralysed Ghulam Muhammad ruling Pakistan through sign language and gibberish that only Shahab and the governor general’s memsahib secretary could decipher. Or is the books success because of Shahab’s strange mystical encounters with a spirit codenamed Ninety? I would vote for the latter explanation. In Shahab’s book, the line between fact and fanciful fiction is thin and, more often than not, nonexistent. He could be said to have invented a new genre in Urdu literature that one can best describe as fictionalised fact.
Since his death and that of his acolyte Mumtaz Mufti, many have wondered if the stories they both told about each other were a big put on or if they had any basis in fact. In Pakistan, superstition has been rising over the years, a phenomenon always associated with insecurity and lack of confidence in the living environment. Uncertainty, no one will disagree, has been the only certainty since the break-up of 1971. What other than superstition can one expect in a country where fifty-six years after its establishment, a debate is still going on as to why it came into being. The history of the Indian Muslim urge to be free of economic exploitation and the tyranny of the majority has been entirely rewritten. Were the Quaid-e-Azam to return to life, I doubt he would recognise today’s Pakistan as the country he created. Shahab and Mufti’s “shortcut to nirvana” is popular because, if the stories that the two men have spun are true, then anyone can get to the promised land without much work. Just a few trick mantras or a being called Ninety or Ninety-nine would do the necessary. A lifetime of prayer and contemplation is too long and too arduous. Everyone can now become a saint in his spare time.
Over ten years ago Ajmal Kamal, who runs an admirable magazine and literary publishing house in Karachi, wrote a review article based on the second volume of Mumtaz Mufti’s autobiography Alakh Nagri. He pointed out that the picture on the cover was not the author’s but Shahab’s, which according to Mufti was “in the fitness of things”. His preface said that in the first half of his life, he discovered Woman and in the second half Qudratullah Shahab.
Despite the charm and likeability of Shahab, it is not easy to forget or condone that he authored the infamous editorial “A new leaf” when the Progressive Papers, the flagship of progressivism in Pakistan, were taken over by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, or that he founded the Pakistan Writers’ Guild and even the National Press Trust. Mufti was not concerned with that sort of thing because he believed that it was Shahab who was responsible for some of Pakistan’s seminal events. He caused the capital chosen by the Quaid to be abandoned in favour of the garrison town of Rawalpindi-Islamabad. He had Pakistan renamed an Islamic Republic. He also explained the true concept of Iqbal’s “ khudi” to the field marshal and later helped formulate the 1962 constitution that fell into disuse when its author was pushed out of power by his army chief. Ayub was under the constant spiritual care of spirits and guides, wrote Mufti (whereas they should have attended to the spiritual needs of Yahya Khan).
Guided by the mysterious Ninety, Shahab had gone to Israel, Mufti wrote, as a UNESCO representative to look at Israeli school textbooks, but his actual purpose was to spend a night at the Al Aqsa mosque which he did by giving Israeli security the slip. He had to go to Al Aqsa, according to Mufti, to activate a metaphysical process which would reach fruition with the total destruction of the Zionist entity. One wonders why Yasir Arafat has not retired to the French Riviera since his mission has already been accomplished through the works of Shahab.
Mufti wasn’t alone in promoting what came to be known among the wags of Lahore as Silsala-e-Shahabia. Mufti wrote that Pakistan’s establishment was decided at a meeting of higher beings presided over by Sarkar Qibla, a divine buried near Islamabad. The killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims was ordered by these otherworldly powers so that they could enter heaven as martyrs and become a spiritual army to guard the border at Wahga (while not forgetting Pakistan’s soft underbelly in the Rajasthan area, one hopes). Pakistan, Mufti disclosed, was being run in accordance with a Master Plan prepared by Sarkar Qibla. Mufti reproduced a letter from one Abdul Ghafoor, advocate, which said that the 1965 war was fought under the command of dervishes wielding “spiritual atomic power”.
Mufti wrote that certain spiritual presences ordered him to move to Rawalpindi and work under Shahab. Once there, he found himself the owner of a plot in Islamabad on which he built a house with money pouring in from mysterious sources. Another member of the Mufti family, the journalist and erstwhile filmmaker Ahmed Bashir had a vision that he had been sent to earth to make movies (all his movies crashed which only shows that angels know next to nothing about the film business). He made Neela parbat which ran for either three or four days (I saw it; it was a scream). Other believers in the Silsala also flourished and had their dreams come true. Mufti’s basic thesis was: nothing is what it appears to be.
In every good thriller, there is a chase scene. In this one, it occurred in Paris when a black limo stopped to offer a lift to Shahab. He should have declined the offer because once he got in, he placed himself at the mercy of a Zionist magician who turned him into a “stinking chunk of flesh” and sent him packing to Pakistan where he arrived as “half a man”.
Well, both Shahab and Mufti are gone and may they rest in peace. My explanation for all this is simple: Qudratullah Shahab had a puckish sense of humour. Mumtaz Mufti just got taken in.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 17th, 2003 at 11:11 am .
Mumtaz Mufti’s long life may be seen neatly divided into two periods, the Freudian period and the Shahebean period. From Sigmund Freud to Qudratullah Shahab appear to many a strange journey. What appears to me equally strange is his admirers’ emphasis on latter period with no reference to his earlier phase which perhaps was creatively richer. On his death anniversary function too, which was held this year in Lahore, they were seen remembering the man as they had found him in his later period. In a function like this when enough time has passed after the death of the writer it is expected that an attempt will be made to survey his work leading to a re-assessment of him as a writer. But little attention was paid to his literary achievements. The speakers and article writers mostly talked of him with a personal reference.
In fact, Mumtaz Mufti’s image as it has now reached us is the outcome of his stay in his later years in Islamabad. And Islamabad being a new city was in dire need of a grand old man. Mufti in his person seemed fulfilling all the requirements of such a personality. Admirers gathering around him discovered in him a guru patronizing young souls and showering pearls of wisdom for their benefit.
They in their enthusiasm tend to forget that Mufti was also a young man at one time and a young writer actively engaged in writing short stories. He belonged to the generation of writers which had emerged and flourished during the late thirties and forties. They were known as new writers divided into the progressives and the moderns. In the hands of this generation, the Urdu short story had taken a new shape. Realism was the mode of expression employed by these writers with a new sense of social reality. This new sense of social reality had drawn much inspiration from the progressive movement. In his stories, Mufti added a new dimension to this realism by drawing inspiration from Freud. He seemed to be saying that much of what we do and feel is prompted by our unconscious, and that we are hardly aware of it.
In those years Freud was a craze among the moderns. The new intellectuals liked to talk about him. But it was left to Mufti to absorb his psychological findings in a creative way and transform them in the idiom of fiction. Because of this achievement, he won for himself a distinctive place in the realm of Urdu short story.
This generation of the thirties and the forties had developed a secular attitude. And the secular sensibility was equally shared by the progressives and the moderns. Mufti, too, under the influence of Freud shared this sensibility. It was only after partition that some writers from among the moderns were seen drifting towards religion. The names of Mukhtar Siddiqi, Yusuf Zafar, and Mohammad Hasan Askari may be cited in this respect. In later years, Mumtaz Mufti was also seen going the same way. However, it was not the formalistic tradition of Islam that attracted them. Instead they felt drawn towards the mystic tradition of Islam. The sufi and not the mullah inspired them all. It was left for next generation’s writer, Ashfaq Ahmad, to draw inspiration from the mullah.
More interesting is the case of Mohammad Hasan Askari, who in his earlier years drank deep at the font of the western literary tradition. Flabert, Joyce, Pound, Baudelaire etc., were the kind of writers who at one time had cast a spell on him. But in his later years, he summarily dismissed the whole Western tradition. The vacuum in him created by this outright dismissal was filled by Ibnul Arabi. The great sufi appeared to him as the epitome of all wisdom.
Mumtaz Mufti did not like to soar so high. He was content to fly to the heights of Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s Secretariat. There he found a sufi fit to serve as his murshad. He was Qudratullah Shahab, who appeared to him as the acme of all spiritual wisdom. As a short story-writer, Shahab was junior to him. But in the realm of spirituality Mufti found himself a “murid” to him.
Mufti was appointed on the recommendation of Shahab as SDO in President Ayub’s Secretariat. It was during those days that he witnessed mysterious orders coming from some other world for Shahab. On one occasion, he spoke to me.
I listened to him patiently and then asked: “I have not for long read any new story coming from you. What after all is the matter with you?”
“I am in a state of trance,” came the reply.
“Should we expect you coming out from this trance in the near future?”
“If I come out of it I will disintegrate into particles.”
Such was the way he talked in his later years, so different from the way he talked in his early career.
So if the young souls were impressed by him, that is understandable. The young writers in Islamabad admired him immensely. They respected him as a guru. But how strange that in case of Shahab they were always willing to believe him.
During late 1960s and until about the end of the twentieth century, I got busy with my professional work and my research activities got nearly my full and undivided attention. But in between during the spells of monotonous boredom and hours of leisure, I would acquire Urdu works for light reading. I read Mumtaz Mufti’s Labbaik from which I developed a curious interest for Qudrat Ullah Shahab who was not really unknown to me earlier on. I had read some of his stories, which were interesting. Then I bought Shahab Namah and came to know of a special relationship, which held Shahab, Mufti, and Ashfaq together. Mufti made much of Shahab’s Sufistic leanings quite openly and suggested that Shahab had a ‘hotline’ to God. He had a station in the esoteric world. He was one of the “Khuda Raseedahs”. Ashfaq wouldn’t acknowledge any such claims nor would he outright reject them.
Bano seemed to be especially devoted to Shahab who would suggest various Quranic verses to her for incantation. After the death of Shahab, Ashfaq edited a book called ‘Zikr-e-Shahab’ which opened with Mufti’s sketch (after a poem), ‘ Qudrat Ullah Shahab kay teen Pahloo’, and ended with Ashfaq’s “Baba Saheba.” The implicit devotion (and explicit, in case of Mufti) in which Shahab was held by them, oozes out from their pieces.
Ashfaq was the Director General of the Markazi Urdu Board and worked directly under Shahab who was the Secretary for Education at that time. Mufti also worked under Shahab.
insha Allah, that would be a welcome contribution to Sufi literature in English.
Shahab sahib RA was also a great reformer of Sufism, he stripped away a lot of the medieval, superstitious attitudes and false emphases from the essentials of Sufism in the Shahabnama….Have just finished re-reading it, and I find that the book is actually shot all the way thru’ with passages of Sufi insight. jazakAllah.
Thank you for that comment. My view too. The last chapter is deceptively simple but in fact a re-statement of essential sufism.
As to the Sufi Muqam of Mr. QUS I have no doubt that He was a great man as Human and Sufi, guided by Hazrat Bakhtiar ud Din Kaki (RA) and Ninety. May Allah rest His soul in Peace & Heavens AND make us to follow these great men.
Dear Shahzad…To know QU’s maqam… one must go through the second half of “ALakh Nagri” by Mumtaz Mufti ji.
He is much more than a Sufi.
A Qalandar and a Scholar at the same time..for whom, Shaoor and Laashaoor are one and the same thing…
A Majzoob in 3 piece…
A true Murshad…
My Father’s Murshad e Paak says:
“Murshad jab hayaat hota hai to aisay hota hai jaisay Meyaan main Talwaar hoti hai. Or jab Murshad ka wasaal ho jaey to wo aisay ho jaata hai jesay NANGI TALWAR”
and whenever I see the statement in terms of QU’s presence and effectiveness.. I find it the best to explain his muqaam.
Allah taala un k darajaat buland farmaaey or un ka saayay say kabi mehroom na keray. Amin
Mumtaz Mufti writes in his Book “Alakh Nagri” ka dosra part:
“Wali Field Officer hota hai, Shahab ka Tauluk Secretariat say tha”. Which most comprehensively defines Mr. QUS.
Thank youSK. Of course all definitions are relative. Besides I think too much curiosity/concern about peoples maqamat is not healthy. Am reminded of something Allama said:
Woh sufi ke tha khidmat-e-Haq mein mard
akuwat mein yakta, mohabbat mein fard
ajam ke khayalat mein koh gaya!
ye salik maqamat mein koh gaya!
Subhan Allah, may I ask Green Sufi where did u quote Hazrat Shahab Rehmatullah from? Is this in Shahab nama?
Does anyone know where is his mazaar shareef?
No this is not from the Shahabnama. It can be found in Banu Qudsiyya’s book Mard-e-Abraisham which is a tribute to Shahab sahib. If you’re interested in Q.U.S I recommend that you read that book.
Shahab sahib is buried in the official graveyard near Zeropoint in Islamabad. Entering from the main gate it is on the left.
Interesting point, chaiwala bhai. My take on this is that apart from the teaching we need the Tawajjuh, the spiritual himma or outpouring which comes from the Auliya. So it would be essential to visit mazars regularly and learn the proper method of attending the mazars.
That is certainly one point of view and there indeed many benefits of attendance at mizaars. Another view is that one attends only when one is “called” or “sent”. There are many cases of “stunted growth” where people have had experiences due to attendance at mizaars but have really not progressed beyond them or simply not known what to make of these experiences.
Though I am a little uncomfortable with the veneration of QAS – he was a pious Muslim but his political role and lust for power until his last are also well recorded facts of history.
Further, the secret of divine knowledge is not to be exposed as it was done in Shahab Nama, somne would argue..
I’d love to hear your views??
Thanks for your comments Raza Rumi sahib. To respond in detail to the issue of “Shahab and Politics” would perhaps require a full blown essay rather than a comment but I don’t think there was a “lust for power” in Shahab sahib. One can disagree with this or that action but I don’t think there is room to doubt his intentions. Shahab sahib was a complex personality performing more than one role so he will never be a clean-cut sufi like the babaji who has withdrawn from the world.
As for your second point about divulging divine knowledge, I don’t think there’s anything particularly “divine” about the last chapter of Shahabnama. These facts are well-known amongst the people of tasawwuf. The only real concern would have been Shahab sahib’s disclosure about himself but by the time the book was published Shahab was no longer here to bask in the glory or suffer the ridicule.
You do have a point though: Muftiji opposed the publication of the final chapter on the grounds that it would make the preceding chapters look false. However for those that carry out orders “from on high” such things are of no consequence. I for one cannot doubt the wisdom behind this disclosure since I continue to meet people that have personally benefited from it. Sometimes disclosures have to be made to confound the skeptics and reassure the believers that these are not “fables of the ancients”.
Hope that some of you have read the works of Qudratullah Shahab (Shahab Nama) and Mumtaz Mufti (Alakh Nagri, Talaash & Labeek to be specific). Would like your reviews on them.
poor_ophie: I’ve been a great admirer of both these writers. Shahab naama give us a glimpse of our history. The last chapter of it, however, is a shocking one. It changes the whole concept of the book. Alakh nagri from Mufti Sahib concur with the last chapter of shahaab naama. Both of the writers belong to a school of thought to whom Late Ashfaq Ahmad belonged as well. I think if all the incidents described in these books are true, then these people were sufis of modern age.
Well, you missed out the couple ashfaque ahmed and wife bano qudsia,. the four all together make up splendid reading. I heard the late Ashfaque Ahmed in one of his last interviews that Qudisa was working on a very huge project, a huge novel that he said would be a milestone in Urdu literature. I am waiting for that to come out. I hope she finishes it.
I’d also recommend you to read ”Raja Gidh” by Qudsia,, it’s amazing and was ahead of its time.
Yeap the four of them (infact five including Ibn-e-Insha) made a team.
Pracs I am reading Raja Gidh as well these days, along with Talaash. Its very ‘interesting’…. the concept of halal and haram in the genes…and the effect of such in the generations that come.
Anyways, Banu Qudsia is a whole different story.
What I am more interested in this thread is your views on the meta physical instances as quoted by QU Shahab in his last chapter and a more detailed account of such in the Alakh Nagri.
Well try out Alakh Nagri … believe me its extremely different from Alipur Ka Ailee. Would like your comments after you read it. Thing is that last chapter of Shahab Nama inspired MM to write Alakh Nagri and more than half the book is about QU Shahab.
Bowman is correct, Ali pur ka ailii and alakh nagri are a world apart. Personally i think that ali pur ka aili is one of the most honest works on personal biographies in Urdu, ever. Like wise Alakh nagri spells out how the author goes through life and finds the profound Sufi.By the way Alakh nagri has more yukky things than just the banyan ,.. but then,.. isn’t all that ”reality”
Yes and about the metaphysics and sufism, in QUS writing and then later mumtaz mufti, is some what of what one wishes to believe in. I am one to believe in SUFISM, it has had a great impact on the history of South Asia. There is a lot of hog wash going around in our society these days, but then there are some practicioners of this age old school of thought. I think a number of people did believe in Sufism in our society, however, coming in from the top most madarian of the day came as at a bit of shock for the intelligenisia. So much so that, people believe and quote the whole of Shahabnama on various issues and just shrug of the chapters on ”90” and all the details on QUS visit to ”’Bait ul Muqadas”.
ahhn so you think khaqaniyat and sufism are one and the same, think again,, try reading Ali Hajveri’s ‘Kashf al maajoob’
Well, it is ”the other view” and coming from the Friday Times falls truely on the extreme left. Ofocurse, I wouldn’t agree on it.
But even if one agrees with the fictional nature the works of Shahab, why is it so special to have (and continues to)captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of educated Pakistani youth across many generations now !
I guess this in itself proves quite a lot !
Mumtaz Mufti is one of the best writers in the whole world i have ever read. His writings are free from rehtoric and very easy to understand .They have a great effect on the minds of readers as the writer expresses his feelings like an ordinary man. Once i read his book LABIAK, it changed my life .This book really has something in it.And as far as QuderatullaSahab is consulted ,it is confirmed that he was a saint. By reading his biography SHAHB NAMA, it has been revealed to me that in this world messengers of Allaha exists, And those who worship HIM from their hearts will easily approach HIM.
So,the works performed by both men are worth appreciating. And this is also honour for us that we have such a great writers, which belonged to our country. We must be proud of them.
I was reading Qudratullah Shahab’s Shahab Nama (He was one of the first few indian muslim ICS in pre partition era and then became a powerful civil servant in pakistan)
He has included a real photograph of Haji Waris Ali Shah.
During his assignments with Ex-Pakistan Governor General Ghulam Mohammad (the first one that dissolved the assemblies in 1950s) was also a great admirer of Haji Waris Ali Shah and he used to put his pictures in his rooms. He also wanted to visit the mazaar.
Qudratullah Shahab who after retirement became Sufi after exploiting the masses of Pakistan during his service as a Chief Bureaucrat and he was the one who started the enslavement of Free Press during the days of General Ayub and introduced the “the Courtier Gawwayya like Jamiluddin Aali as a Journalist…
The Press and Publications Ordinance, 1960, was promulgated when Qudratullah Shahab, a super-bureaucrat, was Ayub’s Information Secretary. During his tenure as the Secretary, Ministry of Information, the Progressive Papers Limited had been taken over. The day these papers “turned a new leaf”, the editorial was written by himself claiming that “distant orbits and alien horizons- far from territorial and ideological boundaries of Pakistan- exercised a progressively increasing charm on the tone and policies of this newspaper (Pakistan Times). Which gradually began to look like a stranger in the house….”.
The decision to establish the National Press Trust had been taken, which was implemented by his successor. Shahab’s masterstroke was the creation of the Writers’ Guild. He himself was its first Secretary-General, while another Intellectual-Bureaucrat, Jamiluddin Aali (another Darbari Gawayya, not in the book my words) was appointed the Secretary. Three leading business houses of Karachi- Adamjees, Dawoods and Habibs-were marshalled to award “cash prizes” to “deserving writers” in order to “buy and corrupt their loyalties”.
My parents know SAQIB….fro the time he was born. In fact, due to close proximity with Shahab Chacha and Iffat Aunty—and my parents—my mom specially flew to Rawalpindi when Iffat Aunty gave birth to Saqib ( who was also nicked MOULVI by my Dad and Shahab Chacha )
A few weeks back—upon curiosity—when someone with not a very gullible pseudonym—wrote high and good on Shahab Chacha on my thread ( I guess this thread is the by-product of mine.. onm URDU ADAB.. )….I did ask Ammijan whether Saqib ever calls..and she did say that mid-last year..Saqib did call and spoke to her. Out of her age and memory..she forgets what he told her on his whereabouts..but i reckon he is in Isloo…the fact which I will further confirm from Mumtaz Mufti’s daughter N and son Aksi…known to me well…!!
INDEED……..and I am privileged to inform here that currently..it’s only my dad (Jamiluddin Aali) who is the most cogent source–on such infos., on greats like Q.U.Shahab, mumtaz Mufti, Ahmed nadim Qasmi, Noon Meem Rashid ( though I also know his grand-daughter Fariha Rashed of “INK” Lahore well through my facebook ) Ibne insha, saleem Ahmed, Qurrat Ul Ain Haider, Faiz and the list goes on.
YES…Shahab Chacha had this tendency to say such interesting anecdotes spontaneously….
My father say’s that once ( when they both were working at the President’s House…which is now Governor’s House at karachi before the Capital was shifted to Rawalpindi )…my father lost some file..and at one point Field Marshall Ayub Khan asked “Jamil, woh Queen Elizabeth ki Pakistan visit ki details kahan hein” to which my dad said “Sir…dhoondh raha hoon…kahin koh gayee hein”…Ayub said “Whatt?” tow hich Shahab Chacha said ” Sir, he is close to Duke of Edinburgh..he will manage everything!” and ayub gave a laughter…( though the file was found at Ayub’s desk’s drawer )
Shahab Chacha was Principle Secretary to Ayub…my Dad was Personal Staff Officer to Ayub on depuatation from Pakistan taxation service.
I was regularly in touch with Shahab Chacha till his Secretary education days. He then went to THE HAGUE as Pakistan‘s Ambassador.
Finally he got settled in UK at GILMORE..where my parents spent six weeks with him and Iffat Aunty. I have some pics of GILMORE I am trying to trace..anad would scan and post soon….
Asslam u alikum, At last I found the very special people who love Shahab sahib. He is the person , who makes me laugh, who makes me cry. God bless him. Fourth time i’m reading his magical book shahab nama and every time this great book giving me much more than i deserve. I have read almost all of his books. He is great.His writings have power to hepnatize me. Any body knows where is Shahab sahibs last resting place. I love to go their for ‘FATIAH’. Any body from england can join me as i have a plan to go to Dr. Iffat’s last resting place for ‘FATIAH’ in Canterburry not far from London. You know what i will do there, i’ll take my Shahab Nama there and the will read the Chapetr about Dr. Iffat. It makes me cry for hours and while i would be crying i will seek blessing from Allah for Shahab sahib and Dr. Iffat. GOD bless u both. May be some day i will meet Shahab Sahib’s son. I think he is heart specialist and president of some doctors organization in Canada. GOD Bless you people who disscuss my favourite personality.
I came to know about QUS when i was in First year i think in 1998. My sister borrowed a book from her college library and that book was Shahabnama. Now everything happens for a reason but i am still trying to find that reason. I read that book then and i have been reading it after that for so many times. Still i read and and try to grab something out of it that can guide me or thats for me. I wish its all planned and my aquaintance with the book is not just a coincidence. I wish there is a reason behind it. I wish i am guided this way.
He saw off Ghulam Muhammed, Iskander Mirza and Ayub Khan but at the first meeting with civil servants of Yahya Khan, he burst out and lost his job — History alone will pass judgment on all those who have held responsible positions in this country.
Some years back I had a road accident, in which my right leg was broken. I got operated and was advised for at least 3 week bed rest. One of my friends, Mr. Haider gave me a book ‘Shahab Nama’, written by Qudrat Ullah Shahab.
I did not know much about the author before reading the book, which actually is his autobiography. He had been serving as Secretary to the President of Pakistan. In the book he wrote down about his experiences with President Ghulam Muhammad, President Gen. Iskandar Mirza and President Gen. Ayub Khan. I was highly impressed by his way of writing, wisdon and above all very strong memory.
After my recovery, I got a job in Dubai and here I got a book ‘Alakh Nagri’, written by Mumraz Mufti. It is the second part of Mufti’s autobiography. In this book he says that his centre of vision was Qudrat Ullah Shahab. He wrote down wonderful things about Shahab, which Shahab did not mention in ‘Shahab Nama’. Shahab was a man of Allah. Great Islamic sanits (both dead and alive) carried a lot of respect for him and guided him. I cannot find proper words to express his graet status. However, I can say that he is one of my ideals now. He suffered a lot after his retirement due to confiscation of his pension money by Gen. Yahya Khan, that time President of Pakistan. He did so because Shahab refused to work under him. His wife, Dr. Iffat died due to poverty as she could not get proper diagnosis and treatment of her disease. May Allah bless both Mr. & Mrs. Qudrat Ullah Shahab in peace. Amin!