, by RIZWANULLAH
It is for Islamic scholars to define Piety; I can mention only the behaviour of certain persons which I believe to be the examples of Piety. They are the very people whom I have already mentioned in my previous article. They were very strict in the matter of accountability. Thus I conclude that accountability and Piety go together or promote each other in one’s character and behaviour. However, as I have said, it is not for me to define Piety; I can only show it as I have seen it in practice.
First of all let us look at the behaviour of Molvi Bakhshish Ahmad. He was teaching in a madrasa in Gorakhpur. He had a piece of land under cultivation in his village. As he could not cultivate himself, he had given it to a local farmer to cultivate and divide the product according to the terms agreed upon between them. Usually the tiller sold his share of the crop and gave the money to Molvi Sahab. Apart from the terms of sharing, there was one strict instruction from Molvi Sahab to the cultivator that when the crop is reaped and stalked for drying and thrashing, it should not be taken to the common thrashing ground in the village, called khalihan, where other people brought their crops for thrashing. According to Molvi Sahab’s instruction, his crops were spread in the field itself and thrashed at that very place after it had been dried.
Molvi Sahab thought that in case his crops were thrashed at the common ground there was every possibility that other people’s grains would mix with his grains which he never wanted to happen. He did not like even a grain inadvertently falling and mixing with his grain for which he believed he would be accountable. It is a matter of faith thus far. But virtues have worldly benefits as well. We find a glorious example of this fact in the case of Molvi Bakhshish Ahmad.
Soon after Independence, zamindari was abolished in U.P., tillers virtually became the owners of the land under their plough. Accordingly, small zamindars, who did not cultivate their lands themselves, were deprived of their possession. They could own only that land which they themselves cultivated or with the help of hired labours. Thus many of us lost our lands. As a matter of principle, the person who had all along been cultivating Molvi Sahab’s land could have held the land under his ownership but he did not do so. He had such a great regard and respect for him that he continued the old practice. Even after the death of Molvi Sahab he used to give the share of his money to his son who continued to teach in the same madrasa after his demise.
Our crops after reaping were brought to our garden in the backyard of our house. There was a large open space there sufficient for dumping or spreading and thrashing. I don’t know whether my father, himself a pious person, had made that arrangement following the example of Molvi Bakhshish Ahmad or simply because the facility was available at a place where better vigilance could be easily made. However, the things are changing. Now crops are reaped and thrashed by machines at the farms where they are grown.
Another example is that of my elder cousin Molvi Fazlur Rahman. He was extremely careful in his dealings in all worldly matters. To give one example: Dusty storms and gusty winds are very common in the northern parts of the country in the mango season. Heaps of mangos are shaken off and fall on the ground after every storm. People rush to common gardens to collect the windfall, chatni and pickles are made with these unripe mangos. Molvi Fazlur Rahman took care that mangos from his own garden only were used for such purposes.
He always got his clothes stitched by his tailor Fazil in the village when he came in summer or winter vacation. As an Arabic teacher in government schools he was posted in several cities and finally retired in Faizabad a couple of years after independence. Once in the month of July when the college opened after the summer vacation he put on his newly stitched sherwani, as he did so he felt that the collar of the sherwani was a little tough. He took it off. He thought that he had not given a tough piece of cloth to the tailor so he must have used someone else’s cloth. So he took off and kept the sherwani aside and in the next summer vacation he brought it back to Fazil and enquired about the matter. On being told by Fazil that he had put inside the collar a piece of cloth of his own, which obviously would have been a cutting from someone else’s cloth, he asked the tailor to remove it, only after that he used his sherwani.
These are the examples whereby, if followed, this world would become a different place for mankind, a Paradise of peace and tranquillity on earth.