Sajida Abid Farooqi: A Silent Veteran

Written By: Mufti Umar Anwar Bakhshani
Translated By: Mrs Shehla Zubairi

There is some kind of relationships in which we do not seem to have any blood relation or family connection but due to immense respect  & affection, a bond is formed which is very deep and indelible. Apparently, there was no reason for any kind of association with Sajida Baji, but Allah Almighty made it possible and I was given the opportunity to do some service for a distinguished teacher and a kindhearted soul.

The first reason became my father.  Around 1987, Sajida Baji’s uncle Dr.Amjad  (a well-known religious personality) used to come to learn Dars Nizami’s books from my father. In those days, Abbu was the Imam of Sobhani Mosque, Patel Para. The time of the lesson was fixed after the Maghrib prayer. My elder brother (Mufti Anas Anwar)  and I were memorizing the Quran at that time. When these two gentlemen were engaged in the lesson, we would sit on one side and memorize our Quran. Whenever the light of Patel Para went out due to load shedding Dr. Amjad Sahib used to take Abu and us in his car to Jamia Masjid Noman at Lasbela Chowk,  where there was light. Hence there was continuous teaching and learning between these two gentlemen. He could have taken a day off due to the absence of electricity or he could have spent time in other religious discussions, but he didn’t compromise anything in seeking knowledge. In those days Dr. Amjad Sahib used to perform medical duties during the day and get religious education from Maghrib till after Isha. I remember when one of our siblings would get sick, Dr. Sahib used to see us here in the mosque and prescribe medicine. Under the shadow of Dr. Sahib’s medicine and Abu’s teaching, we used to memorize our lessons,. Sajida Baji was Dr. Amjad Sahib’s niece. She also started taking lessons from my father at home. Along with other books on Usoolul Fiqh,  she also learnt Tawzeeh Talwih from my father at the same time.

Before mentioning the second reason for the relationship, a little introduction of these two personalities is necessary for the reader’s knowledge. Dr. Amjad Ali Sahib and his brother Khalid Anwar who is a prominent lawyer and jurist are sons of the fourth Prime Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Muhammad Ali and Sajida Baji is his maternal granddaughter.  Although Dr. Amjad Ali, was an MBBS doctor, Allah Almighty gave him the Taufeeq to work for Deen and he dedicated his life to preaching and spreading knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Inspired by him Sajida Baji also chose the same path. Perhaps through their lives, Allah Almighty wanted to create a revolution, which went on to touch and change uncounted lives and families. According to Maulana Ata-ur-Rehman Shaheed, Hazrat Maulana Mufti Wali Hassan Tonki (may Allah have mercy on him) used to say that if a child goes to madrassah and reads only Noorani Qaida there he will never go astray inshAllah. So, the foundation of this blessed change and revolution was probably laid by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali. He had read some Dars e Nizami books in India before partition, then studied at Punjab University.  He was a prominent Muslim civil servant during British rule. After the establishment of Pakistan, he became  General Secretary of the new state and later Minister of Finance, then Minister of Defense, and in 1955 he was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan. His greatest achievement was making and implementing the first constitution for Pakistan. He had also written a book “Emergence of Pakistan”  on the subject of Tehreek-e-Pakistan, the translation of which has been published under the title “Zahoor-e-Pakistan”.Chaudhry Muhammad Ali also had a close relationship with Muhaddith-ul -Asr Hazrat Banuri (may Allah have mercy on him).In short, both uncle & niece completed the formal education of the sciences of  Qur’an and Sunnah. After that spreading that knowledge became a major purpose of their lives and they started teaching and publicizing the Quran and its Uloom.

Allah Almighty had great plans for Sajida Baji to impart religious knowledge and training to  Muslim women so He also made arrangements to prepare her to attain this goal. Sajida Baji with Allah’s blessings has learned books of various religious sciences from renowned teachers and scholars of Pakistan, in which  Hazrat Maulana Abdul Rasheed Nomani (may Allah have mercy on him), Hazrat Maulana Dr. Abdul Razzaq Iskander Sahib Zaid Mujadham, Hazrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani Sahib Zaid Mujadham and Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Anwar Badakhshani Zaid Mujadham are well known. Along with the responsibilities of married life and children achieving command and excellence in these sciences is the most difficult task, but since Sajida Baji was determined to do so, not only did she make the most of the great scholars by visiting their homes, but she was also in constant contact with the latter three men for the rest of her life. In the sciences of Qur’an and Sunnah, Sajida Baji, with her ability and effort, was following the Sunnah of Ummahat-ul-Mu’minin. She personally went to Mufti Taqi Usmani sahab’s house and learned from him the Islamic jurisprudence and iftaa, but she never talked about it nor she mentioned it to anyone. Because her effort was not to become a muftia, but to be able to guide women in their various issues and masaail. On the other hand, Dr. Amjad  Sahab who learned Dars e Nizami from different ustaaz also completed his moqoof aleh and Dora e  Hadith (second last and last year) from Jamia Banuri Town as a listener.   After consulting different scholars and his teachers Dr.Amjad laid the  Foundation of Madrassah Ayesha Siddique. His niece Sajida Baji became the teacher and administrator of this madrassa. It was one of the first centers for authentic and high standard religious educational institutions for women in Karachi. In the early days of Madrassah  Ayesha Siddiqua, at the request and insistence of Sajida Baji, my father also joined & taught there for a few years.

The second reason for my relationship starts from here. In the early days of Madrassah Ayesha Siddiqua, Abbu admitted my elder sister (wife of Mufti Yahya Asim)  there for religious education. We were very young at that time, and my Baji with her association of  Madrasa Ayesha often mentioned Sajida baji’s name with extreme devotion and respect in the house. not only my sister but all the students of Sajida Baji, were devoted fans of her. They  were immensely inspired by her kind and loving personality. She cared for her every student in such a way that each one of them felt that she is closest to Sajida baji. The association with my father & sister brings Sajida Baji closer to our family. My mother also developed a good relationship with her. When she felt that girls should also get some administrative training along with religious education to help them in their family life after marriage she discussed this with Sajida Baji and she liked her advice very much and started implementing it in her Madrassah. Sajida Baji used to discuss other matters with my mother from time to time as well.

Although she was my elder sister’s teacher and mentor, she was mentioned in our house with such devotion and love that we also began to consider her as our teacher and mentor. My sister’s association with her teacher grew deep with the time, and she did not spare any effort to serve her teacher in any manner.  I don’t want to elaborate, however, every obedient student should do her best to regard & serve her teacher as much as possible. She kept trying to do it, even before Sajida Baji went to the hospital, my sister had the privilege of preparing a meal for her teacher. She also arranged a doctor’s visit at home for her check-up. Dr. Qamar-ud-Din Khalid Sahib was called and after the checkup, he advised her to be admitted to the hospital immediately. Sajida Baji was not well at all. My elder sister fed her under her care and convinced Baji to go to the hospital. Sajida Baji always preferred Sunnah-proven treatment. Also, she used Greek medicine or easy-to-use home remedies and gave similar advice to others. she always avoided allopathic medicines and doctors. My sister forcefully convinced Sajida Baji to go to the hospital. After her death, my sister also got the privilege to be a part of the last service of her beloved teacher. A few years ago, my elder sister went through surgery, Sajida Baji was with her in the hospital during that time and took care of her like a mother. So my sister and Sajida Baji had a very close relationship with each other. anyway! These were the two main reasons for my association with  Sajida Baji, I respect and love her as a teacher and mentor, and she also treated me like a son.

Sajida Baji was the epitome of knowledge and courage, very devoted to her teaching and learning. She restrictly followed her routine and did not waste time. She had the responsibility of supervising Madrasa Ayesha & Roza Ayesha during the day, In addition to this, her family responsibilities. she was an extensive reader also and loved to read different books, in she tries to answer shariah related questions on the phone and asked me many times about different issued fatwas of Banuri Town and Darul Uloom regarding people’s queries. She tried to resolve all the problems & needs, which she came to know,  she would try to help them as much as possible. She was financially helping many families and felt their worries and miseries as her own.  She was an excellent example of this hadeeth: “خیر الناس من ینفع الناس” (the best man is the one whose existence is beneficial to others). I remember an incident, once something went wrong in her mobile phone, Sajida baji called me and sent her phone to resolve the issue. Her phone was constantly ringing and that day I came to know that Sajida Baji listens to all those phone calls along with her responsibilities and commitments and then takes action on them, after all this, she had a fixed time in which she turned off her mobile phone.
Her students, who can be found in almost every corner of the world were in touch with her. Many of them started madrassas or performing different religious services, were in full consultation with Sajida Baji, and seek her guidance in different matters. People used to come to her with all sorts of problems financial medical or family issues,  baji not only respond with kindness and goodness to everyone regardless of caste and creed but also tried to fulfill it as her personal responsibility. I remember there was a famous  Hakeem near Jamia Banuri Town. Baji used to send different people to him for treatment If there was a rush in his clinic and the patient needs to be seen in an emergency she used to call me and ordered that such and such a person is sitting in the clinic you should go and do something in this regard. She also arranged for special prayers and khatam in madrassas for people in trouble or for critical patients. This kind of help is not only for her associates and relatives but also for those who are far away or contacted her through any means. She would endure delays in her personal affairs or for problems of her own family members, but she gave priority to other’s problems and issues.

She was very particular about keeping Masnoon fasts, for this she made it my responsibility to inform her on the first of every month of the lunar calendar whether the moon has been sighted or not. So on the 1st of every month, I tried to inform Baji as soon as I got authentic news about the moon. If by any chance i got late in informing her I received a message from Baji that you have not told me about the moon yet.
From my long association with her what I gathered and understood is that her only passion was reading books, her subjects of interest were Tafseer e Qur’an, Hadith, Fiqh, Tazkiyah, and Sufism. She was deeply interested in Qur’an and Sunnah. Along with her association and being aware of the importance of Hazrat Maulana Abdul Rasheed Nomani (may Allah have mercy on him), she first pledged allegiance to him. After his death, she established an islahi ta’aluq with Hazrat Syed Nafees Al-Husseini (may Allah have mercy on him). After his death, she made Sheikh Noah Hamim Keller, (the caliph of Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, a senior scholar of the Shazli sisila from Syria) her spiritual sheikh. When Sheikh Noah came to Pakistan after a long time, Sajida Baji showed great desire and insistence that  I should go and attend the meetings of Sheikh Noah and benefited from it. To Respect Baji’s wish and after consultation with one of my respected teachers, l got the opportunity to attend the meetings of Sheikh Noah. This was a two-day gathering in Islamabad for people belonging to his circle. A  very well-organized arrangement with full proper segregation, cell phones, photos, and videos was strictly banned and I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the participants had to attend in masnoon attire. Due to Sajida Baji’s barakah, I also got permission from Sheikh Noah for two famous wazaifs of Shazli sisila “Dalail Al-Khairat” and “Hizb-ul-Bahr”.  Baji was very pleased with my attending Sheikh ‘s meeting so she sent some English books written by Sheikh for me to study. Sajida Baji was a correct example of Hazrat Thanawi’s (may Allah have mercy on him)  term “researcher” (comprehensive Shari’ah and tariqah). As on the one hand the subject of her interest was Islamic jurisprudence, and due to Maulana Abdul Rasheed Nomani (may Allah have mercy on him)   blessed association she practiced Hanafi fiqh and on the other hand, she also practiced the path of inner jurisprudence, that is, purification. She did not adopt individualism or self-opinion, whether in personal matters or in the collective affairs of the madrassa, she always seek guidance and advice from her teachers and sheikhs, and for this reason, Allah Almighty blessed her in her actions & decisions.

She deeply loved the Holy Qur’an and used to recite it with care and meticulousness, she also liked to listen to the qira’at of the Holy Qur’an by proper Qaris. Sajida Baji memorized the Holy Qur’an at her later age. Her memorization of the Holy Quran is both interesting and exemplary.  Qari Muhammad Ali Madani is one of the prominent Qari of our country.   For many years he used to lead 10 Day Taraweeh prayers during his Dora e hadeeth at Jamia Banuri Town. A long time back Baji started listening to his recitations while coming and going to the madrassa. Surprisingly, she memorized the Holy Qur’an in this way. It is a miracle of the Qur’an that she was able to memorize the Holy Qur’an in old age along with many engagements and hectic schedule, it is surely a blessing of her perseverance. Along with recitation, she also had a full focus on teaching the Tafseer of the Qur’an. She had learned some selected part of the Tafseer from my father. Then she used to teach the Tafseer herself with great relish.  She had complete knowledge of the modern tribulations which were spreading in the name of the Quran. Baji always clarified and correct her students and other women regarding this. She always first read the research and consulted authentic ulema and books instead of advancing the misleading information. It was her instructions to me to provide her an authentic book or article relevant to that issue. She hated individualism and self-determination in all matters, religious and secular. Because of her deep love for the Qur’an, her words affect the hearts of the women who listened to her. ALLAH  has given her a special way of teaching the Tafseer e Qur’an. She always encouraged her students to teach Tafseer of the Qur’an. She had complete command over writing and speaking in Urdu Arabic and English languages. She used to teach in all three languages as per the situation.

She was very fond of reading books on science and research. In spite of all her domestic, teaching, and administrative engagements, whenever she found any useful book, she would immediately try to get it and read it in one sitting. Most of the time Baji asked me to find and deliver different books on the subject of interest, I remember, a few months ago, I informed her about  Hazrat Thanvi’s famous book “Haqeeqat” Published with the English translation of Shaykh Yusuf Talal Ali (A Sufi Study of Hadith). This book is an elixir of life for those who consider purification and Sufism as contradictory or parallel to the Qur’an and Sunnah. In this book, Hazrat Thanvi has proved the various issues and details of Sufism and purification from over three hundred Ahadith. Baji had a special interest in the subject of purification and Sufism, and the English translation of the said book was published from England. She immediately ordered that book which arrived in few days, she began to read this thick book and was very happy and pleased when finished it in a week. Since there are some people who deny the Islamic teachings of purification and morality, Sajida Baji also came in contact with such misguided women, and this book was perfect to clarify the misconceptions of those who object to or deny purification. , Baji used to distribute this useful book among her close circle of friends. Then she told me that, “Now I need his original Urdu book as well. Bring that for me too.”
With Allah Almighty’s blessings I tried to compile  Bayan-ul-Quran ma’ Tafsir-e-Usmani,  After its publication, Sajida baji was genuinely elated. She immensely encouraged me and said that there was an acute need for a  simplified form of this scholarly Tafseer,  you have done a great service both outwardly and inwardly.  She distributed dozens of copies of Asaan Bayan ul Quran among her relatives and friends. It was known that owing to her love for books Sajida Baji also traveled to Arab countries in search of priceless & rare books.

While studying books, she also had a special taste for fine printing and good copies of books. Many times she asked me to get a better or newer edition of different books as she had the old version. Baji’s uncles Dr. Amjad Ali Sahib also has the same taste regarding the finesse of the book and manuscript, and perhaps it is due to the excellent taste of both of them that the Maktab Al-Bushra was founded, today Maktab Al-Bushra’s Excellent and high-quality books are popular not only in Pakistan but all over the world. In the early days, at the request of Dr. Amjad Ali and Sajida Baji, my father used to visit there on certain days and provide guidance and patronage in the matter of writing and composing. Of course, This is an ongoing Sadqa e Jaria for all of them.

Sajida Baji’s personality and life were very simple, she was far away from fame and self-projection.  no matter how many great deeds and religious services she performed, whether it was Madrasa Ayesha or Roza Ayesha, but nowhere her name was formally or informally mentioned. Numerous books were published under her supervision, many times she was the sole reason and source behind the publications of various books, Lisan-ul-Quran and Miftah (Arabic-English), or Tafseer Usmani  English are few to mention.  Baji worked very hard, spend uncounted hours and give her heart & soul, but did not specify her name on them, Lisan-ul-Quran was first published by Ayesha Madrasa, Sajida Baji was as usual worried about the outstanding quality of printing. She played a pivotal role in the publication, printing, and translation of Tafsir Ottoman English and its excellent printing.  I also got involved in this project  & get a chance to be at any service of Tafsir Ottoman English, she gave me a few tasks and responsibilities which I tried to fulfill under her consistent guidance.

Baji always wished and prayed that her call from her creator would come on Friday night, so Allah accepted her wish and duaa in such a way that at the monsoon age of 63 years, Allah Almighty called her to Himself on Friday night. And the virtues of Friday night and shahadat was bestowed upon her. After a full and vigorous life, Allah Almighty gave her peacefulness & serenity from this tempting world. He who was gone was relieved of the tribulations, and those who are here are being tested. Her life was full of determination. The seed she sowed in the form of Madrasa Ayesha has now become a strong tree in the form of Ayesha Madrasa, Ibn Abbas Madrasa, and Al-Bushra. Her students can be found in all parts of the world in their own capacity they are serving the deen of Islam. Sajida Baji’s life has been spent in the same struggle for the last thirty-five years, and she has provided the Ummah with mothers whose benefits will serve the  Muslim ummah for many generations to come. She was a motherly figure for all her students and she treated them in the same way. I don’t know how many people were left orphaned after her. Her esteemed teacher Hazrat Maulana Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani Sahib Zaid Mujadham led her funeral prayers after the Jumma prayer. She is being buried in PECHS cemetery near her grandfather’s grave.   Nearly everyone who is present has tears in their eyes.  Baji’s student, my elder sister’s sons Abdul Rahman, Yaman, Safwan, and my sons Hisham and Yusuf are laying dust on Baji’s grave, and I am thinking in my heart that this is the precious seed of Imani relationship that Sajida baji sowed and left us.

Memories and words are innumerable, I am content with that, I am indebted to her memories, words, and favors, which may be impossible to forget, may Allah forgive her and grant us the ability to live a purposeful life like her, Amen. 

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