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Following Footsteps Of Great Women - Wife Of Moulana Qaasim Nanotwi

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Introduction: Following in the footsteps of great people is the tried and tested prescription to gain honour, respect and true greatness, in this world and the Hereafter. Among the great women who are indeed worthy of emulation was the wife of Moulana Muhammad Qaasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah). Moulana (rahimahullah) was a saint, luminary and outstanding personality of his time. He was the founder of the Darul Uloom Deoband, the blessings of which has reached the four corners of the globe. 


His wife was also a very pious woman who possessed great qualities which made her the perfect match for such a great scholar and saint. Due to her remarkable qualities, she earned such honour that while all the women respected her, even the great scholars and saints of the time had the highest regards for her. Furthermore, Allah Ta’ala had blessed her progeny in such a way that her son and grandson were both successful principals of the great institute, Darul Uloom Deoband. Presently her great-grandson is also a principal of a great institute in Deoband with thousands of students.

Insha-Allah, over the next few weeks, we will discuss some of her great qualities and highlight the important lessons contained therein.



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Attachment to worship: Immaterial of what work she may be involved in, once she would hear the muazzin saying “hayya alas salaah” she would leave everything and get up for salaah. Every morning after fajr salaah, she would cover her face with her scarf and engage in the zikr of Allah Ta’ala with great amount of punctuality. She would never miss this under any condition. (Sawaanihe Qaasimi vol.1, pg. 519) 


Lesson: Those whose hearts are attached to Allah Ta’ala are unable to continue doing anything else when the time to stand in front of their Master has come. She practically imparted the lesson that salaah is the most important aspect in a believer’s life. Furthermore, her punctuality in zikr obviously contributed very greatly to her high rank and position. Zikr is the food for the heart. Just as a person who has not eaten food for a few days will become extremely weak and even bed – ridden, likewise the one who starves his/her soul by not engaging daily in zikr will become spiritually very weak. Gradually such a person will lose all interest in righteous actions and many sins will creep in her life.

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Desire for learning deen: Her grandson, Qari Muhammad Tayyib (rahimahullah), says: “When I commenced my studies of hadeeth, I would come home after my lessons and explain the entire lesson to my grandmother who would listen to it with tears continuously flowing from her eyes. This happened for two years.” (Sawaanihe Qaasimi vol.1, pg. 519) 


Lesson: Those whose hearts are clean gain tremendous enjoyment and benefit from the recitation of the Quraan Majeed, reading or listening to the ahaadeeth of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and other righteous actions. They do not then need to look for any artificial and false pleasure.

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Disinterest in the material: She was the daughter of a wealthy man of Deoband. Her father sent her off with much clothing, jewellery and household accessories. When the husband and wife met for the very first time, Moulana won his wife’s confidence and then addressed her thus: “Now that Allah Ta’ala has joined us, there has to be compatibility between us. However in our present condition this seems difficult, since you are so wealthy and I am poor. We have one of two options. Either I become wealthy, which is obviously difficult. The other option is that you become poor like me.” Without any hesitation this great woman happily said to Moulana: “I give you the full right to do as you please with my belongings.” The next morning Moulana contributed all that jewellery and wealth in the path of Allah Ta’ala. 


After some time she went to her parent’s home. When her father noticed that she was not wearing any jewellery, he asked her the reason for this. She explained to him the entire incident. Her father did not object at all. However he considered it inappropriate that his daughter should appear before the other relatives in this manner. Since he was very wealthy, he gave her everything once more.


When she returned home, Moulana Qaasim (rahimahullah) observed that she had come back once again with much clothing, jewellery etc. That night he again encouraged her regarding the Hereafter, etc., and she again gave him the right to do as he wished. The next morning, for a second time, all the valuables were spent in the path of Allah Ta’ala. 


Some may feel sorry for this woman that she had to part from all her wealth. However, in reality it was a great favour of Moulana upon her that he had completely removed the love of the world from her heart. She would herself say: “The love for wealth and jewellery has totally left my heart. In fact I have even built up an aversion to these things, and in my entire life thereafter I have never had a desire for expensive garments.” (Sawaanihe Qaasimi vol.1, pg. 507) 


Lesson: Happiness is not in material possession. She could have demanded to keep her things. Yet she chose to suppress her feelings in order to please her husband. She accepted his suggestion and sacrificed all her wealth. Allah Ta’ala made her happy in return. One of the major reasons for her happiness was that, with the blessing of her sacrifice, she became unshackled from the glitter of wealth, jewellery, etc. The chains of the love for material things had broken. Now she was free. She was no more grieved if she did not have an expensive garment, or that glittering diamond, or some fancy furniture, etc. Her heart was not torn by the things that have become old or worn out. She was indeed content and free. A free person is happy.

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Service to her husband: She says: “My husband (Moulana Qaasim rahimahullah) would generally drink some milk at night prior to sleeping. When he returned home after esha, I would present the milk to him. He would drink the milk and then engage in nafl salaah. If he did not wait for me and commenced his salaah, it meant that he was upset with me for some reason. Thus it happened a few times that when I arrived with the milk he had already commenced his salaah. He would normally stand for the entire night in salaah. Thus I too remained standing the entire night with the cup of milk in my hands. (Sawaanihe Qaasimi vol.1, pg. 518) 


Lesson: Subhanallah! She could have left the milk and gone to sleep, or even refused to bring it in future. However, she knew better. She did what was indeed better. Allah Ta’ala blessed her with something much, much better than most women. Thus we are today discussing her life with awe and amazement.

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Service to her mother-in-law: Towards the end of her life, her mother in-law would experience severe bouts of diarrhoea due to which she would soil three or four sets of clothes daily. Although her husband (Moulana Qaasim rahimahullah) would insist that he would wash these clothes himself, she would want to wash it. Finally the husband and wife came to an agreement that they would take turns, one day Moulana would wash the clothes, and one day she would wash them. Despite this agreement, when it was the turn of Moulana, this great woman would wash most of the clothes herself and dry them before Moulana could come home. She would only leave one garment for him to wash. (Sawaanihe Qaasimi vol.1, pg. 502) 


Lesson: Khidmah (service) brings honour, respect, love and great blessings. Khidmah does involve some sacrifice. However this little “pain” brings very great gain. When one tries to avoid such “pain” in the service of one’s husband and family, it unfortunately brings greater pain in various ways.

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