In Memory of Shaykh Ikram
Shaykh Sayed Ikram Hussein,
passed away earlier this month, in the city of Hyderabad, Pakistan.
When the news of his death
reached me I had both a tear in my eye and a smile in my heart. I could
not bring myself to grieve but rather to recall with great love and
admiration his life which was so full and blessed.
Shaykh Ikram was one of the
pillars of this world. His depth of being, knowledge and service will be
forever reflected in the hearts of the people of gnosis.
I had the great fortune to
spend much time with him while I was living in Pakistan. His
affectionate method of mentoring was only slightly eclipsed by his stern
and direct unveiling of what was hidden in the hearts of all that came
in his presence. For most of the westerners like me he nearly always
showed obvious kindness and love especially to the students of
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri.
I pray that his light be
held close and like a shinning star we follow the light of the path to
what is promised and already is within us.
There is a Tibetan Mantra
that comes to mind and it goes like this:
Parasam Gate` Bhodisvaha!
“Gone, gone, gone beyond,
hail to the one who has gone beyond”
May the Peace and Blessings
of Allah be upon him and may we all remember we are soon to follow.
Hajj Mustafa Ali al Hayderi al Chishti
May 22, 2007
I wanted to share these few
moments with Shaykh Ikram. I was sitting in front of him, fearful of
my heart. He asked me to recite Sura Fateha, and to translate it. I
began, and he recited with me. When we came to
"It is You alone whom
we worship, You alone whom we ask for help", Shaykh Ikram
stopped me, looked into my eyes with that mix of love and sharp
intelligence, which is only possible by divine alchemy, and said "so
what is there to be scared of?"
It reminds me – and God knows I
need that reminder! – that All fears are resolved and subsumed in
His Mercy and Oneness, including death. All suffering comes from any
love or attachment that's other than Him.
May 22, 2007
My fondest memories of Shaykh
Ikram celebrate what were his blessed gifts of healing, his love of
knowledge, and the compassion and love he had for people.
On the first occasion when I met
Shaykh Ikram many years ago in Pakistan, his first words to me were,
"Never forget that the first Muslim in this world was a woman; her
name was Khadija Kubra, and she walked around the Kaa'ba, calling
out, "Labayk, Labayk, Allahuma, Labayk!" ("I am at your service, O
My Lord!") And Shaykh Ikram
"It is you women today who
must go out and teach!"
On his visit to South Africa few
years ago, Shaykh Ikram stayed at our Community Centre where every
day long queues of people formed outside his door, seeking healing
cures. Shaykh Ikram himself was, by then, in his twilight years and
often ailing, but no one was turned away as he treated each and
every person, tirelessly dispensing remedies or advice.
The last time I saw Shaykh Ikram,
he asked me to bring with me an empty notebook, and he began to pass
on many of his healing remedies and Qur'anic prescriptions to treat
various illnesses, many of them to do with women's ailments. As the
pages were filling up, I quietly asked Shaykh Ikram,
"What is the
most important advice you can give concerning healing?" Shaykh Ikram
"You must love people. Most
important. Love is the only way."
We pray for light in his grave,
of an immensity equal to the generosity of his spirit which he
shared with such compassion in a lifetime of service. Amin.
May 22, 2007
During the early eighties
whenever Shaykh Ikram Sahib visited Karachi he would stay at our
house and fill it with great barakah and light. True to the
Chishti tradition Shaykh Sahib was constantly available to help
anyone in need. He would arrive with empty hands -- he never carried
any luggage -- and was always immaculately dressed in a white
kemise shalwar (long shirt and baggy 'pants' worn in the Indian
subcontinent). The moment it was known that Shaykh Sahib was in town
people would appear to receive his advice, medicines and love. He
seemed endlessly patient and on occasions I sat with him for hours
while he counselled a troubled soul. He was like the most loving
Later on after our woman's
dhikr (remembrance) group had been established he adopted us all
as his "baitis" (daughters) He showed us all such love and we
were certainly in love with him. We would spend entire mornings or
afternoons in his blessed company. His knowledge of Islamic History,
Qur'an and hadith was vast but of course I needed quite a bit of
help to understand his teaching as he spoke high Urdu.
Shaykh Sahib could be quite
fierce in his condemnation of the hypocritical and materialistic
people, but he had a brilliant supply of funny stories and a great
sense of humour. Once he said "If there is no cigarettes, paan
(betel leaf) or chai (tea) in paradise -- how can it be
Whenever someone would ask him to
pray for them he would raise his hands to heaven and recite the last
two verses of Surat-ul-Tawba followed by his own du'a
(supplication) in Urdu........
"Now there has come unto
you a Messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are
overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers
full of pity, merciful.
Now, if they turn away (O
Muhammad) say: Allah sufficeth me. There is no God save Him. In Him
have I put my trust, and He is Lord of the Tremendous Throne."
O Allah! we trust that You will
reward Shaykh Sahib for all the love help and compassion he showed
to your creation! The place he left is sweet with the perfume of
Your remembrance. Please bless his soul and repose him in
Amin amin amin!
May 28, 2007
I first met Shaykh Ikram at the 2002
conference in South Africa. I had not heard of him before and what
struck me was his simplicity and overflowing love. He was a genuine
lover of Allah and His Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him
and his family) and his family (Ahl ul Bayt).
At the conference, I had the pleasure
of sitting with him on a few occasions and even translating for him when
he told one of his stories to the guests who had gathered around him.
At the same conference, I had the
privilege to attend an evening of dhikr (remembrance) and the
singing of the
diwan in the blessed company of
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri and other lovers of Allah. That evening was
quite special and has left a permanent mark on my self.
The same year, I met him in Pakistan.
I had wanted to visit him at his place in Hyderabad, but, to my surprise
and embarrassment, he gathered his strength and traveled to Karachi to
meet me in his advanced age. The meeting was joyful and memorable.
When I heard of his passing, there
were tears of sadness and joy of knowing him that came out of my eyes.
He'll be missed!
May 28, 2007
A tribute to a great soul –
Shaykh Syed Ikram Hussain, 2007 by AbuBakr Karolia
I met Shaykh Ikram (R) on his
visits to South Africa a few years ago. A man of immense
spirituality who lived a life of inner and outer “tajrid”,
i.e. a person who lives wholly in the submission of Allah. A friend
of Allah who selflessly, tirelessly and humbly worked for the
benefit of others, with an earthy simplicity and refinement that can
hardly be matched in these modern times.
He was a healer (hakim)
from the Qur`anic and Prophetic traditions and he cured people with
such simplicity that reflected his station. When you were in his
company he was affectionate and advisory. His message was always to
show guidance for the love of the Creator and His Prophets. His
concern for humanity was always reconciliatory and modest, but
He loved good company as he did
the chewing of the betle leaf. His unassuming disposition was always
available and the blessings and light that was reflected by his
presence was very noticeable and appreciated by those that were in
Sometimes, he would suddenly
recite a particular verse of the Qur’an from Surah Taubah
that emulated his character. Recently, I begun to embrace these same
verses as they have given me immense contentment and trust whenever
I felt I required some support. The verses are translated as
128. A Messenger has come
to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing him; He
is deeply concerned for you; He is gentle and merciful to the
129. But if they turn away,
say, Allah is enough for me. There is no god but Him. I put my trust
in Him. He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne – Arsh.
He also advised many to invoke a
Zikr, Ya Hadi and Ya Rashidun, which are from
the attributes of Allah. He wanted us to call upon Allah by His Most
Beautiful Names and reflect on them.
He will be missed by us at the
Rasooli Centre and we will remember him with the greatest of
affection and love as he had for all of us and especially for those
that were the students of Shaykh Fadhlalla.
May Allah Bless his grave with
nur – light, and may we sit together in the Hereafter, in the
blessed company of the Rasul, may Allah’s peace and blessings
be upon them.
May 28, 2007
Since I married Abbas and came to
live in Pakistan, Shaykh Ikram had been a part of the spiritual
fabric of our lives here. His energy, teachings and example formed a
significant reference point for us throughout the years we knew him.
Pakistan always felt anchored by his presence. His visits to our
home brought love, sobriety, tranquility, peace and occasional
One could never be complacent in
his company as frequently his line of questioning would inevitably
lead to the revelation of our own ignorance and shortcomings in
something. His sense of humour was always easily summoned up,
however, and his laugh was light and gentle – a chuckle. Yet always
any merriment was one degree beneath the reality check that he
always seemed to excel in. He knew exactly what was going on around
him, in the world and beyond in the unseen, and wasn’t afraid to
expound upon the antics of the ‘interrneshunal ghoonda badmaashis’
(international troublemaker rascals).
I would like to share one story
that reveals something about his insight and understanding about
spiritual maqams (states). Once, while I was living in
Pakistan in the late eighties, my relatives had discovered a
spiritual being with whom they had been deeply impressed. I had duly
accompanied them to visit him – and a pleasant visit it was, but
felt none of that awe and hush that descends on the heart when in
the presence of a truly free, self-annihilated being. But I kept
these feelings to myself. When, however, Shayh Ikram was taken with
Shakyh Fadhlalla during one of his frequent trips to Pakistan to
meet him, I was intrigued to know his feelings. Upon their return, I
asked Shaykh Ikram how the visit went. He looked at me with his
characteristic far-away yet simultaneously piercingly direct look
and said, ‘Beti-jaan
(daughter dear), when you have the river Ganges flowing through your
own home, why go looking for tributaries?!’
That said all I needed to know, confirming me in what guidance Allah
had chosen for me. I will always cherish the fatherly kindness he
showed me and the mirror his presence automatically held up before
June 10, 2007
Jan Kar Minjumla e Khasane Maikahana Mujhay
finding out my position as one of the special features of the
Roya Karain Gai barson Jam o Paimana Mujhay
goblets and bottles will shed tears for many years to come)
Maikhana = this world. Goblets and bottles = people of insight,
the members of the inner circle. The people of insight will find out
that what they have lost, they will be shedding tears for years and
of a famous Urdu poet was written in the tortuous hand writing of
Shaykh Ikram and handed over to me with a sad smile by him a few
months before his departure from this world. I was one of the very
few fortunate people who could read and understand his broken, but
extremely attractive, powerful and impressive handwriting (known as
Khat e Shikasta).
wonderful man of light appeared in our lives is an interesting story
itself. I vividly remember the contents and can trace it back to
gentleman after qualifying in a PhD from Wales secured a job in the
university of Texas as a lecturer. He was a new comer over there.
After a few months of staying in Texas he was approached by some
American Muslims to attend a lecture by a Sufi master and Qutab
Shaykh. The young lecturer being a true seeker and a man of
tremendous potential, could see the light on these faces and wanted
to meet the source of light. He felt a strong attraction to meet
this great Sufi master. With enthusiasm, he accompanied these
American Muslims and found himself in the company of the most
perfect being of our times,
Shaykh Fadhlalla. The
Shaykh ul Kamil, being a true representative of divine light, an
honorable follower of the heritage of the prophets, having access to
inner and outer meanings of the teachings of Imams and having a
generous heart shared his tremendous knowledge with thousands of
people all over the world. He dedicated his energy, time and
resources to spread the knowledge and light.
lecturer was Dr. Khalid Iqbal.
time Shaykh Fadhlalla advised Dr. Khalid to return to his homeland
(Pakistan) and start work there. Dr. Khalid was given a definite
programme to change the hearts of people, bring them out from the
trench of traditional and ethnic ways of living and understand the
universality, simplicity, practical applicability and joy and bliss
of our great din. The plan was to open clinics and
educational institutes in various parts of Pakistan.
belonged to Ahmadpur East adjacent to Dera Nawab city, a regal
dwelling of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur. He had no second thought or
hesitation to return. He was holding a promising position in Texas
and he could excel and shine tremendously in the US. But destiny had
some other plans for him.
was looking for the services of a medical doctor who could take on
this project. A common friend a banker Masood Ensari introduced the
writer of these memorial words to Dr. Khalid. I was a final year
student of MBBS in Quid e Azam medical college Bahawalpur. I joined
the three members team of Dr. Khalid. The other two members were
Sidi Abdullah and Sidi Ibrahim Haq both American Muslims. We started
building up the clinic. This clinic was in Ahmadpur and we lived in
the twin city Dera Nawab Sahib. Within a few weeks the clinic
started working and more American and European Muslims under the
enlightened guidance of Shaykh Fadhlalla joined us. All of us lived
in 3 houses next to each other.
boy, the son of a hakim living in Dera Nawab Sahib, fell ill.
In spite of treatments of every type, he kept on deteriorating. His
father was about to give up when a majzoob (a person who is
in a state of Jazb, self absorbed and completely uninterested
in his surrounding) Toti Shah who used to stand apparently idly
outside the clinic of this hakim, gave a hint to the
relatives of the boy to go to Hyderabad (a city near Karachi). The
boy’s parents were desperate and could have done any thing to save
the life of their son. But they didn’t know any one in Hyderabad.
They blindly went there and found out, there was a hakim who was
also a man of light. After asking around they found out the house of
this hakim, who to their astonishment was already waiting for
meeting proved to be therapeutic and the young patient returned to
his home with his parents. All of them were grateful and became
disciples of the healer. This amazing master of healing was Shaykh
Ikram was invited by these people to Dera Nawab and on their
repeated requests one day he decided to visit them. According to the
Majzoob Toti Shah it was a divine plot that Shaykh Ikram had to
visit Dera Nawb where the disciples and followers of Shaykh
Fadhlalla were already present. One of our common friends (Sufi
Wahid Bux Sayal) introduced Dr. Khalid and I to Shaykh Ikram. Our
first meeting took place at the clinic of the hakim in Dera
Nawab. Shaykh Ikram had a very powerful appearance with a pair of
piercing eyes which could penetrate every level and layer of the
nafs. We told him about Shaykh Fadhlalla. Shaykh Ikram told us
that he was destined to meet Shaykh Fadhlalla and the meeting of two
great shuyukh was the beginning of an era and almost
everybody close to Shaykh Fadhlalla had the opportunity to be
blessed with the companionship of Shaykh Ikram. Toti Shah’s mission
was over and we never saw him again. Shaykh Ikram told us that he
had been transferred to some other area with a new assignment. He
also told us that Toti Shah was 500 years old.
Ikram was an institution of great significance, magnitude and
versatility. He was a great hakim, historian, face reader,
poet, numerologist and astronomist with a great command in many
other various fields. His company was a session of healing. I had
numerous sittings with him in Karachi and other cities and always
learnt hundreds of various aspects and angles of looking at the
things. He had a tremendous sense of humor ranging from mild jokes
to the ability of tickling with sharp anecdotes. His memory was
impeccable and he could quote a significant and appropriate story,
joke, poetry and event for any occasion. He lived in this world
without accepting any pollution and without compromising. Once I
took him to the British consulate in Karachi and the visa officer
was shocked to learn that he never had a bank account. I witnessed
many occasions when he recited amazing stories. He had a never
ending stock of sensational, mind bobbling stories.
Ikram was a light upon light and joy upon joy to be with.
looked clean and neat in his appearance, habits, thoughts and
conversation. His magnetic field always attracted a crowd around him
no matter which part of the world he was in. I always recalled this
verse on such occasions:
Kyoon Haiy Ziada Sharab Khanay Main
Yaiy Baat Kay Pir e Mughaan Haiy Mard e Khaleeque.
(How come the pub is
overcrowded. The only reason is that the pourer of the drink is
a man, who knows the art of touching the hearts)
connection of Shaykh Fadhlalla with Shaykh Ikram was purely for the
sake of Allah. Both of them had a tremendous regard and complete
faith in each other. I can recall so many occasions when these two
men of Allah met, I had the honour of translating. My
interpretation was merely a mechanical exercise as both of them knew
the viewpoint of each other completely and could communicate without
a single spoken word. Whatever they spoke to each other apparently
was for themselves but the fortunate audience present at the
occasion could shower under the flow of knowledge gushing from these
fountains of immense knowledge and light.
those blessed days when the circle in Karachi, mostly the
enlightened ladies, used to arrange gatherings in their respective
houses on the arrival of Shaykh Ikram. This movement was initiated
by Jameela. We had so many marathon sessions in the houses of most
of these people, specially Mr. and Mrs. Kazi (mainly for Roxanna and
Sharmin), Mehr Appa, Muna and Abbas, Mehdi and Nasreen, Rizwane and
Marzooque, Zahida Farooque Shah, Aziza Jelani, Shafiqa Mehmood, Mira
and Ali Gokal and many others. May Allah protect each one of these
and always keep them under the blanket of His Mercy and Rahma,
fulfill their desires and provide them ease in all situations and
circumstances. They all took special care of Shayjh Ikram and
brought light to their houses and hearts. I pray and request Shaykh
Ikram to keep on sending the blessings from the other world to the
house and heart of each one of us and our families and friends.
Ikram used to teach all of us in a subtle way. He was very generous
in parting with his knowledge to elevate our spirits and souls. He
taught us the courtesy and way (dhoque and shoque) of
asking dua, to heal each other, to make taawiz and to
prescribe dhikr. He was extremely keen to see all of us
happy, healthy free of troubles and problems, materially independent
and free of khuf and huzan (fear, phobia and grief).
feature of his multifaceted life was his availability. I never
failed to reach him. He was always there, for anyone and everyone to
offer help and remedy.
a very special credit winning people’s heart. Those who came to see
him did not hesitate to pour his or her heart out and to reveal
everything. He carried with him people’s secrets with grace and
always covered other’s faults, shortcomings and weaknesses.
Therefore people felt safe with him and never hid anything from him.
connection of Shaykh Ikram with Shaykh Fadhlalla brought him to an
international circle. His trips to South Africa on the invitation of
Shaykh Fadhlalla proved to be a source of blessings for many people
there. All of these people, Majida and Ebrahim, Feroza and Farahad,
Haroon, Kala family, Rehana and Abu Bakar Karolia, Fadhila and
Younas, Basit, Fadhil, Zahir, Hashim and many other scintillating
stars of the galaxy of Shaykh Fadhlalla opened their hearts and
homes for him and received the bounties and blessings of Shaykh’s
visit. I accompanied Shaykh Ikram to South Africa and remained with
him throughout the trip and his visits to all of these people. I
discount that time of my life from the age period assigned to me. I
strongly believe that time stopped to move while we were enjoying
the heavenly moments over there.
Ikram was very close to the hearts of the family members of Shaykh
Fadhlalla and always used to praise and pray for them. He had a high
regard for Zainab Khanum, Munira Khanum and Batool Khanum. Each one
of them has amazing qualities, knowledge and light and Shaykh Ikram
always had nothing but words of praise for each one of them. He also
adored Shaykh Fadhlalla’s children specially Ahmad who he named
Ahmad Jamal Chishti.
other people who were close to Shaykh Ikram and he often spoke about
them with tender love and high praise are my wife Roxanna, Sidi
Hosam, Dr. Khalid, Agha Jan (May Allah keep him in gardens of
paradise) Mohtram Nasim Beg, Munia and Ali Allawi, Zahra and Hyder,
Qamar and Rukhsana, Mustafa Shauqi Hyderi, Sikandar and Zainab, Nazo
Hadi, Abdur Rahman Bundegar, Shahbaz. May Allah bless all of them
and keep the flame of Nur enlightened in their hearts.
He gave me
many gifts. I am filled with his blessings and prays and can not
thank enough Allah Subhan wa Taala for honouring me to be in the
company of Shaykh Fadhlalla and Shaykh Ikram. Whatever I am I owe to
my dearest and most honourable Shaykh Fadhlalla and Shaykh Ikram. I
request the readers of these lines that whenever they have a few
spare moments in this busy and crazy life they should sit in a quite
and clean corner facing Qibla and recite the last 4 ayats of Sura
Tauba imagining the face of Shaykh Ikram followed by 11 times Hasbi
Rabbi JalAllah, Lailaha il Allah. You may be fortunate enough to see
or even get in touch with him.
still beyond my comprehension that he has passed away. One of our
poets says that the demise of a man of Ishq shocked me. Has the art
of medicine died?
e majnoon Pay aqal Gum Haiy Mir
dawa Nain Maut Pai Haiy
poet asks How come one germinates to bloom? And how come one drops
from the branch?
is one’s eagerness to be born and to be invited to experience
Allah’s wonderful world the later is one’s joyful wish to merge back
for ever in to the eternal source of light.
Shakh say kuoon phoota Main shakh say kuoon toota
jazba e Paidaai Ik Lazzate Yaktai
raise our hands and say Fatiha and Aalwidaa (Salaam) to this
elevated soul. May Allah fill his grave with light and keep him in
Janatul Firdous and always keep his light and memories in our
heart. Elahi aamin.
June 17, 2007