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In Memory of Shaykh Ikram


In Memory of Shaykh Ikram

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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:


Para Gate`
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.


Was Salaam
Hajj Mustafa Ali al Hayderi al Chishti

May 22, 2007


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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


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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 continued, "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 replied, "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.

As ever,

May 22, 2007


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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 father.


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 paradise?"


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 everlasting peace.


Amin amin amin!

May 28, 2007


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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 him, 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


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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 direct.


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 his company.


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 follows:


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 mu’minun.


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.


Was Salaam

AbuBakr Karolia

May 28, 2007


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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 mischief.


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 me.



June 10, 2007


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Jan  Kar Minjumla e Khasane Maikahana Mujhay

(After finding out my position as one of the special features of the drinking house)

Roya Karain Gai barson Jam o Paimana  Mujhay

(The 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 years.

This verse 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).

How this wonderful man of light appeared in our lives is an interesting story itself. I vividly remember the contents and can trace it back to 1980-81.

A 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.

The young lecturer was Dr. Khalid Iqbal.

After some 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.

Dr. Khalid 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.

Dr. Khalid 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.

A young 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 them.

This 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.

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.

Shaykh 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.

Shaykh Ikram was a light upon light and joy upon joy to be with.       

He always 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:

Hajoom Kyoon Haiy Ziada Sharab Khanay Main

Faqat 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)

The 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.

I recall 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.

Shaykh 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).

Another 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.

He earned 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.

The 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.

Shaykh 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.

A few 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.

It is 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?

Marg e majnoon Pay aqal Gum Haiy Mir 

Kaya dawa Nain Maut Pai Haiy

Another poet asks How come one germinates to bloom? And how come one drops from the branch?

And then he answers:

The former 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.

Too Shakh say kuoon phoota Main shakh say kuoon toota

Ik jazba e Paidaai Ik Lazzate Yaktai

Let’s 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.

Dr. Xaigham

June 17, 2007

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Relevant Links


Stories of the Awliya – Shaykh Syed Ikram Hussain


Kashkoal e Ikram (In Urdu)


Photos from the 2002 Conference in South Africa


Some Photos of Shaykh Ikram Hussain and His Brother, Syed Islam Hussain




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