CHAPTER 73: DIET

Food consumption

Since his early life, Hazrat Mirza was accustomed to eating very spar- ingly. Even in his youth, which is a time when people areusually in the habit of eating heartily, he used to eat very little. He shared his food with some orphans and needy children on a regular basis. When he received his meals from the house, the children would gather to get their share. He gave a roti and some gravy to each child until only one, or half a roti was left for him, and he would eat this with a little gravy. Sometimes not even a single roti was left forhim and he would be content with just drinking the gravy.

Even after Hazrat Mirza started the work of writing, his habit of eating sparingly did not undergo any change. Considering thestaggering amount of intellectual labor in which he was engaged on a daily basis, his food intake was so small that it left people wondering how this man survived with so little food.

Regardless of how strong his appetite, and how delicious the food, Hazrat Mirza never stuffed himself with it. He usually had two meals a day, but when he was feeling unwell, he would limit himself to one meal perday. His breakfast was a simple cup of tea. Hazrat Mirza liked green tea.

Dining with guests

For a long time, Hazrat Mirza ate his meals with his guests either in the drawing room or in the Mubarak Mosque. The dining cloth would be spread on the floor and Hazrat Mirza and his guests, who generally numbered from ten to twenty, would squat around it to eat. Later, when the number of guests increased considerably and Hazrat Mirza’s health became indifferent, he began to eat in the house, either alone or with his wife and children.

Style of eating

During the period that Hazrat Mirza used to eat with his guests, his manners at meal time were as follows: When the food was served, Hazrat Mirza would ask his guests, “Should we start?” This was a rhetorical ques- tion meant to ensure that all guests werepresent and none was missing, or he would ask, “Is there food before everyone?” On receiving an affirmative reply, he would start eating.

It was his habit to eat slowly, chewing the food properly. He would eat in an unhurried and relaxed manner. He ate noiseless- ly, and abstained from sucking on bones or belching loudly. Hazrat Mirza also used to engage in conversation while eating. He used thegravy sparing- ly with his bread. If two or three different dishes had been prepared because of a banquet, he would partake of only one of those dishes. 

Hazrat Mirza would finish the food on his plate so completely that when his dinner plate was lifted from before him, it would often appear as if nobody had eaten from it. It was not his habit to eat too much meat or vegetables, and often he just ate bread after dipping it in a little gravy. He ate small morsels, and he broke his bread into small pieces for eating. At the end of the meal, hewould crumble any leftover bread pieces so that when the dining cloth was taken out and dusted, the crumbs could easily become foodfor birds.

Since Hazrat Mirza himself ate very sparingly, he devoted most of the meal time in the hospitality of his guests. If there was a meat dish or some other delicacy that had been placed before him, he would lift it and put it before his guests. In the early days, when the food was prepared in his own house rather than in the guest-house, he would make forays inside the house and bring back freshly made hot chapatis from the kitchen and place them before his guests; sometimes he would return with some jam or pickles for them. There are some who find pleasure in eating, while Hazrat Mirza found pleasure in feeding others.

Hazrat Mirza’s diet

Hazrat Mirza’s sole purpose in eating food was to sustain life and strength; not to find pleasure in its taste and deliciousness. For this reason, he ate only those things that agreed with him and which helped him to sustain his mental powers so that his work may not suffer.

Certain chronic ailments necessitated some dietary restrictions, and so Hazrat Mirza was generally asked what he wished to eat. But Hazrat Mirza was never fussy about food and ate whatever was served. If food was not served to him, he would not ask for it either. His household was fully aware of this and would diligently ensure that food was sent to him because they knew that he was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he did not have the time to ask for it.

However, if they forgot to send the food, he would go hungry but never complained that care should have been taken in sending him his food since he was the master of the house. Whether the food was tasty or not, he wouldeat it. He expressed no exuberance if the meal was delicious and no displeasure if it was not.

On several occasions, Hazrat Mirza remarked: “Even after eating the meal, I do not know what was cooked and what I ate. It is only if I get some grit under my teeth that I realize that I am eating something.” However, he paid special attention to the meals of his guests. If he had ordered a par- ticular meal for his guests and if the food was not tasty, Hazrat Mirza did express his displeasure, primarily from a consideration that his guests hadbeen inconvenienced by the tasteless food. 

When new guests came, he would enquire from them their food preferences and what their regular dietary habits were. He repeatedly enquired from the catering supervisor whether all the guests had been fed and made sure that none had gotten overlooked by the staff of the public kitchen. On some occasions, it so happened that the food ran out in the public kitchen leaving a guest or two without food, or due to oversight food was not kept for a particular guest. Whenever such an instance occurred, Hazrat Mirza would send his entrée and sometimes his whole meal for the guests and go hungry himself. Hazrat Mirza didnot have a preference for any particular kind of food. He ate whatever kind of roti was available whether baked in an oven or cooked on agriddle over an open fire. Sometimes he had bread or biscuits with tea.

Toward the end of his life, Hazrat Mirza suffered from frequent urination. Because of this ailment, he switched from eatingwheat bread to maize bread, which he ate with spinach or buttermilk. Although meat was prepared and cooked twice daily in HazratMirza’s household, yet he preferred maash lentils to meat. Also, he liked yogurt, and rice cooked in brown sugar. As for meat, HazratMirza liked the meat of fowls. 

Because of mental exhaustion, excessive urination, headaches, and other ailments, doctors had recommended the use of fowl meat. He enjoyed fruits, and also drank milk, but milk was hard on his digestion and resulted in diarrhea. Sohe kept a glass of milk by his side and sipped a little from it from time to time as he worked. 

Thus, although it took an hour or more to consume a glass of milk but there was no resultant ill effect. Once when Hazrat Mirza began experiencing spells of dizziness and mental enervation, I offered this advice: “Sir! If you drink a concoction made by grinding together a few peeled almonds, cardamom and sugar, God willing you will find it highly beneficial. I have tried this prescription myself.” 

Hazrat Mirza tried it and found it very beneficial indeed. He then started using it regularly during periods of mental enervation. Sometimes he would drink milk mixed with almond oil. His opponents seized even on this inno- cent medicinal use and started saying: “Mirza drinks almonds!” insinuating thathe was drinking crushed almonds for sensual pleasure. This is a most filthy allegation and a worse one is difficult to imagine.

Absurd objection against Hazrat Mirza’s diet by opponents

Regretfully, Hazrat Mirza’s opponents made many misstatements and false allegations against Hazrat Mirza’s diet and unleashed apropaganda that, “Mirza dines on pilaf, sweet saffron rice and other rich foods and delicacies.” This is totally incorrect, contradicts realityand is a grievous calumny. It is true that Hazrat Mirza did not refuse food that was wholesome. If a delicacy was served, he would partakeof it according to his need. He neither devoured it rav- enously as alleged by his accusers, nor did he refuse it like a monastic individual. TheHoly Quran has not forbidden the good things of life to the believers:

Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good provisions? (7:32)

However, it is mere slander that Hazrat Mirza used to daily dine upon the most elegant and choice meals. As a matter of fact, becauseof a delicate diges- tive system and mental fatigue, Hazrat Mirza simply could not have digested the lavish meals upon which hisadversaries allege that he dined daily. As men- tioned, Hazrat Mirza’s diet was very simple. He frequently just ate roti with lentils or curry.I personally witnessed Hazrat Mirza having his meals by just dipping pieces of a plain loaf of bread in broth or milk. Until such time thatthe number of guests surged, Hazrat Mirza used to dine with his guests and they too were witnesses of his diet. On occasion, if pilaf and sweetsaffron rice was pre- pared in honor of some respected guests, Hazrat Mirza would eat a few mouthfuls, but this does not mean that he waseating such meals on a daily basis.

Everyone makes special arrangements for guests

Our religious scholars and sheikhs frequently feast at parties where the hosts have prepared an extravagant fare for them. This does not mean that this is the regular daily diet of their hosts. Everyone is aware that even those who routinely eat a sparse meal try tolay out a lavish meal when they receive guests.

So if Hazrat Mirza had entertained his guests with some delicacies and had eaten with them, how does that lead to the conclusion that he dined regularly in that manner? Consider too these religious scholars who are con-stantly dining on lavish meals, but claim in public to live on very sparse diets. And when they are guests at other people’s houses, they want nothing but rich food and desserts. It is hard to comprehend how these people can have the audacity to so undeservedly pointfingers at Hazrat Mirza.

Companions of the Holy Prophet could not vie with the simplicity of the Prophet’s meals

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) led a life of great simplicity. This simple life encompassed an uncommon plain- ness of diet, clothing and lodging. The simplicity of hismeals was so remarkable that even the companions of Prophet Muhammad, as well as members of his household, could not meet thatstandard of simplicity.

On one occasion, Hazrat Imam Hasan (peace be upon him) and Hazrat Abdullah-ibn-Abbas went to Hazrat Umm Salama and said: “Prepare and feed us today the food that was most desirable to Prophet Muhammad.” She replied: “You will not like it.” Theyinsisted; thereupon she ground some barley into flour, put it in a pan on the stove and added some olive oil, cumin and black pepper. When the food was cooked, she put the dish before them and said: “This was Prophet Muhammad’s most favorite food.”1

Hazrat Umm Salama’s statement, “You will not like it,” shows clearly that even the Companions and members of the Prophet’s household could not eat the sim- ple food that was the daily fare of the Holy Prophet. Conditions had changed so much for the better for the Muslimcommunity that the simple meal of the Prophet was not cooked anymore and had to be specially ordered. Thus, the simplicity of theProphet’s diet was such that even the Companions and members of his own household could not meet that standard.

Prophet Muhammad had no disinclination for fine food and good clothes

Despite his great simplicity, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not refuse good food if it was presented to him. He would eat it happily. If somebody presented a good article of clothing, he would not cast it away, but instead wouldwear it graciously. 

In the Books of Hadith by Abu-Dawud, Muslim and Bukhari, it is recorded that Asma daugh- ter of Abu Bakr had a gown that the Prophet used to wear especially on Fridays or when he met delegations. This gown had a border of silk around the neck, sleeves and along the slits on both sides. The gown was a gift. Prophet Muhammad did not dispense with that gown but set an example for his followers by wearing it to public gatherings and meetings with important personalities, thereby establishing that a good dress is a mark of respect. Similarly, despite his simple diet, if a delicacy was presented to him, he would eat it and thank Allah for this blessing.

Allah has permitted the eating of pure foods

Allah has stated in the Holy Quran:

O ye messengers! Eat of the good things and do good. Surely I am Knower of what you do. (23:51)

It is eminently clear from this Quranic verse that the messengers of God are instructed to eat from good foods, and to do good deeds. The pur- pose of eating is the preservation of life, and the purpose of life is the performance of good deeds. So according to the injunction of God, the pur- pose of life is the performance of righteous deeds and this is equally applicable whether it is the messenger, his followers or his successors. And to fulfill this purpose, life has to be preserved by eating good things. So how can pure things be forbidden? Instead, it is incumbent to eat all good things needed to preserve the life of a pious person.

Saving the precious life of a pious person is God’s directive

The rationale for this directive is that it is of the utmost importance to preserve the life of a virtuous man so that the benefit of his good deeds may continue for humanity. In order to preserve such a life, it is necessary to pro- vide such a person with everything that is good and legally permissible regardless of its expense. There are only a few souls in the world who are a source of beneficence for humanity, and if such a soul exists, then his life is very precious indeed. In order to preserve the life of these precious individ- uals, it is the duty and a source of great reward for a wise individual to provide whatever food or medicines that are needed regardless of cost.

Consider Hazrat Mirza. He was engaged day and night in the service of Islam, and in a constant battle against all the false religions; he was producing hundreds of pages of literature for the protection, and propagation of Islam and he singlehandedly wrote, proofread and corrected his writings for publication; daily he read hundreds of letters and replied to many of them himself; he supervised the boarding and lodging of hundreds of guests, held discus- sions with delegations and made arrangements for their stay; he attended all prayers, and held daily sittings in the mosque which he addressed; he met scores of people daily and conversed with them on varied topics; he bore the brunt of incessant attacks by opponents and pursued litigation initiated by them; he accepted pledges and advised pledgees; he spent a good part of the night in prayers; on top of that, he was old in age and suffering from chronic ailments. 

In short, if such a person who was so heavily engaged in work, mental exertion and meditation and on top of that was of an advanced age, took some invigorating nutrition, for example almond oil, or ate fowl meat on the recommendation of doctors, can that be called eating for sensual pleasure or will it be called complying with God’s injunction — “Eat of the good things and do good”?

Is it not necessary under the Quranic injunction to leave no stone unturned to provide such a beneficial soul the best nutrition and medicines? Hazrat Mirza had developed neurasthenia i.e., mental and physical weakness because of excessive mental work. The result was that when Hazrat Mirza excessively exerted himself mentally, he would get insomnia and develop headaches and sometimes have such a severe attack thathis hand and feet would get cold and his pulse became imperceptible.

The use of musk at such times was beneficial because it is a tonic for the nerves that revives the patient. For this reason, Hazrat Mirza would normally keep a vial of musk with him. Because of this ailment, doctors had recommended a diet rich in fowl meat and fruits. Accordingly, Hazrat Mirza included these in his diet, but only in very moderate quantities.

Under these circumstances can Hazrat Mirza’s nutrition and the use of musk be considered objectionable? And is it not true that the nonuse of the required nutrition and medicines to preserve the life of such a beneficent person is a clear violationof the Quranic injunction, and a sin. In times of such dire necessity even things that are normally forbid- den become permissible; leave alone the use of perfectly permissible items such as almond oil and musk. 

Those who object to the use of such permissible items are ignorant and have no understanding of religion. No person who is learned in religion will ever raise such an objection. In fact, I would assert that, given the set of circumstances confronting Hazrat Mirza, it would have been sinful not to have made use of those items because Hazrat Mirza’s life was devoted to the doing of righteous deeds, and not to make every effort to preserve such a life would have been a clear violation of the Quranic injunc- tion. 

Hazrat Mirza’s life was such a great asset for Islam that even if the use of things far greater in value than almond oil and musk were needed to pro- long life, then their use would be a deed worthy of reward by Godand in line with the injunction “Eat of the good things.” One can ask why there arose a special need for God to give the directive “eat ofthe pure things.” The reason for this is that the presence in the world of God-appointed people is uncom- monly beneficial for mankind.

So the declaration in the Holy Quran for using such dietary items and medicines as are conducive to the physical upkeep of such peoplewas given to ensure that no justification or basis would be left for opponents and clerics to raise objections in this matter. Is there any person today who engages in intellectual exertion, and yet does not utilize all sorts of tonics and health foods for their beneficial effects?

The fact is that the leaders of the nation are so pampered that complete schedules of diet are established for them, and they are fed according to such schedules with the utmost care and solicitousness — the idea being to allow the leaders to recuperate from mental fatigue that naturally results from their daily intellectual endeavors. 

Many leaders eat the most delectable foods at the expense of the nation and the Muslims feed them happily for the simple reason that the life of the lead- ers is considered precious. Fresh and dried fruitsand juices of tangerines and grapes are provided daily to satisfy the gluttony of many Mahatmas (pious men), who claim to have renounced the world. The nation feeds them and feels grateful that the beneficial life of the Mahatma is thus preserved.

It is only wretched and unfortunate people who do not value the lives of beneficent people. Instead of benefitting from them, they raise objections against them and thereby deprive themselves of God’s blessings.

What is a greater misfortune and wretchedness than to forget Hazrat Mirza’s unflag- ging religious work, and instead to quibble about his use of musk, or a gifted reviving medication utilizedin dire situations when his pulse had plummeted dangerously and his hands and feet had turned cold. In other words, it is per- fectly permissible for a cleric or for that matter any ordinary person to use every kind of reviving medication and to eat every kind of strengthening food in order to save their useless lives, but if an individual who is serving and striving for Islam uses any of the same things to save his useful and blessed life, it is objectionable to these clerics.

Objection against Prophet Muhammad’s diet as well

It has been a tradition since time immemorial that evil people raise absurd objections against righteous people. The diet of our leader, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was such that a more simple diet cannot be imagined. Yet peopleobjected to Prophet Muhammad’s diet, and this objection is recorded in the Quran in the follow- ing words:

And they say: What a messenger is this? He eats food and goes about in the markets. (25:7)

In other words, when it was not possible to criticize the kind of food consumed, the opponents shifted their criticism to why he atefood at all. The fact is that when arrogance, pride, obstinacy, and prejudice form the basis of opposition, then even the best of things can become an occasion for criticism.

Is man not required to eat food to sustain life? Does he not need to go to the market for various jobs? Then what was the basis for this objection? It is an absurd objection that is neither just nor rational, but objectors will not shy awayfrom making objections regardless of how preposterous they are.

Islam is obedience to Allah, and Islam does not prescribe monastic asceticism

In the religion of Allah, pure food and clean clothes are not forbidden; Islam does not prescribe monasticism i.e., renouncing the world. Instead, Islam is the name of sacrificing one’s desires in obedience to the injunctions of Allah. 

It is ignorance to object to thedietary habits, dress or matrimony of an individual who is always ready to sacrifice his every desire for the sake of Allah and whose soleobject is to please Allah. Such individuals, who devote themselves entirely to Allah and seek his pleasure to the point where no action of theirs is outside the injunctions of Allah, have killed their desires and live in complete devotion to Him. This condition is described in the books of Hadith as a state in which God becomes their tongue with which they speak and He becomes their hands withwhich they work and so on.

A saint’s words and actions are in accordance with God’s commandments

Every word and deed of those who have attained nearness to Allah and have become one with Him is in accordance with the injunctions of God. They eat when God feeds them, they drink when God gives them to drink, and when they marry, they do so under the directive of God.

In short, none of their actions is dictated by their personal desires but is executed in com- pliance with an injunction of God. Extrapolating from personal referential knowledge, a worldly clergyman, or an Arya Hindu, or an ignorant clericmight object why a prophet or saint eats food, or why he ate a certain delec- table food, or why he married?

The fact is that every action of a prophet or saint is in accordance with the pleasure of God. Unlike a worldly person, their desire is not the motivating force behindtheir deeds. This is the distinc- tion between a worldly man and a saint – their acts are the same but their motivation is different; aworldly man acts to satisfy his physical desire but a saint acts to seek the pleasure of God and his own desires are not part of the equation.

A worldly man eats and drinks and weds in the pursuit of per- sonal desire, while a man of God eats and drinks and weds to fulfill the injunctions of God. It is possible that a superficial observer may not be able to discern any distinction between the two, but infact there is a world of dif- ference, because one is acting out of personal desire while the other is acting under the command of God. Maulana Rumi, the famous Persian Sufi saint has expressed this in a poem in his work (Mathnavi):

Do not measure the actions of holy men by (the analogy of) yourself, Though sher (lion) and shir (milk) are similar in writing.2

Islam provides a pathway to salvation by complete devotion

God has expressed the essence of the preceding discussion in the Quranic verses:

Say: My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are sure- ly for Allah, the Lord of the worlds — No associate has He. And this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit. (6:162-3)

The excellence to which Islam can raise a person is reflected in the preceding verses. When a person renders all sorts of sacrifices for God,and when he sac- rifices all the wishes of his self in the way of Allah, and puts his life fully in His service to act always in accordancewith His pleasure, then after this anni- hilation of his self (known in Sufi terminology as fana), he is given a new existence in which his life and death are all for Allah (known in Sufi termi- nology as baqa). This stage of man’s spiritual excellence, in its most complete form, was granted to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The devoted and obedient followers of Prophet Muhammad can also reach various levels in these stages (fana and baqa) according to their respective ability. This is the status of nearness to Allah and of sainthood which when attained, leads to the death of one’s desires and all his words and actions then occur completely in accordance with the pleasure of Allah.

Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani’s fine garments

Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani was an outstanding saint, yet he dressed well and ate good food. Sheikh Abdul Haq, muhaddith of Delhi, made the following observation regarding Syed Gilani in his book Akhbar Al-Akhyar Fi Asrar- al-Abrar:

He wore elegant clothes. One day, his servant Abul Fazal went to the cloth-seller and said: “I want to buy cloth that is priced exactly at one dinar per yard; neither more nor less.” The cloth-seller inquired: “On whose behalf are you purchasing the cloth?” Abul Fazal replied: “It is for the sheikh himself, Muhiyy-ud-Din Abdul Qadir.”

Following this, the thought crossed the cloth-seller’s mind that the Sheikh had even outdone the Caliph in the finery of his dress. So he went to see the Sheikh about this. Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani told him: “Why do you criticize me? I would not have worn these clothes unless God Himself had not told me, ‘O Abdul Qadir wear cloth that is one dinar per yard.’” The Sheikh then added: “For people like myself the dress is in the nature of a shroud that we wear after putting our self through a thousand deaths.”

Similarly, in the book Kitab-Al-Juwahir-Al-Murziyya, it is stated regarding Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani that: “In accordance with the saying of jurists and theologians, ‘Possess the virtues of a true Dervish and then you may wear, if you like, a Tartar felt instead of a cloth cap,’3 he wore a match- ing turban, cloak and a shawl. His dress was always expensive, exquisite and clean. Generally, he would ride on a mule.” This citation shows that many great religious leaders, jurists, and theologians of Islam worefine and elegant clothes. And why should they have not worn them? What was the reason for not wearing them when God Himself says:

Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good provisions? (7:32)

What is forbidden is to worship at the altar of worldly desires and to make them the sole objective of life. However, as mentioned above,these men of God have already killed their worldly desires. All the activities that they undertake by virtue of being human, such as eating,drinking, dressing and marrying, are undertaken to please Allah and their own self does not figure in it.

Hazrat Mirza’s state of mental absorption and inattention to food and clothing

We have witnessed Hazrat Mirza with our own eyes. He was so totally engrossed in the remembrance of Allah, and so engaged in the service of Islam, that he had no awareness of what he was eating or wearing. He sub- missively ate whatever food was cooked and served to him, and if none was served, he would not ask for it. His household took special care to send him his food because they knew that he was so absorbed and engaged that he would not ask for it himself. If they forgot to send the food, he would go hun- gry. He nevercomplained on such occasions as to why care was not taken to send him food when he was the master of the house. Whether the food was tasty or not, he would eat it. He expressed no exuberance if the meal was delicious and no displeasure if it was not.

Hazrat Mirza was once engrossed in writing a book, seated on the floor. A maid servant brought his food and after announcing that she had brought the food, she left it on the floor near him and went away. However, the maid’s entrance and exit did not register with Hazrat Mirza. Perchance a stray dog entered the room, ate all the food that had been served and went on its way. Hazrat Mirza did not notice this either.

After some time, the maid servant returned and finding the food all gone, assumed that Hazrat Mirza had eaten his meal. She picked up the utensils and left. Again Hazrat Mirza did not notice her. He went hungry at that meal time, but did not think much of it. Later, at the time of the Zuhr (afternoon) prayer, someone asked him if he had eaten lunch and it was found out that he had not eaten. Investigation then revealed that a dog had eaten his food. Hazrat Mirza laughed and said: “I will just have dinner in theevening.”

I pose a simple question for his critics: Is this the way of the food lovers to get so utterly engrossed in the service of religion as to forget about their food? Mealtime for a gourmet is a special time for which many arrange- ments are made. Their kitchens are astir with the preparation of many kinds of food and they look forward to mealtime much as a fasting person looks forward to seeing the Eid crescent.

In contrast, despite Hazrat Mirza’s round the clock preoccupation with the mentally exacting work of writing and publishing, and hundreds of other activities, long hours of prayers, worship and remembrance of Allah, and ser- mons and didactic discourses, there was no special arrangement for his diet that would provide him with food that was especially nutritious for his brain and heart. Hazrat Mirza paid no attention to such matters, and therefore did not have special repasts prepared for himself. 

His incessant mental occupation had taken a toll on his digestive system which, in any case, was unable to digest rich and greasy foods. For this reason, he ate simpleand easily digestible foods; mostly this was roti with lentils or gravy. If he experienced exceptional physical weakness, then he would eat a small serving of fowl meat and sip some broth, or perhaps the extract of almonds. His intake of food was very small and limited in variety.

Sometimes he had no inclination for food at all, but on the insistence of his family, he would say: “Eat your food before me;perhaps that may create an inclination in me to eat as well because it is human nature for a person to want to eat when he sees others eating.”

In the matter of dress, it was the same story. If someone brought him good quality garments, he would wear them; if not, he would wear whatever was available. He never expressed any desire for any special kind of clothes. This was not a matter worthy of his attention. During the pursuit of the civil suit involving Maulvi Karam-ud-Din, Hazrat Mirza had taken up temporary residence in Gurdaspur.

As was his wont, he would go and pray in a room specially reserved for the purpose before leaving his residence for the court. One day Hazrat Mirza was in the prayer room prior to his departure for the court while his party which included, among others, Maulvi Muhammad Ali and Zulfiqar Ali Khan waited for him outside the room. Maulvi Muhammad Ali was holding Hazrat Mirza’swalking stick. 

When Hazrat Mirza came out of the room after praying, Maulvi Muhammad Ali presented him with his walking stick. Hetook the stick in his hand and asked: “Whose walking stick is this?” Maulvi Muhammad Ali replied: “Sir! It is yours; it is the one that you carry.” Hazrat Mirza commented: “Really! I thought this was not mine.” This was the same walking stick that Hazrat Mirza had always used.

But such was his absorption in matters of consequence to him that he had never taken a good look at his walking stick tobe able to recognize it. Hazrat Mirza portrayed his own state of preoccupation most accurately in the following verses:

Do not speak to me of heaven or hell;

Because I spend my life as a man who is nearly deranged with sorrow and concern for the religion of Muhammad.

Betel leaf and hookah

Hazrat Mirza’s wife was from Delhi, a city with a long tradition of eat- ing betel leaves and she had picked up the custom as well.But Hazrat Mirza was not in the habit of eating betel leaf. On rare occasions, if someone in his house offered him a betel leaf and HazratMirza happened to be suffering from a cough or cold or felt he needed a heart tonic, he would eat it; otherwise not.

Hazrat Mirza greatly disliked the hookah and use of tobacco. This was the reason most Ahmadis gave up the use of hookah. Initially, there was no hookah in the guesthouse, and guests who were addicted to the hookah had to go elsewhere in search of it and frequently ended up in the gatherings at the residence of Mirza Nizam-ud-Din.

When Hazrat Mirza learned about this, he instructed a servant to place a hookah in the guesthouse so that the guests may not be inconvenienced. But the fact is that disciples cannot remain uninfluenced by their leader; seeing Hazrat Mirza’s great disdain for hookah, they relinquished its use.

As a matter of fact, one of his disciples composed a poem deriding the hookah and read it out to Hazrat Mirza, hoping to pleasehim. The poem was replete with the vices of hookah. It was Hazrat Mirza’s custom to give a sympathetic ear to his disciples’ poems orother narrations regardless of how poor their quality in order to encourage them. After hearing this poem, Hazrat Mirza laughed and said:

How great is the difference between the word of God and the word of man. God has greatly abhorred intoxicants and gambling in the Quran, but nonetheless has stated: “…their sin is greater than their advantage” (2:219). In other words, the Quran has admitted some advantages in it. But when a man starts criticizing the hookah, he sees no benefit in it at all.

Washing hands after meals

Hazrat Mirza would generally wash his hands prior to meals, and always washed his hands after eating the meals. He wouldthen dry his hands with a clean cloth or towel. Certain clerics are known to wipe their greasy hands with their beards. HazratMirza always refrained from such acts. After the meals, he would use a toothpick but only in seclusion; he disliked using the toothpick in public.

Footnotes

  1. This incident is narrated in the book Sirat-un-Nabi, by Maulana Shibli
  2. Translation by R. Nicholson. See volume II, verse 263, p. 18 in the edition of this transla- tion of The Masnawi published by Luzac & Co., London, 1926. In Persian the words shér (lion) and shír (milk) differ only in one vowel.
  3. Gulistan by Saadi, Chapter 8.

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