Abba Ji

57 Man's hand holding child's hand rotateMost frequently dressed in his off-white ‘bosky’ Shalwar Kameez, having grayish-silver hair marking his experience; a broad forehead, indicative of his intelligence and his ever-loving, kind heart; my father, whom my siblings and I addressed as “Abba,” was the man I loved the most. To date, no-one has been able to replace him in my life! He was dignity personified. A rare combination of knowledge, creativity, humility and generosity; Abba was an epitome of fatherhood. I am fortunate to be his daughter, Alhamdulillah!

Even though my elder brother was born following the birth of three sisters, Abba revealed to my mother only at his birth, that he had thought of his son’s name, since the time my mother was expecting their first child. He never disclosed this earlier, in order not to make my mother feel inferior in any way that she had given birth to three daughters in a row!

My father was a walking-talking encyclopedia, Masha’Allah. He could speak well on politics, business, current affairs, homeopathy, literature and medicine with equivalent ease and fluency. He knew several languages including Persian and Arabic. He was an outstanding orator and a very good writer. He wrote several columns for newspapers and also poetry in his spare time. He was very sociable and was known for his amiable demeanor and respectable manners in his wide circle of friends. He was on the managing committee panel in some of the most respectable clubs of Karachi. His friends were intellectual people: poets, columnists and journalists. He was an intuitive and diligent person – completely self-made!

Abba saw several peaks and dips in his professional career as a businessman. Nevertheless, he stood consistent and persevered with faith in Allah (swt) and hope in his hard work. He was an extremely respected individual among friends and relatives alike. He had an amazing sense of humour and he thought of everyone else around him first, before himself.

Abba was a mentor to all of us. He would guide us with our studies, career choices and even tell us which books to read. I owe my hobbies of reading and writing to him. I became a successful debater in my college life, owing to his guidance. He would listen to my debates and add his insightful thoughts to those. I became the editor of the annual college magazine, only because of the love of literature that he had instilled in me. I read Iqbal, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Faiz, Ghalib, Faraz, Shakespeare, Sidney Sheldon and the like at a young age, because of the precious books in our library at home.

Abba was a kind-hearted individual. He taught us by example to be kind towards animals, not just human beings. To-date I remember his routine of going out in the balcony, every morning and calling for the birds to eat, while he would throw seeds for them and say “Chalaa” (come here). Within minutes there would be hundreds of birds surrounding him. I owe my love for animals to him. My youngest son has adopted the same from me, Alhamdulillah.

Abba never differentiated between his sons and daughters. He taught all his daughters self-reliance and independence. He taught us how to drive as soon as we reached our legal age, and emphasized on the completion of our graduation before marriage. He wanted us to be equipped with the right tools of education, so that we become a helping hand to our husbands in times of financial need (god forbid). He made sure that we learned cooking so that we could always be in a position to serve our husbands and families well. He kept an eye on all of us and never allowed any of my siblings, to be outside the house after Maghrib.

Abba’s intellect was evident from everything related to him. His graceful walk, his dignified personality, his kind speech, his out-of-the-box thinking, his untiring hard work, his dedicated contributions to Urdu literature and its promotion in clubs through different programs that he would organize, his loving nature, his caring attitude towards his family and his protective suggestions for all his children.

Abba was a true friend of our entire family. When he was advised a heart bypass surgery by his cardiologist years before he died, he chose his family over his treatment. He didn’t want to go for the operation, despite the severe blockade that was diagnosed. He did not want to spend his hard earned savings on his treatment. I was very young then, but my older siblings along with my mother forced him to go for the surgery. However, he kept procrastinating. Clearly, it was a sacrifice on his part, to secure our financial future.

There are so many moments that I can recall which make me yearn for my father. There were days, when I had severe ear ache and my father would make me sleep with him. While I lay on his wide chest, right next to my mom and him; failing to tolerate the unbearable pain, tears would flow down my cheeks. He would be up the whole night, caressing my ears and forehead, just so I could sleep for a while.

My father had a strange way of making each one of us feel special. He would call all six of us siblings separately and try to convince us that the one he was talking to was his favorite child. I don’t have a daughter, but, Alhamdulillah, I am a mother to three wonderful sons. I often wonder, if I had a daughter, would my husband have the same loving relation with her? I doubt it though. Not that my husband is not caring enough; of course, he has his ways of showing the kids how much he loves them, but it’s just that possibly no daughter in the world sees a better father than her own in anyone.

As I read the stories of Fatima (ra) taking care of her father, in times when her father Prophet Muhammad (sa) faced the worst calamities of his life, such as Khadija (ra) death; the death of his uncle Abu Talib, the humiliation at the hands of disbelievers in the form of extreme enmity, and other instances, where she tended to his wounds devotedly, at a young age; it all makes me realize that I wasn’t able to do anything tangible for my father really. If only I could have him back, I would serve him, and take care of him and just take his Duas to earn some good deeds for my Akhirah. No doubt, there’s absolutely no comparison of my relationship with that of Fatima’s (ra) with her father; however, every daughter wants to be the apple of her father’s eye and more, when she is a mother herself.

Whenever I read this Hadeeth, “The best of you is the best to his family, and I am the best of you to my family” (Tirmidhi), I say a Dua for my father, for being the best parent in the world, Alhamdulillah.

Abba stood by all of us, as a shelter from this cruel world. He visited his mother every week and sometimes, when our grandmother would come and stay with us, he would spend a lot of time with her and teach us to be kind to her, too. We had to bear many losses after my father’s sad demise. We experienced great financial losses in Abba’s business, and soon after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sometimes I wonder, Allah (swt) was really kind that even though Abba left us suddenly, all my sisters were married to wonderful people, who became our mentors (may Allah (swt) bless them all). My older brother, who was only 22 years old at that time, became my guardian and took the responsibility of my marriage and my younger brother’s education. Alhamdulillah, we all managed to go through tough times, because of the close bonding of the family, which no one else, but Abba instilled in all of us.

Since I was young, I wanted a husband as caring and loving as my father was. It is but natural to fall in love with the first man of your life and to want a husband, who is as compassionate and caring as your father. It is a woman’s psychology to keep searching in her husband, what she has seen in her father. After all, he is the ultimate and exclusive source of pure love and sincere understanding in this world; whom Allah (swt) has made a guardian upon us.

There have been times when I have felt lonely, misunderstood or under-estimated. In those moments, I have yenned to be a child again. I have imagined Abba giving me a pat on my shoulder, a warm hug, a sincere advice, a friendly talk, a consoling response!  However, I know that now it is my turn to become a consolation for my parents and to prove my sincere love for them. I try to make lots of Duas for both of them, and I request my dear readers to join me in saying Ameen to all these Duas for our parents, living or dead. May Allah (swt) enable us to do good deeds, be the coolness of the eyes and a means of Sadaqah-e-Jariah for our parents. May He give our parents, who are alive, a long, happy and healthy life full of Iman and those, who have departed, may they attain the highest ranks in Jannnat ul Firdaus.

“Rabbir ham humakamarabbayanisagheera.” (My Lord! Bestow on them (both my parents) your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.) (Al-Isra 17:24)

The Prophet (sa) and his Daughters


Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad (sa)) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

“And We have sent you (O Muhammad (sa)) not but as a mercy for the Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists)….” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)

Without doubt, one of the greatest gifts Allah (swt) has given to the believers is perfect guidance, which Muslims can follow with the assurance that it will not lead to a dead end. This guidance is the last revelation – the Noble Quran – and the way of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who practically showed us the religion of Allah Almighty (swt) and explained it in great detail, as is mentioned by Abu Zarrah (rtam): “When the Prophet of Allah left us, we had all the knowledge (even) about every bird which flies above us.”(Ibn Hibban)

One of the most important aspects of every person’s life is the relationship with one’s children. Let us see what our Prophet’s (sa) conduct was as a father.

According to one of the opinions, the Prophet (sa) had three sons: Al-Qasim, Abdullah (At-Tahir) and Ibrahim – and four daughters: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom and Fatimah, whom he called Az-Zahra (the flower). The daughters outlived his sons and they were from his first wife, Khadijah (rtaf). It must also be mentioned that most reports about the Prophet’s (sa) relationship with his daughters date back to the Madinah period – the time, when all of them were of full age and already married. This is due to the fact that most knowledge about his private life came through his wives, all of which, except Khadijah (rtaf), he married either shortly before Hijrah or after it. Most reports came through Aisha (rtaf), who has narrated more than two thousand Ahadeeth, which constitute the fourth largest source from among the Sahabahs.

Pondering over the reason Allah (swt) gave to the Prophet (sa) so many daughters that outlived his sons, the scholars are of the opinion that it was so in order to show that he did not rely on his sons, as was a custom among the Arabs of the time, and in order to confront the Jahiliyah tradition of hating daughters.

The Prophet (sa) was overjoyed about the birth of his daughters, unlike the neglectful attitude Arabs had towards their daughters. This proved that there is no reason to worry about the birth of daughters, and that the Rizq of every person is with Allah (swt). The Rizq does not decrease because of the number of children or the birth of daughters. The Prophet (sa) also has said that a person who will raise two righteous daughters will stand next to him on the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

All of the Prophet’s (sa) daughters were born before his prophethood; therefore, when the command of Allah (swt) came (“And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (sa)) of near kindred.” (Ash-Shuara 26:214)), the Prophet (sa) ascended the mount of Safa and called his tribe to Islam: “Oh, the people of Quraish, ransom yourselves – nothing else will help you in front of Allah (swt),” and also his daughters: “Oh, Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, ask me how much you wish of my money but it will not help you in front of Allah (swt).” (Bukhari) All of his daughters accepted Islam and later migrated to Madinah.

The Prophet (sa) did not delay the marriages of his daughters, choosing for them husbands who were known for their wisdom and sharp mind (like Abu al-As ibn al-Rabia, to whom he gave his eldest daughter Zaynab), or their Iman and shyness (like future Khalifah Uthman ibn Affan – a man in front of whom even angels felt shy and to whom he gave two of his daughters: Ruqayyah and after her death, Umm Kulthoom). After the death of his second daughter, the Prophet (sa) gave a brief description of this righteous man: “If I had a third daughter, I would give her to Uthman in marriage.” (Al-Asbahani)

He gave his youngest daughter Fatimah (rtaf) in marriage to Ali ibn Abu Talib (rtam), who stood at the forefront in almost all of the important battles of the Muslims. The Prophet (sa) respected his daughters and never forced husbands of his choice upon them. He always sought their opinion. After Ali (rtam) had asked for Fatimah’s (rtaf) hand in marriage, he informed her about it in a subtle way: “Ali mentioned you.” Fatimah’s shy silence was a sign of her acceptance, and they were married. (Ibn Sad)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) tried to help in solving the marital problems of his daughters and encouraged happiness and harmony among the spouses. One day, having come to visit his youngest daughter, the Prophet (sa) did not find Ali (rtam) there. When he found out that they had had a small marital argument, the Prophet (sa) went in search of him and found Ali (rtam) in the Masjid, where he was sleeping on the floor. Carefully clearing away the soil from Ali’s (rtam) face, he woke him up, in order to help the couple make up. (Bukhari)

When the Prophet (sa) saw the necklace of his deceased wife, Khadijah (rtaf), which was sent from Makkah by his daughter Zaynab as ransom for her husband, Abu al-As, who had not yet converted to Islam, he could not remain indifferent. He asked the permission of Muslims to release his daughter’s husband and let him go back to her to Makkah. He received their permission. (Abu Dawood)

When the Muslim army went out for their first decisive battle against the disbelievers of Makkah, the Prophet (sa) left Uthman ibn Affan (rtam) in Madinah with his daughter Ruqayyah (rtaf), who was ill at the time, thus showing by this action that caring for relatives is of utmost importance in any situation.

Yet, at the same time, he did not give his daughters any privileges, which would raise them above other Muslims. He said about his youngest daughter, who resembled him like no one else in the way she spoke and walked: “I swear by Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, would steal, I would cut off her arm.” (Bukhari)

One day, the Prophet (sa) noticed Fatimah (rtaf) entering his home. Since there were guests in the Prophet’s (sa) home, she left straight away. The next day, he went to visit her, in order to inquire why she had come. Fatimah (rtaf) did not say anything, but Ali (rtam) explained that he had requested her to ask from him a servant. Due to the hard work, the skin on her hands had become very rough; due to sweeping the floor, her clothes were dirty. To this, the Prophet (sa) answered: “Oh Fatimah, fear Allah (swt) and fulfil your duties in front of your Lord by doing the household chores. But when you go to sleep, recite Subhan’Allah thirty-three times, Alhumdulillah thirty-three times and Allahu Akbar thirty-four times, together one hundred, and this will be better for you than having a servant in your home.” (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (sa) did not try to gift the Dunya to his daughters. He always pointed to the importance of the Akhira, especially when there was a choice between the two. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah has analyzed that the one who will recite the above mentioned Dhikr before sleeping will not be overcome by tiredness, because the Prophet (sa) presented it as a solution to this particular complaint. It should also be mentioned that the Prophet (sa) himself, being the best among people, never looked down upon household chores and always helped his wives. This was narrated by his youngest wife Aisha (rtaf), when she was asked about what the Prophet (sa) would do while he was at home: “He did house chores together with his family, but when the time for Salah arrived, he went to the Masjid.” (Bukhari)

May Allah (swt) help us appreciate and emulate the Prophet’s (sa) example and reap unaccountable benefits resulting from it. Ameen.