Visitors to this blog will know that I have posted a number of pieces on the life and teachings of Qudratullah Shahab (ra) in the past and I can say (based on the feedback I get) that these posts of been very popular with people. To my mind this is an indication of the immense impact that people like Shahab sahib have had on generations of Pakistanis since the mid-eighties at least. The fondness and reverence with which people remember Shahab sahib is also (to me at least) a reflection of the this verse of the Indian poetess Hina Timuri:

Khusboo ke tarah pehl gaya kainat mein

Us nein jise bhi zikr ke qabil samjh liya

However occasionally I also hear from people who want to prove that we’re all a bunch of enthusiasts who have got it horribly wrong about Shahab sahib. In their view Shahab sahib was just a scheming bureaucrat who helped to prop up various dictatorships during his days of service or at best a very worldly man who allowed various myths about himself (e.g his sufi connection) to be propagated  due to a taste for self adulation. Most of these people have great difficulty in squaring a very active outer life with an inner spiritual life. Here’s a comment by a recent visitor which is quite typical of this mentality :

“I dont want to be disrespectful, but Shahab Sahib was a very much worldly person and left property of crores in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and London. I don’t understand why did he not give any of that away as charity. His son has moved to Canada about 14 years back, for no specific reason. He had all one needs here in Pakistan. He has sold all of his property and taken this money to live comfortably in Canada. So much for for the son of waliullah and his teachings.”

Now I for one don’t know the extent of  Shahab sahib’s wealth and assets at the time of his death but is it really relevant? Must a sufi (or wali if you prefer) always be poor? Is it wrong for the offspring of such a person to sell their property and move elsewhere? Should such a person be judged by the actions of his children? A moments reflection should suffice to show just how confused and meaningless such accusations actually are.

The awliya appear in many guises and one of their greatest disguises is the cloak of human ordinariness. It is the truly fortunate who are blessed with seeing beyond it. As for the majority, their response from time immemorial has been the same: ” nay, you are but a mortal like us!”

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