“Allah apko asanian ata farmae or asanian taqseem karnay ka sharf ata farmae” - Ashfaq Ahmed

Few days ago I read this on the tombstone of Ashfaq Ahmed. At first, I felt the words to be quite simple and couldn’t relate anything special to them. The words didn't trigger any further thought in me. And it took me a while but I did find the specialty in them. I watched some of his shows, Zavia and Baithak, which had aired on PTV. In these talks, Ashfaq Ahmed explains complicated issues in a very simple and comforting manner. After watching the shows I found the sentence to be in fact a brilliant one line summary of many of the talks he gave.

Let’s explore these words through examples with in us and around. All our efforts don’t bring an instant success with them. And matters don’t always end up as we imagined them to be. This naturally brings a down feel. These feels if left unchecked add up and translate into disappointments. These disappointments without realization turn our thoughts to be quite negative. A feel as if one had been hitting his head against the wall. And if it slips to the worst part then the worst feel of all kicks in, life was never fair to me. Ashfaq Ahmed words “Allah apko asanian ata farmae” is an excellent counter to these developing negative thoughts. By saying and believing it one instantly sets himself to focus on the bright side and tends not to lose focus. The importance of staying positive is better understood by combing it with the second half “asanian taqseem karnay ka sharf ata farmae”. Summing the case, the tendency to excel and making an impact depends on handling one's own nerves and mental state. Since a troubled mind won’t be in a position to have a positive influence around.

Consider some patterns from around. We find some with the persona to positively attract attention even in large gathering. Others have a personality where people find a relaxing feel in their company, a sense of security. And the ones with the magical smile and a pure laugh, full of life. A comfort for those around. A common source appears to be empowering these traits, positivity! Optimism and positive attitudes act like a binding force, holding together one’s qualities in place. Without which the colors of his personality of which he calls his skills, achievements and knowledge would fall apart over time. Shattered and unorganised. Just as anything without a binding force breaks apart against the external pressures.

In this regard, Abdul Sattar Edhi is perhaps one of the finest example of “not letting it lose” and “moving on”. He was brought up with minimum finances and held no formal degree. Neither had the leverage to be born in a high-up family. He didn’t perhaps have the resources we wrongly believe to matter the most for success. But he had the right persona needed to do the job. I call Edhi Sahab a “social entrepreneur”. He built one of the largest privately-owned philanthropist organisations. Hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, ambulances, cold storage, burial services, technical coaching centers, orphanage, widow shelter homes and disaster management teams. Meanwhile he lost his own son at the same organization due to negligence of one of the volunteers. In the same Edhi Center in which he was working to give a quality life to the disowned and disabled children of the country’s largest city. I bet you have already assumed before reading further that Edhi would have forgiven. You are correct here, he did forgive. It’s worth mentioning here that he did all of this while his home city, Karachi was suffering from daily massacre and a failing infrastructure. Odds weren’t favorable for him but they alone weren’t the ones deciding the outcome.

A while back, I watched an interview of him and his wife. His wife Bilquis Edhi expressed her frustration of the “system”. Just like we mostly do out of depression and anger. Then at the same time she made a confession that caught my attention. She said “Edhi Sahab hamesha achi omeed he rhaktay hein”. Probably this was the magical formula that kept him going through all that came at him. A genius he was!

The second part of the sentence “asanian taqseem karnay ka sharf ata farmae” states the ability to spread the good. A social service and zakat of one’s skills and knowledge. Ashfaq Ahmed used the word “sharf” meaning the ability to spread or teach good is a skill itself, either born with or developed through hard work. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily come with the success that one owns for himself. The individual may be a success story in his own standing but at same time either is of little worth to around him or even may be a source of disruption.

The best example I have read so far is of an incident related to Hazrat Hassan and Hussain (RA). It helps in understanding the importance of “sharf” or “ability” on top of holding “asanian” or “good”. Both brothers were performing wudu in Medina when an elder came and started performing wudu near them. The brothers realised that the elder wasn’t performing wudu correctly. At this stage the brothers came up with a plan which communicated the intended message effectively and retained the self-respect of the elder too. They went to the elder and said, “My brother and I disagree over who amongst us performs wudu the best.  Would you mind watching us make wudu and be the judge to see which one of us indeed performs wudu correctly?  Could you please correct us wherever we are wrong?” The elder agreed and watched them carefully trying to judge who is better. The brothers performed wudu under his supervision, one after the other. When they had finished, the elder realized the wudu done by the brothers was correct. The message was conceived by the elder and had served its true purpose of improvement.

Ibn Umar (RA) reported that Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people."