[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
A very interesting story from the Indian war of independence stands out as a milestone about Islamic Akhlaq (character); It shows how saving the life of a British lady and preserving her modesty and chastity, helped to save their own lives.
Meerut is a city , a short distance away from Delhi. There was a rebellion against the British government. It turned bloody with loot and killing stretching upto Delhi. It was not a revolution announced by any king or any religious leader, but some groups had taken over it all upon themselves. It was during the times of Muhaddith Miya Nazir Hussain Dehlvi, a prominent scholar of Hadith who was known as the greatest scholar on the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ of his time. He was from Bihar, and a student of Shah Is’haq Dehlvi and after the latter migrated, Nazir Hussain took over the charge of Madarasa. It is said that he had taught hadith for 70 years and around eight million people were his audience altogether. Jam’ea Shari’yah was considered to be the largest University of Islamic studies in those days. He is also credited to have initiated the publications and public teachings of hadith in the sub continent.
One day, he was walking along with one of his students. Suddenly they heard a cry of pain. Both of them looked around and found a British lady, badly injured lying in a pit. As the two bearded men approached her, she got scared and started pleading to them to spare her. She thought that they were the killers in her persuit. Miya Nazeer shouted at her from far and assured her not to fear them. “Do not worry, we are Muslims.” He used his religious identity to drive away the fear of the British lady.
The situation in the city was grim with more British and Muslims killing each other and there was chaos in the city. The lady was trembling with fear but Miya Nazeer said, “Our Prophet ﷺ has taught us the rules of war and we are not supposed to kill or harm the women, children, sick, old or unarmed people.” Then he requested her to remain quiet as he too feared that the killers might be around, hunting for her. These comforting words gave assurance to the British lady. On one hand, the British army was on a killing spree of Muslims in Delhi, and here, there was a Muslim assuring a British lady her safety just because his religion taught him so. He offered to take the lady to his own house for treatment because her injuries were serious. The lady seemed to have been lying in the pit for a long time, was badly injured and was unable to walk. She showed her concern by expressing her fear; “If the rebels come to know that you are harboring a British, then you too can be in trouble. I cannot even walk.” They told her to lie low till the sun set while both men sat at a distance to come to her help if need be.
When the sun set, Miya Nazeer carried her on his shoulder and the two men took her to his house. It was a dangerous step because the rebellious mood in the city was so tense that anyone found harbouring a British and sympathising with them, would be facing the wrath of rebels.
Yet these two men took a grave risk to save the life of the woman as implemention of the Islamic teachings they had been taught.. They moved in the dark lanes of the town without anyone noticing them and finally reached the house of Miya Nazeer. He instructed his wife to take utmost care of the British lady and treat her well. The obedient wife, her daughter and her daughters-in-law swung into action as medicos. They washed and dressed her wounds and gave their own clothes to her. It took them almost the whole night to get that done.
By then, the news of someone saving the British lady reached the rebels, and they started searching for her. A group of them knocked at his door around midnight. They kept thumping the door. Everyone in the house was afraid as they had provided refuge to the lady of their enemies. They managed to hide her beneath the huge pile of dry dung, which was used as wood in oven. It was in the room upstairs. Once the main door was opened, some fifteen men barged in and started a search for their enemy but nobody found her, nor did anyone check the pile of dry dung even though they went in that room. They left without finding her.
The hospitality lasted for three months. She was nursed back to health and her modesty and honour were upheld. No man was allowed to enter the room where she stayed. Only the ladies of the house took care of her.
The British lady had now recovered completely. She had lived with a Muslim family for three months and saw the true Islamic virtues in her hosts. One day, Miya Nazeer took her to the British colony and saw her off. The story does not end here. One cannot even perceive how many calamities can be driven away by such charities.
Abu Hurrairah (May Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “Good deeds never go in vain. Allah preserves them and they come back to you when you need them.” In the same way, even evil deeds do not end up without evil results.
The tide turned and the British recovered the dominance over Delhi. It was decided to kill all the religious scholars of Muslim community in order to prevent another rebellion in future. Men were dragged out of their homes and hanged publicly. Miya Nazeer was one of those arrested and sentenced to death. He, along with hundreds of others, waited for his turn to be executed. One after another, the names were called out and then the person was either hanged or shot dead. A man came and recognised Miya Nazeer. He pleaded on his behalf saying that he was a poor man and did not deserve to be hanged. The British officer removed his handcuffs and made Miya Nazeer sit aside. It was a close shave from death. He came back safe and sound, right from the clutches of death.
Few months later, one of the brothers-in-law of Miya Nazeer, Abdul Qadeer Dehlvi was arrested by the British, because of a wrong information provided by one of his enemies. He too, was sentenced to death along others. Even the time of execution was announced. His family wept for the whole day. The executioner had yet to arrive. While the captives were waiting for death and the preparation was under way, they saw two horse riders galloping fast towards them. They thought it was the executioner who was arriving. The time was quite tense for the captives. One of the rider stepped down. It was the same British lady who had been saved by Miya Nazeer. She exclaimed, “Why is Abdul Qadeer here among the captives?” She was told that he was among those who had been sentenced to death and they were now waiting for the executioner. She wrote down on a paper, “WAIT FOR ME” and fixed it along with her hat on the tree meant to execute captives. She then galloped away faster than she had come. People were amazed and so were the British officers. It was then the executioner arrived and he saw the hat and the message written, “WAIT FOR ME.” It was a symbol of a high ranked officer. The executioner was surprised but he had no options except to wait.
Soon they saw a buggy being pulled by few horses rushing towards the place. In it was the entire family of Abdul Qadeer including women folk. Some people even thought that the entire family might be executed together. But it was not so. The British lady screamed, “Who ordered to execute Abdul Qadeer?” Then she then informed everyone of the kindness of Miya Nazeer’s family that they had shown to her, “I know this Abdul Qadeer and his entire family. I benefitted from their hospitality during my stay in their house for three months. While other British women were molested and killed by the rebels, this family saved my life and nursed my wounds. This old lady, the mother of Abdul Qadeer was the main lady who helped me like a mother. I cannot break her heart today. That is why I had ordered to wait for me” Abdul Qadeer was set free. She did not allow any of the family members to go home. She took them to her camp and honoured them with a full fledged dinner. She appreciated and was grateful that her modesty and honour were protected at their place.
Now it was time to deal with the informer who gave false information against the innocent Abdul Qadeer. He was sentenced to death but Abdul Qadeer intervened and requested to pardon him. The British lady said, “His sin is grievous and though we pardon him from death sentence, yet he will be not allowed to enter Delhi for the next two years.”