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Ghulam Azam - A Loving Father

Written By: salmanalazami
26/06/2013 14:52
BD War crime trial

It is natural that we all have deep love towards our parents. A mother’s love and sacrifice is universal and a father’s role in the upbringing of a child is central towards one’s development. I would like to share in this post a few personal anecdotes relating to my father’s contribution towards my life; what he taught me, what he did for me, how he prayed for me, what sacrifice he did for me, and above all – how much love and affection he showed towards me. This is a tribute towards a 90-year-old oppressed father from a grateful son. 

A Teacher for Life

There is a beautiful Bangla song that says, pita shorgo pita dhormo pita jogoter alo, tar she chokh die dekhechi mondo bhalo “My father is my heaven and my religion, and I have seen the world through his eyes”. I would definitely go with the second part of the couplet as what I am today is mostly due to his teachings. Among the brothers I had the opportunity to spend time with him the most, particularly during my formative age. In 1977-78 I spent a year in Kuwait with my parents before we went to England en route Dhaka. During that time I learned all necessary duas from my father, from waking up in the morning to going to bed at night. I still remember when he would wake me up for Fajr prayer he would say half the dua of waking up and I would need to say the remaining half after getting up from bed. In stead of forcing me to wake up, he would be soft and gentle and remind me that Shaitan is keeping me in bed if I was lazy to wake up. This was instrumental in developing my prayer habit as I never felt forced to pray.

He taught me many practical aspects of life, like punctuality, truthfulness, keeping promises, good manners etc. through practicing these himself and being uncompromising about these vital virtues of life. When I was a student of Year 9 he once called me to his chamber to introduce me to one of his old friends. When the guest asked me how I was I replied with the usual ” I am fine”, but did not return the compliment. My father did not hesitate to show his disappointment in front of the guest and said in a strong voice, “It is a courtesy to ask the same when you are asked how you are”. I did not forget this advice since then. He would be always angry if we were ever rude to the people who worked in our house and taught us to be kind and compassionate towards them. He would not eat anything without giving them their fair share and that teaching made us practice the same.

When I was leaving for Aligarh Muslim University for my higher education he said to me, “Now you will lead a completely independent life. There will be no one to tell you what to do. Your mother will not be there to push you for studies. I do not want to know what you do there. All I want to see is your results. Whatever you do, remember that Allah is watching you”. I did not forget a single word during my stay in Aligarh. Before doing anything I would always ask myself, ‘Would I do it if my parents were here?’ Allah’s blessing and my father’s wise words helped me to get way from all distractions and concentrate on my studies.

A Caring Father

We all know how much our parents love us. We sometimes forget that when they are strict towards us, but we certainly see their softer side when we are ill. Whenever I was ill, he would come to me and say the dua that the prophet taught us for seeking cure from illness. Naturally the physical care would be mostly from my mother as he was always busy. However, I can never forget what he did during a serious illness in 1991. At the end of my first year in Aligarh I was suffering from Typhoid and was in the university hospital for several days. That was during my first year exams. I somehow managed to complete my exams and come back home safely. On the night I returned the typhoid relapsed and I had to be hospitalised again. The temperature was so high that it would hardly go down, which even worried the doctors and a medical board had to be formed. One night during that peak period my father and mother both spent the whole night sponging my body to get the temperature down. He forgot then that he was the Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami. He was a compassionate father who would do everything to see his beloved son get well. Despite my mother repeatedly telling him to go home and rest he stayed up all night sponging my body and praying, that too at the age of 69. 

Fatherhood means sacrifice

It is obvious that parents make a lot of sacrifices for their children, but not everybody likes to sacrifice their wishes and aspirations. My parents always wanted that one of their sons would become a doctor. For one reason or another none of my brothers were even near to fulfill their dream, so all hopes rested on me. I also tried to force myself into it despite not being so good in science subjects as much as I was in Bangla and English language and literature. It was after I appeared in my Higher Secondary exams that I realised that medical was not my cup of tea. I didn’t dare to share this with my father, so I just gave a hint to my mother saying that I was not good in biology. Like any other mother in that situation, she was not too keen to carry on that discussion and made sure that I got myself admitted to a medical coaching centre.

Within a few days after I started medical coaching my mother left for the UK to visit my brothers. This gave me a free license to do whatever I wanted as my father was too busy with his organisation to monitor what I was upto. The only thing he insisted was that we had our evening meals together. I maintained that diligently, but stopped going to medical coaching as I found it extremely boring and not to my liking at all. Instead I concentrated in developing my cricketing skills apart from my involvement with the cultural group Saimum Shilpy Gosthy. My father didn’t have the foggiest idea that I completely bunked medical coaching. I knew that my carefree life would not last long and when I found out one morning in the newspaper that it was the medical admission test day, I was at a loss. What should I do? How shall I face my father? I started avoiding him and skipped the evening meal for a couple of days, but knew very well I wouldn’t get away with it for very long. On the third day, I was summoned to his chamber. With my heartbeat pumping like a 100-metre sprint runner, I entered his chamber.

“Where have you been in the last two days?”

I stood speechless with my eyes firmly on the floor.

“Did you appear at the medical admission test?”

“No”, I said in a very low voice.

“I thought so. Why didn’t you take the exam?”

“I don’t want to study medicine”

“What do you want to study?”

“English”, I could literally hear my heart thumping.

“English is a good subject. Why didn’t you say that before?”

What? I could not believe what I heard! No anger, no scolding, no reprimand – he was happy with what I wanted to do! He must have been deeply hurt that his last hope of having a doctor son had been dashed. Yet, he sacrificed his dreams to see his son happy! After a few years when I got my PhD degree, I asked my parents whether they still had regrets about my career. Their proud smile gave me the answer.

A Compassionate Father

The last point I want to share with readers is not only an example of how compassionate a father can be, but also a wonderful example of how Allah accepts parents’ prayers for a child. I had shared in an earlier post that I was struggling to get a job even in a private university in Bangladesh after returning from the UK completing a post doctoral research and having a number of publications under my name. My father realised that just because I was his son I would never be treated fairly in Bangladesh and suggested that I try my luck in England, like most of my other brothers. He dearly wanted me to be with him as I was the only son with my parents at that time. Four of my brothers were living abroad and the other brother was serving in the army at that time. He used to call me his hater lathi ‘walking stick’. This is why I had to be contended with a PhD from India as I didn’t even consider to go to the west to do my PhD leaving my parents all by themselves. By Allah’s mercy, that did not deter my appointment at a UK university, though I had to work very hard indeed to be where I am now.

I had applied for UK immigration under their Highly Skilled Migrant Programme before returning to Bangladesh in 2005 and my application was accepted. However, my visa took unusually long time to be granted, which made me very worried as I didn’t have any job with a family to look after. Meanwhile my parents and my fourth brother’s whole family were set to leave for England to attend the wedding of my eldest niece. It was the only time all six brothers would meet with our parents since 1977. As the day of my parents’ departure was coming closer with no news from the British High Commission my worries became deeper and my father noticed that very well. He once said in a broken voice, “I have not seen Salman’s familiar smile for a long time”. He announced one week before his departure date that he would not go if I didn’t get my visa. A couple of days later, very early in the morning, I received a phone call from the British High Commission and was told that I would be given visa, so I should see them with my family’s passport that day. I immediately went to convey the good news to my father at his chamber. He said ‘Alhamdulillah’ loudly, cried with happiness and said, “I prayed to Allah in tahajjud today and pleaded him that we hear this news today”. When I went to my mother and gave her the news and told her how my father reacted, she told me how my father prayed for me that day. At one point during tahajjud he was in sijda for a very long time. My mother asked him about it when he got up. He said that it was not part of his salat. He was actually doing dua for me while in sijda. He asked Allah to give the good news that day, which got accepted immediately. This is how Allah hears the cry of a parent when they pray for their child.

This loving, caring, compassionate, sacrificing father of mine is now leading a painstakingly lonely life in custody for crimes he never even dreamed of committing. What he has done for me can never be expressed in a blog post. I just shared some small anecdotes here. Can I repay anything? Absolutely not! However, I could have tried to look after him, but that too is impossible now. I can only pray for him. The reason that keeps me and my family going is the hope that Allah is seeing everything and He will ensure justice inshallah. We hope that we will see this justice in this world. However, if anything happens to him, we are sure that he will receive fair justice in the life hereafter inshallah. 

My beloved father, I am unable to serve you physically, but mentally you are always with me in my prayers and thoughts. I am nothing without you. Whoever I am and whatever I have achieved is due to you, belongs to you and I dedicate them to you. May Allah accept you as one of his dearest servants – Ameen!

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About salmanalazami

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  • Name: Salman Al-Azami
  • From: Manchester, UK
  • Nationality: Bangladesh
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    Son of an oppressed islamic leader; an outright academic; an ardent lover of sports; politically conscious, but not active; a loving husband and father; a patriot British Bangladeshi; a simple man

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