Allah Bakhsh was the youngest of six siblings. His lethargic attitude was not entirely due to his laziness; a lot could be blamed on his natural imbecility. His parents pondered greatly on which occupation would suit their youngest child. Figuring that he wasn’t adept at any worldly profession that could help sustain even a small family independently, they decided to ‘spend’ him in the way of Allah (swt). This would not only ensure a steady livelihood for Allah Bakhsh but also become a definite means of repentance for them as his parents. Therefore, Allah Bakhsh was ‘deposited’ in a Madrassah to be ‘cashed’ out whenever the need arose.
The entire village started calling Allah Bakhsh, Allah Bakhshay or may Allah (swt) forgive. Now every time his name was called, an invocation would be bestowed upon him immediately. Sometimes the search for good deeds elevates one to a status which worldly wealthy could only covet. The naïve simpletons did not even realize that when a call becomes a beseech, it transforms the caller to the level of one whose prayers are definitely answered.
It didn’t take long for Allah Bakhsh to become a molvi. When the feudal lords of the village felt pricks of conscience at the serious consequences of their begrimed deeds, they donated thousands in the name of charity to the Madrassahs in an attempt to cleanse their souls. Hence, the Madrassah kept running. One wondered what they achieved by donating to the house of Allah (swt) after wreaking havoc with the lives of His (swt) creation. And also how the transgressions of nights spent in the company of singers and dancers could be erased by singing out vain praises of one’s own good deeds to the world.
Molvi Sahib Allah Bakhshay once gave a heated sermon against the vulgarity of singing and dancing. As a result, he was permanently banished from the village. With a wife, two young kids, and no source of income, Molvi Allah Bakhshay was baffled in the new city to which he was forced to move. After a few days of starvation and aimless wandering, he finally ended up finding the post of a resident scholar in a new mosque being constructed in a posh area of the city. The town committee in charge of the Mosque made a contract to pay him Rs.6700.00 per month. This included a small, one bedroom apartment attached to the masjid. In the dire straits in which Allah Bakhshay was in at the moment, this was akin to a straw which is enough of a hope for one who is sinking.
In a wealthy locality that had children of the wealthy, wealthy worshippers, and a wealthy atmosphere, Molvi Sahib was as much a misfit as a patch of burlap on silk. Every resident, ardently keen upon adorning and embellishing the mosque to the max, had no qualms in emptying out their pockets to achieve the target. The head of the Mosque Committee, a retired Major General, spent a great deal of his time on the mosque premises. It seemed as if he had pledged his entire life to the duties and projects of the house of worship. Perhaps it was the echo of earlier adventures that forced him to find peace within the walls of the mosque at his age. Or perhaps worldly hankerings and yearnings do dwindle and fade with age and nothing remains except the desire for Allah’s (swt) proximity. This desire glows within the embers of coals that lay extinguished when one reaches old age.
But although the coffers of the Mosque were overflowing with donations, Molvi Sahib himself faced severe problems surviving within the meager allowance he was allocated as his pay. For after all, how much was Rs. 6,700.00 anyway? The income of an impoverished person gets spent just by thinking; he never actually gets around to spending it. So the poor Molvi Sahib remained in the thick of a continual financial crunch. At the same time, the requests of the rich worshippers regarding the Mosque’s religious affairs were never ending.
The Major General Sahib wished him to say a few words in praise of his grand military feats of yesteryears. The worshipper who had recently returned from the West advised him to tailor his sermons to encourage the Muslims to shun the Stone Age and gain mastery of the English language. The owner of the grand bakery was most irked by the sound of crying children in the course of prayers and hence complained incessantly, and the well-off banker stressed upon Allah Bakshay to shorten the duration of the afternoon prayers as it affected his business.
When Molvi Sahib raised the issue of his paltry salary to the Mosque committee, he was coldly reminded to observe the Islamic lessons of patience and tolerance and to keep his eye on the rewards of the ‘hereafter’ rather than the ‘here’. Taking pity, a kind gentleman offered to employ him as a Quran teacher for his children. However, this little stint didn’t last very long since the children often had sports, field trips, or other social engagements; activities of far greater priority than learning how to read Quran. There were often times when the family would be entertaining such guests in front of whom it didn’t seem appropriate for them to have Molvi Sahib at their house. A lot of times the children were tired from their day’s activities and were not in the mood for Quran. The gentleman who paid Molvi Sahib only a pathetic Rs.1,000 a month for Quran lessons had no qualms dishing out nearly a hundred times more for the prestigious schools his children attended. His views on the importance of worldly education versus religious importance were evident just from this regrettable paradox.
Another gentleman who ran a successful business of movies and games rentals had been insisting for a long time that the Molvi Sahib collect two daily meals from his house every day. But poor Allah Bakhshay was too mired up in the philosophical and religious convolutions of permissible and non-permissible sources of income and food to actually take up the gentleman on his offer. One day, however, besieged by the torment of his empty stomach and carrying an empty lunch pail of self-conscious humiliation, he found himself knocking at the rental business owner’s door.
As soon as the door was opened, a loud wave of ear-splitting music and vulgar songs hit Allah Bakhshay’s ears. With trembling hands, Molvi Sahib placed his empty lunch pail into the hands of the woman who had answered the door. By the time she returned with the food in the name of Allah (swt) for the person of Allah (swt), Allah’s (swt) man had left.
That was the last day anyone in town ever saw Molvi Sahib or his family. A few days later, there was a flashy advertisement plastered on the glass doors of the flamboyant DVD and game rental store. It read: Immediate opening for the resident scholar of the local mosque. Impressive salary and two free daily meals. Applicants please call the number given below.