My maternal grandfather and paternal grandfather were siblings. Maternal grandfather Ghulam-ud-Din Khan sahib was elder and Muhammad Ayyub Khan sahib the younger. My maternal grandfather was a saintly personality, who spent his whole life serving religion in different capacities. His influence could be gauged from the erudition and impeccable character of his two sons, the late Molana Mushtaq Ahmed Khan sahib and Muhammad Nayeem Khan Sahib, the author of a few books.
My paternal grandfather was not undistinguished either. The two brothers owned plenty of land. They lost their father Nizamuddin Khan sahib at an early age and to make ends meet, Ghulam-u-Din Khan sahib had to start a small business while Muhammad Ayyub Khan was assigned the responsibility of the home entirely. Both had joined school but could not learn much. Notwithstanding, they were not ignorant. They could read as well as write and whatever little they could read at school, they read seriously. Like his brother Ghulam-Ud-din Khan, Muhammad Ayyub Khan was god-fearing and never showed any lack of seriousness in worshipping. As mentioned, he was acting as head of family and of all home affairs – ranging from shopping to protecting land. Most of his time would pass in the field, however. He had created a concrete space in the field for the purpose of performing Salah. He was a nature lover; he had planted a variety of trees, plants and had grown flowers of different kinds around the house and would take care of them himself. We used to enjoy diverse fruits because of his zeal as a fruit-grower. And in both backyard and frontyard, he had maintained a rectangular space with tile-flooring – meant to perform prayers in a lush natural setting.
Surah Yasin was on the tip of his tongue and he would recite it frequently – at night, in the morning, while traveling, and even while working in the field. He once told me how he memorised this Surah. He said, “Once your maternal grandparent (his brother Bai lal) was reciting this Surah in a beautiful rhythm. This fascinated me. I requested him, brother, would you please help me to memorise this Surah. Brother Ghulam-u-Din Khan showed keen interest in guiding me. He put this Surah on paper, which I would carry with me. I would read and revise it many times daily and in this manner committed these Arabic verses to memory. Not only did I memorise Arabic verses but their meanings as well.”
He had a strong liking for the Quran. When Allama Syed Qasim Shah Bukhari’s Kashmiri translation of the Quran appeared in print, my maternal uncle Molana Mushtaq Ahmed Khan sahib familiarised us all with it during a private religious assembly (religious assemblies would often take place in our home). Muhammad Ayyub Khan was the first person in our family who ordered the copy (30 paras set with Kashmiri translation). It was perhaps the year 2000. Since then, he would routinely recite the Quran along with its Kashmiri translation, until he breathed his last. His love for the Prophet (pbuh) and fervour for gaining religious knowledge and transmitting it to others was deep-rooted.
Being landowners, there used to be workers and labourers at our home on regular basis. Muhammad Ayyub Khan would deeply respect them all. He abhorred discrimination of any kind. Unlike most of the proprietors of that time, who had set the trend of maltreating workers, Khan was warm-hearted. He would treat them with care and kindness. He established congenial relations with them. Following the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), he would pay the workers their dues before their sweat dried. And all of them still miss his generosity.
He struggled and worked diligently throughout his life. In the absence of his brother, he was instrumental in handling home affairs, importantly in protecting his land, which otherwise could have gone away through the land-to-tiller Act. But, at the same time, he pulled out all the stops to provide education to his wards. All his four daughters got a school education and all have command on the holy Quran.
The person who attached value to girls’ education could not deprive his sons of this wealth. He ensured the education of his sons. His elder son Ghulam Rasool Khan, my dad, made it to Horenson’s College Denmark and served the Fisheries department as an officer with integrity. His younger son Feroze Ahmad Khan, my paternal uncle, is an educationist, a tutor, and is currently heading a government high school in a professional and dignified way. Also, he has been the source of guidance for hundreds and most of his students are doing great in their lives.
On 16 September 2006, Muhammad Ayub Khan breathed his last, leaving indelible impressions on the minds and hearts of the people.
—The writer is a columnist and writes on diverse issues. He tweets @zeeshan_rk and can be mailed at [email protected]