My Friend, Hasan Jehangir
By Mohammad Ashraf Chaudhry
21st July 2007, hundreds of votaries of this great man, popularly
known in the area as “The Nightingale of Bay Area”
gathered at the Veteran Memorial Hall to pay their homage
to him on his first anniversary. The anniversary, or what
his brother termed as urs, was attended by people of all faiths
and denominations, which included Shias, Sunnis, Christians,
Mormons, Sikhs and Hindus. The writer was also specially invited
by his wife to say a few words about Prof. Hamdani as he often
graciously remembered me in his conversation. It was, indeed,
an honor to be in the good company of Hamdani.
The following is the text of the homage the writer paid to
Ladies and Gentlemen: one full year has passed when this gem
of a man departed from us. He was, indeed, a great friend
of mine. Before I may say a few words about him, I deem it
proper to share with you some noble thoughts expressed by
Rumi and Abu Darda, both his favorite:
When you see my funeral, don’t say, “What a separation!”
It is time for me to visit and meet the beloved.
Since you’ve seen my descent, then do see my rising!
Why complain about the setting of the Moon and the Sun?
Which seed that went under the earth failed to grow up again?
Hamdani, my friend, was one such seed. Gathered here as we
are in hundreds, any one who can bother a little bit, can
see it for himself that physically he did go down under the
earth, but like a seed that Rumi alludes to, he did not fail
to germinate, grow and blossom. He is very much alive and
fresh in our memories today. Last year we saw his descent
under the earth; now we are seeing his rising…ostensibly
through the nobility and universality of his thoughts and
Somebody once asked the honorable companion Abu Darda,. “I
want to be a good man, but my heart is sick and hard. O, Imam,
prescribe for me a remedy”. Abu Darda said to him, “My
son, perform the funeral prayers, go around the hospitals
and visit the cemeteries. This will cure your disease”.
This man acted as advised. He performed the funeral prayers
as our funeral Imams do; he visited the tombs more often than
the grave diggers; and he paid visits to the sick in hospital
and took care of them as nurses do. But his heart stayed dark
and hard. No change occurred. He came to Abu Darda and said,
“O Sheikh, I followed your advice, but my heart is as
hard as ever. I derived no benefit whatever”.
Abu Darda replied, “As you were performing the funeral
prayer, did it occur to you to think, it is I who am lying
in this coffin and these prayers are for my funeral. Did you
say to yourself, it is I they have stripped naked; it is I
who has been deprived of wealth and rank; my wife is a widow,
my children are orphans; they are putting me away in the dark
earth. Here I’m alone with my deeds; now the two angels
will come and question me; what am I to do alone in this house
The man said, “No, I thought of no such thing”.
Abu Darda told him, “You will gain nothing from performing
the funeral prayers as you did. On the contrary, it will blacken
your heart. Now go and do it again”.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Hamdani departed from us with truck-loads
of good deeds. He had that ability to completely immerse himself
in the occasion he was invited to. The saying of the Qur’an
came true on him that those who know most, fear Allah most.
Once Hazrat Umer asked the Noble Prophet, “What things
were especially to be sought in the world?” The Holy
Prophet answered, “A tongue occupied in the remembrance
of God; a grateful heart and a believing wife”. How
true and far-reaching in consequences are these three golden
objectives. Hamdani was one such fortunate person who possessed
all three; he possessed a tongue that never tired in the remembrance
of Allah and His Prophet. As far as I know, he never missed
a chance to present himself in a Mehfil arranged for the remembrance
of Prophet Muhammad. He was also blessed with a grateful heart
that didn’t know how to hurt others; and with a God-fearing
wife who helped him live the way he wanted to live.
Ladies and Gentlemen: I will be failing in my duties if I
miss to acknowledge my personal gratitude as well as that
of the community associated with the Islamic Center of East
Bay in Antioch to Prof. Hamdani, because it was he who made
our dream of a Center in that area come true. He participated
with his entire family when we initially met in a garage;
and he joined us unfailingly when we bought our own building.
In all the four fund-raising dinners that we arranged in a
period of 10 years to totally pay-off the loan on the Islamic
Center, Hamdani, invariably remained the main speaker on three;
on the fourth, however, his name was read aloud; but alas,
he didn’t turn up because he had passed away just a
few days earlier. We, undoubtedly, felt his presence there
in the function because everybody talked about him and his
contribution to the Center.
I can go on and on forever because I am well-stocked with
his memories. He always addressed me, even in writings as,
Dr. Ashraf Chaudhry. I remember, correcting him on more than
many occasions that I, no doubt, have been a college teacher
with foreign degrees, but I don’t qualify myself to
be addressed as a doctor. I knew he was never short of memory.
As I learn today from most of you, it has been one of his
very special traits to hold his friends in somewhat excessive
esteem. May God shower His infinite blessings on this wonderful
human specimen, who once was with us, and whom we always addressed
as Prof. Hamdani. Ameen.