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Father’s Day Special: A Tribute to my grandfather Syed Abdul Rashid Gilani

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By: Syed Majid Gilani

Reflecting on the people who have shaped and influenced my early life, one person stands at the top of my mind Syed Abdul Rashid Gilani, my late grandfather. Born in the year 1927 at ‘Khanquah Moulla,Srinagar to Maulana Syed  Mohammad Yasin Shah Gilani.

My grandfather Abaji, was a pass-out of the prestigious Punjab University, Lahore, among the first generation of educated persons of Kashmir. He began his career as a supervisor in the erstwhile Kashmir Valley Food Control Department now known as Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department.

Later he retired on superannuation as an Assistant Director at an age of 55 years in 1982. He had a habit of reading and writing books, newspapers and magazines. He was having a taste for poetry and has Witten poems, ghazals , naatiyakalaam in urdu, persian and few in Kashmiri.

He was never interested in getting his poetry published. His life got shattered when his only child, my father Syed Iftikhar Gilani (1950-2001) unfortunately died of a cardiac arrest on 12th June 2001 at the young age of 50 years turning me and my two sisters Yasmeen and Sabiyah, into orphans, shifting the entire responsibility of our care and guidance to him.

He never made us feel that we were orphans. Our grandparents treated our grief-stricken mother Shahida Chishti not only as their daughter-in-law but also as their daughter. They took care of all of us and the goals of his life shifted from literature and poetry into nourishing us, with utmost love and affection. He remained committed and determined to see me and my two younger sisters, Yasmeen and Sabiyah getting best education and well settled in life.

Our grandparents and mother ensured and made a point that Late Syed Iftikhar Gilani’s (our father’s ) dreams regarding his children come true. We were brought up us in a disciplined, decent, and religious environment for which we are highly grateful to them. My grandfather ‘Abaji, was one of the most disciplined, learned, strong and God-fearing men, I have ever known, and his key to a happy and graceful life was his being truthful, honest and straightforward. I write this article as a tribute to his memory.

He always remained optimistic. His unwavering commitment to helping others was truly inspiring. Throughout his life, he had been a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather, and above all, a very good father-in-law, encouraging us to preserve his memories with a spirit of gratitude.

Abaji’s day usually started at pre-dawn hours, at  FajarNamaz (dawn prayers), Tilawati Qurani Pak” (recitation of Holy Quran)  and reading Auradi Sharief. After that, he never used to sit idle but used to look after the kitchen garden in the backyard and lawn in the front side.

He kept himself busy with gardening. Later, he used to go to the market and buy daily house hold utilities and grocery. Allah had blessed him with good and sound health. Even at the age of ninety he did not need any medication, used to walk regularly. He never left books and daily English newspapers, which perhaps kept his brain active and sharp as a young man.

Alhamdulillah. He believed that one should not keep the Holy Quran and Hadith confined to recitation or reading only, but should practically abide by the Quranic commandments and worthy sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and serve the basic purpose of divine teachings. He was a devout practicing Muslim.

When we were in our school and college he used to teach us English. He had a good command over English langage and his accent was fabulous. Abaji, my grandfather was a firm believer in the power of hard work and prayers, and taught this lesson to us at a young age.

He showed us that success does not come easily, and sheer dedication is required for anything. He taught us that there is no substitute for hard work, self-discipline, and honesty.

He possessed a positive outlook on life and was very much optimistic. I feel it truly heart-warming to recall the fond memories of our dear grandpa’s surprise visits to our reading room during our study sessions, a testament to his care and concern for our education. His thoughtful gestures and visits served as a gentle reminder for us to stay focused and dedicated to our studies.

Furthermore, his stress on self- discipline, commitment to truth and loyalty to family, friends and relatives has significantly shaped our beliefs and practices to this day. These experiences not only reflect the deep bond between us and our Abaji , but also highlight the enduring impact of his guidance and teachings in nurturing us.

Despite living a  very simple life, Abaji  found great joy with his family and  relatives. His  wisdom showed us that true happiness lies in living a life where you live a simple life, free from any pomp and show, earn honestly , dedicate yourself to your profession, and strengthen your bonds with your family, relatives.

He passed away peacefully on 13th March, 2016 at his home ‘Darul Iftikhar’ Lalbazar at the age of 90. He was an extraordinary man who lived a life full of wisdom and discipline. His memory will continue to inspire and motivate us for years to come even though he may no longer be with us, his memories and life lessons continue to guide me, my younger sisters.

The love of a grandfather is unique and we are grateful to Allah for having been blessed with such a caring, polite, and educated grandfather. He played a significant role in our childhood and we have countless memories of sitting in his reading room, and playing with the books.

He was not just our grandfather, but also our friend and inspiration. It is unique for a grandparent-grandchild relationship to be so special and long-lasting, but Abaji, Syed Abdul Rashid Gilani was an exceptional person with remarkable qualities.

I will always love and keep a special place in my heart to hold his close. This story of my grandfather could not be complete without paying homage to his noble and pious soul. His teachings will forever be a part of our memories for our family and relatives. He has left a lasting impact on our lives, making us well-rounded individuals.

May Allah elevate his status in Jannat ul Firdous.……..Aameen

(The author work as a GST Inspector in the sales tax department. He can be reached at [email protected])

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