Written by Umm Muhammad
Pain rose from my heart and spilled forth in the form of uncontrollable tears.
"Allah سبحانہ وتعالی, grant him forgiveness and bestow Your mercy on him; these are things every one of us needs from You. Grant him the highest ranks as well as Your qurb. Ya Allah, accept all his efforts and grant him the company of Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم for his constant efforts to spread love for him among the ummah."
I’d just learnt of his fatal heart attack at Karachi airport. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji'oon. I thought of how he was on his way home after his trip to Karachi and Allah سبحانہ وتعالی called him to his true home. A person leaves, shifts from this world to the next just like that. Instantaneously. But simultaneously, I realized that the quality of his life was so very different from that of an ordinary person like me. It brought memories spanning over several years...
"Who is Abdullah Farani?"
For the readers of 'Bachon ka Islam', that was the big question, and they had to know the answer. Though he hadn't intended to, the writer had caught not just the attention but the love, admiration and curiosity of the readers. The 'Seeratun Nabi (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) Qadam ba Qadam' series that Abdullah Farani had been writing for the magazine was truly fascinating. It was packed with knowledge on the noblest personality of all times, Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, and written in a manner that captivated young and old alike. There was tremendous barakah in the series. It filled hearts with love of Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم which is one of the rights Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم has upon his ummatis. No one can become a true Muslim if Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم is not dearer to him than his family and even his own self. Inculcating and strengthening this love was what this series was doing because the more one knows about Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, the more one is compelled to love him.
There had been an announcement that information on this top favorite writer would be given in an upcoming issue but the information published after a long period of waiting was so vague that it seemed to be rather a deliberate attempt to conceal the true identity of Abdullah Farani. There was no dearth of readers (including some avid ones from our family) who were pretty convinced that the editor himself was the writer in question and that was hiding it due to his ikhlaas(sincerity).
Finally the time came when the staff had to give in to the pressure and make known the fact: Ishtiaq Ahmad was in fact Abdullah Farani. (We don't know how many different names he had been using-- maybe even Sarwar Majzoob, etc. --- to spread Deen in one way or another but Allah سبحانہ وتعالی knows and appreciates every sincere act of goodness a person does.)
When a person considers the diversity that existed in his works and of the accomplishments he made in a life span that's average, he finds himself marveling at Allah ta'ala's greatness. Allah سبحانہ وتعالی is able to combine so much talent and grant so much barakah in the life of the person He chooses. Ishtiaq Ahmad Sahib رحمہ اللہ studied up to matriculation yet he was a detective novel writer, the number of his novels exceeding 800. The number of stories he wrote was much more than that. Apart from that, he compiled the signs of the Last Day and stories of the Sahabah رضی اللہ عنہم and they are available in book form. He was a columnist for the weekly 'Zarb-e-Momin'. He wrote for numerous magazines and won competitions and obtained multiple awards in recognition of his literary abilities. Strangely, he did this while simultaneously being editor of the weekly 'Bachon ka Islam'. Considering the amount of mail that is sent to'Bachon ka Islam', one wonders how he managed to merely read and sift all the material sent his way every single week for over a decade, let alone the pruning and editing and writing. But he did.
Not only that, but he worked actively to spread the message of khatam-e-nubuwwat i.e. the finality of the prophethood of Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. That Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم is the last and final prophet of Allah سبحانہ وتعالی for all of humanity and for all times is a basic part of our belief as Muslims and our Iman is incomplete without it. Through announcement of upcoming special issues like Khatam-e-nubuwwat number, Sahabah number, he invited readers to research, select and write on these topics and to increase their knowledge and love for these personalities by reading the dazzling array of articles that then appeared in the special issues. He made the readers aware of real issues like the fitnah of not believing in the punishment of the grave, and took remedial measures by writing and publishing articles that stated the true picture.
His love for Hadith is evident from the fact that a Hadith is present at the beginning of each of his novels (that we've seen, at least and that's quite a large number). The novels are packed with thrill and suspense and, through the main characters, serve to instill trust in Allah سبحانہ وتعالی(despite all odds), patriotism and love for Deen. There are so many ways in which he served the ummah and provided clean and healthy alternatives for them that it is impossible to innumerate them.
There have been writers through the ages who used their talent for evil. The stories, novels and poetry they write pollute the minds of individuals who read them, contaminate societies and communities and induce sin.
And then there are people like Ishtiaq Ahmad رحمہ اللہ who lay foundations for goodness and set noble standards for others to follow. In the very last editorial published before the sad event, he encouraged the readers to make monthly prayer charts for their families. He gave details like making a space to mark whether one had prayed with takbeer-e-ula or not. His desire to help others in a good cause was so strong that even here he wrote: If you aren't able to make one yourself, you can write a letter and it will be mailed to you. It moved me deeply to read this at the end of the editorial he didn't know would be the last to be published in his lifetime... but then I think of the doors of good that he held open for people. The person who starts something good will go on being rewarded as long as others follow him, even after he himself is laid in his grave.
Allah سبحانہ وتعالی put a lot of barakah in his efforts and we find so many writers all groomed and prepared to play and in fact playing positive roles, using the talents Allah سبحانہ وتعالی has gifted them with in order to spread His Deen. Ishtiaq Ahmad Sahib was, as the editor of one of the top most circulated children's magazines in the country, able to reach out to such a large number of readers. 'Bachon ka Islam' provides healthy entertainment to the readers, and is a very stimulating publication of Jamia-tur-Rasheed. It has assumed the role of a sincere and loving teacher for children, teens as well as adults. It educates them and helps channelize them in the right direction during the turbulent storms blowing in these times of trial. His writings as well as the articles he edited and published helped kindle the love of Allah سبحانہ وتعالی, of His beloved Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, of his beloved Companions رضی اللہ عنہم, of the pious scholars and auliya رحمہم اللہ. Alhamdulillah, he helped illuminate hearts and minds, and transform lives.
May Allah سبحانہ وتعالی grant sabr to his bereaved relatives. May Allah accept and lavishly reward Ishtiaq Ahmad's efforts for Deen, bless him with His closeness and the company of the ones he loved so much… Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم and his Sahabah رضی اللہ عنہم. Aameen.