From the Heart of Bhatinda to the Heights of Jannah: The Asha Kaur Story
The remarkable story of two new-Muslims who understood the true spirit of being among the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and who, thereby, gained an insight into the vision and reality that moved the Prophet himself – the Promise of Jannah.
“Every soul will taste death” (Qur’an-3:185). No escape from death, but what if one were to die in a state such as to attain eternal bliss and rest in peace forever and to become the cause of guidance to others to come. Isn’t there in this a lesson to learn and ponder over for the Ummah?
From the heart of Bhatinda to the heights of Jannah,The Asha Kaur’s one-day voyage in Imaan’s liner raises unasked questions for the majority of the ‘blood Muslims’ who have not once in their life comprehended the pure pleasure and ecstatic experience of a few hours of ‘life with Imaan’ (faith).
Balvinder Kaur, a graduate from an educated family, married to a police officer, reminiscences her young and beautiful sister’s conversion to Islam as a prelude to her own.
Asha Kaur, married to another police officer, had a history of health problems which were continuously aggravating despite prolonged treatment. In utter despair, they were forced to seek the help of tantric practices, but to no avail. On someone’s suggestion, she went to a Muslim lady in Maler Kotla who consoled her and prayed for her well-being. Asha felt greatly relieved by it, as if she had been granted a new lease at life. However, when Asha was leaving, the Muslim woman happened to remark thus: “How will you bear the everlasting trials of hell when you cannot put up with the trivial and transient trials of this life?” Therefore, she advised Asha to be concerned about the Hereafter and suggested converting to Islam as the only solution to avoid eternal pain and sorrow.
Asha returned home, healthy and full of life and with the inception of a new idea in her mind. She reported her conversation with the Muslim lady to her husband and expressed her desire to become a Muslim: for eternal well being. Since her husband was extremely compassionate towards her, he permitted her to convert, as long as she remained healthy and happy. Asha contacted the Muslim lady who consecutively directed her to Maulana Kaleem Siddique, who advised her to immediately declare the Shahadah as there was no certainty of life.
In the early hours of May 25th 2004, honoring his wishes, Asha declared the Shahadah and entered into the blissful, eternal, faith. She was named Ayesha for the beloved wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and was familiarized with the essentials of Islam. Bursting with happiness, she announced her experience of entering into the fold of Islam to each and every member of her family as if she had unraveled the mysteries of the universe.
That day was like a summer’s day in her life after a long and grueling winter. Her family wondered as to how she could be so happy by renouncing her old faith and what it was that made her so exhilarated. Her sister looked intently at her and noticed an almost ethereal glow emanating from her face. She could not keep herself from asking as to why her face seemed so radiant; Ayesha replied that it was the light of Imaan which brightened her face. It was the first time in ten years that she was so healthy and so she insisted to prepare dinner that night and served it to everyone with her own hands.
Past dinner, she bathed and dressed well and started reciting the Kalimah which she had jotted down on a piece of paper. She learnt the Kalimah with childlike enthusiasm and kept on reciting it. Suddenly, she began to speak vaguely, things yet unfathomable to their unfledged minds. “How beautiful is this palace of gold!” she exclaimed, “To whom does it belong? It belongs to me?” she asked, surprised, “This palace of paradise belongs to Ayesha! I am going to paradise!” she announced with a burst of joy, reassuring her dubious self. Then after some time, “In whose honor, have you brought these magnificent bouquets? Such exquisite flowers!” she cried, “Oh, so you’ve come to escort me?” she inquired, and then she declared “I am leaving for my paradise from this prison!” and then recited the Kalimah loudly, thrice and in the same sitting posture, rolled over on the bed. Her family was alarmed and laid her on the bed. A doctor was summoned immediately; who confirmed their worst fears: she had passed away. At this news, pandemonium broke out in her family as they could not come to terms with it. How could they? When the sounds of her joyous laughter still seemed to reverberate and linger in the air.
After they got over the initial shock, her family decided that since she had died as a Muslimah, it would be best if she was buried accordingly, lest some calamity befall them. Therefore, they contacted the Muslim lady in Maleyr Kotla and remorsefully informed her of Asha’s death and conveyed their wish for her Muslim burial. They requested her to send some Muslims to perform the last rites. At precisely ten o’clock the next morning, a car full of Muslim ladies and men arrived and gave her the honored farewell, worthy of a true Muslimah. It was the first time since the fateful year of 1947 that someone had been buried in the city of Bhatinda. It was surprising to know that the cemetery still existed.
The first in the series of events to unfold, Sister Ayesha’s death was a harbinger of illuminating guidance on the path to eternal bliss in her sister, Balvinder Kaur’s and her family’s Life.
Balvinder Kaur’s sorrow was apparent after her sister’s untimely death, but her previously cheerful disposition seemed to have been wrecked by bouts of despair and she constantly remembered her sister. She being elder than Asha and also being closely attached to her, Asha’s death had specifically distressed her and broken her apart.
Asha’s conversion to Islam and the extraordinary day that followed, forced her to ponder upon how she had accomplished the amazing feat of reaching the heights of paradise from the depths of this prison called world, by reciting a mere Kalimah. Her mind was always drawn to the cheerful smile which had lit up Asha’s face before she had breathed her last and her mind also conjured up the contrasting images of other family members who had departed from this world in intense pain and suffering, screaming their lungs out as death came to them in all its terror. She persistently questioned herself, as to what it was that Asha had gained that had protected her from the painful and pitiable end meted out to others?
One night she glimpsed Asha in a dream. Asha was clothed in the finest of liveries imaginable – a magnificent diamond and pearl studded dress and was seated on a throne which was lavishly upholstered. She wore a splendid crown on her head whose brilliant light outshone the sun. Balvinder questioned her as to how she had been entitled to such an easy death and the ensuing rewards? Asha replied that it was because of her Imaan. She also enlightened her saying: “Didi, a day’s life with Imaan is better than innumerable years without it; if you don’t believe me, become a Muslim and see for yourself”. On hearing these words she was wrenched back to reality and the desire to become a Muslim took root in her heart.
With this thought in her mind she skeptically approached her husband and told him of her desire to become a Muslim – for a week or two, just to see what Islam is all about, she said. Since she had become depressed and almost detached herself from the family after Asha’s death, her husband was more than willing to grant her anything in his power, but he asked her to rethink, as it could be the end of her, he surmised.
Balvinder Kaur contacted Moulana Kaleem and expressed her wish to meet him. Initially, he seemed reluctant and inquired the reason for her imminent visit. When she revealed her intent and introduced herself as the late Ayesha’s sister, he invited her over and told her that he looked forward to their meeting.
The appointed day arrived and she set off to Phullat accompanied by her husband’s aunt and her maid. In Phullat they met Maulana Kaleem and his family and were left in awe by the warmth and hospitality extended towards them. It was explained to her that she could not become a Muslim for a few days as it is not something you try on for size. Becoming a Muslim is not a drama or an episode in one’s life but a commitment, until death. Balvinder Kaur was gifted a copy of ‘Aap ki amanat aap ki sevaa mein’ by the Maulana’s daughter. She read the book and was so impressed by the simplicity of its message that she read it repeatedly… Her heart had begun its journey towards Islam.
By the time she met Maulana Kaleem in the evening, her silly idea of becoming a Muslim for a week had evaporated and, in its place, the unquenchable thirst to be drenched in the light of Iman for eternity, was born. She sincerely declared the Shahadah. This marked an end to her former phase of life. She requested to be given the same name that was given to Asha; hence she was named Ayesha.
However, she was greatly disturbed by something she perceived in the unperturbed air. She found it exceedingly strange that though the Maulana interacted with her, he fixed his sight on the ladies of his household – instead of on herself. Unable to make sense of it, she questioned the Maulana, as to its reason. He patiently told her that Islam ordained for purdah (veil) to be established between a man and woman, excepting his wife and a few others, with whom Nikah (marriage) is not permissible. He also told her that he had actually wanted to converse with them from behind a veil but was afraid that it would give an impression of nonchalance, to those unacquainted with the tenets of Islam.
He also solicitously advised her that her notion of becoming a Muslim for a week was impractical. To accept Islam means unconditional submission of the self and to suppress one’s desires for the pleasure of the Creator. He explained that if, even to buy a mud pot from the potter, people thoroughly checked it and knocked on its head to see if it was good enough to suit their liking, then it was natural that Allah would also test the believer with trials and tribulations. If he or she would be steadfast in his or her belief as a Muslim, then they would realize the benefits of their bargain – everlasting bliss in return for a momentary ordeal.
She learnt the procedure to perform the salat and the obligations which became applicable for a Muslim. The Maulana and his family also succeeded in persuading her husband’s aunt and her maid that Islam was the only means to salvation from hell and all its gory details. Therefore, they too accepted Islam and were named Aminah and Mariah respectively. A deep bond had formed between them and the Maulana’s family and since it was for the sake of Allah, it was unconditional and unrestrained. They were given a heartfelt send off with best wishes and dua’s.
On returning home, she related the entire episode of her conversion to her husband and that it was a decision for life. Since her husband ardently loved her, he was happy for her. But she didn’t stop at that, as she was advised by the Maulana that if she felt any real love and concern for her family, she had to do her best to save them from hell and become a means of guidance towards their Creator. For this, she insisted her husband to accept Islam but he was adamant and even tried to persuade her to give up her own faith.
In conversation with the Maulana, she expressed her innermost scruples and asked him as to how a Muslim and a Sikh could remain married. Upon this the Maulana told her that on accepting Islam, her marriage ceased to exist, but if she stayed in it with the hope that someday he would also accept Islam, keeping in mind her children and their future, it was permissible. On hearing this, she felt disgusted. This became an added incentive for her to worry about her husband’s faith, which kept her awake for the major part of the night and incessantly found her in prostration and prayer, laden with pleas and bargains in front of her Creator.
One night, after a heated argument with her husband, she spent the whole night in prayer, dissolved in tears, begging the almighty saying: “O Allah! Your treasures are so bountiful, they want for nothing, Please bestow guidance upon my husband!”
In an amazing turn of events, the following night, when she approached her husband with the request to accept Islam, he agreed and said that he was fed up with their daily arguments and for the sake of her happiness he was ready to become a Muslim. But, she informed him that if he accepted Islam for her sake, then it would be in vain and would not benefit him in any way. Therefore, if he was going to accept Islam then it had to be, exclusively for the pleasure of Allah. So saying she gave him Maulana Kaleem’s book titled “Aap ki ammanat aap ki sevaa mein”, which he had previously thrown away, but then read it, from cover to cover. Ayesha watched him throughout, and observed an enormous alteration in his facial expressions. On completion, he declared the Shahadah thrice and told her that he had done it for his own sake and for his Creator’s pleasure. At these words, Ayesha’s happiness knew no bounds and she hugged him with unbounded joy. It was only after intense and relentless prayers for two months, that her efforts had borne fruit.
The next day, her husband was transferred to Ropar, as security, for the Chief Ministers forthcoming visit. Only a week had passed since the above incident when, while on duty, he was standing below the boundary wall of a college. A strong wind erupted and knocked it to the ground, crushing him in the process and killing him on the spot. (Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raajioon).
It was a time of severe distress and trial for Ayesha, but she showed a remarkable forbearance to it, and was grateful to Allah for giving her the courage to cope with it and for protecting her Iman. She was deeply comforted by the thought that he had died as a Muslim and had gone to Paradise, where she would eventually, meet him and be with him, Insha Allah.
The subject of her husband’s burial led to terrible conflicts with her husband’s family, but she took a firm stand against cremating him, stating, that she was, by law, the owner of her husband’s body. Hence, he was given a Muslim burial by a Maulana and his Janaazah (funeral) prayer was performed.
She returned to Jalandhar from Ropad and completed her probationary period of four months and ten days (iddat) on the Maulana’s recommendation.
One night, she visited the Ka’abah in her dream. When she narrated this to the Maulana, he told her that Hajj became mandatory upon her but she needed a Mahram (close relation) for it. Since she was a widow, the Maulana suggested that she get remarried. However, qualms about her children’s future prevented her from it.
She desperately longed to perform the pilgrimage to Makkah and so tried her utmost to accomplish it. Nonetheless, despite her consistent attempts, no agent could help her as she had no Mahram. This became another trial for her and, as before, she turned to Allah (swt) with all the heartache and sorrow and poured out her grief in prayer. She addressed all her grievances to Allah almighty and even when there were only three days remaining for hajj, she did not give up hope. She cried her heart out, and fervently supplicated to Allah, because of which she had a fainting episode, during which, she saw herself dressed in ihram, leaving for Mina’ and subsequently performed the entire Hajj in her dream. On coming to her senses, she was overjoyed and contacted Maulana Kaleem who was performing his Hajj at the time and described her entire Hajj journey with all its vivid details. Her narration left him speechless.
The following year, she worked on her brother and with Allah’s help succeeded in converting him to Islam and they were both fortunate in performing their Hajj that year.
She is presently involved in efforts to become a means of guidance to other family members and is determined to prevent them from entering into hell-fire. The purpose of her life, as an ummati of Prophet Muhammad (saw) she says, is to give da’wah to each and every human being and to be concerned over their condition and shed tears for their guidance, so as to release each one of them from this worldly prison and take them along with her towards the eternal and unfettered life of Paradise.
What is commendable about the above story is the concern of a new-Muslimah, who understood the true spirit of being among the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and who gained an iota of the Prophet’s pain and the essence of being a Muslim.
[Source: Naseem-e-Hidayat ke Jhonkey – Volume-1 (pages 43-56), Publishers: Maktabah Shah Waliullah, Jamiah Nagar, New Delhi. Narrated by: Sister Ayesha]