“My Friend Zaheer : Visit to a ‘Pir’ Sahib”

By Wing Comd Shaharyar Shaukat (R), 60th GD (P) Course

Maj Zaheer-ud-Din Khan, EME (s/o Maj Bashir-ud-Din Khan, RVFC)Wing Comd Shaharyar Shaukat (R), 60th GD (P) CourseEditor’s Note: Wing Comd Shaharyar Shaukat took early retirement in 1999. He has now settled in Vancouver, Canada. He has written this article about his friend Zaheer-ud-Din Khan, an EME officer (s/o Maj Bashir-ud-Din Khan, RVFC). Maj Zaheer also took early retirement a couple of years earlier than Wing Comd Shaharyar Shaukat. Unfortunately, Maj Zaheer was shot by unknown assailants in Lahore on 7 Sept 2006.

Back in 1976, I was a newly graduated Pilot Officer and Zaheer was then a defence nominee studying in UET Lahore. Someone very close to me had heard about a ‘Pir’ Sahib who lived in the outskirts of Lahore and I was thus tasked to get ‘dua‘ and ‘dum‘ done from the ‘saintly’ figure. Somehow or the other, Zaheer could not take me to the ‘Pir’ Sahib, may be he was too busy in his studied or he didn’t believe in Pirs.

Khalid Ismael, Shaharyar Shaukat and Zaheer-ud-Din Khan in PAF Officers Mess, Lahore in 1976

On my great nudging, Zaheer finally relented. He agreed to accompany me to see the ‘Pir’ Sahib. Neither of us was so inclined but he understood my compulsion. So on a wintry afternoon of 1976, we both on a two-wheeler were trying to find the ‘Pir’ Sahib’sDera‘, in the outskirts of Lahore. With buffaloes sloshing in the ponds, cow’s dung plastered liberally outside the kutcha walls, hordes of mosquitoes on the loose : it was quite a change from our comfort zone.

We finally found the place and saw some folks filling water bottles from the hand pump outside the ‘Dera‘. This was a pre-requisite before entering the room and we joined the dozen or so folks awaiting their turn. The ‘Pir’ Sahib was in his thirties, seated on a raised platform, while others waited their turn on the floor mat. After getting  ‘dua and dum‘ done they would exit with great reverence, making sure that they didn’t turn their back to him. An interesting observation: at a certain point,  ‘Pir’ Sahib would deliberately look away and the ‘mureed‘ would quickly slip in a currency note of some denomination under his rug.

I placed a currency note in my palm and decided to do what the Romans do in Rome. Zaheer, saw my action and snatched it instantly. I protested meekly, as the prevailing ambience was of reverence and spirituality. He shushed me and asked me to keep quiet. Mercifully, we were at the end of the waiting otherwise we would have been declared ‘persona non grata’ by ‘Dera‘ administration.

On our turn, instead of the expected usual meek and subservient manner, Zaheer started a friendly and casual conversation. The ‘Pir’ Sahib was initially taken aback but soon enough was enjoying our conversation. He worked at a local bank and wasn’t as boring as we had thought. When the time came for ‘look away’, to my horror Zaheer put his hand under the rug and pulled out a few currency notes. Already feeling guilty of free ‘dum‘ I was shoving them back under the rug. This push-pull lasted a few seconds and am still not sure if we walked out of that place better than we had arrived. My currency note was certainly safe in Zaheer’s pocket; I guess that covered the gas expense.

On the way back, Zaheer explained his philosophy and it did carry weight. He said, “What can you expect from a person who even doesn’t know what’s happening below his rug?”

Rest in peace, my dear Zaheer. I am sure you must be pretty happy up there.

Khaak may kaya Suratain hongi kay pinhan ho gayeen

Related Page:
Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

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  1. Maj Aziz-ur-Rehman, Retd (15 War Course) says:

    This narration reminds one of an incident, much more dramatic and sensational. A Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) went for a dua and supplication to a well reputed Pir Sahib, living in a modern bungalow in a posh locality of Lahore. He was accompanied by his childhood friend and classmate, Mr Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema, ex IG Motorway Police. There was a long queue of cars belonging to all sorts of people including Parliamentarians, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and housewives, who had come to Pir Sahib Kohistani for Dua and taaweez.
    When their, the duo of friends, turn came to have been given audience by the revered Pir Sahib, the latter’s face looked somewhat familiar to Mr Zulfiqar Cheema and he kept gazing him. While departing, Mr. Cheema asked Pir Sahib if he belonged to Abbotabad. At this he was flabbergasted and told them that he was Fiqa, Muhammad Rafiq and then stooped to the toes of Mr Zulfiqar Cheema, imploring him that his business was running excellent but he would wind up and go back to his native place, Abbotabad.
    Mr. Cheema informed his friend MPA that he had dismissed Constable Muhammad Rafiq alias Fiqa on corruption charges when he was DIG Police Abbotabad. He said that he, the so-called revered Pir, should not be visible in the town and should go back to mountains for meditation and prayers.
    That is how the cover of a fake Pir, who had expanded his clientele of wealthy and affluent donors by his shrewd craftiness, was broken.

  2. Dear Wing Comd Shaharyar,
    It is an extremely heart-touching article, it made me very sad. Maj Zaheer, such a handsome officer, who was shot dead by unknown assailants, seemed to be a very jolly person. May Allah grant him the highest station in Jannat, Aameen.
    If that ‘Pir’ Sahib is still alive, he must be in his seventies and minting a lot of money. He must have devised some plan to save the currency notes from those who don’t believe in his ‘spirituality’.

  3. Maj Anwar Faridi (R) Las Vegas, NV , USA says:

    Going to a Pir or a Mazar for getting their blessing is a SHIRK. Allah will not forgive us.
    They exploited our society and have destroyed the whole system. Cornered in a misery we turn to these Pirs, instead of Allah. May Allah give us wisdom.

  4. Capt Zarar Insha Kitchlew (R), 2nd SSC, Saudi Arabia says:

    Wonderfully written and stated all the facts in a light and humourous manner. By the way I also do not believe in Pirs and there eyewashes. May ALLAH award the highest place in Jannat to Zaheer.

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