A Father Who Led by Example
Bismilla hira man nira heem (In the name of Allah the Gracious the Merciful)
My beloved father, Nazir Ahmad Ayaz Sahib, took his final breath on July 3rd, 2016 at 12:00 am and departed from this world to meet his Creator. Inna lillahe wa inna illahe rajayoon. Alhumdolillah, he passed away peacefully with his loved ones by his side. As was his nature, he never inconvenienced anyone, planned precisely, and never wasted time, and so was true until the last beat of his heart. He was on his way to the Masjid during the last Ashra of Ramadhan. He passed away 48 hours later on the 27th Roza.
Nazir Ayaz Sahib arrived in the U.S.A. in 1977 from London, England. During this time, the late Missionary, Masood Jhelmi Sahib, took my father under his wing and immediately formed a very special bond. He appointed my father as the Financial Secretary of the New York Jamaat. It was during this time, my father’s passion and vigor to serve the jamaat began. As the Finance Secretary, he began keeping accurate records of chanda and issued receipts to members to know their payment was received and acknowledged. A few years later, in 1981, when I was five years old, my father became the President of the New York Jamaat, an honorable position he held until his very last day. He exemplified the motto:
“I shall give precedence to my faith over all worldly matters.”
His every action was towards the betterment of the Jamaat, especially focusing on the youth. With limited resources, he started the Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya Basketball tournament which has now become an international event, uniting Khuddam from all over the world. He collaborated with the local Lajna Sadr and Murabi Sahib and would take the young Lajna on hiking and camping trips engaging them in interactive dialogue. He advised us that “as Ahmadi women, you should not let any obstacles stand in the way of your success”. During jamaat events, my mother, Farhat Ayaz and I would be the first to arrive at the Mosque and the last to leave. Seeing my father with a mop, broom, or a vacuum was a common sight and an amazing example for everyone. I rarely saw him in the reserved section for special guests, or sitting in the front row, presiding over an event or making speeches. During his concluding remarks, he was always thanking others for their hard work and dedication. He was one of the most simple and humble human beings I have ever come across, whom I call proudly my father. As a family man, my father always spoke about the importance of serving the Jamaat and humanity, but stressed the importance of serving only to win the pleasure of Allah. He was always proud of the accomplishments of myself and his grandchildren. My father would often quote Hazrat Musle Maud’s (RA) poem when advising us, “Hum na kush hon gai jub tuk tumea Islam na ho,” meaning “we would not be content if the love of Islam was not within you” and would always tell me, “Khidmate deen ko aik fazil elahi jano” meaning “always think of serving Islam as blessing from Allah.”
In 1999, after a family trip to his birthplace, Tanzania, Africa, my father reassured the Tanzania Jamaat that the Ayaz family would provide any kind of aid and assistance necessary. Since then, the contributions of the Ayaz family have helped renovate mosques, educate students, provide employment, and provide Iftaars and food for eid. As the Director of Tanzania for Humanity First, he and his team were responsible for setting up the first mammogram machines in the country and brought nurses over to the U.S.A. to receive training, and set up a sewing and vocational school for adults, and a private elementary school for children. He had also donated a computer and science lab to a local high school as well as textbooks and educational materials. He has helped establish many water wells throughout the country providing families with fresh water. He was in the process of setting up an affordable health clinic to provide services to anyone requiring medical care.
Another outstanding quality was his belief in Allah and his habit of doing Zikre-Ilahi. He took on tasks with having full faith in Allah. During one of the worst economic recessions in history he purchased Bait-ul-Zafar in 2008 which seemed impossible for many. With complete faith in Allah, my father and his team of dedicated workers managed to raise the necessary funds required to purchase the property. He was a compassionate man, with many admirable qualities and always found ways to make others laugh and smile. However, his days and nights were spent in the remembrance of Allah. While sleeping, we would frequently hear him say, “Allah ho Akbar,” and “Astaghfirullah.” In fact, en route to the mosque to offer his daily Maghrib and Taravee prayers during Ramadhan, he would stop off at a local park for his daily walk. While walking on the tracks, he engaged in reciting Darood Shareef and Quranic prayers, and these were the words he was reciting before he collapsed and met his creator the following day.
I may have been Nazir Ayaz Sahib’s only child, but during these last few days, I have realized that he was a father figure, a mentor, a coach, a teacher and an inspiration to so many others. He was a pillar of support, a guide, a confidant, and a gentle selfless person who touched the hearts and souls of everyone he met. He had a personal relationship with the young and old, man or woman. Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation my mother, Farhat Ayaz Sahiba and I feel towards the jamaat for their unconditional love and support and the honor and respect you have bestowed on my father. On many occasions, I tried convincing him to come and live with me in Connecticut. His response was always, “I can never move away from the New York jamaat.” His love for Bait-uz-Zafar and its members was immense and the manner in which the jamaat has reciprocated that love has left us speechless.
Jazakallah, Ahsanal Jaza.
May Allah continue to shower His blessings on you and may New York always be a model jamaat for others to follow.