Hira’s Cry and the Story of Two Lion-hearts

The moving story of a Rajput girl who embraces Islam and is then martyred by her own family for the tenacity of her conviction. Hira’s murder seemed insignificant in the light of so many others similar to it, or more brutal. Yet, the striking effect it had on those in its proximity was cosmic. It shook their foundation, their beliefs, their way of life, their very existence!

 

“O Allah! Aren’t you watching me?
O Allah! Am I not your beloved?
O Allah! Your love is sufficient for me, I do not need anyone!”

These were the last, heart-wrenching words, lamented by Hira, carried away by the echoing waves of the tumultuous river, penetrating into the still-born souls of idol-worshippers.

Hira, an outgoing, impulsive and bubbly teenager was the first born in an orthodox Hindu Rajput family of Budhana village. Her father and uncle were members of an infamous bandit group. Looting, plundering and crime had come to them by blood.

After finishing her formal schooling, she applied for her high school against the wishes of her conservative family. To raise funds for her school fee, she toiled in the fields, and unable to understand the higher books, sought the help of a Brahmin girl in the neighborhood whose brother belonged to a dacoit gang who had their headquarters in the nearby dense forest. He seduced and talked the unsuspecting Hira into eloping with him to the forest.

Once there, Hira realized the enormity of her mistake and instantly regretted her hasty, but life-altering, decision. She thought of her family, and its name – Rajput – which was dearer to them than their lives, and now her one naïve act had scarred it with scandal, the brunt of which would have to be borne for the rest of their lives. But above all this was a gut-wrenching fear for her dignity due to which she was always edgy and did not have a moment of peace living in the all-male bandit gang. Every night, she secretly cried herself to sleep.

One night, one of the Muslim members of the gang, saw her crying and inquired the reason. She remorsefully related her wretched tale. The Muslim boy had pity on her plight and promised to help her reach home safely. So he warned the others that she seemed to be a brave girl and was extremely sure of herself. Taking his cue, the others kept to themselves and never bothered her. For her own safety, they disguised her as a man.

Hira noticed that in the entire group, the Muslim boy differed from the others – he never broke his word, gave shrewd advice and he always kept aside a part of his share for the poor. He made sure that Hira was given a separate place to sleep and would check on her many times during the night to ensure her safety. After a few days when he was convinced that Hira wouldn’t betray their hideout, he put his plan in to action – to help Hira escape.

On a ruse of sending her on an errand, he secretly instructed her to go to the police station and file a report saying that she had escaped from the clutches of her kidnappers. Hira did as she was bid. On inquiry, the police got to know that a missing report had been filed in Budhana by her name. So Hira was taken there and was safely handed over to her family.

Although she was taken in by them, her family was always suspicious and averse to keeping her there because of her rebellious ways. Hira tried to convince them that her dignity was safe but they refused to hear any part of it. One of her learned elders suggested that she undergo certain tests at the hospital to confirm what she claimed. Heeding the advice, she was immediately taken to the hospital and when the doctor assured them that she was still a virgin, they were greatly relieved.

After this event, Hira was preoccupied with the Muslims and frequently mentioned a Muslim boy who had protected her in the jungle. She started visiting a few Muslim neighbors, in the course of which she was gifted a copy of “Dozakh ka khatka aur Jannat ki kunji” by a girl. The sight of an Islamic book in their Hindu household ignited a raging fire in her uncle’s heart. He was enraged beyond measure and gave her a sound beating and threatened to kill her if it happened again. But Islam had made an unshakable abode in her heart and had illuminated the dark creases in it and nothing could sway her from it. She went to a Moulvi in a Madrasa and converted to Islam and secretly learnt to perform the Salah. She felt stifled and out of place in the dark ignorant household of idolaters, and forever had an overcast look on her formerly cheerful face. Exasperated, she hatched a plan with a Muslim gentleman and his wife and left for Phullat.

She lived in Delhi at Maulana Kaleem’s sister’s place and here she flowered as never before. She formed a deep bond with her and called her Aunty Rani affectionately. She learnt a lot under her care where she stayed for a year and a half. Since she had been very close to her family, especially her mother, she remembered and missed them a lot.

One night she dreamt that her mother had passed away. She became hysterical and was greatly disturbed by the fear that her mother would die a disbeliever. She pleaded to go home but Maulana Kaleem reasoned with her that if she returned, her family would kill her, and even worse, they would force her to give up Islam. It was this risk of losing her faith that kept her emotions at bay for some time. But unable to see her in such a miserable and homesick condition, he reluctantly gave in to her unyielding insistence under one condition – that she be steadfast in her faith and go home with the pure intention of inviting her family to the call of Islam, since, if she truly loved her family, it became her duty to worry about their eternal life and take pains to prevent them from becoming the fuel of hell. Hira told him that her family was incensed even by the name of Islam. Maulana Kaleem assured her by saying:

“Once their hearts are enlightened with the glow of Iman, they would view their religion with the same contempt and derision in which they hold Islam today. After all, even you had the same idea of Islam before.”

He encouraged her that if she went with this intention, she would be under Allah’s protection and even if she was made to suffer, it wouldn’t be in vain as it was a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet. He also presented to her the worst-case scenario that even if she was killed, she would die a martyr, whose rewards commence with death and he was certain that her martyrdom would become a means to her family’s guidance and that would be the best bargain she could hope for. He asked her to perform two Rak’ah to supplicate to Allah for her family’s guidance and to give her the strength to call them to Islam.

Eventually, when she reached home, her family was furious and her uncle brutally bruised and beat her up. She refused to disclose her former location but fearlessly informed them that she had converted to Islam and this decision of hers was resolute and immovable. When they tried to persuade her to give up her new-found faith she retorted by calling them to Islam instead. Her mother being continuously unwell passed away after two months of suffering. She pleaded with her father to bury her mother in the Muslim graveyard instead of cremating her as she had converted to Islam before her death, but her plea fell on deaf ears.

Subsequent to that, intense arguments broke out within the family as Hira was relentless in inviting her family to Islam and they were just as determined to resist it. Exhausted by her persistent efforts, her uncle sought advice from an extremist Hindu group who recommended killing her as the only choice.

One day, her father and uncle decided to take her out on the ruse of seeing her aunt, but, as if she was already aware of her impending doom she bathed and dressed in new clothes and requested to perform her last salah. Though they set out on an unknown route she never questioned and eagerly went along with them. When they reached the banks of the river, she asked her father laughingly: “Are you taking me to my aunt’s place or my Beloved’s?”

Even after this, her heartless father and tyrannical uncle had no mercy on her and it did not even appear to put a hitch in their stride. Her cruel uncle pushed the angelic girl into the deep pit saying “How will you save us from hell fire now? Here have a taste of hell!” and smothered her with petrol and unflinchingly set her on fire.

The fire seemed to devour her new clothes and brazenly wrapped its obliterating arms around the untainted body beneath. Her spineless father stood rooted in shock watching the agonizing plight inflicted on his beloved daughter.

The burning Hira raised her trembling hands towards heaven and beseeched:

“My Allah! Aren’t you watching me? My Allah! Am I not your beloved? My Allah! Your love is sufficient for me, I do not need anyone,” then she begged her father and uncle saying: “Father! Accept Islam before it is too late. Uncle! Become a Muslim.”

Her uncle was angered by her undying insistence, and dragged her father away from the nerve-racking scene. Her father begged to go back and pleaded that he would try one last time to move her from her treacherous faith, but in vain. On their way back, when they were passing by the scene of their heinous crime, they could hear her screaming La ilaha illa Allah in her fiery grave.

Although, her father and uncle returned home, deluding themselves of having done their duty to their religion, the last words of the earnest martyr had shattered their stony hearts and seemed to mock at them for their “religious loyalty” and it ultimately succeeded in accomplishing what the living, unyielding and angelic Hira could not…

Hira’s murder seemed insignificant in the light of so many others similar to it, or more brutal. Yet, the striking effect it had on those in its proximity was cosmic. It shook their foundation, their beliefs, their way of life, their very existence!

Hira’s uncle, Abdulla, narrates:

“My story of entering into the fold of Islam is a ray of hope to every dejected heart, for while the most Merciful and Beneficent can bestow His mercy on a lowly being and barbarian like me, it proves that anyone is susceptible to His generous guidance.”

“As a befitting epilogue to Hira’s murder, her father could not come to terms with the fact that he was responsible for callously burning his daughter to death for accepting a different faith, which alarmingly deteriorated his health. Resigned to his fast-approaching fate (death), he realized his crime and pleaded to die on the faith of Hira as a Muslim. Broken down by Hira’s death and his brother’s near-to-death condition, her uncle relinquished his hold on his brother and helped him to fulfill his last wish in the nick of time and ultimately he was given a Muslim burial in Delhi.

“Unable to accept the death of my brother as a Muslim and absolutely convinced that it was due to a curse of some Muslim which had befallen my family, I decided to seek the help of a Tantric (Exorcist). During my bus journey to the Tantric’s home, it was a serendipity that a cassette was playing, in which the poet narrated an incident of the Prophet Muhammad where an old lady burdened his back with filth while he prostrated himself (Sajdah) and he returned her cruelty with kindness and visited her when she was sick.

Coincidentally, the speaker happened to be directly above my head as if the message was specifically meant for me and it made an everlasting impression on my dejected heart. I realized that a Prophet with such qualities could never be a liar. I wanted to know more about Islam and gave up my futile quest for breaking an imaginary spell.

“I boarded another bus to take me home and, once again, I was immensely fortunate to hear an audio cassette of the renowned Pakistani speaker, Moulvi Haneef, who was speaking about death and the life after death – something which I had recently witnessed. Even though the bus had reached my destination, I continued my journey for the sole purpose of listening to the whole talk. The enlightening information I had gained by a mere cassette uprooted the deep-seated aversion I had towards Islam and I am grateful to my Creator who flung versatile and almost irresistible opportunities in my way to guide me to the straight path.

“On the same bus, I happened to meet a Moulvi and expressed my desire to convert to Islam to him upon which he guided me to Moulana Kaleem of Phullat as the unsurpassed entity for this noble cause. Without a backward glance, I proceeded on my journey to Phullat and with every second, I knew I was reaching out to my Creator. I declared the Shahadah on 31st January 2000 at the hands of Maulana Kaleem and was named Abdullah. I requested him for an hour of his time to converse privately with me and recalled remorsefully the horrific and barbaric acts I had committed in my life.

“Hearing the agonizing end of Hira, he could not hold back his tears and wept profusely for her plight. He remembered Hira with a tender poignancy and told me that Hira had lived with his sister in Delhi. Yet, he reassured me by quoting an ayah of the Qur’an which says, ‘Surely, good deeds drive away evil deeds. That is a reminder unto those who (wish to) remember’ (Surah 11: 114), and urged me to save as many lives as I could, to find peace within myself.

“After this, I made it my mission to endeavor to save as many lives as possible. I am grateful to Almighty Allah for bestowing me with the opportunity to do so during the Gujarat riots. I pretended to be a Hindu and managed to alert the Muslims to about 10-11 ghastly attacks planned by the Hindus and was able to get a number of Muslims to safety prior to the attacks.

Alhamdulillah, I also managed to save 400 innocent Muslim students of a Madrasa in Bhavnagar due to my timely tip-off to the police officer with whose help I demolished the back wall of the Madrasa and rescued them. Maulana told me that if Allah, the Most Merciful, could grant a person like me with the gift of guidance then he would surely forgive me. I was greatly comforted by this.

“I sold my landholdings in Budhana and purchased a house in Delhi. Finally, after one year, I was successful in convincing my wife, and my nieces to accept Islam. I spent some time with the Tableeghi Jama’at to learn about Islam.

“Whenever I am depressed and remember Hira, I read Surah al-Buruj (Ayah 4-11):

“Slain be the makers of the pit – of the well-stroked fire, when they sat by it; and were witness to what they did to the believers. And they took not vengeance on them, but because they believed in Allah the Mighty, the Praiseworthy, Whose is the dominion of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is witness over all things. Surely those who burned the believing men and women and, thereafter, repented not, theirs shall be the punishment of Hell and their’s the punishment of burning. Surely, those who believed and did good works, theirs shall be gardens underneath which flow rivers. That is the great triumph.” (Surah al-Buruj 4: 11)

“That puts me at ease with myself. I often ponder about the miracle of the Qur’an, which even though was revealed 1400 years ago, relates the event of me burning Hira almost exactly to the dot.

“I sincerely hope that Allah forgives me and grants me peace in this life as well as in the hereafter. In spite of all these years there is not a single second in which I do not remember my beloved Hira and the last words wrenching out of her scorched lips saying:

‘My Allah! Aren’t you watching me? My Allah! Am I not your beloved? Father! Accept Islam before it is too late, Uncle! Do become a Muslim!’ 

[Source: Naseem-e-Hidayat ke Jhonkey – Volume-1, Maktabah Shah Waliullah, Jamiah Nagar, New Delhi.]