“I thought you were the kind I wanted. I wanted someone who could understand me as I was. Perhaps, it is me who did not understand that it was life – full of things we often don’t like and end up with. Things don’t go the way we want them to be. Is this all life holds for us? Maybe. Maybe not. I want this to go the way I want it to be. Forever. I feel helpless at times. But I can’t help it. No one is ready to listen to my side of story. That is why I curl up my hands, bow down my head and pray. I pray to the One who listens. After all, He is the only one who ever listened.”
Some people say that he fell in love, left home, became a phenomenon and came back to marry the woman who had been refused to him earlier. There is no way of knowing whether the career of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai of Sindh actually paralleled the Count of Monte Cristo so closely (and we need to be careful about apocryphal stories woven around the lives of great saints), but there are other testimonials to the warmth of the heart that throbbed in him.
The most astonishing is the way his work captured the spirit of a new age that was coming up not only in the Muslim world but also outside.
Bhittai was born in 1689 and died in 1752. This was when the Muslim world seemed to be awakening to the realisation that a universal ideal could be manifest in regional forms. Hence Abdul Wahhab in Hejaz set out to distinguish between the crux of Islam and historical accretion while Shah Waliullah of Delhi taught that the traditional model of Islam was an application of its ideals in the context of the seventh century Arabia and many other applications were possible in other contexts. Surprisingly, the new ideals that started developing in Europe around this time also converged on regional states.