“What you mean the real Saeed Anwar? The legendary Saeed Anwar?” “Yes,” came the reply “its him.” I was in the middle of serving a customer at work when a friend of mine rang to tell me that Saeed Anwar would be coming to a mosque in Blackburn to give a Bayan (Talk) the next day. At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but quickly I realised that even this joker of a friend of mine wouldn’t do something like this, especially since he knew and knows how much I love Pakistani cricket. He then told me to ring another friend of ours to get further details. That I did almost immediately and this other friend of mine called Rizwan or Chappy as we all (lovingly) call him. He informed me that Saeed would be coming after Asr Namaz on Tuesday to give a Talk. He said he didn’t know how long it would take. “Who cares?” I said. “Even if it goes on all night ill stay.”
The next day, on Tuesday 12th July 2005 was a day I would never ever forget. I had already planned on going to Blackburn to meet up with a close friend of mine and since the weather was so good we decided to head off to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. After having an amazing time there I returned to Blackburn and started to in a way prepare myself for what I knew would be one of the most memorable moments in my life. Chappy and I arrived at the mosque (Anees-Ul-Islam) at half past 7 and we then realised that Asr was at 8:15. Chappy thought we had come too early and suggested we go for a walk to kill some time as the Namaz was still 45 minutes away. I however, refused and said that we should stay now that we were here as I knew the mosque would get packed really quickly and that we would be right at the back of the mosque and possibly not meet him if we left and came back later.
It was around 8:05pm when Chappy and I were sitting down when suddenly Saeed walked fast accompanied by a few people. He was just as id seen him in the pictures id seen on the Net. Sporting an impressive, long beard and wearing the traditional dress that many Muslim males wear. My heart started racing. I was in the same room as one of the greatest cricketers in the history of Pakistan cricket. It was truly an unbelievable feeling.
After the Asr Prayer had commenced, everyone huddled together so as to create more room for others. The Imam of the mosque then gave Saeed a passionate introduction, almost breathless when he had finished and Saeed took his place on a chair and began the hour long Bayan (Talk). It was one which would stay with me for the rest of my life.
Saeed talked about how his daughter’s death and the impact it had on his life. He also talked a lot about the Tableeqi or Jamaat tours that he undertook along with Inzamam, Shahid Afridi, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed.
He said that Inzamam used to work in a bank which involved Riba or Sood or Interest and that Inzamam also had and interest account. He also used to have luxurious items in his house and had as he put it “what many would consider a good life”. After going on Jamaat, it, in Saaed’s opinion changed Inzamam completely. He gave up his job as a banker, closed his account and rid the many luxurious items he had in his house. He, in Saeed’s opinion had been blessed by Allah Taalah.
He mentioned a few incidents but one that I remembered most vividly concerned my favourite player Shahid Afridi. It was when the Test team was to be announced for one series. One selector said at the time that Shahid was a one day player and that how could he play for the Test team. Then Saeed advised Shahid to come into Jamaat for 3 days. After 3 days Saeed got a call from Waseem Bari, who said that “I don’t know why but for some reason I really think Shahid should be in the Test squad.” “Subhanallah” (Praise be to Allah) is all I could utter when I heard that.
Saeed also used batting as an analogy of what being a Muslim means. He said as a batsman there are 11 players on the field, who want the batsman out and not make an runs Well as a Muslim we are contanstly under pressure from Satan to commit sins and not please Allah Taalah.
Saeed commentated briefly about the 99 World Cup Final and said in his own words that in that final he “unfortunately lost concentration” citing the reason as to why HE performed poorly. He didn’t give any other details.
Mentioned also how funny he found that children in Pakistan are prepared to wake up at around 4am to watch Pakistan play against Australia and get very angry even if they have missed just an over or two but when it comes to waking up for Fajr, they relentlessly curse their parents for waking them up. That caused a lot of laughter.
He also at one point asked for people to stand up and declare their intentions to go on Jamaat. Several people volunteered, perhaps inspired by the great man. At this point I was asking Chappy to volunteer when I turned around and Saeed pointed directly to ME and said “Naujawaan aap bee kar le” (Young man you volunteer as well). I almost had a heart attack at that point. At one stage the person sitting in front of me tried to take a picture of Saeed bhai and the fool forgot to turn the sound on his camera phone off. There was a bleep and Saeed immediately requested that no one should take any pictures. Everyone that was in the mosque thought it was me and started giving me dirty looks!
Generally it was a very absorbing and interesting talk. Saeed added lots of humour but also was serious in what he said.
After Maghrib came the time when everyone in the Mosque went to meet him. There was a mad rush as everyone was so desperate. My friend and I waited patiently and when my time came I shook his hand with both hands fairly aggeressively, a bit like a Shahid Afridi type handshake. He then said “Mashallah, are you a fast bowler.” Probably after seeing how big I was. I then replied, “No im a legspinner.”
Then when everyone had finished meeting him he started to make his way out of the mosque and I immediately rushed to him shook his hand again and asked him to give my salaams to Shahid Afridi. He then said ok and said goodbye. All I could do at that point was smile because id just met one of the greatest players in the history of cricket.