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Aftab Malik informs us what happened at ISNA - A few years back...
"Shaykh Hamza and I were wading through the bazaar checking out the
books on offer. One particular book caught his eye and he rushed to pick
it up and his face lit up as he studiously studied the contents and
flicked through the pages.
As he was reading the book, a small, old
gentleman came on by and offered his salams to shaykh Hamza. "As-salam
'alaykum Shaykh Hamza," the man said in a humble, trembling voice
against the buzz of some ten thousand bargain hunters.
The man stood
there, waiting for a reply and I stood there thinking should I tap
shaykh Hamza on his shoulder? I stood and the man stood but there was no
response. The old man simply walked away.
Suddenly, Shaykh Hamza jolted
his head out from the tome. "Did someone just say salam to me?" he
asked me, as if he'd just snapped out of a daze. "Err ... yes. There was
this old genetlemen who said salam to you, but ..." I didn't finish off
my sentence. "We have *got* to find him," shaykh Hamza said as he
placed the book back onto the shelf and literally darted across the
bazaar stall area of ISNA.
Now, for those who know ISNA, the bazaar is
the most populated area. As we tried to navigate the tsunami of people
present, I could barely keep up with shaykh Hamza, all the while
thinking, how on earth are we going to find this one man amongst all
these people. "Is that him?" Shaykh Hamza asked as we encountered each
and every older gentleman present. "No." I replied.
We ran and searched
the whole bazaar, all the while fending off well-wishers and soon ended
up outside the bazaar and into the lobby. I had no idea where we were
going, but shaykh Hamza continued to run around looking for this
Finally, we reached the outer area of the hall ... and ... we
found the old man. He was with his son and his grandchildren. "That's
him!" I excitedly shouted and shaykh Hamza slammed on his brakes and
tapped the man on his shoulder. "As-salam 'alaykum," he said out of
breathe, "I am so sorry that I didn't return your salam. I sometimes get
lost in books and loose sense of where I am, " he said. "Shaykh, it's
no problem," the gentleman said, "You needn't had bothered yourself."
"No, no. I should have responded to your salam, it's your right."