Shaykh Mahmūd-al-Hasan rahimahumullāh, commonly known as Shaykh-al-Hind, had earned great fame throughout India. Subsequently an ‘Ālim from Ajmer, Shaykh Mu‘īn-ad-dīn Ajmerī rahimahumullāh, decided that he would travel to Deoband to visit him. Reaching Deoband by rail, he informed a dog-cart driver that he wished to meet Shaykh-al-Hind rahimahumullāh. (Although acclaimed with the title of Shaykh-al-Hind throughout the world, in Deoband he was simply known as the Big Shaykh.) The driver ascertaining that the newcomer wanted to meet the Big Shaykh, drove him up to the door of Shaykh-aI-Hind rahimahumullāh.
It was the hot season at the time, and when Shaykh Ajmerī rahimahumullāh knocked a man in a vest and loincloth answered the door. The guest said. ‘I have come from Ajmer to meet Shaykh-al-Hind. my name is Mu‘īn-ad-dīn.’
‘Please come in and sit down,’ came the reply. After being seated the guest said, ‘Go and inform Shaykh Mahmūd-al- Hasan that Mu‘īn-ad-dīn Ajmerī has come to meet him.’
The man said, ‘You have arrived at a very hot time of year,’ and proceeded to fan the guest. After some time, Shaykh Ajmerī rahimahumullāh made his request again. The man replied, ‘Indeed I shall inform him,’ and went in, only to return with a meal. The guest again said, ‘Brother, I have not come here to eat but to meet Shaykh-al-Hind. Introduce me to him.’
‘Please eat,’ came the reply, ‘You shall very soon meet him.’
Shaykh Ajmerī rahimahumullāh ate and drank until finally he started to get angry. ‘I’ve been telling you over and over again but you just won’t go and inform the Shaykh!’ he retorted.
Thereupon the man said, ‘The fact is there is no Shaykh-al- Hind residing here, however Mahmūd (i.e. Shaykh-al-Hind) is the name of this humble one.