Fighting the Flood, 1954

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While rain is seen as a great blessing by those who go through the scorching heat of summer in India and Pakistan, it can, on occasions, turn into a challenge for day-to-day life. 

If rainfall exceeds a certain limit, the whole infrastructure of the affected region not only comes to a standstill but can be left devastated. Casualties and fatalities create an even more horrific situation. 

Although such situations are not rare in Pakistan, we go back in the annals of history to see how Ahmadis have always been at the forefront of serving humanity, despite being treated in the most inhumane way in countries like Pakistan.

September 1954 brought with it rainstorms in the Punjab Province of Pakistan that left the whole Province paralysed. The whole province of Punjab, known as the “Granary of Pakistan”, drowned not only in flood water but also in a situation of social chaos by the loss of life and property. The province was declared a “calamity area” by the authorities on 25 September 1954 as rain-swollen rivers threatened the worst floods in the history of the region. The death toll by that day had already hit 50 but weather forecasters had warned of much worse rainstorms and much worse consequences. The forecast proved right with a sharp rise in casualties and temporary houses and refugee huts being wiped off in thousands.

The army was called in to assist the civil authorities in strengthening the embankments of the four Punjab rivers – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej – that had surged above danger levels. 

This flood was of such a grand-scale that newspapers all over the world reported on it regularly. Taking you to the corners of the earth, we present here an excerpt from The Advocate – a Tasmanian newspaper. Reporting on the atrocities, The Advocate mentions that “thousands have already evacuated low-lying areas around Lahore and volunteers are fighting desperately to save wheat storage depots near Lahore, where the rising Ravi River has threatened the precious wheat supply.”

Now let’s have a look at who those volunteers were – risking their lives to save others. A great majority of this volunteer force comprised of Ahmadi youth from various parts of Punjab, mainly from the Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya of Lahore.

The then Qaid of MKA Lahore, Muhammad Saeed Ahmad Sahib, organised a relief scheme combining the Khuddam of Lahore and the ones that had travelled from elsewhere to volunteer for. Funds were raised for the relief effort by a great number of Ahmadis in Pakistan with a special, personal donation of five-hundred rupees by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra

The instruction sent to MKA Lahore from the Markaz was:

“As the Khuddam are aware, Punjab is struck by horrific floods. Khuddam should be ready to make every sacrifice and provide all sorts of aids to their neighbours. Saving lives should be the first priority. Services should be offered to the local authorities. Doctors and paramedics should come forward to provide first aid while others should contribute through donations and offering shelter in their own homes; this is the time to offer sacrifices and it would be unfortunate to be stay behind”. (Al Fazl, 1 October 1954, Letter from Naib Sadr Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Markazia)

The Khuddam, ready as always, offered all sorts of sacrifices to relieve the calamity-stricken families and individuals. Groups were formed and allocated various responsibilities; visiting hospitals, providing foods to families in affected areas, assisting the civil authorities in strengthening embankments and, above all, rescuing those stuck in the danger zones.

Ahmadi doctors and paramedics continuously visited those who were unable to make it to hospitals, providing first aid, medicines and finding ways to get them to hospitals for further treatment.

These services, highly commended by the Relief Commissioner of Punjab and other government bodies, continued for a period of a few months up to the time when the situation had come under control and had returned to normal. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, addressing the MKA Ijtema in 1954, commended these humanitarian services in the following words:

“The services rendered by Ahmadis of Lahore [during the recent calamity] was tremendous … Ahmadis from other parts of the country also contributed but Lahore has attained a high standard”.

Addressing the Jalsa Salana Rabwah on 27 December 1954, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said, “The way you served humanity in Lahore has left everyone – Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis – spellbound.”

Huzoorra commended the services again in his speech to the Jalsa Salana the next day on 28 December 1954:

“It is without doubt that the Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya of Lahore had breathed a new life in the Jamaat of Lahore, and the credit for this goes to their Qaid, Muhammad Saeed Ahmad Sahib and four or five of his associates. Not only did Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya render a great service for humanity but also contributed in making the Jamaat known to the general public. I commend the work of Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Lahore and hope that all Majalis will endeavour to exceed one another.”

By the sheer Grace of Allah, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, under the leadership of Khilafat, has excelled in humanitarian services in not only Pakistan but all parts of the world. Humanity First’s telethon over the weekend is one aspect of these services.

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