Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, Missionary In-charge UK
Let us study the state of iqamatus-salat (observance of Salat) in the blessed life of the Promised Messiahas in light of only a few examples.
The most luminous aspect of the life of the Promised Messiahas was his love for Allah. His whole life was absorbed in this very love and observance of worship, and prayer was his spiritual food. His observance of prayer in congregation was unparalleled. In the days of his youth, he was referred to by some family members as a masitar, i.e. the one whose time is primarily spent in the mosque engaged in worship. Hazrat Pir Siraj-ul-Haq Numanira writes:
“I presented myself before the Promised Messiahas in 1882 and remained in his presence until a few months prior to his demise. I always found the Promised Messiahas compliant to the observance of congregational prayer. (Tadhkiratul Mahdi, p. 70)
It is narrated by Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqrathat two or three years prior to the demise of the Promised Messiahas, whenever the Promised Messiahas could not come out for the Maghrib and Isha prayer, he would gather the women and children in the home and offer the prayers in congregation. (Speech at Jalsa Salana, 1930)
In his early days, the Promised Messiahas would keep Hafiz Muinuddin with him for the sole purpose that in this way, he would receive the opportunity to offer prayer in congregation. During the lawsuits that he faced, the Promised Messiahas never missed a prayer. He would seek permission from the court and offer his prayers on time.
The Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas have painted a wonderful image of the prayers of the Promised Messiahas. There is a narration of Hazrat Hafiz Hamid Alira that the Promised Messiahas would offer his prayers with great preoccupation and interest. He would repeat the words “Ihdinas-siratal-mustaqim” (Guide us in the straight path) very often and would repeat the words “Ya Hayyu ya Qayyumu birahmatika astagheeth” (O Living and Self Sustaining Allah, I beseech Thy Mercy). He would repeat these words again and again with great emotion and passion as someone asks for something of his superior, whilst weeping, asking for his desired item again and again. Generally, his prostrations before Allah in prayer were very lengthy and at times it seemed that he would melt and flow away in his emotions.
Another description of the prayer and supplication of the Promised Messiahas is found in a narration of Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sialkotira. He narrates that it was the days when the plague was rampant in Punjab and people were falling prey to this disease. This was the plague which had been manifested as a sign of the Promised Messiah’s truthfulness, but due to his love for mankind, he was engaged in prayer for them. The way the Promised Messiahas was praying astounded Maulvi Sahibra and he said:
“There was such grief and emotion in this prayer of the Promised Messiahas that the heart of the listener melted, and the Promised Messiahas was weeping at the Divine threshold in such pain just as a woman in childbirth. Upon listening more attentively, I noticed that the Promised Messiahas was praying for the salvation of mankind from the punishment of the plague. The Promised Messiahas was saying, ‘If these people are destroyed in this chastisement, who shall worship you?’” (Sirat Masih-e-Maud, Vol. 3, p. 395)
In addition to Tahajud, the Promised Messiahas would sit in complete seclusion for the worship of Allah during a part of the day. In his last years, when he had Baitul-Dua built, he would shut the door and sit inside for about two hours and engage himself in the worship of Allah. Many a time, in search of seclusion, he would go out and would sit and worship his Lord in seclusion.
Another aspect of iqamatus-salat is that when the time for prayer arrives, it should be given precedence over all other engagements. I present a beautiful example of this from the life of the Promised Messiahas. Hazrat Syeda Nusrat Jehan Begum Sahibara, the blessed wife of the Promised Messiahas, states that the Promised Messiahas said to her:
“Once, I travelled for a lawsuit. Other cases were being dealt with while I waited under a tree outside. Since it was time for prayer, I began to offer my prayer right there. However, during my prayer, I began to hear my name being summoned by the court, but I continued praying. When I completed my prayer, I noticed an attendant of the court standing next to me. As soon as I completed it, he said, ‘Mirza Sahib! Congratulations, you have won the case.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 14)
Despite being in severe pain and illness, the Promised Messiahas always paid due regard to iqamatus-salat. I present one example of this.
The Promised Messiahas was authoring a book called Nurul-Haqin response to a book written by a Christian. Only four or five pages had been written when the Promised Messiahas was struck with a severe headache. The pain increased so much that the Promised Messiahas could not come to the mosque for three days. On the fourth day, after feeling slightly better, he came for the Fajr prayer and offered the congregational prayer with great difficulty whilst sitting. The state of his illness was such that the Promised Messiahas was heavily perspiring, and he was so weak that after the prayer, he could not even sit any longer and lay down in the mosque. (Tadhkiratul Mahdi, pp.48-49)
Hazrat Sardar Begumra, wife of Hazrat Sardar Imam Bakhsh Qaisaranira, narrated an inspiring anecdote. She stated:
“One day, Huzooras [the Promised Messiahas] developed renal colic. Among other treatments, he himself or his wife, Hazrat Amma Janra, fomented the painful spot with pieces of clay, heated on fire. He was very restless because of the pain; he would lie down on the bed and then sit up. Just at that moment, the Azan for Asr prayer was called. Huzooras, the chosen one by God, tied up a heated piece of clay on to the painful spot and offered Salat. Thus, he demonstrated that although disease is inevitable, Salat is obligatory.” (Al Hakam, 21 September 1934)
The great care of the Promised Messiahas regarding the issue of iqamatus-salat reminds us of the perfect example of the Holy Prophetsa at every step. The soul is entranced to see how this true servant followed his Master, the Holy Prophetsa at every step. Furthermore, his state is such that after fulfilling his responsibility of worship to the maximum limits of his capacity, he still felt embarrassment and shame.
There is an incident in the era of the Promised Messiahas when a dancer, who was invited to a non-Muslim’s home for a wedding, sang and danced all night long. When the Promised Messiahas was informed of this, he enquired, “Why don’t you find out how much this poor lady earned for the night?” It was discovered that she earned five rupees. When the Promised Messiahas came to his companions the next morning, he said:
“I was embarrassed all night long that this lady worked so hard for a mere five rupees. We receive thousands and thousands, nay, countless gifts and rewards from our benefactor and protector, Allah the Exalted and we still do not work as hard. Similarly, when I hear the security guard at night, I become embarrassed that he watches guard all night long for a mere four or five rupees a month. He does not even rest during the shorter nights; he does not care about the cold or rain. On the other hand, some of us sleep so negligently in comparison to him. Man should do justice to himself in his own heart.”(Al Fazl, 16 August 1998)
The final action of this blessed individual was prayer. In his last moments the Promised Messiahas became very weak. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, his son, describes these last few moments:
“When the time for morning prayer arrived [the Promised Messiahas] asked in a faint voice, ‘Is it time for prayer?’ A servant responded, ‘Yes Huzooras, it is time.’ Upon hearing this, the Promised Messiahas touched the sides of his bed, to perform tayamum [an alternative for ablution when water is unavailable] and intended for prayer whilst laying on the bed, but fell unconscious. When he regained consciousness, Huzooras enquired again, ‘Is it time for prayer?’ It was said that, ‘Yes Huzooras, it is time.’ Then he intended for prayer again and offered his prayer whilst lying there.”(Silsila-e-Ahmadiyya, Vol. 1, p. 177)
This point is especially worthy of remembrance, that there is a very close relationship between iqamatus-salat and the institution of Khilafat. In Ayat-ul-Istikhlaf, by stating “ya‘budunani la yushrikuna bi shay‘a” (They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. [Surah al-Nur, Ch.24: V.56]), Allah has promised the believers that through the blessings of Khilafat, they shall observe their worship merely for the pleasure of Allah the Exalted. The community of believers, under the shade of Khilafat shall become a community of worshippers, and every individual of this community shall be an exemplary model of the divine injunction of iqamatus salat. Therefore they shall receive a reward for standing firm upon the wholehearted unity of Allah the Exalted.
Today, God has placed the crown of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya upon this community; we have been granted this great reward. Therefore, O lovers and devotees of Khilafat! Come, let us express our gratitude for this divine blessing and let us express our attachment, loyalty and obedience to Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya by making a resolute intention that we shall apply the divine order of iqamatus salat upon ourselves in such a manner that every aspect of this topic holds true to our personalities. May prayer become our soul food. May prayer become the delight of our eyes and may our hearts find pleasure in prayer. May Allah make it so that we stand firm on this oath with a true heart, firm determination and true loyalty such as every one of our prayers falls true to every level of iqamatus-salat. May we remain alive with lively and life-giving prayers, and may we hand over our lives to our Lord whilst offering such acceptable prayers.