Remembering a Great Reformer

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Abdul Basit Shahid

Co-biographer of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra

The very first recollection that I have of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra is when I was very young. 

Nowadays we celebrate Amin ceremonies [completion of the first reading of the Holy Quran]. In those days a Bismillah ceremony was also held where a child would learn to read Surah al-Fatihah from an elder of the Jamaat. 

I was born in Qadian in 1933. I was honoured and privileged that my Bismillah was conducted by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra

One day, Huzoorra visited the Lajna to deliver a dars (sermon) and my mother took me with her. I remember that Huzoorra recited Surah al-Fatihah and I recited it after him. 

A Bai‘at also took place right after the Bismillah as a lady was present to pledge allegiance at Huzoor’sra hand. Huzoorra began with the words, “Today, at the hand of Mahmud…” Now, I had been told that a Bai‘at is when you read after the Khalifa, and so I also began to simultaneously say those words. Huzoorra smiled and said “Mian [son], I will be taking the Bai‘at.” This is my first recollection of Huzoorra.

I used to see Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra very frequently as my father’s shop was located right below Masjid Mubarak in Qadian – it was in the hub of the town and was located at the junction of all the main roads. Therefore, I had ample opportunities to see Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra

I remember that whenever a group of people would gather outside Masjid Mubarak, it was because Huzoorra was passing by. We would then go and join the line of people and would have the honour of shaking and kissing Huzoor’sra hand. My friends and I would then compete with each other to see who had the most opportunities to meet Huzoorra in a day. 

I have been attending Jalsa Salanas from a very young age as my father, Abdul Rahim Darwesh Sahib, was very passionate about attending Jalsas as well as participating in tabligh. 

He had a very excellent way of speaking and many Ahmadis used to say that they wanted to go with my father for tabligh as his speech was very eloquent. Hence, I had the opportunity to attend Jalsas. 

It was due to this passion of my father that I was present at the Jalsas in which Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra announced his claim to be the Musleh-e-Maud in Lahore, Delhi and Hoshiarpur. The Jalsa in Ludhiana was not open to children which is why I could not attend. However, all the others, I attended. In fact, last year I had the chance to visit Hoshiarpur and I refreshed my memory about many of the incidents I narrate – I am happy to say that I have been narrating them quite accurately. 

The Lahore Jalsa was quite unique – Huzoorra stated that Allah the Almighty had given him such youngsters that if suicide was not forbidden in Islam, he could ask, in the presence of the audience, a hundred youths to step forward and stab themselves in the abdomen. This was how much confidence Huzoorra had and just a reflection of how much he had inspired the youth. 

In the Jalsa of Delhi, some opponents planned to cause trouble and they attacked the Jalsa. Some of our elders suffered injuries. At that occasion, Huzoorra announced, “I am giving the police ten minutes to control the situation otherwise we will have to control it. Where is my son Nasir Ahmad?” I remember these very words of Huzoorra, that after ten minutes, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad would control the situation. 

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The Delhi Jalsa in which Huzoor r.a. announced that he was Musleh-e-Maud, 1944

Some sermons of Huzoorra I remember distinctly, perhaps because I have also come across them afterwards continuously. 

For instance, with regard to MTA it is well known that Huzoorra once stated that a time would soon come when an individual located in one place would teach the Holy Quran and people all over the world would be listening simultaneously. This was the time when the loudspeaker had not yet come to Qadian, and due to a high number of attendees, duty-holder would be appointed to stand at some distance and relay the words of Huzoorra to the people behind. 

Then, when the loudspeaker was invented Huzoorra presented the justification for it before the Jamaat. Huzoorra stated that the Jamaat had now grown and audiences were large in number and his voice was weak as his throat was frequently sore, hence, it was better that the Jamaat purchased the loudspeaker. Huzoorra was in a way appealing to the Jamaat for this. 

Thereafter, a loyal Ahmadi arranged for it to be set up in Masjid Aqsa. I remember, before the loudspeaker, the darses (sermons) of Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ishaq Sahibra were very popular and he would stand next to the partition of the ladies so both sides could hear.

When Huzoorra would recite the Holy Quran during sermons, his manner of recitation was incredibly heart-moving and exceptional. We would always desire that Huzoorra continue the tilawat. 

Then, following the recitation of the Quran, Huzoorra would explain his discourse in a very eloquent, masterly and dignified way. We never saw Huzoorra adopt the style of normal speakers where they use hand gestures and continue shouting unnecessarily. His speeches would be very passionate but dignified and had a very unique style of delivery. 

It is generally known that people would listen to Huzoor’sra speeches having lit candles in front of them as the speech would be quite lengthy – hence they would light a candle and be taking notes in the dark. 

A light-hearted anecdote is well-known that an elderly gentleman once said to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra “You trouble us a great deal because when we need to go to the toilet, we wait for you to finish a particular point, but then you start speaking on something else and then we again wait for that point to end. This waiting continues for a long time. So Huzoor, you have such an interesting way of speaking that we cannot leave even though we need to.” 

I remember once that a newspaper of Delhi which was called Riazat, if I’m not mistaken, whose editor was Diwan Singh Mafton published an article stating that Ahmadis supported the cause of Pakistan and said, “But do they not remember what happened to them in Kabul?” He went on to say that if a Pakistani government was created then what happened to them in Kabul shall be repeated again. 

I recall Huzoorra responding to this in a speech. I saw that he was very much moved and was speaking very passionately – this is something I remember very well due to the way in which Huzoorra was speaking. Huzoorra said: 

“You remind us of the conduct of Muslims, yet how have Hindus and Sikhs done any better? Whether Muslims treat us well or not, we are currently trying for a state for the Muslims. If something benefits the Ummah we will always strive for it regardless of whether we benefit from it or face persecution.” 

In the same way, when Huzoorra announced his claim of being Musleh-e-Maud in Lahore, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra stood up during the speech and, not being able to hold himself back, proclaimed, “We believe in whatever Huzoor is claiming!” or he said, “Whatever Huzoor is claiming, we believe it to be true!” – I do not recall the exact words. 

That day too, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’sra voice and manner of speaking was different to his usual sermons. I was ten or eleven years old at the time, but I remember thinking and acknowledging the fact that Huzoor’s speech was different that day and wanted to ask my father after the speech as to why this was? When we left afterwards, the atmosphere was one of celebration and people were greeting each other, so I gathered what had happened. Huzoor’sra way of speaking was incredibly inspiring. 

When the first volume of Tafsir-e-Kabir was published, Huzoorra announced in a sermon that some volumes had been prepared and were now available. I recall that so many people became motivated due to this that afterwards, my father rushed towards the offices of Tahrik-e-Jadid where the tafsir (exegesis) was being sold and I had to run to keep up with him. People walked hurriedly and running to the office so that they could obtain it. 

There are many aspects from which we can see how Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra motivated people. For instance, the Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya pledge also illustrates the kind of nation that Huzoorra wanted the Jamaat to become and his expectations of us. Huzoorra once stated, “I have established such schemes in the Jamaat that not even Hitler and Mussolini gave to their nations.” 

The establishment of Rabwah too was such a grand task. Huzoorra gave the example that if a gardener needed to move a tree from one place to another, he would have to endure hardship. But in the case of Rabwah, an entire community needed to be re-established as if an entire garden had to be re-planted. A land which was not worthy of being inhabited and had been marked as having no water was where Huzoorra, through his prayers, re-established everything. 

The atmosphere in Qadian was very religious with the majority of our activities related to the Jamaat. We would regularly attend Atfal programmes. But when Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra delivered the sermons on Waqf (life devotion), due to the environment of Qadian and of course those sermons, I myself declared that I wanted to dedicate my life for the cause of the Jamaat. This was around 1944, after which I gained admission in Jamia. 

I once remember that I had the opportunity to work on the chapters of Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal which was a task a few of us were carrying out in Jamia.

Hazrat Maulana Abul Ata Sahib came to our class one day and he dictated some sentences to us which we all jotted down – we did not understand the purpose behind this. When he collected the papers, he chose five of us and handed us to another teacher who was working on this project. Hence, we began this task without any experience and not even knowing what the task was that needed to be carried out. 

This was a project that was directly overseen by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra. Once, I was working on this and I was informed that Huzoorra had asked for me. I was a student at the time and thought whether Huzoorra even knew me personally or not? I went to the office of the private secretary who informed Huzoorra that I was here. Hazrat Maulana Abul Munir Nurul-Haq Sahib and I presented ourselves before Huzoor. 

Huzoorra asked me about my education and whether I had completed the FA exam. I said that I was in Jamia and had only passed the matriculation exam. Huzoorra stated that even if a person is not well-educated, provided they are intelligent, they can achieve many things. Huzoorra then gave the example of an individual, whose name I cannot remember, who would deliver such an excellent speech in English that Englishmen would travel to listen to his speeches. So Huzoorra was comforting me by saying that education was not as important as effort. 

It was the grace of God that my father had the opportunity to serve as a Darwesh, and this is a great honour. Prior to this, my father worked hard and managed to acquire some property in Qadian. However, when the call came to dedicate property for the Jamaat, he donated all that property he had accumulated over the years. After the split of India and Pakistan, the homes and shops that my father owned were in the possession of Hindus and Sikhs and my father would see this every day. So this was a huge sacrifice, something which we cannot fully comprehend. 

I recall seeing the flag of Pakistan waving from the post office across our home but was taken down a couple of days later and replaced with the Indian flag. We had always believed that we would never migrate and leave Qadian as this was our home and the Markaz. However, the conditions became such that we had to leave. 

At the time, the majority of the newspapers had written that Qadian was like an island and that all Muslims were seeking refuge there. I migrated with my siblings and mother for whom it was a huge sacrifice as she undertook this responsibility with great care and dignity. 

When Rabwah was being built, a large building was constructed for the families of the Darweshan. Huzoorra personally supervised the shifting of those families from Lahore to Rabwah. When those families arrived at the railway station close to Rabwah, Huzoorra came to receive them; this was at midnight. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra was serving as Nazir Khidmat-e-Darweshan. He was very soft-hearted and took great care of us. Sometimes he would knock on our door and deliver letters from my father in Qadian and would jokingly say that he was our postman. This was the love he had for us.

I believe that people have not fully understood the grandeur of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra

I remember that Ghulam Rasul Mehr, editor of a newspaper called Inqilab and a non-Ahmadi, once said that the status of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra had not been fully understood. He said that people took their worries to him and left feeling motivated. 

“May God have mercy on this ardent devotee of Islam”. It was Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra who strengthened us. Atfal-ul-Ahmadiyya, Lajna Imaillah etc., all these walls are those in which we are working in till this day. 

(Transcribed and translated by Nauman A Hadi, UK)

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