13 veils between people and the Companions of the Promised Messiah

Iftekhar Ahmed, Ahmadiyya Archive & Research Centre
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Among the treasures of Ahmadi Muslim literature, Sirat-ul-Mahdi, penned by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra MA, holds a distinguished place. Nestled within its pages lies a thought-provoking discourse, entry no. 157, which unveils some intricate realities about the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas. At the heart of his discourse lies a profound realisation: the path to appreciating true worth is often obstructed by veils of perception and circumstance. With a masterful blend of theological acumen and historical nuance, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra elucidates 13 profound reasons that often obscure the true essence of this sacred community from the eyes of the beholder. Drawing upon the wellspring of divine revelation and the profound teachings of the Promised Messiahas, he navigates the complexities of this subject with finesse, offering a multifaceted perspective that challenges conventional assumptions.

1. Contemporaneity

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra begins by unveiling the first veil that obscures our appreciation of the Companionsra—the veil of contemporaneity. He explains that just as being from the same homeland poses an obstacle to recognising a person’s true worth, as reflected in the saying, “No prophet is debased except in his own land,” similarly, being contemporaneous is a great obstacle to comprehending true worth. This bias seems to work naturally within humans. Since the Community of the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa is from a distant era for people of this age, while the Community of the Promised Messiahas is from their own time and before their very eyes, they generally cannot comprehend the worth of the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas. However, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra assures that when this era passes and the Community that attained companionship of the Promised Messiahas becomes a thing of the past, future generations will view the same Community with a perspective that unveils their true grandeur, unobscured by the veil of contemporaneity.

2. Limited historical understanding

The second reason, as expounded by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, is that people are generally not well-versed in Islamic history in detail, but here they are witnessing the events with their own eyes. Their understanding of the Community of the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa is typically derived from the sermons of preachers, who, in order to create an impactful effect with their words, generally embellish and relate particular events and sayings in a way that generates awe and inspiration. Consequently, people start to assume that all individuals of that Community were imbued with the same exalted hue in all situations, forming an idealised picture in their minds. However, when they evaluate the Community of the Promised Messiahas by the same criterion, they witness firsthand, the human frailties and imperfections in certain individuals. This difference in perception can lead to an inadvertent underestimation of the grandeur of the Promised Messiah’sas Companionsra.

3. Disparate circumstances

The third veil, as identified by him, is that the states of the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa are available to us in an organised and documented form from the perspective of their collective body. In contrast, despite being contemporaneous, the states of the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas are not yet available to us in such a manner. He asserts that if the accounts of the Promised Messiahas and his Companionsra are collected and documented in an organised way, akin to Islamic history, then their reality will be unveiled, insha-Allah. He highlights that even the Companionsra themselves were not fully aware of the detailed accounts of the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa that we now know or can know about them as a collective body. This lack of organised documentation obscures the true essence of the sacrifices and sublime examples set by the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas, awaiting to be unveiled when their chronicles are properly compiled.

4. Trials of a different nature

The fourth veil, as elucidated by him, is that every era has different characteristics and different circumstances. The Companionsra were destined by Divine Will to face such physical opportunities that highlighted their faith as firm believers and manifested it to the world. However, the Community of the Promised Messiahas was not destined to face trials of that kind. Nonetheless, he expresses hope that if faced with similar circumstances, their faith too would have become manifest in the same way, commensurate with their ranks. He cites the example of the two individuals from among the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas who faced the occasion where their lives were demanded as a sacrifice in the way of God, and the world has witnessed the sublime example they set, referring to the martyrs of Kabul. The unique challenges faced by each era shape the manifestation of faith in different ways, yet the resolve of true believers remains unshaken, irrespective of the trials they encounter.

5. Intensity of opposition

The fifth veil, which he states that people generally fail to see through, is that in order to accurately assess the level of reform of a people, it is necessary to gauge the opposing forces that confront that people on the path of faith. He explains that if a people faces extremely formidable and perilous opposing forces, then even a relatively short distance travelled by them on that path holds great merit and eminence. Thus, it is insufficient to merely observe how far a people has progressed; one must also consider the obstacles they faced in achieving that progress. From this perspective, he affirms that the reform of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is truly miraculous, for it is an acknowledged fact that the opposing forces working against faith in this era have no parallel in past eras. He contends that these trials are greater than even the era of the Holy Prophetsa, because this is the era of the Dajjal, about whom it is stated in traditions that all prophets have warned their peoples, and the Holy Prophetsa himself warned his followers greatly.

6. Veil of mortality

The sixth veil that obscures our vision, according to him, is the natural human tendency to overlook the virtues of the living while amplifying their weaknesses. He reminds us that it is only after death that the virtues of individuals truly shine forth, while their imperfections fade into obscurity. This phenomenon is particularly evident in our perception of the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas, as we witness their frailties first-hand during their lifetimes. Yet, as time passes and their memories become etched in history, their sincerity and sacrifices will undoubtedly emerge as beacons of inspiration, just as we are experiencing practically: the virtues of those friends who have passed away are leaving a deeper impression compared to those still alive among us. This veil prevents us from truly appreciating the greatness of those who walk among us until the passage of time unveils their true worth.

Minaratul Masih scaled
Qadian | Wiki Commons

7. Conflating individual and collective reform

The seventh veil, as highlighted by him, stems from the misconception that individual reform is the sole criterion for judging a community’s transformation. He enlightens us that there is a difference between individual reform and the collective reform of a community, and their criteria are separate. For a community to be considered reformed, it is not necessary that all its individuals be reformed. Rather, a people whose majority has undergone transformation within themselves and developed the light of faith and righteousness will be called reformed, even if some individuals do not exhibit reform. Similarly, it is also not necessary that all reformed individuals be at the same level of righteousness, as it is an established fact that people exist at different spiritual ranks. Hence, the condition of the Community should be looked at as a collective body while keeping in mind the diverse natural faculties and innate capacities of different individuals. This understanding is crucial in accurately assessing the reform of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a whole.

8. Visibility of weakness

The eighth veil that he identifies is cast by the observation that weak people, even if very few in a community, appear more visible because evil catches the eye, while goodness, due to its subtlety, is generally not perceived by the senses. He shares his personal experience of witnessing that even if there are only five or ten wicked people among thousands, people generally get the impression that most are wicked and good people are few, because the wicked person becomes prominent due to his wickedness and people’s attention is immediately drawn towards him. However, when that era passes, it is as if the speck has left the eye, and only the subtle and cool air of goodness remains to soothe it. This natural human tendency to be drawn towards the visible manifestations of weakness, while overlooking the quiet goodness that pervades, can distort our perception of the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas.

9. Presence of hypocrites

The ninth veil, according to him, stems from the misconception that there are no hypocrites within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, unlike during the time of the Holy Prophetsa when hypocrites were present. He emphatically dispels this notion, stating that just as there were hypocrites back then, there are hypocrites now as well. The idea that hypocrisy was possible during the era of the sword, which could not occur in this era of freedom, is a foolish thought. Firstly, he clarifies that this would imply—and he seeks Allah’s refuge from such a notion—that Islam was being accepted under coercion at that time, which is absolutely wrong and baseless. Secondly, even if Hypothetically, there was a fear of the sword, the sword is not the only force that can exert pressure on human nature. There are numerous other factors that can persuade a weak person to act against their conscience. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra observes that hypocrisy is witnessed more in daily life nowadays than perhaps in any past era.

10. Indistinct Companions

The tenth veil, highlighted by him, arises from the lack of clear delineation between the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas and other Ahmadi Muslims. Unlike the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa, whose identities are distinct through the compilation of history, the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas are often intermingled with those who embraced the faith after his demise. He, emphasises the importance of recognising, that true companionship is defined by the privilege of being in the direct presence and tutelage of the Holy Prophetsa or the Promised Messiahas. He states that, in his view, only those are called Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa who were present during his time and had the privilege of being in his company in a state of faith and received teaching and training from him. Until historical accounts clearly demarcate this sacred circle, any inference about the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas may be premature. This lack of distinction poses a challenge in accurately assessing the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas, as they are intermixed with non-Companions, complicating the process of forming a comprehensive opinion about them as a collective body.

11. Admonitions and praises

The eleventh veil, highlighted by him, arises from the misconception that the Promised Messiahas did not explicitly praise his Companionsra, contrary to the Quranic commendations bestowed upon the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa. However, he dispels this notion by directing our attention to the revelations of the Promised Messiahas, which are replete with praises for his esteemed Companionsra. He elucidates that the act of admonition and exhortation is a crucial aspect of spiritual guidance, serving to selectively present the exemplary deeds of the past while simultaneously exposing the weaknesses of the audience. This approach aims to motivate individuals towards righteousness by making them aware of their shortcomings, thereby spurring them to strive for progress. The Promised Messiahas, in a letter to the apostate Abdul Hakim Khan, clarified this principle, stating that he always exhorted his followers to make further progress and did not remind them of their virtues, though he was pleased with them in his heart. This practice, he explains, was also commonly employed by the Holy Prophetsa, as narrated in the traditions. Therefore, no adverse inference should be drawn about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community based on certain statements of the Promised Messiahas or his Khulafa which may highlight their weaknesses, as this was a means to inspire spiritual growth.

12. Scriptural acknowledgement

The twelfth veil, as elucidated by him, addresses the perception that the Holy Quran has praised the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa, but no such praise would be observable for the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra asserts that this notion is erroneous, for the revelations of the Promised Messiahas abound with praises for his Companionsra. Moreover, he emphasises that there is no need for separate praise, as the Quranic verse “And He will raise him among others of them who have not yet joined them” (Surah al-Jumu‘ah, Ch.62: V.4) explicitly includes the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas within the fold of these praises bestowed upon the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa. The Promised Messiahas himself has expounded upon this verse in his writings, explaining that just as the grace of the Holy Prophetsa was bestowed upon his Companionsra, in the same way, without any distinction or difference, the grace will be bestowed upon the Community of the Promised Messiahas. This understanding, rooted in the explicit words of the Holy Quran, dispels any doubts regarding the exalted status of the Promised Messiah’sas Companionsra and their inclusion in the divine praises bestowed upon the blessed company of the Holy Prophetsa.

13. Divinely ordained gradual progress

The thirteenth veil, according to him, is rooted in the divine decree that the progress of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is destined to be gradual, akin to a seed sending forth its shoot, as mentioned in the Quranic verse: “like unto a seed-produce that sends forth its sprout.” (Surah al-Fath, Ch.48: V.30) He cites the Promised Messiah’sas explanation that this verse refers to the Community of the Promised Messiahas, indicating that their progress is not destined to be revolutionary, but gradual, like a plant that sprouts its weak shoots from the ground in the beginning and then gradually grows stronger. He elucidates the wisdom behind this gradual progression by drawing an analogy with physical and spiritual illnesses. Just as some illnesses are severe and tormenting, requiring immediate treatment for quick recovery, while others are chronic, necessitating a long, regular course of treatment, the moral and spiritual ailments of this era are akin to chronic diseases like tuberculosis.


In this captivating exploration, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra has unveiled thirteen veils that obscure our true appreciation of the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas. Through his profound insights, we are invited to transcend the limitations of our temporal perspectives and embrace the grandeur of this sacred Community. He eloquently stated that when the accounts of the Promised Messiahas and his Companionsra are collected and documented in an organised manner like early Islamic history, reality would be unveiled, God willing. He emphasises that these thirteen veils stand as obstacles to recognising the true worth of the Community established by the Promised Messiahas, though they do not diminish the eminence of the Community as a collective body. With his reassuring words, he reaffirmed the exalted status of the Companionsra, rooted in the very legacy of the Holy Prophetsa himself, saying that indeed, the achievement of the Promised Messiahas was truly unparalleled, but this achievement was, in reality, the achievement of the Holy Prophetsa himself, for the success of a disciple is the success of the teacher, and the victory of a servant is the victory of the master.

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