During Jalsa Salana Rabwah, on 28 December 1964, Hazrat Dr Hashmatullah Khanra Sahib delivered the following address in which he recalled his precious memories with the Promised Messiahas. This speech was published in Al Fazl on 23 January 1965:
My respected audience! Assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
I must relate some aspects regarding zikr-e-habib [the remembrance of a beloved, the Promised Messiahas] – there is no power in me save through Allah.
The truth is I do not see myself worthy of saying anything about this great personality whose grandeur is:
جری اللّٰه فی حلل الانبياء
[“The champion of God in the mantles of the prophets.”]
پاؤں ترے كہاں ميرا نا چيز سر كہاں
اس وقت ميرے دل كی پكار ہے
پہنچائيں در پہ يار كے وه بال و پر كہاں
ديكهے جمالِ يار جو ايسی نظر كہاں
[“Even my head does not touch the lofty station of your feet;
Where shall I acquire the wings that will take me to the court of my beloved? Right now, the cry of my heart is, ‘The world does not even have the eyes to observe the beauty of my beloved.’”]
I was 12 years old when I participated along with my paternal grandfather, Hazrat Maula Bakhsh Sahibra and my father, Hazrat Rahim Bakhsh Sahib, in the bai‘at ceremony led by Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Qadirra Sahib Ludhianvi on behalf of the Promised Messiahas in 1899.
When I matured somewhat and reached the age of 15, I desired to write a letter directly to the Promised Messiahas for bai‘at so that I could have it officially approved and receive [his] prayers. In a matter of days, I received a handwritten reply from Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim [Sialkoti] Sahib, saying Huzooras had accepted the bai‘at request and prayed for me.
My two respected friends, Sheikh Muhammad Afzal Sahib and Mian Khuda Bakhsh Sahib, sent their requests for bai‘at in the same way. As a result, all three of our names were included in the list of new converts published in Al Hakam on 17 June 1903. By the grace of God, both these esteemed gentlemen are also alive today.
The impact of this bai‘at and the prayers [I received from the Promised Messiahas] was that I witnessed in myself an interest to offer Namaz and I began enjoying prayers. I developed an attraction to studying the books of the Promised Messiahas too; at a young age, I read and understood Surma Chashm-e-Arya, a deep and complicated book.
During that era, when the plague was rampant, I had the opportunity to read the holy pamphlet, Kashti-e-Nuh [Noah’s Ark] which had a special effect on me. I began seeing the transience of this world, something that can be seen in the couplets I composed during those very days. At the time, my education was insignificant – I was studying in the sixth class. The couplets were:
ہم تو بندے ہيں ترے عاجز غريب و بے نوا
ہم غريبوں پر تری اک مہربانی چاہيئے
اس جہاں فانی سے كچھ بهی ہے نہيں لے جانا ساتھ
اک سند تيری رضا كی ہم كو پانی چاہيئے
كچھ نہيں مقصود ياں اس تنگنائے دہر ميں
اک جهلک تيری نگہ كی ہم كو آنی چاہيئے
[“We are your humble, weak and powerless servants; thus, we indigent people need Your mercy. We are not to take anything with us from this mortal world; our goal is to acquire the certificate of Your pleasure [O God]. Our only objective in this limited world is but to catch a glimpse of Your beauty.”]
These couplets comprehensively translate the condition of a child’s heart that materialised due to the Promised Messiah’sas teachings and prayers.
When I turned 18, my heart yearned to meet the Promised Messiahas, but due to a lack of means, it was difficult to travel to Qadian.
In such a condition, I began profusely praying and weeping that “O God allow me to meet Huzoor”. Only a few days had passed of praying, when Allah the Almighty enabled me to meet Huzooras in Patiala, through a dream.
I saw that I was lying down in a room of my mosque in Patiala, the door was open and Huzooras entered. In extreme love, I immediately got up from the charpoy [Indian style bed] and embraced Huzooras; I gave myself to Huzooras. Experiencing this dream, my heart filled with gratitude to Allah the Almighty and I firmly believed Him to be the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing and the Helper of the poor.
First visit to Qadian: The modesty of prophets
Only 2-3 months had passed since seeing this dream that my Benevolent Master – Who knew the condition of my heart – enabled me to travel to Qadian along with a group. This journey took place in August 1905.
I first saw Huzooras in Masjid Mubarak when the sun had already set and Huzooras – whose countenance was like the moon – entered the mosque from his house for the Maghrib prayer. Alhamdulillah, the first sight was a means of happiness.
After prayers, when Huzooras sat on the shah nasheen [a raised platform], I also got the opportunity to massage his feet and when he took the bai‘at of new converts, I had the chance to perform bai‘at on the blessed hand of Huzooras. الحمد لله علیٰ ذٰلك
Our stay was for 10 days in the guest house. A new Muslim convert, Abdul Haq, whose previous name was Bishan Daas, was already staying there as a guest – he would say he had previously spent years with Pandit Diyanand in Giya.
On the first day, he said that he had been staying in Qadian for some time and had asked Huzooras twice to take his bai‘at, but Huzooras would tell him to wait and not hurry. However, because of what he said, in the evening, he performed the bai‘at when we did.
The next morning, we saw Huzooras come out from his house and stand where the foundations of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib’s house were being laid. All of us stood before Huzooras in the street. Meanwhile, Abdul Haq also arrived and standing afar, said, “Congratulations, Huzoor! Yesterday evening, I took part in the bai‘at too.”
At this, Huzoor’s face showed signs of displeasure and in a slightly strict tone, said, “Merely putting one’s hands on another’s cannot give any benefit until the one doing bai‘at does not change their condition and adopts true righteousness”. We heard Abdul Haq complain in the evening and saw him utter words of anger the next morning while getting on a cart and leaving Qadian. From this, we witnessed the proof of Huzoor’s intuition that a true believer has.
By the grace of God Almighty, we would offer our prayers alongside Huzooras behind Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib in Masjid Mubarak and were continuously blessed with the honour of seeing Huzooras. When Huzooras would address people, we would have the opportunity to listen to his holy words. Sitting in Huzoor’s company, all anxieties and worries would disappear and tranquillity would engross one’s heart.
Frequently, after Maghrib prayers up until Isha time, Huzooras would sit on the shah nasheen on the mosque’s roof. To Huzoor’s side, you could see Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib sitting, who was an ardent and loyal devotee [of the Promised Messiahas] – but we would see them as close friends. In those days, the Promised Messiahas received the revelation:
فزع عيسيٰ و من معه
[“Isa worried and those with him”]. Little did we know at the time, how quickly this revelation would be fulfilled.
Only two months after this revelation, that very Abdul Karim, the same Abdul Karim who would sit alongside his master, that ardent lover, the nightingale of the Garden of Ahmad who was a beloved friend of his master, would depart. But he would leave for us an example, showing us how to traverse the path of guidance.
The Promised Messiahas was deeply grief-stricken by Hazrat Maulvi Sahib’s demise, which is proof of his love for his Companions. It was this heartfelt love that, in a short period, clothed more than 400,000 people in the garbs of loyalty [to the Promised Messiahas].
I was a witness to this love which Huzooras had in his heart. Once, at a young age, I was sat reading a book of Huzooras alone in the mosque which had such a profound effect on me that I was compelled to vow I would never leave this holy person, even if the whole world were to leave him.
After Maulvi Sahib’s demise, just as before, Huzooras continued to sit amongst his Companions in the mosque for a few days. However, Huzooras stopped his sittings while saying, “Whenever I sit in the mosque and don’t see Maulvi Sahib, my heart breaks”.
We had offered a Friday prayer in Masjid Mubarak with Huzooras behind Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib. Hazrat Maulvi Sahib’s sermon was majestic and full of grandeur. I still remember him saying that God’s prophets are very shy, like a newlywed bride. At the time, Huzooras was sitting right in front of Maulvi Sahib and his countenance was radiating with modesty. This statement encapsulated Hazrat Maulvi Sahib’s deep love and frankness [with the Promised Messiahas] and Huzoor’s natural temperament of modesty and humility. We never saw Huzooras stare at someone.
I humbly believe it was this very temperament of modesty that was instilled in those who took Huzoor’s bai‘at too – due to this, all members of the Jamaat would lower their gazes and this habit of lowering their gazes was the means of creating modesty within them. It was this that gave life to true faith within hundreds of thousands.
Today, according to Huzoor’s saying, as we proclaim, “The life of Islam is in the death of Jesus”, in the same way, I say, “The life of true faith lies in lowering gazes and displaying modesty”.
From observation and experience, I say that the amount one can lower their gaze and be modest correlates to how much [spiritual] light their heart can attain.
Today, Ahmadis who are blessed with thousands of spiritual lights and blessings, possess this because of the seed of modesty that was sown in the hearts of their elders by the Promised Messiahas.
I say with certainty that if the Promised Messiahas had not possessed a high natural temperament of modesty and if a Jamaat who practised lowering their gazes and upholding modesty had not been established, then that belief which had disappeared into the skies because of immodesty and indecency, would never have come back to earth. Thus, blessed is that Jamaat from whose existence lowering gazes, the system of purdah and modesty was established – and it became the example of true Islam for the world and revived [true] faith.
Second visit to Qadian: “A prophet has emerged after a very long time!”
The second time Allah the Almighty enabled me to visit Qadian was during Jalsa Salana 1907. Throughout this visit, where I had the opportunity to listen to the holy words of the Huzooras, I also experienced several signs of [God’s] mercy.
The first sign of mercy we witnessed was the fulfilment of Huzoor’s prayers that he made for the wellbeing and safety of those who attended Jalsa Salana; we saw these prayers fulfilled in our favour.
The incident goes that three of us brothers – Muhammad Yusuf Sahib, Hazrat Hafiz Malik Muhammad Sahib and my humble self – departed from Patiala [for Jalsa Salana]. It was the doing of God that instead of leaving on the evening train of 24 December – when people usually travel for Jalsa – we left 12 hours earlier, on the morning train. We left early because we planned to stay a night at a friend’s house in Amritsar for the purpose of tabligh, so we stayed the night in Amritsar.
The next morning, on 25 December, we arrived at Amritsar station to go to Qadian via Batala but found out that during the night, two trains had crashed near Ladhowal station in which 250-300 people had died. One of the trains that had crashed was the same train in which we would have travelled if we had left in the evening from Patiala.
Where this news was very disturbing and heart-breaking, it was also a means of great gratitude to God, Who saved the lives of three poor people.
On the first day of Jalsa – 26 December – we got the opportunity to accompany Huzooras on his morning walk. That day, Huzooras walked around the northern side of the town and there was a huge crowd gathered around him throughout the walk. Huzooras deliberately passed through where the Hindu shops are located so that they see how the prophecy – given 25 years ago – that people would come from far and wide in large numbers [to Qadian] and would bring presents with them [for the Promised Messiahas], was vividly being fulfilled today.
Huzooras was walking very briskly and his devotees desired to stay as close to him as possibly. As a result, out of negligence, the foot of one or two people struck Huzooras through which his shoe fell off twice. At this, I saw that Huzoor’s countenance neither expressed any frustration, nor did he complain even slightly. In fact, Huzooras did not even look back, so that no one would feel embarrassed [for causing his shoe to fall off].
It was at this occasion that Hazrat Mufti Sahibra exclaimed, “After all, how can you blame these people? A prophet has emerged after a very long time!”
Eventually, the organisers asked Huzooras to break under a tree – an Assyrian plum tree – and created a security circle around Huzooras so that his followers could shake his hand.
To this day, I clearly remember an incident that took place on this occasion.
When the turn of an elderly farmer came to shake Huzoor’s hand, instead of putting his hand forward, he began opening a knot from one side of his turban. He took a lot of time while opening the knot and those who were waiting behind him began losing patience. However, Huzooras contently stood and waited, like a younger brother stands before his elder brother. At long last, the elderly man opened the knot, took some rupees out and presented them to Huzooras as a gift and was also successful in shaking Huzoor’s hands.
May thousands of blessings be granted to that old man, through whom we were able to witness the love of Huzoor’s followers, patience and Huzoor’s high morals. Amin.
After shaking hands with his followers, Huzooras continued his walk for about half a mile towards the northern side of Qadian where Jamaat members had laid down some soft sheets in an open area under the sun. Huzooras sat down here.
This fortunate location was probably where, after a few years, the grand building of the high school was built. I recall a Persian poem, written by Hazrat Maulvi Mubarak Ali Sahib Sialkoti, in praise of the Promised Messiahas, being read out in a melodious voice during the sitting.
Second sign of mercy and a great miracle
The second sign of [divine] mercy that I saw during this Jalsa was on the second day – 27 December – when all attendees were sat in Masjid Aqsa for Jumuah prayers. I was sat in the back row of the mosque near the staircase. [Sitting there] I desired to see Huzooras closely, but this seemed impossible. However, after a short while, I saw Huzooras enter the mosque and sit down right near me, on the next row [from where I was]. My heart became filled with gratitude, for my desire was fulfilled so quickly.
At the face of it, Huzooras sat there because there was no room to get to the mehrab area as people were offering their sunnah prayers. However, I believe God Almighty drew Huzooras to this place for me because it was after hearing my cries and prayers that God Almighty brought Huzooras to Patiala [in a dream] for me to see him […]
After Jumuah and Asr prayers, the Promised Messiahas delivered a speech, the beginning of which was the following:
“You see, gratitude belongs to Allah the Exalted, Who guided all of your hearts. Even though thousands of maulvis [Muslim clerics] from India and Punjab were striving to prove false and labelled [me] as dajjal and kafir, He enabled you to enter our community. This is also a great miracle of Allah the Exalted that despite enormous attempts to prove me false, call me a kafir and our opponents working their fingers to the bone day and night [in opposition], our Jamaat continues to increase.
“In my estimation, our Jamaat is probably more than 400,000 and it is a great miracle that our opponents are toiling night and day, are carefully devising all sorts of plans and are putting all their efforts in to put an end to this community, but God continues to expand our Jamaat.
“Do you know the reason behind this? The reason is that the one who Allah the Exalted sends and who is truly from God, progresses and succeeds day by day, his mission grows every day and those who oppose him are steadily destroyed and defamed. His opponents and those who try to falsify him, in the end, die with great regret. This is what you see today, scores of those who opposed us and those who tried to stop our mission, have died.
“No one can stop the will of God. And no matter how much someone tries, even if they devise thousands of plans, the mission God starts and chooses to grow, no one can stop. This is because if it does stop due to their efforts, then we would have to admit that they were victorious over God – whereas no one can defeat God.
“Another miracle is concerning those hundreds of thousands who come to meet me – Allah the Exalted had already given news [that this would happen] and had it recorded in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya earlier. This is the very book that was published more than 25 years ago in Arabia, Persia, England and other countries – it contains lots of revelations [I received] during that era. And this is a truism that no Jew, Christian, Muslim, Brahmu or Arya can reject.
“Our staunch opponent i.e. Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Sahib once wrote a review of this book. It is in this very book, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya that the prophecy regarding the arrival of people is clearly written. This is not an insignificant prophecy; rather, it is a great and magnificent prophecy. The prophecy is:
ياتيك من كلّ فجّ عميق۔ ياتون من كلّ فجّ عميق۔ ينصرك الله من عنده يرفع الله ذكرك ويتِمّ نعمته عليك في الدنيا والآخرة۔اذاجاء نصرالله والفتح وانتهيٰ امر الزمان الينا اليس هذا بالحق۔ مَا كان الله ليترك حتّٰي يميزالخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطيّب۔ فحان ان تعان وتعرف بين الناس۔ انّي ناصرك۔ انّي حافظك انّي جاعلك لِلنّاسِ اِمَاماً۔
“This is the wording of the revelation and its meaning is that ‘though you are alone now, the time is about to come, however, when you will not be alone. People will come in multitudes to meet you’.”
I now think it a great gift to present before you one or two recollections of our respected and elder teacher, Sheikh Muhammad Karam Ilahi Sahib Patialwi about the Promised Messiahas.
The first recollection: Performing bai‘at
When the Promised Messiahas visited Ludhiana for the second time, Hazrat Sheikh Sahib’s elder and respected friend from Ambala brought Sheikh Sahib to Ludhiana [to see the Promised Messiahas]. His friend said to the Promised Messiahas, “This youngster [Sheikh Sahib] is very sensible and believes in Huzooras but doesn’t perform bai‘at.” To this, Huzooras said:
“Why, Mian? Why don’t you perform bai‘at?”
In response, Sheikh Sahib said, “Firstly, I don’t do bai‘at because I have done bai‘at elsewhere already. Secondly, I don’t do it because I may not be able to follow Huzoor’s teachings.”
In response, Huzooras said, “If you have performed bai‘at somewhere else, then it doesn’t matter, do my bai‘at as well – you see, when a student goes to school, he learns from different teachers. And as regards not being able to follow our teachings, then remember, when you perform bai‘at and vow to follow and act upon our teachings, then Allah the Almighty will enable you to. Our duty is to exhort people to stay away from ills and guide them to perform good deeds. I cannot say to perform my bai‘at and do whatever you like after.”
Hearing this, Sheikh Sahib was ready to perform Huzoor’s bai‘at. Sheikh Sahib told us, “Huzooras took me to his room alone, closed the door, locked the door himself and took my bai‘at”.
The second recollection: Nature of Huzoor’s writings
The second recollection Sheikh Sahib told us was:
“Once, in the early days, I went to Qadian and met Huzooras. At the time, when Huzooras found out I studied the literature of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan marhoom, Huzooras asked, ‘So, Mian, what is the difference between mine and Sir Syed’s literature?’
“I answered by saying Sir Syed Ahmad’s literature was like a dry morsel of food that one could not swallow easily, whereas Huzoor’s literature was like delicious food that one could easily digest. Huzooras was very happy upon hearing this reply.
اللّٰهم صلّي عليٰ محمد وَعليٰ اٰلِ محمد كما صليت عليٰ ابراهيم و عليٰ اٰل ابراهيم انّك حميد مّجيد
(Translated by Al Hakam into English from the original Urdu in Al Fazl, 23 January 1965)