Qamar Ahmad Zafar, Missionary, UK
“You will be with me in this life and the hereafter”
Imagine being tasked with finding a grain of sugar in a jar of salt. When it comes to finding people such as Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra and examples similar to their level of love and devotion, people are equally hard to unearth from the pages of history.
Born in 1847, a time when India was governed by the British and the industrial revolution was booming, he grew up fixing and constructing tents with his father for the village folk who lived a modest life. However, this all changed upon the sudden demise of his father. He was left alone to anchor the responsibility of supporting his family. So he started working in the courts of law and this would be his place of work and source of income for years to come, slowly progressing, from rank to rank, until he would become a widely renowned district tax collector.
He was so successful in what he did that the he was given the title of Khan Bahadur, a title given to those in the era of British Rule who benefitted the wider public throughout their lives. However, earning worldly treasures and ranks was never his end goal. In fact, the part of his life that really deserves recognition was to follow.
Hazrat Munshi Muhammad Arore Khanra belonged to a devout community of Companionsra from Kapurthala. The sacrifices and devotion of three companions, Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra, Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmadra and Hazrat Munshi Muhammad Khanra, who belonged to this village, stood out specifically and led them to be famously known as “The Friends of Kapurthala”, a term given to them by the Promised Messiahas. It was these three friends who, seemingly fitting the “three wise men”, journeyed to Qadian together in search of the Promised Messiah of the age.
Although they would continue this journey to reach Qadian and become convinced that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas truly was the Messiah through his writings, Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra had already been a believer of this truth before. It was initially in Batala that he first met the Promised Messiahas.
The opponents of the Promised Messiahas had demanded him for a sign from Allah Almighty Himself. They said that they would write something in a concealed book and that he should ask Allah Almighty to tell him what the concealed message was. The Promised Messiahas immediately accepted the challenge on the condition that the opponents would accept him if he told them the concealed message. The opponents declined this prerequisite, however the Promised Messiahas had won over another pure heart – the heart of Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra – for he had never seen a man so courageous that would happily ask Allah for a living sign on demand. This must have meant that he truly had communion with Allah! This, for him, was enough proof that he was the awaited Messiah and Mahdi of the age.
From this incident, it is clear that Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra was one of the very few companions who was acquainted with the Promised Messiahas even before his claim to Messiahship. He was lovingly known as “Munshi Rora Sahib” by his beloved Masteras. He was also among the first 40 to have pledged allegiance to the Promised Messiahas in the small house of Hazrat Sufi Ahmad Jan in 1889. In fact, the Promised Messiah especially invited these “Friends of Kapurthala” to attend this historic occasion.
After pledging allegiance, Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra became a sincere disciple of the Promised Messiahas, his passion and love for his master was such that whenever he had the opportunity, be it for only a few minutes, he would travel to Qadian to catch a glimpse of the Promised Messiahas.
On one such instance, he arrived in Qadian and immediately went to meet the Promised Messiahas. After greeting him with the blessings of peace, Munshi Sahib immediately left to go back upon which his Masteras enquired: “Munshi Ji! Why such a hurry?” Munshi Sahibra replied that the small greeting was all he had time for. Perhaps he had taken time off work or had found an hour or two in between responsibilities and had decided that he would spend it in Qadian. This passion and zeal earnt him the privilege to have travelled with the Promised Messiahas far and wide.
Not only did Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra witness many signs (he was included as an official witness of the prophecy regarding Abdullah Atham and the Court Case of Martin Clarke [Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, pp. 544-576)] testifying to the truthfulness of the Messiahas on these journeys, he himself had become a testimony too! A grand sign signifying the advent of the Promised Messiahas foretold in the ahadith (Jawahir-ul-Israr) was that he would come baring a book, inscribed in this book would be 313 of his companions, equal to those who fought the Battle of Badr. Hazrat Munshi Muhammad Arore Khanra was among these foretold men, numbering at seven on the list. (Anjam-e-Atham, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 11, p. 325)
Reading about the life of this devout and noble companion of the Messiah and Mahdias of the age, awaited by the Muslims, makes it extremely hard for me to pick instances which I should include in this article and I feel that a book, rather than an article, would only suffice to do justice to the lessons that we can all learn from this holy man of Allah.
One instance that truly stands out for me above the rest is a journey on a horse-cart, which truly captures not only his love for the Promised Messiahas, but also the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas and his connection with Allah Almighty.
It was an extremely hot day, even more so than the normal high temperatures of Qadian. The three friends of Kapurthala had spent some time in Qadian and after meeting the Promised Messiahas, they decided to ask for permission to return to Kapurthala. The Promised Messiahas granted them permission and Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra asked the Promised Messiahas to pray that they become submerged in water head to toe during the journey, due to the hot weather. The Promised Messiahas replied “Allah is capable of this”. However, the other two friends were not so keen on being submerged in water completely and politely asked that the Promised Messiahas did not pray for them to be submerged in water.
The journey began and the three friends boarded the horse-cart to return home. As they left the village, riding away from the huts of the village folk towards the sketchy roads through the forest, the skies turned grey and the clouds had covered what was, until then, a completely clear, blue sky. The rain started pouring down and as the journey thickened into a winding and uneven road, pitted with potholes, the horse-cart took an unexpected bash and lopsided into the ground! Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmadra and Hazrat Munshi Muhammad Khanra jumped off the cart well in time, however, Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra who was the larger of them, was sent flying into a ditch full of water on the side. The rain had already covered the heads of the companions, but the one who had asked for prayers to be covered in water “from head to toe” was now literally lying on the ground submerged in water! He could not contain his laughter, for the joy of being relieved from the scorching heat was one matter, but seeing the acceptance of his master’s prayers and love for him was something that even his laughter could not encompass.
Personally, this teaches me that on the one hand, we should be careful what we pray for, but on the other hand, it illustrates that one can only increase in love and faith of the Messiahas if they come and visit him personally. This is posible even today, with the divine blessing of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. All praise belongs to Allah!
Another incident that strikes me from the life of Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra is of one which illustrates his selflessness and determination to sacrifice everything for the sake of his master. Today, £1 may be hard to acquire, but in the 19th century, one pound in India was worth around £120 and just £4 could earn somebody a brand-new car!
We already know that Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra started off life as a tent constructor and then went into the courts to become a clerk. However, many years later, he was standing at the door of his Master’s son, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, holding a pouch of gold coins. Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra enquired as to why Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra had brought these coins with him. Upon being asked this, Munshi Sahibra began to cry fervently. He explained that although he may have had little source of income, but when he saw the wealthy people donating gold pounds to the Promised Messiahas, he too desired to do the same but could not do so due to his financial condition at the time.
So, he explained, during his life he gathered every single penny that he could find. He would save by walking long distances, rather than taking a train and he would strive to live the simplest of lives. Over the years, he managed to save up a few gold coins and had decided to hand them to the Promised Messiahas. However, when he had willed to do this, he learnt that the Promised Messiahas had passed away. It was at this point that Munshi Sahibra, whilst narrating this to Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, began to cry again uncontrollably. He carried on saying that since his Master, the Promised Messiahas had left this world, these coins were for his son and his successor.
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra states that although the years had passed and many wealthy people did not even give a tenth or a hundredth of this amount, this humble and meek man, who already had very little income, had managed to gather so much wealth in love for the Promised Messiahas.
This relationship of love was not just one-sided. In fact, the Promised Messiahas had such affection for this loyal companion that on one occasion, the Promised Messiahas was about to leave for a journey, when he learnt that Munshi Arore Khanra needed to visit his daughter. Rather than taking the horse-cart himself, the Promised Messiahas ordered Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra to take the horse-cart and the Promised Messiahas walked. This connection of love was so intense that the Promised Messiahas addressed Munshi Sahibra saying, “You will be with me in this life and the Hereafter.”
The Promised Messiahas loved Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra so much that he even wrote about him in his book Izala-e-Auham, saying:
“Devout in the love of Allah, Munshi Arore Khan, scribe to the magistrate. Munshi Sahib bears the spirit of determination, loyalty and willpower. He is the lover of truth and recognises the truth very quickly. He actively fulfils his responsibilities. In fact, his entire day and night is spent in striving to be of some service. He has a unique spirit of openheartedness and sacrifice. I feel that he has a loving connection with this humble one. He feels no greater joy than being of service through the means of his determination, wealth and every particle of his body. He is a man who is wholeheartedly loyal and always treads on the right path. May Allah reward him greatly. Amin.” (Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 3, p. 532)
The Promised Messiahas has, many a time, professed his love for this noble companion declaring:
“I wholeheartedly love you [Hakim Maulvi Nuruddin Sahib] and Munshi Arore Sahib and the other friends of Kapurthala.” (Rufaqa-e-Ahmad, Vol. 4, p. 236)
Hazrat Munshi Arore Khanra was immensely immersed in the love of the Promised Messiahas. He never let an opportunity to meet the Promised Messiahas go to waste and his financial sacrifices for the community are an example for us all to lead by.
May Allah enable us all to adopt the high moral and spiritual traits of this magnificent servant of Islam and may we too recognise the privilege of being blessed with Khilafat. Amin