A young Mahmud’s pilgrimage to Arabia

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Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam

In 1893, the Promised Messiahas noted the following divine instruction in his Arabic book, Hamamatul-Bushra:

“My Lord has given me good news concerning the Arabs and has directed me to take care of them, to show them the right path and put their affairs right.” (Hamamatul-Bushra, p. 7, Ruhani Khaza‘in, Vol. 7, pp. 182)

On 7 September 1905 the Promised Messiahas said that in a vision, he was shown a paper on which was written:

مصالح‭ ‬العرَب‭ ۔‬‬مَسيرالعَرَبِ

“Setting right the affairs of the Arabs. Journey among Arabs.”

Commenting on this, the Promised Messiahas said:

“… travelling among the Arabs – this might be an indication I might visit Arab countries. 25 or 26 years ago, I saw in a dream someone writing my name. He wrote half of it in Arabic and half in English. Migration is also a characteristic of prophets, but some of the dreams of a prophet are fulfilled through him in his own time and others are fulfilled through a descendant or a follower of his. For instance, the Holy Prophet, on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah, was given the keys of the treasuries of Caesar and Chosroes and these countries were conquered in the time of Hazrat Umarra.” (Badr, Vol. 1, no. 23, 7 September 1905, p. 2; Al Hakam, Vol. 9, no. 32, 10 September 1905, p. 3)

Accordingly, this prophecy of the Promised Messiahas was fulfilled through his son, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II and Musleh-e-Maudra, who travelled to the Arab world three times: 

1. In 1912, prior to his khilafat, he travelled to Egypt and from there, went to Mecca

2. In 1924, en route to the UK, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra travelled to Arab lands again and visited places such as Jerusalem, Damascus, Egypt etc.

3. In 1955, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, on his way to Europe, stopped over at various Arab countries

The travels of the Promised Messiah’s son, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, to Arab lands majestically fulfils the prophecies and revelations vouchsafed to the Promised Messiahas. The details of these travels also paint a picture of how Islam Ahmadiyyat was introduced to the Arabs and show how the Jamaat had reached these lands and was being accepted.

In this article, some details of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s journey for Hajj, which he undertook prior to his khilafat, during the era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira will be outlined. The details of this journey included in this article have been taken from Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat (Vol. 3, pp. 409-424) and Swanih Fazl-e-Umar (Vol. I, pp. 280-298).

In 1912, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra travelled widely throughout India and visited Egypt and other Arab countries too. The purpose for these travels was to research further into the Arabic language, observe the educational systems of Egypt and other Arab counties, spread the message of Ahmadiyyat and to perform Hajj while visiting the blessed home country of the Holy Prophetsa.

A group photo with Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra prior to Khilafat, 1912

After seeking the permission of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira and Hazrat Amma Janra, wife of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra set off from Qadian. 

Before his departure, a grand farewell party was held for him in the courtyard of Madrasa Ahmadiyya, in which Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira led a dua (silent prayer), Mahmud Ahmad Irfani Sahibra gave a speech on behalf of the students and Abdur Rahim Nayyar Sahibra delivered a speech on behalf of the teachers. Many Ahmadis accompanied Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra from Qadian to Batala, some even accompanying him to Lahore before bidding him farewell. 

During the farewell event, the young Mahmudra, in his speech, said: 

“For a long time, I had desired to visit and pray in Mecca – the abode of great beloveds of God – and pray there, for Muslims are greatly dishonoured now: ‘O God! This nation left You; neither faith, nor worldly honour remain [for them]. No strategy works for their reform. In this place, You gave a promise to Abrahamas and granted acceptance to his prayer and You also accepted the prayer of Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, here. Today, again, accept those very prayers for us too and grant the followers of Islam honour and success’ …

“I request my friends to pray for me. Our enemy is great and we are weak – however, our Protector is also extremely Great.” (Badr, 3 October 1912)

For this trip to Mecca, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira sent Abdul Muhyi Sahib – who was from Iraq and had converted to Ahmadiyyat from Shi‘ism – to accompany Hazrat Mahmudra. Later, at Bombay, Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra joined the two.

While in Bombay, Hazrat Amma Janra (Hazrat Mahmud’sra mother) wrote a letter to her son, saying:

“Maulvi Sahib [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira] advises to go to Hajj first and my response is I have given you to Allah the Almighty for the service of faith. Those who travelled for sightseeing were in danger, but there is no danger to you; God Almighty protects those who serve Him … I have given you to God and everything here is fine. [Signed] Mother of Mahmud, 4 October 1912”. (Al Fazl, 30 November 1917)

On 16 October, the three gentlemen boarded the ship from Bombay. On the ship, there were lots of Muslim and Hindu students who were headed to England, all of whom had atheistic tendencies. Hazrat Mahmudra preached to them extensively. They became so inspired by the young Mahmudra that during their free time they would go and sit with him and hear what he had to say about religion.

Three lawyers, who were also on board the ship who were going to England to become barristers, would engage with Hazrat Mahmudra and discuss religion and politics – they too were staunch atheists. However, after seeing the high morals of the young Mahmudra and listening to his discourses on religion, the lawyers were greatly inspired. 

Hazrat Mahmudra wrote to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira regarding his engagement with the lawyers because after seeing how staunch and aggressive they were in their atheism, he felt great pain for the condition of Islam and its followers as, originally, these lawyers were Muslims. 

Apart from preaching on the ship, he had the opportunity to engage in continuous prayers. In a letter, he wrote:

“Though physically, I am unwell on this journey, my spiritual health has benefited a great deal and I have had the opportunity to pray so much that prior to this, such opportunities were scarce. As much as I could, apart from myself, I prayed a lot for Huzoor [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira], Huzoor’s family, all my family, the residents of Qadian, all of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya and for Islam. Especially on the evening of the 23rd, in the ship, I felt as if the skies and the earth had been filled with light and my heart felt such zeal for prayer, which I had never experienced before. And at the same time, my heart would feel certainty and contentment that all [my] prayers were being accepted …”

Thus, while spreading the message of Allah and engaging in fervent prayers night and day, the young Mahmudra reached Port Said on 26 October. He briefly had a look at the city’s cultural and religious conditions and had the opportunity to meet the Sheikh-ul-Islam of the city at a coffee house. Abdul Muhyi Sahib discussed the death of Jesusas with the Sheikh and those present were very pleased to hear the proof given about the death of Jesusas during the meeting. 

After Port Said, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra planned to visit the madrasas, libraries and prominent people of Cairo. However, in a dream, he saw the Promised Messiahas or Khalifatul Masih Ira, who said to go and perform Hajj, otherwise spaces would run out. Therefore, instead of touring Egypt further, he decided to go to Jeddah.

While travelling from Port Said to Suez in a second-class cabin, five other people – a European and four Muslims, two of whom were Bedouin chiefs, one was an officer at a telegram department and another was a railway inspector – were seated near Hazrat Mahmudra. Hazrat Mahmudra described the plight of Islam to the Muslims and then discussed the death of Jesusas and the claims of the Promised Messiahas

The telegram department officer, who, apart from Arabic, could speak English, French and Italian, was particularly inspired by Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra and took down the young Mahmud’sra contact details and promised to keep in contact and tried to make the journey as comfortable as possible for Hazrat Mahmudra

After observing people who were going to Hajj speaking dozens of languages on the ship, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra developed a special zeal and emotion. Faith-inspiring and insightful stories of Hazrat Mahmud’sra journey to Mecca can be read in the letters he would write to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira and other friends. 

In one such letter, regarding the greatness and importance of Hajj, he wrote:

“The importance and greatness of Hajj cannot be recognised without performing Hajj. It is true, I have not experienced such an opportunity of prayer and turning to Allah before as has been experienced in this journey. 

“After seeing people who speak dozens of languages together on the ship and hearing their ‘labaik, labiak’, I develop such limiteless emotion and love and am amazed by the excellences of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him; how this light started from Mecca and lit [countless] corners [of the world]. After all, what kind of spiritual power was it that brought not millions, but billions out of darkness and towards the path of guidance?”

On the same ship, as they approached Rabigh – a city in the Mecca province – Hazrat Mahmudra described how people began exclaiming “Labaik” and he heard the Turks on the ship say “Labaich, labaich”. Hearing the Turks pronounce labaik in this manner, Huzoorra said he was overcome with emotion and thought that these people did not even know how to pronounce labaik properly, but the Holy Prophet’ssa prayer and anguish had pulled them to Islam. 

Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra described that when they were nearing Rabigh, Allah the Almighty enabled him to pray and he had the opportunity “to pray a great deal.” The same Turks stood on either side of Huzoorra and hearing his prayers, would say “aminamin” with great passion and emotion, even though they did not know what Huzoorra was saying. At this, Hazrat Mahmudra immediately thought that it was a time for the acceptance of prayer as the two Turks had stood on either side and were saying “amin”, without knowing what the words meant. 

Huzoorra said:

“At that time, apart from praying for myself, Huzoor [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira], Huzoor’s family, my mother and all [my] family, I also prayed for the residents of Qadian, every Ahmadi and for the condition of Islam, in what was a long prayer; both Turks would say ‘amin’ throughout, alhamodolillah.”

On 1 November, Hazrat Mahmudra reached Jeddah and stayed at the residence of Saith Abu Bakr Sahib. He wrote a letter from Jeddah, which said: 

“By Allah’s grace, after Egypt, we have reached Jeddah in the state of ihram. O Allah, O Allah! What a beautiful land this is – every corner gives an opportunity for prayer. God’s mercy can be seen in this land in abundance. I cannot express the amount I was able to pray for the residents of Qadian … [and] the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. I prayed so much for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat [members] in this journey that if they were able to estimate [the amount I prayed for them], their hearts would melt. However, ‘No one knows the secrets of the heart expect Allah’. 

“Great success was achieved in tabligh [preaching] too. People listen with great interest. I continue to tell people about the fundamentals of Islam in general and regarding our Jamaat too. Many people have said they will reflect and write to me. If someone [from our Jamaat] comes and lives in these countries, then, insha-Allah, there will be a lot of success because they do not have prejudice or jealousy …”

After six days in Jeddah, on 7 November, he went to Mecca along with Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra. As Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra was an eloquent poet, he composed a great poem while journeying toward Mecca that encapsulated his emotions – this poem can be found in the compilation of Kalam-e-Mahmud

When his sight set on the Holy Ka‘bah, he immediately recalled what Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira had prayed for upon seeing the Ka‘bah. Hazrat Mahmudra prayed in the same manner of Khalifatul Masih Ira, that “O Allah, I will not have the opportunity to see this Ka‘bah every day. Today, for the first time in my life, I have been given this opportunity. So, my prayer is that You promised to your Prophetsa that whatever prayer a person made at their first sight of the Ka‘bah, would be accepted. My prayer to You is that all my prayers see acceptance throughout my life.”

After this, Hazrat Mahmudra performed Umrah with Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra and prayed for the residents of Qadian, the success of Islam and for individuals too.

During this journey, Hazrat Mahmudra would continue to write his sentiments and observations to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira and included visions and dreams he would experience and see. These letters are now part of history and have been carefully preserved. 

Word spread far and wide in Mecca at the arrival of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra. Wherever he would pass, people would point fingers at Hazrat Mahmudra and say to each other, “[Look] Ibn Qadiani” (the son of Qadiani). This was because the Muslim scholars had spread lies and negative views about the Promised Messiahas and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. For example, they had falsely said the Promised Messiahas had claimed to be a law-bearing prophet and had completely abrogated Jihad. 

A man, who happened to be a maternal uncle of Hazrat Mahmudra and belonged to Bhopal, stirred great opposition against the young Mahmudra and attempting to create hostility, said “These Qadianis spread kufr [disbelief]”. A famous ahl-e-hadith scholar, Maulvi Muhammad Ibrahim Sialkoti, along with others, would spread great animosity and lies against Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra and Ahmadis. 

Despite this fierce opposition, through Allah’s grace and in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophetsa, the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat was imparted with all its force and might. 

Mecca had a profound effect on the spirituality of the young Mahmudra. In a letter to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, he wrote:

“Even though physically, I have undergone a lot of pain in this journey and my health has deteriorated a great deal, spiritually, however, I feel great rejuvenation. Every brick, every building, every person and everything in Mecca is a living proof of God Almighty’s existence; how [majestically He] built up this barren valley. I am amazed while looking at the Ka‘bah too – hundreds circle it at all times.”

New avenues for preaching opened in Mecca and Hazrat Mahmudra was able to further his experience in peaching. While in Mecca, he also met the Sharif of Mecca and during the conversation, raised concern with the Sharif towards the filth and garbage scattered in the streets of the Holy City. This interesting conversation is recorded in the 9 July 1913 issue of Al Fazl, on page 3, as part of his travelogue.  

He decided to stay in Mecca after Hajj for some time, but as he fell ill and there was a fatal outbreak of cholera in Mecca after Hajj ended, Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra became very concerned and suggested that they should leave promptly. Due to these reasons, they left for Bombay.

On 6 January 1913, the Mansoora ship arrived at the shores of Bombay from Jeddah. At the port, Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra and Hazrat Bhai Abdur Rahman Qadianira were present to welcome them back. 

On 10 January 1913, Hazrat Mahmudra left Bombay via train and arrived at Lahore on 12 January. It is said that up to 600 members of the Jamaat waited on the platform to welcome Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra and showed great affection and love.

In Lahore, Hazrat Mahmudra delivered a speech on the importance of unity and cooperation and then, at the insistence of Jamaat members in Amritsar, left for Amritsar, met members of the Jamaat there and delivered a speech. He then travelled to Batala.

Hazrat Umm-ul-Momineen, Hazrat Amma Janra had come to Batala from Qadian to welcome her beloved son back home.

The happiness of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira upon the young Mahmud’sra return can be seen by the fact that he instructed both Ahmadiyya schools in Qadian to take the day off. Scores of friends, students of Madrasa Ahmadiyya and the high school went out to wait for Hazrat Mahmud’sra return to Qadian. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira combined Zuhr and Asr prayers and despite being physically weak (due to deteriorating health), he went well out of Qadian to welcome Mahmudra back. Others from Qadian, who accompanied Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, included Hazrat Nawab Muhammad Ali Khanra.

Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra arrived back in Qadian at around 4:45pm. 

During a speech about this journey, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra said:

“I started istikhara prayers a month prior to the journey. Then, according to the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa, I turned to other arrangements … In this journey, I had lots of debates with people from different religions and atheists too and I always presented the Ahmadiyya Jamaat to them. Through Allah’s grace, I was always helped and given victory …”

He ended the speech by saying:

“As is apparent from prophecies, the age for the victory of Islam is nigh. The storm [against Islam] is fierce and in this storm, the ship [of Islam] is in danger – that is why it is essential that everyone comes to the upper deck and begins work … this is not the time to sit idly, rather it is the time to work. Get up, get up and work. A death in honour is substantially more blessed than a life lived in humiliation.”

Where this long journey enabled Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra to gain the reward of performing Hajj, it also helped him do justice to preaching the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat and become the recipient of the prayers and pleasure of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira. At the same time, the young Mahmudra was able to witness the Arab world for himself for the first time. 

Two incidents from Hajj

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, while talking about his journey to Hajj, said that without taqwa and fear of Allah, Hajj could not be beneficial. He explained that while on Hajj, he saw someone reading aloud vulgar Urdu love poems on his way to the Mina during Hajj – the man was not reciting prayers and remembering God as one should do during Hajj. 

Later, coincidentally, the same man was on a ship that Huzoorra was travelling on too. Huzoorra approached him and asked why he performed Hajj as he didn’t see him remembering Allah on the way to Mina. 

The man told Huzoorra the reality and said the reason he performed Hajj was because back home, next to his family’s shop, there was another shop. The owner of that shop performed Hajj and upon his return, he added the word “Haji” on the shop’s name. As a result, all the customers began going to that shop. 

The man told Huzoorra that his father told him to go and perform Hajj too so they could do the same with their shop. 

After relating this, Huzoorra said:

“Now, can this man’s Hajj be a means of reward for him? Let alone a reward, his Hajj would surely be sin for him. That is why one should always keep the pleasure of God in mind when performing any deed, otherwise good deeds can become a means of destruction and punishment for a person. 

“Though Hajj is a great deed, but if someone does Hajj to gain respect amongst people, or as a mere custom, or he goes [to Hajj] so people will call him ‘Haji’, then such a person will also erase the faith they had prior to going [for Hajj].” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, pp. 33-34)

Once, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said wealthy Muslims should pay special attention toward performing Hajj. In fact, he said Hajj was the greatest deed a wealthy person could perform. However, it is noted, Huzoorra said, that those with money and wealth rarely go to Hajj and on the contrary, poor Muslims – upon whom Hajj is not even compulsory as they don’t have the means to perform it – are in greater attendance than wealthy people. 

Huzoorra narrated that when he went for Hajj, someone approached him and asked for money. Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra asked the person why he had come to Hajj if he couldn’t afford it. The person replied he had lots of money but ended up spending it. After being asked how much he had, the person said when he was in Bombay, he had 35 rupees and felt he must perform Hajj with such money.

Commenting on this, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said this person thought 35 rupees was a lot, but there are Muslims who have 350,000 rupees yet still do not perform Hajj. On the other hand, the poor are seen in greater numbers at Hajj. 

Huzoorra said a poor person continues to save their whole life and when they accumulate a few hundred rupees, they take their life savings and perform Hajj. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, pp. 33-34)

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