Tariq Azeem, President and Missionary-in-Charge Jamaica
There is an elderly lady who lives in the parish of St Mary in Jamaica. She accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat several years ago and is a very devout member of the Jamaat. Even though she lives at a distance of more than four hours from the mosque, she makes an effort to attend every important event such as Eid or Jalsa Salana.
To reach the mosque, she has to change up to five different taxis and buses, which is not an easy task at her age. When one considers her circumstances, one realises how great of a sacrifice she has to endure every trip.
Ever since the pandemic started about a year ago, I, along with my wife, try to visit this elderly sister every couple of months. On my recent trip to her village, a strange incident took place.
That morning, we didn’t leave at the time we had originally planned, due to some circumstances.
The fact that we left our home later than we had in mind had made me slightly worried about the long journey through mountainous passages and winding roads. I was also worried about making our elderly sister wait for us too long.
Little did we know that Allah had timed us perfectly.
Our sister lives in a remote area where it is difficult to reach her exact location. Thus, she always meets us by the side of the main road, which passes by her community.
When we finally reached her, we parked our car under a tree and took a chair out of our trunk for our sister to be seated. We always try to bring small gifts for her as it has been taught to us by the Holy Prophetsa. She was extremely pleased to see us, and as diligent as she is, she had also brought her chanda contributions.
It had only been a few minutes since we gathered under the tree, when a man passed by us. He recognised that we were Muslims by my head covering (prayer cap) and the hijabs of the women. He rested his bicycle on the ground to buy something from a vendor across the street and while passing us, he smilingly said “Assalamu alaikum” and went on to run his errand. We returned his salaam with a delight; there are many courteous people we always come across that greet us with “Assalamu alaikum” even though they are not Muslims – so we didn’t think much of it.
By the time he came back and had already picked up his bike only Allah knows what went through his heart at that time. The gentleman enquired which mosque we offer our prayers at. I explained to him that our mosque is near Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, and that we were visiting our sister here.
As my wife chatted with the sister, I moved towards this gentleman and started having a conversation with him. He introduced himself as Waheed Ahmad. When he told me his name, I had a feeling in my heart that this person may be an Ahmadi Muslim, as Ahmad is a name that is commonly used in our Jamaat, but I brushed it off as a coincidence and continued the conversation.
I asked him if he was Muslim and he replied in a humble manner, saying “I am trying my best”. With that, I smiled and told him we all are trying our best to be practising Muslims.
It turned out Waheed Sahib grew up in Canada and he had learnt about Islam in 1996 from a mosque near Highway 27 in Ontario, Canada. Again, my mind went to our Canadian headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario. I enquired from him if he knew about Bait-ul-Islam – the Jamaat’s mosque there – and as it turned out, that was the exact mosque and community which had brought him to Islam.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, here in this remote part of Jamaica stood a man in front of me who coincidentally turned out to be Muslim – an Ahmadi Muslim to be exact. We all were overjoyed about this incident, which felt like a reunion of brothers. In an instant, we had a connection. Even days later, when I am writing this, the joy of this connection is still lingering in my heart.
All praise belongs to Allah, Who is truly the Best of Planners!
وَ اللّٰهُ خَيۡرُ الۡمٰكِرِيۡنَ
“And Allah is the best of planners.”
Here I was that day complaining about the fact that we had left late; yet, it turned out to be the perfect timing. Allah the Almighty certainly works in mysterious ways.
Waheed Sahib had accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat in 1996 and moved back to Jamaica a year after. He had not been in touch with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat ever since. However, he continued to carry on his worship and recitation of the Holy Quran. I exchanged numbers with Waheed Sahib and invited him to our Sunday class on Zoom, so he can become an active member of the Jamaat once again.
Being a member of this Jamaat is like being a member of a big family, no matter where you are and who you are; just knowing you are an Ahmadi brings instant familiarity amongst other Ahmadis.