Forty nights of seclusion

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Last Updated on 19th February 2021

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam

The journey to Hoshiarpur, where Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas stayed and prayed for 40 days in seclusion, is closely linked to the prophecy of Musleh-e-Maud as it was in these 40 days of seclusion where God Almighty revealed to the Promised Messiahas, after fervent supplications, that he would be blessed with a child about whom God says, “We shall pour our spirit into him and he will be sheltered under the shadow of God.”

Promised Messiah

The Promised Messiahas married Hazrat Nusrat Jahan Begumra in 1884. With regard to this marriage, Allah Almighty revealed to Huzooras in 1881: 

أُشْكُرْ‌‭ ‬نِعْمَتِیْ ‬رَأَيْتَ‭ ‬خَدِيْجَتِیْ

“Be grateful to Me that you have found My Khadijah.”

Explaining this revelation, the Promised Messiahas stated:

“This was the good news, several years in advance, of my marriage into a noble family of Syeds of Delhi … [In the revelation] my wife was named Khadijah as she is the mother to a blessed progeny, and a blessed progeny has also been promised to me. It was also an indication that she would be of a Syed family.” (Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khaza‘in, Vol. 18, pp. 524-525)

The Promised Messiah’sas wife, Nusrat Jahan Begum Sahibara, came from a very noble family. Her father, Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra, belonged to a distinguished and noble Syed family of Delhi and was the grandson of the famous sufi, Hazrat Khawaja Mir Dard. Thus, with the materialisation of this marriage, a pious and blessed progeny was decreed, destined to continue to illuminate and be the torchbearers of Islam. 

The same year, in 1884, assaults on Islam and the noble character of the Holy Prophetsa were in full force. Christian missionaries were exhausting all efforts to defame Islam and the opposition of Hindus saw no end. 

Hazrat Ahmadas was always keen and desired to spread and show the true light of Islam. Whilst observing the deteriorating conditions of morality and spirituality, in pursuit of a sign from Allah the Almighty and divine help, in 1884, Ahmadas desired to seclude himself for a period of 40 days, commonly known as chillah.

In Seerat-ul-Mahdi, Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira is reported to have said:

“In 1884, Hazrat Sahibas [the Promised Messiahas] intended to go for chillah [a 40-day retreat where one prays to God in seclusion] in a place outside Qadian … Thus, he decided to retreat in Sujanpur in the district of Gurdaspur and with regard to this, Huzooras sent me a postcard. I requested Huzooras if I may also be a part of this trip and the tour of India, accompanying Huzooras, which he accepted.” (Seerat-ul-Mahdi, p. 62)

On 7 September 1884, the Promised Messiahas wrote a letter to Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira, in which he updated him with regard to the 40-day journey. Huzooras stated that he was still in Qadian and had not proceeded to Sujanpur. Hazrat Ahmadas added that the proposed journey was delayed owing to constant health issues and in the winter season, this trip would be possible. (Maktubat-e-Ahmad, Vol. 3, p. 192)

Then, after some time had passed, the Promised Messiahas received the following revelation in 1886:

ايک ‬معامله‭ ‬كی ‬عقده‭ ‬كشائی ‬هوشيارپور‭ ‬ميں‭ ‬هو‭ ‬گی

“One of the affairs will be resolved in Hoshiarpur.” (Tadhkirah [English], p. 172)

Thus, on 13 January 1886, the Promised Messiahas wrote a letter to Hazrat Munshi Rustam Alira, in which he stated:

“God, the Noble, may His Name be glorified, has disclosed to me the name of the town where I should stay for a period in seclusion; and it is Hoshiarpur.” (Maktubat-e-Ahmad, Vol. 2, p. 468)

After Hazrat Ahmadas was revealed the location, he left the idea of traveling to Sujanpur and began making preparations for Hoshiarpur. 

Whilst making arrangements, the Promised Messiahas wrote a letter to Sheikh Mehr Ali Sahib, who was a leading Muslim of Hoshiarpur, in which he stated that he wished to stay in Hoshiarpur for two months and asked if he could find him a two-storey house with a balcony, on the outskirts of the city, fit for this purpose. Sheikh Mehr Ali Sahib offered one of his houses, known as Tawela and had it emptied for Huzooras.

On this blessed journey, the Promised Messiahas was accompanied by Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira, Hazrat Sheikh Hamid Alira and Fateh Khan Sahib of Rasulpur.

After all preparations were made, Huzooras left Qadian and after staying one night in Rasulpur, arrived in Hoshiarpur on 22 January 1886. (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 1, p. 274) 

The room where the Promised Messiahas spent 40 days in seclusion in Hoshiarpur

Describing the journey to Hoshiarpur, Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira, upon crossing the Beas River in an old-fashioned boat, stated that as they arrived at the river, they noticed there was a gap between them and the boat; as there was also water in between, the boatman carried Huzooras and helped him make his way through the water, upon which Hazrat Ahmadas gave him one rupee. (Seerat-ul-Mahdi, p. 63) 

Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira narrates that whilst crossing the river, Hazrat Ahmadas commented that the company of a holy man is akin to journeying across a river in which there was hope of crossing safely on the other side, but there was also the danger of drowning. (Life of Ahmad, p. 141) 

Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira stated that he had only listened to this statement as mere words, but later, this statement echoed when Fateh Khan Sahib of Rasulpur, after succumbing to the influence of Maulvi Muhammad Hussain, an Ahl-e-Hadith leader from the town of Batala, renounced his belief in Islam Ahmadiyyat and spiritually drowned. 

Upon arrival in Hoshiarpur, the Promised Messiahas assigned various tasks to the three accompanying him. Fateh Khan Sahib was told to do the shopping throughout the stay, Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira was to make, prepare and serve food to Huzooras and Hazrat Sheikh Hamid Alira was entrusted to take care of the housework and attend to guests who would come.

The Promised Messiahas made it clear that no one should come to visit him during the 40 days of seclusion and that after the 40 days were complete, he would remain in Hoshiarpur for an extra 20 days for those who wished to meet with him and spend time in his company. 

His companions were instructed that his door must be closed at all times and if anyone was called upon by Huzooras, he was to only give a brief answer and not talk too much. Hazrat Ahmadas added that the food was to be sent to him and nobody was to wait for him to eat and added that the empty dishes should be taken upon the next meal. 

With regard to Namaz, Hazrat Ahmadas said that he would pray separately and for Jumuah, he instructed his companions to locate a mosque where they were able to pray together. 

In relation to this, Hazrat Abdullah Sanaurira narrates, “A garden had been located, in which there was a small, uninhabited mosque. Huzooras would go there and lead us in Friday prayer and he would also address us with a sermon.” (Seerat-ul-Mahdi, p. 63)

Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira, describing his duty and the days spent in Hoshiarpur, said that sometimes, Huzooras would describe his experience. He narrated:

“I used to go and drop the food upstairs [for the Promised Messiahas] and would not utter a single word, but sometimes, Huzooras would say something to me and I would respond. Once, Huzooras said to me, ‘Mian Abdullah! During these days, the doors to God Almighty’s grace and blessings have opened up and at times, God Almighty speaks to me till very late at night. If I were to compose these [words], they would fill up quite a lot of pages.” (Seerat-ul-Mahdi, p. 64)

It was during this 40-day period that Hazrat Ahmadas received the revelation regarding the Promised Son – Musleh-e-Maud – and thus, the mighty and grand sign the Promised Messiahas had asked of God was granted. 

For the words contained in this prophecy, readers of Al Hakam are encouraged to see the announcement dated 20 February 1886. (See Al Hakam issue 100)

It was in these days, when Huzooras was in Hoshiarpur, that Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra of Jhelum, who later became one of the most zealous companions of the Promised Messiahas, after hearing that there was a person in Qadian who had been bestowed divine help in understanding the Holy Quran and defended the religion from various attacks and onslaughts, travelled to Qadian in pursuit of Hazrat Ahmadas and to drink from the spiritual cup bestowed by God. (Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra, p. 6) 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, whilst narrating this incident of Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra of Jhelum, which is recorded in Al Fazl (5 July 1957) stated that as Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra of Jhelum reached Qadian, he was told that Hazrat Ahmadas had gone to Hoshiarpur. Thus, as Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra of Jhelum was in dire search of truth and had set out to meet Hazrat Ahmadas, instead of going back empty-handed, he decided to travel to Hoshiarpur.

Upon arrival in Hoshiarpur, he found out that the Promised Messiahas had left strict orders and said that he would not meet anybody during the 40-day period. Seeing Hazrat Shiekh Hamid Alira seated at the entrance, Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra asked if he could meet with Huzooras; however, due to the instructions, he could not permit this and said he could not allow anyone inside. 

As God Almighty desired to fulfil this noble man’s desire, thus, on one occasion, the Promised Messiahas was in need of a certain thing and instructed Hazrat Sheikh Hamid Alira to go and bring it for him. Seizing this moment and door of opportunity, Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra had the chance to glance at Huzoor’sas room from outside where he saw Hazrat Ahmadas writing something down whilst pacing in his room. 

Witnessing this scene, Hazrat Maulvi Burhanuddinra, in that very moment, realised that Huzooras was undergoing a huge task and would go on to accomplish great heights.   

On another occasion, whilst narrating an incident that occurred during these 40 days of seclusion, Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira stated: 

“One day, when I went to drop the food off upstairs, Huzooras said, ‘I have received a revelation:

بُوْرِكَ‭ ‬مَنْ‭ ‬فِيْهَا‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬مَنْ‭ ‬حَوْلَهَا

[“Blessed is the one who is in it and around it.”]’

“Huzooras further expounded on this by saying, ‘[The words] مَنْ‭ ‬فِيْهَا  [“the one who is in it”] is in reference to myself andمَنْ‭ ‬حَوْلَهَا‭ ‬ [“(those) around it”] refers to you people.’” (Seerat-ul-Mahdi, p. 65) 

As the three men accompanying Huzooras were entrusted with different tasks, their timetable varied from one another. 

Hazrat Mian Abdullah Sanaurira relates, “I would stay in the house for the entire day. I would only leave on Friday with Huzooras [for the Jumuah prayer]. Sheikh Hamid Ali would usually stay in the house; however, Fateh Khan Sahib, for the majority of the day, would remain outside of the house”. (Seerat-ul-Mahdi, p. 65)

One may ask how Fateh Khan Sahib, who accompanied the Promised Messiahas during this journey where Huzooras received the above-mentioned revelation, was “blessed” as he later renounced his faith. The answer to this is found throughout history. For one to be blessed, a concerted and continuous effort to remain blessed is required. One may be blessed at one stage in their life, but on account of being blessed then, it is not a guarantor of being blessed indefinitely thereafter. History proves that the majority of people who remained in the Promised Messiah’sas company were blessed and remained so till their last breaths. Any honest student of history can attest to this fact.

Alluding to this narration, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra relates that it is very likely that Fateh Khan Sahib was also outside during the time of this revelation. 

After accomplishing a monumental task and having undergone an immense period, most people usually desire to take some time off or take things easy for a while; however, it was the complete opposite for Hazrat Ahmadas. The burning passion for defending Islam fanned even greater. After the chillah, as promised, Hazrat Ahmadas remained in Hoshiarpur, met with many guests and took part in various discourses. During this time, Huzooras, whilst defending Islam, also had a debate in Hoshiarpur, from 11 to 14 March, with an Arya Samajist, Lala Murli Dhar.

Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira, in Hayat-e-Ahmad, very eloquently writes that the decision to undergo a 40-day chillah in 1884 materialised through God’s will in 1886. 

The Holy Quran makes mention of Prophet Moses’ spiritual retreat, where he enjoyed communion with God and received the divine law on Mount Sinai. During the days in which Hazrat Ahmadas was busy guarding the beacon of Islam and writing Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, God Almighty, in 1884, likened Hazrat Ahmadas to Prophet Mosesas.

Through this journey, the Promised Messiahas was revealed that he would be bestowed with an illustrious son who “will come into the world and will heal many of their disorder through his Messianic qualities and through the blessings of the Holy Spirit”; a son who “will be extremely intelligent and understanding and will be meek of heart and will be filled with secular and spiritual knowledge.” 

This prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra.

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