20 January 2023
The Martyrs in Burkina Faso: Stars of Ahmadiyyat
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa recited verses 155-157 of Surah al-Baqarah and stated:
“And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah that they are dead; nay, they are living, only you perceive not. And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits; but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.’”
Allah the Almighty has stated regarding those who sacrifice their lives in His way that they are not dead, but are living. For over a hundred years, the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat have been sacrificing their lives in the way of Allah the Almighty. Have these sacrifices been in vain? No! In fact, aside from elevating the status of the martyrs of Ahmadiyyat in accordance with His promise, Allah the Almighty has bestowed the Jamaat with even greater progress than before.
Whereas on the one hand, these martyrs have acquired a distinct status in the hereafter, which has been specifically reserved for them, and this status will continue to be elevated, at the same time, they have left behind a shining legacy in this world as well. Moreover, the sacrifices of their lives in the way of Allah the Almighty is a means of bestowing them with an eternal life and also for the Jamaat. It is these very individuals who are serving as a means of granting life and progress to those who they leave behind. How then can they be considered among the dead?
Sacrificing one’s life for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, the precedent for which was set by the sacrifice of Hazrat Sahibzada Syed Abdul Latif Shaheedra, has generally been confined to the Ahmadis in Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent. Then in Congo, Africa, a devoted Ahmadi sacrificed his life in 2005, purely for the sake of the Jamaat. Recently, in Burkina Faso, which is a country on the continent of Africa, members of its Jamaat collectively set a remarkable and truly unique example of utmost love, loyalty, sincerity, faith and conviction. These individuals were given the option to deny the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas and to accept the belief that Jesusas is alive in the heavens and will descend from there, as a result of which, their lives would be spared. However, these individuals, who were filled with faith and conviction, whose faith was even stronger than the mountains, replied, “Everyone is going to eventually pass away, if not today then tomorrow. Thus, we cannot compromise our faith in exchange for saving our lives. We cannot abandon the truth which we have witnessed for ourselves.” And thus, each one of them, one after the other, gave up their lives. Their women and children were also witnessing these scenes, but they remained in control of their emotions. Thus, these are the people who have written a new chapter of sacrifices in the history of Ahmadiyyat, i.e. after the lifetime of the Promised Messiahas wherein Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra offered a sacrifice. They sacrificed their lives in this world, and in turn, attained eternal life. They indeed fulfilled the oath that they had taken to sacrifice their lives, wealth and time and they indeed fulfilled it in such a manner that, despite having joined later, they surpassed those who had joined before them. May Allah the Almighty enable each one of them to become the recipient of those glad tidings, which He has given to those who offer sacrifices in His way.
Now, I will briefly speak about these martyrs; who demonstrated that they were always resolute and firm in their faith. According to the reports, there is a relatively new settlement, Mehdi Abad in the city of Dori, Burkina Faso. On the 11th of January at the time of the Isha prayer, nine Ahmadi elders were martyred, one by one, because they refused to renounce Islam Ahmadiyyat. This occurred in the courtyard of the mosque, in front of all those who had gathered for prayer.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡهِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ
[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]
According to the report, eight armed men arrived at the mosque on four motorcycles at the time for Isha prayer. Prior to coming to the Ahmadiyya mosque, these armed men were in the nearby Wahabi mosque, where they stayed from the Maghrib prayer to the Isha prayer. However, no one was harmed in the Wahabi mosque because they only came to attack Ahmadis.
When these terrorists arrived at the Ahmadiyya mosque, the Adhan [call for prayer] was being proclaimed. By this time, some worshippers had already arrived, and some were still arriving. After the Adhan had finished, the terrorists told the muezzin to announce that everyone should come inside the mosque quickly, because some people had come and they wished to speak to them.
Then, when all the worshippers had gathered, the terrorists asked who the imam was. Alhaj Ibrahim Bidiga Sahib told them that he was the imam of the mosque. When they asked who the deputy imam was, Umar AG Adramane Sahib said that he was the deputy imam.
When it was time for prayers, Imam Ibrahim Sahib asked the terrorists to let them offer prayers, but the terrorists did not allow them to pray. The armed men asked the Imam many questions about the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which the Imam answered with complete steadfastness and bravery.
Imam Sahib said that we are Muslims, and we believe in the Holy Prophetsa. The terrorists asked what sect they belonged to, to which Imam Sahib replied that they belonged to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Then Imam Sahib was asked regarding our beliefs, and he explained to them. The terrorists asked that, according to your beliefs, is Prophet Jesusas alive, or has he passed away?
Imam Sahib said that Prophet Jesusas had passed away. Regardless, these terrorists said that in fact, Jesusas was alive in the heavens, and that he will come back to kill Dajjal [antichrist] and solve the problems of the Muslims. (These people are still clinging on to this hope).
They then asked, ‘Who is the Imam Mahdi?’ Imam Sahib replied that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadianias has come as the Imam Mahdi and the Promised Messiahas. In the end, these armed men said that after listening to these words, [they considered] Ahmadis as not Muslims, rather they were most certainly disbelievers.
After this, the armed men took Imam Sahib to the adjoining Ahmadiyya Sewing Centre. Pictures of the Promised Messiahas and the Caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were displayed on the walls. With these pictures, they took Imam Sahib back to the mosque, and then asked Imam Ibrahim Sahib about these pictures.
Imam Sahib told them the names of the Promised Messiahas and the Caliphs, and introduced each picture one by one, and said that the Promised Messiahas has come as the Imam Mahdi and Messiah. Upon this, the terrorists said that the Promised Messiah’sas claim to prophethood was false, (God forbid).
Then, these terrorists made separate groups of those that were present in the mosque and divided them into children, young men, and elders. Including the young, the old, and the women, there were approximately 60 to 70 people present at the time. On the other side of the curtain, 10 to 12 women were present for prayer.
After dividing them into groups based on age, the terrorists told the Ansar [men over 40] to go to the courtyard of the mosque. At the time, 10 elders were present in the mosque, among whom there was an elder who was physically impaired. When he got up to go along with his Ansar brothers, the terrorists told him that he was of no use and forced him to sit back down.
They took the other nine members into the courtyard. They made them stand in the courtyard and said to Imam Ibrahim Bidiga Sahib that if he rejected Ahmadiyyat, his life would be spared. Imam Sahib replied, “If you wish to, you can cut off my head, but I cannot leave Ahmadiyyat. It is not possible for me to turn back from the truth that I have accepted. What is the value of life in comparison to faith?”
The terrorists placed a large knife on the neck of Imam Sahib, and tried to pin him down to kill him, but Imam Sahib resisted and said, “Instead of giving my life laying down, I would prefer to be killed whilst standing.” Upon hearing this, they shot Imam Sahib and martyred him. The first martyrdom was that of Imam Alhaj Ibrahim Bidiga Sahib.After mercilessly martyring Imam Sahib, the terrorists thought that the remaining men would become afraid and turn away from their faith. Thus, they said to the next Ahmadi elder, “Leave Ahmadiyyat, or you too will meet the same end as your Imam.”
With great courage and bravery, this elder said, “It is not possible for me to abandon Ahmadiyyat. The path upon which our Imam has given his life, we will also tread that same path.”
Upon hearing this, they shot him in the head and martyred him.
Those who were left behind were asked one by one to deny the Imam Mahdi and leave Ahmadiyyat; if they did so, nothing would be said to them, and they would be allowed to live.
Whilst displaying resolve greater than mountains, all the members embraced and accepted martyrdom with the utmost bravery and valour. Not a single one of them showed even the slightest weakness, nor did they forsake Ahmadiyyat. One after the other, they fell to the ground as they were martyred, yet no one’s faith was shaken. Each of them displayed resolute conviction and fearlessness, and whilst raising aloft the banner of their faith, they gave their lives in the way of Allah. Three or so bullets were fired at each of the martyrs. Among the nine martyrs, there were also twin brothers. When eight individuals had been martyred, there only remained Umar AG Adramane Sahib who was 44 years of age. In terms of age, he was the youngest of the martyrs. The terrorists said to him that he was young and could save himself by abandoning Ahmadiyyat. But he replied with great courage, “I am also prepared to follow my imam and elders and lay down my life for the sake of my faith, which is the path of truth.” Upon this, they mercilessly martyred him as well.
Whilst mentioning Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Sahib Shaheedra, the Promised Messiahas mentioned a vision in his book Tadhkiratush-Shahadatain (The Narrative of Two Martyrdoms) and said, “God Almighty will produce many in his stead.” (Tadhkiratush-Shahadatain, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 76)
The Promised Messiahas deduced from this vision that he hoped that after the martyrdom of Sahibzada Sahibra, Allah the Almighty would produce many more in his place. We are witnesses to the fact that today, people living in Africa as a whole have demonstrated this example and have truly done justice by following in these footsteps.
From the time the terrorists entered the mosque, to the detailed discussion about the teachings [of the Jamaat], and this entire ordeal up until they left the mosque lasted approximately one and a half hours. One cannot even begin to imagine the distress and pain that the children and the rest of the people were experiencing at this time, as their elders were being martyred before their very eyes. After leaving the mosque, the terrorists did not flee immediately, rather, they remained in Mehdi Abad for quite a while and the armed men threatened the people in the mosque by saying, “It would be better for you if you all abandoned Ahmadiyyat. We will return once again and if you have not left Ahmadiyyat or if anyone has tried to reopen the mosque, then you will all be killed.”
In relation to when the Mehdi Abad Jamaat was established and information regarding it, it is mentioned that the mission was officially established here towards the latter part of 1998. The Jamaat grew rapidly and in 1999, the overwhelming majority of the Tickneville village accepted Ahmadiyyat, and thereby a sincere Jamaat was established. Prior to accepting Ahmadiyyat, the Imam of this village, Alhaj Ibrahim Bidiga, was the most prominent Wahhabi Imam of the area. He pledged his allegiance [bai‘at] after thorough research. After pledging allegiance, he became a passionate preacher, a fearless missionary and a courageous soldier [of the Jamaat]. Furthermore, it has been mentioned that when he pledged his allegiance, his friends and fellow scholars questioned as to why he had accepted Ahmadiyyat. He answered, “I have found gold, it is the command of Allah Almighty, the [prophecies] of the Holy Prophetsa are all being fulfilled, and the Holy Quran testifies to this, so how can I reject it and remain deprived?”
In any case, Imam Sahib was a very knowledgeable person. All the people of this village belong to the Tamasheq tribe and they all speak the Tamasheq language. The total population of the Tamasheq people is said to be close to 200,000.
The Tamasheq people are situated all over Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Algeria. 99.9 percent of them are Muslim. Most of them hold extreme Wahabi beliefs. Although there are not many Tamasheq people who converted to Ahmadiyyat, the Tamasheq residents of Mehdi Abad were the first among them to pledge allegiance to the Promised Messiahas. Furthermore, after making such an extraordinary sacrifice, they have attained their own special rank. In 2004, when a large deposit of gold was discovered in that region, the mining company built a residential area close to that village and told everyone to relocate there. The majority of the people who moved were Ahmadis and there were very few non-Ahmadi households. Thus, the new village that was formed, comprised mainly of Ahmadis. Imam Ibrahim proposed that the [new] village should not be given the same old name, and so he wrote to me asking for a name for the village. Thus, it was named Mehdi Abad. In 2008, a model village was constructed there by the IAAAE; amenities such as water and electricity were provided. This was the first model village project in Burkina Faso and the entire world [by the Ahmadiyya Jamaat]. Through this project, the village was provided with amenities such as electricity, water, a sewing school and so forth.
Regarding their burial, it is written in the report that the terrorists spent an hour and a half in the mosque and created such a terrifying atmosphere that the bodies of the martyrs were unmoved throughout the night. The danger remained as the terrorists had not left the village, if anyone tried to remove the bodies, they too could have been killed. There was a military base in the nearby vicinity that was informed of the incident, however, no one came from there, nor did any personnel from any security agency arrive at the scene. The martyrs were buried on 12 January at 10am in Mehdi Abad.
Now, I will briefly mention details about each of the martyrs. Alhaj Ibrahim Bidigia – the imam who I have already spoken about – was 68 years old at the time of his martyrdom. Due to his pursuit of education, he also lived in Saudi Arabia for a while. He was a great scholar of the Tamasheq language and an exegete of the Holy Quran in his language. He pledged allegiance in 1999.
Prior to accepting Ahmadiyyat, Imam Ibrahim Bidiga was the chief imam of many villages. Numerous scholars in this zone considered themselves fortunate to be able to sit in his company and learn from him. At least once a year, the scholars and preachers of that region would come to stay with him and derive benefit from his company. Their numbers would even reach 500, and they would stay with him for a week. It is said that the annual meeting of scholars and imams would take place in his presence.
According to his students, even in those days, Imam [Ibrahim] Sahib would say, “The truth has not yet come to light, for only a few people accept the truth. Even though hundreds of imams come to be in my presence and apparently consider one another to be Muslims, when the truth comes to light, those who accept it will be few in number. These people will then abandon me as well.” He was pious, righteous and wise, and in light of the conditions, he deduced that the truth was yet to become manifest. He arrived at the conclusion that these people would become the opponents and behave just as the enemies of prophets have always behaved. Nonetheless, he had decided in his heart that he would accept the truth once it came to light.
In 1998, when a permanent Ahmadiyya mission was established in Dori, the message of Ahmadiyyat also reached Imam Ibrahim. It was during a tabligh campaign in a market that Alhaj Bidiga heard the name “Ahmadiyya” for the first time. He learned that Ahmadis believe that Jesusas had passed away and are conveying news of the advent of the Messiah and Mahdi. Thus, Ibrahim Bidiga and seven others travelled to the mission house in Dori in search of the truth. After a great deal of research, he accepted Ahmadiyyat. He had the honour of being the first Ahmadi in his zone. Our enemies object that we entice the poor and needy to pledge allegiance because they have no knowledge of religion. These martyrs have completely silenced such people. They accepted the truth after comprehending and understanding it, and after that, they became models by making a sacrifice of the highest order.
Nonetheless, regarding Imam Ibrahim, it is further recorded – though it has already been mentioned – that he was a fearless soldier of the Community. He was a courageous preacher and the true embodiment of a devout Ahmadi. Ahmadiyyat spread throughout his region due to his preaching efforts. He established many local jamaats in the area. He actively participated in the activities of the Community. Before accepting Ahmadiyyat, he believed all other sects [of Muslims] apart from the Wahabis to be disbelievers. According to the Wahabi belief, watching TV, going to school, playing or watching football, drawing pictures – all such things were unlawful. However, after accepting Ahmadiyyat, he abstained from all such erroneous beliefs and educated others about the truth.
He also had the opportunity of attending the Jalsa here in the UK during the time of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh in the year 2000. He was completely devoted to preaching. As mentioned earlier, even before accepting Ahmadiyyat, he was a man of stature and influence and was the chief imam of many villages. After accepting Ahmadiyyat, he devoted himself to preaching; it was as though he desired nothing else than to propagate the message. He had created WhatsApp groups for preaching and dedicated a group, especially for the Tamasheq people. That group consisted of people from Mali, Niger, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Ivory Coast and various other countries. He was continuously engaged in preaching to these people. He would record and send audio messages and was occupied in this day and night. He faced a great deal of opposition and many opponents would send him messages slandering and verbally abusing him. He also received death threats, however, he never spoke to anyone in an angry tone. In fact, he would respond to those who sent him death threats by saying that he would pay for their journey so they could come and kill him.
When the circumstances [in Burkina Faso] became unfavourable, he would encourage the missionaries and mu‘allimin [local missionaries] to continue preaching and not to cite the excuse that due to the dangerous circumstances they were not able to travel for the purpose of tabligh. He would say that one could preach through the media. He offered to pay for mobile phone data packages for those who could not afford it and encouraged everyone to create social media groups and engage in the Jihad of preaching from their homes. He had a desire and passion for preaching.
Nasir Siddhu Sahib, who is a missionary serving in Burkina Faso, says, “I arrived in Burkina Faso in 1997 and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh had entrusted me with the task of da‘wat ila-Allah [propagation]. I did not know the language and so a duration of three months passed in just making a plan for this. Thereafter, I travelled and visited various villages and I also met the imam of the village. When they heard about the death of Jesusas and the advent of the Messiah and Mahdi, Ibrahim Bidiga Sahib came to the mission house in Dori along with seven other men and asked various questions. He remained with me for three days and for those three days, he neither slept himself nor allowed me to sleep. Thereafter, they all left. We would have a discussion every day from morning until evening [whilst they were there]. The following week they came again and brought another Imam with them and continued their research for three months continuously. Though he had received the answers to most of his questions, however, he had not yet expressed his intention to enter the fold of Ahmadiyyat. Nonetheless, I continued to write to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh for prayers. One day, Imam Sahib came and filled out the Bai’at form. I asked about the other men as well, who would visit [the mission house] regularly and I enquired as to when they would do the bai‘at and he replied that they would all do the Bai’at as well, but he came because he wanted to be the first among them to enter the fold of Ahmadiyyat. He had great love for Khilafat as well.”
The Amir Jamaat of Burkina Faso writes that around 45 villages were under Imam Sahib. He also travelled to perform the Hajj and then remained there to acquire further education. He spoke Arabic very well and he did a lot of tabligh in the area. He would go to the villages on a bicycle and by the grace of Allah the Almighty, he enlightened many people with the spiritual light of Ahmadiyyat. Through him, many prominent scholars of the area entered the fold of Ahmadiyyat. Many of the jamaats in that area were established owing to his tabligh efforts. Whenever Amir Sahib would visit London, Imam Sahib would ask how the Khalifah was. He would show great love [for Khilafat]. An example of this love is evident from the fact that, despite not knowing the Urdu language, he would watch my classes with the children with great attention as if he could understand what was being said. He would say that simply sitting in that gathering and observing it was a means of increasing his faith. He was very hospitable and generally spoke very little. But, if ever he had to speak up for the sake of the Jamaat, then he would do so in a very passionate manner. He was a complete missionary and he held many debates and also question and answer sessions, both individually and collectively, with the non-Ahmadis.
Another missionary from [Burkina Faso], Muhib Allah Sahib, says:
“I knew these individuals personally as I would often visit that area. They had great love for Khilafat and were extremely hospitable and loyal. When the young men would be out working all day, these elders would sit in the shade that was built outside the mosque and watch MTA. When they were martyred, I immediately received a phone call from a young man through which he informed me that these respected members had been martyred and that they were told that their lives would be spared if they renounced Ahmadiyyat, however, they preferred martyrdom instead. This young man then said to me that even if they martyred all of us, even then we would not give up Ahmadiyyat. He said that these were only nine Ansar members, however, if they had martyred all of the Khuddam and Lajna as well, even then they would not abandon Ahmadiyyat, insha-Allah.”
This was the spirit that these sincere members of the Jamaat had instilled within them. When the elders have been trained in this manner and lead by example, only then can this level of faith be instilled amongst the youth and women of the Jamaat.
The local missionary, Maiga Tijan Sahib, says, “Imam Ibrahim Sahib was receiving death threats. A few days prior to his martyrdom, he mentioned to me that he was receiving death threats and that they would kill him.”
With regard to his excellent morals, he states, “He treated his family members and relatives with great kindness. It was his habit to treat everyone with compassion. To sacrifice for the sake of others and to demonstrate a spirit of sacrifice was an outstanding quality of his. He was a very honourable individual of the area and people respected him greatly. Whenever Ibrahim Sahib would make a decision, people would have great regard for it and accept it. He had many students and some of them are serving as imams and mu‘allims in the neighbouring countries and many of them are also serving as mu‘allims and local missionaries in Burkina Faso as well.
He was an example for others in piety and righteousness and to excel one another in good deeds. Whenever he would tell the members to take part in any project, he would first take part in it himself. If there was an appeal for financial sacrifices, he would be the first to contribute towards it. He would never remain behind in any Jamaat activity or Jalsa, Ijtema or any other event. He would offer his five daily prayers at the mosque and was regular in offering his Tahajjud prayer. If ever he was not present in a Jamaat programme, then it meant that either he was unwell or he was travelling. He would never worry about spending his money for the sake of taking part in the Jamaat activities. He had two wives and Allah the Almighty had granted him 11 children from them.”
Khalid Mahmood Sahib, who is a missionary, writes that these individuals were filled with sincerity and loyalty. They were devoted to Khilafat and Ahmadiyyat. He writes that in 2008, when I [i.e. His Holiness] visited Ghana in the Khilafat Jubilee year and attended the Jalsa there, thousands of Ahmadis from Burkina Faso, Mali, etc., also came to meet me. At the time, the Ghana Jamaat had made very good arrangements for food and accommodation. However, some members, including those who had come from Dori, were delayed in getting food, or perhaps they did not receive any food at all and late into the night some food was purchased from the market and given to them. At the time, I told the missionary who met me to apologise to those members on my behalf and also console them. The missionary says that he went to them to apologise and when he conveyed my message, Alhaj Ibrahim Sahib, who was the president of the Jamaat at the time and along with the other members ,said, “We came to meet the Khalifah of the time and now that we have seen him and met him, our hunger and tiredness have disappeared and we have no complaints. In fact, we are sitting here and only discussing our meeting [with the Khalifah] and enjoying this moment.” In any case, I was also concerned at the time that they had travelled such a long distance, many of them on bicycles and adequate arrangements were not made for them. And though immediate action was taken to make the necessary arrangements, they displayed an astonishing level of sincerity and loyalty. Even at the time when I received this response of theirs, I was amazed at how strong these people were in their faith.
A mu‘allim, Al-Hajj Mahmood Deko Sahib says:
“Sharif Odeh Sahib came to visit Benin and Imam Sahib travelled a thousand kilometres from Burkina Faso by bus in the night and reached there at 3 am in the morning. It was a 30-hour-long tiring journey (and the roads are also not in good condition there) and yet he was extremely joyful and happy. They had to then further travel from there as well which he also did along with them and participated in all the programmes. He had a great passion for Jamaat work. He would become extremely happy upon observing the mosques in Benin and would say, ‘this is also proof of the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas.’ Also, during the debates with the non-Ahmadis, he would deliver his speeches very eloquently in Arabic. On one occasion, there was a debate taking place between the Maulvis and Sharif Odeh Sahib and the Maulvis uttered something improper, so he stood up in anger and wanted to respond to them, but when he was told not to say anything, he immediately sat down. The non-Ahmadis then said that if they [i.e. the Ahmadis] considered them to be Muslims, then they should offer Salat behind them. In response, he stood up and said, ‘How can we offer Salat behind those who call us Kafir and do not accept the Imam of this age? If you accept that the Promised Messiahas is the Imam of the age then we shall offer Salat behind you.’”
A retired local mu‘allim from Benin writes that he was a living example of love for Khilafat. He would often say, “The moment I received the message of Ahmadiyyat from a Pakistani missionary, I became an Ahmadi from that very moment. I have learnt that one’s success in this world can only be achieved by attaching oneself to Khilafat and this alone is the true path and I shall remain firmly established upon it until my last breath.” The mu‘allim Sahib says that indeed he truly fulfilled his oath.
Another local mu’allim of Benin, Isa Sahib, says that he has known him for a very long time. He was an Ahmadi who had no grievances with anyone. He was a true Ahmadi and one who was at the forefront of every deed, be it tabligh, chanda [financial sacrifice]; he was always at the forefront. It is for this reason that the other eight Ansar members also followed his example and sacrificed their lives in the way of God.
The Principal of Jamia Ahmadiyya Burkina Faso writes that a person once saw a dream, and whilst commenting on the dream, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh wrote to the Ameer [National President] saying, “The dream is blessed and it means that the soil of this country was fertile and ready to accept the truth. After my tour, God Willing, they will shine brightly after accepting the truth. May God enable this to come to fruition.” (Khat Mukarram Additional Wakil-ul-Tabshir Sahib London, T.3360, 19 June 1990)
I believe that Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh could not visit [Burkina Faso]. Nonetheless, I travelled there on a visit in 2004.
The Principal further writes, “You [i.e. His Holiness] also stated that ‘I believe that the seed of Ahmadiyyat that has been sown in Burkina Faso, will swiftly bear lasting fruits. The people of Burkina Faso are truly remarkable, and I am pleased that Allah the Almighty has bestowed upon them the [spiritual] light of Ahmadiyyat. The focus and determination that I have seen amongst the members of the Burkina Faso Jamaat is truly astonishing. I hope that the extraordinary results of this tour will come to light in the next two or three years and the Jamaat will progress swiftly, God Willing.’” (Letter T.9653, 1 May 2004)
I wrote this to him after my tour. From the jamaats in Africa, I have seen that a special trait of the Burkina Faso Jamaat members is that each one of them would desire to embrace me. Furthermore, the love they expressed was exemplary.
Principal Sahib further writes, “Today, through their extraordinary sacrifice, the sincere devotees from Mehdi Abad have attested to your words of being ‘truly remarkable people.’”
The second of the martyrs is Alhassane AG Maliel Sahib. At the time of his martyrdom, he was 71 years old. He worked as a farmer. He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999 and was among the pioneer Ahmadis of the village. He was part of the delegation that went to the Dori Mission along with Ibrahim Sahib, in order to inquire about Ahmadiyyat. From the time he pledged allegiance, he continued to excel in his sincerity and loyalty. He had a sincere bond of loyalty with Khilafat. He was regular in offering prayers in congregation and also offering the Tahajjud prayers. He would always partake in financial contributions and leaves behind a pious model for his family. Overall, the way in which he sacrificed his life, wealth and time for the Jamaat was extraordinary. He could speak approximately four or five local languages of Burkina Faso due to which he knew members of the Jamaat throughout the country. Due to his knowledge of other languages, on the occasion of Jalsa Salana, he would meet those guests who spoke other languages and spend time with them. People were very fond of him and would enjoy spending time in his company. Whenever an initiative of the Jamaat was announced, he would strive to be a part of it. Last year, when the Jamaat members were encouraged to do Waqf-e-Arzi [temporary devotion], Alhassane Sahib was the first to put his name down from the Mehdi Abad Jamaat. In the Medhi Abad tragedy, his twin brother, Ousseni AG Maliel Sahib was also martyred.
[The next mention is] Ousseni AG Maliel Sahib and as stated, he was Alhassane Sahib’s twin brother and he was also 71 years old [at the time of his martyrdom]. He had the opportunity to pledge allegiance in 1999 and was among the pioneer Ahmadis in his village. He was part of the delegation with Alhaj Ibrahim Sahib who went to the Dori mission house to inquire about Ahmadiyyat. Before his martyrdom, he was serving as Zaeem Ansarullah of Mehdi Abad. He had the skill of organising the Ansar brothers in an excellent manner. He would keep the members involved in the activities and programmes of the Jamaat. He organised many programmes for their moral training. He would ensure the cleaning of the mosque and other places through waqar-e-amal. He was regular in paying chanda and would offer the five daily prayers in the mosque. He was regular in offering the Tahajjud prayers. As mentioned earlier, his twin brother was also martyred in the tragedy of Mehdi Abad. They entered this world on the same day and departed from here on the same day also.
[The next martyr is] Hamidou AG Abdouramanae Sahib; he was 67 years old. He also worked as a farmer. He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999. He had a very pure heart and forbearing disposition. He was always at the forefront in Jamaat programmes. If he was absent from any programme it would be assumed that there was an urgent matter or that he was unwell, otherwise, he was never absent from any programme. He was one of those who greatly assisted Imam Ibrahim Sahib. He ensured that his family remained attached to the Jamaat and would encourage them to attend Jamaat programmes. He had a bond of loyalty with Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. He would spend most of his time in the mosque and watch programmes on MTA. He would especially watch my Friday sermons with full attention.
Souley AG Ibrahim Sahib; at the time of his martyrdom he was 67. He also worked as a farmer. He was regular in his five daily prayers and in giving chanda. He was an active member of Majlis Ansarullah and a very sincere Ahmadi. He was a helper to Ibrahim Sahib and supported him greatly. By the grace of Allah, he was very knowledgeable and it was his habit to engage in discussions on religion and secular topics. Whenever the Ansar members of the Jamaat would be involved in a discussion, he would always be present. He was a very noble and kind individual. Among his qualities was that he would deal kindly with everyone; young and old alike. On the way to Jalsa Salana [annual convention] or an Ijtema [gathering], if he ever found out that another member did not have money to attend or did not have enough for the journey, he would pay for them himself so they could attend.
Travelling outside of Dori these days was very challenging due to insurgency in the area by terrorists. Despite all these dangers, he travelled from Mehdi Abad to Jalsa Salana Burkina Faso, which took place in the last week of December.
The next mention is of Ousmane AG Soudeye Sahib, who was 59 years old. He was a sincere and devoted Ahmadi. He would sacrifice his wealth and time for the sake of the Jamaat and in the end, Allah the Almighty bestowed upon him the opportunity to sacrifice his life as well. During the construction of the mosque in Medhi Abad, he would provide water and assisted greatly throughout the construction process. He was regular in offering the prayers and giving chanda. Whatever he would earn, he would first pay chanda out of it. Can a person with such a mindset have pledged allegiance out of greed for money, as the opponents [of Ahmadiyyat] claim? He was a businessman by profession and had a shoe business. If a person came to him to buy a shoe, but could not afford to buy a pair of shoes or did not have enough money, he would never let them leave empty-handed. If the customer did not have enough money, he would tell them that they could pay him later.
The next mention is of AG Ali AG Maguel, who was born in 1970. He accepted Ahmadiyyat along with his father in 1999. He also worked as a farmer. He was the muazzin [one who proclaims the call to prayer] for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Belare. A short while ago, when he was forced to move out of his village due to the terrorists, he came and settled in Mehdi Abad. He was a very sincere Ahmadi, he was regular in his prayers and giving chanda. He would strive to take part in all the activities of the Jamaat.
The next mention is of Moussa AG Idrahi, who was 53 years old at the time of his martyrdom. He also worked in farming. When it came to Jamaat activities, he would be at the forefront. Prior to accepting Ahmadiyyat, he was an active member of the Wahabi sect. He regularly offered his prayers as well as the Tahajjud prayers. He would come to the mosque for Maghrib prayer and return home after offering the Isha prayers. He would spend the time between Maghrib and Isha in the mosque by remembering Allah the Almighty. Everyone has said about him that he was a true Ahmadi and a believer, who practically demonstrated what it meant to be a sincere Ahmadi. He would write letters to me regularly requesting prayers and would say that it was his habit to pray for the Khalifa.
The ninth [martyr] is AG Umar AG Adramane Agouma. He was 44 years of age at the time of his martyrdom. As it was mentioned earlier, he was the youngest [among the martyrs]. He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999 at the age of 20, after which his connection and sincerity with the Jamaat continued to grow. He was a sincere and passionate member of the Mehdi Abad community. He greatly assisted Imam Ibrahim and he was also the deputy imam in the Mehdi Abad Jamaat. When the terrorists entered the mosque, after asking about Imam Ibrahim they asked who the deputy imam was, and without any hesitation he said that it was him. He was always among the first people to reach the mosque. He would offer prayers with great fervour. He regularly offered Tahajjud prayers. He would also bring his children with him to the mosque and paid special attention to their moral training. He was also regular in writing letters to me. He was an expert cyclist, and he would go on long journeys throughout the area. He travelled 265 kilometres from Dori to Ouagadougou four times for the Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Ijtema. In 2008, he was part of the group that travelled by bicycle from Burkina Faso to Ghana to attend the Khilafat Jubilee Jalsa.
The word “Ag” which has been used with every name, according to my understanding based on their reports, is the equivalent of “ibn”, referring to whose sons they were. Therefore, “Ag’, indicates that they are the son of such and such a person. In any case, it is further written about him that when eight people were martyred, Umar AG Adramane Agouma was the only one remaining. He was the youngest in age [among the martyrs]. The terrorists said to him that he was still young, and that he could save his life by denouncing Ahmadiyyat. He bravely replied, saying, that he would follow the same path of the sacrifices made by his elders and that he was prepared to sacrifice his life for the sake of his faith. Upon this, he was brutally shot in the face and martyred.
The conditions in Burkina Faso are generally dire; terrorists are wreaking havoc in various areas. Just a few days ago, the Qaid Sahib of Denea came to the central mission house at the headquarters and said that there was a grocery store in his village, and one day, a terrorist went there (this is in a completely different area). He went to buy something and was looking everywhere. There were pictures of the Promised Messiahas and the Caliphs in the store. He asked Qaid Sahib whose pictures they were. Qaid Sahib replied that these were pictures of the Promised Messiahas and his Caliphs. He replied saying that this was not the Promised Messiah, rather some Muslims had simply come together and formed a group, and this was that very group, who are disbelievers. Before leaving, he threatened the Qaid, saying that he should remove the pictures; otherwise, if the pictures were still there the next time he came, then it would not be good for him. However, the Qaid Sahib left the pictures there as they were. A few days later, that person returned to purchase some things, and he saw that the pictures were still there, so he left. Qaid Sahib related this incident and even asked for more pictures. Rather than getting scared, he said that he would put these pictures up in other locations as well. This entire area has been controlled by terrorists for a long time, whereas the government has no control there at all. This area borders Mali and on the other side, Dori borders Niger. In this way, the entire belt is under their control.
In any case, these are the shining stars of Ahmadiyyat who have left behind a great legacy. May Allah the Almighty increase their progenies’ sincerity and loyalty. The enemy thinks that their martyrdoms will lead to the end of Ahmadiyyat in the area, but God-willing, Ahmadiyyat will flourish and grow there even more than before. The administration there, including the Amir, should be wise and devise a plan for propagation and they should give reassurance to the people there. May Allah the Almighty continue to grant the families patience and strength. May He enable them to understand the purpose for which their elders sacrificed their lives. In any case, we will have to be wise and devise a plan there. I have already told them before that they should go out [and propagate the message].
In order to fulfil the needs of the families of martyrs and to help them get back on their own two feet, there was a fund established during the era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh known as the “Syedna Bilal Fund”, which is spent on the families of martyrs. Recently, after this incident took place, some people at an individual level, and the auxiliary organisations and even jamaats have been sending donations in order to help fulfil the needs of the families. However, when a fund has already been established, everyone should make their donations to the Syedna Bilal Fund and then they can specify that these donations are specifically for the martyrs in the Mehdi Abad Jamaat in Dori. In any case, the headquarters will make the ultimate decision. Whether donations are made or not, the headquarters has to tend to the needs of these people, and it will, God-willing. However, those who do wish to make donations should do so to the Syedna Bilal Fund. This is not conferring a favour upon the families of the martyrs, in fact, it is our duty to look after their needs and fulfil them. In the end, I will present a quote of the Promised Messiahas; he states, “Do not think that God will let you go to waste. You are a seed sown in the ground by God’s Own hand. God says that this seed will grow and blossom and it will branch out in every direction as it turns into a grand tree, God-willing. Hence, blessed is he who believes in the words of God and does not fear the trials that appear along the way, because these are necessary so that God may try you through them.” (Risalah al-Wasiyyat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 309)
These people who made this sacrifice have succeeded in this trial. Now it is a test of faith and certainty for those who have been left behind. May Allah the Almighty grant them the ability, and us as well, to remain complete in our faith and certainty. May Allah the Almighty continue to elevate the station of these martyrs; may He cause their sacrifice to bear fruit, as a result of which we may see the true teachings of the Holy Prophetsa spread swiftly throughout the world. May the world be rid of its ignorance and may the true Sovereignty of the One God be established in the world.
Along with the funerals of these martyrs, which I will lead now after the prayers, there will also be the funeral prayers [in absentia] of the following two sincere members:
One of them is Dr Karimullah Zirvi Sahib, who was the son of Sufi Khuda Bakhsh Zirvi Sahib. He was from the USA and passed away on 4 January at the age of 83.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡهِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ
[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]
By the grace of Allah the Almighty, he was a musi. His father, Sufi Khuda Bakhsh Sahib pledged allegiance in Qadian at the hand of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra in 1928 at the age of 17. Karimullah Zirvi Sahib was also the son-in-law of Hazrat Malik Saifur Rahman Sahib. The deceased was a very scholarly person who authored various books. He was also able to render many services to the Jamaat. May Allah the Almighty grant him forgiveness and mercy.
The second funeral is of the wife of Karimullah Zirvi Sahib’s wife, Amatul Latif Zirvi Sahiba. She lived in the USA and was Malik Saifur Rahman Sahib’s daughter. She passed away on 6 January, 2 days after her husband’s passing at the age of 78.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡهِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ
[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]
She was a musia. As I mentioned, she was the daughter of Malik Saifur Rahman Sahib, and her mother’s name was Amatul Rasheed Shaukat, who used to be the editor of the Misbah magazine in Rabwah. She was born in Qadian. She had a passion for learning. She was well educated, with an MSc degree. She also had the opportunity to render great services for the Jamaat. May Allah the Almighty also grant her His forgiveness and mercy. Her brother Malik Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Sahib writes about his sister and brother-in-law:
“They were a very loving couple. They endured many difficulties, but they never complained about anything. I never heard them speak negatively about anyone. Both were deep oceans of knowledge. Until their last days, they treated everyone with love, took care of their needs and showed a great deal of love and compassion. Masha-Allah they lived complete and fulfilling lives. They would have a positive impact on all those who were around them and they were influential elders.”
May Allah the Almighty grant them forgiveness and mercy.
(Official Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International on 10 February 2023, pp. 5-11. Translation by The Review of Religions.)