Asif Mahmood Basit, UK
Dawn of a new era
The sitting of the electoral college commenced and people began to gather on the roads surrounding the Fazl Mosque. My nerves could no longer take the pressure, so I wandered off into the darkness of a nearby street. I turned into another street and then another. I felt myself fighting off the tide of that testing time.
Feeling that it was about time, I strolled back to the mosque. The thousands of people that had thronged on the road were all on mute.
In such silence, the microphone crackled to life, the effect of which most of us can still relive. It was like the beating drum of a major announcement. The crackle sent a shockwave down everyone’s spines and we were all ears. Then came the announcement which, with every word uttered, drew us closer to peace. The clouds of fear that had cloaked us for the past few days began to disperse. The entire atmosphere began to change as the sense of fear swept away and bliss began to blossom. Then, finally, the name was announced. Our hearts cried the resounding praise of “Allahu-Akbar!”
Allah had manifested His power and might through the person of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa! May Allah continue to bring him comfort and peace!
It was an historical moment. How remarkable was the experience of seeing fear transform into peace! Never had I witnessed such anxiousness! But the relief I felt after was enough to make me forget all the distress.
Without describing the period from hearing that announcement to taking the oath of initiation at the hand of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa inside the mosque, I shall move forward. That period of time was a very delicate one; so fragile that describing it may cause damage. It was a very personal, delicate and private moment for us all.
A new era had begun for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. I had the honour of seeing Huzooraa with my own eyes in the Fazl Mosque. What an astonishing transformation it was. I could not rest my eyes on him for too long.
It was in those days that I said the following:
اُس كا پیكر تو ایک سورج ہے
اُس پہ ٹھہرے میرى نظر كیسے؟
“He is the sun personified; How could I fix my gaze in his direction?”
The feeling is still the same today, not only mine, but of many others as well.
It was the middle of the night, but a new sun had risen in the sky of Ahmadiyyat. The whole world was to be illuminated from this sun. This sun would erase atheism and disbelief. Life itself was to gain warmth from this sun. Many who had gone stray were to find the right path under the light of this new sun. And most of all, every single member of this grief-stricken community who had been dwelling in the shadows of fear was to do away with that fear and, under the rays of this new sun, welcome the dawn of a new era. The light of this sun was to nourish a spiritual harvest from which the whole world was to benefit.
Huzooraa took the bai‘at [oath of initiation] from the thousands of Ahmadis who surrounded the vicinity of the Fazl Mosque. Huzooraa emerged from the doors of the mosque and raised his hand to wave to the huge crowd of Ahmadis. Everyone had the chance to see their beloved leader, after which Huzooraa entered his residence.
Having been through the hammering mix of emotions – fear, patience and happiness – the clock had struck one o’clock in the morning.
We returned to our homes, but it became impossible to get some sleep. At home, all we could talk about was our new Imam. My father would reminisce the days when he had had the honour of working with Huzooraa in the dar-ul-qaza [judiciary]. I, too, narrated my personal recollections. In this manner, night turned into morning and the time for Fajr prayer came upon us.
Once again, we found ourselves in the Fazl Mosque and with great enthusiasm. I saw Huzooraa as he approached the mosque. He wore the same shalwar kameez and the same blazer as the night before. There was, however, one difference and that too a significant one. The mantle of Khilafat was now gradually beautifying Huzoor’s blessed countenance. The complexion was unique; the nur even more visible.
Only God knows how that night was spent; what words were exchanged. Huzoor’s emotions had already been displayed to the world, so what would it have been like when he met his Lord in solitude? God Himself had descended upon the Earth to select His chosen servant. So for whom Allah had come so close, what emotions would that person have experienced when being so near to Allah!
History was in the making as the night passed and a new day arose. Alhamdulillah, we had witnessed the first historical prayer led by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
That day, the blessed body of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh was to be laid to rest. The burial would take place on the land of Islamabad, the land that was very dear to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh. Only a few meters away from his burial place was the home in which he resided for many Jalsa Salanas, ijtemas and other occasions.
Later, we heard that Huzooraa had begun attending his office and was leading all five prayers in the Fazl Mosque. The blessed era of the Fifth Khilafat had now begun!
For the coming few days, groups from across the world were given the opportunity to meet Huzooraa in their respective groups in the Mahmood Hall. I stood in the queue among the Ahmadis of England and awaited my turn. Gradually, I got closer and closer to Huzooraa. When my turn came, Huzooraa very graciously allowed me to embrace him. The same electrifying current rushed through my body as the day I had embraced him in the crowd before the election – the same warmth, energy and bliss.
That day, I embraced my leader, but I realised that he no longer remained a dweller of this world. His dwelling had been elevated to a much higher, exalted realm. Apparently, he was an ordinary human who stood before us. But God Almighty had selected him. Angels had descended upon him and he now wore the mantle of nur.
The embrace perhaps lasted only a second, but what a memorable moment it was! Countless praise be to Allah the Exalted, that he enabled us to witness the magnificent transformation from fear to peace.
I – who, in pursuit of worldly achievements, travelled here to the UK; who would ponder over the existence, role and even the possibility of the non-existence of God; who was a deep admirer of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud; who had adopted religion but only as a social ritual; who considered the institution of Khilafat as a leadership, but was not fully aware of its spiritual status – now considered it my good fortune that I had embraced the man whom God had chosen. I felt the spiritual light radiate my soul and being, alhamdulillah!
In truth, that was the day I began to truly believe in Khilafat as a divine institution. And in keeping with this honesty, it was a result of that belief that I began to truly believe in God’s existence. Thus, I am forever indebted to this man of God.
I, as well as my children and my children’s children, will forever be in his debt, for it was he who sparked a flame in my lifeless soul. May Allah grant me, my children and their children the opportunity to remain subservient to Khilafat.
As I exited the doors of the Mahmood Hall that day, I was experiencing a bizarre rush of emotion. The memories and moments that would circulate the avenues of my mind were now flickering before my eyes like a film, but in different ways. At times, they would fast-forward; at others, I would see them in slow-motion.
But alongside those recollections was a new sense of passion. At times, I considered it my good fortune that I had met and known Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa before Khilafat. But then, I would question why I had not met him with the reverence he deserved; why I merely considered him an office-bearer of the Jamaat and why I had not recognised him to be a man elevated in spirituality.
I regretted all those times I had met Huzooraa casually. But then there was another overriding thought.
A glance at the early life of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa
I remember the day when, upon the demise of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Mansoor Ahmad, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh announced the appointment of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad as nazir-e-ala and amir-e-muqami. Having made the announcement, Huzoorrh also declared that in a manner, it fulfilled the revelation of:
اَب تُو ہمارى جگہ بیٹھ اور ہم چلتے ہىں
“Now you sit down in my place and I shall leave.” (The Promised Messiahas had said these words to Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra, grandfather of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, in a divine vision.)
Huzooraa then told the members to pray that Allah enabled him to become a successor in the true sense of the word. It was a remarkable indication. But God tends to keep such signs ambiguous.
A few days after the new appointment of nazir-e-ala and amir-e-muqami was my walima ceremony. That day, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa graced my walima. While reminiscing that day, I recall his humility, but within that humility was a sense of awe-inspiring dignity and composure.
“Was I able to identify the nur in his eyes at that time – the nur I see today? Maybe. Maybe not!”
Then, I recalled the days when I would meet various elders of the community in their offices and along the streets of Rabwah. In 1990, when many elders of the Jamaat resided in Rabwah, I always wished to meet such people as I had recently come to Rabwah. Never had I seen so many scholars and saintly persons gathered in one place, especially such people who were direct descendants of the Promised Messiahas!
It was in those days that I went to the office of wakalat-e-mal II in the Tahrik-e-Jadid offices to meet an unknown “Mian Sahib”. That Mian Sahib was among the regular worshippers at Masjid Mubarak, but I did not know who he was. When I heard about him, I went straight to meet him.
If I recall correctly, it was the first time I had met that individual and it was in the picturesque corridors of Tahrik-e-Jadid. It was a brief meeting, consisting of “Assalamo alaikum” and “Wa alaikumussalam”, but the smile on Huzoor’s face remains engraved in my memory because even today, that smile manifests itself when Huzooraa wishes to say something but opts for silence.
Then, one day, I saw him in Masjid Mubarak and would have the honour of meeting him there many times. He would enter Masjid Mubarak from the doors closest to Qasr-e-Khilafat. He would sit in that very area and having offered prayers, would depart the mosque as solemnly as he had arrived.
I recalled the days when I would meet many elders of the community and meet him also. But I always found something different about him from the rest; something unique – a simple and ordinary exterior with no intentional signs to indicate taqwa and righteousness. There was a sense of calmness about him; a sense of simplicity and humility. But there was surely something that made this apparent dweller of this world a dweller of a higher one.
My heart would ache with regret. I would lament my negligence and lack of understanding; my days of ignorance and foolishness! If ever they could return, I would greet that Mian Sahib with the reverence and love he so deserved!
The days after the passing of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh were enigmatic. Everyone was in a spiritual and emotional state. But I can only speak for myself. For the first time, I had realised the importance of Khilafat. (We can probably never fully understand it, so I actually had begun to comprehend it.) The transformation of fear into peace with the start of the Fifth Khilafat gave me firm belief in God.
Strange thoughts occupied my mind in those days. I would ask myself, “When did God actually choose his next Khalifa? When I first met him, had Allah already selected him as the future Khalifa or not?”
It was in this confusion that a thought occurred; an extremely personal point that I will now try and gather the courage of presenting before you.
Personal interpretation of a poem by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh
The poem written by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, “Merey dard ki jo dava karey”, would be repeated on MTA International during those days, especially during the days between the demise of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh and the appointment of the Fifth Khalifa.
In those days, this poem was constantly on my mind and naturally so. I had never given too much thought to the meaning of the poem. But then, one day, that poem bore a completely new meaning to me:
مِرے دَرد كى جو دَوا كرے، كوئى ایسا شخص ہوا كرے
“If only there was a person who could heal my wounds.”
Huzoorrh, here, refers to an individual. Had Huzoorrh been referring to God, he would never have used the word ‘shakhs’ (person).
وہ جو بے پناہ اُداس ہو، مگر ہجر كا نہ گِلہ كرے
“When he feels an unsettling sadness, he does not complain of being remote.”
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa spent a large part of his life physically far away from the Khalifa of the time. During the era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh, he had devoted his life and had been sent to Africa. When he returned to Pakistan, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh had migrated to London. He spent that entire period in a state of solitude and being “remote”. Without complaining, though, he fulfilled his duties.
مِرى چاہتیں مِرى قُربتیں جسے یاد آئیں قَدَم قَدَم
تو وہ سب سے چُھپ كے لباسِ شب مىں لپٹ كے آہ و بُكا كرے
“When his desire for my nearness flood his mind at every moment; then, in the depths of the night, may he cry out for my sake.”
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa was the person who always preferred to stay in seclusion. Even though he had the authority, he would very rarely be seen on a stage. His position naturally made him the single person who everyone wanted to call onto the stage, but he always preferred to remain unknown. Such a man only opens the doors of his heart before His Lord (that too in the depths of the night) Who had always been his One and Only Benefactor.
بڑھے اُس كا غم تو قَرار كھو دے، وہ میرے غم كے خیال سے
اُٹھیں ہاتھ اپنے لئے تو پھر بھى مِرے لئے ہى دُعا كرے
“And when his grief increases, he loses peace at the thought of my grief; When his hands rise to pray for himself, even then, he prays for me.”
I cannot say anything as regards his hours of seclusion. But the rare times when he had to deliver a speech before Khilafat, he would always say a few words about the importance and blessings of Khilafat, followed by, “Now let us pray”. It is obvious who those prayers were for.
بڑا شور ہے مِرے شہر مىں كسى اجنبى كے نُزول كا
وہ مِرى ہى جان نہ ہو كہیں، كوئى كچھ تو جا كے پتہ كرے
“There is great hue and cry in my town about the descent of a stranger; it is well-nigh possible that he could be my very own being. I wish somebody would try to find out.”
This clearly points to the descent of spiritual light that settled on the heart of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa from Allah the Almighty. Yet, it was so subtle that he himself did not know of it.
یہ تو میرے دِل ہى كا عكس ہے، میں نہیں ہوں پر مِرى آرزو
كو جنون ہے مُجھے یہ بنا دے تو پھر جو چاہے قضا كرے
“This is the reflection of my very own heart! I am not so, but my desire is to become so; and then, divine decree may do whatever it may.”
I need not comment on this; it speaks for itself.
اُسے ڈھونڈتى ہیں گلى گلى، مِرى خلوتوں كى اُداسیاں
وہ ملے تو بس یہ كہوں كہ آ، مِرا مولىٰ تیرا بھلا كرے
“The sadness of my solitude searches the streets for that person; when it is found, I will only say ‘Come! May my Lord grant you prosperity.’”
How multi-dimensional is the last couplet!
وہ بادشاہ آیا
“The king has come.”
اَب تُو ہمارى جگہ بیٹھ اور ہم چلتے ہىں
“Now you sit in my place and I shall leave.”
اللہ اُنہیں حقیقى جا نشینى كا حق ادا كرنے والا بنائے
“May Allah enable him to fulfil the responsibility of true successorship.”
My heart became filled with conviction that the nur (spiritual light) of God’s Second Manifestation descended on Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad’saa heart in that period! The above poem was composed in 1996.
The effect of Khilafat on a common man
Then I thought to myself that I had met Huzooraa after this. My walima took place after this.
I was handed my master’s degree by my university and my marriage certificate by my mother on almost the same day. I was in desperate need of a job. I had applied in various places in Lahore.
At the time, Hazrat Mian Sahibaa was nazir-e-ala and amir-e-muqami. When I returned to Rabwah, I had the opportunity of meeting him. He graciously wrote me a letter of recommendation to help me in search of a job. Like all Ahmadis, I was taught the etiquette and mannerism of meeting elders. I thought to myself that I had met him in a well-mannered way, but then questioned myself whether I had met him with the respect he deserved.
Then of course, there was the time when I had turned my back but then ran to meet him in the crowd. That day, there was indeed something special about him.
After his divine appointment as the Khalifa, I worked in a couple of professions for a year. At first, I worked within a law firm, but later began working in a bank. From a worldly perspective, it was not that bad a job.
Then one day, I came across a couplet of Iftikhar Arif:
شكم كى آگ لیے پھر رہى ہے شہر بہ شہر
سگِ زمانہ ہیں ہم كیا ہمارى ہجرت كیا
“The fire of worldly desires take me from town to town; what more is this migration for me?”
This couplet struck a chord with me. Thus, I wrote to Huzooraa expressing my desire to dedicate my life. Allah the Almighty concealed my flaws and Huzooraa very graciously accepted this humble one among his servants.
Then, Huzooraa very graciously granted me many daftari mulaqats (official audiences). I witnessed many sides to this ocean of wisdom. Whatever I possess, is from there. All praise belongs to Allah!
A question of “possibility” answered
I have mentioned above that when I would reminisce my youth, I would think that there was a “possibility” Huzooraa had forgotten my days of trouble and mischief. But, from time to time, Huzooraa would remind me of that period by narrating incidents from that period. Huzooraa would smile while narrating such incidents and I would feel ashamed like a man being shown videos from his infant days, acting completely childish.
One day, the mention of Rabwah came up and Huzooraa asked regarding a certain someone, “Do you remember him?”
When I replied in the affirmative, Huzooraa said, “It was a time when you considered everyone a bazurg [a saint] and would greet them with both hands. Isn’t that so?”
I wasn’t prepared for this question. Huzooraa could see my complexion change. Then Huzooraa said, “I remember everything from your younger days!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Huzooraa knew me by name, which, in itself, was a great deal for me! But knowing that Huzooraa remembered many things of my past was startling. Nevertheless, this incident passed with smiles and laughter.
At many instances, Huzooraa very subtly reminds me of my foolish days and the mischief I would create back then.
Huzooraa recently said to me, “Once, when I came to the hostel, you laughed out loud when I said something. Do you remember?”
I lowered my head in shame and replied that I remembered.
Whenever Huzooraa recalls such moments, my love for Huzooraa intensifies and grows. Despite my immature behaviour then, and my incompetence today, Huzooraa still puts up with this unworthy one. May Allah, the Coverer of all flaws, the Gracious and Merciful, always keep my master pleased with me!
Khalifatul Masih today
As I write these words, 18 years have passed since that eventful night. Huzooraa has since remained occupied in one great service – propagating the true message of Islam.
Day and night, he remains occupied in this. Sometimes planning, mostly praying, sometimes contemplating, at other times studying, and otherwise preparing speeches and lectures to present before dignitaries of countries and leading figures of the world is how this champion of peace spends his days and nights. Every second of his time is spent in this service.
Striving to propagate the true message of Islam through the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat; providing guiding principles to its members for the success and progress of the community; planting the seed of religion and the responsibility of its protection within the youth of the community; spreading the Holy Quran throughout the land; establishing mosques; advising students on choosing career paths; spiritually charging the students of Jamia Ahmadiyya before they step into the field so that it may last them their lifetimes; devising plans to alleviate the suffering of underprivileged nations and providing food, water and education to those who are deprived, are among the thousands of items on Huzoor’s to-do list.
God knows what else there is! There is so much that if an ordinary person managed to accomplish all this, it would require many lifetimes. Huzooraa remains occupied in this grand, God-given mission every day and every night.
I once read an extract of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh, which shook me to my core. Huzoorrh said:
خلافت ایک مردم كُش ذمہ دارى ہے۔ اللہ كا فضل شاملِ حال نہ ہو تو انسان ہلاک ہو جائے
“Khilafat is a life-draining responsibility. If Allah’s help is not at hand, then one could perish [with the burden].”
How can we forget that Huzooraa continues to achieve this goal day and night?
The Holy Prophetsa once said:
“Surah Hud made me grow old.”
The commentators of the Holy Quran have said that this remark could be regarding the following verse of the Holy Quran:
“So stand thou upright, as thou hast been commanded, and [also] those who have turned [to God] with thee; and exceed ye not the bounds [O Believers]; for surely, He sees what you do.” (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.113)
Huzooraa is a very high-spirited and courageous person. But the Holy Prophetsa was the most courageous man ever. If he said that this verse made him old, then how can we forget this admirer of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, who was, so to speak, revealed this verse when the life-draining responsibility of Khilafat was placed on his shoulders?
One of the first words he uttered after being appointed was his confession that his life was now in the Hands of the One Who possesses total control over all that is in the Universe. For his Lord, he took up the responsibility and, under the commandment of his Lord, he shall continuously propagate Islam and strive to keep his community steadfast on this path. What must be the state of such a heart?
We all pride in narrating how some of our children were born in the period of the Fifth Khilafat, but now they are all grown up.
So and so child was so small when he started attending Huzoor’s classes; so and so would often read something before Huzoor in those classes, but now their very own children give presentations or recite poems in front of Huzoor.
We pride in the fact that when Huzooraa was appointed Khalifa, some of us were not married, but now, they have three or four children of their own who have mulaqats with Huzooraa and are recipients of Huzoor’s endless grace.
Some of us have kept the pens they first received from Huzooraa as children, whereas their own children now receive pens from Huzooraa and do their schoolwork with those pens. An entire generation was born and raised in this era!
But Huzooraa also passed through the nights and days of this period – thousands of days and thousands of nights!
I mentioned above that all memories of Huzooraa, when I had met him early on, would come to mind when reminiscing earlier memories of Huzooraa. I also mentioned that in those early memories, his beard was black, then slightly less black and as the memories approached the present time, his beard appeared less and less black.
One day, Huzooraa called me to his office. It was between Zuhr and Asr. As I entered Huzoor’s office, I noticed he was not wearing his turban. After Huzooraa had issued his instructions, I stepped out of the office. That was the first time I had seen Huzooraa like this. There was no trace of resemblance in the present colour of Huzoor’s hair as compared to the memories I had stored in my mind! It was bright white like shining silver!
I deem it befitting to end this chapter without the customary conclusion.
اَللّٰہُمَّ اَیِّدْ اِمَامَنَا بِرُوْحِ الْقُدُسِ
“O Allah! Strengthen Huzoor’s hand with the spirit of holiness!”
Huzooraa has always given to us and has never asked for anything in return. Thus, Huzooraa will never say it himself, so let us tell ourselves:
قومِ احمد جاگ تُو بھى، جاگ اس كے واسطے
اَن گنت راتیں جو تیرے درد میں سویا نہیں!
“People of Ahmad! Wake up! Wake up now for his sake; for him, who has spent countless, sleepless nights in pain for your sake!”