Naseem Ahmad Bajwa, Missionary, UK
The Lahore Railway Station is a bustling hub of activity, with the grand colonial-era building standing as a nostalgic reminder of the past. The sound of train whistles and announcements echoes through the halls, blending with the chatter of travellers and vendors. The smell of chai and street food fills the air. The station evokes a sense of adventure and the unknown as one embarks on their journey.
My journey – which turned out to be an adventure – started in Rabwah. The year was 1974; a year that evokes painful memories for every Ahmadi, particularly those from Pakistan. I had to travel from Rabwah to Baddomalhi, where I had been posted as a missionary. On the way, I was taking the train from Lahore station. As it is with railways; they brought a certain social phenomenon with them, meaning that a “state-certified Muslim” as well as a legally declared “non-Muslim” could be sitting next to each other on the same carriage or in the station’s waiting room. I was in the waiting room when a young man entered and after looking at all the people, came to me and said, “Would you please look after my luggage for a moment?” I said, “Sure, put it here.” When he came back, he sat next to me and we started chatting.
Pakistanis have a unique way of getting to know each other on public transport – by asking very personal questions. From inquiring about one’s marital status to asking about religion, nothing is off limits. It’s as if the cramped quarters of a train magically transform strangers into close confidants.
“Where are you from?”, asked the young man straight away. I told him, I was from Rabwah. “So, you are a Qadiani, then?” he asked in a polite tone. “Ahmadi! ‘Qadiani’ is a term that people use with the intention to annoy us”, I said. Up until my train was ready to depart, we went on to speak about the differences between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis, the advent of the Promised Messiahas in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophetsa, and so on. I politely disrupted the discussion and told my young friend, “I’ve got to get on the train now, let’s exchange our details and we will keep in touch.” He asked, “Where are you heading to?” I said, “Baddomalhi.” He immediately asked, “Can I come with you? I want to know more about you and your Community.” I said he was welcome to accompany me on my journey, but I had to warn him that I would be staying in a small room adjacent to the Ahmadiyya mosque with the bare minimum of amenities. “Please, be my guest if you think you will be able to stay there,” I said to him. “No worries, I’ll be fine”, said the young man who then rushed to get a ticket in no time. Thank God, we managed to catch the train that was about to depart. I must admit, I wasn’t really prepared for what came next.
It became apparent during the journey that the young man was very decent, educated and from a good family, however, I also discovered, to my horror, that the young man was a drug addict. I was worried about what the congregation would think and say. I thought to myself, “Well, this is just great! It looks like I’m going to be stuck in a ‘slightly’ difficult situation.” But little did I know that Allah’s mercy is boundless and He always finds ways to guide the lost ones.
We arrived at our destination. The young man stayed with me for about five days. During that period, he observed how we offered prayers at the mosque, listened to duroos, attended educational classes and also went along on tabligh tours with me – on an old bicycle. Riding a bicycle through the winding streets of a Pakistani small town is an experience that comes with its own set of difficulties. The mud roads can be difficult to navigate and bumpy. The weather can also be a challenge, with hot temperatures that can be draining. Additionally, we sometimes had to spend the night in places where there was no electricity or comfortable sleeping arrangements. Moreover, my young friend, who was used to the comforts of a middle-class household, couldn’t even handle the heat of chillies and ended up just eating rotis with copious amounts of fresh milk.
Despite all this, he would accompany me on every tour and take a keen interest in what was being said. He was quite intelligent; he would almost memorise what was being said and would answer any questions about the theological discussions that were being had correctly, all the while giving the impression as if he was completely spaced out by the use of drugs.
It was a bleak situation when it came to his drug use. He would find it hard to get up for Fajr prayer due to being completely passed out. I would, at times, find him in desperate search of cigarettes in the middle of the night.
Anyhow, the whole experience apart from the drugs had a profound effect on him, but after five days he said, “I want to go home because my parents will be very worried. They do not know where I am.” He also said he wanted to fill out the bai’at form. I told him, “It is very good that you have decided to become an Ahmadi Muslim, but will you also be able to abide by the conditions of bai‘at?” “I will try,” he said. I asked, “What will you do about the Fajr prayer; if you are not in the right state in the morning?” He said, “I will try to get better.” I was still not convinced by mere words and said to him, “Fine, fill out the form, but for now I will keep it with me. I will post the form to you when I hear news of any improvement from you.”
A few days after he left, he sent a telegram saying, “I have given up drugs and I am suffering from acute withdrawal symptoms. Please pray for me.”
Then, after a few days, on my way back to Rabwah, I went to Lahore to meet him at his house. I arrived at his house and knocked on the door. His non-Ahmadi father opened the door and as soon as he saw me, he hugged me and cried profusely, then sat down and said, “I was anxiously waiting to see you.” He told me, “Let alone the five daily prayers, my son now also sets an alarm for tahajjud before going to bed at night.”
Later, when the young man met with me separately, he said, “I also had a girlfriend. However, after returning from Baddomalhi, I told her that I have become an Ahmadi and we cannot have a relationship like this. Yes, if you become an Ahmadi, we could get married as prescribed by the sharia. However, she refused, so I ended the relationship with her.” I also saw there were some Jamaat periodicals on a table in his sitting room, about which he told me, “I gave up the drugs. With all the money I saved from not buying drugs, I have subscribed to the various newspapers and magazines of the Jamaat.”
Later, I once went to the Dar-ul-Zikr Mosque in Lahore and inquired from the local missionary if he had met a certain young man. He said, he had and that he visits the mosque regularly. Alhamdulillah, how magnificently Allah transformed the life of that young man. This was the fruit of the prayers of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih, to whom I used to regularly write to request prayers.
What would you have done, if you were in my situation? Would you have welcomed the young man after finding out about his addiction, which may not always be the wisest thing to do in every situation? It is probably difficult to say now, but one thing is certain; if one is blessed with the right dose of willpower by Allah the Almighty and makes a sincere effort through continuous prayers, many seemingly impossible things can become possible.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“You should know that as an individual goes on bringing about a change in his life, he continues to move into the category of Abdal. […] People have misunderstood the meaning of the term Abdal and have given it all kinds of interpretations of their own accord. Fact of the matter is that Abdal are people who bring about a pious change in their lives so that, due to that change, the darkness of sin is removed and the rust cleared off from their hearts. The kingdom of Satan is demolished and their hearts become the Throne of Allah the Exalted. Thereafter, they become the recipients of power from the Holy Spirit and they are vouchsafed the Grace of God the Exalted. I give you the glad tiding that whoever from among you will bring about a pious change in his life, will be considered Abdal. If an individual steps towards God, the Grace of Allah the Exalted comes running for his assistance.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 1, p. 386)
At another occasion, he said:
“One cannot find the pathway to guidance until one is bestowed with the grace of God Almighty.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 7, p. 308)