Khilafat and Western Muslim youth: 10 personal accounts

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Last Updated on 21st May 2021

Ataul Fatir Tahir, Al Hakam

For the outside world, it may be very difficult to comprehend the relationship and love between Ahmadis and their Khalifa. Often, outsiders are surprised and wonder why Ahmadis show so much love, obedience and reverence to their Khalifa. 

It’s better to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth – therefore, I reached out to young Ahmadi men in the West and asked them about their relationship with their Khalifa. What does Khilafat mean to them and how has it impacted their lives as young Muslims navigating the modern world? 

Every story is different and has its own unique angle, but one theme is repeated throughout – Khilafat has been a constant means of rescue, solace and spiritual fulfilment. 

Syed Hamzah Fiaz Ahmed, Dentist, Newcastle, UK

The question of the existence of God has certainly crept into my mind on more than one occasion. Especially as a young teenager, and on multiple occasions through university. Having spent five years in Devon and Cornwall, UK I can say first-hand how your environment has a massive impact on you. 

With limited Jamaat contacts in this area, and friends of various religions and ethnic backgrounds, it becomes very easy to follow the crowd and indulge in the same harmful acts as your friends. The idea of God and any connection to him can seem very distant. As I became stressed about examinations and deadlines, I found myself being easily distracted by these worldly concerns. Sadly, at various points in my undergraduate studies, I had “no time for God”. 

But by Allah’s grace, every time I gave precedence to worldly matters over faith, every time doubts about God crossed my mind, it seemed as though Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa was speaking directly to me in his Friday Sermons. 

On 6 July 2012, in a Friday Sermon, Huzooraa, addressing the youth, said:

“[…] sometimes, they are not familiar with the rules of the Jamaat or cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Therefore, they must also refrain from developing friendships with such individuals who are involved in debauchery and immoral acts, which can be addictive once started.”

This was one of many Friday Sermons that served as a warning and a reminder to me. In other instances, no sooner would I draw near to human error and weakness, that my mother would inform me that I had received a letter from Huzooraa. Simple yet powerful instructions would be the difference between the right path, and diverting from it. Reminders on the importance of istighfar (seeking forgiveness) and durood (invoking blessings on the Holy Prophetsa) played a massive role. The urge, however, from beloved Huzooraa was not just to recite the above as mere words or rituals, but to understand the deeper meanings. 

Writing fortnightly to Huzooraa has taken me on a journey of self-reformation and a desperate desire to attain to a living communion and relationship with God 

Thousands of converts to Ahmadiyyat have experienced God first hand, through true dreams, visions and other unquestionable signs. If Allah is willing to reveal Himself to others who have doubts, why would He not be willing to do the same for us? We only need to take the first step and strive in His way through sincere supplications to Allah and obedience to His divinely appointed representative, the Khalifa of the time. 

Saul Page, Design Engineer, Wales, UK

To me, Khilafat is a continuous source of spiritual guidance, which is a direct link to God for Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya and the world. When I had questions before becoming a Muslim, I struggled to seek out the answers, but now, through the Khalifa’s regular sermons, my questions are always answered. This has helped me stay attached to my religion as it proves to me that there is a living God.

With the presence of a Khalifa for spiritual guidance, I feel a lot more content in my day to day life. When I have discussions or debates with atheists, I feel that I have material relevant for this day and age.

For Ahmadi Muslims, the Khalifa is a father figure and mulaqats [meetings] and writing letters to him enables us to develop a personal relationship with him. I strongly believe my fellow Khuddam feel this way, which strengthens the bond between me and my fellow brothers. Through this feeling, I believe this brings complete unity throughout the Jamaat. 

In my personal life, I look at the Khalifa as an exemplar, when my life becomes busy or difficult, I look at the roles and responsibilities of the head of our Jamaat and it helps me persevere through the challenges until they are overcome.

Intesar Tariq, Medical student, Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee, USA

I walked out of the room to see a flurry of white coats, navy blue scrubs, and a respiratory technician pushing a crash cart to room 10. I distinctly remembered this patient because she resembled my own mother. 

The patient was in her early 60s, had a short stature and a heavy frame. Just hours prior, she had flashed a loving smile to me as she wheeled past the nurse’s station on the way to her room. I hurried behind my colleagues to embark on what would become the longest code of my career as an ER Technician. 

I still remember the smeared blood on my gloves during the 5th round of compressions as the sutures on her chest from her recent open-heart surgery began to seep blood. The patient’s oxygen saturation plummeted to 40% and despite numerous interventions including CPR, intubation, placement of a central line, and consultations from ICU staff, we could not save her life. As the ED physician explained to the patient’s daughter that there was nothing more that we could do to save her mother, I gazed down to the floor as my tears began to well up. 

Shortly after, the ED physician ended the code and the time of death was noted. I will never forget walking out of that room and looking back to see the patient’s daughter weeping at her mother’s bedside. She tenderly held her mother’s hand and sobbed uncontrollably with her family on speakerphone as their entire world turned upside down. This scene is engraved in my mind forever. 

After an experience such as this, there is a certain level of trauma that lingers. Questions that can’t be answered easily echo in your head. “Did we do everything that we could to help save that woman’s life?” “Why did she have to pass at such a relatively young age?” “What unfathomable grief must her family be going through right now?” 

During this time, being a waqif-e-nau and under direct instructions from Huzooraa, I had been pursuing medical school after graduating from university. I needed to boost my GPA and was taking extra classes while working full time in the Emergency Department at Virginia Hospital Centre as an ED Technician. I felt myself becoming numb in school; physically present in class but mentally being drawn back to that room where the patient had passed away. 

My grades began to drop, I had to withdraw from my class, and I felt the dream of becoming a physician slipping away from me. I had lost all motivation and was questioning whether I even wanted to become a physician anymore. This is when my brother (who is also a waqif-e-nau) suggested that I go and visit Huzooraa. I bought a cheap flight in the bitter cold of February and decided that if anyone would be able to help guide me through this, it would be Huzooraa.

I had never had a mulaqat (meeting) with Huzooraa by myself before. I was a nervous wreck and was worried that out of shyness in front of Huzooraa, I may not be able to properly convey what was going with me. Luckily, my brother advised me to write down some points and questions so that even when my nerves kicked in, I could look at those points and read them to Huzooraa

This mulaqat changed the trajectory of my life.

Huzooraa listened to me as I spoke about my career path as a waqif-e-nau in medicine. I became emotional when speaking about my experiences in the ER and the woman whose life we were unable to save. Huzooraa first responded by stating that maybe I had become too old to pursue medicine and may want to consider changing my career path. Hearing this, my shoulders slouched, I looked down as tears welled up in my eyes. I felt that I had let Huzooraa down in the task that he had given me. Huzooraa then paused and stated in a loving tone, “However, if you have the courage, ambition and dedication to become a doctor then you should go back and apply in the next cycle”.

Upon hearing those words, I remember feeling goosebumps all over my body and the feeling that I had a new chance at chasing the dream of becoming a physician! 

Huzooraa next asked about the patient who had passed away and asked me to describe my experience. After speaking, tears were flowing down my face as I looked down at the ground. I felt like there was such a weight on my shoulders at that time. Huzooraa listened intently and quietly the whole time, only interrupting to ask brief questions about the patient’s underlying health issues. He then prayed for the patient and her family, for me and the rest of the team for attempting to save her life.  

He tenderly spoke to me and stated that I had gone through a traumatic experience. He explained that I was now feeling the aftereffects of that experience and told me I should take some time to get myself together and when I am ready, prepare to apply to medical school. 

Finally, Huzooraa reminded me that Allah states in the Quran that this life is temporary and that we as Muslims should be making preparations for the next life. Afterwards, Huzooraa made some light-hearted remarks to lift my spirits and took a picture with me!

This mulaqat calmed my spirit and gave me the peace of mind that I had been struggling to gain for close to 5 months. I am writing this two years later as I am about to begin medical school and continue to work in the emergency department. 

I have worked to save lives through the Covid-19 pandemic and have experienced many happy and tragic moments with patients. If I had not been able to have this pivotal meeting with Khalifatul Masihaa, I truly believe that I would not have had the mental fortitude to continue in the medical field and survive the last year. Alhamdulillah for Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya and the privilege to be a khadim!

Usama Sobhi, Civil Engineering Student, University of Calgary, Canada

“Normal people” – that is, those who live without Ahmadiyyat or religion in their lives – have to face their issues, struggles and labours on their own. This is not the case for an Ahmadi Muslim. God is always there to support His servants and loved ones, and it helps to put the heart at ease knowing that the closest person to Him in this day and age is praying for me. 

In the “dog-eat-dog” world we live in, it is not common for just anyone to have someone that shares your pain as their own and yet, all Ahmadi Muslims have someone like this in their lives.  

In an age of atheism, it is seeing yourself saved from an impossibly difficult situation and have belief and love of the Creator in one’s heart. This is not only what an individual prays for themselves, but also what Khalifatul Masih prays for his community. 

Whenever we face an obstacle, whether it be in our schooling, whether it be in our work, in family struggles, difficulty with mental health, physical health and even concern for our brothers and sisters; it is the Khalifa of Allah who is always there for us to share our pain with, so that he may pray for our rescue to the Almighty.

Abdul Naseer, Dentist, UK

Khilafat has immensely helped me during my student life and now professional life. It can be difficult to navigate the world especially in an atheistic environment and thus having a connection with the institute of Khilafat provides vital guidance.

My parents always instilled in me the importance of staying close to the Jamaat and some of my treasured memories are my mulaqats with the Fourth and Fifth Khulafa and the love they showed me. 

By forming this connection with Khilafat, listening to his sermons and writing letters to Huzooraa the youth can gain a personal relationship that will help in a practical manner for their day-to-day life. By having this bond with Khilafat, naturally, one would want to live his life in accordance with the wishes and desires of his beloved leader and ultimately strive to win the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. 

As I grew older, and still to this day, the question-and-answer programmes shown on MTA were my constant source of guidance. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh; the great wisdom in the answers was so comforting and eradicated any doubts one may have. Personally, when I met a fellow Ahmadi brother in The Gambia, he related to me that it was these question-and-answer sessions that had comforted his heart. This had a profound effect on me and showed how Allah, through MTA, enabled this knowledge to spread all over the world. 

This Week with Huzoor shown by MTA is another great way to learn and try and implement what beloved Huzooraa expects from us.

Another great blessing of Khilafat is the access to all the young new missionaries that are graduating from Jamia Ahmadiyya. They are able to connect with the youth in a loving and open manner. I personally have learnt a lot by forming friendships and being able to ask any questions.

I pray that this has been useful and encourages all the youth to pray immensely and develop their connection with Allah as without prayer, one can easily fall into many hardships and forget spirituality and focus entirely on the materialistic, temporary world. 

Tehmeed Choudhry, Doctor of Pharmacy Student, University of Toronto, Canada

As far as I can remember, I recall my mother encouraging me to write letters to Huzooraa on a regular basis to establish a connection with Khilafat. When writing to Huzooraa, I always pray for Huzoor’s health, for my spirituality and mainly my studies. 

I know that studying is required to get good grades, but relying solely on studying is a type of shirk and it must be paired with prayer for optimal results. 

The number of letters I would write to Huzooraa would always increase around exam time and this always puts my heart at ease and allows me to concentrate more on my studies to achieve higher grades. 

I also had the opportunity to do waqf-e-arzi in the UK and meet Huzooraa in 2018; this trip brought me much closer to the Jamaat and Khilafat. Ever since that trip, I have been taking Jamaat work more seriously and recently, I have been granted the opportunity to become a regional amila member. 

I also had a chance to be a part of the executive team of AMSA (Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association) York University. I was able to spend up to 10 hours a week involved in AMSA events such as the tabligh stall while maintaining high grades. 

I have noticed that whenever I substitute studying for an important Jamaat task, my marks are not hindered; instead, I become more efficient with my time and achieve higher grades. I was also able to gain admission to pharmacy school after my second year in university and I don’t think this would have been possible without the blessing of God and the prayers of Huzooraa

A lot of my university colleagues spend most of their time stressing about school and staying up late at night studying which really impacts their mental health. But as an Ahmadi, whenever school got really tough, I wrote to Huzooraa and partook in more Jamaat activities which would serve as an outlet for me and allow me to access the right mindset needed to be successful in my endeavours.

Hamaad Muin Ahmad, Medicine Student, Palacky University, Czech Republic

Khilafat has been my guiding light from as early as childhood. As a young boy, prior to adolescence, my parents and grandparents would especially encourage me to constantly write to the Khalifa and ask him for prayers. 

As a young child with no laptop, I would write weekly handwritten letters asking for prayers for my educational and spiritual endeavours. This was frequently met with a reply from Huzooraa with prayers. 

A direct reply from Huzooraa was the highest delight I would feel as a child – nothing could match it. My love for this man of God continued to increase through the years.

I am currently studying medicine in my fourth year, by the grace of Allah. One particular event which helped me, and I strongly believe still affects me today, was in my first year of medical school. 

I had just begun medical school and I was highly anxious due to the intimidating exams which lay ahead, not to mention my university being hundreds of miles away from home. I immediately wrote a letter to Huzooraa explaining my worries and was met with a direct reply within a week. The reply entailed, “May Allah increase you in knowledge and wisdom.” 

Ever since that letter, I have witnessed myself increase in these two characteristics manifold, alhamdulillah. Since then, I have not majorly struggled with any examination or topic and, insha-Allah, I will soon graduate to be a doctor due to the consistent support I received from beloved Huzooraa.

Any exam I pass, my heart cries out of gratefulness for the blessings Allah has bestowed upon me through His Khalifa. I cannot think of a single man in the world who prays daily for his community, except Huzooraa. The vast ocean of love radiating from his being is a sign that he has been sent directly by God Himself. To not attach myself to Huzooraa is completely out of the question. He is a lifeline directly to God. 

Saood Ahmed Qureshi, Computer Science Student, Oakland University, USA

I started studying at Oakland University in the fall of 2019 and at that point, I felt that I was free to do whatever I wanted. If I wanted to eat a burger, then I would eat a burger; if I wanted to skip a class, then I would skip a class and if I wanted to hang out with my friends, then I would hang out with my friends. 

It started to take a toll on me mentally, physically and financially. I would hold everything a secret from my parents and would say that this was my life and I chose to do whatever I wanted. With all that power, I made terrible life decisions. Then, in March of 2020, my whole world came crashing down as the world fell into the edges of Covid-19; my made-up fake world came crashing down as well. 

As the campus and stores shut down and we were kept at home all day, the perfect world I had made up in my mind would disappear as I couldn’t keep any secrets at home. I had to come out and get help – luckily, my parents understood my struggles and put me on their own probation. They made rules, such as to watch MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) for an hour or more a day and to read the books of the Promised Messiahas

In those, I started watching the Friday Sermon, This Week with Huzoor and old classes with Huzooraa. These really helped me bring my fictional world back into the fold of the real world and also helped me regain information to answer to help myself and help others around me. 

The message that Huzooraa gave in these programmes and sermons was that the happiness of this world comes and goes. But if you pray hard and concentrate on your religious duties, you will forge a connection with Allah the Almighty. Once you have a connection with Allah the Almighty, then He will give you true and eternal happiness. 

That sealed it for me, as who does not want to be happy? And if Allah gives you true happiness, then I must try that way as well. Alhamdulillah, I have been on this path since then and have been happier since then as well. 

Uzair Ahmed, Medical Student, Palacky University, Czech Republic

Khilafat has been my lifeline in ways that are difficult to explain. In short, though, I believe that the means by which one can develop and sustain their yaqeen (belief) in the existence of God is through attaching themselves to beloved Huzooraa and by trying to sincerely follow his guidance. 

One example that I think ties these concepts together quite clearly is when I was about to do my final exams at the end of my first year of medical school, of which anatomy was the largest. About two months before exams started, I began writing to Huzooraa every few days to request his prayers specifically for the exams. I would go to check my mail every week or so, hoping to receive a response. 

It wasn’t until the very morning of my anatomy exam, two months later that I received Huzoor’s response for the first time to my letters about exams, in which he prayed, “May Allah Almighty enable you to do exceptionally well in your education and exams and gain an outstanding result.” 

The perfect timing brought immense ease to my heart. I had spent the previous days in severe worry, and a part of me had this humble desire that may Allah the Almighty grant me a small indication that everything will be okay so that some of this discomfort could be lifted even before the exam. I didn’t even verbalize that part in my prayers, but Allah, in His endless graciousness, accepted it anyway by bringing this letter to me that morning. I was able to walk into my exam with peace knowing that God had already accepted my prayer, and alhamdulillah, it went better than I had anticipated. 

Whether in a personal mulaqat or in his addresses, when you see beloved Huzooraa speak, you can’t help but feel that no one desires your ultimate success in life more than him. His insight sees through all the transient pursuits of life, and he looks at your very core, desiring that you excel in spirituality. Thus, every letter that you write to Huzooraa is a reminder to yourself that this is that person who sees more potential in you than anyone else, and spends his nights praying that God helps you to achieve it. 

Rahman Nasir, Law Student, University of Houston Law, USA

I have never excelled as a student. Since third grade, I was a borderline passing student, getting Cs and Ds in my classes. By the grace of Allah, I tended to do well on standardised exams, but in general classes, I would struggle. 

I graduated high school at the bottom quarter of my class. I had to go to community college to get admission into my local university in Houston. 

When I arrived at university, it was difficult for me to ever get focused on my studies. After my first year, I was placed on suspension and upon my return, I had one semester where I avoided being placed on academic probation, but was still barely just getting by. 

Spring 2017 was the toughest semester of my life, both academically and spiritually. My closest friend and mentor, Tariq Bhatti Sahib, was diagnosed with terminal cancer at 36 years old. I didn’t know how to cope with the thought that my close friend won’t be here much longer. I lost interest in everything, especially academics. 

After checking my grades in spring 2017, I was ready to quit, but my father – who I have constantly disappointed academically – told me that quitting was not an option and I had to get a degree. I am grateful for his commitment towards education.

That summer, I was blessed to make two life-changing trips to London. Both served a deep purpose for me in both figuring out my academic situation and how to cope with my friend’s condition. 

During the first trip, which was organized by MKA USA, Tariq was also joining us. His health was not good, but he knew he needed to meet his Khalifa one last time in this life. He booked his ticket, and scheduled his personal mulaqat with Huzooraa

The day before his personal mulaqat was the larger mulaqat with the entire majlis. As we were waiting for the mulaqat to begin, I noticed Tariq was nowhere to be seen. I checked across the street in the guest house he was staying in and his health was not good at all; he was in no shape to leave the house. I mentioned to him that it was okay if he missed this mulaqat as he had a mulaqat with Beloved Huzoor the next day. 

He was barely able to walk, but he was not about to let me or his health get between him and his Khalifa. He looked at me and said, “Na, let’s go.”

So we went, and upon arrival to the hall, his condition had not improved in the slightest. He was extremely distressed, but he persevered through it for the chance of getting a glance of his Khalifa. 

After the mulaqat, in which we all said salaam to Huzooraa and introduced ourselves, I caught up with Tariq and it seemed as if there was nothing wrong – all his symptoms had vanished. He later told me that as soon as his glance fell upon Huzooraa, his symptoms disappeared, the cancer and everything seemed so small compared to the light that radiated from Huzooraa

He mentioned that as soon as he saw Huzooraa, he went from a state of extreme distress to a state of true peace and comfort. This experience was extremely powerful for me because I saw how someone who was facing death, a much larger problem than anything I have to deal with, found peace in khilafat.

A month after this, my parents, my sister and I had a personal mulaqatwith Huzooraa. I intended to ask for prayers for my beloved Tariq bhai and for my education. 

During the mulaqatwhen I had the opportunity to speak, I started to ask for prayers for Tariq Sahib.

I became extremely emotional and my parents had to finish my humble request for prayers as I couldn’t. Huzooraa looked at me, and prayed that “Allah fazl karey” and I found peace in an unexplainable way. That no matter what happened with Tariq’s health, ultimately it would be okay. 

In January 2018, my beloved brother, Tariq Bhatti passed away. I was blessed to see him accept Allah’s will and make enormous progress towards him. Seeing the way my brother handled this enormous trial left no doubt in my mind that he was accepted by Allah.

After that, I said to Huzooraa, “I’m really struggling with school. Please pray for me.” 

With my education, I didn’t feel the same immediate comfort, but I was also not as immediately concerned for my education.

Following this mulaqat, I witnessed the power of Huzoor’s prayers. Starting with the summer of 2017 to when I graduated in the summer of 2019, I was able to maintain a 3.85/4.0 GPA. I was constantly taking time off to serve the Jamaat. 

I prioritised the rights of my friends and family as well as my obligations to the Jamaat over school and still, Allah showered me with academic success for the first time in my life. 

In 2018, during Huzoor’s US tour, I told all of my professors, “I will be taking three weeks off in the middle of my class. I will be able to work remotely but my Khalifa is visiting my country and I cannot miss a moment of it. Please tell me what I need to do to get an A.” 

Most professors told me this would not be possible if I took three weeks off. But by the grace of Allah, I ended up with 3 As and a B. 

In the fall of 2019, I took my LSAT and only by the grace of Allah I scored in the 90th percentile. I got accepted into my local law school and just finished my first year. I am nervously checking my grades now to see how I am doing in law school, but regardless of what I get, I know that as long as Huzoor’s prayers are with me, I’ll be okay.

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