Amatul Bari Nasir, USA
In life’s intricate web, some individuals stand out as pillars of kindness and mentorship. This is the tale of Omar, a young boy who faced challenges early in life, and Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra, a figure of unwavering kindness and support. It is a story that underscores how a simple act of goodwill can forever change the course of one’s life.
In Daska, district Sialkot, now Pakistan, resided the esteemed Hazrat Chaudhry Nasrullah Khanra, a companion of the Promised Messiahas. Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra and Chaudhry Muhammad Shukrullah Khan Sahib were two of his sons. The younger of the two, Shukrullah Khan Sahib, had six children – four sons and two daughters. One of these sons was Chaudhry Mahmud Nasrullah Khanra, who married Amatush Shafi Sahiba, the daughter of Chaudhry Nazir Hussain from Dullam Kahalwan, now Pakistan. Their family, also based in Daska, was blessed with seven children – four sons and three daughters. Of these, the fourth son, Omar Nasrullah Khan, is the focus of this piece. The article sheds light on the affection and kindness shown by Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra towards his extended family, particularly Omar.
Trials, reliance and prayers
When Omar Nasrullah was just six months old, he contracted typhoid fever, posing a grave threat to his life. In response, his family turned to prayers, remedies, sadaqah, and charity. Over time, with the combined efforts of medical treatments and divine grace, Omar recovered, growing into a healthy child who quickly became the apple of everyone’s eye. However, between the ages of one and two, while playing with Sahibzadi Amatul Haye, the daughter of Hazrat Chaudhry Zafrulla Khanra (affectionately known by the family as ‘Baba Ji’), it became apparent that Omar did not respond to sounds. This observation deeply saddened his mother. Upon consulting a doctor, it was confirmed that the typhoid had impaired Omar’s hearing. Such a condition often means the child might not develop speech either, making treatment complex. Given the limited facilities for treating and educating hearing-impaired children in their region, Omar’s parents frequently grappled with anxiety, continuously seeking God’s help for their son’s well-being.
Hazrat Chaudhry Zafrulla Khan’sra role: Anwar Kahlon Sahib’s testimony
Anwar Kahlon Sahib, the former National President and Amir of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya UK, enlightened me about the divine provisions made by Allah the Almighty to ease the concerns of Omar’s parents regarding their child’s education and well-being. Anwar Sahib was deeply connected to the family. He was the maternal uncle [mamu] of Omar’s father and had a close kinship with Hazrat Baba Ji, may Allah be pleased with him. From the tender age of 18, Anwar Sahib had been entrusted as Hazrat Baba Ji’s secretary. He journeyed with him on numerous occasions and dedicated a significant portion of his life to his service. This close association enabled Anwar Sahib to witness many intriguing and faith-strengthening episodes from Hazrat Baba Ji’s life. He would often recount these tales, each steeped in historical significance, and I would listen, absorbing every word with keen interest and reverence.
During one such conversation, Anwar Sahib shared the story of Omar’s journey to London, highlighting yet another instance of Baba Ji’s profound generosity.
An act of compassion: Omar’s life-changing journey to and adaptation in the UK
Anwar Sahib recounted that once while strolling alongside Baba Ji, they were discussing financial assistance for various individuals in need — widows, students, and the less fortunate. As Hazrat Baba Ji was detailing the stipends to be allocated, Kahlon Sahib’s thoughts turned to Omar. He remarked, ‘You extend your help to so many; wouldn’t it be fitting to assist your own paternal nephew, Omar? Regrettably, he cannot hear, and suitable facilities for treatment and education are lacking in Pakistan.’ Without hesitation, Hazrat Baba Ji replied that he would organise for Omar to travel to London. Soon the search began for schools that catered to deaf children, and he took a particular interest in one named ‘Margate Cantt’ [The Royal School for Deaf Children, Margate].
The preparations to facilitate Omar’s journey to London were set in motion. Omar reminisced about a particular memory: “Hazrat Baba Ji once visited our home. I was on his lap as my mother greeted him. He looked at me with a gentle smile, lifted me into his arms, and held me close. In his hands were some official documents, onto which he took my thumb impressions. Those were the papers for my passport application.”
In 1964, Baba Ji’s paternal nephew, Mahmud Nasrullah Khan, escorted Omar to England. Upon arrival, they headed to the residence of Saeed Bajwa Sahib, where Omar initially stayed with Uncle Saeed and his wife.
Curious about his memories of the moving to UK, I asked Omar, “Do you recall your arrival in London?” He responded affirmatively, “Indeed, I distinctly remember visiting that first house in England. The unfamiliarity of it all was quite overwhelming – the unique architectural styles, the often deserted streets, and the omnipresence of British citizens; it was nothing like Daska. Uncle Saeed introduced me to the Fazl Mosque on the occasion of the Jalsa Salana. Back then, the area had fewer buildings, with many plots lying vacant. During the event, I had the privilege to meet Huzoorrh [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh]. Upon seeing me, Huzoorrh greeted me with a warm smile and a handshake. Later, it was Saeed Sahib who enrolled me at the Royal School in Margate, a branch of The Royal School for Deaf Children, which traces its roots back to 1792, with the Margate establishment inaugurated in 1876.”
Omar continued, “Hazrat Baba Ji was always considerate of my well-being. He ensured that during the lengthy school vacations, when other students returned to their families, I was accommodated with a caring household, so I would not feel the void of missing my own family. Initially, I stayed with Uncle Ijaz. I fondly recall playing with their three children. On another occasion, during a break, Baba Ji arranged for me to stay with Uncle Bashir Rafiq Sahib.”
Hospitality and care: Stay in London
Omar’s mention of Bashir Rafiq Sahib brought a smile to my face, as I had known his benevolent and patient disposition. Sadly, he has since passed away; may Allah shower His mercy upon him. Keen to understand more, I posed a question to his wife, Salima Sahiba, regarding why Hazrat Baba Ji chose their residence for Omar and her recollections of the young boy. She responded:
“Truly, it is an immense blessing of Allah the Almighty that Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra always showed us kindness and shared a close bond with our family. During his tenure as the president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, he would often visit England and chose to stay with us at the mission house. He and my husband shared a warm camaraderie, almost familial in nature, and he held affection for every member of our household, particularly our children. Perhaps it was this bond that led him to choose our home for Omar, ensuring the boy had a nurturing family environment. I cannot recall Omar’s exact age during his initial stay with us, but he was quite young, possibly around six.
“Hazrat Chaudhry Sahibra displayed a remarkable personal commitment to Omar’s welfare. Whenever Omar was in Chaudhry Sahib’sra company, it was evident how much joy and solace he derived from the love and attention he received. Chaudhry Sahibra would personally ensure Omar was awake for Fajr, and they would pray side by side. There is no denying the profound affection Chaudhry Sahib held for Omar. He was deeply invested in Omar’s life, showing genuine concern for his education and overall well-being.”
Following this enlightening conversation, I enquired further about Omar’s accommodation during his holiday periods, beyond his stay at Bashir Rafiq Sahib’s. Omar said, “I had the privilege of staying with seven families in total. Although I could not comprehend their words due to my hearing impairment, their facial expressions conveyed volumes. I owe them a great debt of gratitude and pray that Allah rewards them abundantly. Amin.”
Omar’s memorable return to Pakistan
Curious about his journey back to Pakistan, I probed further, asking when he first returned to Pakistan and his reunion with his family. He informed me:
“In October 1969, my paternal uncle, Ijaz Nasrullah Khan Sahib, collected me from school to take me to Gatwick airport. Baba Ji had arranged my ticket to Pakistan. I was on the same plane as Baba Ji. Throughout the flight, I pondered how my mother might appear after all these years. As we approached Lahore airport, I was met by Baba Ji’s daughter, Amatul Haye, and another lady whom I couldn’t recognise. This stranger embraced me tightly, her tears flowing freely. Although she spoke to me in Urdu, I could not decipher her lip movements. It then dawned on me: this was my mother. The last memory I had of her was when I was merely four, and now I was returning at nine. My four-month stay with my family in Pakistan was incredibly heartwarming. I relished the moments there, often asking my mother for fresh cow’s milk. As I played with my siblings, my occasional English utterances would tickle them.
“During one visit to Baba Ji’s residence with my brother, Asad, I encountered other children. He taught us prayers and salat, but I was weaker among the children. Due to my childhood, I started to laugh for some reason during the salat, Baba Ji did not allow anyone to say anything to me and told them that I could not hear and thus made a mistake.”
After completing his education in 1979, Omar became skilled in woodwork and carpentry, earning accolades and a vocational training certificate. He secured employment as a carpenter in the UK, visited Pakistan multiple times, passed his driving exam in 1983, and even had the honour of doing carpentry work for Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra when he relocated to Kingston.
Omar also told me:
“Baba Ji gifted me a book on the blessed life of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. He was always kind to me. He was not able to speak sign language, but I was able to understand his facial expressions. He would smile very beautifully. He would be very pleased to meet me. Uncle Anwar told me that Baba Ji would say that Omar is very good. […] He would travel to the UK many times and meet me. At school, the fees of all the students would be given by the city authorities, but my annual fee was paid by Baba Ji himself. He would take care of my tarbiyat. Once the buttons of my shirt were open from the top, and he did not like it. He would like the cuffs to be buttoned and the hair to be cut nicely and well set. I remember him a lot. He has done many benevolences upon me. If he had not decided to bring me to London, my life would have been different. I am happy that I am related to such a great personality. This relationship has given me respect. May Allah grant him a great reward. Amin.”
Anwar Kahlon Sahib’s account from Zafarullah Khan: My Mentor
Anwar Kahloon Sahib has narrated the incident of Omar being in the care of Hazrat Baba Ji in his book “Zafarullah Khan: My Mentor”:
“Baba Ji’s nephew, Mahmood Nasrulla’s second son, Omar, became deaf in his infancy as a result of an affliction. A very handsome, healthy young child was beginning to languish as there were no arrangements for educating him adequately in Pakistan. He received inexhaustible love from his seniors and was denied nothing. [ …] Around 1964, one Friday afternoon after the Friday service, Baba Ji and I were walking back to his apartment through a park for which The Hague is famous. I said to him, ‘You finance the education of a large number of students. On your behalf, I send stipends to about twenty-five students every month. Can you not do something for your brother’s grandson, who is deaf and dumb?’ His enthusiastic response was to do everything that lay in his power. He became desperately impatient to help and could barely wait for the following week to begin in order to set the ball rolling. First thing on Monday morning, he was in touch with the High Commission in London. By midday, he had secured admission for the boy to a Deaf and Dumb School in Ramsgate. A cable was sent to my father, asking him to make an immediate arrangement to send Omar to London. Mohammad, the eldest son of Baba Ji’s brother Abdulla, escorted Omar to London. The fees were phenomenal and daunted me. He said to me, ‘What better use of money?’ Omar completed his studies in Ramsgate, and then Baba Ji and I drove him to Manchester, where, with the assistance of Rasheed Bhatti, he was admitted to a Joinery Training College. After he completed the course successfully, he was back in London. Baba Ji and I accompanied him for interviews with potential employers. He has held several jobs, each one better than the previous one. Not far from the Mosque in London, a grandson of his sister, Fayyaz Kahlon, arranged to buy a one-bedroom flat for Omar, for which Baba Ji put down the initial twenty-five per cent.” (Zafarullah Khan: My Mentor, pp. 89-90)
Guided by wisdom: Letters from Hazrat Chaudhry Zafrulla Khanra
“London, 24 September 1979
“Dear Amatush Shafi,
“Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu
“Omar, sallamahu, arrived in London on 2 September and stayed with Anwar Ahmad. I had written to you that I will inform you about his programme soon after 3 September. My delay in writing was due to the fact that after Omar arrived here, he had to register his name in several government and non-government departments. And also had to enrol in a speech training institute. Now, with the grace of Allah, these tasks have been completed. After enrolling in the speech institution, Omar has even attended one class as well. He has to go to class once a week (Thursday evening). At the end of the first class, the teacher said that Omar is the most enthusiastic and attentive in all the classes and, insha-Allah, he will progress very swiftly. Alhamdulillah. Omar now focuses outside the class as well. As a result of the cooperation of the concerned department, Omar was offered to start working at two places on a trial basis. By the grace of Allah, the work has started today at the place that was preferred by Omar. Omar has also shown great interest in the work and it is hoped that, insha-Allah, after the trial work, Omar will be permanently employed. Keep on praying that Allah the Almighty grants Omar great success in every aspect with His grace and mercy, amin. Omar has been able to stand on his own two feet now, by the grace of Allah, in terms of completing the stages of education and training with respect to his age at this time. He will not be in any financial need once he is employed permanently and will be able to set his own programme and hobbies himself. May Allah grant him with his grace and mercy the ability to speak; then his religious tarbiyat will also be done, which cannot be done right now. واللہ الموفق. At this time, i.e., from yesterday evening, his accommodation has been arranged with Afzal Turki Sahib, very close to his place of work. Turki Sahib knows Omar Mahmud Nasrullah very well. After a month, Omar himself will decide about coming to Pakistan. May Allah be the Protector and Helper of all, amin.
“ Zafrulla Khan”
In another letter, he wrote:
“London, 27 April 1981
“Dear Amatush Shafi,
“Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu
“Anwar Ahmad and Fayaz Ahmad regularly focus on finding a better job for Omar. May Allah the Almighty provide him with a better job with His grace and mercy, amin. A lot of people are unemployed in this country right now. Omar is very lucky that he has got a job. Insha-Allah, when the situation improves, better work will be available for him.
“The doctor to whom Anwar Ahmad took Omar is an expert in a certain art. It was an experiment that could be expected to benefit. But that hope was not fulfilled. It is possible that Allah the Almighty will open another way for improvement. ھو المستعان وھو علیٰ کل شئی قدیر.
“I pray for you all. May Allah protect you all with His grace and mercy. May he remove all troubles and bless you with religious and worldly blessings. Amin. My salaam and love to all.
Omar becames part of our family
My daughter, Amatus Sabur, tragically lost her ability to hear at just one year old due to a severe fever. As she grew, she learned to communicate through lip-reading and later excelled in her studies and the arts. She even secured the top position in her matriculation exams. While studying at the Fine Arts College, she was approached with a marriage proposal from Omar’s family. After seeking blessings and advice from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, the two married in Karachi and later settled in London. Allah also blessed them with children.
Alhamdulillah, at the request of the Sadr Lajna Imaillah UK, Omar and Amatus Sabur made the shelves of the Lajna library at the Bait-ul-Futuh Mosque together, which Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa also inspected. They received a certificate of excellence from the Sadr Lajna Imaillah UK. Amatus Sabur also received an academic gold medal from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, at the Jalsa Salana.
The enduring legacy of Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra is a testament to the transformative power of genuine kindness and mentorship. Through his unwavering support, Omar’s life was profoundly shaped, leading him not only to personal growth but also to a union with my daughter, Amatus Sabur. Their combined journey, marked by resilience and faith, underscores the ripple effect of a single act of compassion, reminding us all of the profound impact we can have on others’ lives. As we honour the legacy of Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra, may we continue to be inspired by such stalwarts of the Jamaat and pray that we too tread on the path they laid out for us. Amin.