Last Updated on 26th February 2021
Sumaira Ahmed, Nunspeet, the Netherlands
Abu Abdur Rahman Auf ibn Malikra relates, “The Holy Prophetsa led the funeral prayer of a deceased person and I preserved his prayer in my memory. He supplicated, ‘Allah, do forgive him and have mercy on him and make him secure, and overlook his shortcomings, and bestow upon him an honoured place in Paradise, and make his place of entry spacious, and wash him clean with water and snow and ice, and cleanse him of all wrong as Thou dost cleanse a piece of white cloth of dirt, and bestow upon him a home better than his home … and admit him into Paradise, and shield him from the torment of the grave and the torment of the Fire”. (Sahih Muslim)
On 7 February 2021, in the early hours of the new day, it started to snow and a wintery day opened up upon us here in the Netherlands. It was a night in which I couldn’t sleep very well, tossing and turning in bed for quite a while before I dozed off.
I then woke up in the morning to the news. The world didn’t know it, but a beautiful being had left the Earth this day. It was as if, in his honour, God Almighty had opened up the Heavens and covered the land of the living with a pillow of snow as beautiful, soft and pure as this individual was.
My nanajan [maternal grandfather] had passed away.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَ اِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْن
“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.” (Ch.2: V.157)
I would like to write and share a few memories in honour of my dear nanajan, the late Chaudhry Hameedullah Sahib, so that others may also benefit from these observations and experiences.
Chaudhry Hameedullah Sahib was born in our Jamaat’s blessed homeland, Qadian.
The water, grains, plants and fruits of that holy land coursed through his blood right from birth and so it was no doubt that after being touched by such blessed seeds planted by the Promised Messiahas, he would only grow up to be a magnificent and noble tree of the Jamaat, extending his branches and roots to people from all walks of life and from all over the world.
There are many people who worked and served alongside him who can better tell events pertaining to Jamaat activities and how he was in the field (and have done so greatly, because of which even I have learnt many new things), some of which Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa graciously narrated in his Friday Sermon on 12 February 2021, but I would like to share some personal memories and feelings of my nanajan.
I adored him and always loved to be in his company. He loved his family deeply and although I had heard that people in his offices would be scared of him, I could never believe this because all I ever saw and experienced was his big, soft heart.
I saw his kind eyes and cheerful smile, felt his warm hugs and listened to his witty sense of humour as well as his wise and deeply inspiring words full of wisdom. He spoke with purpose and only spoke good words and would say something along the lines of, “Acha bas kardo” (Okay, no more); “Rehney do” (forget it) and “Koi baat nahi” (never mind) if he heard any gossip or form of complaining.
He spoke humbly, yet confidently and even respectfully to us children. He was never loud or rude, but always pleasant to listen to and you would want to do anything he asked you to because he was so kind-hearted. He never spoke in a belittling way or showed off that he knew more than you or was above you because he was older, but would always speak humbly and listen attentively and respectfully even with us children, which inadvertently built our confidence.
He had the honour of being not only able to live and see, but also serve four Khulafa-e-Ahmadiyyat. I recall especially that any time he would talk about Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, he would get particularly emotional and his eyes would well up.
I never asked why exactly this was, but I assumed that that was his first experience with a Khalifa who, in turn, treated him with great love and affection and so, the thought and memories of receiving such love and serving such a prominent figure in our Jamaat’s history from such a young age must have filled his body with a wave of emotion and inspiration. I only got the chance to visit Pakistan a few times as a child and went once to Qadian with nanajan and nanijan when I was around two years old, but because of the blessings of Ahmadiyyat, he would travel often with nanijan all over the world and for many years, came to the UK for Jalsa and also visited us when we lived in Abu Dhabi.
I remember that for Jalsa Salana UK, nanajan and nanijan would stay in the guest house behind the offices opposite the Fazl Mosque. I would be excited to visit them and over the years, had the opportunity to spend many days in their company, sitting for many hours a day in their room.
As a child, I was very quiet and shy, but they never expected me to talk; they were just happy for me to be there and never told me that I should leave or shouldn’t come. When it would be time for me to go back home, if my mum wasn’t with me (even when I was older and in my late teens and lived just round the corner to the Fazl Mosque) nanajan wouldn’t want me to go on my own and would walk with me to the gate even, though being the younger and physically healthier one, I felt that I should be walking him back home in case he was to trip or stumble.
I remember on days that weren’t particularly busy, I would be in the room at the guest house and would get to see more of nanajan. I would respond when spoken to or asked to do something (such as iron nanajan’s clothes or take their medicines or something else out of their suitcase then put it back when they were done, etc.) but would otherwise mostly sit and listen quietly as my grandparents talked amongst themselves or with my mother or aunt or any other family member or guest who had come to visit them in those Jalsa days.
Then in the afternoons, they would take a nap and would say to me that I could sleep with them and would let me lie on the bed in between them. We would then wake up and have doodh-patti chai (tea cooked in milk on the stove) and biscuits together. This is where I developed my love for doodh-patti.
In a relaxed mood, nanajan would also tell us children stories; sometimes it was about two birds and sometimes, as we got older, about his experiences in different places of the world and with different khulafa.
The story about the birds, my mother tells me, is one he would often narrate for the benefit of children’s tarbiyat. Some people may have heard of this before, but a summary of it is as follows:
Two birds were sitting on a tree, going about their day, when they saw a traveller come by and sit under their tree. They watched as he lit a fire and looked hungrily around for food. The two birds thought, “How can we be of some service to this man and help him?” They decided that they would drop themselves in front of him and he could cook their meat and eat them. So they both fell into the fire and the man, thinking that they had died and fallen as a result, took them and ate them. In this way, the two birds fulfilled their rights of hospitality to their guest.
Another fond memory of their visits was that although they were waqifeen-e-zindagi, they would always bring us gifts and would always present some tea or food or something, even if it was just some fruit they had in their room, to any guests or family members who came to visit them. They were the hands that always gave.
Both nanajan and nanijan were always generous and respectful towards people and they taught me that we should always give gifts to others as it promoted love and affection between people. These weren’t just words, but actions both of my grandparents truly believed and sincerely and earnestly performed.
My husband had the chance to visit Rabwah after graduating Jamia in 2019, which was a very special opportunity given by Huzooraa, made extra special because of the immense love he felt from nanajan, who treated him as if he had always been a part of the family. Nanajan invited him many times to his house during the month he stayed in Rabwah and although there were other people there to help, nanajan’s hospitality was unprecedented and he kept asking if he needed anything and even went up and down from the kitchen, at times, to bring more food. Such was his humble and kind nature and attention to detail.
Even as a waqif-e-zindagi who started out with very little to his name, who had lived in straitened conditions, his generosity knew no bounds and nanajan would happily make, as well as advocate making financial sacrifices. He never thought that because he didn’t earn a lot, he should keep more to himself. In fact, he would put the full care of the household necessities and finances in my nanijan’s hands.
Whilst he was busy serving the Jamaat, he let nanijan take complete ownership and care of their home and made her the queen of her home, never interfering with how she wanted to run things, but rather placed his trust in her and gave her his full support.
A few years back, nanajan and nanijan even paid for a mosque to be built in Africa. The building was completed around the time of my marriage and my husband, who is a murabbi and had graduated just after our marriage, had the opportunity to visit Sierra Leone (where the mosque is) as part of his service after graduation and by the grace of Allah, was able to go and visit their mosque, perform dua and lead Namaz there, as well as speak to the locals and take pictures for my grandparents to see. I think his generosity and kindness and early sacrifices without complaint are the reasons he was so blessed with rizq [provisions] of all forms as well as being able to travel the world and never having any lack of anything in their homes.
I recall that often, nanijan would be at home and would desire something, e.g. kheer and a few moments later, someone would knock on their door and what she desired would be in front of her. This is when I knew that they were truly pious people. If a lot of food came to their doorstep in one day, they would then share it with their neighbours.
Nanijan also grew some fruits and vegetables in her garden and would often ask nanajan or the helper in the house to share these also with neighbours and others as it would be too much for the two of them. I always saw that as waqifeen-e-zindagi, Allah had blessed them with many blessings which only opened their hearts more.
Often times, whilst in the UK guest house, I would also see that they would receive tabarruk from the Khalifa of the time, sometimes mithai [traditional sweets of South East Asia] or mangoes or some other fruit or food and they would share this with us too, thus enabling us to also be recipients of these blessings of God. They would not hesitate to share the blessings and bounties of Allah and nothing would be on their lips but praise and gratitude for His favours. They would say, “Always be grateful to God and keep thanking and praising Him as He always gives more to those people who are grateful”.
Because of these early years of sacrifice, Allah blessed my grandparents abundantly later in life, when all their children were married and in their own homes, scattered across the globe (with no mobile phones or video calling or emailing at the time to stay regularly in touch, only letter writing or landline phone calls that were expensive and so were kept short and infrequent). They were alone, but willingly sent their children far away from themselves. They accepted the circumstances and put their complete trust in Allah. In turn, Allah gave them immense respect in this world, though they themselves had no desire for fame or name in the world.
Nanajan particularly preferred to spend his time working in his office or being occupied in some form of service to the Jamaat. When invited to people’s homes, they accepted these invitations as an expression of gratitude to Allah again for His favours. On busier days, I wouldn’t see much of nanajan in the guesthouse, mostly him popping in and out at times and returning in the evenings. Sometimes it would so happen that he would come into the room to rest and as he had laid down on the bed for just a minute or so, someone would knock on the door and he would get up quickly, see who it was then grab his topi and go out of the room with that person, disappearing for a number of hours. Even if he was in the middle of eating and a phone call would come for him, he would prefer to leave the food and attend the call no matter how long it would take. Such was his dedication to his Jamaat duties.
For a man of humble beginnings, I also felt and experienced that he was extremely knowledgeable and I was always in awe of how much he knew, not only about his own field of study, which was mathematics, but many other fields too.
Whenever I would talk to him on the phone, he would ask me questions and advise me to read books and ways to strengthen my memory. One particular method he advised me to follow in my school days was to read one line of a book, then write it down from memory; then read two lines and write them down without looking back; then keep increasing how much I read and then write it down.
I remember also that he would ask me questions to assess what I had learned in school and later about my field in university as well as current affairs. If he wasn’t satisfied with my answer, he would tell me to read more books on the subject. If he was satisfied, I would hear it in his voice as he would say, “Acha, theek hai” (Okay, that’s fine).
I would be surprised sometimes with the kinds of questions he would think to ask me. Once, while in sixth form (last two years of secondary school in the British education system), he told me that human beings, if they trained their minds enough, had the power and ability to literally move objects without physically touching them! This is termed telekinesis.
I went and told my physics teacher in school about this, who looked at me as if I was crazy, to which I replied that my grandfather had told me (as if he was supposed to know my nanajan as well as me) and he still looked at me as if I was crazy; I just wished he knew how intelligent and wise and noble a man was saying this.
I recently came across Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh talking about this subject also (www.alislam.org/askislam/question/531/) which reminded me of this time where my nanajan possibly created that initial spark of curiosity within me for science.
Another surprising time was when I was in university studying physics and he would ask me such high degree-level questions that a normal person usually wouldn’t know anything about. Every time I spoke to him, I could tell that he had a great thirst for knowledge and he inspired me to want to learn more and expand my own levels of knowledge.
He greatly valued knowledge and respected the pursuit of education, so much so that he even ensured his daughters were taught well and went to school and university and had an equal level of opportunities to education as his son did. He loved and cared for his children equally without any discrimination.
He was a loving and caring husband and I never saw or heard him be rude or speak harshly or loudly to his wife nor ever admonished her. He always listened to nanijan with great respect and patience and tried to fulfil all her wishes as best he could (though she too never asked anything unreasonable of him).
I remember that he never fussed over what kind of food he wanted to eat or what kind of clothes he wanted to wear. Whatever he received, he accepted lovingly. He dressed simply but he liked to dress well, in clean and well-cared-for clothes and my husband told me that he always used to advise missionaries that would visit him to not wear old, dirty and ripped clothes, but they should dress smartly and take pride in how they present themselves to the world as representatives of the Promised Messiahas.
I always saw both my grandparents as the embodiment of the verses of the Quran that says to “remember Allah while standing, sitting and lying on their sides” (Ch.3: V.192) and learnt from him how to spend the whole day in worship. Aside from seeing both my grandparents perform their five daily prayers and nawafil diligently, read the Quran with great care and reflection, see their lips moving as they sat quietly reciting tasbih and various prayers and zikr-e-Ilahi, their service to mankind and the Jamaat was also a great form of worship.
Nanajan was honest and straightforward whenever he spoke and everything he did, he did with great honesty and integrity. He never feared any opposition the Jamaat faced and wished to stay in Rabwah forever. He was ready to face anything the opponents would bring, with cheerfulness. About a month ago, I asked him how conditions were in Pakistan after Huzooraa had mentioned in a sermon that opposition was intensifying again. He replied in a calm way, saying that things were bad, but from his unspoken words, I could sense that he wasn’t scared and would stand to defend the Jamaat no matter what they did.
Nanajan also showed great love and sympathy to animals. When I was a child, I remember them bringing rabbits into their home for us to play with but they took responsibility for all of the cleaning and feeding. In more recent times, they had cats in their house. Now they only have one but in their previous home there were 2 cats that would come to them and my mum told me my grandparents named them after me and one of my other cousins out of love. Seeing pictures of their cat today, I can see how well cared and loved it must have been.
I grew up seeing nanajan with great adoration and both my grandparents as role models as the way they talked and walked on this Earth was inspiring. The results of making God their closest Friend made me want the same. He lived his life for God and the Jamaat and as a result, saw endless blessings.
Nanajan advised his children, who in turn advised us, to always seek guidance from Huzooraa through mulaqats or writing letters as this blessed the task as well as us as recipients of the Khalifa’s prayers.
It has always been my observation that writing to Huzooraa eases decision-making as well as the tasks themselves and this also has the added effect of strengthening our bond with Khilafat.
I remember I even had the blessed opportunity of attending a mulaqat with my nanajan and nanijan who suddenly said I could go with them to meet Huzooraa – I have a photo with them as a beautiful memory of the occasion.
It is a result of my nanajan and nanijan’s exemplary characters, loving relationship and the many blessings I saw bestowed upon them throughout their lives as waqifeen-e-zindagi that I realised how peaceful a life with a life-devotee can be. Thus I always used to say that I wanted a partner devoted to the Jamaat like my nanajan. The fact is that he was a unique soul on this Earth and I am eternally grateful to Allah the Almighty that I was blessed to be his granddaughter, being able to spend so much time with him, receive his prayers and learn so much from him, both directly and indirectly.
I am also grateful to God that I was the first of his grandchildren to get married and was blessed with a daughter in his lifetime, giving him his first great-granddaughter, who he used to love watching videos of and speak to through video calls. I feel lucky that the blessing of technology that God has enabled man to develop allowed me to see more of my nanajan in these last few years, where neither he, nor we could travel to see each other in person. But I know his love extended to many other people across the globe and wasn’t just for me; he had this wonderful way of making you feel as if all of his love and attention was on you at that time.
Another blessed coincidence or plan of Allah was that my husband happened to be posted in a mosque that my nanajan had a hand in securing for the Jamaat at the time of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh – Bait-un-Noor Mosque in Nunspeet.
I am sure that history has been preserved in this regard, but from what my mother tells me, nanajan said that there was a lady who lived in Nunspeet many years back named Amatul Hameed who wrote a letter to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh that there is this place which is very big and is up for sale. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh then told nanajan – Chaudhry Hameedullah Sahib – to hold a meeting about this, which he would head and decide if the Jamaat should buy this building or not.
Nanajan held that meeting, discussed everything with the related party and finally suggested to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh that they should buy this place, which Huzoorrh approved.
Nanajan also mentioned to us when he found out that Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa had appointed my husband to Holland and that we were moving here, that he had visited Holland before and enquired about places such as Keukenhoff and the Court of Justice where Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Zafrulla Khanra worked and then proceeded to tell us how nice a place it was, reassuring us. It was fascinating to hear that he knew so much about Holland and had walked these very roads we now tread.
There is so much to learn from his life, but these are just a few things I wished to write down as an expression of my love and admiration for him.
He lived for nearly nine decades, yet it feels as though he just came yesterday and has gone today. He returned to Allah, in otherwise good physical health for his age, still going to the office and offering his services to the Jamaat – in other words, chaltey phirtey (walking and active) and not dependent on anyone, just as he wanted.
May God Almighty bless him with the highest status, the most beautiful gardens beneath which streams flow, as mentioned in the Holy Quran, and eternal peace in Jannat-ul-Firdous where the most beloved of Allah are given sanctuary. Amin.
As Huzooraa said in this heart-warming and truly inspirational Friday Sermon, no one is merely entitled to the bounties and blessings earned by someone else just because they are their progeny. May Allah enable us to follow in his great footsteps in our loyalty, love, dedication and services to the community of the Imam of this age and the propagation of the true Islam.
With such people as pioneers of the Jamaat, I truly believe that we will ultimately see its triumph over the world.
May our children and future progeny also be such role models for the Jamaat and the world in their time and may we all become true and sincere servants of Allah as was my nanajan. Amin.