Last Updated on 26th February 2021
Rahman Nasir, Texas, USA
In August of 2017, Houston was hit by hurricane Harvey, which caused 68 deaths and billions of dollars in damages due to flooding in every part of the city. This was the worst of three “once-in-a-thousand-year” storms Houston had seen in three years. A year earlier, I remember being stuck on the road for a whole night due to Houston’s Memorial Day floods.
For Ahmadi Muslims in Houston, this storm opened an opportunity to fulfil their responsibility to their Creator by serving His creation. Local and national Khuddam from around the country spent over a month carrying out relief efforts, including boat rescues, raising relief funds, serving meals and cleaning flooded houses.
By the end of this effort, Khuddam had served over 500 fresh meals, saved over 20 people stuck at home via boats and cleaned over 100 residences with over 180 volunteers. There were multiple occurrences in which the victims of the storm were brought to tears by the efforts of local Ahmadi. Thus, a terrible disaster became an opportunity for people to see our beloved Prophet’ssa practice of serving mankind.
Just over a year after the city’s darkest hour, Houston had the honour of hosting the world’s brightest light, our beloved Huzooraa. During Huzoor’s trip to Houston, he delivered a Friday Sermon that emphasised placing our faith over worldly matters.
Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa also said:
“Even here [in the USA] countless storms and torrential rain are witnessed and each time it is said that such and such incident had not occurred in the last 500 years, or 100 years or this many decades, etc. Thus, one ought to ponder over this. The worldly people will not be able to understand this, but we know that this is the manifestation of God Almighty’s displeasure.
“The Promised Messiahas has given an open warning in relation to these matters, therefore we need to pay attention towards our reformation. We also need to inform the world that these calamities are not ordinary occurrences; rather, they were prophesied over 100 years ago. Now, there is only one way to be saved from these and that is for man to come closer to God Almighty.” (Al Hakam, Friday Sermon delivered on 26 October 2018, published on 16 November 2018)
Hearing these words, I realised why I had seen three “once-in-a-thousand-year storms” in three years in my hometown.
As I reflect upon the state of the world, since Huzooraa said these words, it seems as if there are increasing “once in a lifetime” disasters occurring, whether the California fires, floods in India, earthquakes in Pakistan, Australia bush fires, the great coral reef dying or the novel coronavirus pandemic. It seems as though each month, a disaster is taking place.
In his Friday sermon on 27 January 2006, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa mentioned how, since 1905, the world had seen earthquakes at an exponential rate compared to the previous 1,100 years. Huzooraa also mentioned how he noticed the West had become purely materialistic and hedonistic while completely forgetting God, entering the new millennium. (www.alislam.org/archives/2006/summary/FSS20060127-EN.html)
A dozen years later, Huzooraa continues to remind us to put our faith above worldly matters and to inform others of the Imam of the age. As Ahmadis, the fate of the world is in our efforts and our obedience to our Khalifa.
The Holy Quran says:
“Never did We send a Prophet to any town but We seized the people thereof with adversity and suffering, that they might become humble. Then We changed [their evil condition] into good until they grew [in affluence and number] and said, ‘Suffering and happiness betided our fathers [also].’ [So if it befalls us, it matters not.] Then We seized them suddenly, while they perceived not. (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V. 95-96)
Until the world does not accept the Holy Prophetsa and his Promised Messiahas, these punishments will continue. Therefore, we are seeing once in a lifetime disaster once every few months.
As an American, I can see, first-hand, the “humbling” promise in these verses. America used to be the “face” of freedom and justice in the world and now we can see a huge divide in every aspect of this country. Racial inequality, privatised healthcare and poverty are examples of America’s image being tarnished, causing a humbling amongst people.
Years ago, when I travelled around the world, I would say I was an American with pride, but now, the same statement is surrounded with shame.
Now the only thing I can say with pride is that I am an Ahmadi Muslim, one who has accepted the Imam of the age and enjoys the fruits through the blessed institution of Khilafat. Every day, this immense blessing becomes more and more visible to me.
Currently, Texas has been hit with a historical winter storm. In all our major cities, millions of residents have lost power and water. Roads are not drivable, homeless people are freezing to death, grocery stores are closed or out of food while locals spend hours looking for food and gas and families are being forced to sleep in freezing weather inside their homes.
A friend of mine had to evacuate his home and brave icy roads with his family due to the fear of the cold temperatures’ effect on his one-week-old son. Alhumdolillah they were able to find shelter with a family who hadn’t lost power. But Ahmadi Muslims are prepared since beloved Huzooraa has continuously emphasised stocking up on survival supplies. In the last four years, this is the second time that these words have saved us from going hungry. The tap water is either frozen or not drinkable, but thanks to Huzoor’s blessed guidance, we don’t have to brace dangerous roads scavenging for food or water which is not available.
Our worldly leaders here in Texas are escaping to Cancun, Mexico while we face another “once-in-a-thousand-years” disaster. Texans are without power and water, and freezing, yet our leaders continuously turn their back on their people in their time of need.
In contrast, our beloved Huzooraa is our guiding light through our darkest hours, whose guidance keeps us from going hungry and whose prayers lead to our ultimate success. Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said in 2019:
“We may confront challenges; we may encounter grief; we may face persecution; yet, rest assured, if we remain under the shade of Khilafat, all trials and tribulations are destined to pass and in their place, great glad tidings and eternal prosperity will surely emerge” (Al Hakam, 27 December 2019)
I hope these words provide comfort to other Ahmadis who find themselves in difficult situations.
To the Texan Ahmadis who will go to sleep tonight in freezing weather and Ahmadis around the world who are facing challenges, I would like to share a line of English poetry I came across while reading an article written by Khalifatul Masih IVrh on which he also commented:
“‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’
“Thus, the Truth which gave omen of a winter, had in the same breath given the glad tidings of a spring, and if the winter came and passed away, the tidings of a spring must anyhow come to pass.” (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, Natural disasters or divine punishment?, published in The Review of Religions 1993/94, www.alislam.org/articles/natural-disasters-or-divine-punishment/4/)