Tayyaba Ahmed, Hartlepool, UK
“And [say], ‘This is My path [leading] straight. So follow it; and follow not [other] ways, lest they lead you away from His way. That is what He enjoins upon you, that you may [become able to] guard [against evils].
“Again, we gave Moses the Book which completely fulfils the requirements of one who is excellent in conduct and explains everything to the last detail and is a guidance and blessing so that they come to believe in the meeting with their Lord.” (Surah al-An‘am, Ch.6: V.154-155)
Although it took a few years for my mother’s best friend, Pam to accept Ahmadiyyat, the enthusiasm for tabligh now flourished in my dear mother and it was not long before she began preaching to many other ladies. In fact, it became so commonplace for my parents to invite people each evening for tabligh, that I would ask, “Who is coming today?” and I would feel a certain disappointment if the answer was, albeit rarely, “No one!”
There is a hadith that explains how much Allah loves a gathering that is collected to remember Him, so much so that angels descend on the gathering and ask for the forgiveness of all those in attendance. These regular gatherings, large or small, had a wonderful, magnetic and extraordinary atmosphere that engaged and enticed the whole family and those that attended, alhamdulillah.
Many times, from the early 80s onwards, guest speakers were invited to attend tabligh meetings held in our home on Coniscliffe Road. I recall some of those speakers; for instance, the late Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad Sahib, our current UK Missionary-in-Charge Imam Ataul Mujeeb Rashed Sahib, the late missionary Saqi Sahib and the late Hazrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra.
Among the ladies, I particularly remember the visit of Hazrat Choti Apa Syeda Maryam Siddiqa Sahiba, wife of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, and at the time, Sadr Lajna Pakistan (which was then the Lajna headquarters for the whole world).
The visit of Hazrat Choti Apa particularly remains in my mind as my memory of her is as someone very loving and gentle. She was particularly pleased to meet the newly converted ladies in our Jamaat such as Aunty Pam, Aunty Beryl and Aunty Ronnie. I can remember her saying hopefully to Mrs Christine Atkinson, “It will be you next!”, to which Aunty Christine (who is currently Sadr Lajna Hartlepool) replied vehemently, “No, it won’t!”
The example of Mrs Christine Atkinson is ample demonstration of my mother’s exemplary patience in tabligh efforts.
Her husband, Bilal Atkinson Sahib, was a policeman and began to take an interest in Islam after meeting my father. He had a pious nature and had instinctively been looking for the truth. Therefore, it did not take too long for him to be convinced of the truth of Islam Ahmadiyyat.
However, Mrs Christine Atkinson, whom we all call Aunty Christine, was another matter. She was a regular church-goer and was happily involved in church life. Therefore, when her husband was researching and later had accepted Ahmadiyyat, she began accompanying him on his (minimum weekly) meetings with my father.
She would sit with my mother and I can remember she did not look too happy. The average person would not be able to have weekly sittings with someone so unhappy for very long – perhaps for a month or a few months at most. By the grace of Allah, my mother spent approximately seven years meeting Aunty Christine until her heart was sure that Islam Ahmadiyyat was the truth.
Aunty Christine has spent many years since then as a role model, masha-Allah. She has served Lajna Imaillah in many capacities and continues to currently serve as the sadr of Hartlepool Lajna.
Many ladies will testify, including myself, that she is a most patient, caring, helpful Ahmadi lady, who can be found regularly (pre-Covid) at the Nasir Mosque in Hartlepool, by the grace of Allah.
My parents’ ability to serve others was definitely a great strength; khidmat-e-khalq and tabligh were two aspects of my mother’s practice fitting together like a hand in a glove.
Sajida would help ladies, of any religion or background, in any way she could. One lady – perhaps called Margaret and a patient of my father – had agoraphobia and she would not leave her home. Selflessly, my mother started visiting her weekly and after a while, Margaret regained enough confidence to come outside into her own garden.
Another lady, who was going through some domestic abuse, related that Sajida would invite her to stay with her for days or weeks. Sajida would give the lady the pretext that she needed some help, all the while saving the lady from a difficult situation. She would often cook meals for the many visitors that came and for the meetings that we had at our house.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh once gave her two outstanding compliments; one being, “Sajida, khana bahut acha banati hai”, that is, “Sajida cooks lovely meals”. I can remember also that he advised me to learn cooking from her.
A jamaat is formed
From the early 80s, Hartlepool had become a formal jamaat (majlis) and our home was used for Jumuah prayer every Friday. My father was not used to leading Jumuah prayer, but soon, he became accustomed to preparing the weekly Friday sermon. In fact, Friday prayer was an occasion he taught us to value and respect; he would expect us to make every effort necessary to attend.
Another aspect of religious dues that my father highly valued was the attendance at Jalsa Salana.
Whilst Rabwah was the markaz, I remember attending when I was about six years old and later, between the years 1979 and 1982. Thereafter, in the UK, the Jalsa continued to be a huge occasion for which we would get many guests and were encouraged to join in for “duties”. During Jalsa days and nights, rather than socialising, my father encouraged us to focus on nawafil (voluntary prayers) and supplications.
On a more local level, my mother began serving as sadr Lajna Hartlepool. She would organise monthly meetings with great effort. I can remember her ringing each and every lady that she hoped would attend, some Ahmadi converts and some ladies that she was preaching to.
She and my father would offer lifts to as many people as they could. My mother cooked and prepared the food each time and as the Jamaat of converts increased, the new-Ahmadi ladies joined in by also preparing cakes or other items for the meetings.
For many years, my mother would cook a meal of rice and curry for the guests of often 20 or more that came to Jumuah, saying that some people came from work and thus, did not have time to eat properly otherwise. It was only after some years, particularly after she had been ill and the number of people increased even more, that some members asked her to reduce it to sandwiches and cakes, but less than this, she would not permit.
This attribute of hospitality was found no less in my father; indeed, my own impression is that good hospitality in a family needs both husband and wife to work as a team. This, they did.
My father, ever loving towards his own relatives, was just as welcoming to my mother’s relatives. (A particular favourite outing he would take his guests to was the beautiful Lake District.) Even more so, he would value the visits of members of the Promised Messiah’sas family and many grandchildren of the Promised Messiahas did actually visit his home, by the grace of Allah. He had the honour of hosting both Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh (and Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa before his Khilafat) in his home and he would prepare for these visits most earnestly, both practically and with prayers.
The ability to find and make friends in unexpected circumstances was a great gift of my mother.
On one occasion, she told me she had met a lady in the shopping centre who wanted to know more about Islam as she had married a Muslim! This lady attended meetings and became a friend.
At other times, it would be patients of my father who would become friends of the family.
One of my father’s patients was a joiner, therefore my father asked him to do a table repair job for him and thus, their friendship developed. His wife, Beryl, accepted Ahmadiyyat after a time.
My father also worked as the local police surgeon (on call police doctor) and this is how my parents became friends with two couples who both accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat later on – Mr and Mrs Duxfield and Mr and Mrs Atkinson, the latter couple serving in various capacities in the Jamaat to this day.
My mother met some other ladies by starting an Urdu class at the local People’s Centre – a kind of community centre where rooms could be hired by residents of the town for such things. Two ladies, Ronnie and Jo, became Ahmadis through this contact.
At other times, she taught Asian cooking to ladies, forming a group of friends in this manner. She also worked for a short time as a teacher of Islam and would go into schools in the nearby town of Middlesbrough. Neighbours, our schoolteachers, my father’s GP practice’s secretaries and other caretaker staff were all invited to meetings and events.
One friend invited another lady to our home, who, in turn, invited her partner, Paul to see my father. Later, Paul’s whole family – his mother, father, mother’s cousin, sister and wife – became Ahmadis, alhamdulillah!
My parents used a whole range of literature for tabligh. Of course, they could not have even imagined the ease and blessings bestowed on the Jamaat through the expansion of every kind of media – MTA, Voice of Islam Radio, the International Press and Media teams and social media of today. MTA had just started in 1994, the year my mother passed away and thus, it was after her passing that my father tapped into this wonderful tabligh resource.
My mother, as mentioned earlier, had studied the Holy Bible and compared its verses with relevant verses of the Holy Quran in detail. Thus, the Holy Quran, the Bible, Gardens of the Righteous (book of ahadith), books of the Promised Messiahas such as Jesus in India and The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam were common tools for propagation. Books of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, such as Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, Life of Muhammad and Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran, and A Message of Peace and a Word of Warning by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh are all books that they had recourse to, from what I can remember.
Similarly, they used Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’srh books, such as Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues, Christianity: A Journey from Facts to Fiction and, once published, (1998) my father added Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth to the list of literary and rich spiritual treasures on hand. My parents also used a variety of pamphlets provided by the Jamaat.
At some time in the late 80s or early 90s, Friday Sermons of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh became available weekly on cassette tapes and I can remember my parents would sometimes go to London and leave us with an elderly lady called Mary as our baby sitter and my mother would put on a cassette for her to listen to as she left! A captive audience, if ever there was one!
In later years, after the demise of my mother, my father also used the video tapes of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’srh question and answer sittings to show friends or even at meetings. Suffice to say, they used, tried and tested literature, but most of all, they followed the guidance of the Khalifa of the time in minute detail.
The miracles of the Holy Prophet’ssa ardent devotee
It is without doubt a miracle and an immense blessing, grace and mercy of our Lord and Creator, Allah the Almighty, that the prophecies about the Messiah and Mahdi who was to come in the Latter Days foretold by the Holy Prophetsa and by previous prophets were fulfilled in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. He clarified Islamic beliefs on subjects such as the true meaning of Jihad in the Latter Days and the death of Prophet Jesusas and he taught us the true original interpretation and knowledge that had been lost. He proved with evidence, from various sources including the Bible, that Prophet Jesusas not only survived the crucifixion, but he then travelled as far as India in search of the lost tribes of Israel.
My parents studied the teachings of the Promised Messiahas in depth, each becoming a scholar in their own style, using these truths to convince the people around them of the truth of Ahmadiyyat.
Over time, the arguments relating to the Existence and Unity of God, the survival of Jesusas on the cross and prophecies relating to the coming of the Holy Prophetsa and the Promised Messiahas became commonplace knowledge to us.
Their first recourse was of course, to the Holy Quran. However, they knew that their friends and contacts did not believe in their own holy book so they also used the Holy Bible too to convince them. I include a sample of references (all from my mother’s copy of the Holy Bible, the Collins King James Version) that they used, as it may be of interest to readers.
The unity (Oneness) of God
“And they say, ‘The Gracious [God] has taken unto Himself a son.’ Assuredly you have done a most monstrous thing! The heavens might well-nigh burst thereat, and the earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down in pieces, Because the ascribe a son to the Gracious [God].” (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V.89-92)
“For thou shalt not worship no other god for the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God!” (Exodus 34:14)
“Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:4)
“And Jesus said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is God’” (St Luke 18:19)
The following references show that there are numerous examples proving that calling Prophet Jesusas the “son of God” was not a unique occurrence or a title bestowed only to him, but others had been called sons/children of God in the Bible or even called god.
“… Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” (Exodus 4:22)
“And the Lord said unto Moses, See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron they brother shall be thy prophet.” (Exodus 7:1)
Prophecies relating to the advent of the Holy Prophetsa
Prophet Jesusas himself prophesied the coming of a future Prophet:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgement.” (John 16:7-8)
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.” (John 16:12-13)
This verse clearly mentions that when the “Spirit of truth” came, he would not speak of himself; in other words, his teaching would be a revealed teaching i.e. the Holy Quran.
(Even now, I can recite almost verbatim these verses:)
“I shall raise them up a prophet, from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth: and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I shall require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)
The verses clearly explain how a prophet would now be raised from the brethren of Isaacas; that is, from the progeny of Ishmaelas and that he would speak revealed words i.e. the Holy Quran would be given to him. The Holy Quran is the only Holy Book which begins “in the name of Allah” and then continues to begin chapters in His Name.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon the kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9: 6-7)
These verses describe a prophet who would have the responsibility of government, something that never happened to Jesusas and also of establishing a judgement that would last forever, signifying a law-bearing prophet whose laws would be permanent, just as Islamic laws have been sent for all time.
In the Songs of Solomon, chapter 5, there are some clear mentions of the coming of a prophet, even mentioning the Holy Prophet’ssa name: Muhammadim. It begins at verse 10,
“My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand”, an obvious reference to the Conquest of Mecca when the Holy Prophetsa was the chief of an army of 10,000; there is no such incident in the life of Jesusas.
“His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, o daughters of Jerusalem.”
The words ‘altogether lovely’ have been translated from the Hebrew word, Muhammadim.
The proofs were many and although I shall not go into the proofs of Jesus’ survival from the crucifixion here (more can be read at www.alislam.org/book/deliverance-from-cross),I shall finalise this section with quotes mentioning that a future law-bearing prophet would originate in Arabia. (Mount Paran is known to be the place that Hazrat Hajiraas was settled i.e. Mecca.)
Thus, in Deuteronomy 33, again reference is made to the Holy Prophetsa with his “fiery law” and that he would lead 10,000 men. Verse 2 says:
“And he said; The LORD came from Sinai and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran and he came with ten thousands of saints from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”
There is also another reference:
“God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and his praise filled the earth.” (Habakkuk 3:3)