Talha Ali, Missionary, Philippines
Allah the Exalted, addressing the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa in the Holy Quran, states:
“And it is by the [great] mercy of Allah that thou art kind towards them, and if thou hadst been rough [and] hard-hearted, they would surely have dispersed from around thee. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them, and consult them in matters [of administration]; and when thou art determined, then put thy trust in Allah. Surely, Allah loves those who put their trust [in Him].” (Surah Aal-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.160)
Hence, it can be inferred from this verse that Allah, the most Merciful, protects the hearts of the prophets from hard-heartedness. It is due to this special blessing of Allah that the prophets of Allah are exceptionally cheerful in nature despite their heavy workload and immense responsibility. One of the manifestations of their cheerful nature is in the form of their unpretentiousness and eloquent sense of humour.
It has been mentioned in the ahadith that among all, the Holy Prophetsa used to smile the most, had the most perfect temperament and was always cheerful at home. He would appreciate an honest and clean sense of humour and would tell eloquent jokes himself as well.
The Companionsra used to recite pre-Islamic poetry and other such things in his gatherings and even when they would talk about secular matters, the Holy Prophetsa would sit among them. (Uswa-e-Insan-e-Kamil, pp. 593-594)
The Promised Messiahas, who was the most ardent devotee and the greatest lover of the Holy Prophetsa, also had an eloquent sense of humour and possessed an exceptionally cheerful nature, which was free of any pretentiousness.
Hazrat Dr Mir Muhammad Ismailra narrates that the Promised Messiahas would enjoy a humorous anecdote or a joke to the extent that sometimes, due to laughter, he would wipe tears from his eyes with a cloth. But he would never laugh at anything vulgar or a taunt at someone; rather, he would stop people from saying such things in front of him.
Hazrat Dr Mir Sahibra says that once, he said something improper to someone in jest, in front of the Promised Messiahas while he was on his charpoy. The Promised Messiahas sat upright and stopped him, saying that such jokes were sinful. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, p. 561, Narration 588)
Unpretentious and cheerful gatherings of the Promised Messiahas
The gatherings of the Promised Messiahas were a model of solemnity and sobriety. The Companionsra were always cognisant of the great status of the Promised Messiahas and used to listen to each word of the Promised Messiahas with utmost attention and humility. But this should not make one think that these gatherings were extremely dry in nature, or the attendees felt any sense of difficulty or cumbersomeness sitting through these meetings.
On the contrary, we learn from a narration of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra that whenever the Promised Messiahas would meet someone, he would do so with a smile on his face, which would remove all worries and griefs from the person’s heart. Every Ahmadi used to feel that their hearts had been rid of all distress after meeting him.
One look at the smiling face of the Promised Messiahas would send a current of jubilation through the body. It was the practice of the Promised Messiahas that he would listen carefully to each and every person, no matter his status, and would reply with utmost love. Every individual used to think that the Promised Messiahas loved him the most.
Sometimes, common folks, who were not aware of the etiquette of the blessed gatherings of prophets, would narrate long, unrelated stories to the Promised Messiahas and he would continue to listen to them, never cutting them off or asking them to stop. After prayers, and sometimes on other occasions as well, the Promised Messiahas would stay in the mosque and his devotees would form a circle around him and start discussing various topics, initiating a lesson in spiritual reformation and religious education.
The attendees would feel as if springs of knowledge and illumination had sprung forth from which each individual could benefit according to their own capacity. There were no set protocols for these gatherings. Each individual could sit wherever they were able to find space. Anyone could ask any question and the Promised Messiahas would reply to it.
Sometimes an opponent would be mentioned and people would talk about him; at other occasions Huzooras would narrate the latest revelations he had received from the Almighty Allah, or a specific jamaat or individual suffering from persecution would be mentioned and discussion would start on that topic.
Hence, his gatherings would have discussion on all sorts of topics and each person could discuss whatever he wanted to. But when the Promised Messiahas would start speaking, everyone would be silent and listen attentively.
It was the practice of the Promised Messiahas that whether it was a public lecture or a private discussion, he would start out speaking in a low voice, but his voice would slowly get higher until it was loud enough that even people sitting far away could hear him clearly. His voice used to have a certain ardency to it. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, pp. 227-228, Narration 247)
The attendees could discuss any sort of topic openly in these gatherings. Hazrat Mir Shafi Ahmadra, a researcher from Delhi, narrates that once, an Arab was sitting in front of the Promised Messiahas and narrating pointless stories of the people and wildlife of Africa. The Promised Messiahas continued to sit there and smile. He did not cut him off by saying, “Why are you wasting time?”; rather, he patiently sat there till the end with a smile on his face. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 727, Narration 790)
Another amusing incident from the gatherings of the Promised Messiahas is narrated by Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmadra of Kapurthalla. He says that in the early years of the Promised Messiah’s claim, whenever he would visit Qadian, he would stay in the room adjacent to Masjid Mubarak, through which the Promised Messiahas used to walk to the mosque from his house.
Once, a knowledgeable maulvi visited Qadian along with 12 influential people with him. He did not argue, rather he would observe everything minutely. Once, he came to the room of Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmadra and said that the Arabic books of Mirza Sahibas were written in extremely eloquent Arabic. He noted that this was not possible without the help of various scholars who were fluent in Arabic. He further noted that the time to do this could only be at night. He then asked Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmadra if he knew of any scholars who spend the night in the house of the Promised Messiahas. Hazrat Munshi Sahibra replied, “Maulvi Muhammad Chiragh and Maulvi Muinuddin spend the night with the Promised Messiahas. These scholars must be the ones who help him at night.”
Hazrat Munshi Sahibra narrates that his voice reached the Promised Messiahas inside his house and he laughed so much and so loud, that he could hear him laugh.
The next day, the Promised Messiahas remained in the mosque after the Asr prayer. The questioner was also there. The Promised Messiahas, without any mention, looked towards Hazrat Munshi Sahibra and said laughingly, “Show him those scholars as well!” Then, the Promised Messiahas, proceeded to narrate the story of the previous night to Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra and the others. In the meantime, Chiragh Sahib and Muinuddin Sahib were brought to the front of the assembly. Chiragh Sahib was an illiterate weaver and a helper in the house of the Promised Messiahas. Muinuddin Sahib was an illiterate blind man who used to massage the Promised Messiah’s feet.
The maulvi left after seeing the two and returned with a big platter of sweets. He presented them to the Promised Messiahas and requested him to accept his bai‘at (oath of allegiance). His 12 companions also accepted Ahmadiyyat. The Promised Messiahas accepted his bai‘at and after dua, looked towards the questioner and said smilingly, “Put these sweets in front of Munshi Sahib, for he was the source of your guidance!” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, pp. 720-721, Narration 777)
Another incident which is narrated by Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ismailra sheds light on the awe of the Promised Messiahas upon his Companionsra as well as the cheerful nature of these gatherings. He narrates that once, the Promised Messiahas called Maulvi Sher Ali Sahibra to Masjid Mubarak after the Zuhr prayer to ask him something. In response, Maulvi Sher Ali Sahibra (probably due to the awe of being in the presence of the Promised Messiahas) said, “Huzoor ne ye arz kia tha to me ne ye farmaya tha …” (“Huzoor said this and I said this”, using the more respectable form of the verb for himself and the humble form of the verb for the Promised Messiahas). Hearing this, everyone in the mosque started smiling, trying to contain their laughter. But the Promised Messiahas did not pay any attention to it. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. Narration 589)
Frankness and humour with the Companionsra
The Promised Messiahas was very frank with his Companionsra and would share jokes with them as well. Hafiz Nur Muhammad Sahibra mentions a joke narrated by the Promised Messiahas. He says that once, the Promised Messiahas asked him and another companion for their suggestion about the direction of the morning walk. He suggested to go for a walk in the direction of the Tatla Canal.
Upon this, the Promised Messiahas started smiling and commented, “Once, a hungry person was asked, ‘What is one plus one?’ He replied, ‘Two pieces of bread’.”
The Promised Messiahas said, “Mian Nur Muhammad did the same thing by suggesting to go for a walk towards the Tatla Canal so that he can go to his village from there.”
Hafiz Nur Muhammad Sahib lived 5 kilometres from Qadian in the direction of the canal mentioned above. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 317, Narration 347)
Hafiz Nur Muhammad Sahibra has mentioned another joke of the Promised Messiahas. He narrates that once, Hafiz Nabi Bakhsh Sahibra told the Promised Messiahas that he (i.e. Hafiz Nur Muhammad Sahibra) recited a lot of prayers (wazifa). Hafiz Nur Muhammad Sahibra replied, “Huzoor, I do not recite any such prayers but I do read a lot from the Holy Quran.”
The Promised Messiahas smiled and commented, “Your example is like the person who was told that he eats good food. Upon this, he commented, ‘I do not eat good food; I only eat pilao [rice cooked in meat].’”
The Promised Messiahas further commented, “What can be a greater prayer then the Holy Quran. It is the greatest wazifa.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 318, Narration 348)
Hazrat Maulvi Muhammad Ibrahimra of Baqapur narrates an incident of the unpretentiousness and forgiveness of the Promised Messiahas. He narrates that once, while Maulvi Muhammad Ahsan Sahib was proofreading the Arabic section of the book of the Promised Messiahas, Haqiqatul-Wahi, he asked the Promised Messiahas, “Why have you crossed out this word as this is correct.”
The Promised Messiahas replied that he had not marked any such word. Maulvi Sahib asked then as to who had made this mark. The Promised Messiahas said that it was possible that Mir Mahdi Hussain Sahib might have made this mark. Maulvi Sahib asked the Promised Messiahas what right Mir Sahib had for doing such a thing. The Promised Messiahas smiled and said, “He does have a right. It is called interjecting (dakhal-e-bay-jaa).” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 430, Narration 450)
Another amusing incident has been narrated by the wife of Master Abdur Rahman Sahibra (formerly known as Mehr Singh). She narrates that she saw in a dream that she was blessed with a boy. In her dream, the wife of Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib asked her what she had named the boy. In the dream, she heard a voice from her right side, “Nazir Ahmad.” Her husband narrated the dream to the Promised Messiahas. When the child was born, he went back to the Promised Messiahas to ask him to name the child for blessing. The Promised Messiahas asked him to “name the child as shown by Allah [in the dream].”
She says that after purifying herself after the 40-day postpartum period, she went to see the Promised Messiahas and requested him for prayers. Huzooras said, “Insha-Allah,” and then said while laughing, “It is raining fire over the world after the coming of one Nazir [warner] and now another has come.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 205, Narration 1326)
Cheerfulness and humour with members of the household
It is usually observed that individuals who are extremely busy get agitated at small things and consider joking with children and those below them a waste of time. Similarly, many people are able to conceal their anger and temper when they are in front of outsiders, but their family and close friends have to face the brunt of their ill temper.
We observe that the Holy Prophetsa – and following his example, the Promised Messiahas – showed utmost kindness towards their family, children and household workers.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahibra mentions that once, when he was still a young child, his mother, Hazrat Ummul Momineenra, started mentioning Punjabi words to him and asked him for their corresponding Urdu words. He says that he was under the impression that a Punjabi word could be changed to Urdu by elongating the vowels. Hence, he would answer her with meaningless words, formed under this self-made rule. Hazrat Ummul Momineenra and the Promised Messiahas, who was also standing there, enjoyed those nonsensical answers with laughter. The Promised Messiahas even asked him for certain words himself.
In the same self conceived principle of changing Punjabi words to Urdu by elongating the word, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra said that the Promised Messiahas laughed a lot when he translated the word “kutta” (dog) to “kooota”. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, pp. 561-562, Narration 588)
The wife of Hazrat Dr Khalifa Rashidudinra narrates a beautiful incident of the Promised Messiahas with her young daughter. She narrates that once, she was visiting Qadian from Agra along with her daughter, Razia Begum, who was 4-years old at that time, and a helper who used to take care of her. While taking care of her, she would teach her some things as a joke. She narrates that once, the Promised Messiahas was walking in his courtyard and her daughter, who was wearing a tiny burqa, went and hugged the legs of the Promised Messiahas. The Promised Messiahas stopped right away. The young girl playfully made a crying face and said, “Please call us back soon.” The Promised Messiahas asked her where she was going. She replied that she was going to her in-laws. The Promised Messiahas started laughing and asked, “What will you do at your in-laws?” She replied, “I will eat halwa puri [a breakfast special]” and started running around the courtyard.
After she made a round around the courtyard, she returned back and hugged the feet of the Promised Messiahas. The Promised Messiahas jokingly asked her, “Have you returned from your in-laws? What was your mother-in-law doing?” She replied, “She was cooking roti [bread].” Huzooras asked, “What was your husband doing?” She replied, “He was eating the roti.” Huzooras asked her what she had eaten at her in-laws, to which she replied that she had eaten halwa puri.
The Promised Messiahas commented, “Her mother-in-law is very affectionate. She gave roti to her son and halwa puri to her daughter-in-law.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, pp. 238-239, Narration 1409)
Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahibra narrates an incident of the Promised Messiah’s kindness and humour with his helpers at home. He narrates that Hazrat Ummul Momineenra told him that once, an elderly caretaker named Bano was massaging the legs of the Promised Messiahas. It was extremely cold weather and she was massaging the legs of the Promised Messiahas from on top of his blanket. She did not realise, due to the heavy blanket, that instead of massaging his legs, she was pressing the bedpost.
After a while (probably to direct her attention towards this), the Promised Messiahas said to her, “Bhano! It is very cold today.”
On this, she replied, “Yes, indeed, that is why your legs are stiff like wood today.” The Promised Messiahas wanted to jokingly direct her attention towards her mistake, but instead, she took the joke to another level.(Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 722, Narration 780)
Refined humour as an instrument of spiritual training
The Promised Messiah’s process of educating and spiritual training was not harsh; rather, the Promised Messiahas would tell stories, parables and even use humour to guide the community around him.
Hazrat Fazl Begumra, wife of Hazrat Mirza Mahmud Baigra, narrates that she used to live in Qadian while her husband was living in Kasur. When he came to Qadian, he brought some shoes and melons from Kasur and sent them as a gift to the Promised Messiahas along with a letter in which he had written (in humility), “Huzoor, I do not have any skills but would like to wash the clothes of the Promised Messiahas.” She said that she was also sitting there, when the Promised Messiahas asked her, “Fazl, does Mirza Sahib [her husband] wash your clothes as well?” She replied, “Huzoor, he doesn’t even get his own glass of water at home!”.
The Promised Messiahas laughed and said, “He is asking to wash my clothes.”
In this lighthearted manner, the Promised Messiahas informed him about the reality of virtue and that charity begins at home. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 227, Narration 1380)
The Promised Messiahas also used humour to show the ridiculousness of the beliefs of the opponents of Ahmadiyyat.
Hazrat Mian Imamuddinra of Sekhwan narrates that the Promised Messiahas used to say that according to the opponents of Ahmadiyyat, when the Messiah would return and people would go to meet him at his house, they would be told that the Messiah was gone out to the jungle to kill swine. The people would be amazed as to what kind of Messiah this was who was hunting pigs instead of guiding people. Only such people could be happy with the coming of such a Messiah who were also fond of hunting and eating pigs. Muslims could never be pleased with such a Messiah.
Hazrat Mian Imamuddinra said that the Promised Messiahas would laugh while explaining this, to the extent that sometimes he would have tears in his eyes. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 809, Narration 946)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra narrates an amusing story told by the Promised Messiahas to highlight the natural differences among people and also to highlight that there are rules for everything. He writes that the Promised Messiahas used to say that once, some merchants were sitting in a bazaar discussing whether it was possible to eat 250 grams of sesame seeds. They considered this a herculean task. One of them said that if anyone could eat 250 grams of sesame seeds, he would give them five rupees as a reward.
A farmer was walking by them. When he heard that these merchants were offering five rupees for eating a mere 250 grams of sesame seeds, which he considered to be an easy feat, he thought that there must be some hidden conditions attached to this challenge. So, the farmer walked up to the merchants and said, “Shah ji, do the seeds have to be eaten with the packet they are in or without?” The farmer was used to eating a lot while the merchants could only digest a small piece of bread. When the merchant who had made the challenge heard the question, he replied, “Chaudhry Sahib! Please move on. We are talking about humans here.”(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 406)
Similarly, Hazrat Dr Mir Muhammad Ismailra narrates that the Promised Messiahas used to tell an amusing story of a Shia to highlight the point that once a person accepts the false Shia doctrines of enmity against the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa, eventually this leads to enmity of all Companionsra, even the Holy Prophetsa and Allah the Almighty.
The Promised Messiahas used to say that a Shia man, who had transgressed the bounds of justice, was on his deathbed and made a will to his children. He said:
“I want to make a will. If you remember this advice, you will maintain your faith. This advice is the essence of my life experience. The advice is that a person cannot be a true Shia unless he has just a tiny bit of animosity for Hazrat Hassanra as well.”
His relatives got alarmed at this statement. He continued:
“This is because if Hazrat Hassanra did not abdicate his Khilafat in favor of the Umayyads, the Shias would never have had to suffer. Hence, it is necessary to have just a tiny bit of animosity against him as well.”
He remained quiet for a bit and then proceeded to say:
“Even more so, one should have just a tiny bit of animosity for Hazrat Alira as well. He was the lion of Allah and the first Khalifa after the prophet according to his will and yet, Abu Bakr and Umar wrongfully took his right to Khilafat and he remained quiet and did not fight against them. If he had shown some courage at that time, the hypocrites would not have become victorious.”
After a small break, he continued:
“Let me tell you something even more important. A true Shia must have just a tiny bit of animosity against the Holy Prophetsa as well. If he had cleared the matter of the Khilafat of Alira after him and decided on the matter of Abu Bakrra and Umarra, then there wouldn’t have been any mischief and trials. It was also his fault that he did not expound on the issue.”
Then, he sat upright and said:
“I am now taking my last breaths. Come close so that you may hear me. If you are truly a Shia from the heart, then you must have just a tiny bit of animosity for Gabrielas as well. It was his fault that the revelation was sent towards Alira and he took it to the Holy Prophetsa. It does not matter whether he did it knowingly or by mistake.”
Then, he remained quiet for a short period. As his time of death was fast approaching, he whispered to his relatives to move even closer as he had one last thing to say. He then said:
“I want to tell you this last thing before I die. A person cannot be a true Shia unless he has just a little bit of animosity for God as well, for He could have easily resolved all this confusion and the right of Alira would never have been hijacked, nor would Hazrat Hussainra have been martyred.”
After saying these last words, he died.
The Promised Messiahas used to laugh while narrating this story and used to gesture with his finger to highlight the phrase, “just a little bit of animosity.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, pp. 568-570, Narration 603)
The above-mentioned narrations show a small glimpse of the cheerful nature and the refined sense of humour of the Promised Messiahas. These narrations show us that the Promised Messiahas had an extremely cheerful and unpretentious nature despite, rather because, of his high status, and the immense responsibility of preaching the true message of Islam to the entire world, and being ever-so-cognisant of the material and spiritual needs of a young and growing community.
His company would not be cumbersome upon his Companionsra; rather, he would remove all their sorrows through his smiling countenance and cheerful nature.
May Allah enable us to follow the example of the Promised Messiahas and remove difficulties and spread smiles to those around us. Amin.