Recollections of Hazrat Syeda Bushra Begum (Mehr Apa)
Hazrat Syeda Bushra Begum (1919-1997)
Hazrat Syeda Bushra Begum (Mehr Apa) was born in 1919 to Hazrat Syed Azizullah Shahra, son of Hazrat Dr Syed Abdus Sattar Shahra. After the demise of Hazrat Syeda Umm-e-Tahir (ra), Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra wanted someone to take care of their children. Consequently, after heartfelt prayers and divine guidance, the marriage between Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and Hazrat Syeda Bushra Begum took place. In light of a vision of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, she was named “Mehr Apa”.
In 1944, besides matriculation, Hazrat Mehr Apa studied theology for some time and then got her FA (Fine Arts’) degree. She then got admission to a BA (Bachelor of Arts) programme, but gave up her education to take care of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra during his illness.
In Lajna Imaillah, Hazrat Mehr Apa served as the General Secretary, Secretary Khidmat-e-Khalq and Secretary Tarbiyat-o-Islah. From 1966 to 1990, she also served as Naib Sadr Lajna Imaillah Markziyyah.
Hazrat Mehr Apa was blessed to have dedicated all her property in the way of Allah. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh gave a huge sum of money from her donation for the construction of 100 mosques in Germany.
After a long illness, Hazrat Mehr Apa passed away on 22 May 1997. (Editor, Al Hakam)
It is not at all possible for me to shed light on the blessed life of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and to express something in the truest sense. Whatever I will say cannot even be a tenth of what was his true character. Given the circumstances, this effort of mine is only to honour the sincere wish of an elder.
Few examples of acceptance of prayers
I did not know the true meaning of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra being mustajab-ud-da‘waat [a person whose prayers are accepted by God Almighty]. I truly understood its meaning when I witnessed the phenomenon of his being mustajab-ud-da‘waat with my own eyes and observed it. I will now present a few examples.
Everyone knows about the situation before the partition; it was a very dangerous time and we had to face harsh conditions. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra was in a state of great distress during those days. He did not care about worldly possessions. He was also not overly worried about his wife and children. His only concern was that the Indian partition should not become a hindrance to the advancement of Islam Ahmadiyyat and the religious paths should not be blocked. Although he knew very well that the path he had taken was surely the way of Allah the Almighty, trials are also part of it. He used to pray day and night and sometimes, I saw him prostrating and sobbing for hours. From time to time, he received glad tidings regarding those conditions, but still, there was a state of anxiety and concern.
When his health was good, he used to work all day long alone in his office. He would come home at night or at mealtimes.
During one of those tense days of partition, he came to me in the evening. His eyes were red and swollen. He had a slight quaver in his voice, yet he was fully in control of himself. He said to me, “Tomorrow is Eid, I might forget to give you all the ‘eidi’ [a gift given on Eid] as I am overly occupied with work. Moreover, I am very worried about the current situation. However, God Almighty has heard my prayer by His grace. I was in a state of prostration when I received this good news from God Almighty and I have full faith in it. But still, there is a great need for prayers and you should also pray fervently. May Allah the Almighty keep the paths of tabligh [preaching] open at all times.”
I wrote down the glad tiding he had received and waited for its fulfilment. Today, everyone is witnessing how that prayer and its answer [by God Almighty], which contained the good news, was fulfilled with grandeur and sublimity. [We saw] how, after migrating from Qadian, all the Jamaat gathered under one flag and [witnessed] the glory with which the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat reached the corners of the world. [We observed] how those who yearned for truth came in droves to this second markaz [centre] of Ahmadiyyat [i.e. Rabwah].
Another incident is from the recent past, which is also proof of his being mustajab-ud-da‘waat [i.e. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra]. After the partition, we faced severe difficulties. When Mian Nasir Ahmad Sahib (Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh) and Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra were imprisoned simply because of the enmity against the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, it was only natural for him to be disturbed. Beyond any doubt, he was perfectly content that the only crime of his son and brother was that they believed in the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas].
It was scorching summer days and that too in Rabwah. At the time of the Isha prayer, we were in the courtyard as usual. Despite being on the top floor, there was no drop in the intensity of the heat. We were having dinner together. In the meantime, he expressed discomfort due to the intensity of the heat. I promptly said, “I don’t know what will be the state of Nasir (Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh) and Mian Sahib (Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra) in this heat. God knows whether they have any facilities there (in jail) or not.” Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said:
“May Allah have mercy on them. They are guilty of no crime. Thus, I have full faith in my God that He will soon bless them [with freedom].”
After that, I observed that the appearance of his face changed and he stood up for Isha prayer. I cannot forget the scene of that impassioned prayer. I cannot express that state in writing as to what my eyes witnessed at that time. He was anxious and writhing in his prayer. It was also a demonstration of perfect faith [in God]. It also had blandishments and praise [for Allah the Almighty]. I saw the same spectacle again at the time of Tahajjud prayer. At that time, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra made supplications in a loud voice with great reverence and compassion. It seemed to me that the whole atmosphere was pleasant, and his heartfelt tears instilled such trust in me that I instantly said, “This prayer will not go in vain. Surely, Allah the Almighty will give us the good news with the dawn of the day.” This prayer of his appeared so loud in the silence of the night that I thought that his voice must have reached our children’s houses in the neighbourhood.
Consequently, when the day dawned and the mail came, the first telegram that was received carried the good news that Hazrat Mian Sahib and Mian Nasir Ahmad Sahib (Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh) had been released.
In a very short time, my God showed me the miracle of the acceptance of prayer. The foolish opponent was happy that they were somehow able to attack his honour by using their tactics. However, when Mansour Hallaj was hanged, he attained such a high rank that his enemies were defeated forever.
First letter of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra
The first letter of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra which he wrote to me after our nikah consisted of various pieces of advice and guidance. The first advice he gave was:
“Soldiers’ wives lead a simple life. If your parents, compelled by your love and compassion, spend extravagantly in preparing for your rukhstanah [formal departure of the bride from her parents’ to the bridegroom’s home] and go to such an extent in the preparation of dowry and other things that they become burdened, then you should not allow them to do so. If they do that, then you should politely refuse to accept that dowry, except that which is conveniently available at home. It occurred to me that perhaps, while considering to honour me, they would make the preparations of your departure a matter of trouble for themselves. Thus, take care of it, as God does not like this [extravagance].”
Today, in the present era, we observe in society that certain instances are against it [i.e., the advice of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra], and they must be addressed.
Respect for God’s worship
Once, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra took us to Rajpura (Qadian) for a picnic. We enjoyed the river, green fields, hunting, etc. He personally taught us how to target the prey by taking us with him. As long as we stayed for the picnic, he not only looked after his family, but also took care of the workers to the extent that he would pick up food and drinks with his own hands and give it to them. At the same time, he advised us to take special care of the workers and give them complete freedom so that they could also enjoy the picnic like us.
After boating, hunting and shooting, it was time for salat. He stood with the men at some distance from us to lead them in prayer. Since there was no arrangement for purdah, we started praying separately in the green fields. When we finished the prayer, we did not pay attention to the fact that the men were still praying, […] and the other thing was that there was a considerable distance between us and them. We laughed at something and the sound of laughter reached Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. After performing salat, he came to us and expressed such displeasure with our action that he remained reserved from us for at least two hours. When his displeasure subsided, I said, “At least I won’t come again for the picnic. What’s the point if, after all the enjoyment of the day, there is such a grudge at the end? Intentionally or not, you got hurt.” At this, he laughed and said, “Time and again, you will come for a picnic with me and I will often take you people for sightseeing, but where there is a question of [God’s] worship, its respect is above all else. Where there is a question of religion and Islam Ahmadiyyat, then the best thing is to show perfect seriousness and respect for it. Their importance and honour will prevail over all other things. This kind of negligence is really unbearable for me.”
One item of food at mealtimes under Tehrik-e-Jadid
This incident happened at Dalhousie. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra came to eat at the dinner table. After a while, I saw that he quietly went to his room without eating. I could not understand the reason for his displeasure. Everyone was surprised that, as he would be starving all day and had so much work to do, he might get fatigued. Finally, upon my query, Hazrat Bari Apa (Ami Jan) told me that he went to his room and sent a note saying, “I have instructed [the whole Jamaat] under Tehrik-e-Jadid to have only one item of food on the dinner table. Today, I saw three dishes instead of one. Why did this happen? I will not have dinner.”
The fact of the matter was that we used to keep only one item of food on the table after this tehrik. However, sometimes its flavour was not of his liking. There might be something lacking in it, i.e., salt, pepper, etc., or it may be over or undercooked. Consequently, we would prepare two food items for him instead of one, thinking that if he did not like the first one, we would serve the other one. The goal was to ensure he is able to eat something. We used to worry that if he didn’t like the food, he might not eat at all. He was so strict about following the scheme of Tehrik-e-Jadid that he did not even allow us to prepare another meal for him. Later on, his condition became such that we had to prepare more than one food item because the health of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra was getting weaker by the day. We had to prepare food prescribed for his diet regimen and it would be more than one item.
(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 26 March 1966 issue of Al Fazl)