Recollections of Hazrat Syeda Bushra Begum (Mehr Apa)
Hazrat Syeda Bushra Begum (1919-1997)
Interest in Homeopathy
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra had a lot of interest in homoeopathy. His cabinets were always full of countless homoeopathic medicines. Apart from his family, the public also used to consult him and take medicines whenever needed. It was a routine practice for people to come to him for medicine whenever they needed it, whether it was warm or cold, day or night. People used to go to such extremes that they never bothered if it was time for him to rest, that he might be busy with Jamaat work, or if it was time for dinner. They used to come and take medicine from him without any hesitation or distinction. Sometimes, they would even come at night, around 12 or 1am, on hot summer days. In such heat, I personally think that it was a very difficult task to go inside the house and take out medicines from the cabinets and prepare them. I used to get irritated at times with the thought that he might damage his health, but I observed that despite the stress and illness, he would immediately get ready for them and prepare the medicine with his own hands. He would occasionally leave halfway through dinner to administer medicine. Many times, he had to get up in the middle of the night. I would at times feel bad, but he used to sacrifice his sleep without a frown, spoil his appetite, and always fulfil the needs of the patient there and then. The spirit of compassion and doing good for all of humanity was working within him. He remedied them spiritually and physically at the same time. After prescribing the medicine, he would inquire about such patients, “After taking such and such [homoeopathic] medicine, how is their condition now?”
A patient who had common pimples on her body used to say that she had undergone many treatments but there was no improvement, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra probably treated her only for a week, and she was cured by the grace of God. There was another patient who was suffering from severe kidney stones, and despite continuous treatment by a doctor, his condition was getting worse by the day. Finally, the doctor recommended he have surgery. That patient came to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and requested that he prescribe a [homoeopathic] medicine and also requested him to pray. Huzoorra gave him medicine, prescribed some mandatory diet, and started praying for him. By the grace of God, the patient was cured after only one month of treatment. Up to the present time, he is in perfect health by the grace of God.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra used to advise us, “If you people will develop within yourselves a true spirit of serving and doing good to humanity, then you will not even care about your comforts or warm and cold weather. You should love the creation of Allah the Almighty, He will love you.”
Showing mercy to a staunch opponent of the Jamaat
There was a famous person who had spent his entire life in opposition to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. In his speeches and writings, he did not let any moment slip to show opposition or hostility. Once, we went to spend some time in Murree. Coincidentally, that very person was bedridden in Murree during those days. Firstly, he was very old, and secondly, he had serious ailments. As soon as Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra heard about his condition, he immediately sent for a doctor to attend to him and even sent him food that was suitable for a sick person. Then, he said to the doctor, “You too, if he likes, prescribe any suitable medicine for him.” Moreover, he would repeatedly express grief about his helpless state.
Behaviour towards family
After a snowfall in Dalhousie, we went out for some enjoyment in the company of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. I asked him, “Let’s have a race to see who comes out on top.” Consequently, the three of us (he, me, and Choti Apa) had a race. I went ahead of everyone, and he came second. We all laughed and really enjoyed it.
After the partition, we went on a trip to Sindh. There, we went to the orchard (in Nasirabad) for a walk. This orchard is spread over a large area and is densely covered on all sides. During the walk, I asked him to have a race on the grass. He smiled and then got ready to run with me. This time, I ended up four or five yards behind him. He laughed and said, “There you go – now don’t feel sad about it. This is the revenge of the ‘Dalhousie Snow Race’. You won that day, but I have won today.” When we reached home, he told everyone, “Today, she lost in the race.”
Once, I had throat surgery. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra had a strange nervousness. Before going to Lahore [for surgery], he sacrificed three goats for charity in my house. I was wondering why he was so worried about such a minor surgery. He even wrote to my father for prayer and called for him through a telegram. I smiled and told him that I could not see any cause for concern over such a trivial surgery. He replied, “You do not understand. These are the same days on which Umm-e-Tahir’s (Hazrat Phuphi Jan’s) surgery took place, and it is the same hospital. I am satisfied after praying and giving charity, yet still, I feel some temporary concern.” While I was in the hospital, he stayed in Lahore and kept visiting me.
After my recovery, he had planned to visit Sindh. There is sand throughout the journey to Sindh. Consequently, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra took me in an air-conditioned train carriage because of the dirt and dust on the way. Then, we had to go from the station to our residence in bullock carts. I said to him, “You arranged the air-conditioned carriage so that dust would not affect my throat, but now, there will be dirt and sand all the way.” He replied, “I will do something about it.” The bullock carts were covered with curtains, and there were also thick sheets on their roofs. Moreover, he took out a handkerchief from his pocket, soaked it in water, and gave it to me to put on my nose. Then he handed me a wet towel to keep the dust at bay.
Once in Qadian, Amatul Jamil, [daughter of Hazrat Umm-e-Tahir], fell seriously ill. Looking after her and staying awake day and night for three consecutive days, my health deteriorated. Someone went to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and told him about me, “While taking care of her [Amatul Jamil], she has exhausted herself to the extent that even her eyes are swollen now.” After a while, I saw him come running towards me. While leaving his office, he also instructed me to call the nurse on the phone, and as soon as he reached me, he told me, “Why didn’t you inform me? Along with caring for the sick, we need you to be healthy as well.” Thereafter, when the nurse arrived, he appointed her to look after Amatul Jamil and gave her strict orders not to let me come out of my room. He left me in my room with the instruction, “You must try to sleep, and don’t you even think of leaving the room until the evening.” Then, after short intervals, he kept asking the nurse about me and whether I slept or not. Then, he came to me with a homoeopathic medicine to help me sleep and gave it to me after praying.
Amatul Jamil was a very young girl when Hazrat Phuphi Jan [Umm-e-Tahir] passed away. She was attached to me to such an extent that she wouldn’t even sleep without me. Once, when she was sleeping with me as usual, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra came to my house and said, “Now, you should make Jamil sleep on a separate bed. Sleeping in the same bed is not healthy for both of you. Moreover, Jamil’s self-confidence should also be developed. It will have an emotional impact on both of you at first, so keep Jamil’s charpoy close to you. She will then gradually get used to it.”
I once got a fever in the middle of summer. One day, my temperature reached 105 °F, and I began to experience delirium. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra somehow found out about it. In that scorching heat, he quickly came upstairs to me. Then, he went down in such a panic that he didn’t even wear his slippers and didn’t care about the heat. He called the doctor and did not leave me until the fever subsided with cold compresses, etc. In the meantime, he intermittently gave me homoeopathic medicine to me with his own hands. When I regained consciousness, he said, “O pure soul! You should have at least informed me about your illness.” Then, he said to my mother, “If she didn’t inform me, you should have reported it to me.”
Since I was a child, I could not stand the heat. When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra was healthy, the nature of his work was quite different. Just as he was occupied with the work of the Jamaat, we would also be busy with him. This busyness would continue from morning until noon. We had to repeatedly go from the entrance to the door of his office for messages and mail. In those days, we had just moved to Qasr-e-Imamat. I developed a fever due to the intensity of the heat during those continuous work cycles. During those days, he ordered the installation of a roof on the passageway from the entrance to the door of his office.
Despite the 24-hour work of the Jamaat, poor health and countless responsibilities, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra would help his wives with the housework whenever he got the chance. Whether we liked it or not, he would always lend a helping hand.
It was one of the summer days. Around one or two o’clock in the night, it suddenly started raining. The downpour was very heavy. We got up somehow and started packing things. I insisted to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra that, “You should quickly go to your room and I will bring the blankets, etc.” However, he asserted that he would help me do all the work. I thought that he might get hurt in the process, so I should ring the downstairs bell and call a maid for help. But he said, “No, the servants must be sleeping at this time of night. Let them rest. I will work with you.” I was afraid that he might slip somewhere in the mud. He also had an issue with gout, and I was afraid that if, God forbid, he slipped, he might fracture his foot. However, he didn’t agree. He picked up the blankets and bedsheets with me. We were soaked from head to toe. There was so much mud on the roof that we eventually reached the room by supporting each other. After this incident, a floor was installed on the rooftop. Furthermore, he ordered the construction of a shed.
When Hazrat Bari Apa Jan (Hazrat Umm-e-Nasir) and Hazrat Apa (Umm-e-Waseem) were bedridden, and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra also fell sick simultaneously, we (me and Choti Apa) were instructed to go and take care of them on his behalf. We were advised to check on their health, give them medicine, and make arrangements for their diet and food.
Absolute faith in the victory of Islam Ahmadiyyat and the success of Pakistan
Often, I strongly wished that, just as Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra used to visit me on the day of my turn in Qadian, a day would come when he would be in full health and visit our homes in the same way. This wish was fulfilled during his illness and war. He stayed with me in my house for almost two months. Despite the war, the whole atmosphere of my home changed. There were blessings and smiles all around. There was a kind of spiritual joy. We were not feeling the effects of the war. During that time, I had the opportunity to request a lot of prayers from him. I asked him to pray for the victory of Islam, the dominance of Ahmadiyyat, general prayers for the Jamaat, and prayers for all the waqifeen [life devotees]. Moreover, I reminded him to especially pray for the plight of Kashmiris and again for the victory of Pakistan in that war.
One day, the war news was very disturbing. I explained all the circumstances and asked for prayers, so Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said, “Bear in mind, Islam Ahmadiyyat will eventually prevail.”
After that, whenever we would receive alarming war reports, I used to request Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra for prayers. On such days, I would sometimes request him over and over again. Every time, he would answer with absolute trust in God and say, “(If Allah wills), we will be victorious.” And when I would say that our Pakistan was apparently weak in terms of strength and power, and the enemy was armed to the teeth, he would say, “This is absolutely true, but it does not hold any significance in front of the Power of my God.”
Once, the building started shaking due to repeated bombings at night. As he was resting, when he suddenly woke up from a deep sleep due to the bombing, he said to me, “Has there been an earthquake?” I, who was sitting next to him because of his illness, answered, “No, the enemy is bombing us.” His face lit up. After a while of silence, he laughed and said with full faith that “(If Allah wills), we will be victorious. […] They can’t harm us.” Saying this, he went back to sleep with complete satisfaction.
From the beginning of the war to the end, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra repeatedly said these words through his blessed mouth: “[…] We will be victorious. No matter how proud the enemy is of its strength, they will eventually be humiliated.”
It is a great blessing and reward from God Almighty that, in those two months or so, by His grace, I had the opportunity to request his prayers without exception. I truly believe that Allah the Almighty will surely accept those prayers.
When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra laid the foundations of his children’s houses, he prayed, “O Allah! I am going to lay the foundations of these houses. May these houses become the centre of your religion.” He repeated this prayer again and again, and I heard it with my own ears. He then besought other prayers as well.
Conduct towards domestic workers
When we planned to have a picnic in Dhore (Sindh), Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra clearly instructed us, “Today, all of you plan to have fun in Dhore. Tomorrow, you must send all the workers to the same place and let them have a picnic. They should be given a full day off. In their stead, all of you should take care of the cooking together.”
Hence, it was Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II’sra common practice that whenever he would go out for an excursion, he used to arrange for the recreation of his workers as well. In the exact same manner, vehicles, jeeps, bullock carts, etc., would be arranged for the workers. Moreover, the same equipment and the same preparations would be made for their enjoyment. All the food items were prepared according to the liking of those workers.
(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 26 March 1966 issue of Al Fazl)