These words of a waqif-e-zindagi, who has been serving the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat since 1956, are being exclusively published for the first time in Al Hakam.
We are all extremely grateful to him for sharing these precious memories and recording them for posterity. May Allah bless him with a long, healthy life and bestow His grace and mercy upon him.
May we adopt in ourselves the passion and dedication which Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra imbued in the young generation of his time, who have proven to be a great asset for the Jamaat and a credit to the remarkable example of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud, may Allah be eternally pleased with him.
I witnessed the time of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, albeit as a school, college and a Jamia student. Thus, whatever I narrate here will not be of the level of those who have stayed close to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra or worked with him.
I still feel fortunate, however, to have had the chance to sit in gatherings where Huzoorra would speak, to listen to Friday Sermons directly from him and also to sit close to Huzoorra in some ijtemas. But my narrations will still not match in anyway of those who stayed and worked closely with Huzoorra.
My observations and impressions about Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra from the viewpoint of a child and a young man can be summed up in only saying that Huzoor’s was a magnetic personality. Be it Friday Sermons, or speeches at Jalsa Salana, or even in day-to-day sittings, when Huzoorra spoke, his words would directly touch hearts. Whatever Huzoorra said would always be very inspirational. Whenever Huzoorra started to speak on a certain topic, I would anticipate that Huzoorra would now unearth every aspect of this topic and this is exactly what would happen each time.
Before I moved to Talim-ul-Islam High School in Rabwah for matriculation, I lived in Sargodah until 1949. I remember that it was a Friday and Huzoorra had come to Sargodha to deliver a lecture – I have confirmed with Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat department that it was 11 November. It was part of a series of lectures that Huzoorra was delivering in most of Pakistan’s cities on the theme of istehkam-e-Pakistan [strengthening Pakistan].
This lecture had been widely publicised and I remember going around putting up posters about this lecture, while our opponents followed us, peeling them off the walls. However, this lecture – held in Company Bagh with the permission of the local authorities – turned out to be very successful.
What left a deep impression on my mind as a child was that Huzoorra started this lecture at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and continued speaking for about two hours.
Huzoorra gave in-depth guidance to the government and the people of Pakistan, suggesting how the new-born state could be put on the tracks that led to progress and stability.
The lecture was also publicised through the noticeboard of our school. One of our senior teachers got very annoyed and ordered that the announcement be taken off immediately. But there were noble-hearted teachers also. When a student tried to mock Huzoorra in our class, our Arabic teacher told him off and reminded him of the Holy Prophet’s hadith that carried the instruction to show respect when a leader of a nation or a community visits.
On the day of the lecture, there was a hockey match being played in a playground adjacent to the venue. I noticed that the players purposely aimed their shots towards the gazebo where Huzoorra was stood speaking. They would then come to get the ball, go back and then repeat the same. It was quite obvious that they were trying to create mischief. They repeated this pattern a couple of times and I kept a close eye on what they were doing.
On one occasion, as a player came to fetch the ball, he did not return to the ground and stood in the audience and started listening to Huzoor’s lecture. Then, one by one, they all assembled in the Company Bagh and stood there listening to Huzoor’s insightful words. As they had their hockey-sticks with them, I remained a bit apprehensive as to what they might be up to. I was astonished to see how they all remained stunned and silent and became part of the large crowd that sat and listened to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra in pin-drop silence. I could visibly see that they were awe-stricken and fully immersed in Huzoor’s words.
The audience comprised of many dignitaries from local authorities and the government who all paid full attention to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s enlightening guidance on how to set Pakistan on the road of sustainable prosperity.
A statement of Huzoorra from that lecture that is still vivid and etched in my memory; it had moved all in those in attendance:
“Mere slogans of ‘Pakistan, zindabad’ are not going to work. It is hard work towards achieving this desire and following what I have said that will truly enable Pakistan to prosper and live long”.
Despite the various pangs of opposition that had been in the air during the days before the jalsa, the lecture was received very well by all. I too felt relieved that no mishap had happened and that all had gone well.
When the anti-Ahmadiyya agitation broke out in 1953, I was in college at Lahore. During the riots, we would sometimes have to stay at home as it was very unsafe for Ahmadis to be out and about. I was lucky to have become acquainted at that young age with Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s writings.
I remember very fondly reading Tafsir-e-Kabir, a copy of which my father had brought home even before it was cut and bound at the press; he was in such a rush to get hold of it that he later cut and bound it himself at home. In this volume, I read Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s commentary of Surah al-Kahf.
During these long spans of isolation, it reminded me of Surah al-Kahf as it seemed that the same restrictions were now upon Ahmadis. As a youth, I had gone on to even think that we might have to live like this for 300 years. But by Allah’s grace, it only turned out to be three days, before martial law was imposed in the Punjab and the riots faded away. However, it was in days of such despair and dismay that Huzoorra sent a message to the Jamaat, saying:
خدا میرى طرف دوڑا چلا آ رہا ہے
[God is running towards me!] This pumped so much energy and zeal in our hearts that we believed that nothing could harm us now. It was in this way that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’sra conviction in Allah’s succour would rub off on those who listened to him or even read his words.
When, in 1954, a judicial inquiry commission was set up to investigate the anti-Ahmadiyya riots of 1953, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was also summoned to give his statement before the commission. I would, with my friends, often go to listen to the proceedings of the court as it happened.
The day Huzoorra appeared before the commission, the proceeding took place in camera so everyone had to remain outside. It was still a good opportunity as we got to hear what the general public had to say about the situation.
15 January was a Friday and the centre for Lahore Jamaat was at Delhi Gate. Since Ahmadis had flocked to Lahore in large numbers to witness the proceedings, this Jumuah had to be held at Ratan Bagh.
With the riots still fresh in memory, this congregation at Ratan Bagh could be seen as an easy target by the mischievous opponents. I was deeply worried about Huzoor’s safety. Huzoorra might not even know about my existence in this world, but I was so deeply attached to him that my only concern was Huzoor’s safety – I am sure everyone felt so. All we could do was pray for his safety and security. The Lahore Jamaat had arranged for Huzoorra to deliver his sermon inside one of the rooms, while the huge congregation, owing to a lack of space indoors, had to remain in the open-air.
A rostrum, however, had been placed outdoors in the courtyard of Ratan Bagh; probably as part of the security strategy. The congregation also settled in a way as if the rostrum outside was the main pulpit from where Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was going to speak. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was in the room that had been arranged for the sermon, but as the time for the sermon drew nearer, Huzoorra left the room and walked out to the courtyard. I was watching very carefully and thought that Huzoorra had only stepped in to see that arrangements for the congregation outside are safe and secure.
My gaze followed Huzoorra and, to my and everyone else’s surprise, Huzoorra stepped upon the pulpit set outdoors and started to read his sermon. This is what I observed.
But I was later to be told by my elder brother – who happened to be in closer proximity to Huzoorra on that occasion – that Huzoorra, as he took to the rostrum outdoors, said, “Those who were closer have become distant and the distant have been drawn closer to me.”
The organisers, who had done their best to provide Huzoorra security by having him deliver the sermon from inside the room, rushed to get the microphone from inside and place it before Huzoorra, but Huzoorra continued delivering his sermon, unmoved and undeterred among his people in the open.
I remained alarmed as Huzoor’s pulpit was slightly raised and although the courtyard was walled, I had a feeling that his turban would be visible to the passers-by from the busy road outside. But while everyone there remained concerned for Huzoor’s security, the only person who seemed not to care for any possible mishap was Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra himself. He delivered the entire sermon very calmly and without the slightest hint of any worry. It was as if Allah the Almighty had informed him that nothing unwonted was going to happen.
Ever since that day, I have lived with the strong belief that Allah the Almighty instils such courage and valour in the hearts of his khulafa that fears and worries dare not even fly past them.
With reference to 1954, I remember that I was in my hostel in Lahore when the news of the attempt on Huzoor’s life reached us. All of us Ahmadi students naturally became extremely concerned.
What added to my concern was that I had always seen Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra to be very similar to Hazrat Umarra in many ways. Then the prophecy of Musleh-e-Maud also had the words “Fazl-e-Umar” and this too pointed to the parallels between Huzoorra and Hazrat Umarra. Since the attempt on Hazrat Umar’s life had resulted in his martyrdom, it shook me to my spine to even imagine what could possibly follow. My friends and I could only pray and so we did. As a young student, I remember that the best prayer I could think of was that “O Allah! You may fail me in my exams, but please save Huzoor!”
This is probably the best that a young student could offer in his innocence. I was so restless that I was happy to offer anything that could save Huzoor’s life. I walked restlessly up and down the road outside our hostel and I remember thinking that if Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was not going to live, what reason would there be for the rest of the world; if he was to die, then that was enough reason for qiyamat to happen and the world to come to its end.
However, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra recovered from this grave injury and resumed his routine. He also mentioned in a Jalsa Salana speech the “Fazl-e-Umar” aspect of the prophecy, saying, “I have many similarities with Hazrat Umarra, but the word ‘Fazl’ connotes that I was to be saved from the attempt on my life”.
So we are very fortunate to have learnt the meaning of this aspect of the prophecy of Musleh-e-Maud from Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra himself.
This attack had such a profound impact on me, as well as the rest of those who were alive in those times, that it shook the very core of my existence. I don’t know how I have narrated this whole episode today because whenever I have tried to talk about it, I always break down and can hardly begin to talk about it.
When I was in East Africa, in 1962, some non-Ahmadi friends brought up this topic and wanted to know the details. But from how I broke into tears, they realised that this was something I struggled to mention. I can only speak on my behalf, but I know that every Ahmadi who went through that episode had similar feelings. Such was the deep connection the Jamaat had with Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra.
Talim-ul-Islam College had moved from Lahore to Rabwah when I joined. I passed my BSc from this college. While I was in college, there was a students’ union as there usually is in colleges. The president of the union requested Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra to come to the college and address the students. I was not among the working body of the union who had written to Huzoorra, but the reply that came from Huzoorra was an eye-opener. Huzoorra had replied, “I do not want to even set foot in a college where students graduate and then go out hunting for worldly employment”.
This shook the organising committee of the union – that had written to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra – to their core. Six of them immediately presented themselves for waqf. They then started approaching other students urging them to follow suit. They came to me and started to persuade me to present myself for waqf also.
Without revealing the background to this order, they continued to do so and got a bit harsh. When I asked why they were pressurising me so much, their tone got even harsh and said, “You have to waqf yourself, or else you are a munafiq [hypocrite]!”
When it got to this, I said “If this is the case, I choose not to do what you say. You may go and do what you like.” So, having declared me a munafiq, they left.
But after this, it so happened that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra consistently urged Ahmadi youth to present themselves for the service of their faith through waqf. I would listen to Huzoor’s words and wonder whether I had rightly been declared a munafiq. I would think why, even after Huzoor’s repeated calls, I had not presented myself yet.
Having listened to Huzoor’sra sermons, I would leave the mosque with the intention of presenting myself for waqf. But as I walked on, this decision would start to fizz down gradually and fade out completely in the pleasant atmosphere of our college.
I remember we were in the physics lab performing an experiment when I mentioned to a friend the dilemma I had been facing. I said to him, “We have done Huzoor’s bai‘at but are not responding to his call for waqf.”
It took very little to convince him that we would present ourselves together for waqf. Glad that I now had a companion in this decision, I suggested that we write to our parents (who lived out of Rabwah) and inform them of our decision. My friend said that he would wait till summer break and discuss it in person when he went back home.
I did not want to leave it till then, so I wrote to my father the next day saying that my BSc exams were about to happen and that I wished to present myself in waqf after that. I requested that I would only do so if he readily allowed me. However, if he didn’t allow this happily, I might never live happily ever after.
My father replied very promptly saying that he was very happy that I had decided to present myself in waqf and that he had not had to persuade me to do so. Alongside this, he also wrote to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra that “my son will present himself for waqf; please accept his request”.
My brother told me that an application form was to be filled to present oneself for waqf. He arranged for the forms, which I started filling instantaneously. Among the many conditions that had to be agreed to, one said that “I will be bound to obey any order that I am given.” I became slightly reluctant to sign up for such a strict condition.
I thought to myself, “What is the most that can be asked? That I should sweep the streets of Rabwah? Would I be able to do so?” The reply that came from my heart was, “Yes, I will most certainly do so!”
With this, I signed off the form and my elder brother suggested that I present it directly to Huzoorra. He was in the Jamaat’s service and would have the opportunity to see Huzoorra in person. Having been granted time for an audience, both me and my brother went to Huzoor’s office.
I still remember how delighted Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was to see a young man standing before him and presenting himself for the service of the Jamaat. The day I had selected to present myself to Huzoorra was 20 February 1956 – with the fact in mind that it was Musleh-e-Maud Day.
The reason for describing the details of my waqf is to share the inspiration that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s words instilled in the hearts of those who listened to him. It was only through the inspiring words of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra that I decided to present my whole life before him, even if that meant becoming a sweeper in the streets of Rabwah.
I have mentioned the incident of Huzoor’s courage and bravery that I witnessed in Ratan Bagh, Lahore. I would like to mention another.
The door in the mihrab of Masjid Mubarak, Rabwah was not always there. There was a door on the side of the mihrab through which Huzoorra would enter and walk to the mihrab. I remember I would make it a point to sit close to the door so I could see Huzoorra as he walked in and out of the mosque.
But when the door in the mihrab was built, Huzoorra would walk through that door stepping straight into the mihrab. At the time of Huzoor’s entrance the windows on the western side of Masjid Mubarak would be shut and opened as soon as Huzoorra had entered. The same would be repeated upon Huzoor’s exit.
One day, as Huzoorra was about to leave, he heard the slamming and enquired what that sound was all about. Huzoorra was informed that it was from the windows that were shut upon Huzoor’s entry and exit and that it was for security reasons.
Huzoorra said, “Security arrangements are only good to a certain extent. Why do so much? Open the windows and let me know. I will stay here and wait to be informed that windows have been opened and only then will I leave!”
So Huzoorra stayed, waited and only left when he was informed that his instruction had been implemented. This incident goes to show Huzoor’s bravery and courage.
Most of the readers might have read Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s books, but the magnetic attraction of Huzoor’s voice cannot be imagined; one has to have heard it first-hand to know what I mean. Huzoor’s voice was extremely attractive and very majestic, so much so that I would often think how one could not accept Ahmadiyyat after listening to a voice so rich in conviction.
During Jalsa Salana, Huzoorra noticed that some people were outside the Jalsa Gah. Huzoorra said that there was enough space in the Jalsa Gah and that all those still outside should make their way in. Perhaps Huzoor’s order didn’t reach them so they continued to stay out as Huzoorra continued with his speech.
Then a message was conveyed to Huzoorra which he read and announced – he had been told that people outside the Jalsa Gah were non-Ahmadis who wanted to listen to Huzoor’s speech but did not want to come closer as they would be too spell-bound and would have no choice but to accept Ahmadiyyat. Such was the awe that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s words commanded when he spoke.
Even the audio recordings of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra cannot communicate the influence of his majestic voice. I have heard some audio clips played on MTA, but they are nowhere near the true feel of listening to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra first hand.
I once invited to Jalsa Salana a teacher of mine who had turned atheist. It was that day that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra delivered the famous speech of Sair-e-Ruhani, which is now more commonly known for the phrase that Huzoorra repeated with a lot of zeal and fervour:
اے آسمانى بادشاہت كے موسیقارو
[“O musicians of the Heavenly Kingdom”]. As my atheist guest listened to Huzoorra, I could see him sink in awe and admiration. As we left the Jalsa Gah of the speech, he said, “Having listened to Mirza Sahib, I have come to feel that there must be a God.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra would start his Jalsa speech after combining Asr with Zuhr and would usually speak until Isha time. Such long speeches would he deliver! I can speak only for myself, but I know for sure that no one felt tired or bored of listening to such long speeches. I can remember the speech coming to its end and the audience still longing for more, as if it was only just a short speech.
Then I remember when we were in Jamia, Huzoorra asked Maulana Abul Ata Sahib – who was the principal – if he had ever taken us for a picnic on the riverside. Maulana Sahib arranged a picnic the next day and invited Huzoorra also. Huzoorra blessed our picnic with his presence and talked to us on various matters.
Usman Chou Sahib was with us in Jamia and was also present in this blessed company. A student told a joke about how newly born Chinese babies are named. He said that water is spilled on a red hot iron rod and whatever sound is produced, is given to the baby as its name.
A little later, Usman Chou Sahib performed some acrobatics that he had full command on. He would hang upside-down from branches, walk on his hands and perform many other moves. Upon seeing this, Huzoorra said, “Where is the boy who told the joke about Chinese names. He should come and show if he can beat this.” Such was the beauty of the character of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra.
There are many more memories but I will leave them for some other time.
I was only 29 when Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra passed away. I have very fond memories that make me feel humbled and privileged to have seen him, to have shaken his hand and to have heard him speak. May Allah bless his soul!
(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu)