Abdul Hadi Masood, Missionary, UK
As the second Khalifa and the Promised Son of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra provided invaluable advice to Ahmadi muballigheen (missionaries) during his time. His profound guidance is compiled in a book titled Zarreen Hidayat Baraye Muballigheen, which translates to “Valuable Guidance for Missionaries.”
In this article, I will be compiling twenty further pieces of advice from the next hundred pages, which, although originally directed towards missionaries, carry valuable insights that can be universally beneficial, because the work of tabligh and tarbiyat is a shared responsibility of every Ahmadi.
1. Excellent morals are a mighty sword
Advice: Morals are a mighty sword; faith without morals is futile.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, underscoring the significance of moral values, expressed, “From my perspective, the decline of Islam stemmed from a decline in morals. This led to discord within the religion, ultimately resulting in the loss of temporal authority. Therefore, steadfastly adhere to moral principles. No sword is as impactful as the sword of morals. Even opponents acknowledge its influence, and among our own people it fosters unwavering strength, elevating their spirit and aspirations.” (Zarreen Hidayat Baraye Muballigheen, p. 103)
2. Read Jamaat’s central publications
Advice: Study the central newspapers, as they keep you connected to the centre and renew your faith.
Huzoorra, emphasising the importance of continually expanding knowledge through Jamaat’s literature, also stressed the significance of staying connected to the central headquarters through the central newspaper. He stated, “Any newspaper from Qadian that contains matters related to the Markaz and the Jamaat should be studied, as it renews your faith. Also give this advice to the people you are preaching to.” (Ibid., p. 104).
3. Sloth: soul’s nemesis
Advice: Guard against laziness, for it affects the soul. Engage in regular training of any kind.
Huzoorra emphasised, “A person should never be lazy; they must always stay active, and for that, some kind of exercise should be undertaken. For example, walking, etc. It has a deep connection to the soul. The Prophets never succumb to laziness.” (Ibid., pp. 105-106).
4. A facade of humility
Advice: Everyone is humble at the inception of a task but remember to stay humble even after success, attributing your achievements to God Almighty, not yourself.
Huzoorra states, “Everyone tends to think this way at the inception of a task, including atheists who admit their weakness and inability to carry out the endeavour. However, as the task concludes and retirement draws near, if one still harbours the same thoughts, emotions, and sentiments, that is indeed a source of happiness. But if they no longer possess these thoughts and that is the case for most individuals, then it becomes evident that the initial expressions were merely a facade, intended to deceive the world and portray themselves as superior than before.”
Huzoorra elaborates further, “Regrettably, there are individuals in our Jamaat who claim that all our endeavours are for the sake of God, and whatever transpires, unfolds with the blessings of God – that they themselves are not capable of carrying out such works. When they express this sentiment, they genuinely perceive themselves in this manner. Consequently, they may achieve some feats because, witnessing their humility, God aids them, and the world observes a significant transformation brought about through them. But when success comes, and it comes as a result of their humility and God’s blessings, at that moment, they fail to recall the initial acknowledgement of their incapability at the start of the task. In reality, they were incapable, yet they look back and proudly claim ownership of their achievements, forgetting the earlier sincere admission of their limitations. It was precisely that humble recognition of incapability that paved the way for success.” (Ibid., pp. 111-112)
5. Heartfelt devotion
Advice: Inculcate such love in the people that their philosophical faith transcends into a heartfelt devotion.
Huzoorra states, “Remember, no nation can remain united unless the bond that binds them is robust. Therefore, the narratives of the benevolence of the Promised Messiahas and the tribulations he endured for the betterment of the world should be retold. By reiterating these incidents, one should strengthen their love for the Promised Messiahas and the Jamaat in their hearts to such an extent that it transcends mere philosophical faith and transforms into sincere faith. Such faith is indispensable for salvation.” (Ibid., p. 118)
6. The deceitful side of compassion
Advice: Be cautious of the deceptive nature of compassion because both, a believer and a non-believer can show it. A non-believer’s display of it may create a false perception of faith, while a faithful person’s discreet compassion might be overlooked. Always show compassion with your actions.
Huzoorra states, “Carefully remember that there is no faith without compassion, but ‘compassion’ without faith may be possible. Hence, a missionary treads a very delicate path. Without compassion, he risks losing faith, and a non-believer may be counted among the believers solely due to his compassion, causing double harm. He not only loses faith himself but also leads others astray because people observe his actions and consider him faithless. On the other hand, they might regard a person of another faith a believer due to his evident compassion. Therefore, it is imperative for the missionary to embody profound compassion – not merely in name but also in action. His words, actions, and even his eyes should radiate compassion.” (Ibid., p. 124)
7. A Satanic thought
Advice: It is wrong to think that your faith is only between you and God. Express your faith through meaningful actions, as certain attributes have been made to be showcased for the betterment of the world.
Following the aforementioned guidance, Huzoorra emphasised, “Do not assume that this is merely between you and God, and that He knows your intentions. Undoubtedly, God knows your intentions, yet Almighty God has endowed certain attributes in humans that, unless displayed, are of no benefit to others. If people cannot benefit from these qualities, then what purpose do they serve? This is a Satanic notion. As showing off is a sin, neglecting to exhibit these attributes through your actions, speech, and demeanour is also a sin. Concealing them can detrimentally impact the world, or it deprives the world of genuine love and conciliation.” (Ibid., p. 124)
8. Another Satanic thought
Advice: Never deem yourself incapable of achieving something.
Huzoorra states, “Never entertain the thought that such and such attributes are beyond your reach. There is not a single virtue, necessary for mankind, that they cannot acquire. While there may be varying levels, every quality exists within humans, and improvement is achievable through effort. Considering oneself incapable is a Satanic notion designed to distance individuals from virtue.” (Ibid., p. 124)
9. Truth in considerate shades
Advice: Embrace honesty as a guiding principle in all aspects of life, while simultaneously recognising the importance of thoughtful deliberation in the disclosure of each truth.
Huzoorra emphasised, “Remember that truthfulness is a virtue, which can’t be a bad deed. However, bear in mind that not every truth needs to be disclosed. Describing an individual with a walking disability as ‘disabled’ is truthful, but revealing this truth is a sin. There exists a distinction between lying and revealing every truth. It is not obligatory to disclose the truth, especially when its revelation doesn’t serve the betterment of the religion and instead harms the sentiments of others. In fact, it becomes a sinful act.” (Ibid., p. 125)
10. Suffering for God’s sake
Advice: Embrace beatings for God’s sake, respond with patience, and witness divine assistance.
Huzoorra recounts the story of a gatekeeper serving a Russian king. One day, the king instructed him not to allow anyone inside. A man of high rank approached, but the gatekeeper, obedient to the king’s command, denied him entry. The man, a duke, questioned the gatekeeper, who acknowledged recognising his status but continued to adhere to the king’s orders. The duke resorted to physically assaulting the gatekeeper, who endured the beatings steadfastly. This repeated several times until the king intervened, inquiring about the commotion.
Upon learning of the situation, the king asked the gatekeeper if he knew the duke, and, upon confirmation, questioned why he obstructed the duke’s entry. The gatekeeper reiterated his commitment to the king’s command. The king then asked the duke if he was informed about the king’s directive, to which the duke affirmed. In response, the king ordered the gatekeeper to strike the duke. However, the duke objected, claiming that someone of the gatekeeper’s low rank couldn’t strike him. To address this, the king elevated the gatekeeper’s rank until it matched that of the duke, enabling him to deliver the punishment.
Huzoorra concludes, “If a gatekeeper, by obediently following God’s command and enduring beatings, could ascend from his position to become a ruler and commander, then will God not reward us when we endure suffering for His sake, refusing to retaliate against our enemies? Certainly, He will reward us. Therefore, endure the beatings and pray for those who inflict the pain.” (Ibid., pp. 130-131)
11. Holding your ground
Advice: Stay encouraged, even if your words echo unheard. Change takes time, and countless transformations speak to the power of persistence.
Huzoorra states, “As you embark on tabligh [preaching], keep in mind that the opponents are greater in number, i.e., we are one in hundred as compared to them. They will behave harshly with us as we are going to their homes. They will repeatedly express their unwillingness to listen, insisting that your words hold no sway over them. However, a believer does not succumb to such responses. If the opinions of irreligious and misguided people held any value, the Holy Prophetsa would have ceased preaching and chosen to stay at home on the day he was appointed.” (Ibid., p. 136)
12. Love vs philosophy
Advice: Remember, a single act of love holds more power than a thousand arguments.
Huzoorra states, “Discard the philosophical attitude. Let the heart brim with good intentions, and let the tongue be adorned with love and good manners. A single word infused with love can wield more impact than a thousand arguments. A child embraces Hinduism upon parental command, driven by the love in his heart for them, reciprocated by the love his parents hold for him. Yet, you can present countless arguments to disprove Hinduism; he will remain un-swayed.” (Ibid., pp. 139-140)
On another occasion, Huzoorra advises missionaries to exercise great care in their behaviour and interactions with people of other faiths. He states, “Be cautious in your eating, drinking, and clothing choices, avoiding anything that may cause them discomfort. Feel free to do as you wish in private, but refrain from actions in their presence that might hurt their feelings. Such behaviour not only undermines your own efforts but is also morally objectionable.” (Ibid., p. 149)
13. The stepwise nature of human progress
Advice: Recognise and appreciate the step-by-step nature of human progress. Don’t expect people to change overnight. Also, don’t delay your work unnecessarily; take one step after another.
Huzoorra advised, “Every transformation occurs gradually. Do not expect individuals to become devout Muslims in a single day. Those who embrace Islam will progressively strengthen their faith. Therefore, avoid overwhelming them; they will naturally progress in 3-4 months. Start by instilling the love of Islam within them and formally making them Muslims, but do not withhold any teachings of Islam, as it may pose difficulties for them later on or lead to the creation of a new religion.” (Ibid., p. 149)
Explaining this concept further, Huzoorra elaborated, “I have consistently offered the advice to proceed with caution. This doesn’t imply taking months or years to complete a task but rather advancing step by step. Once you have a solid foothold, delaying the next step is a waste of time and harms your work. If the task requires hours, complete it in hours; if it takes minutes, accomplish it in minutes. Just keep in mind that the pace shouldn’t be so fast that it harms the work or negatively impacts future tasks.” (Ibid., p. 151)
14. Strategic preaching
Advice: Engage in debates only if you have been designated for that purpose. Focus on preaching one-to-one.
Huzoorra advises, “If you find the opportunity to preach to the old Hindus during that time, seize that opportunity. However, debates should be the domain of those specifically chosen; others should refrain and instead concentrate on one-to-one preaching.” (Ibid., p. 151)
15. Renewing commitment
Advice: Consistently revisit the oath you’ve taken and the guidance received from Khalifa-tul-Masih to strengthen your commitment.
Huzoorra states, “Keep that oath in front of you, whether it be the one you took on my hand during bai‘at or the one at this occasion. Read those guidances repeatedly, and act upon them without any distinction. May Allah be your Helper.” (Ibid., p. 153)
16. From glad tiding to warning
Advice: Recognize that the misuse of anything can have a negative impact. Approach the advice not for amusement but with the intention to earnestly act upon it.
Huzoorra advised, “Similarly, the Holy Prophetsa was a bearer of glad tidings, but for whom? For those who accepted him. But for Abu Jahl, he wasn’t a glad tiding; for him, he was a warner. Thus, only advice that proves beneficial is the one put into practice. Sadly, most people read advice merely for amusement without reflecting on it. It is essential for them to contemplate how they can incorporate these pieces of advice into their day-to-day lives.” (Ibid., p. 156)
17. Newton’s discovery
Advice: Treasure every piece of guidance from Khalifatul Masih, whether it appears significant or trivial to you. Some things may seem insignificant, but upon deeper reflection, you’ll realise their immense importance and the profound impact they can have.
Huzoorra remarked, “There are numerous small things with immense importance and significant impact. In my childhood, I used to question why Newton’s discovery was considered such a noteworthy achievement. Newton unravelled the mysteries of gravity. While sitting in the garden, observing an apple fall from a branch, he contemplated why it descended rather than ascending. This curiosity led to the discovery of gravity. As I grew older and understood how this revelation expanded knowledge exponentially, I came to appreciate Newton’s contribution. This discovery has multiplied our understanding a thousandfold. Reflect on how a seemingly small occurrence had such a colossal impact.” (Ibid., p. 156)
In another instance, Huzoorra advised, “These guidelines are presented to you with the intention that you read each of them thoroughly. Avoid distinguishing between important and less significant; every guideline holds significance. If any lacked importance, it would not have been presented to you.” (Ibid., p. 174)
18. No gain from either side
Advice: “Commit steadfastly to serving Islam, for wavering may lead to loss in both worlds.
Huzoorra states, “Secondly, those who neglected to offer their services and remained behind due to negligence should reflect on the difference between themselves and those who returned from their service. Did the stay-behinds become prosperous while the returnees faced impoverishment? Did they retain their possessions while those who served experienced loss? Did they strengthen while the others grew weak? Although their worldly circumstances remained unchanged, spiritually, those who served received special blessings from God, while the stay-behinds gained nothing in this world or the hereafter. Their situation is reminiscent of [the following couplet]:
نہ خدا ہی ملا نہ وصال صنم
نہ ادھر کے رہے نہ ادھر کے رہے
“Found not the Divine, nor the beloved’s grace; in neither realm did we find our place.” (Ibid., p. 167)
19. Emulating the child’s spirit
Advice: Sacrifice with unwavering commitment, even in humble pursuits.
“Our situation is akin to that of a child who constructs a castle from sand and declares it a fortress, attaches a rope to his back and proclaims himself a soldier, seizes a small stick and deems it a sword, sits on a stool in untidy clothes and declares himself a king. The Promised Messiahas used to narrate that certain Hindus, who abstain from eating meat, create meat-like objects from [something] and consider them to be meat. It saddens me that we lack the opportunity to engage in Jihad like the people before us. In an attempt to appease our hearts, we have labelled trivial acts as Jihad. However, if we harbour a genuine desire for the Jihad undertaken by our predecessors, if we possess a fervent wish to sacrifice for the sake of our faith, and if we are determined to show no weakness, then God, who orchestrates circumstances, will not deprive us of the blessings associated with Jihad. If these circumstances are not present, preventing us from engaging in Jihad, it is because God has not provided the necessary conditions. Therefore, He will not withhold the blessings that would be available if those conditions were present.” (Ibid., p. 168)
20. Impact of prayers from empty hands
Advice: The opportune moment to implore God Almighty is when your hands are emptied first. Labour diligently, give your all, and when all else seems ineffective, God Almighty will descend His blessings to aid you.
Huzoorra explained that prayers come in two forms: one that a person can offer at any time, and the second that should be invoked only when one has nothing left. He states, “Imagine if a person asks for help, claiming to have nothing, but later money is discovered with him, how would he be treated? Similarly, a person who seeks God Almighty’s help without having utilised all his faculties is treated similarly—he incurs the wrath of God Almighty rather than His blessings.
“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira used to narrate a story of an Indian coming from Arabia. On the way, he approached an Arab, saying, ‘Give me something to eat, but don’t expect any money from me because I don’t have any.’ Upon hearing this, the Arab’s expression changed. He went to his watermelon field, carefully selecting the best ones to offer to the Indian. Once the Indian was satisfied, the Arab inspected his clothes and then allowed him to leave. When asked about the reason, the Arab explained, ‘When you came to me claiming you had nothing, I sacrificed my field, which supported my wife and kids. I selected the best watermelons and gave them to you. Now, God is our protector. If you had even one coin with you, I would have killed you.’” (Ibid., p. 177)
Huzoorra further advises, “Therefore, focus on prayers, but always remember that prayers are accepted only when you work with all your might. If you don’t work hard or engage your mind in the effort, your prayers won’t be accepted.” (Ibid., p. 178)