Asif M Basit
Each and every word of Huzooraa is precious to us, but there [in my office amidst the Baitul Futuh fire] lay a precious treasure trove of guidance on a daily basis. The thought of those letters stuck in mind as I watched the smoke rise higher and higher. On a few occasions, when the smoke blew big puffs in the air, I saw shreds of paper floating among the ashes in the sky above, as a result of which my heart began to sink. I prayed to God, “Ya Allah! Don’t let these letters be those written by your beloved one!”
I was tormenting myself as the thought arose many a time to have those letters scanned and preserved but with that the response was always, “Insha–Allah, some day.”
The lesson I learnt that day was that as soon as I received a letter or response from Huzooraa, I would immediately make a copy of it. We tend to think that we have sufficient time, but the time of a nation and the time of an individual are two separate dimensions. Where the matter involves God’s chosen one, the concept of time and space takes a different form. We should never equate the time of the Jamaat with our own personal time. Our personal time is of no value when compared to the precious time of the Jamaat. One second wasted in the service of the Jamaat could make us answerable to future generations.
With those thoughts, I stood silently, watching the smoke bellow above the Baitul Futuh horizon.
In the evening, the programme Rah-e-Huda was to broadcast live on MTA, but the staff at Baitul Futuh told us that until further notice, no one could enter the complex as it was unclear whether the fire had stopped spreading or whether it had taken a different course. Under the circumstances, I pursued the proper protocol in cancelling the live broadcast and the decision was made to repeat the previous show as there were no recording facilities.
Then, we received news that the fire had reached the MTA library. After hearing this, we all went into shock. I had only just received the news, when my mobile phone rang. I looked at my phone and I saw, “Private secretary”, which usually only means one thing: urgent!
I immediately picked up my phone and Munir Javed Sahib said something which was short, yet comprehensive. “Huzoor is calling you.”
Without a second thought, I rushed to my car and raced towards the Fazl Mosque in Putney, where Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa resided at the time. Alhamdolillah, I had parked my car, albeit by mere chance, at a place that allowed me to easily access the road to the Fazl Mosque. On such occasions, it has been the sheer grace of God that the notorious traffic of London has never caused any hindrance. Within twelve to fifteen minutes, I was standing in the private secretary’s office.
Munir Javed Sahib told me that Huzooraa had just left the office for his residence, but said that he would notify Huzooraa. After ten minutes or so, the light bulb outside Huzoor’s office lit up, which meant that Huzooraa was now in his office. The words below are what Huzooraa said to me as I entered the office (the crux of which I have preserved):
Huzooraa asked, “What’s the matter? You seem worried?” I replied, “The fire spread to such an extent that it has engulfed our [MTA] library.”
“So what? Incidents like this do not halt the work and duties of jamaats.”
With anguish in my voice, I replied, “Huzoor, the library stored programmes of the Khulafa, which has now probably burnt to ashes”.
Huzooraa said, “The Promised Messiahas recorded his voice on a gramophone. You know this, right? We lost that too. What could be more precious to us than that? But the progress of the Jamaat did not stop; we carried on. Don’t you agree?”
I replied, “Yes Huzoor. That is true”.
What more could I say? I didn’t have the audacity to say that this thought didn’t even cross my mind when we had just stood there in mourning. Huzooraa then asked, “Do you know how to put out a fire?” “No Huzoor.” He asked again, “Would they have let you enter the complex in order to extinguish the fire?” “No Huzoor.”
“Then you should have immediately come to the Fazl Mosque and set up the studios here. The MTA staff should have assembled here and planned a way forward to avoid any disruption to MTA’s broadcast.”
The feeling of shame and regret felt at such an occasion can neither be described, nor is there any need to. You can probably imagine how I felt. I apologised to Huzooraa, after which he immediately instructed:
“Now prepare a news bulletin for MTA. But you have probably not even eaten anything. I can tell from your face that you are hungry and thirsty. First of all, go and have something to eat, then prepare this bulletin and bring it back to me.”
I left the office. My heart was filled with love and emotion for Huzooraa. Even in such circumstances, the hunger and thirst of an unworthy and undeserving servant still mattered for Huzooraa.
In keeping with Huzoor’s instruction, I ate a biscuit from a plate that lay before me in the waiting room and sat down to compose the report. It was crucial that I fact-checked the details from credible sources, for instance, the time the fire started, where it reached and whether it was still spreading or not.
Having acquired the relevant information from credible sources I prepared the report to be read out on MTA. Many renowned media outlets provided coverage to the fire. Ahmadis around the world were worried due to the outbreak of the fire. It was probably due to this concern that Huzooraa had the news bulletin prepared under his direct supervision. After I prepared the report, I presented it to Huzooraa. Huzooraa carefully read the text. Huzooraa made a phone call himself enquiring about the latest on the fire. Before handing back the report, Huzooraa made one amendment.
There was a line that said, “According to the London Fire Brigade, the fire is under control and efforts are being made to extinguish the fire”. Huzooraa added the following words before this statement: “With the grace of Allah…”
Huzooraa then remarked, “They would never have done anything themselves”.
I then mentioned to Huzooraa that we were not broadcasting Rah-e-Huda live and instead we had planned to play the previous week’s recording. Huzooraa replied:
“The programme will be aired live! Have the studios here [in the Fazl Mosque] prepared immediately and have your team ready. The work of the Jamaat never stops for petty issues.”
Huzoor’s vision can never be predicted. What we considered to be a state of emergency, with everyone panicking, was in fact a proof of Huzooraa being a chosen one of God. His sight is set far into the horizon whereas all we see before us are clouds and smoke. The anxiety began again, not because of any emergency, but in wanting to fulfill Huzoor’s command in a very short space of time.
The report was eventually broadcast on MTA. Rah-e-Huda was also broadcast live, later that evening. The programme invites people to call in and sure enough, people called in more than ever before. Not only did they ask questions, but we received many calls merely expressing their concern over the news of the fire, which, like wildfire, had spread all over the worldwide press and media. Towards the end of the programme, the report was read out once again and viewers were notified of the latest updates.
Towards the end of the programme, I went downstairs with the intention of informing Huzooraa that the broadcast had gone smoothly. But as I approached the last few steps, I realised that Huzooraa was seated in Mahmood Hall among guests who had travelled from abroad to meet Huzooraa. It was almost time for Maghrib prayer. I stood outside the door of Mahmood Hall, where it was anticipated that Huzooraa would go to lead the prayer.
We could hear Huzoor’s voice through the audio system as well as the guests. The Khuddam and Atfal were very fortunate to have spent so much time with their Imam. They asked questions, to which Huzooraa gave them answers. Huzooraa carefully listened to their problems and guided them, as well as giving them advice. They were all ecstatic at the fact that they were able to converse with Huzooraa as well as having been in his blessed presence.
There was no sign of sorrow or anguish from the tragedy that struck only a few hours earlier. It was this that reminded me that the Khalifa’s eyes were set on the grace and blessings of Allah and that is what he beseeched. How, then, can the Jamaat that follows in the footsteps of a person so exalted in the field of tawakkul [trust in God] ever be deemed weak? It is the example that every Ahmadi follows and should follow.
In the following Friday Sermon, Huzooraa informed every one of the details of the Baitul Futuh fire. In this manner, Huzooraa gave everyone strength and elevated everyone towards the level of tawakkul that God Almighty has bestowed upon him. He instructed everyone to mould themselves in a manner that enabled them to absorb the blessings of Allah and keep their goals high.
A few years ago, “law-enforcers” in Pakistan stormed the Tahrik-e-Jadid offices in Rabwah and without any reason, arrested innocent employees and missionaries of the Jamaat. That very morning, I had a mulaqat with Huzooraa and again had the opportunity to witness the exalted level of tawakkul that Huzooraa possesses. Huzooraa was most certainly concerned and worried for his beloved Ahmadis, but it was not the only thing that had grasped Huzoor’s attention. His expectations and trust were completely with Allah.
A few moments later, a journalist would come and interview Huzooraa. The entire interview had one focal point that Huzooraa spoke on: tawakkul.
Huzooraa said that the oppressors may continue to oppress, but neither would we take the law into our own hands, nor would we respond to aggression with aggression. We put all our cries for help at the divine threshold. Although we do peacefully protest by means of the pen and media, but if we were to not do even this much, then we are indirectly supporting the oppressors. This was the gist of what Huzooraa said that day.
Talking about the oppression and persecution of Ahmadis reminds me of another incident, which shows Huzoor’s high standards of trust in Allah, foresight and unyielding resolve. This dates back to 2008, when Huzooraa instructed that the Jamaat be kept informed of the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan through a monthly MTA broadcast, “Persecution News”.
Preparations were made immediately and once the programme was ready for broadcast, it was sent to Huzooraa for approval. When the letter, which was sent to Huzooraa along with the recording, came back, it had a note on it. The note was very encouraging for all those who had participated. Huzooraa wrote:
“A very good effort! May Allah increase the standard even more. When is the next programme?”
This was very comforting for all of us. It spiritually uplift ed us. Without wasting a single moment, we proceeded with the next show, in which we decided to cover the discrimination against the citizens of Rabwah by the government of Pakistan by depriving them of basic civic amenities. We collated research and interviewed various senior members of the Jamaat in Rabwah and thereafter recorded the programme.
Accompanying me in the programme were Abid Waheed Khan Sahib and Mashood Iqbal Sahib (to cater for the English-speaking and Urdu-speaking audience respectively).
The programme was again sent to Huzooraa for approval. I sent the recording on a Monday and waited anxiously. That day I received no response. The following day was spent in anticipation, but I began thinking that it may be a long wait.
However, in the evening, Abid Khan Sahib, who had been on the panel of the programme, rang me and said that he had just had a mulaqat with Huzooraa and Huzooraa had not liked the programme. He also told me that Huzooraa had instructed that I meet Huzooraa straight away.
The next day was a Wednesday and as it was quite late, I could not request a mulaqat as the names had already been approved for the following day. Thus, I requested for a mulaqat the following day and was told that there were no official mulaqats on Thursdays and that there was no possibility before Saturday morning. Accordingly, I requested for a mulaqat for Saturday morning.
The anxiety in which I spent the 72 hours of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday cannot be translated into words. The thought that Huzooraa had taken out 30 minutes of his valuable time to watch our programme, which ended up being a means of discomfort for Huzooraa, left me in agony.
I became furious at my sense of satisfaction and started to lament myself that instead of celebrating the fact that Huzooraa was pleased with our first attempt, I should have spent the time in istighfar (seeking God’s forgiveness) and prayers. It wasn’t as if we had hit a milestone! It was Huzoor’s loving manner that he appreciated our effort.
In fact, it was a test of character! I realised that the next attempt should have been made with even more care and through a lot more prayers. Nonetheless, that was the state I was in during those very long hours.
I arrived at the Fazl Mosque on Saturday morning and my heart was racing. No matter how many times you may have met Huzooraa and conversed with him, it always seems like the first time. How long do we continue to act upon the valuable lessons Huzooraa gives us? Do we even remember each and every directive Huzooraa has given us? This is something we can only answer on an individual level. It is truly impossible to act upon every lesson we learn from Huzooraa without the grace and help of God. But this, in fact, was my first daftari mulaqat (official meeting) with Huzooraa and that too due to bringing him discomfort.
I began to recite all the prayers my mother had taught me as a child. Anyhow, those minutes felt like decades. Eventually I was called to Huzoor’s office.
As I entered Huzoor’s office, I was expecting an admonishment. My legs felt so weak that I thought to myself that if I collapsed right there and then, it could be more embarrassing than what had already happened. With my gaze down, I entered the room. But to my surprise, I heard a loving voice, “Hanji? Kiya kehtey ho?” (Yes, what brings you here?)
I could not think of anything other than to remain silent.
“It seems that you have spent these days extremely worried” I replied, “Yes Huzoor. All three days I have spent in utter shame”.
Huzooraa added, “Three days? Why not four days? I sent the message four days ago. You know, one can pray a lot more in times of distress.” (I also learnt a lesson here that one should not talk to Huzooraa on rough estimates, rather one should speak precisely.)
I responded, “Huzoor, the programme was not of a good standard. I sincerely apologise”.
Huzooraa then asked me, “In the first letter I wrote, ‘May Allah increase the standard even more’. I thought that you would come and ask me how to further improve?”
Now, I was lost for words. I had come with the expectation that I would be admonished. But I saw only the love, affection and kindness of Huzooraa. If only I could just express that had I known that that was Huzoor’s desire, then I would have literally come running. Thereafter, Huzooraa most affectionately instructed that we record the programme again and instructed:
“Never mention the oppression we are facing in a manner that suggests that it has weakened us. Never even think that the opposition we face can ever affect the progress of the Jamaat. What you say on television is reaching every Ahmadi so for this reason, you should carefully select your words so that the viewers can focus on remembering the blessings of Allah, as opposed to grieving over the injustices and trials.
“Now go back, re-record this programme and remember to mention the services the Jamaat in Pakistan has rendered and continues to render for their homeland. Tell everyone how, by the grace of God, the Jamaat has managed to provide facilities in such a small town that only the largest of cities can provide. Tell them how this community is more organised and far more helpful.”
Huzooraa then mentioned the names of a few people whom I should contact. I was relieved of all my fears, anxieties and worries. The only concern I had was that each and every word of Huzooraa during that mulaqat should be preserved. I hastily jotted down everything being said to me. I had never heard such concise and comprehensive words.
The words were few, but the meanings were vast. Huzooraa had given such wonderful insight into the matter that no aspect seemed to remain untouched.
Huzooraa then took a pause, which was most probably for me to note everything down carefully. As soon as I finished writing and looked up, Huzooraa said, “Bus? Chalo phir” (Is that all? Then off you go.)
In this manner, the mulaqat came to a close. However, it had been more than a mulaqat. It was a chapter in the lessons of life. It was a completely unique angle of looking at and understanding the persecution the Jamaat faces on a daily basis.
We see the wrongs done to us as wrong. However, what we fail to see is how this persecution is pushing us to excel and attain further triumphs. I spent most of my life in Rabwah. Many a time, I benefitted from the extraordinary facilities of Fazl-e-Umar Hospital there. I spent so much time studying in the Khilafat Library that I am forever indebted to the library and the staff there. I had the good fortune of being able to teach in a prominent institution like Nusrat Jehan Academy.
I witnessed before my eyes the spread of greenery throughout Rabwah. I experienced the spiritual and intellectual atmosphere of Rabwah. But never did I even think that there was a divine sign in each of those elements. It went from being a barren desert to a town buzzing with thousands of residents and visitors, bearing in it the facilities of a big city.
That mulaqat had shaken me to the core. I swear by God that the effect that mulaqat had on me is to this day fresh in my heart and mind and shall remain so; the reason being that during the mulaqat, I had the opportunity of seeing Huzoor’s farsightedness.
I also swear by God that on that occasion, I realised that by standing behind my Imam, who is a shield (as said by the Prophet Muhammadsa), I possessed no fear of anything or anyone. Albeit with shame, but I do not hesitate in saying that maybe for the first time did my heart cry out an earnest prayer for Huzooraa like never before. My life and soul is laid down for him!
We spend our lives in vain searching for weak protection, when in fact, God Almighty has provided us with an ironclad form of protection in the form of Khilafat. If we hold fast to this, then we shall face no fear. It provides us security.
I can also say with complete honesty that on that day, I found out what the meaning of the word “inspiration” really is. By the grace of God, I also realised that if we want to find real inspiration, then we need not to look for any poet, artist or scientist, rather we have a man who has been commissioned by God with the spirit of truth to spread the truth to the corners of the world.
May God enable us to understand this and continue to live our lives by it. This individual who calls us towards God saves us from all forms of idol-worship and idolatry.
We recorded our programme again in line with Huzoor’s directives, mentioning the miraculous horticulture of Rabwah, the parks, housing, construction work, swimming pools, Nasir Fire Brigade Service, Ambulance Service and Tahir Heart Institute. In this manner, we mentioned all of this as homage to Allah and showed that it had all been done in the midst of opposition and persecution.
It was, however, a very brief glimpse of what the Jamaat had managed to achieve in such circumstances. Alhamdolillah, Huzooraa was pleased with the show and consequently, the appreciation of the general public grew.
It is my experience that whenever any MTA programme receives Huzoor’s attention, God Almighty blesses it in such a way that the people begin to appreciate it. It was this very programme that eventually evolved into Rah-e-Huda, the Urdu programme answering questions of Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis in regard to the teachings of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. This very programme later went on to be broadcast live from the blessed village of Qadian and continues to do so.
At the end, I wish to say that Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a controversial figure. His thought may have been, and in fact was, subject to much confusion at times. But he once said something which was very apt:
“If you want to witness the true reflection of Islam, then you will see it in Qadian.”
I conclude my article with an amendment to this remark:
If you want to witness the true reflection of Islam, then look no further than the person of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih! The level of tawakkul, which the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and his humble servant, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas wished to see in us, is practically personified in our Imam, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
May Allah enable us to comprehend this fact and follow the footsteps of Huzooraa. Amin