Zikr-e-Habib: A beloved remembered – Part 1

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Last Updated on 24th September 2022

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra was born on 13 January 1872 in Bhera, British India. He was a companion of the Promised Messiahas and was deeply devoted to his beloved master. He was the first Ahmadi missionary to America and converted hundreds of Christians to Islam Ahmadiyyat. He launched The Moslem Sunrise magazine in America to spread the message of true Islam in the West and also served as the editor of Badr newspaper. He also had the opportunity to preach Islam in England. He served as the private secretary and nazir (director) of external affairs as well. He passed away on 13 January 1957 in Rabwah. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra led his funeral prayer and he was buried in Bahishti Maqbarah.

Owing to his intense love for the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sahibra wrote a book titled Zikr-e-Habib (A Beloved Remembered) on the life and character of his holy master. As he was blessed with the company of the Promised Messiahas, he narrated many unique incidents.

The Promised Messiah
The Promised Messiahas

Early life of my parents

May Allah have mercy on my mother and grant her a high place in Paradise. She always had a keen interest in serving those pious elders who were known for their worship, ascetic discipline and nearness to God. I also inherited this practice from my late mother.

Desire to meet a prophet

I was perhaps 10 or 12 years old when, one day, I said to my friends, “We are born in a strange era. There is neither a prophet in this age, nor a king. We read about all such things in stories, but there is nothing to actually witness.” I think, because I and the children of my generation were to witness a prophet and king in our lives, its longing was already present in our hearts.

First mention of Prophet Ahmadas

The city of Bhera, a very ancient city of Punjab, is situated on the river Jhelum and is 213 miles from Qadian by train via Lahore-Lala Musa-Malakwal. It is my birthplace and childhood home. My late father spent his entire life there. 

In this very city of Bhera, there was a pious man named Hakim Ahmad Din, may Allah have mercy on his soul. I heard the name of the Promised Messiahas for the first time in my childhood days from him. I was around 13 years old when I met the late Hakim Sahib along with some of my friends. During the conversation, he said, “There is a Mirza Sahib in Qadian who receives revelations. He apparently looks like a simple ordinary person.” I wondered if someone could still receive revelations in this day and age. Hence, the name of the first person from whose mouth I heard the name of Hazrat Ahmadas was also Ahmad.

Company of Hazrat Nuruddinra

Thereafter, when my late father (Mufti Inayatullah Qureshi Usmani Sahib) left me in Jammu and Kashmir to study the translation of the Holy Quran from Hazrat Maulvi Hakim Nuruddin (Khalifatul Masih Ira) and I spent almost six months in his blessed company, I would hear about the Promised Messiahas from time to time. 

The Promised Messiahas was not widely known at that time because he had not started to take bai‘at, nor had he built the “Noah’s Ark” to save the people from the storm of the age; moreover, he had not yet made his claim of the Messiah and Mahdi in public. However, due to the fact that I was a pupil of Hazrat Maulvi Hakim Nuruddinra, I had already formed a good opinion about the Promised Messiahas.

First vision

It was probably 1889 when I was studying in the high school of Bhera. It was summer and I was sleeping on the top floor of my house. It was late into the night and I saw a vision which left a deep impression on my heart. I saw a star rising from the east and as I looked, it continued to rise. As it rose, its height and light increased until it reached the top of the sky. At that time, it appeared as big as the moon and got very bright. On reaching there, it started circling. Each of its circles was larger and completed faster than the previous one until its circle reached the horizon where the earth and the sky meet. Its circling happened so fast and it became so bright that its awe awakened me and I immediately got up. 

In the morning, I wrote that vision to my honourable teacher, Maulvi Hakim Nuruddin Sahibra in Jammu, and to the Promised Messiahas in Qadian. I sought its interpretation from both these sages. Hazrat Maulana Sahibra wrote in reply, “This kind of divine vision is shown when a great reformer is about to appear.” The Promised Messiahas replied, “Your letter was received in which you have sought the interpretation of a dream, but as I am sick these days, I cannot fully focus on this [vision]. If you will remind me at a later time, I will write you a detailed reply.”

I thought that as Hazrat Maulana Sahibra had explained, the interpretation was quite clear, and if the Promised Messiahas had wanted, he would have attached it to himself, but he did not do that, so this made me feel more positive about him. By that time, the Promised Messiahas had published an announcement about bai‘at and the series of taking the oath of initiation had started.

First journey to Qadian

In 1890, I passed the entrance exam and went to Jammu. I got employed in a school. Another teacher, who was of the same name as mine (the late Maulvi Fazil Muhammad Sadiq Sahib) used to live with me. In those days, the Promised Messiah’s book, Fath-e-Islam (The Victory of Islam), reached Jammu. (It was probably sent for proofreading to Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddin Sahibra before publication.) In this book, the Promised Messiahas, for the first time, openly mentioned the death of Jesusas of Nazareth and his claim of being the Messiah. This book was read by me and Maulvi Muhammad Sadiq Sahib together, and I wrote some questions after [studying] it and sent them to the Promised Messiahas. In reply, the late Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra, who was in Jammu during those days, told me verbally that another book would be published soon and all those questions would be answered. 

After that, during the [winter] holidays at the school, I went to Qadian. It was the winter season and probably December 1890. I came alone from Batala on a horse-drawn carriage and paid a fare of 12 annas [a unit of currency formerly used in the subcontinent, equal to 1/16 of a rupee]. Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddin Sahibra had given me a letter of recommendation to present to the Promised Messiahas

Upon reaching the abode of the Promised Messiahas, I immediately presented the letter. The Promised Messiahas quickly came out and said, “Maulvi Sahib has spoken highly of you in his letter.” He then asked me whether I had eaten or not. We sat for a while and then went inside the house. There was only one other guest aside from me (the late Syed Fazl Shah Sahib), and the late Hafiz Sheikh Hamid Ali Sahib was serving the guests. The Gol Kamrah (a drawing room named after its circular shape) served the guest room and the teen diwari [a place with three walls] that is now present in front of it was not there at that time. At night, this humble one and Syed Fazl Shah Sahib slept in the gol-kamrah

At the time of prayers, the Promised Messiahas would come to Masjid Mubarak, which is generally called Choti Masjid. The blessed beard of the Promised Messiahas was dyed with henna. His face was reddish and bright, his head was covered with a heavy white turban, and he had a staff in his hand. The next morning, the Promised Messiahas came out of the zenana [women’s] side of the house. 

First walk with Prophet Ahmadas

The Promised Messiahas came out and said, “Let’s go for a walk.” Syed Fazal Shah Sahib, Hafiz Hamid Ali Sahib and I accompanied him. Walking through the fields and the outer paths of the city, we reached the eastern side of the village. During this first walk, I said to the Promised Messiahas, “What is the remedy to avoid indulgence in sins?

Remedy to avoid sins

The Promised Messiahas replied: 

“One should always remember death. When man forgets that he has to die one day, an unending desire arises in him. Consequently, a person begins to have lingering hopes that they will do so-and-so, and then they become audacious about sins and negligence takes root.”

Sunrise from the West

Syed Fazal Shah Sahib asked, “It is mentioned that the Promised Messiah would appear when the sun would rise from the west. What does this mean?” 

The Promised Messiahas said:

“It is a natural phenomenon that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, and this cannot change. So, [the hadith] means that the people of Western countries will start accepting Islam in this age. Recently, it has been heard that a few British people have converted to Islam in Liverpool.” 

Of all the things that happened during that walk, I remember the aforementioned two things. 

I cannot say what it was that attracted me to accept the Promised Messiah’sas truthfulness and take his bai‘at, other than the fact that his blessed countenance was such that it was impossible for me to believe that he was a liar.

(When I started to publish a quarterly magazine for the spread of Islam in America, keeping in view the above-mentioned hadith, I named that magazine The Moslem Sunrise and on its cover page, a rising sun was shown on the map of America.)

Bai‘at

On the second or third day [of my stay in Qadian], I told Hafiz Hamid Ali Sahib that I wanted to take bai‘at. The Promised Messiahas took me to a separate house. This [house was located] on the land that now has the country house of Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib. It once had the central library in its lower compartment and Dr Hashmatullah Sahib used to live in its upper portion. (Nowadays, i.e. August 1935, it is being used as a guest house.)

In those days, there was a cattle shed belonging to the Promised Messiahas on that land, and cows, oxen, etc., were kept in it. A doorway would lead to it through a street. In front of the inner door of that house was the entrance door of the cattle shed and that corridor was located where the large library office room is situated today. The Promised Messiahas took me into that room and closed the door from the inside. In those days, each person’s bai‘at was taken separately. There was a charpoy. The Promised Messiahas asked me to take a seat on it. I complied and he also sat on it. The Promised Messiahas took my right hand in his hand and took allegiance from me to abide by the 10 conditions of bai‘at. I did not repeat all the 10 conditions of bai‘at, but just said the words that, “[I will abide by] the 10 conditions of bai‘at.”

(The late Mirza Ayub Baig Sahib Kalanwari, brother of Dr Mirza Yaqub Sahib of Lahore, was a very dear friend of mine. One of his sisters is the wife of Nasir Shah Sahib Nazim Imarat Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian. Mirza Ayub Baig Sahib is the only fortunate person who, though he passed away many years before the foundation of Bahishti Maqbarah, the Promised Messiahas allowed to be brought in a box from Fazilka, Ferozepur district to be buried in Bahishti Maqbarah. May Allah grant him high ranks in Paradise. In around 1892, he took bai‘at of the Promised Messiahas in Lahore. He used to say, “When I entered a separate room to take bai‘at, the Promised Messiahas said at the time of taking the pledge to say, ‘I will abide by the 10 conditions of bai‘at.’ I responded that I did not know what those 10 conditions were. The Promised Messiahas then made me repeat all those conditions one by one.)

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu in Zikr-e-Habib, pp. 1-5)

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