Women's Section

The Establishment of Lajna Ima’illah and the Sacrifices of Early Ahmadi Muslim Women

A detailed account of how the formation of a separate organisation solely for women in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community came about.

(Lajna Ima’illah is an auxiliary organisation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. It comprises of ladies – girls are called Nasirat. Below is an address delivered by the National President of the Lajna Ima’illah UK at the 2008 Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) UK)

By the fleeting Time. Surely, man is in a state of loss
Except those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to accept truth, and exhort one another to be steadfast. (Ch.103:Vs.1-4)

Before the advent of the Holy Prophet(saw), the moral condition of the Arab world had declined to its lowest ebb and all kinds of immoralities abounded. The Holy Prophet(saw) transformed these peoplesin an unprecedented way, and his Companions presented great sacrifices for the sake of Islam, and in doing so, won the pleasure of God. However, with the passage of time, the high moral standards amongst the Muslims weakened, and a period of darkness revisited. Consequently, Allah raised Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian as the spiritual son of the Holy Prophet(saw) for the reformation of Islam, in exact accordance with the prophecies made by the Holy Prophet(saw) fourteen hundred or so years previously about the coming of a Messiah and Mahdi, who would appear in the latter ages to revive Islam from its period of darkness. In 1889, under Divine direction, the Promised Messiah(as) established a community of blessed and purified people – the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (or community). Its followers made sacrifices like the Companions of the Holy Prophet(saw). Such sacrifices are still seen to be made by Ahmadi Muslims even today. Thus a golden era in Islam has once again been established.

In the early stages of this renaissance of Islam, an organisational system was developed in the community to streamline and harmonise the services rendered by both men and women.

Initially, there was no separate body in the community for women. Understanding the crucial role of women in Islam, and inspired by his second wife, Amatul Hayee Sahiba(ra), Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra), Khalifatul Masih II (Second Successor to the Promised Messiah(as)), founded a separate organisation (within the community), Lajna Ima’illah, solely for women. Hadhrat Amatul Hayee Sahiba(ra) was its first secretary. After her, this important office was assigned to the wife of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra), Hadhrat Sarah Begum Sahiba(ra) and then to Hadhrat Sayeda Maryam Begum Sahiba(ra).

When Lajna Ima’illah was established, its members requested Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra), the Blessed wife of the Promised Messiah(as), to become its first president. It is likely that she presided over the first session, but during that very session she nominated Hadhrat Sayeda Mahmuda Begum Sahiba(ra) as president. Hadhrat Sayeda Mahmudah Begum Sahiba(ra) held that post until her death on 31st July, 1958. From August 1958, Hadhrat Maryam Sadiqah(ra) assumed this responsibility.

In an article by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) entitled, ‘To the Women of Qadian’, he wrote:

‘In order to fulfil the purpose of our creation the struggle by women is required and is as critical as by men. I think that women have not yet the understanding what Islam requires from us: how should we spend our lives, so that by gaining the pleasure of Allah we can get the blessings of Allah not only after our death but in this world as well. If we seriously examine this situation we realise that many women do not consider any other work worth doing, except their household duties.’

He further wrote that the attempts by the women of the enemies of Islam had spread false ideas in their children, which could only be countered by our own women. The certain way to inculcate the true spirit of Islam in children, he explained, was through their mother’s teaching and guiding them. Therefore, the progress of the community is dependent upon women. The childhood years are very impressionable ones. Therefore the reformation of women must be carried out by women. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) wrote that keeping in view these ideas:

‘I invite all those sisters, who agree with this concept and accept the need of the following objectives, to start working and inform me. These objectives are:

1. It is necessary that women start increasing their knowledge and spread this knowledge to other women.

2. The establishment of an organisation so that this work is continued.

3. The establishment of certain rules and regulations to run this organisation which must be obeyed by every member.

4. These rules should be according to the concept of Islam presented by the Ahmadiyya [Muslim] community and help in strengthening it.

5. Essays, written by the members of this organisation on different aspects of Islam related to current situations, should be read in conventions in order to master the use of that knowledge.

6. In order to increase knowledge this organisation should invite Islamic scholars whom it thinks proper to deliver lectures.

7. In order to maintain the unity of the community all proceedings of this organisation should be according to plans and schemes of the Khalifa of the time.

8. You should always struggle to increase the unity of the community, as the Holy Qur’an, the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Promised Messiah(as) have stated it as a duty of each and every Muslim, and you should always remain ready for any sacrifice for this purpose.

9. Always remain attentive for the reformation and development of your ethics and morality; cooperate with each other in this regard and think about ways and means for it and do not limit your attention towards food and clothing only.

10. Understand your responsibility of raising children. Make them active, vigilant and strong instead of ignorant of religion, frustrated and lazy; teach them whatever knowledge of religion you have; create love and obedience of God, the Holy Prophet(saw), the Promised Messiah(as) and the Khulafa; create in them zeal to spend their lives according to and for the sake of Islam; think about ways and means to do this work and act upon them.

11. When you work together, avoid the mistakes of each other and try to reform with patience and courage. Do not create disunity by expressing anger and frustration.

12. As every new project is ridiculed and mocked by people, therefore, it is necessary that you should not care about this ridicule and mockery and sisters should learn in advance to bear this individual or group mockery so that other sisters get attracted by seeing your example.

13. In order to strengthen this idea and to keep it continued forever, you should make like-minded sisters. This work can continue only when every sister who becomes member of this organisation should consider it her duty to make other sisters like-minded.

14. In order to safeguard this work, only those sisters shall be made members of this organisation who fully agree with its ideas and if someone, God forbid, does not agree anymore, shall leave without any resentment or shall be asked to leave.

15. As the community does not consist of any particular group, it is necessary that that there shall be no discrimination between the rich and poor. Rather, you should try to create love and equality among both the rich and the poor, and the feelings of arrogance and superiority should be eliminated from the hearts, because in spite of different levels, as a matter of fact all men are brothers and all women are sisters.

16. In order to serve Islam and to help our poor sisters and brothers, ways and means should be suggested and acted upon.

17. As all the help, and all the blessings, and all the successes come from God, it should be prayed for and requested [from] others to pray [for], “those objectives to be revealed to us” which He has kept in view in our creation. And in order to fulfil those objectives, provide us the best ways and means and enable us to use those ways and means in the best manner, and cause us to die in the best way; guide the next generations with His blessings and continue this work according to His will till the end of time.’ (Tarikh-i-Ahmadiyyat)

In the beginning, thirteen women from Qadian signed up to this movement which was voluntary only; later, however, all Ahmadi Muslim women were by default included as members in this organisation. At the instruction of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) these signatory women assembled on December 25th, 1922 at the house of Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra), wife of the Promised Messiah(as). After Zuhr (afternoon) prayer, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) made a short speech, and in this way the Lajna Ima`illah came into existence. After this session, detailed rules of Lajna Ima`illah were published in the magazine, Tadeeb-un-Nisa, which used to be published in Qadian under the editorship of Hadhrat Sheikh Ya‘qub ‘Ali ‘Irfani Sahib(ra). In this way the regular activities of the Lajna began.

As a result of the efforts of Sahibzadi Amatul Hamid Sahiba(ra), daughter of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), and the motivation of Sahibzadi Amatul Rashid Sahiba, Nasiratul Ahmadiyya was established in July, 1928. Nasiratul Ahmadiyya is a separate organisation (within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community) consisting solely of girls up to the age of 15 years, and is similarly dedicated to their moral upbringing, religious training, and social welfare.

In 1930 Lajna were granted the right of representation in Majlis Shura1. On 15 December, 1926 the publication of the Lajna magazine Misbah (literally meaning a ‘lamp’ or ‘lantern’ i.e. a guiding light) was started. It strengthened the discipline and training and activities of Ahmadi Muslim women. On March 17th, 1925, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), started Madrasatul Khawateen, a school for women, to spread religious education among women. Apart from Hadhrat Maulawi Sher Ali Sahib(ra), Hadhrat Syed Waliullah Shah Sahib(ra), Hadhrat Sufi Ghulam Muhammad Sahib(ra) and other scholars, including Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra), Khalaifatul Masih II, himself used to teach there. Hadhrat Maulawi Sher Ali Sahib(ra) was the administrator of the school. Its graduates included teachers and workers for women’s central offices and educational institutes.

Financial Sacrifices Made by Early Members of Lajna Ima’illah
Whenever the Promised Messiah(as) and his successors (the Khulafa) started a scheme, women always participated. It is of note that the Blessed wife of the Promised Messiah(as), Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan(ra), was invariably at the top of the list of contributors. Mosques, hospitality and preaching centres, Lajna Ima`illah projects, Minaratul Masih (the white Minaret in Qadian), the Tahrik Jadid scheme and the publication of Al-Fazl, nearly every project started with the help of her donation.

The very first financial sacrifice demanded from women by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), concerned the construction of a mosque in Berlin. Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan(ra) had recently received 500 rupees from a property when Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) announced this project. She donated the whole amount immediately. Hadhrat Syyeda Nawwaab Mubarakah Begum Sahiba(ra), one of the daughters of the Promised Messiah(as), donated 1000 Rupees. Nawwaab Amatul Hafeez Begum Sahiba(ra), wife of Hadhrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad Sahib(ra), and Hadhrat Umm-e-Dawood Sahiba(ra) also fully contributed in this project. Hadhrat Syyeda Mahmudah Begum Sahiba(ra), received an amount from Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), one half of which she paid as Wasiyyat and the other half she donated for this project. Hadhrat Maryum Begum(ra) donated her necklace and Hadhrat Amatul Hayee Sahiba(ra) donated 100 Rupees.

When Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra) started this project, he particularly addressed the women of Qadian and said:

“If poor women of Qadian show their religious zeal and courage then the women from outside shall be motivated. But if you show reluctance and weakness then the outside effect shall also be very less.”

After this address of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) the women of Qadian showed such zeal, sacrifice and devotion that, beside the pledges, 8500 rupees were collected on the very same day. We must remember that the majority of people living in Qadian were poor. But those poor women presented whatever they had in the way of Allah.

One example was an old widow who presented two rupees to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra). He mentioned her sacrifice in one of his articles as follows:

‘A pathan woman, who is very poor and who had to migrate to Qadian from her area to avoid the cruelties of stinging-bee natured maulvis, and could hardly walk with the help of a stick donated rs.2/-. Her language is Pushto and she can speak only a few words of Urdu. She stated in her broken-language by touching each of her clothes that this dupatta [a head covering] belongs to office; this pajama belongs to office; this shirt belongs to office; my Qur’an belongs to office; meaning that I have nothing. Everything has been received from Bait-ul-Maal [treasury]. Each and every word she was saying was working as a sharp knife on my heart but at the same time my heart was filled with thanks and gratefulness for the Benevolent God Who has created such alive and strong souls in a dead nation.’

Another widow who was raising several orphaned children had no money or jewellery to donate. Instead she donated utensils of her daily use. A Punjabi widow, who had nothing but her jewellery, donated it for the mosque, and another migrant woman had only two goats, both of which she donated.

Women outside Qadian also showed enviable examples of sacrifices.

Dr. Shafi Ahmad Muhaqqaq Dehlvi, editor of Daily Ittafaq in Dehli, states his wife’s story:

‘Dehli community offers its Friday prayer in this humble one’s office which is situated across the road. Last Friday the Imam read the sermon of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, published in Al-Fazl. My wife was the only woman amongst the listeners and I was thinking that after the prayer I’ll ask my wife to donate her feet-jewellery for the mosque. Meanwhile, I heard a knock at the door. I went inside the house where she had listened to the sermon, sitting on the prayer-mat and tears were running on her face. She didn’t say anything and gave me her five-levelled golden necklace which was worth about RS.300/-. I took that necklace and gave it right away to the Imam.’ (Al-Fazl, 26 February 1923).

Every woman was anxious to excel others by sacrificing whatever she had for the sake of Islam. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra)wrote an essay on 1st March, 1923, in the Al-Fazl newspaper, titled ‘Berlin Mosque, Model of Sincerity of Sincere Sisters’, in which he mentioned these unparalleled sacrifices. He mentioned the sacrifice of the wife of Captain Abdul Karim, ex-Commander-in-Chief of the State of Khairpur, who donated all of her jewellery and fine clothes worth 1500 rupees. And the sacrifices of the women of the family of Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain, President Qanoon-go Sialkot, who donated all of their jewellery worth 2000 rupees, and Seth Ibrahim’s daughter who donated her jewellery approximately worth 1000 rupees, and Mian Abdullah Sanauri’s wife, daughter and daughter-in-law, who in spite of their very limited resources, donated 200 rupees.

Besides these individual sacrifices, Lajna members in Sialkot donated cash and jewellery worth 2500 rupees, Lajna Lahore donated 2700 rupees, and women from Amritsar donated 3000 rupees.

If we compare the sacrifices of women of that time with the present value of money, we can imagine how great the sacrifices women made were as they responded to the call of their Imam, presenting whatever they had in their homes.

When due to various reasons, the Berlin mosque could not be constructed, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) addressed the women on 23rd October, 1928, in his note entitled ‘Women of Ahmadiyya community Pay Attention’:

‘I have already announced that as it was not possible for the Berlin mosque to be constructed, therefore, a mosque in London was built by women’s donation. And I had enquired from the women that if they wish, this mosque can be attributed to them or the men can pay them its price and the women’s mosque shall be built in another country. Because no reply has been received so far from the women of our Jama’at [community], I understand that they wish that the London mosque, which has become famous all over the world, is attributed to them. I think that, keeping in view the importance of London, it is appropriate to have a mosque in the centre of Christianity built by women as a practical response to Christianity which blames Islam for the violation of women’s rights.’

It is a great blessing and favour of Allah that He enabled the financial donations of Ahmadi Muslim women to build the Fazl Mosque, the first Mosque ever built in London. It was the Decree of Allah that this mosque was to become the residence of the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The voice of the Khalifa of the time is reaching the corners of the world from this mosque and the studio of Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International2, is also situated in a part of this mosque through which the revelation of the Promised Messiah(as)I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth” is being fulfilled with full glory. Blessed are those women with whose sacrifices this mosque was built.

In March 1950 the Wakil-ul-Maal [the community’s Central Director of Finance] wrote that it was Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II’s desire that as the Ahmadi women contributed in the construction of London mosque, mosques and mission houses in Washington (USA) and the Hague (Holland) should also be built with the donations of Ahmadi sisters.

Upon hearing this instruction of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), Ahmadi women, following their own traditions, responded to the call of their dear Imam despite the fact that the financial position of the community at that time was very weak. Most of them had migrated to Pakistan following the partition of the subcontinent. Making sacrifices for the construction of a mosque by women during such unfavourable circumstances shall be written in the history with golden words. Mentioning the efforts of Lajna Ima`illah, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra) said in his sermon of 14th December, 1951:

“Women were motivated for the mosque in Holland. They have showed more sacrifices than men though their scheme was small. Women have virtually no income in our country.” (History of Lajna, Vol.2 p.164)

He said that indeed there are such men who donate more than their capacity and ability, but the majority of women have offered greater sacrifices.

In 1964, an important milestone in the history of Ahmadiyyat was achieved, as 50 years of the Khilafat of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra) were completed. Upon the completion of these 50 years, Lajna Ima`illah offered to build a mosque in Copenhagen, Denmark. All the members of Lajna Ima’illah not only wrote letters of congratulations to Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra), but they also expressed their happiness by offering to fund the construction of this mosque. In the project, Ahmadi Muslim women not only kept their traditions alive but made it a bright example for next generations. They showed that Ahmadi women are alive members of an alive nation, that they do not celebrate their happiness to show-off, but rather they celebrate it in a manner that their God becomes pleased with them and the honour of the Holy Prophet(saw) is established in the world and Islam is promoted all over.

During this initial period of Lajna Ima’illah, with Allah’s blessings, Ahmadi Muslim women also had the opportunity to serve the Holy Qur’an. During the Jalsa Salana3 of 1944 Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) encouraged the Lajna Ima’illah to print a German translation of the Holy Qur’an, and one other book. For this project he encouraged women to collect 28 thousand rupees and expressed his gratitude that Ahmadi women had made promises to pay 34,000 rupees. Responding to the call of their beloved Imam(ra) with sincerity and devotion, Lajna Ima’illah fulfilled this responsibility within a short period. (Tareekh Lajna Volume 1. page 567).

At the time, a mission to convert Muslims to Hinduism had been pursued by the Arya [Samaj] sect, but the Muslims had ignored this matter. Eventually the situation became worse and Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II’s Islamic integrity could not tolerate this. In early 1923 he voiced his concerns towards this humiliation. He instructed the members of the community that such Ahmadis are required who will dedicate their entire life to serve Islam on their own expense, and remain there for at least 3 months and work against this development of the Hindus. Upon this call all kinds of people presented themselves.

On 12th March 1923, the first caravan took off and Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) bade farewell to them with advice and prayers. Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra), the Blessed wife of the Promised Messiah(as), along with a few women, walked to the place of departure and saw their sons leaving for the struggle to spread the truth of the Word of God.

Several women presented themselves for tabligh (propagation of faith) in this region. Saeeda Begum Sahiba(ra) from Lahore wrote to Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra):

‘Respectfully I submit that I read in the newspaper Zameendar that 20 Muslim women have converted to Hinduism. 18 are from Amritsar and 2 are from Lahore. I submit that this news has stricken my heart. I wish that I fly over there and do missionary work and if Huzur desires and gives his order, I am ready to do the missionary work.’
In other instances, certain women not only presented themselves for missionary work, but through the Al-Fazl publication, they encouraged their sisters by saying that if they cannot go themselves, they can also gain reward by sending their loved ones.

‘We should say to our loved ones that, if you want to see us happy, depart for missionary work immediately.’

Muhtarma Sardar Begum Sahiba wrote:

‘Men oftentimes stop doing good deeds because their women stop them doing so. Dear Sisters and Elders! Beware, do not stop them doing this missionary work otherwise you will have to face hell. So encourage men to go out as it is the time to maintain the honour of Islam. Those women who cannot help by sending their men should help through financial means. If you spend your money for the establishment of Islam and prevent the Muslims from becoming apostates, in the afterlife you will gain many rewards as promised by Allah.’

In 1934, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) formed Tahrik Jadid under Divine Will. Through this great scheme the Holy Qur’an is being published all over the world; hundreds of mosques and Ahmadiyya mission houses, educational schools and medical hospitals for the general public are being are being built all over the world. The basic purpose of this programme is to establish the Oneness of God, the honour and high status of the Holy Prophet(saw) and to raise the flag of Islam all over the world.

On 23rd November 1934, in his Friday sermon, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), presented the demands of the Tahrik Jadid, the fundamental pillars of this programme. He presented some specific demands for women. He said in this sermon:

“In this sacrifice we need the cooperation of women otherwise our sacrifices shall remain a sacrifice only in words. So I particularly draw the attention of women to the fact that they need to focus on making sacrifice and cooperate with men in the matters. Our women should remember there have been women before them who have done amazing sacrifices.”

In the demands of the Tahrik Jadid, the demands of the sacrifice of one’s own self were mostly concerning women. Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra) demanded a change in the standards of food, drink, and clothing for a three year period. The first demand was to have a simple standard in food and the second demand was to use simplicity in clothing. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) gave guidance not to purchase desirable or extravagant clothes, but to only purchase clothes enough to fulfils one’s needs. One should utilise the clothes already in possession. He directed not to purchase any new jewellery, and he strictly forbade attending cinema and theatres.

Upon the demands of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), during a meeting of Lajna Ima’illah, the Naib Sadr [Deputy President] of the Lajna, wife of Hadhrat Hafiz Roshan Ali sahib(ra), a companion of the Promised Messiah(as) and a great scholar, presented a resolution that:

‘Upon Huzur-e-Anwar’s demands we respond by promising that for these three years we will try our best to live a life of simplicity according to Huzur’s sayings and practice simplicity in clothing InshaAllah. Similarly, we are always ready to serve our faith. We will sacrifice our lives and our possessions to serve our faith. Our happiness, our comfort, our decoration, our peace and everything lies in the progress of Islam. Therefore, it is essential that we keep this promise in mind that we made to Amir-ul-Momineen, Imam-ul-Muttaqeen, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II, during bai’at [initiation into the community], that we will give preference to our faith over worldliness. The time has come that we fulfil the promise that we will prefer faith to our worldly matters because this includes all sisters whether rich, mediocre or poor.’

Upon this resolution, 117 sisters signed and presented their service to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra). In the History of Lajna, Volume 1, it is written that, during these days the community witnessed extra-ordinary sacrifices and women’s standards in food, clothing and fashion and in decoration of their houses became very simple.

The Tahrik Jadid produced such passion for sacrifice in women that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) mentioned it in his Friday sermon on 30th November, 1934:

“Certain women have asked me that we also desire to take part in this task but we are unable to give even 5 or 10 rupees.”

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), said that in our country it is a tradition that, except in urban families, women usually are not given spending money in cash, rather food and clothes are purchased and provided to them. So, there is no doubt that there are several women who cannot even give five or ten rupees, but they expressed a desire to be given an opportunity to gain reward from God. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) said that this passion of women is worthy of being thanked and given respect. Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra)respected this dedication of women and suggested that they form committees. The donations would be collected under their name. (Al-Fazl, 11 December, 1934)

Therefore, according to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II’s suggestion, the secretary of Lajna Ima’illah, joined ten women and planned the formation of such committees. Every woman had to contribute one rupee monthly and once they had ten rupees, the donation would be given.

Thinking about this incident invites us to ponder, especially those who tend to use lack of resources as an excuse to avoid serving the faith. If we have a passion to serve the faith, God keeps forming the path for us and He provides the means for us. The promises made by the earlier generations to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), which they fulfilled to the best of their ability, invite us to walk in the footsteps of these great women, which is that whenever a call is made for sacrifice, we also will prefer faith to our worldly matters, Insha Allah [God willing].

When the sending of missionaries of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community to foreign countries started, women displayed outstanding examples of sacrifice. At the time, the financial condition of the community was such that it did not allow missionaries to return home after two or even three years, or their relatives to be sent to whatever country they were posted in. In these conditions, the wives of missionaries displayed enormous patience. They supported their husbands and lived off a small income and never complained. Because of these sacrifices, missionaries were able to serve the faith with full satisfaction and peace.

Hakeem Fazl-ur-Rehman Sahib was a very sincere devotee who served the faith in Africa for 21 years. Returning after the first seven years of his service, he married, and a few years later, he was sent to Western Africa. For 14 years, he continuously remained there busy with missionary affairs. He had stepped into old-age and his wife had also become elderly. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) decided to quickly call back the missionary. He said:

“Hakeem Fazl-ur-Rehman has been out of country for a long time and has not even seen the faces of his children. And they asked what their father looks like.”

Relating another incident about another missionary, Hadhrat Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) said that their child, who was quite grown up, said something very painful to his mother. He said that if our relative falls sick then their father checks up on them. Why did you marry our father who never checks on us? Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) said that it is very painful that his father has been away for such a long time and we cannot call him back (Tareekh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Volume 10, p.201). The sacrifices of these missionaries indeed have been matched by the women who have spent their entire adulthood without their men, serving the faith with their patience. There are several events describing the tough labour and sacrifice of time by Ahmadi Muslim women. Hadhrat Maryam Sadiqah(ra) was a valuable and blessed person of the community. Hadhrat Sayyida Mehr Apa(ra) wrote in an article upon her death that:

‘She handled the Lajna work by fulfilling the responsibilities of a President, General Secretary, a clerk and of a humble worker all at once. During this time, only because of her efforts, the work began to spread and continued. Huzur would utter a demand and she would immediately fulfil it. We have seen her doing work all day. She would be sewing on a sewing machine and had placed other women on the task to sew blankets and clothes. On 80-90 machines, she supervised women sewing and sewed herself as well. This entire work, she would get done by women who only wanted to serve mankind and this community with their own passion.’
(Seerat Hadhrat Sayyida Umm-e-Tahir, Page 221)

In 1947, when the community was forced to emigrate from Qadian to Rabwah in Pakistan, it experienced severe financial constraints and problems. Though in the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, many such times have come when women showed great courage, yet at the time of migration, everyone was not only grieved over leaving Qadian – but also extremely worried about its safety, because of the horrendous happenings and the insecure state of the country. During these days, Ahmadi Muslim women displayed great examples of faithful courage and advised their sons, husbands and brothers not to display weakness during this sensitive time but to show high examples of sacrifice.

Amtul-Hafeez Begum Sahiba(ra) wrote to her son Doctor Muhammad Ahmad Sahib, his younger brother Naeem Ahmad Sahib and their brother-in-law Muhammad Rafiq Sahib and their nephew Abdul-Rashid Sahib that:

‘A time of trial has come on you all. Spend it with bravery and I pray to Allah Ta’ala that he keeps you steadfast and gives you greater opportunities to serve the faith.’ (Tareekh Lajna, Vol.2, p.23)

Masooda Barlaas Sahiba wrote to her brother Mirza Iltaaf-ur-Rehman Sahib of Barlaas house Qadian:

‘Do not worry about us and face all the problems with steadfastness and become the inheritor of God’s blessings. Become a useful part of Ahmadiyyat. We are happy and proud that our only brother has been given a special opportunity by God to serve Ahmadiyyat and given steadfastness. We cannot be proud enough over it. Mother sends you prayers as well’.
(Tareekh Lajna Volume 2, p.23)

Amtul Lateef Begum Sahiba of Lahore wrote to her husband, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Sahib:

‘My and mother’s advice is that you should remain there with trust in God. Allah Ta’ala will protect you there as well and not let your faith be wasted so do not try to get permission to return. Leave us to God’s mercy because He is the Caretaker of all. If He has created us, He will protect us and feed us. If He has to keep you alive, He will do it in every way and help you. And if death is destined, no matter how much we try to hide there is no escape. Don’t worry about me, I am not a coward. My faith is strong in Almighty Allah. If a trial comes from Him, it has to come anyway so pray that He keeps us steadfast in every way and our faith is never shaken.’ (Tareekh Lajna Vol.2, p.21)

The wife of Mistry Noor Muhammad Sahib, Ganj Mughalpura, wrote to her son, Muhammad Lateef Sahib Amritsaree, who stayed in Qadian for its protection:

‘Today it is a struggle to remain in Qadian. Continue protecting the centre with steadfastness and bravery. If you have to give up your life for this task, never hesitate to do so. Remember that we will only be happy with you when you display a high level of sacrifice in protecting the sacred place of Hadhrat Masih-e-Mau’ud(as) which is a matter of pride for every Ahmadi. Do not worry. God will protect you. We, your parents, pray for you that may the Almighty Allah grant you steadfastness. Ameen.’ (Tareekh Lajna Vol.2, p.19)

The early members of Lajna Ima’illah worked in every field according to the guidelines given by Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra). Whether it was in the service for the Holy Qur’an or the inauguration of a mosque; for missionary work or for the sacrifice of their time or money or children, they walked in the glorious footsteps of the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad(saw) and displayed great examples of sincerity and sacrifice that shall always be remembered. By the Grace of God, from that initial group of thirteen women, branches of Lajna Ima’illah have been established in over 190 countries and every day, Ahmadi Muslim women continue to make great sacrifices in the service of Islam, both financial and practical.

References:
1. The Shura is a consultative body prescribed by the Holy Qur’an consisting of proportionate representation, who meet to gather, debate, and put forward recommendations and opinions to the Khalifa for the betterment of the Ummah (Shura, Mutual Consultation, Adam Hani Walker, p.1)

2. A worldwide Muslim television station, broadcasting in England on SKY channel 787 and online at www.mta.tv

3. An annual convention started by the Promised Messiah(as), held in every country that Ahmadi Muslims have established a community in. Its purpose is for members to experience religious benefits, enhance their knowledge, and promote mutual brotherhood between brothers and sisters – Editor

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