An account of services rendered by Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad during his posting to Ghana under the Nusrat Jahan scheme.
It is to the eternal glory of the Almighty that a young man would leave behind close relations and loved ones and travel to the “unknown” for the service of humanity in the cause of Allah.
Such was the case of Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad (as he was then known), who, out of his own volition, dedicated his life to the service of Allah and braced himself to go wherever he may be assigned in the world, to help make a contribution to the betterment of the quality of life of humanity.
The organisation under whose auspices he dedicated his life is known as Majlis Nusrat Jahan, i.e. Service to Humanity Scheme.
When Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III(ru) made his maiden visit to Africa, he was Divinely inspired to understand that he should initiate a scheme of establishing schools and hospitals in different parts of Africa. Doctors, teachers as well as financial contributions would be required for the success of the scheme.
The Launch of the Scheme
It was at the Fazl Mosque in London that the scheme was formally launched. On that occasion. Hudhur declared: ‘I do not know where the doctors and the teachers will come from, neither do I know where the money will come from. What I do know is, it is Allah’s scheme and He will provide!’
Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad is from the family of the Promised Messiah(ru). In addition to his vast religious knowledge, he also holds an M.Sc. in agricultural science from Faisalabad University in Pakistan and both these factors would prove critical during his service in Africa.
From Pakistan to Ghana
On reaching Ghana, he was posted to Salaga, in the Northern Region, which is predominantly Muslim. True, other Headmasters from Pakistan had served there before him. Yet, there had been virtually no change as far as accommodation and other amenities were concerned. This did not deter him in his service to the cause of education.
It was in 1971, under the auspices of Majlis Nusrat Jahan, that a Secondary School was established in Salaga for the first time by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (Community). This was no mean feat since Muslims of that area considered secular education as unIslamic and it took a dedicated team of missionaries to convince the Muslims that education was a key to the future of Ghana.
We were given a few classrooms in a building of a defunct Middle School to start the Secondary School. We were assured by the then Kpembewura, the Paramount Chief of the area, as well as the then Regional Minister of the Northern Region, based in Tamale, the Regional Capital, of maximum support. The Minister happened to be an enlightened prince of Kpembi and appreciated the value of education. He said he had tried for 15 years in vain to persuade his people to embrace secular education.
In an area where people are adverse to secular education, it takes a lot of patience and hard work to get students to attend school. The question of fees did not arise. The Jama’at had to forgo the fees and offer students free or subsidised meals to encourage them to attend school.
Steadfast and Contented
While in Accra, Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad was found to be cheerful, but it was after reaching Salaga that he proved that he was also steadfast and contented.
Accommodation in Salaga for Headmasters consisted of two- bedroom quarters. There was no running water nor electricity in the quarters. He lived in that condition for several years with his family without ever complaining.
Salaga is located in a savannah area. The weather can, therefore, be very harsh and oppressive, especially in harmattan when very dry wind from the Sahara blows and spreads dust in all directions.
It is not only dry but also it gets cold at night and very hot in the day. Not a pleasant weather, to be sure. However, Sahibzada Masroor Ahmad and family braved all this with utmost patience.
The distance between Salaga and Tamale, the Regional Capital, is about 90 miles. So, if he required anything to buy for himself or his family he had to traverse the countryside, on a rough and dusty road to Tamale, on a vehicle popularly known as “bone shaker” before he could get what he required to buy, be it a food item, or medicine or any other item.
The agriculturist that he is, Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad initiated a programme of tree planting on the school compound. This was to check the roof of the classroom block from being ripped off during the frequent wind storms. It was also to check erosion during rains, which could also be heavy. Of course it offered shade and beauty to the environment but also juicy mangoes when they bore fruits.
As the Headmaster, he had to try to maintain good and friendly relations with the people of the town as well as run the school to the satisfaction of the educational authorities in the area and, of course, to the entire satisfaction also of the Khalifa who appointed him.
There was no resident Missionary of the Jama’at then in Salaga. So he had to serve as a Missionary too.
Being very far away from Accra, the national capital and without any means of transport, he could scarcely travel to Accra. Life then could be extremely boring. Yet his was not to complain but to give of his best, as humanly possible, to serve the people of the area, who were predominantly Muslim, and the nation.
From Salaga To Essarkyir
Some three of the eight years he stayed in Ghana was spent in Salaga. He was transferred to the Jama’at’s School at Essarkyir, as Headmaster. Essarkyir is only a mile and half from Ekrawfo, the town of the first Ahmadi Muslim in Ghana, Chief Mahdi Appah.
Alhaj Maulana Abdur Rahim Nayyar(ra), who was then the Imam of The London Mosque, had been instructed by Hadhrat Alhaj Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II(ra), to go to the then Gold Coast to convey the message of Ahmadiyyat to the people of the Gold Coast.
Alhaj Maulana Nayyar(ra) arrived in the Gold Coast in 1921. Chief Mahdi Appah is said to be the first Ahmadi in the Gold Coast. The tomb of Chief Mahdi Appah is at the Jama’at’s cemetery at Ekrawfo. This is the reason why successive Khalifas have, during their visits to Ghana, gone to Ekrawfo, to pray for Chief Mahdi Appah and other pioneer Ahmadi Muslims.
In Essarkyir Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad was now close to Saltpond, the National Headquarters of the Jama’at in Ghana. There were many well-established Jama’ats in and around Essarkyir. The Jama’at had a hospital at Agona Swedru which was run by an Ahmadi doctor from India, Dr. Tareque Ahmad, presently In-Charge of the Jama’at’s hospital in Qadian. This meant that in a way, the atmosphere here was different from that of Salaga. Yet so far as modern amenities were concerned the conditions that prevailed here were not very different from those of Salaga.
Nana Akyin, the Pararnount Chief of the Ekumfi Traditional Area within which both Essarkyir and Ekrawfo were located, had a house at Essarkyir, part of which was allotted to Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad for his residence. Here too, there was neither regular running water nor electricity. The school site was some distance away from Essarkyir. He, therefore, had to walk daily to school, leaving his family behind and walk back home after closing.
Permanent structures for the school had commenced on a 60 acre piece of land that had been offered to the Jama’at for development.
With the approval of the Markaz, Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad initiated the construction of a bungalow at the permanent site of the school. This became a great asset for the school. Succeeding Headmasters to this day have lived in this building.
Apart from the bungalow, he also saw to the continued progress of the construction of the other school buildings on the site.
Respect for Authority
It is worthy of note that approval was sought and granted before Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad initiated the construction of the school bungalow. The Majlis Nusrat Jahan has rules and regulations, one of which being that expenditure must be according to budgetary allocation. Sahibzada Mirza Masroor adhered strictly to this and all other rules and regulations of the Scheme.
Apart from furthering the cause of the Senior High Schools that he headed, he cheerfully did whatever the Jama’at required of him.
When Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III(ru), paid his second visit to Ghana in 1980, Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad was appointed the Coordinator of the Programmes Committee for the visit.
His spouse was also the Coordinator of hospitality Committee. Both discharged their duties with the utmost sense of urgency and responsibility and thereby were instrumental in the spectacular success of that historic visit.
Attachment to Khilafat
He was strongly attached to Khilafat. That is why he was so obedient to as well as cooperative with the Jama’at’s authorities. When the news reached Ghana of the demise of Hadhrat Khaifatul Masih III(ru), Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad was devastated.
He left Essarkyir for Accra and remained in Accra until the announcement was made of the election of the Fourth Khalifa. Thereafter, he signed the renewal’ of bai’at before he left for his duty post at Essarkyir.
The Wheat Experiment
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was skeptical about the popular notion in Ghana that wheat could not grow in the country. Knowing how useful an experiment in this direction could be, economically, for the country, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) set up a three-member Committee which included Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad to prepare a feasibility study in this regard. Other members were Syed Qasim Ahmad Shah and Mr. Maqsoodullah Chattah. The two other agriculturists were then based in Nigeria. They proceeded to Ghana, and together with Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the feasibility study was prepared and submitted to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) for his study and approval.
Meanwhile, the two other members of the Committee returned to Nigeria. When the approval reached Ghana, it was left to Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad to initiate the project. As an experienced and accomplished agriculturist, he carefully studied not only the soil but also the weather pattern of various areas in Ghana. With the approval of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru), a piece of land was acquired at Depali, some 40 miles from Tamale. He and his family, therefore, moved from Essarkyir to Tamale. A modest house of 2 bedrooms was purchased, at the cost of ¢200,OOO Cedis which served as his residence and that of his family.
For the first time, with Markazi (Headquarter) approval, a second-hand pick-up was purchased to enable him to travel from Tamale to Depali, 40 miles away – to work and return to Tamale on a daily basis, in pursuit of the task assigned him by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) of blessed memory.
Through the grace of Allah, it was a great success. Alhamdulillah.
Meanwhile two full time agriculturists had indicated that they had tried a similar experiment with government support, without success. According to them they had tried with some 21 varieties of wheat, also in the Northern Ghana but in vain! That Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad succeeded where others failed can be attributed only to hard work and prayers and the blessings of God.
The research findings of Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad were made available to Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture. The wheat, significantly called “Ghana Wheat”, was also exhibited at an International Trade Fair held in Accra which was witnessed by about 1 million people from both Ghana and abroad.
This was a monumental achievement and to show appreciation for this remarkable achievement by the Jama’at, Ghana Posts have decided to release a commemorative Postage Stamp with a picture of the “Ghana Wheat” on it to mark the Khilafat Centenary Jubilee year. Inshallah.
All praise is due to Allah. Lord of all the worlds!
There was yet another experiment which was carried out by Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad – that of the cultivation of soya bean.
This experiment was done at the Ahmadiyya Secondary School Farm at Essarkyir in the Central Region of Ghana. When the then President of Ghana, His Excellency Dr. Hillah Liman went to the School on an inspection tour, he was presented with a sackful of the soya beans produced at Essarkyir which event was given maximum publicity in the Ghanaian media.
It was then that the high nutritional value of soya bean was brought to the attention of the Ghanaian public.
When Sahibzada Mirza Masroor Ahmad was leaving Rabwah for Ghana, one of the things Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III(ru) told him was that there is a great untapped treasure beneath the land of Ghana.
It is not surprising, therefore, that true to the prediction, oil, which turns the wheels of modern-day economy, has been discovered in Ghana. It is believed that it is in such commercial quantities that it is mind boggling!
It is our sincere prayer to Allah that Ghana is guided aright so she does not go the way of such other countries which did not quite succeed in using their oil for the prosperity of their people.