By Syed Amer Safir
After 8pm today the Fifth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) finally returned home to the headquarters in Islamabad, Tilford UK after a four-week long European tour. The tour began on 25th September in Holland for one week, moved on to France for a second week and finally the Caliph travelled to Germany for the last two weeks of the tour, returning to the UK this evening on 27th October 2019.
It was an extremely demanding and intense daily schedule on tour. The Caliph delivered over 16 speeches and sermons, conducted ‘Ameen’ ceremonies for hundreds of young children, met thousands of Ahmadi Muslims personally in private audiences in day and evening sessions, led ‘Nikah’ ceremonies, inaugurated 5 mosques and gave time to personally meet a large number of non-Ahmadis in various cities. It is estimated that the Caliph covered nearly 3000 miles on road during this trip.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of an extremely demanding daily schedule on tour, there remained and continues to remain one unwavering constant in the Caliph’s routine – the five daily prayers –a main pillar of Islamic teaching. The first activity the Caliph conducted on arrival in Holland at the start of his tour over thirty days ago was to lead the evening prayers (Maghreb and Ishaa) in the Bait-un-Nur Mosque. The last activity conducted by the Caliph when leaving Germany at the end of his tour this morning, was to lead the early morning prayers (Fajr) at the Basharat Mosque in Osnabruck. And the first matter the Caliph attended to on arrival in Islamabad, UK this evening was to lead the evening prayers in congregation at the Mubarak Mosque, which was completely full with worshippers.
Yesterday the Caliph, after spending the day meeting dozens of Ahmadi Muslims, conducting an ‘Ameen’ Ceremony, leading the congregational prayers, inspecting the Mahdiabad site in all corners and taking photos with several different groups, he also addressed an audience of German guests at a reception for the opening of the Bait-Ul-Baseer Mosque in Mahidabad, Nahe. After the function and after leading the evening prayers, the Caliph walked out to a sea of people.
Although there have been many emotional moments on the tour, the sentiments of the people this time were clearly heightened. They were seeing off their beloved spiritual guide after having enjoyed his company during his stay. We met several people who told us they were travelling from long distances daily just to say prayers behind the Caliph and to catch a glimpse of him. However now, not at least until the next tour, they would not be able to see him for the time being as he was departing and the emotions of the people over pouring.
As the Caliph walked through the crescendo of noise emanating from his followers who were expressing their love in various ways to say goodbye, the Caliph by chance stopped near to where a large crowd of ladies were standing to see him off. The Caliph began to lead a silent prayers from this position. The women of the community therefore had a prime view of the Caliph and some could not control their emotions. One elderly woman was expressing her gratitude to Allah aloud and was taking deep breaths as it was all a bit too much for her; she could not believe that the Caliph was standing so close right in front of her. She had only expected to wave at the Caliph passing by, but now the Caliph was stationary and barely a few metres away and this opportunity was simply overwhelming for her.
To add a break in the long drive back to the UK, the Caliph stayed overnight at the Basharat Mosque in Osnabruck and the next day travelled to Calais to cross the channel, stopping en route in Brussels for lunch and to offer the afternoon prayers. The Ahmadi Muslims of Osnabruck city could not believe their luck. Just a few days before there had been no plan for the Caliph to come to this city. However now the Caliph was amongst them, albeit for a short time, and for these people it was nothing less than an ‘Eid’ (annual celebration of Muslims). I spoke to the local Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Osnabruck, Sheikh Hannan. Imam Hannan has only been posted here a few weeks ago and was enthralled to have the chance to say prayers behind the Caliph. He told me:
“We just found out a few days ago that the Caliph would make a short stay here overnight. When we informed the local Ahmadiyya Community here, it created a storm of passion! Everyone came together to get the entire site ready in emergency. The people were jubilant. We placed banners, we cleaned and we prepared the site to be fit for the Caliph. There are some here who have come from Pakistan and who have never seen the Caliph from so close, but now they will have the chance. I myself only recently was posted here and so I am also ecstatic. The people here are feeling as if they have a chance to increase their spirituality through the Caliph’s visit.”
There was a scene before the departure of the Caliph from Osnabruck that was quite unique. After taking photos with various of the local Ahmadiyya groups, someone requested the Caliph if all the ‘Atfal’ present (young children/boys) could have a picture with the Caliph. The Caliph, despite facing a long journey back, lovingly agreed. From every angle young children started to squeeze through the crowds and all possible gaps between people towards the Caliph from all directions. It was truly a remarkable sight. The children then had to sit around the Caliph for the photo. The organisers frantically tried to get each child to sit down – and to stay still in the process. The Caliph took matters into his own hand and started directing, even telling some of the adults standing on the side to move further so they would not get in the shot and thus spoil the photo for these young children.
Finally all were seated and the photo of the children with the Caliph is a heart-warming one. Apart from being a very touching photo, it is also noticeable that one person was holding the flag of MKA (the Ahmadiyya Youth Association) aloft behind the Caliph with huge pride. This photo of the children and the Caliph reflects an important aspect of the Caliph’s tour, how he has reached out to such a large number of young children, given them gifts and chocolates and showered them with love and compassion. Despite a daily gruelling schedule, the Caliph has always made time for everyone, especially young children. Not only has he made time, but he always offered a smile to everyone he met.
After the photo, the Caliph asked for a bag of chocolates he had readied and proceeded to hand them out to each and every child, boy and girl, present there – and there were a very large number of children present. The Caliph took his time and to gift each child with a chocolate with great care. The energy and passion amongst this crowd is difficult to describe in words and needs to be experienced. These people had no expectations of the Caliph coming to their small mosque. Now, they had the honour, of the last place the Caliph would leave from on German soil before his return to the UK. The volume of the crowd got higher, the slogans more intense and the emotions overflowed. The Caliph led a silent prayer before waving goodbye to his followers, who in turn responded with even more songs and slogans.
Arriving back in Islamabad, Tilford UK today, the Caliph was received by a large crowd. This is the longest the Caliph has left the headquarters since he moved here earlier this year. Thus the people of Islamabad and the people here in London and the surrounding areas had been melancholy. The mosque was maxed out to capacity for the evening prayer and the overflow hall had to be used when the Caliph led the prayer.
As the people here in the UK expressed their joy of the Caliph returning to them, I received text messages from Ahmadi Muslims in Germany. One said ‘We miss the beloved Caliph too much. It was such a blessed and memorable trip. May Allah enable us all to act upon the wishes of our beloved spiritual guide.’
The Caliph’s tour of Europe has been one of incredible achievements, breakthroughs and blessings. It has seen many who were sceptical of Islam change their hearts and become endeared to its teachings. It has seen thousands of Ahmadi Muslims become inspired to create a change for the better in their lives.
The Review of Religions has been covering the European tour through online, YouTube videos, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. We hope you enjoyed our coverage and would more than welcome any constructive feedback. Whilst our coverage will be continuing in the coming days; feel free to leave a comment below or to contact us and send me any comments you have about our coverage and the tour of the Caliph in general:
About the Author: Syed Amer Safir is the Chief Editor & Manager of The Review of Religions and Secretary of the Management Committee which oversees all The Review of Religions activities worldwide.