Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) – Some Cherished Memories

Towards the beginning of 1982, having returned to Pakistan from my appointment in Sierra Leone, I was on leave; it was during this period that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) appointed me as regional missionary of the important Jama’at of Islamabad. During my stay in Islamabad, I was honoured by Huzur’s visit four times.

I consider it very fortunate indeed that I had the opportunity of working for three months with him. Every moment of these three months is precious to me and has left an indelible mark on me. He was an example of manly grace coupled with spiritual insight.

During our stay at Baitul Fazal F-8/3, Islamabad, Pakistan, I had to deal with the daily correspondence. He had given me his personal instructions on how to deal with his letters. I noticed that when putting his signature in response to the requests for prayers, he always used to pray synchronously.

At the end of my first day’s work with Huzur, he very graciously told me not to be afraid of the work allotted to me; he said that I would be able to have a firm grip on my duties within two to three days. I realised with great satisfaction that Huzur’s attitude towards me was not formal, but one of affection and kindness. There was more love and understanding than formality. I must point out that the members of Huzur’s private secretary’s staff, e.g. Messrs Saleem, Rasheed and Mian, the security officers Sher Bahadur and Nasir Saeed and Huzur’s chef, Shera and also a few others, were my helping hands and were extremely kind to me. Additionally, I must underline the fact that the local Islamabad Jama’at was also very co-operative in all matters, in particular the Amir, Sheikh Abdul Wahhab, Sheikh Naseem, Munir Farrukh, Mahmood Bullar, Chaudhry Ejaz (Advocate), Shareef Mitto, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman(Advocate), and many others.

Huzur used to phone me from Jehlum to enquire about the arrangements at Baitul Fazal, Islamabad, about his own room and concerning the provisions made for his medicine.

I remember that the first thing he asked me was the time of the congregational prayers. It was one of my duties to go and inform him five minutes before the prayers would start. If he wanted to lead the prayers himself, he would say ‘Alright,’ but occasionally he would say ‘Permission is granted.’ This would mean that I was to go and lead the prayers myself.

Huzur’s saintliness and love for the Jama’at

Huzur was very punctual in coming for prayers and always cast a fleeting glance over the whole gathering before leading the prayer. This charming picture still fleets before my eyes and even now I feel as if I am standing behind Huzur in prayer. After the prayer he used to wait for a few minutes so that the latecomers might also finish their prayers, while repeating the Tasbihaat (words of glorification and praise of God).

Sometimes, Huzur would hold a Majlis-e-‘Irfan (Question and Answer session), either after the combined Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers, or after the combined Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers. Before commencing to speak, Huzur would remain silent for a while, in deep thought. It seemed to me that at that time he was no doubt seeking Allah’s permission to speak.

Huzur very often used to come in the sitting room for a chat. During these sessions, Huzur would speak on diverse subjects. Huzur used to speak of his personal experiences in his travels all over the globe and once said, ‘If you want to see Ahmadiyyat as a vast majority of the population, go to West Africa.’ By the grace of Allah, Ahmadiyyat is very popular in Ghana. Huzur told me on one occasion: ‘A Christian scholar came to see me and said: “Only a short time before, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury had come to Ghana; I had seen them and I see you, but we did not see the dignity in their faces that we see in yours. They did not claim in public, as you claim: “God speaks to me.”’

Once in a sitting Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) said that there are three Jama’ats which outshine all others in their love for the Promised Messiah(as) and in the changes they have brought about in themselves: the Ahmadis of West Africa, the Ahmadis of the USA and the Ahmadis of Indonesia. He said that a few Indonesian ladies came to see him on the occasion of the Jalsa Salana and when the mulaqat was over, one old lady among them requested him to pray before they departed. Huzur said: ‘As I raised my hands, the ladies began to cry so fervently that I was amazed; tears came to my eyes too and I felt that the prayer had been accepted.’

Huzur frequently used to talk about the worthy qualities of his deceased wife, Sayyida Mansoora Begum Sahiba. He talked very highly of her excellent qualities and mentioned that in one of their visits to America it was she who had expressed some misgivings she had concerning a certain doubtful person, and had thus helped them to discover his sinister intentions. It turned out that the person in question had intended to harm Huzur, but thanks to Hadhrat Begum Sahiba’s farsightedness he was prevented from causing any harm. Huzur mentioned that Hadhrat Begum Sahiba had left such an excellent impression on the Jama’at of USA that they had written several articles on her blessed character.

Huzur liked people to speak clearly and concisely and had a great abhorrence of falsehood and lies. Once, Huzur told me: ‘Majeed, outside Ahmadiyyat, it is all darkness. It is within Ahmadiyyat and by remaining attached to Khilafat that man can find true comfort and peace of mind. This is the universal truth.’

Huzur’s Love of Plants

Huzur would always check his flowering plants, in particular rose bushes, whenever he visited his residence in Islamabad. According to Huzur’s instructions, I would place a bouquet of roses picked from his garden on his table. Once, Huzur gently pointed out to me that the colours of the roses in my bouquet were not matching, and taught me how to arrange different colours together so that they would complement each other.

Huzur’s Generosity

I enjoyed the great honour of acting as his private banker. I use the term ‘bank’ because that is precisely the word used by Huzur himself. He gave me his personal directions that funds were to be used only on his own instructions and that there was no need to give him a detailed account. The first time I presented the details of expenditure along with the bundle of receipts, Huzur lovingly pulled my ear and said: ‘I don’t need these receipts; I have already placed my trust in you. Just give me the balance.’

During his first visit to Islamabad, Huzur asked me whether his account needed any replenishing. I said that I had only spent 447 rupees out of it. He replied: ‘Are you not making a mistake?’ I said, ‘No, Huzur. I have got it all in writing.’ It appeared he did not believe what I was saying, for he said: ‘Then you must have been miserly. You must not be stingy.’ He added: ‘In future, I would like you to be open-hearted in treating my guests.’ From then on, I always entertained Huzur’s guests quite lavishly. The fact was that Huzur was a truly generous man, but as for his own person he was very frugal. Among his guests, some of the most prominent were several lawyers from Lahore, Chaudhry Anwar Hussain Sahib who was then the Amir of Shekhupura and Khawaja Sarfaraz (Advocate) of Sialkot.

Huzur had a highly generous nature. Whenever he learned of someone really in need, he would immediately arrange to help him. Before returning to Rabwah, it was his custom to give 200 rupees each to the household staff working at Baitul Fazal and he always used to leave an amount for distributing to the poor.

His Hospitality

Hospitality was another of his sterling traits. He used to say that entertaining guests was a specific attribute of the Holy Prophet(saw). He always enquired from me what had been prepared for his guests to eat and he greatly stressed that each and every guest was to be properly fed. He used to send a number of dishes from his private kitchen, which the guests ate with great relish. Even those who had already eaten used to join in for the sake of benediction.

Every time he returned to Rabwah, Huzur would stop at Kallar Kahar rest house. All the guests were served meals at his expense. He also used to sit with his guests, to whom delicious naans were also served. These Huzur would pass on to his guests with his own hands. Even during his final illness, he used to enquire whether the guests were being properly looked after.

In short, Huzur was a host far above par. It was always his wish that no man should ever go away from his house without being properly fed. Boxes of sweets and biscuits were supplied all the time to me so that no one who came should leave without being entertained.

Concern for the Sick

The Khalifa of the time is always the best among the chosen servants of Allah. Allah listens to his solicitations and as a result many a sick person recover their health. Many have their needs fulfilled. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) always had sympathy for the sick and ailing – those who suffered from physical ailments as well as those who were spiritually ill. I recall that Maulawi Iqbal Najm, missionary for Spain, became ill and a heart operation had been suggested for him. Huzur was very much concerned and especially directed Dr. Noori to look after him. Maulawi Najm was operated upon and Huzur showed great anxiety throughout and continued to ask for his news at short intervals. The doctors were very surprised at the speedy recovery of the patient.

It was during these very days that news reached Huzur that Mr Mahmood Jan in London and Mr Saadat Ahmad Paracha in Zurich had had serious heart attacks. Huzur became very anxious and not only prayed for their health but also kept regular contact with both missions; this became a source of great relief to their parents, relatives and friends. Who in this wide world could be more anxious than the Khalifa himself?

Huzur’s Reaction to Provocation

In the year 1982, a number of non-Ahmadi divines,  planned to celebrate the Holy Prophet’s Day in Rabwah merely for the sake of provocation. They sent out processions onto the streets of Rabwah in rowdy and unbridled columns holding insulting banners and shouting themselves hoarse with the most indecent slogans. In the name of the Holy Prophet(saw) these divines and their unruly followers gave an exhibition completely opposite to his teachings.

When Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) received these reports he was terribly upset. Even when he arrived in Islamabad a few days later he was still very disturbed. He mentioned the sad incident several times. He could not condone such ugly behaviour from the so-called pillars of the faith. Whenever a non-Ahmadi Muslim gentleman came to see him, he would mention to him that ugly demonstration in the name of Islam, and the Holy Prophet(saw), had been held in Rabwah. Even when Huzur visited Islamabad, Mullahs would habitually make noise using loudspeakers, shouting abuse at Huzur and at the Ahmadiyya Jama’at.

One day a few non-Ahmadi Muslim gentlemen came to see Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru). He called me to bring him a few copies of the booklet “Bilal” for them. He gave them each a copy of that booklet and said: ‘We have published this for our children,’ and added that there was a lesson in it for the elders also. Huzur said: ‘We are at the present stage passing through the same trials as Bilal, who had been made a victim of the most brutal assaults.’

Affection for the Jama’at

I would like to specify that it was also one of my duties to go through the important Urdu and English daily newspapers and underline in red, news of interest to us, so that Huzur’s time would not be wasted.

On one occasion, The Daily Jang published a news item that there had been a clash between a section of a minority group and a section of the majority at Kashmoor, in the Sindh province. Property of the minority clan had been damaged and destroyed and many of them had been wounded.

On reading these reports, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) sent for me. He said that he was very concerned because of that news, adding: ‘I sincerely hope the minority described in the news are not our own people. I would like you to find out the truth about these reports by this evening.’

I, therefore, made contact with different sources of information and rang the Amirs of Karachi and Sindh. From them, I gleaned the information that the minority community mentioned in the news were in fact Hindus. Our Jama’at was not at all involved in that trouble.

I knew full well that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) was very much perturbed about the news and I wished to let him know the truth at the earliest moment. I therefore tried to contact him at Murree. He was not there. I began wondering how to contact him. I was still thinking about this matter when I saw Huzur’s car entering the compound, the other cars following. I went out and as soon as I opened the door of his car the first question he asked me was whether I had gleaned any information about the news in the Daily Jang. I told him what I had learned and he became cheerful again.

This small incident is a reflection of the very great concern he always had for the Jama’at.

Huzur always spoke to us very courteously. Even when he spoke to children, he would address them politely and was never harsh to them. In many of his sermons, he also stressed this point very much. He always reminded us that the Holy Prophet(saw), was always very polite to his juniors and kind to children.

His Enthusiasm for Jama’at Activities

Huzur was very keen about the proposed mosque to be built in Spain. In this connection, he very often gave instructions to Maulawi Karam Ilahi Zafar Sahib in Cordoba and also to Maulana Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad Sahib in London. He was also very enthusiastic about the Qasr-e-Khilafat that was at the time under construction in Rabwah.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) also spoke frequently to Maulawi Naseem Mahdi Sahib in connection with the French and Spanish translations of the Holy Qur’an that were being carried out there. He always used to praise God that the work of translation was going very smoothly during his time.

It was Huzur’s practice that whenever a good report came from any of the Ahmadiyya missionaries working abroad, he would make kind mention of it to me, and would express his appreciation. I clearly remember Huzur mentioning Messrs Mahmood Bengali, Abdul Wahab bin Adam of Ghana, Naseem Mehdi and Siddique Gurdaspuri. Huzur used to say that he used to love most of all those missionaries who were very prayerful persons who prayed for others, who were devoted to the upliftment of their Jama’ats and were mindful of the instructions issued by the Headquarters.

Huzur’s Last Days

Huzur visited Islamabad for the very last time on the 23 of May, 1982. Huzur was accompanied by Hadhrat Tahira Siddiqa Begum Sahiba, Sahibzadi Amatush-Shakoor Sahiba, Sahibzada Mirza Anas Sahib and Sahibzada Mirza Luqman Sahib, along with their wives and children. With them were members of the delegation having returned from Spain. After the prayers of Maghrib and ‘Isha, I along with a few others had the blessed opportunity to give a massage to Huzur. We were shocked to discover that the veins on Huzur’s legs were very swollen. Huzur told us, ‘Do not worry. This is due to the pooling of blood as a result of the long journey. Also, the work pressure has been intense for the last few days. I have had to remain seated the whole day. Insha Allah, it will be alright.’ We continued to massage Huzur daily, but his condition did not improve much. As soon as Huzur felt even a slight improvement, he would proceed immediately to his office and would work the whole day there, at times pouring over his correspondence, and at others meeting people. There was no time for him to rest. Indeed, Khilafat is not like any worldly post; for the Khalifa of the time has to contemplate and work for the betterment of the Jama’at and the entire world.

Due to the deterioration of Huzur’s health, the last Friday sermon before his demise was delivered in Islamabad by Sahibzada Mirza Tahir Ahmad – who later became Khalifatul Masih IV. This sermon was very short but heavy with anxiety and emotion; it contained a passionate appeal to the Jama’at to pray for the recovery of Huzur. During this Khutbah, the state of anxiety of the Ahmadis of Rabwah was described in such a way that the assembly was filled with profound grief.

On the night between the 8 and 9 of June, Huzur experienced a second heart attack. Mirza Fareed Ahmad Sahib came down and said that we should announce to the Jama’at that Huzur’s condition was now critical. All those who had gathered at Baitul Fazal were extremely anxious and restless. We could see from the faces of Huzur’s sons and other relatives that Huzur’s condition must indeed be exceedingly worrying. Then, at around thirty minutes past midnight, Mirza Fareed Ahmad Sahib came down and, standing on the staircase, signalled with his hand and softly recited the Qur’anic verse: Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him is our return. The whole assembly was so shocked that all were left speechless. Fear and darkness spread over everyone. But God soon showed His mercy once again and brought His beloved Jama’at back into the light of peace and security.

I call Allah as my witness when I say that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) was indeed a most wonderful person, very dear to each and every Ahmadi; it is not possible to state how dear he was to me. Every particle in my body is indebted to his kindness. He was and shall remain most dear to me. He was truly a great Spiritual Leader.

O my Merciful God! Shower Thy mercy most abundantly upon the holy soul of my master and raise him to Thine own Throne of Nearness. Amin.