Sarmad Naveed Ahmad, Canada
‘And the bounty of thy Lord, proclaim’ (93:12)
Having been blessed with the opportunity to attend Jamia Ahmadiyya (Ahmadiyyat Institute of Languages and Theology) perhaps the foremost thing that I learned, was the practical value of a relationship with Khilafat (the Caliphate). I learned that by establishing that relationship by writing letters on a regular basis, listening to the various addresses and programs of beloved Huzoor (His Holiness) (aba) and when blessed with the opportunity, traveling to be in his presence; one can use this relationship to strengthen their relationship with God. After all, the Khalifa is a representative of God on earth. As Huzoor (aba) has expressed himself, there is no love that compares to the love an Ahmadi feels for Khialfat, and the love that the Khalifa feels for his people.
As a youngster, of course you cannot truly understand what Khilafat is, although you may realize that this is a very holy personage. That true realization and understanding of what Khilafat means would come later on, while I was studying.
In 2016 when Huzoor (aba) visited Canada, an incident took place that would be the catalyst for another young boy to also start his journey in establishing a relationship with Khilafat. One night, as Huzoor (aba) walked back to his residence in Peace Village, my younger brother Sajeel was fortunate to be standing right beside the steps leading to the main door of Huzoor’s (aba) residence. It was a cold October night, Huzoor (aba) had placed his blessed hands in the pockets of his coat as he walked. Just as he was about to walk up the steps, he saw my brother. He looked at him and said, ‘Who is this?’ My brother immediately stepped forward and despite the cold, in a display of affection for this young boy, Huzoor (aba) took his hand out of his pocket and placed it on my brother’s shoulder. He told Huzoor (aba) his name, after which Huzoor (aba) inquired of his father’s name. Then Huzoor (aba) smiled, and walked into his home. To the ordinary eye, this may seem like an ordinary incident, nothing special or amazing; but it was special and amazing, in fact, it sparked a newfound love for Khilafat in a young boy’s heart. Sajeel was about 12 years old at the time, and after that incident, he made sure to take advantage of every opportunity to see Huzoor (aba).
The thought later came to my mind, that I realized the true value of Khilafat later on in my life; why not take advantage of this newfound zeal my brother has established for Khilafat and help him realize the amazing blessings of Khilafat much earlier than I did, so that he can have a head start in his relationship with Khilafat. So, the next year, I decided that in the winter break, I would take my brother to London to be around Huzoor (aba) and experience the blessings of Khilafat.
We arrived in London a day before Huzoor (aba) was to deliver the concluding address for Jalsa Salana Qadian. So on our first full day in London, we were blessed to take part in Jalsa Qadian as well.
The next day was the last day of 2017. Of course my brother and I had come to London for the sole purpose of spending time close to Huzoor (aba) and we were only in London for about twelve days. Since there was no accommodation available near Masjid Fazl, where Huzoor (aba) resided, we were given accommodation in Baitul Futuh. On that day, I asked around to see if there would be any way to get a ride to Masjid Fazl so that we may offer prayer behind Huzoor (aba). Upon asking around, I was told that the best way to find a ride would be to stand by the security cabin and ask people as they came and went, if they were going in the direction of Masjid Fazl. So we stood outside on a rather frigid day and waited, asking every person that passed by in their vehicle if they were going to Masjid Fazl, but no luck. An hour passed by, then another. I was worried more so because my brother was with me, he was my responsibility, I had to take care of him. I was worried that being out in the cold for so long, he might get sick, and he may get tired of waiting for so long. But he didn’t complain even once, he simply kept his spirits high.
Three hours had passed and still no ride. We went for Zuhr prayer and came back and waited for yet another hour or so, but to no avail. In total we waited for a little over four hours. Then a worker who had seen us waiting finally said, that although he was not going that way, he would take us to Masjid Fazl. And so God opened a path for us to be able to see beloved Huzoor and pray behind him that day.
The next day was the first day of the New Year, 2018. It also happened to be the day on which our Mulaqat(private audience) with Huzoor (aba) was scheduled. To make sure we wouldn’t be late, we got ready early as stood outside once again to wait for a ride. This time it only took about a couple of hours, but we finally made it to Masjid Fazl.
Before coming to London, I had written many letters to beloved Huzoor (aba), informing him of the fact that we were coming only to be near him and spend time in close proximity to him. I also explained that the reason I was bringing my brother with me was so that he could experience to love of Khilafat and establish a relationship with the Khalifa at a young age.
It was finally our turn, we stepped into the office, and everything just seemed brighter than it actually was, from the walls to the carpet to the chairs, everything radiated, as it sat in the presence of this great man, who himself glows with Divine light. What a sight it was, Huzoor’s (aba) smiling face as he welcomed us into his office. I still cannot understand why such an esteemed divine personage would stand for two young, insignificant people as ourselves, but out of his kindness, compassion, benevolence and indeed his esteemed morals, he stood up to greet us both.
I started by wishing Huzoor (aba) a happy and prosperous new year, which he kindly returned. He then asked about where we had come from and of our background, and then asked if we had anything to say. Of course I had a list with me, and I started mentioning a few of the things I had written down, but as I looked towards his blessed countenance, it became harder and harder to say anything; I was mesmerized. Huzoor (aba) saw this, and perhaps to give me time to gather myself, and I am also sure that he did this due to the letters I had written, he looked at my brother and said ‘come here beside me.’ My brother got up and went to stand beside Huzoor (aba). Huzoor (aba) held his arm and saw that he was holding a book on the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra). Huzoor (aba) asked ‘what is this?’ and started flipping through the pages of the book. I told Huzoor (aba) that in the three days we had been here, my brother had already finished reading three books. Huzoor (aba) was very pleased to hear this as said ‘that is very good.’ He said to my brother, ‘there is a bookshop here, you can keep getting books from there. Don’t worry about finishing your brother’s money, but keep reading.’ It was such a beautiful moment as Huzoor (aba) not only joked, but gave the most valuable advice in the same breath. My brother asked Huzoor (aba) if he could sign the book which Huzoor graciously did.
Before the mulaqat, I had thought about whether or not I should mention the difficulty we had been facing in reaching Masjid Fazl for the past couple of days. However I decided against bringing it up. I thought, Huzoor (aba) is such a busy man, he has so many things to worry about, this is but a small matter, I shouldn’t bother him with this. And so I was not going to bring it up. However, Huzoor (aba) looked at me during the mulaqat, with a look which was different than any other; as if he knew something. He asked me, ‘where are you staying?’ I heard this question and could not believe it – it was as if someone had told him of my thoughts before I entered his office. I told him that we were staying in Baitul Futuh and that it had been difficult to find rides to come to Masjid Fazl. Huzoor (aba) advised that I should ask around and find a ride from someone. I told Huzoor (aba) that I had been doing this, but we had to wait for more than four hours the day before. Huzoor (aba) sat back and thought for a second. Then Huzoor (aba) said, ‘Speak to Imran Khalid, he’s the missionary there. Tell him to arrange your ride every morning and every evening.’ After the mulaqat I asked around and found Imran sahib’s number. I called him, introduced myself and told him what Huzoor (aba) had said. Without any further questions, to a person whom he had never spoken to before, he said, ‘you are now the guests of Huzoor (aba). Insha’Allah I will take you and bring you back myself. You need not worry.’ The call was no more than a minute long. I could not believe it. It had taken us four hours the day before to find a ride, yet with one simple instruction of Huzoor (aba), our ride for the next ten days was arranged within a minute. Huzoor (aba) himself arranged for our ride.
During the mulaqat, I also expressed to Huzoor (aba) that we had come only for the purpose of being near him. Huzoor (aba) instructed that I should ask the Private Secretary to give us some work, this way we could sit right outside Huzoor’s (aba) office.
And so, from that day, we began working in the office. Sajeel and I would be given stacks of envelopes containing letters written to Huzoor (aba). Our job was to open the envelopes, take out the letters, and sort them according to the language that they were written in. I would open the envelopes, and Sajeel would sort the letters. It was a most wonderful time, working alongside my younger brother, while being in close proximity to Huzoor (aba) and being able to pray behind Huzoor (aba) every single day. It was also an eye opening experience for us. We’d often heard that Huzoor (aba) receives thousands upon thousands of letters every day, but now we were seeing it first-hand. We were astonished at how Huzoor (aba) could possibly read so many letters and then even remember what was written in them.
One day, I suggested to Sajeel that he write a letter to Huzoor (aba) about the work he is doing in the office, which he did. He wrote that we open the envelopes, take out the letters, and sort them according the language in which they are written.
During our stay, we were blessed to offer the first Friday Prayer of the year behind beloved Huzoor (aba) on January 5, 2018. In fact, Huzoor (aba) most graciously granted me the opportunity to call the Azan(call to prayer) for the Friday Prayer. It was a surreal experience, to have Huzoor (aba) walk into the mosque, look straight at you, and ask for the Azan to be called. It was a great blessing indeed.
Huzoor (aba) had also graciously granted us permission to have another mualqat exactly one week after our first one. When we walked in, beloved Huzoor (aba) looked up and was smiling. Rather than sitting, he had us both stand beside him. He looked to my brother and said, ‘I see you are doing a lot of work. Isn’t it so? You open the envelopes, take out the letters and sort them according to the language they are written in. Is it not so?’ I was stunned. Huzoor (aba) repeated everything Sajeel had written in his letter almost word for word. We had seen with our own eyes the number of letters Huzoor (aba) goes through every day, numbering the thousands. Yet, almost word for word, he knew what a young boy had written and could immediately associate the letter with the person who had written it. Even Sajeel could not stop smiling, upon the realization that Huzoor (aba) had read his letter and remembered exactly what he had written. Then Sajeel also mentioned something he had forgotten in the previous mulaqat. He mentioned to Huzoor (aba) that last year, we had been blessed to perform ‘Umrah(the lesser pilgrimage), and that he had performed an ‘Umrahon behalf of Huzoor (aba). It was something he had thought of doing himself, out of his love for Huzoor (aba). Upon hearing this, Huzoor (aba) said ‘Really? JazakAllah (God bless you). In this way I have done ‘Umrah many times!’
Then, Huzoor (aba) opened one of his cupboards and looked inside. He took out a box of German chocolates and said, ‘I have taken a few chocolates from the box, the rest are for you,’ and handed the box to Sajeel. How amazing is our beloved Khalifa (aba). Words cannot describe how loving he is. The way in which he took care of the sentiments of a young boy, the way in which he recognized that I had brought him so that he may experience the love of Khilafat and establish a relationship with Huzoor (aba), and the way in which he took care of us…the words to describe such things do not exist.
The following day was our last in London. It was a sad day indeed as we would be leaving Huzoor (aba). That day, the thought crossed my mind, that Huzoor (aba) has taken such care of us, and kept us as his own guests. How can a guest leave his host without saying goodbye? I went back and forth with this thought in my mind, wondering if it would be appropriate to ask to say goodbye to Huzoor (aba) before leaving. Finally, I came up with the strength to ask the Private Secretary if we could say goodbye to Huzoor (aba), as we would be leaving the next day. He said that he would ask Huzoor (aba), as that decision rests solely with him.
So as the mulaqats came to an end that day, we waited outside Huzoor’s (aba) office. Seeing as this was not an ordinary thing to happen, I kept telling Sajeel that the greater likelihood is that we may not be able to, which is perfectly fine as Huzoor (aba) has already shown us so much love. I just didn’t want to get his hopes up. The final mulaqat ended and the Private Secretary went into the office. If he was going to ask, it would be now. A couple minutes passed by and I was sure that it would not be possible, as the time for prayer was nearing as well. I had all but given up hope, when suddenly, the door opened, and I heard the beautiful voice of Huzoor (aba) saying, ‘come in, come in.’ The joy we felt is indescribable. We went in and once again, stood right beside Huzoor (aba).
Huzoor (aba) looked to me and said, ‘Does your father fax his letters?’ I was startled by the question, and thought Huzoor (aba) must be thinking of someone else. Huzoor (aba) asked again, ‘Does he fax his letters? They reach me rather quickly.’ I said, ‘Yes Huzoor I believe he does fax them.’ Huzoor (aba) said, ‘Yes I have just read his letter, and he also wrote on behalf on you mother, writing about your Azan and giving thanks.’ Again, what words can do those feelings justice? How? How did he know? How could he remember? Even I had not known that my father had written this letter. I would only come to know afterwards when I asked him. Amongst the thousands upon thousands of letters, how did Huzoor (aba) remember this one letter, recall the date it was written on and the date he received it, and then know to associate the letter with it being from my father. My brother and I saw first-hand, that this is no ordinary man, rather he is a man enabled with the help of God Almighty Himself, otherwise the things he is able to do and the manner in which he does them is not possible for any ordinary man.
Then, Huzoor (aba) asked about our departure, when we were leaving and what time our flight was the next morning. I thanked Huzoor (aba) for all he had done for us, and told him that everything had worked out perfectly. Huzoor (aba) then reached and took a handful of chocolates and said, ‘By now, you must have finished the chocolates I gave you last time, here take these as well.’ Of course the chocolates Huzoor (aba) had given us the last time were so special that we had only taken one each and still had plenty left. Yet see how benevolent and gracious Huzoor (aba) is.
Then Huzoor (aba) said, ‘Alright may you have a safe journey.’ We were walking out of Huzoor’s (aba) office and had almost reached the door, when he called out to us, as if to give us just one more opportunity to speak to him, and asked again. ‘You are leaving tomorrow morning correct?’ I replied ‘Yes Huzoor.’ He smiled and said, ‘Alright, may you go safely.’
God, I thank you a million times over, for blessing us with Khilafat. I thank you for blessing us with a Khalifa who is so loving, so caring, that despite having the weight of the world on his shoulders, he takes the time to tend to the sentiments of a young boy and his brother who desired nothing but to give him an opportunity to see the love of Khilafat he had experienced for himself. It is by Your grace, and Your grace alone, that we have been blessed with such a loving, caring, compassionate Khalifa, who is more of a father than all the fathers in the world combined. Your grace knows no bounds. Grant our beloved Khalifa, a long healthy life; remove all his worries and protect him with the highest order of Your protection. God, I thank you for Khialfat.