Mahmood Kauser, USA
Over a century ago, a man named FL Anderson started corresponding with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, which eventually brought him to the threshold of Islam and Ahmadiyyat. He embraced it in the year 1901, thus becoming the first Ahmadi Muslim of the USA, and was named Hasan. Almost 20 years later, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq (ra) journeyed across the Atlantic to establish the mission of Islam in America. And he started in none other than what some consider to be the capital of the world, New York City.
Upon his arrival, there were many who readily embraced the faith of Islam. One was a lady named Ella May Garber who worked very passionately for the sake of spreading the message of Islam. She would pass out flyers and information all throughout the neighbourhood where she lived. And over the last century, Americans have continued to embrace Islam such as Abid Hanif, Mohsin Mahmood and Muhammad Sadiq, who all grew up in typical American households, and became devout followers once they read the writings of the Promised Messiah (as).
Certainly, Islam has attracted Americans in the past. But does that attraction still hold in modern-day America? It turns out that it does. And so, I would like to share just two stories of people who embraced Islam just in the past couple of years, before the very end of the first century of the establishment of Islam Ahmadiyyat in America.
The first is the story of a man who went on a journey to find the truth. He went from one religion to another, but his heart never found contentment or a sense of belonging. One day his Ahmadi friend presented the teachings of Islam, encouraged him to study for himself and talked to him in great length about the beautiful teachings of Islam. The concept of a truly unified community, which he had been in search of for so long, compelled him to one day visit an Ahmadiyya mosque in New York. After he entered the mosque and met a few members, he connected right away. That sense of belonging had been found – but he still had questions. So for the next few weeks, he returned to the mosque every day and would spend hours discussing various anti-Ahmadiyya arguments to see if we had correct responses.
One Friday he sent me a request for another question. After the prayer, I approached him ready to answer when suddenly he turned to me and said ‘Look, I intend to always ask you tough questions. I do not have any intention of stopping that. But I want to tell you that last night I saw a dream in which I saw a light. And the light spoke to me saying that I should keep on the path I am on.’ He then asked me if this dream meant that he should pledge the oath of allegiance, or bai’at, and join Islam Ahmadiyyat. I replied by saying that if he chose to join, he would be counted like Abu Bakr (ra), who joined Islam as soon as he heard that the Holy Prophet (sa) had claimed to bring down a new teaching. However, I then also told him that countless companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) had not chosen to join right away, and that they spent their time studying and learning in order to attain a deeper understanding of the faith first. I ended by advising him to take his time and we scheduled a more detailed for the next week. He agreed, but the perplexity on his face was quite obvious.
A week later when we met again, the moment I walked in, he said ‘Before we talk about anything I want to tell you what happened after that day.’ That very night, he had seen exactly the same dream where he saw the same light, and the light said that he should continue on the path that he was on.
‘And so the next day I spent the whole day thinking about what the dream meant.’ He wondered whether he should join the Community or not. But then on the third night, he went to sleep and that night again he saw the exact same dream. When he woke up the next morning, he decided, ‘That’s enough. I am now going to join the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.” He explained that he had faith that whatever remaining questions and issues he had left would be resolved over time. We embraced as brothers and when we met again the next day, he described that the fourth night he went to sleep wondering whether he would see the same dream again. But he was surprised and shocked when he did not, in fact, see the dream again. I explained to him that God had wanted him to decide to join Ahmadiyyat – once he had, there was no reason for him to see the dream again.
And in this way, this man embraced Islam and Ahmadiyyat here in New York City.
The second story is with regards to someone who had been volunteering since his childhood to serve the Community in the security department. This was his passion and he continued to serve diligently until one day he was appointed as the director of preaching and outreach. Since the two positions were so different and required very different sets of skills, he was perturbed as to how he would be able to shift to something he was not used to at all. After much reassurance and guidance, he eventually accepted and said he would try his best. He then went on to zealously carry out this task, day in and day out, to convey the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat to strangers on the street.
Anywhere he went he made sure to have flyers with him, and would distribute them to those he met such as his co-workers and clients. One day he was taking an Uber and began to engage in discussion with the driver. Talking to him about day-to-day stuff, he eventually invited him to our weekly ‘Coffee, Cake and True Islam’ program where the public are able to ask any questions about Islam, whilst enjoying free coffee and cake. The man agreed to give it a try, took the flyer, and exchanged phone numbers and contact information.
The following Thursday, the day of the ‘Coffee, Cake and True Islam’ program, the young man called his new friend, happily reminding him of the invitation. Attempting to avoid this interaction, the gentleman came up with one excuse after another, with the last excuse being that he had to babysit that day. To his utter surprise, the young man invited the children he was babysitting as well, explaining that they were more than welcome. This was a huge shock for this man – that he could just bring his kids to the mosque. And so he attended the program, children and all, and afterwards continued to visit the mosque regularly.
One day after such a program, this gentleman saw his new friend and many others performing the ablution before offering the formal prayer. Curious, he asked whether he could perform it as well, prompting everyone around to excitedly assist him and teach him the correct methods of ablution. After he finished, he turned to his friend and said ‘I have spent my entire life bathing and washing and cleaning myself but today after experiencing this ablution, I can say undoubtedly that I feel more cleansed today than I have ever in the past.’
Within a few more weeks of immersing himself into Islam Ahmadiyya and falling in love with its teachings of peace, compassion and tolerance, he also decided to embrace the faith here in New York City.
It is our prayer and our request that you continue to pray that the hearts and souls of all the residents of New York City step forward and embrace this true message of Islam. And that in this way, they can bring about lasting peace in their homes, in their neighbourhoods, in the city, and around the world. Ameen.