Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Translated into English for the first time by Shahzad Ahmed for The Review of Religions Translation Team.
The Review of Religions takes full responsibility for any errors in translation.
(Address delivered on 31st October 1945 after the Maghrib prayers in Qadian, India)
After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz, Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness (ra) stated:
It is a natural phenomenon that whenever a nation assumes power and authority, it ends up forsaking high morals. Europeans criticise Muslims, but their own example is highly deplorable. However, there is not even one example that can be found of Muslims, during their rule, occupying a land while annihilating its native population, regardless of how weak it may have been. For instance, Muslims ruled in Spain for 700 years but throughout this whole time, they did not exterminate the country’s native people. Similarly, Muslims went to Berber, whose inhabitants were completely uncivilised and in a deplorable state and would roam around naked. However, after the arrival of the Muslims, their circumstances improved significantly. The Muslims afforded them with education and brought about such an extraordinary change in them that some of the greatest scholars of the world hail from Berber, and even today, the people of Berber remain residents of that country. Then, Muslims went to Egypt and ruled in such an exemplary manner that Arabic became the national language, but despite this the original tribes of Egypt still exist. Similarly, Muslims entered Syria and Arabic became its national language but its original tribes still live in the country, even though many of them were Christians. Although recently the country has gained its independence, initially it was under Muslim rule, and the Christians have never been compelled to change their faith. Muslims also ruled in Palestine but they did not destroy its native population; in fact the native tribes still exist there today. We cannot stop anyone from changing their faith, therefore if they became Muslims, it was their own choice. Similarly, Muslims ruled in Africa, however there is not a single region whose native people were destroyed.
In short, wherever Muslims have ruled, the natives of those countries continue to exist to this day. The Arabs live side by side with them and are fewer in numbers [compared to the overall population]. There are many other examples, such as Mauritius, Java, Sumatra, Madagascar and the Philippines. Whichever of these countries Muslims ruled, they sought to provide the citizens with as much benefit as they could. They did not try to annihilate its people, nor did they seek to replace any nation in worldly terms. In fact, wherever the Muslims ruled, the native population co-existed. There is not a single instance where the Muslims killed the nation’s indigenous population and then occupied the land.
On the other hand, when the Europeans arrived in these same countries, they took possession of all the wealth and property and wiped out the indigenous people. For instance, take Nairobi, where the Arabs had so much influence that their local language is a distorted form of Arabic. Despite the fact that Nairobi was ruled by Muslims, the indigenous population continued to own their land and property and their original tribes continue to exist. However, when the British went there, they seized the residents’ land and property and claimed that since the African people had never thought of taking control of the land, therefore they could not own the land even in their own country. Subsequently, some of the land was divided amongst the British settlers and the rest was taken by the government. Each British settler was granted land of up to 20 miles, which was so vast that they would not have been able to populate the land even over the course of twenty generations. On the contrary, the Arabs had declared that what rightfully belonged to one should continue to remain in their possession.
When the English travelled to Australia, they treated the indigenous people in such a manner that today it is extremely difficult to find them, and even when one can, they number hardly more than a few thousand, despite the fact that the size of their country is one and half times bigger than the subcontinent. The USA is twice the size of the subcontinent and its entire land is inhabited, yet if one were to search for the Native Americans, they do not number more than a few thousand. They have no property or land of their own and work as labourers, living a life of extreme poverty. The case of Canada is similar; where are its original natives? Thus, whichever country the Europeans occupied, they completely destroyed the native people.
After all, can someone explain to us how it is that God has decreed that wherever Muslims go, the natives of that land will survive and make progress, but that where the Europeans go they are destined to die? [The Europeans] claim that the natives of those lands died on their own, but the question still remains, why did they die at all? Muslims did not have vitamins, but [the Europeans], despite producing vitamins, keep killing the indigenous people. Thus, this makes it clear that this is just a mere excuse on their part, because who can really accept that the natives lived for a thousand years under the rule of Muslims, yet under the rule of the French or English, or other European nations, they just happened to die within 200-300 years? Granted, there are certain regions in Africa where disease is rife and the people of Europe cannot live for more than 10-12 years. However, for now, let us leave aside those countries where diseases are widespread and consequently it was not possible for the Europeans to expel the native Africans. For example, take West Africa, where epidemics are so widespread that it is referred to as the ‘white man’s grave’. Europeans could only live there for 8-10 years, at most, and any longer would potentially result in death. Hence, the Christian priests are replaced after 8-10 years of serving there. It is only our missionaries who have continuously served there for the last 15-16 years and still wish to go back there [once they have left]. In any case, the Europeans cannot live there for more than 8-10 years and even during this period, they are given a longer vacation after a year or two. Despite this, they pass this time with difficulty. And so the Europeans themselves left these areas alone, since no one wants to live in a ‘grave’ as it were, which is why the original residents still exist. But apart from these areas, all the other lands which were pleasant and which they were able to conquer, saw the natives dispossessed and much of their progeny wiped out. So too is the case with Natal [in current-day South Africa]; all of the Africans have been stripped of their rights and the British control their land and they now serve the British.
When we were children, if we found something whilst playing, we would hold it and say:
لبھی چیز خدا دی نہ دھیلے دی نہ پا دی
[A Punjabi proverb which states that whoever finds something is entitled to keep it, similar to ‘Finders, keepers’ in English]
In our childhood innocence, we believed that by simply reciting this mantra, we could rightfully lay claim to someone else’s possessions. This is the attitude of those people. But we would pick up a piece of chalk or something extremely trivial and cheap. They, however, have taken entire countries into their possession while saying ‘finders, keepers.’ They picked up India and said ‘finders, keepers’. They picked up Africa, which is even bigger than India, and said, ‘finders, keepers’. There is no country to which they did not apply ‘finders, keepers’ to. I am always astonished at this response of theirs, because despite their intelligence, perhaps they think that the world is foolish and is not aware of what they are doing. However, in actuality, people are forcefully oppressed and know that if they speak out they will be imprisoned. Otherwise, they know very well that this occupation is unlawful and a grave injustice is being perpetrated.
Thus, in contrast, how great a sign have the Holy Prophet’s (sa) ummah [followers] shown. The Christians claim that it is recorded in history that Aurangzeb perpetrated such-and-such cruelties; or point to a particular reference in history that such-and-such injustices were carried out, or that a particular Muslim ruler had promised to give sixty thousand gold coins to Ferdowsi [a Persian poet and the author of the Shahnameh] but only gave him one thousand. However, let us leave aside these incidents for a moment, as we are not sure of their authenticity. First they should examine their own condition in this era. They claim that Muslims committed cruelties but have they examined what they themselves are doing?
Why is it that those peoples, who existed both before they were ruled by Muslims and after Muslim rule ended, became non-existent during the rule of the British? According to the Islamic perspective, the present human cycle is 6000 years old; however, the Europeans believe that the world is two million years old . If we were to take the European perspective, even then it raises the question as to how did those nations live for the last two million years and all throughout Muslim rule, yet were suddenly destroyed after the European nations took them over? The Europeans travelled to Australia, to Africa, in fact wherever they went, the original residents began to dwindle. It is evident that when the land of the original natives was usurped and they were ousted from rule, dispossessed and enslaved, they consequently became dispirited with life. Once someone starts feeling dejected about life itself, they no longer have the will to live. They feel that since they have no say anymore, what is the point in staying alive? So too was the case with those nations in question; they too were dispossessed and gradually became non-existent.
There are some verses by an Arab poet, which I do not know from memory but which are very historic and penned during extremely sad and emotional circumstances. When the recent war ended and the Allied powers joyously returned to their homes, celebrating their victory, he wrote some couplets, the gist of which is as follows: ‘The Allies have gained victory and are returning to their homes in jubilation. Upon their return, they shall celebrate and rejoice. But O brother of mine! Do not partake in these celebrations for the people of Europe are returning to their homes to celebrate, but what home do you have where you can celebrate? Indeed, you had a home but now it’s occupied by a stranger and you are left with nothing. Palestine was once your home but now it has been seized by foreigners. Indeed, they will rejoice for they have a place in this world to live in, but where is your abode? They have means for trade but
what do you have with which you can trade? In short, you possess nothing.’
He then says near the end, ‘O my brother! There is nothing left for you in this world. Now your job is to grab a shovel and join me in digging a ditch, and having dug this ditch, we shall bury our dead. This is not the time for us to celebrate.’
Since the sole objective of this poet is the material world itself, he digs a grave and buries the dead. Then he states,
‘O my dear brother! Now that we have buried our dead, come and let us dig another ditch and bury ourselves and our living, as there is no longer any place left for us in this world.’
This is the situation that western nations have created. Wherever you look, they have seized control of land, claiming that they are doing this to ‘protect’ the people and not for their own personal advantage. An article by the President of the United States of America, who passionately calls for peace and justice, was recently published, in which he wrote that they do not like to unnecessarily take control of other nations, but they take over only the small surrounding nations whose possession is vital to their security. This is precisely what the European nations claim as well; the British, the French and the Germans all claim that if such-and-such country was no longer under their influence, it would be a grave threat to their safety. Now that the people of Indonesia have called for independence, the French have begun to ask what will happen to them if the Indonesians gain independence, and the British army is helping them. But the question is, do the inhabitants of those countries not have the right to ensure their own safety? After all, what fault is it of theirs that now the USA wants to assert its control over them and what wrong did they commit that they are no longer considered worthy of protecting themselves? Thus, they [the Western countries] usurp the land of others but when they are attacked themselves, they shout for justice. When the Italians attacked Abyssinia and the British remonstrated against this, although Italy responded to this objection, the response given by the Germans was splendid. They responded by saying for so long they alone [i.e. the British] have been trying to civilise the entire world and have not included anyone else in this endeavour of theirs. In order to achieve this objective, they have taken control over India and many other countries, therefore they [other European countries] should now also be given the opportunity to partake in this noble deed and civilise others. Thus, it is a foolish notion to claim that they have gone there for their benefit [i.e. for the benefit of the natives of the land]. After all, why are they so concerned? Everyone knows what is beneficial for them, and if they don’t, they will incur their own loss, but what does that have to do with anyone else? It is just as if the Tata Group [an Indian multinational conglomerate] were to seize the wealth of a local chief because he was an alcoholic and squanders his wealth by spending it unwisely. Could anyone approve of this act of theirs? Would anyone commend the action of the Tata Group simply because this chief spent his own wealth on alcohol, dancing-girls and indulging in other immoral acts? There is not a single person in the world who would consider it permissible to act in this manner. In fact, they would deem such a person to be a criminal and would say, ‘What concern is it of yours whether one wastes their wealth on drinking alcohol or other immoralities? Who are you to seize his wealth?’
These are just mere excuses presented by the European nations, which people have no choice but to tolerate because they are weak. Their example is perfectly reflected by the story of a wolf who was drinking from a stream from a slightly elevated area while a kid [i.e. a baby goat] was drinking from the lower end of the stream. Tempted to devour the young goat, the wolf said, ‘O foolish one. How dare you dirty the water?’ The young goat submitted, ‘Master, you are drinking water from the higher end of the stream while I am drinking it from below, therefore the dirty water can flow from you towards me, but my water cannot go upstream towards you.’ The wolf furiously pouncing at him said, ‘Are you talking back to me?’ Such is the case of the dominant powers, who simply wish to fulfil their own desires. Whatever thought enters their heart, regardless of how absurd it may be, they begin to act on it.
When the condition of the world deteriorates to such an extent and man exceeds all bounds of cruelty, it is then that Allah the Almighty sends His prophets; and their objective is to re-establish justice in the world. However, the question is, have the moral training and qualities which are imparted by the prophets been inculcated within the members of our Community? I have observed this weakness within our Community that when a person acquires something, for instance a house for rent, they desire, if at all possible, not to pay any rent. In fact, if they could, they would try to take over the whole property. A significant amount of time has passed since the Promised Messiah’s (as) advent, yet why is it that we have not progressed? In my view, it is because the Community has not yet acquired those moral values which Islam seeks to establish. Thus, adopt the highest standard of morals so that you may be granted success. It is possible that God Almighty would save the oppressed from the jaws of a wolf and entrust them to a physician. However, it is not possible that God Almighty would take an oppressed one away from the jaws of a wolf and place them at the mercy of another wolf. Therefore, unless our Community instils those moral values which ought to be adopted by the communities of the prophets, God Almighty shall not bestow His grace upon us. If despite having these ill morals we attain dominance, it would mean, God forbid, that He also is included in perpetrating these cruelties. In such an instance, it would not be the case of saving one from the jaws of a wolf and entrusting them to a physician, rather it would be akin to saving one from the jaws of a wolf and placing it at the mercy of another wolf. The only difference would be that the wealth would be taken from the Western powers and handed over to the Ahmadis, but there would be no actual difference in their conditions. If, however, the morals of Ahmadis are such that they safeguard the wealth of others and treat them with benevolence, then they shall become the recipients of God Almighty’s grace.
On one occasion someone came to me regarding a dispute about his property. I advised him that since he serves in the military and only returns for 15 to 20 days in the year, he should stay in a guest house or at a friend’s house. It is difficult to acquire a property at this time and so if he asked the tenants to vacate the property for 15 days solely for his own convenience, it would cause them great discomfort. The Companions (ra) [of the Holy Prophet (sa)] sacrificed even their wealth for those who migrated [to Madinah]. In fact, some of them who had two wives even offered to divorce one of them so that his brother who had migrated to them could marry her. However, our condition is that for simply 15, or at most, 20 days’ comfort, we want to remove the occupants who live in the house for eleven and half months of the year. I thus explained this to him and I noticed that my advice had an impact on him. However, he replied, ‘Your Holiness, I completely understand that it is wrong of me to trouble them in this manner, but they have failed to pay the rent for the last 8 to 9 months, and you can even confirm this from them. This is why I have been left with no choice but to ask them to vacate the house.’ I told him that this was quite a reasonable request and he was not at fault.
At the time, I was left in a very peculiar situation because I had tried to soften his attitude, but he said something to which I had no response. If the other party had paid the rent then I would have been successful, but because they had not wanted to pay the rent for the last eight to nine months and also wanted to lay hold on the property, at that time, my situation was like that of the Pathan , who grabbed hold of a Hindu and ordered him to recite the Kalimah [Islamic declaration of faith]. ‘I am a Hindu, how can I possibly recite the Kalimah?’ cried the Hindu. The Pathan stated, ‘I have no concern for whether you are a Hindu or not, just recite the Kalimah because that way I will enter paradise.’
The fact was that the Pathan had heard that if one converts someone to Islam, he will be allowed directly into paradise. Hence, he did not care for whether this person was a Hindu or belonged to some other faith, he was not going to let go of him until he had recited the Kalimah. He drew out his sword and ordered, ‘Recite the Kalimah, otherwise I shall kill you at once.’ The poor Hindu continued to plead with him and stall for time, and in the meanwhile kept looking to see if perhaps someone would come and thereby save him, but unluckily, no one came for a long time. Since life is dear to Hindus, he eventually gave in and said, ‘Very well, help me recite the Kalimah.’ The Pathan responded, ‘Recite the Kalimah yourself.’ The Hindu again pleaded, ‘I am a Hindu, how would I know the Kalimah!’ The Pathan replied, ‘Your fortune is not good because I also do not know the Kalimah. Had I known the Kalimah, I would have converted you to Islam and thereby guaranteed my entry to paradise.’
Likewise, I had also managed to soften his heart, but after I had done so, he gave me such an answer that I was left speechless and my ‘Kalimah’, so to speak, could not help me at all. Had the tenants paid their rent, I would have been able to make him recite the ‘Kalimah’, but what could I do after this response of his? Thus, a believer should seek to swiftly fulfil the rights of others.
The companions (ra) [of the Holy Prophet (sa)] were steeped in virtue. On one occasion, one of the companions (ra) came to another companion to sell his horse. Upon enquiring its price, he was told that it was valued at one thousand dirhams. The companion (ra) inspected the horse and told the owner that he had undervalued the horse and that it was actually worth two thousand dirhams. The companion (ra) who owned the horse, replied that it was valued at one thousand dirhams and he did not to wish to take anything extra as charity and would only accept one thousand dirhams for the horse. The companion (ra) who wished to purchase the horse replied that he was also not desirous of usurping another’s wealth and according to his estimation, since it was worth two thousand dirhams, he would therefore pay two thousand dirhams. The debate continued until the matter was presented before a qadhi [judge] and it was decided that the value of the horse was actually two thousand dirhams. It was only then that the other companion (ra) accepted
this amount .
Ponder this now: the one taking the money undervalues [the horse] and the one purchasing it offers a higher amount. The one who was receiving the money considered the extra money as a form of charity and hence did not wish to accept it. On the other hand, the one who was purchasing it insisted that he would give more because he did not want to usurp another’s wealth. This is why Allah the Almighty eventually granted them governance and rule. This is also evident from the account of when the Muslims, for whatever reason, had to leave Jerusalem (which was under their rule). Upon their departure, its Christian inhabitants, instead of expressing their joy that the Muslims were now leaving their country and they would be able to take back its rule, in fact were reduced to tears and accompanied the Muslims to the outskirts of the city, praying that God would enable them to return to their city once again. The Promised Messiah (as) came to this world to instil these very morals and established a community. Our Community now ought to adopt the highest standard of morals which will enable them to become the recipients of Allah the Almighty’s grace.
Where I have outlined the ills of the European nations, I shall also mention a quality of theirs. One outstanding quality is that they uphold the law; and whilst they seize the land of others, however, they ensure that the laws they enact are strictly followed. However, the people of our country [referring to the subcontinent], regardless of whichever section of society they belong to, show negligence in this regard. It is for this reason that if a lawsuit is sent to an Englishman, they are assured that justice will be done. However, if the case goes to an Indian, they have no hope for justice and seek undue favours; in fact they even cast their suspicion and doubt on judges as well. Whether their suspicions are right or wrong, but after all why do the Indians doubt their fellow brothers? And why is it that they do not entertain any suspicion regarding the English, who are a foreign people? The reason for this is that despite the fact that the Europeans are like a sword which continues to sever nations, when it comes to particular judicial matters, they ensure that justice is upheld. This leaves a good impression on others and hence the locals prefer the rule of the non-natives than their own people ruling over them.
For example, those Germans who were being convicted of war crimes [after World War II] have British magistrates and lawyers. Despite being English, however, when one observes them advocating on their behalf, it seems they have completely forgotten that for so long they were at war with them. In fact, they cross question and defend them so fervently that one is left astounded. By the manner in which they passionately and emphatically advocate for them, it seems as if they are their near relations and have close ties with them. It is owing to this very spirit of justice that people of other nations admire them. Thus, where on the one hand, there is an aspect of injustice on their part, but on the other hand, there is also this trait of justice and fairness. Therefore, we ought to abandon their ill traits and seek to adopt their qualities and show an even greater example in such moral excellences.
Then, take the example of trade and industry: whatever products are manufactured in Europe in general, but particularly in England, are of a very high standard. If one were to agree to a deal with them while here [in India] and pay them a million, one would be largely satisfied that they would receive the product as specified. However, the situation here [in the subcontinent] is that even if one were to personally purchase all the items, they would remain anxious lest they have been deceived, and this in actual fact happens, that despite directly overseeing the transaction, they fall victim to fraud. We once travelled to Kashmir, and I was around 20 years of age at the time, and Maulvi Syed Sarwar Shah Sahib was also with us. Gabba [traditional carpet] are generally produced in Kashmir, which are made from old and tattered rugs. Once the gabba is made, it is dyed with different colours and embroidered with flower designs with silk thread and it appears quite beautiful. I also got a gabba made for myself. In accordance with the size of the room, I specified the length and width to the person making the gabba. After a few days, I enquired from him if the gabba had been prepared and he confirmed that it was ready. When I looked at the gabba, I noticed that it was a foot short in its length and its width, which would consequently make a significant change to the price. Also, it was not in accordance to the size of the room. I therefore told him that I was not going to purchase it as it was far too small. I told him that I had clearly specified that it should be 8 feet in length and 5 feet wide, i.e. 40 square foot in total; however he had made it 7 feet in length and 4 feet in width. In others words, he had made a 28 square foot gabba; this was 12 square feet less, which was a significant difference. So firstly, he had deceived me, and secondly, it was no longer of any use to me due to it being so small. I told him that I had taken the measurements of a friend’s room and made it accordingly, so that I could present it to him as a gift. However, since it would now look unattractive, I could not present it to him, and so it was of no use to me. Upon hearing me say this, he began to cry loudly like a child and said, ‘I am a Muslim! Please have mercy on me.’ He would keep repeating this phrase and I became angry as to why he would say that he is a Muslim and that I should therefore show mercy to him. In other words, what he was saying was that he was a Muslim, and so why should he not be permitted to lie, for it was his right to do so. Even though this is not what he meant but this is what was inferred from it. What he actually wanted to say, however, was that he had committed a mistake and that I should forgive him for he was my Muslim brother. Hearing the hue and cry, people began to gather around and urged me to pay the poor man and forgive him as he had made a mistake. I replied that I was willing to pay him but why does he say that I should forgive him because he is a Muslim; in other words, he is claiming that since he is a Muslim, therefore it is his right to defraud and deceive. Why would he not simply say that he made a mistake and that I should forgive him, and he will not do it in future? Thus, this is the condition of the Muslims of today; they consider deceit to be their exclusive right – if it is not our right to be deceitful, then whose is it?
Similarly, the English sell milk in sealed cartons and they do not adulterate it at all. However, here it is common to add water to the milk when selling it. There is an incident during the time of the Promised Messiah (as) where Mir Muhammad Ishaq Sahib (ra) once had an idea of how he could try and catch those out who were guilty of this act. Hence, he obtained an instrument which would indicate whether or not the milk had been adulterated. There was a mark at a particular point on the instrument which was equal to the weight of milk (everything has a particular weight, as does milk). If the instrument remained in the milk up till this mark, then that would indicate that the milk was fine. If, however, the instrument remained afloat above the mark, it would mean that water had been added to the milk. Since water weighs less than milk, when water is added to milk, the combined mixture produces a new weight, which is less than that of pure milk. Consequently, the instrument would not immerse deep enough as it ought to in the case of pure milk, thereby it would become evident that water had been added to the milk.
Mir Sahib acquired this instrument and went into town and whoever would approach him to sell milk, he would ask them to first show the milk. If the instrument indicated that the milk was fine, he would permit them to continue selling the milk, but if it showed that the milk had been adulterated, he would prohibit them from selling the milk. This became a pastime of his and all day he would walk around and call anyone who was selling milk and check its quality with this instrument. There was a hospital on the main road, where currently the book depot is, and probably Dr Muhammad Abdullah Sahib, who worked there – or whoever it was – mentioned that were was a particular individual from whom milk should be bought because on several occasions they had checked the quality of his milk with the instrument and found it to be pure. However, it so happened that once this same person poured some of his milk into a small pot to give to someone and a tiny fish jumped and fell out. In fact, he was a very sharp person, when he realised that they were using an instrument, he began to add water to the milk from a pond. Since the pond water contains sand, which is quite heavy, therefore the weight of the water increases as a result of which the instrument would remain at the designated mark and so his deceit remained hidden. People assumed he was extremely honest because the instrument would appear at the mark to indicate pure milk. However, when one day the fish jumped out, his deceit was exposed. What impact can such people have on others when they themselves act with such deception and have greed over such paltry sum of money and display such ill morals?
Similarly, there are some other examples of such practices known to our Jama’at. For example, when I travelled to Dalhousie, there was a gujjar [sub-caste of an Indian tribe] from whom we bought milk. One day, one of my assistants informed me that he mixes the milk with water, but I admonished him as to why he was thinking ill of him. However later on, I was informed by others that they had actually seen him add water to the milk, and it was only then that I realised that this indeed was the case. One day, a somewhat amusing situation occurred. The numbers of our guests increased and therefore we began to buy 10 seer of milk instead of 7 seer [seer is a unit of measurement equal to approximately 2 pounds in weight]. A few days later, some of our friends got hold of him and brought him to me and reported that they had seen him adding water to the milk. Upon further enquiring into the matter, the milkman responded, ‘I told them from before that my buffalo only produced 7 seer of milk and not more than that, so how could I give them 10 seer, but they insisted that they needed 10 seer of milk. And so, I was left with no other option but to add water to the milk in order to make it 10 seer.’
It seems he was a man of simple disposition and did not commit this act in order to deceive anyone; rather he genuinely believed that since they insisted on having 10 seer therefore it meant that he was supposed to add water to make it 10 seer. Hence, he added the water. In fact, besides this account, it is a common practise in Dalhousie where the milkmen ask whether one wants to purchase 3 seer, 5 seer or 7 seer of milk for a rupee. If a person was tempted for more and asked for 7 seer, they would draw out water from the hand pump right before them and mix three quarters of a pound of milk with one and a quarter pound of water. Thus, it is generally perceived that the people of the sub-continent are dishonest in trade and business, whereas the European nations are extremely honest in this regard. If ever their product falls below the standard, they immediately discard it. However, the traders in our country, instead of throwing it away, sell it for a discounted price. Everything should have a required standard and one ought to ensure that the product does not fall below that, and if it does, then one should not sell such a product. If this principle is not adhered to then no industry can ever thrive.
We have many factories in Qadian which are running very well. When I most recently travelled to Lahore, many of the leading experts mentioned that no other city in India had made as much progress as Qadian in this regard. However, they, as well as other buyers, complained that these factories did not maintain a consistent standard; sometimes the products would be good and sometimes of poor quality. In contrast, there are hundreds of thousands of firms in England but they all maintain a consistent standard. This is because they have appointed quality checkers and before any of the products are dispatched, they are first checked. Any product which does not meet the required standard is not allowed to leave the factory and is discarded. There are mainly two reasons as to why in our country they fail to maintain the required standard. Firstly, there is no one to check the quality of the product, and secondly, the factories want to dispatch their products regardless of how defective they may be and try to sell them for a discounted price. Since those purchasing the products are also the natives of the subcontinent, they buy it simply because it is cheap. If a [good] product is purchased from the factory for one rupee and sold in the market for one and half rupees, the subpar product, which is originally purchased at eight anna [half a rupee] should be sold for one rupee, but instead, the shopkeepers sell it for one and half rupees. As a result, people are deceived into thinking that the product is of the original standard. However, when it becomes evident that the product is faulty and the complaint is brought to the shopkeeper, he claims that there is nothing he can do as he had given an order to such-and-such firm, consequently the factory’s reputation is discredited. The English, however, possess the quality that they strive to maintain the standard of every item.
Mir Mahdi Hassan Sahib also possessed this particular quality in his work. Mir Sahib was in charge of publishing the books during the time of the Promised Messiah (as). Whenever any book of the Promised Messiah (as) was transcribed he would read it very carefully. If even a full stop was wrongly placed [by the scribe], he would discard the copy and would get it rewritten. And so, until the new copy was not produced, the employees would have nothing to do for several days. When a new copy was produced, he would again read it, and yet again, would discard it upon finding an error. He would not permit the book to be printed until he was absolutely convinced that the transcript was free of any errors [from the scribe]. The Promised Messiah (as) would enquire about the delay and Mir Sahib would say, ‘Your Holiness, there are still many errors in the proof.’ The Promised Messiah (as) also desired it to be of an immaculate and high quality and would never show concern that the employees and labourers were receiving their wages and yet were sitting idle with no work to do. In fact, the Promised Messiah (as) also desired that a book of the highest quality should be presented to people. It was also the practise of the Promised Messiah (as) that even if he found the slightest of errors in the transcript, he would tear it up and would instruct it to be rewritten. The scribe would rewrite the transcript and if the Promised Messiah (as) again found even a minor mistake, he would tear up the transcript. Until the transcription was of the required standard, the Promised Messiah (as) would not allow it to be published.
The gentleman whom the Promised Messiah (as) had employed as a scribe was initially not an Ahmadi, but later he and his son accepted Ahmadiyyat. He had the quality that he was able to recognise the lofty status of the Promised Messiah (as, and on the other hand, the Promised Messiah (as) also recognised his talent. Despite the fact that he was not an Ahmadi, whenever the Promised Messiah (as) wanted something to be transcribed, he would come to Qadian. In those days, the wages were very low and he would get twenty-five rupees per month and an additional allowance for food. It was his habit that when his work was almost nearing its end, he would come to the Promised Messiah (as) and say, ‘Your Holiness, I have come to say my salaam, if you could kindly permit me leave so I can go home.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would enquire why he was in such a hurry and he would reply, ‘Your Holiness, I must leave.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would say that there was still some work left to transcribe. However, he would say, ‘Your Holiness, I have to prepare the food and the entire day is spent doing this. Therefore, I can either work on the transcription or prepare the food, because preparing food takes up the entire day.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would say that he would make arrangements for his meals from the Langar Khana [community kitchen]. In this way, his wages would increase to thirty-five rupees and his meals would be free. After a few days had passed, he would again come to the Promised Messiah (as) and say, ‘Your Holiness, I have come to say my salaam and seek your permission to leave.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would again enquire as to why he wished to leave and he would say, ‘Your Holiness, can one even call what is prepared in the langar food? The lentils [in the broth] are on one side, the water on the other, and there is no salt whatsoever. At times, they add so much spice to the food that one is left with no choice but to eat the roti [flatbread] on its own. How can one do any work whilst eating this food?’ The Promised Messiah (as) would then ask him what he could do for him instead and he would reply, ‘If you could give me a separate allowance for food, I shall prepare my own meals; I’d rather go to the trouble of preparing my own meals than to eat this.’ And so, the Promised Messiah (as) would grant him a further ten rupees and increase his salary to forty-five rupees. After ten days, he would come back to the Promised Messiah (as) and say, ‘Your Holiness, I have come to say my salaam, if you could kindly permit me to leave so I may go home. I spend the entire day preparing my food and cannot do any work.’ Again, The Promised Messiah (as) would ask what he could do to help and he would reply, ‘Your Holiness, if you could make the arrangements for my food from the Langar Khana.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would say that he would continue to receive forty-five rupees and his food would also be arranged in the Langar Khana. He would again return to his work but after a few days, he would again come to the Promised Messiah (as) and say, ‘Your Holiness, I have come to say my salaam, if you could kindly grant me leave.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would again enquire what the matter was and he would say, ‘Your Holiness, what kind of food is this? I cannot eat the food prepared by the Langar. If you were to grant me an additional ten rupees, I shall make my own arrangements for food.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would again increase his salary by an additional ten rupees to fifty-five rupees.
Since he was aware of the Promised Messiah’s (as) nature, he had taught his son to run into the Promised Messiah’s (as) room and then utter such-and such words while his father would run after him with a stick. And so, the father would run after his son with a stick and the child would run into the Promised Messiah’s (as) room, yelling and screaming, ‘Your Holiness, he’s attacking me.’ His father would also show up and shout, ‘come outside, I am going to punish you!’ Witnessing the entire scene, the Promised Messiah (as) would ask what the matter was and why he wanted to punish the young child. He would say, ‘Your Holiness, I just bought him a new pair of shoes and it’s only been seven or eight days and he has lost them. I did not say anything at the time, but I bought him another pair and again he has lost them. I don’t have the provisions to buy him another pair, hence I am going to punish him because if I don’t punish him now, he will lose them again.’ The Promised Messiah (as) enquired as to the cost of the shoes and he informed him that it was three rupees. The Promised Messiah (as) would give him the three rupees and would tell him not to say anything to the child. He would take the three rupees and go back and hardly four days would pass that the child would again run into the Promised Messiah’s (as) room, shouting and screaming. Again, the father would be chasing after him with a stick saying, ‘Come out! That day I let you off upon the instruction of Hazrat Sahib (as), but today I am not going to let you go.’ Again, the Promised Messiah (as) would ask why he wanted to punish the child and he would say, ‘Your Holiness, that day I let him off at your request, but not today, because again he has lost his shoes.’ The Promised Messiah (as) would advise him against hitting his child and would ask the cost of replacing the shoes. Hence, he would return having received the money he had quoted to the Promised Messiah (as) for the shoes and would say, ‘Your Holiness, I was not prepared to let him off this time but I am only doing so as you have said so.’ Thus, he would continue to act in this manner, but he was so skilled in the art of transcribing that the Promised Messiah (as) would always employ his services to transcribe the manuscript of his books. The Promised Messiah (as) did not wish to use an average scribe lest he ruin the book, which would discredit the standard of the book in the eyes of people.
In any case, the members of our Community should develop high morals within themselves. They should not only seek to attain those qualities found amongst the Europeans, but in fact they should try and adopt even better qualities than them so that the overall standard of our Community is raised and we can have an influence upon others.
(Al-Fazl 29th-31st July, 1960)
- Reference to 6000 years is not a suggestion that humans evolved 6000 years ago, but that the current cycle of revelation and prophethood (from Prophet Adamas) began 6000 years ago. In comparison, European academics who deny the existence of prophethood and God are only interested in the entire lineage of man. When this speech was delivered in 1945, the earliest stone tools (Olduwan Technology) and earliest known human ancestor (Homo erectus) dated to around 2 million years ago.
- A member of the Pashtu-speaking people, who come from the North-West of Pakistan and Afghanistan
- Al-Baladhuri, Futuh-ul-Buldan, Cairo 1319AH, pp. 143-144.