Ali Ocbany León López, Cuba
It all started a year and a half ago when I was returning from Iran after two years of studying Islamic knowledge and the Persian language. At the time, I was returning to Cuba after a long absence to reunite with my relatives and friends, who were all waiting for me with great joy and gifts. Little did I know that something else was waiting for me; a greater blessing, if you will.
My Quest for True Islam
During my stay in Iran, I had had many moments of doubts and crises of faith. Doubt and uncertainty grew with every passing day, no matter how hard I tried to extinguish them. There was a constant contradiction within me between what I believed to be the real Islam of the Prophet (sa) and what my teachers taught at the Hawza [a seminary for Shi’a Muslims]. As a result, I spent long hours of the morning silently pleading for Allah’s guidance and pleasure. I didn’t know if I was on the right path, so eventually I decided to return back to my homeland, away from the pressure of the sheikhs and the life of the seminary, so that I could think more clearly.
A Change in Direction
Finally, Allah answered my supplications. One day, I was about to offer jumu’ah [Friday prayer] at the local Shi’a mosque, but Allah Almighty changed my path. I was near the mosque when my friend called asking me to offer the Friday prayer with him and a group of brothers. From the very moment I received the call my heart was restless; the feeling one has when they find their loved one; or similar to the joy and uncertainty when one eagerly awaits a gift or surprise. When I arrived, all I found from these brothers were words of peace, love and joy for my presence, as if they had been waiting a long time for me.
There was a group of imams from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community whose leader was serious-looking, small in stature but full of wisdom, and with a good heart. His name was Amir Abdul Sattar Khan, missionary-in-charge of Guatemala and other Latin-American countries. With him were also Imam Ameer Nafees, David Gonzales, the dear brother Suleyman Dabone, diplomat of Burkina Faso in Cuba, and the unforgettable brother Abdur Rahman Abdur Rahim, who later played a transcendental role in my life. These brothers invited me to have a frank and open talk about Islam and discuss some points of our belief, so I accepted and it changed my view of Islam forever. They spoke with love, there was peace in their eyes and every statement they made was supported by the Holy Qur’an. At first, I did not understand their intentions; I only limited myself to agree to their arguments because they were based on the Qur’an and the ahadith [sayings] of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa).
That day when I returned home I checked all their claims. I had finally found Islam – the true Islam. The Islam of love, peace and submission that the Qur’an speaks of, not what the traditional schools of Sunni and Shiite are teaching. At last I found answers to my prayers, my doubts disappeared and I found coherence between the message of these Imams and the Holy Qur’an. However, the message that these servants of God brought belonged to someone very much greater and humbler: it was the message of a prophet of Allah, whose divine mission was to rescue Islam from decadence and intolerance. The name of this champion of Islam was Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi.
I Accepted the Long-Awaited Messiah
However, in order to accept the message of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), there were many points that needed a broader explanation. But while the rest of the gentlemen had returned to Guatemala, the unforgettable Abdur Rahman Abdur Rahim Sahib, who was staying longer in Cuba and who had been born into an Ahmadi family, kept meeting with me and gradually revealed to me the divine mission of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (as) of Islam. From his words, I learned that everything previously discussed by Imam Abdul Sattar Sahib had come from Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) who had been entrusted by Allah to bring back the true teachings of Islam, the Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (sa).
I accepted that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was the reformer that the Qur’an spoke of: that he was going to bring back the true Islam and break the cross with his arguments. He was the long awaited Messiah by all and the Imam Mahdi of Islam. And I accepted him because of the truthfulness and logic of his arguments, which forced me to throw out the dogmas and fantasies that I had been forced to accept during my years of study.
While Abdur Rahman Abdur Rahim also supported his words with the Holy Qur’an and hadith, it was the logic of the message that moved my heart to accept it.
But the acceptance of truth requires commitment, courage, tenacity and a lot of sincerity. Accepting the truth in my heart was not enough. I needed to formalise my acceptance and fidelity to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) by signing a bai’at [oath of allegiance],. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) instructed that as soon as the Imam Mahdi appeared, Muslims should swear allegiance to him through bai’at as has been the practice of the prophets. So I pledged my bai’at for an Islam of ‘love for all and hatred for none’, Alhamdulillah! [by the grace of Allah]
Today we Ahmadi Muslims have been blessed with the institution of Khilafat and a caliph who is loved and chosen by Allah to continue protecting and guiding Muslims to the straight path. Months after signing my bai’at form, I was able to see with my own eyes how the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community had been chosen by God to show His mercy and love to humanity.
Invitation to Jalsa Salana UK 2019
A few months later, in August 2019, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to the Jalsa Salana UK [Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community] in London. Presided over by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Fifth Caliph of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (as), and attended by Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi guests from all over the world. Attending the convention would allow me to reaffirm my bai’at and meet my Ahmadis brothers and the community in general.
Jalsa Salana was magnificent. I witnessed the organisation, the tolerance, the hospitality, their love for His Holiness (aba) and for humanity. The atmosphere was filled with harmony, joy, faith, with a community that interacted as a great family where all its members are important beats as one heart. And it was at Jalsa that I learned about Humanity First and its work to help the poorest communities and millions of people around the world.
Meeting with His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba)
Undoubtedly the most special moment was my audience with His Holiness (aba) Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba). The Khalifah’s eyes were only fixed on his guests and he exchanged words with each of them individually. His Holiness (aba) always answered all questions with wisdom and speed; there was not a topic or question that was not answered. It was fantastic to see a personality of his greatness and majesty with such a humble and pious attitude towards all his guests. When I took his hand to kiss it, it was a unique moment and I imagined that the same sensation should have been experienced by the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (sa). During my interview I felt that I was before a worthy Khalifah or Successor of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him), His Holiness (aba) reflected in his attitude and words the holiness that only God’s chosen ones can show.
About the Author: Ali Ocbany León López, in-charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Cuba. Before accepting Ahmadiyyat, he was a Shia Muslim, and before that, a Roman Catholic. Although he had initially had a negative view of Islam, after much study he accepted Islam. He has specialised in industrial electricity, and also has studied Islam, Arabic and Persian at the Yamatul Mustafa International University in Qom, Iran. He currently works as a Persian language teacher.