Zafir Malik, UK
‘When you see him [i.e. the Imam Mahdi], pledge allegiance to him [Bai’at], even if you have to crawl across snow (to reach him), for he is the Caliph of Allah, the Mahdi.’  – Prophet Muhammad (sa)
If you type in Google Maps ‘Kashgar (present-day China) to Qadian (India)’ and click on the ‘walking directions’ button, you will be left slightly disappointed. A rare occasion it may be, but the mighty search engine will not be able to provide you with an answer. Perhaps the reason is that it is fairly unlikely that someone would readily make this journey on foot; especially someone who is not an expert mountaineer, since the vast Karakoram Mountain Range lies majestically across the direct route between Kashgar and Qadian.
The Karakoram Mountain Range lies perpendicular to the direct route between Kashgar and Qadian (Screenshot via Google Maps
However, a journey of this kind was made not by a highly skilled mountaineer with professional equipment, but by an ordinary citizen of Kashgar, driven by his search for the truth. Dr. Syed Haji Junoodullah arrived in Qadian in September 1938, having set off on foot from Kashgar many months earlier. But the tale of this epic journey does not begin here. In order to fully appreciate this true story, we must rewind back four years to 1934.
Tahrik-e-Jadid: A Divine Initiative
Since their inception in 1929, the Majlis-e-Ahrar, a radical Islamic political group, began preaching their ideologies, one of which was to try and stop the advancement of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. They continued with their anti-Ahmadiyya propaganda and held vast rallies to spread their hate-filled message. This hostility intensified, but as is the case with the opposition of all divine communities, in the end ‘it is Allah’s party who will be successful,’  and so, in 1934, under divine guidance, the second head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) – announced an incredible initiative that would not only crush any obstacle in the path of the community, but would serve as the catalyst to propagate the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat to the corners of the world.
The initiative launched by His Holiness was called ‘Tahrik-e-Jadid’ and contained a number of practical points that would ensure this grand objective was achieved. This is best described in the words of His Holiness: ‘Tahrik-e-Jadid has been initiated for this purpose; that there should be people who dedicate themselves to the propagation of the religion of God and spend their lives in this task…members of our community are proud that Sahibzada Abdul Latif (ra)  the martyr, sacrificed his life for the community. However, we do not need only a single Abdul Latif to revive the community; instead, hundreds of Abdul Latifs are needed, who should go out to different countries and sacrifice their lives for Islam and Ahmadiyyat. Until people like Abdul Latif are born in every country and every region, the grandeur and majesty of Ahmadiyyat cannot be established.’ 
Adalat Khan Leaves for Afghanistan and is Imprisoned
In the days when this remarkable initiative was launched, a youth by the name of Adalat Khan had come to Qadian to pursue his studies. Inspired by the words of his leader, he immediately responded to this call. Adalat Khan left Qadian without telling anyone of his intentions or where he planned to go. He was so moved by hearing the accounts of Sahibzada Abdul Latif’s martyrdom that he decided to travel to Afghanistan in order to propagate the message of Ahmadiyyat to the people of Afghanistan. Such was the level of his passion and zeal to serve the community, Adalat Khan did not even consider that to cross over to another country, one would require certain documents including a passport. Owing to his lack of documentation, the Afghan authorities imprisoned him. But that did not deter him in the slightest. Adalat Khan continued the mission he came for and began preaching to the officers and inmates inside the prison. Seeing the growing influence of Adalat Khan, the prison authorities alerted the minister about what was going on inside the prison. The religious clerics issued an edict [fatwa] to have him killed, however, fearing repercussions of killing a citizen of British India, the minister decided against this. Instead, he ordered for Adalat Khan to be sent back to India. 
Instructions to Travel to China
It was at this point that Adalat Khan informed His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) of the entire incident. Amazed by his efforts, His Holiness guided him about the mistake he made in that there were many countries he could have gone and preached the message of Ahmadiyyat to without any ramifications. Adalat Khan was so driven by his passion to spread the message of Ahmadiyyat that he immediately requested His Holiness for his next assignment saying that he was prepared to go anywhere that he was instructed. His Holiness told him that he ought to first visit his mother and family, and only after this to travel towards China to preach the message of Ahmadiyyat. 
Journey to Kashgar via Kashmir and the Demise of Adalat Khan
Before setting of for this new assignment, Adalat Khan managed to convince his friend, Muhammad Rafiq from Hoshiarpur, to go with him on this journey. With the way the events unfolded, this was a vital move, without which this story would perhaps not have continued beyond Kashmir. The reason is that when these two reached Kashmir, owing to his personal connections and with the help of his relatives, Muhammad Rafiq managed to secure the necessary documentation to travel to Kashgar –then part of East Turkistan, but Adalat Khan could not acquire the documentation, and thus he was not able to proceed further. In spite of this Adalat Khan did not leave any stone unturned in finding a possible route to China; however, the cold winter months of Kashmir took their toll on him. He contracted double pneumonia and passed away a short while later. 
An Extraordinary Incident
It would not be out of place to mention an incident of Adalat Khan in Kashmir, which proves his unbound conviction in the truthfulness of Ahmadiyyat. During his illness, Adalat Khan was in a village where there were no medical facilities available. When his health turned for the worse and his end seemed nigh, he requested the Ahmadis around him to find any non-Ahmadi who would be willing to enter into a prayer duel [Mubahalah] with him on the truthfulness of Ahmadiyyat. He stated that if someone were willing to enter into a prayer duel with him, he would live and at the same time, it would become a means of propagating Ahmadiyyat, otherwise there was no other way that he would survive this illness.  It is interesting to note, that not a single person stepped up to accept the challenge; a prayer duel against a man lying on his deathbed!
Muhammad Rafiq Arrives in Kashgar
Muhammad Rafiq continued the mission of Adalat Khan and arrived in Kashgar, present day China, where he began preaching the message of Ahmadiyyat. There Muhammad Rafiq came in contact with a man named Dr. Syed Haji Junoodullah. Haji Junoodullah belonged to a noble and well-respected family in Kashgar but had lost much of his wealth due to the growing influence of Communism in the region. 
Haji Junoodullah had already been foretold about the advent of the Messiah by his late father, Syed Jalal Shah, who saw in a dream that the advent of the Messiah of the later days was imminent. Owing to this Jalal Shah informed all his children, including Haji Junoodullah, that if they hear about a person claiming to be the Messiah, they should investigate about his claim and pledge allegiance to him.  As fate would have it, Muhammad Rafiq found employment with Haji Junoodullah and worked as a tailor. Haji Junoodullah permitted Muhammad Rafiq to even stay at his home. Owing to this arrangement, whenever Muhammad Rafiq would find an opportunity, he would preach about Ahmadiyyat to him, particularly about the death of Prophet Jesus (as). Since Haji Junoodullah – like many other Muslims – believed that Jesus (as) was physically alive in the heavens and would one day return, this conversation would anger him greatly. On the other hand, he would see that Muhammad Rafiq was an honest man, he would pray the five daily prayers, fast and would not engage in any immoral acts. Furthermore, the advice of Haji Junoodullah’s late father would weigh upon his mind. Thus, Haji Junoodullah was perplexed by the entire situation. One day, when Haji Junoodullah was reading the Holy Qur’an, he came across the following verse of Surah Al-Mu`min:
‘…will you slay a man because he says, “My Lord is Allah,” while he has brought you clear proofs from your Lord? And if he be a liar, on him will be the sin of his lie; but if he is truthful, then some of that which he threatens you with will surely befall you. Certainly, Allah guides not one who exceeds the bounds and is a great liar.’  Haji Junoodullah was captivated and rendered speechless. Knowing that the Qur’an was a living book, he did not deem this to be a mere coincidence. He immediately called Muhammad Rafiq and embraced him. He then dictated a letter to Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) informing him about his intention to pledge allegiance.  But he did not stop at merely accepting Ahmadiyyat; he decided to make the long and precarious journey to Qadian on foot in order to meet with his Khalifa.
Haji Junoodullah Arrives in Qadian
According to his own accounts, many times along his journey to Qadian, he would sink neck-deep into snow.  Eventually, after several months of travel, navigating across mountainous valleys covered in snow, he arrived at Qadian in September 1938 and pledged allegiance at the hands of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra). He informed His Holiness that his elderly mother and sister also wished to join him, but were unable to obtain a passport for the travel. However, such is the power and blessings of the prayers of the Khalifa, that only a short while later he received a message that his mother and sister had managed to obtain their passports and were preparing to depart for Qadian with a convoy on 18th October 1938. 
The Journey is Not Quite Over!
Thus, Haji Junoodullah travelled to Gilgit via Kashmir in order to meet his mother and sister. Arriving in Kashmir after approximately 9 days of travel, he learnt that owing to negligence on part of the guides, his mother and sister had missed the original convoy from Kashgar. With no means of communication, Haji Junoodullah was left with no choice but to pray and travel along the known route in the hope that he would come across the second convoy they were travelling with.
With this hope in mind, he departed from Gilgit. Haji Junoodullah would later recall: ‘When I saw a caravan from afar, a thought crossed my mind that perhaps this is the convoy in which my mother and sister were travelling. Seeing the people of this convoy coming over the top of a mountain peak, I noticed two women wearing black burqas. They were mounted on horses, the reins of which were held by two guides. As I moved closer to the convoy, I enquired about my mother and sister and was told that indeed it was them. It was 24th November 1938 and the blessed day of Eid-ul-Fitr.’ 
Routes to Qadian Snowed Over
What happened next could not have transpired were it not for a firm resolve and an unwavering faith. When Haji Junoodullah, his elderly mother, sister and the remainder of the convoy arrived in Gilgit, they were told that the routes to Kashmir were closed due to heavy snow. With little other alternative, they remained in Gilgit for 10 days. They then decided to travel to Chitral reaching there in 11 days on horseback. After staying in Chitral for five days, they set off south towards Dargai in the Malakand district by taking a lift from a lorry. When they reached a stop called Ashrat, a government official coming from the direction of Peshawar stopped this convoy and informed them that the route to Dir and Dargai was incredibly dangerous. He told them that there was 25 feet of snow up ahead, and the only way to cross would be on foot. He then advised them to return to Drosh and that he would arrange for them to continue their journey along the route from Jalalabad. And so, they travelled 25 miles back to Drosh and stayed here for the next 15 days. But they soon realised that no other route to Qadian was possible and they would have to once again go on the route they had turned back from. 
Map of possible routes taken by Haji Junoodullah, his mother and sister on their journey to Qadian. Whilst Haji Junoodullah was able to pass through Kashmir, by the time his mother and sister began the journey, all possible routes through Kashmir were closed due to snow.
Haji Junoodullah’s Mother’s Health Worsens
Once again they set off on the same track, stopping first at a resting place called Asraat and then crossing six miles of snow on foot, reaching a stop named Ziarat by the evening. The following day was a 6-7-mile ascent and the snow made the conditions incredibly difficult. They had no other option but to proceed on foot. They began the journey in the early hours of the morning and with the help of three porters, they managed to reach the peak of the snow-capped slope by the afternoon. During the ascent, Haji Junoodullah’s mother, sister and Haji Junoodullah himself fell down many times, but fearing further snowfall, they continued on with their journey. At the top of the slope, they rested for a short while knowing that the next part of the journey would be even more perilous; ahead of them was a nine mile descent. By this point Haji Junoodullah’s mother could barely walk, the porters had to carry her down the slippery slope covered in snow. Slowly and steadily they made their way to the next stop, Gojar, arriving there by nightfall. However, the worst was still to come; owing to the arduous journey and the sub-zero temperatures, Haji Junoodullah’s mother developed a high temperature and her body was aching all over. The journey ahead looked near impossible. Haji Junoodullah spent the night tending to his mother. But how could a fever stop someone driven by their faith and quest for the truth? Despite the bleak conditions, in the morning Haji Junoodullah’s mother felt well enough to continue this epic journey. 
The Final Leg of the Journey and Arrival In Qadian
Leaving their place of rest in Gojar, they had travelled three miles when they managed to acquire a horse which Haji Junoodullah’s mother could use to continue on and only a short distance later they found another for Haji Junoodullah’s sister. The convoy now moved slowly on and by the Asr prayer [afternoon prayer] they reached Dir, where they rested for the night. The next morning – 12th January 1939 – they managed to get a lift to Dargai on a lorry; from here they took the train to Amritsar arriving on 13th January 1939. Eventually, this epic journey came to an end when Haji Junoodullah, his elderly mother and sister arrived at Qadian on the morning of 14th January 1939 and pledged allegiance at the hands of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra). In September of the same year, Haji Junoodullah’s elder brother, Syed Alle Ahmad and his son, Amanullah also travelled along similar routes to reach Qadian and had the opportunity to pledge allegiance at the hands of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra).
From Left to right: Dr Syed Haji Junoodullah, Ammanullah (Haji Junoodullah‘s nephew), Syed Alle Ahmad (Haji Junoodullah‘s elder brother)
The magnificent prophecy mentioned at the beginning not only attests to the truthfulness of the Imam of the Age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), in fact it emanates the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet (sa) and serves as living proof of the existence of God for any seeker of the truth. Indeed, this prophecy may have been fulfilled in many other ways, but it was fulfilled to the letter through the sacrifices of Haji Junnodullah and his family.
In 1982, when the son of Haji Junnodullah Junoodullah, Syed Shuaib Junood, recited a poem before a congregation in Masjid Mubarak, Rabwah, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), the fourth head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said the following: ‘The family of Syed Shuaib – who has just recited this poem – is among the signs of the truthfulness of Ahmadiyyat, and this is a sign that has a direct link to a prophecy and exhortation of the Holy Prophet (sa). The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘When you hear about the appearance of the Imam Mahdi, even if you have to crawl across snow-capped mountains, you should convey my greetings of peace (Salam) to him.’ and in another hadith it stated that one should pledge allegiance to him. When Syed Shuaib’s father and uncle, the late Haji Junoodullah and Syed Alle Ahmad [respectively] and Haji Junoodullah’s mother – who were originally from Turkistan – heard about the Imam Mahdi, they accepted Ahmadiyyat. They then migrated from there and crossed snow-capped mountains in reality. They had to endure extreme hardships and difficulties along the way, but they never let their resolve waver in the slightest; that they would go to the abode of the Mahdi and convey the greetings of the Holy Prophet (sa).’ 
Thus, the seed sown by Adalat Khan was never wasted; Muhammad Rafiq nurtured it further until it bore fruit in the form of Dr Syed Haji Junoodullah, whose progeny is spread throughout the world. And this beautiful tree continues to bear fruit even today in that some from among his progeny have dedicated their lives for propagating the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat, just like Adalat Khan had once set out to do.
About the Author: Zafir Malik serves as the Associate Editor of The Review of Religions, having graduated from Jamia Ahmadiyya UK – Institute of Modern Languages and Theology. He is also an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and regularly appears as a panellist on MTA International and Voice of Islam radio station answering questions on Islam.
- Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-Fitran, Bab Khuruj al-Mahdi, Hadith no. 4084
- The Holy Qur’an, 58:23
- Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif (ra) belonged to the Khost province of Afghanistan and was an eminent Islamic scholar. He was one of the Chief Advisors to Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, King of Afghanistan 1880-1901 and later to his son, Habibullah Khan. He played a vital role in assisting King Abdur Rahman in the Durand Line Agreement. He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1902 after visiting Qadian and pledging allegiance at the hands of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as). When he returned to Afghanistan, he was labelled an apostate by the clerics, which carried the death penalty under the law of the land. Under orders of the King of Afghanistan, Sahibzada Abdul Latif was stoned to death on 14th July 1903, thereby becoming one of the first martyrs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat.
- Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khutba-e-Mahmud, vol 23, pp.522-525 (Friday sermon of 27th November 1942)
- Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, vol 7, pp.76-77, Al-Fazl, 3rd December 1935, p.8
- Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, vol 7, pp.77, Al-Fazl, 3rd December 1935, p.8
- Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, vol 7, pp.77
- Ibid, 77-78
- Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, vol 7, pp.565 (footnote)
- Al-Fazl International, 22nd January 2016, p.12
- The Holy Qur’an, 40:29
- Al-Fazl International, 22nd January 2016, p.12
- Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, vol 7, pp.566
- Ibid, 566-567
- Ibid, 567
- Al-Fazl International, 22nd January 2016, p.12
An excellent historical story.