Ahmadiyyat Featured

A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah

16 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS SEPTEMBER 1984 A CHARACTER SKETCH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH By the late Maulvi Abdul Karim (The above title is the name of a small book written by the late Maulvi Abdul Karim who was a devoted disciple of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad—the Promised Messiah. He was seldom absent from the proximity of his master and was, therefore, in a position to study his public and home life very closely. We have much pleasure in reproducing some extracts from the inspiring recollec- tions of the Maulvi Sahib who passed away in 1905 just three years before the demise of the Promised Messiah—Editor.) For ten long years, I have studied the life of the Promised Messiah closely and critically and after mature consideration I have come to the conclusion that the Promised Messiah is by very nature com- pletely free from any touch of Satan. I can say from personal ex- perience and frorri an observation of the private life of the majority of men that it is this habit of fault-finding and showing irritation on every occasion that has embittered the lives of many, and every man of this disposition (and few, very few, are those who are free from this taint) feels the instantaneous effect of this devouring fire and can bear witness that it is really this habit which is at the root of all moral corruption. It is this habit which has turned this world into a home of strife and trouble. Accordingly, we find that the Holy Quran while seeking to prove the heaven to be a place of peace and happiness, and to depict its enviable blessings and joys, does not devise better words than the following: “And we will remove from their bosoms all spite—they will be like brothers on couches sitting face to face.” This verse shows that in heaven God will purge the bosoms of men of that very thing which is the cause of enmity, malice and discord in this life. The man whose heart has been purged of this source of discord in this very life may truly be described as leading a heavenly life. And when this very source of evil is absent from a man we can judge how noble will be his other morals On one occasion, it was said with regard to a friend in the company SEPTEMBER 1984 CHARACTER SKETCH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 17 of the Promised Messiah that he was a man of harsh temper and was in the habit of using strong language and treated his wife with harsh- ness. This highly grieved the Promised Messiah who said: “Our friend should not have behaved like that… As for me I once spoke to my wife in a rather loud voice and I felt that my voice had a tone of dis- pleasure, although I had uttered no offensive or harsh words. There- after I continued to ask the forgjvenes of God for a long time and of- fered many prayers in an attitude of humility and gave some alms also, thinking that loud voice was due to some hidden sin of mine.” Only God knows how deeply I felt ashamed at my own knowledge and condition when I heard these words of the Messiah, and the fact was driven into my soul like a nail of iron that such extraordinary piety and fear of God and such minute regard of subtle points of morality could not be attained by an ordinary man. Notwithstanding that I myself and hundreds of Muslims like me boast of being the followers of Islam and of the practice of the Holy Prophet and without doubt do not intentionally discard the law nor haughtily transgress the bounds of God, yet we totally lack this high degree of holy piety and such keen perception of right and wrong. We think ourselves to be most fortunate and regard ourselves as having attained the highest degree of morality when we begin to abstain from the common sins and the ordinary acts of disobedience without paying heed to doubtful points and subtle phases of disobe- dience. We try to avoid only the apparent and palpable sins. Such microscopic perception, however, as is possessed by the Promised Messiah can be attained only through perfect faith in, full recognition and thorough fear of God. Then with the full concur- rence of the tongue and the heart I declared and acknowledged that even if there had not been the thousand clear evidences of the fact that he is truly a Messenger of God—evidences which shine more brightly than even the midday sun, this one circumstance alone, viz., his possession of such extraordinary virtue and piety, would have been sufficient to establish his truth. I have seen many apparently pious Sufis, many worshippers of God who profess to have discarded the world, and many learned men who are strict observers of the letter of the law; in the presence of men they look meek like sheep, and heave their breasts after every moment and breathe a sigh and will not move their tongue to speak to the expectant assembly eager to listen to their talk, but when they 18 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS SEPTEMBER 1984 among the members of their own family, they are ferocious like wolves and tigers…. He possesses wonderful coolness of temper, composure of mind and extraordinary serenity and forbearance. However great a tumult and noise there may be—a tumult which distracts the mind and com- pels everyone to turn his attention to it—he will not even feel it and his mind will not be.disturbed by it in the least. It is this very state of mind which the servants of God hanker after and pray for with tearful eyes. I have seen and heard of great authors and writers who, while engaged in writing or thinking of some subject, get disturbed even at the entry of a chirping sparrow into their study and all their ideas vanish like a line drawn on the surface of water and they attack the bird as one would attack a lion or a tiger or a troublesome enemy. The greatest tribute which the disciples of a certain great Sufi and Qazi paid to their master was that he was a man of very delicate temper and got perturbed at the slightest provocation and could not bear the company of a man even for a short while and looked upon it as a great burden on his soul. A long time ago I also went to see him. I had hardly sat by him for ten minutes when he began to ask me whether I had any other piece of business with him. The question was really a. suggestion to me that I should depart. There is no doubt that composure of mind, sereneness of temper and forbearance are highly valuable qualities and lucky indeed is the man who possesses them. It is these qualities which characterize and distinguish the holy men of God. I have seen the Promised Messiah engaged in writing on difficult subjects and even composing Arabic works of unparalleled linguistic elegance in the midst of a great tumult and uproar. Reckless children and simple-minded women are quarrelling all around him, screeching and screaming and even grappling with one another and performing all the follies which little children and foolish women axe apt to do, but all this fails to disturb him in the least, and he goes on writing as if he were sitting in a place of solitude. It is in such noisy rooms that all his great and unparalleled works in Arabic, Persian and Urdu have been written. I once asked him how he was able to think and write so coolly in the midst of such noise. He smiled and said, “I do not heed what is going on about me and, therefore, I am not disturbed.” Once it happenned that when the Promised Messiah was busy SEPTEMBER 1984 CHARACTER SKETCH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 19 writing a book, his son Mahmud, (Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, who became the second successor to the Promised Messiah) who was then about four years of age, came in his room with a match-box in his hand. He was accompanied by a crowd of other children. For sometime he continued playing with the other children in the room. Then it occured to him to set fire to the manuscript papers which were lying there and which contained that part of the book which the Promised Messiah had already written. The papers began to burn to the great delight of Mahmud who clap- ped his hands with joy. The Promised Messiah was too busy with his book to notice this and the attention of the other children had been diverted to another side. So the papers continued to burn until they were reduced to ashes. At last when the Promised Messiah had to refer to a previous page he looked for the papers, and finding them to be missing, he in- quired about them, but all remained silent. They were afraid to speak. At last one of the children told him that Mahmud had burnt the papers. All feared that the incident would excite his anger and anxiously waited for the consequences. But when the Promised Messiah heard this he said with a smile, “This is well done. There must have been some purpose of God in this. Now God Wills to give us something better.” Here is something for every thinking mind to ponder over’. Let every thoughtful man compare this with what would have happened if there had been somebody else in the place of the Promised Messiah. A similar incident took place at another time also. When the Pro- mised Messiah was engaged in writing the Tableegh, Maulvi Noor- ud-Din (Hazrat Maulvi Noor-ud-Din, who later became the first suc- cessor to the Promised Messiah) came to Qadian, The Promised Messiah wrote two big sheets of paper in Arabic and was justly proud of the God-given elegance of his style. He was to give it to me for translation into Persian, but he forgot to do so, and putting the paper into his pocket went out for a walk. The Maulvi Sahib and a party of friends also accompanied him. While returning from his walk, he gave the papers to the Maulvi Sahib and asked him to read the writing and then send it on to me. The paper, however, slipped from the hands of the Maulvi Sahib on the way. When they returned from their walk,.the Promised Messiah went into his house and the Maulvi Sahib repaired to his own quarters. 20 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS SEPTEMBER 1984 As the paper was to come to me for translation and it did not come, I said to someone: “His Holiness has not yet sent me today’s instalment for translation. It is to be sent to the press immediately and I have yet to translate it.” This was reported to Maulvi Sahib. When he heard this, his face turned pale and he sent men immediate- ly to the road to search for the missing manuscript, but it could not be found. The Maulvi Sahib felt much ashamed at the loss of the paper. When the Promised Messiah heard of this, he came out with a smile on his face and said, “I am sorry to learn that the loss of the manuscript has caused so much anxiety and trouble to the Maulvi Sahib. There was no need for him to make so much search for it. My belief is that God will give us something better in place of the lost manuscript.” All this is due to the Promised Messiah’s firm faith in the Living and Powerful God. This faith invigorates and sustains the powers of man at every moment and preserves him from depression and despair under circumstances which compel the wordly-minded peo- ple to commit disgraceful deeds. Once the Promised Messiah was suffering from a severe attack of headache and I was sitting by his side. Great noise was being made nearby. I asked him whether that noise troubled him. He replied in the affirmative and said that he felt some relief when they (i.e., the children and the female servants of the house) were still. I asked him why he did not bid them to be still. He said, “You may politely ask them to be silent. I cannot do that.” Even in serious illness, he lies alone in a separate room and lies so still that he appears to be enjoying a sound sleep. He never complains that such and such a person has not visited him during his illness, or that he has not been given water to drink or that he has not been served in other ways… O thou the chosen one of God, who carriest heaven in both thy pockets as people nowadays carry watches, thou art truly from God; certainly thou art not of this world, because the world hurls moun- tains of its woe at thy head, but they are dissipated as the piercing rays of the sun dissipate the clouds. Among hundreds of thousands of men, thou hast been given a unique heart, and an extraordinary composure and coolness of temper. What does this show? This is because it may become apparent to all that thou art not of this world, but art from heaven. Ah! the children of this world have not recognized thee. They ought to have paved thy path with their eyes and given thee a place in their hearts, for thou art the Promised one SEPTEMBER 1984 CHARACTER SKETCH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 21 of God, an image of the Seal of Prophets and a Revivifier of Islam. The broad-mindedness of the Promised Messiah defy description. A woman once stole some rice from his house. When she was leaving with the bundle of rice under her arms, her looks aroused the suspi- cion of someone. She was searched and the bundle of rice concealed under her arms was discovered. Thereupon a shower of reproaches began to fall on her from all sides. The Promised Messiah also hap- penned to come there and on learning what had happenned, he said, “She is needy; give her some of the rice and do not disgrace her. God overlooks our faults, we should also overlook the faults of others.” He never reproaches anybody for his errors or idle talk, yet his presence inspires all with awe. Although every woman and every child is sure that he will not punish anyone, yet all regard him with high respect, profound esteem and great awe and fear him as one fears a strict master. I cannot explain to the sons of this world how fear and awe can exist simultaneously with love and affection. This can be pro- perly understood by him alone who has a connection with God. Although the glory and majesty of God have been described by the Holy Book of God in such a way and so much stress has been laid on the fear of God that the very conception of it is sufficient to break one’s backbone and to turn a young person into an old man, yet the lovers of God hasten towards Him as a baby hastens to the breast of its mother. Although one naturally seeks to avoid a person whose per- sonality inspires men with fear, yet we find that the soul of man hankers after union with God, not caring even if there are oceans of fire and water in his way The Promised Messiah said one day that if men had possessed Taqwa (God-fearingness), they, like the birds of the air, would have gone out hungry in the morning and returned satisfied in the evening. In fact, this hankering after the world which has reduced man to the level of a dog and the heart-burning which knows no satisfaction have their root in the fact that men lack an unshakable trust and confidence in the promises of God and their hopes and fears are centered in their own powers. Both the seeker and the sought being weak, the result must necessarily be that he should know no peace. Today the materialist laughs at such things and is courteous enough to call the trustful servants of God idiots and fanatics, but the truth is that he is ignorant of this holy science, and wordly ambition has deadened his power of yearning for God. In short, the Promised Messiah trusts every person and evidently looks upon every man as trustworthy. 22 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS SEPTEMBER 1984 No matter however filthy and repulsive a woman there may be whom a conceited man of a dainty taste will deign even to look at, whom he will heartily wish to be gone from his presence and at whose speech he will close his ears and shut his eyes and put his hands on his nose; but such is the Promised Messiah that he will con- tinue to listen to her talk for hours with utmost calmness and tran- quility as if she were a sweet-tongued nightingale singing a delicious melody or a pretty parrot cleverly copying a captivating note. Whatever nonesense one may talk, he never even hints that he is talking foolishly and that it is a waste of time to listen to him. He never disbelieves any statement made to him. He never questions the servants that make purchases. Out of the money given to them for the purpose of making purchases, he takes whatever sum they return and puts it in his pocket without checking their accounts. Sons of obscure, low-spirited and mean-tempered weavers of the village serve him in the house and purchase articles worth hundreds of rupees and often go to Lahore to make the necessary purchases, but he never questions them, is never harsh upon them and never calls them to account. God knows what sort of heart is his; in fact, the reality of these pure and sublime hearts is known to Him alone who has made them with a purpose. How truly says the Holy Quran: “Allah knows best whom He should make His Messenger. ” I have ever carefully and searchingly watched the ways of the Pro- mised Messiah, and have observed him with a discriminating eye and have listened to him with attentive ears and have considered his life with the open mind of a keen and independent critic, yet I confess that my ears and my eyes have always returned to me with something which added to my faith and insight. During my long stay in close proximity of the Promised Messiah, I have never heard him remonstrating with any person in the house or calling upon anyone to render an account. God be glorified! What a tranquil mind and what a pure and sublime nature, where the devil of suspicion cannot find an abode;’ and how enviable and heavenly is the heart which has been granted such quietness and peace. And yet nothing goes wrong, no untoward result follows. It is evident that if such connivance and such trustfulness were economically harmful and odious in the sight of God, he should come to grief and his whole system should break to pieces, yet the steady and rapid progress which his movement is mak- ing shows that it is such hearts that God loves. SEPTEMBER 1984 CHARACTER SKETCH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 23 pieces, yet the steady and rapid progress which his movement is mak- ing shows that it is such hearts that God loves. If he ever gives special instructions for some particular kind of food to be prepared for him, and his weakness or some ailment de- mand that it must be prepared and he does not take his usual meal in expectation of the special food ordered, and has to wait for it until the time for that meal passes away and it is time for the next meal, he will not reprimand anybody for it and if he ever mildly asks the reason of it, and an apology is made, he will turn aside with a smile. The magnanimity and forbearance of the Promised Messiah are also remarkable. I have seen hundreds of times that while he is sitting in his room on the second floor, with doors closed as is the habit with him, engaged in writing a book or engrossed in meditation, one of his children knocks heavily at the door, saying, “Father, open the door.” Immediately, he rises and opens the door. The boy enters the room, looks about for a while and then leaves the room. The Promised Messiah again shuts the door as usual, but before two minutes have passed the boy is again at the door, pushing it with all his might and crying as before, “Father, open the door.” Again the Promised Messiah quietly rises and opens the door. This time also, the boy with- draws after only peeping into the room once or twice. Again the Pro- mised stands up, with not a wrinkle on his face, shuts the door and once more resumes his work. But before five minutes have passed, the boy is again at the door, crying at the top of his voice, “Father, open the door.” Again, the Promised Messiah quietly rises and opens the door. He does not say a word as to why he comes or what he wants and what purpose he has in corning so often and why he troubles him in that way and interferes with his work. Once I, sitting in my own room upstairs, counted that this process was repeated twenty times, but not once did the Promised Messiah utter a word of rebuke…. He is much opposed to the beating and rebuking of children. No matter however troublesome and naughty they’are and however im- portunate and pressing may be their unreasonable demands and how- ever much they may insist on having what is unprocurable, he never beats them or scolds them or shows any sign of anger…. As I have already said, the Promised Messiah is much opposed to the beating of children. I have often seen that nothing irritates him as much as to hear that someone has beaten his child. A gentleman here one day beat his son as a matter of habit. This greatly moved the Pro- mised Messiah who sent for him and delivered a highly touching 24 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS SEPTEMBER 1984 discourse. He said, “In my opinion it is a sort of shirk (attributing partners to Allah) to beat children in this way. One who does so thinks himself to be a partner with God in the bringing up and guidance of the children. When a man of excitable temper punishes a person, he goes so far in his anger that he assumes the role of an enemy and in- flicts a punishment quite out of proportion to the offence committed. If a man possesses self-control and can restrain his passions, and has a forbearing, patient and cool temper, he may chastise or reprove a child to a certain extent if circumstances require it— He possesses such lowliness of temper, such humility and meekness that it is impossible to possess them to a higher degree. If he is himself sitting on bare floor while others are sitting on a carpet or occupy higher seats, he never so much as feels it. About four years ago, in the month of June, while his family was away at Ludhiana, I lay down and went to sleep on a couch in one of the newly built rooms in the house of the Promised Messiah. He was pacing up and down in the room. When I awoke, I saw him lying on the floor near my couch. Seeing this, I hurriedly sat up. Thereupon he very kindly asked me why I had sat up. I said, “How can I go on sleeping on a couch while Your Holiness is lying below on the floor?” He smilingly said,”I was keeping watch over you. Children were making noise and I was trying to prevent them from doing so, lest they should disturb you in your sleep.” In the mosque, he occupies no place of distinction, and a stranger cannot know him from others by any distinguishing mark. He always sits in one side of the mosque, at the right end of the first row, absorbed in deep thought. I generally sit in the Mehrab (i.e., central niche of the mosque) and therefore exactly opposite the door by which worshippers enter the mosque. It often happens that a stranger, who enters the door, eager to see the Promised Messiah, comes direct to me, taking me for his master, but either himself discovering his mistake or being warned by another he turns to him on whose hand he had come to swear his allegiance. In the assembly which is graced by his presence there reigns, simultaneously with an atmosphere of sublimity and sereneness, a complete absence of for- mality and convention. Every disciple of his thinks that he is par- ticularly loved by the Promised Messiah and he speaks out his mind freely to him. A man may go on telling him his story for hours; he will listen to him with full attention, no matter however tedious it (continued on page 32)