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My Visit to Qadian

56 Review of Religions – Jan 2002 The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has described Qadian as ‘The Capital of His Messenger.’ The greatness of this remote hamlet cannot be under-estimated. Divine Wisdom had ordained this land to be the birthplace of that Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who Allah Himself has described as “The Champion of Allah in the Mantle of all Prophets.” It is from this tiny outpost that emanated that spiritual light destined to dispel darkness from the world. It is for this reason that I had a longing to visit Qadian, a desire became so strong, that I resolved to attend the Jalsa Salana, Qadian, in November. I began with prayer. In humble prostration at His threshold, I supplicated that Allah Almighty may remove all obstacles from the way and enable me to undertake the blessed journey. I also sought to persuade other Khuddam to come along knowing the trip would be even more pleasant if I went in company. When I spoke to Farooq Mirza, son of Mirza Manan Sahib, he was full of enthusiasm. I was delighted to have found a travel companion. When the visa and travel arrangements had been finalised, I went to see Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed Sahib, Imam of the London Mosque, to get whatever advice he may render by way of what to do while there. I was only half expecting a brief chat; however, I recall vividly the excitement and passion Imam Sahib showed once he realised why I called on him. With childlike exuberance, which demonstrated both his love for and attachment to Qadian, Imam Sahib spent nearly an hour telling me of all the sacred sites, places of interest and what to do. Before the conversation had ended, Imam Sahib had me wishing that I could further extend my planned one- week visit without even having stepped foot there. Imam Sahib was also gracious enough to send a fax to Mirza Waseem Ahmad Sahib, My Visit to Qadian By Bockarie Tommy Kallon Minarat-ul-Masih Qadian, India 57Review of Religions – Jan 2002 brother of Hadhrat Ameer-ul- Momineen and Ameer Jama’at Ahmadiyya India, introducing both Farooq and I and requesting that as this was our first visit to Qadian, someone should be appointed to usher us around. We set off on Royal Jordanian Airways on the afternoon of Sunday 4th November. Our flight via Amman arrived in Delhi 9:30am the next day and later that afternoon, we set off on the six-hour journey to Amritsar via the Shatabdi express. As we pulled into Amritsar at 10:30pm we were apprehensive as to whether anyone would be there to receive us. As we alighted, we spotted a Khadim wearing the typical duty badge. Alhamdulillah! We were in safe hands. The reception team organised our taxi to Qadian and as it was pretty late and dangerous, one of them volunteered to come along with us on the final one and a half journey to Qadian. As we drove, both Farooq and I were anxiously looking in all directions hoping to catch the first glimpse of the Minarat-ul-Masih. We had seen the minaret on innumerable photos, banners and letterheads but here was a chance to behold the original in all its splendour and glory. The wait seemed like eternity but as we finally approached Qadian at 11:40pm, lustrous and radiant as the pen and personality of its holy architect, there stood the glorious Minarat-ul-Masih. No doubt this was a moment of prayer and instinctively did I raise my hands in prayer thanking Allah Almighty, celebrating His praise, invoking His blessings on His noble Prophet. We were ushered into the European guest houses in Qadian. As we had not yet said our Maghrib and Ishaa prayers, we asked to be shown to the Mosque. On our way to Masjid Anwar closest to the guest houses, I casually enquired about Bait-ud- Dua and whether it was possible to say our prayers there at that time. To our delight the reply was in the affirmative. After a brief tour of Masjid Mubarak, the moment I had longed for all along the journey finally came – a chance to offer prayers in the simple yet incandescent Bait-ud-Dua. I still recall my feelings as I took those first steps into Bait-ud-Dua. Fully conscious that a Prophet of Allah had built and used this room repeatedly and extensively for worship, I was so much in awe of the Divine presence, that in a manner similar to stage fright, all my senses deserted me. My mind went blank as I struggled to recall how to begin my Salaat. I had to compose myself: ‘Inni wajjahtu My Visit to Qadian 58 Review of Religions – Jan 2002 wajhiya lilladhi…’ And then the tears! We had travelled thousands of miles, over 24 hours with the single most overriding aim of praying in this room and there I was finally worshipping in the Bait- ud-Dua. I took my time, prayed long and hard, and just as well because as delegates poured into Qadian, the lengthy queue never afforded me the chance to pray there again. The following day we met Mirza Waseem Sahib. By the Grace of Allah, he had received Imam Sahib’s fax. He received us most affectionately and enquired about our journey and families. But it was when he asked one of his attendants to show us around Dar- ul-Masih that we both felt really honoured and privileged. We got to see some of the most intimate places of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and his family which we never would have dreamt of seeing, including the room where the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was born, the room where he fasted for six months and met with many past saints and prophets including the Holy Prophet while fully awake, the room where Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote Haqiqatul Wahi and other books, the Hujrah room where he was MY M AT E R N A L G R E AT G R A N D FAT H E R, MA S T E R NOOR ILLAHI JANJUA, WAS A COMPANION OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH (ON WHOM BE PEACE), AND L I V E D I N QA D I A N. HI S S O N, M Y M AT E R N A L GRANDFATHER, MAULVI EHSAN ILLAHI JANJUA, WAS A MISSIONARY TO SIERRA LEONE IN THE 1940S. HE WAS TO MARRY THERE AND HAVE CHILDREN, OF WHOM MY MOTHER IS THE ELDEST. I ALSO HAPPEN TO BE THE YOUNGER BROTHER OF WA L E E YA, T H AT M O S T F O RT U N AT E SI E R R A LEONEAN GIRL ADOPTED BY HADHRAT KHALIFAT- U L- MA S I H III A N D TA K E N TO RA B WA H. I THEREFORE HAVE A VERY DIRECT RELATIONSHIP WITH QADIAN AND THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT IN GENERAL. THUS, FOR ME THIS VISIT WAS A MOST FULFILLING EXPERIENCE BOTH IN TERMS OF VISITING THE SACRED SITES SO OFTEN READ AND HEARD ABOUT AND ALSO IN TERMS OF RETURNING TO MY FAMILY ROOTS. 59Review of Religions – Jan 2002 resting when the miracle of the red drops took place, Bait-ul-Fikr from where much of Braheen-e- Ahmadiyya was written and the Promised Messiah’s guest house. We also got to see some other sacred rooms around Dar-ul-Masih including the room where Hadhrat Khalifat-ul-Masih II was born, where Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV was born and the room he stayed in after he married. It was a most splendid experience. Much of Wednesday was spent touring the other sites in Qadian including Talimul Islam College, the Langar Khana, the Bazaar, Jalsa Salana and Khidmat-e-Khalq offices and the Jalsa Gah. In his fax, Imam Sahib had requested that I be permitted to address the Jalsa Salana assembly. I was informed that I would be addressing the opening session of the Jalsa. As I sat to write a short address to be presented beforehand for Urdu translation, I reflected on what a great honour it is to address Jalsa Salana Qadian. By Thursday morning we had been in Qadian for over two full days and had yet not mustered enough courage to enter Bahisti Maqbara and behold the final resting abode of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). It was just too awe- inspiring. After Tahajjud and Fajr prayers everyone traditionally proceeds to Bahisti Maqbara and says a silent prayer. Today we resolved to tread along. As we entered the main enclosure, I was momentarily distracted from what lay ahead by the beautiful scenery that Bahisti Maqbara presents. The trees, plants and flowers along the way to the main burial area were beautiful. But it was the view of the Minarat-ul-Masih from the walkway that simply captivated me. It is a truly remarkable spectacle. We reached the enclo- sure that housed the Pr o m i s e d Messiah (on whom be peace), Khalifat-ul-Masih I (may Allah be pleased with him) and past family members of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). It was generally kept closed so that everyone could only watch from a distant. I stood there for a long while just staring at the tomb as everyone around me was engaged in prayer. Finally I raised my hands, beginning and ending with the Durood prayer, I prayed for the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and all who lay buried in this Heavenly Graveyard. We were to return every morning from that day again only watching from a distance. However, on the final day we had the good fortune of being allowed to enter into the burial area of Promised Messiah (on My Visit to Qadian 60 Review of Religions – Jan 2002 whom be peace) and family. Our main chaperone had arranged for the gates to be opened just to us. As we walked towards the burial area I could already feel my eyes welling up with tears as I engaged in Durood prayer, silently wondering how I would feel when I stood next to the grave of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). We reached and the gates were opened. Almost dazed we walked timidly towards the tomb. I nervously conveyed my salaams to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and conveyed the salaams of all that had requested me to. As I raised my hands in prayer visibly shaking with awe and overcome with emotion, I had an over- whelming sense of sin and worthlessness. There lay the greatest ever follower of the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a man who had truly lived his life for the sake of Allah and dedicated every moment of his time, every ounce of his energy, every fibre of his being and every interest of his life for the sake of Islam; a man for whose truth Allah Almighty caused the sun My Visit to Qadian ‘As I raised my hands in prayer visibly shaking with awe and overcome with emotion, I had an over- whelming sense of sin and worthlessness. There lay the greatest ever follower of the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a man who had truly lived his life for the sake of Allah and dedicated every moment of his time, every ounce of his energy, every fibre of his being and every interest of his life for the sake of Islam; a man for whose truth Allah Almighty caused the sun and the moon to eclipse in the same month and year; a man who was accepted as the Promised Messiah of the Latter Days by 81 million people last year alone – there lay a man whose greatness, glory and grandeur was never ever to be interred with his bones.’ 61Review of Religions – Jan 2002 and the moon to eclipse in the same month and year; a man who was accepted as the Pr o m i s e d Messiah of the Latter Days by 81 million people this year alone – there lay a man whose greatness, glory and grandeur was never ever to be interred with his bones. After that experience, we had a proper tour of Bahisti Maqbara and got to see the place where the body of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was laid one final time for his companions to behold before burial, the place where the election of the first Khalifa took place and the Janazah Gah where the funeral prayers of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) were led by Hadhrat Khalifat-ul-Masih I (may Allah be pleased with him). By this time the one outstanding thing on our ‘to-do list’ was to ascend the Minarat-ul-Masih. Again our chaperone arranged for the doors to be opened and we walked up the 92 flights of stairs stopping at each of the three stories. We reached the top and quite honestly my initial feelings were one of acrophobia. I never thought I would be scared of heights but, 105 feet up was quite a bit of an altitude! Nevertheless, it was not enough to stop me from having a good look at almost the whole of Qadian from this vantage point. It was only then that I was struck by the single most amazing thing that summed up Qadian for me. I had expected Qadian to be a simple place yet in the year 2001 not as simple as I found it. The streets and houses are pretty much the same as they were when the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) trod the earth. The town had expanded but little and its habitants were humility personified. Qadian truly was and still is a corner of the world. I was astounded by the fact that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) acquired so much knowledge, insight and erudition, both religious and secular, from this simple and remote corner of the earth. How from this tiny hamlet the victory of Islam was to be manifested eternally by the Sultan-e-Qalam, the King of the Pen, which the Promised Messiah My Visit to Qadian ‘IT WAS GREAT TO HEAR SO MANY CONVERSION STORIES F R O M T H E M A N Y N E W A H M A D I S W H O AT T E N D E D E S P E C I A L LY F R O M T H E F O R M E R N O N-A H M A D I MULLAHS WHO CONVERTED AND ARE NOW UNDERGOING THE MISSIOHNARY TRAINING IN QADIAN.’ 62 Review of Religions – Jan 2002 (on whom be peace) undoubtedly was. At the same time, I felt very fortunate and blessed indeed to be able to see Qadian in this state for even as the Holy Kaaba in Makkah and the Holy Prophet’s (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Mosque in Madinah today stand in resplendent glory and lustre compared to 100 years after the demise of the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), I know with absolute certitude and conviction, that despite being inconspicuous to the contemporary eye, the day would dawn when the Minarat-ul-Masih and its surrounding precincts would be enlarged to wider and loftier dimensions. So would be the aims and ideals which inspired its construction. The greatest of man- made structures built for worldly purposes would stand dwarfed in comparison to this humble Minarat- ul-Masih. All light will pale before its light. It would be a place of pilgrimage for future generations. They would look back and wonder what Qadian must have looked like in the days of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). Jalsa Salana itself was a splendid experience. There was assembled a concourse of thousands of modest, unpretentious Ahmadis all pro- claiming the glory of Allah, affirming His Unity, supplicating His forgiveness and compassion, eager My Visit to Qadian Tommy addressing the Qadian Jalsa 63Review of Religions – Jan 2002 to follow in the footsteps of Q a d i a n ’s illustrious past holy personages, keen to enhance their religious knowledge. It was great to hear so many conversion stories from the many new Ahmadis who attended especially from the former non-Ahmadi Mullahs who converted and are now undergoing the missionary training in Qadian. But it was the exceptional hospitality that stood out for me, even from the most senior members of the Jama’at. In conso- nance with the gracious spirit, noble aims and lofty aspirations of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), our hosts worked tirelessly, day and night, to provide us every possible comfort, at the same time always maintaining a pleasant demeanour. The people of Qadian genuinely practised the motto: ‘Love for All, Hatred for None.’ As an African, I felt no barriers, no discrimination, no prejudice just love, affection and brotherhood. I have been amongst the ethnic minority in many places before yet I have never been so warmly received as by the people of Qadian. I quickly learnt the meaning of the Urdu phrase ‘Ek t a s w e e r’ as almost everyone wanted a photo with me, perhaps because I stood out from the rest. The subcontinent had been plunged into turmoil since the events of September 11th yet it is in Qadian, Darul-Aman, (a place of peace and security) that I truly found peace and brotherhood. When the time came to depart it was only with a heavy heart that I was able to do so. I had suspected from the onset my stay would not be long enough and so it proved to be as I left Qadian for Delhi to catch my return flight. I was heartbroken to leave a truly spiritual colony. Yet I was grateful for the many pleasant memories I was taking with me. I felt privileged to have seen the birth- place of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace); that humble place from where the renaissance of Islam was initiated. And I definitely felt blessed indeed to have walked the same streets as did a Prophet of Allah and to have prayed in the same places where he had prayed. May Allah Almighty bless all sincere Ahmadis with a visit to Qadian, Dar-ul-Aman, an abode of peace, a place of security, a town of tranquillity. Ameen. My Visit to Qadian We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. 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