Munavara Ghauri, UK
For those of you who are not of a Muslim background, let me first explain the Islamic concept of a caliph. A caliph in the true sense of the word, is a spiritual successor of a prophet. Such caliphs have been promised to believers ‘who do good works’ in the Holy Qur’an. Alongside the promise of this special institution of caliphate, Allah Almighty reassures believers of ’security and peace’ in the same verse. It is this security and peace that I have experienced throughout my life by means of the three inspirational Caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community whose eras I have personally witnessed. I have complete conviction that whatever the Caliphs have said has proven true in one form or another, because they are elected on the basis of their spiritual merit and nothing else. To illustrate this, I will share a few instances of when their words proved true in my personal life. Undoubtedly, many members of the Ahmadiyya Community could recount similar experiences of how our Caliphs’ words proved true for them.
The first instance was when I was 5 years old and enjoying a family holiday to Pakistan with the normal mix of dinners, weddings and the mandatory food-poisoning that is guaranteed in such places! I had the privilege to meet His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (rh), the then Third Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Accompanying my family was an English friend of my mother who had embraced Islam, whom we addressed as ‘Auntie Pam’. She had also brought her daughter. The Third Caliph (rh) kindly gifted me some sugared almonds. He then said that I would take the almonds back home to England. My mother later related that she had felt a little incredulous at that moment, not believing that her young daughter who was so fond of sweet treats, could actually refrain from eating all the almonds within a few days so as to take them home. It transpired that I happened to leave my bag behind as we set out for our journey back to the UK. In the bottom of the bag there remained some of the almonds that our beloved Caliph (rh) had gifted me. When I realised at the airport that I had left my bag, I cried so much that my kind grandfather reassured me that he would post it back to me. Consequently, he did so, and I was indeed reunited with His Holiness’s (rh) sugared almonds! Just as our beloved Caliph (rh) had said, I did bring the almonds back to England!
The more significant incident from that meeting with our beloved Caliph (rh) was that His Holiness (rh) took a little time to pray for Auntie Pam’s daughter, who was 6 years old at the time. His Holiness (rh) then informed Auntie Pam (who was a single mother), that he had prayed for her daughter to be intelligent. Later, she would graduate with a First Class medical degree (MBBS) from Cambridge University, despite being from a deprived, northern town and having a single-parent family. Socially and economically, the odds had been against her. Yet, she demonstrated extraordinary intelligence and fulfilled a prayer which HIs Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (rh) had made for her almost two decades earlier.
Fast forward several years and another significant moment in my life when the words of a Caliph were fulfilled, was at the time of my marriage. It was now the era of the Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh). I was considering a marriage proposal from the son of my father’s friend. My father thought highly of his friend but did not really know his son. So, I prayed to be divinely guided. My father also advised me that seeking guidance from the Caliph (rh) would be the best option and would provide the most blessed outcome. At the time, I was keen to pursue my studies at Durham University, so I was in two minds. However, I shared my parents’ belief that our Caliph, ‘Huzoor’ (rh) [His Holiness], was divinely appointed and thus following his guidance would indeed lead to the best outcome. The response by letter from our Caliph (rh) regarding the proposal was one in which he simply said ‘Mubarak Bad’ or ‘Congratulations’, clearly indicating his opinion of the match. Thus, despite some initial reservations, I said ‘yes’ to the man who has now been my husband and life-long friend for over two decades. Interestingly, at that time, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), also urged us to speedily organise a small engagement. We quickly acted upon the advice of our beloved Caliph (rh) and enjoyed the happy occasion. With hindsight, we realised that we had been right to follow the words of Huzoor (rh), because it came to be the last family event my mother enjoyed. She passed away 6 months later and never saw my wedding day, but at least I have happy memories of her at my engagement.
Moving forward to the era of the present and Fifth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), I have again experienced the fulfillment of words uttered to us in a personal capacity. One such example was when my daughter wanted to pursue a degree in languages, which meant that she would have to live abroad for a year as part of her studies. I was fearful of the prospect but also aware that Islam does strongly encourage seeking knowledge as the Holy Prophet (sa) taught:
‘The quest of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.’Sunan Ibn Majah
I suggested to my daughter that we should seek the advice of our beloved Caliph (aba) regarding the matter. When we met His Holiness (aba), I explained to him that part of my daughter’s studies would require her to live overseas for a year. His Holiness (aba) very confidently reassured us that, ‘There is nothing to worry about.’ I admit that I was a little surprised at his confidence in my daughter, who had never travelled abroad independently for even a day up until that point. Yet again, our beloved Caliph’s (aba) words proved true. By the grace of Allah, my daughter actually spent around 18 months abroad, experiencing multiple trips to both France and Jordan, with ease and success.
A final incident I would like to share of how the words of our beloved Caliph (aba) proved true for my family, was when we visited him in 2017. His Holiness (aba) commented to my husband that he had aged. At the time we laughed off the remark, thinking it was an observation on my husband’s beard which was now predominantly grey. Nothing else worried me at the time as, although my husband had gained a little weight, he was still a keen hockey player and appeared reasonably fit. Yet, within the year he suffered a heart attack and required a major heart bypass operation. By the grace of Allah, and I am sure with the prayers of our beloved Caliph (aba), the first person from whom I requested prayers, my husband recovered.
And thus, my life since childhood has been illuminated and enriched with the true words of the three Caliphs whose eras I have experienced. They have indeed granted me ‘security and peace’ and I am grateful for their perpetual presence and pure guidance, Alhamdolillah [all praise belongs to Allah]. It is not something I would change for the world, and I am sure most Ahmadi Muslims would agree!
About the Author: Munavara Ghauri BA (Hons) Eng Lit, is married with 3 children and works as a School Librarian. She is currently serving as the Branch Leader for the Bournemouth Women’s Auxiliary Organization of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is an Editor for the Women’s Section of The Review of Religions.