Akhund Bilal Ahmed Siddiqui, USA
Many years ago, there was a span of years where I felt I was made to scale several cliffs, and in doing so, I found myself inching closer and closer to my Lord. As I reflect on that time, there are two Qur’anic verses which have become personally meaningful to me:
‘Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?’– The Holy Qur’an 39:37
‘Allah is the friend of those who believe; He brings them out of all kinds of darkness into light.’– The Holy Qur’an 2:258
I wish to share a few incidents from that time in my life which pulled me towards the living God.
My story begins in late 2011. I was nine years old and shared a relatively small room with my parents. One fateful night, I was awakened by my mother’s coughing. I remember the atmosphere was frantic and my father was trying to console my mother. Once my mother seemingly felt better, my father got me ready for school. I hurried home after school, and I found my grandmother sitting in her room; tears running down her cheeks. I asked her why she was crying and was told that my mother had to be rushed to the hospital as her condition had worsened. Hearing this, unable to help myself, I broke down crying.
My father stayed with my mother in the hospital, and my uncles and aunts would come to help at home. A few days passed and I hadn’t seen my mother. One night, I called my father wanting to speak to my mother, but she hadn’t gained consciousness. Then, another opportunity came up where I insisted to visit her, but we found her unconscious once again. I was utterly drained of tears by that time, but had I any left, I would’ve cried. The separation was too much to bear.
On Friday, December 9th, 2011, my mother passed away.
This wasn’t entirely surprising to us. Some time before her passing, my father had seen in a dream that my grandfather, who had already passed, arrived at our house, and my mother offered him water. My father had understood what this had meant and related it to us afterwards. I also had a dream a few days after my mother’s passing where I saw her sitting in a garden, looking happy. And on another occasion, I had a dream where I saw her talking to beloved Huzoor (aba) [His Holiness, the Fifth Caliph]. These were the first instances of genuinely feeling God’s presence in my life. I knew these dreams to be from Him, as they were sources of immense comfort for me, and left lasting impressions on me. I was given such strength from these experiences, that if you ask my father today, he would tell you I was the one consoling him at the funeral.
After some time, I felt that I needed a motherly figure. My father was away from home for work, for days on end, and my extended family could only do so much. This was a problem and my maternal grandmother suggested that my father should remarry.
While searching for a potential partner, which proved far more complex than initially assumed, my paternal grandmother saw a house in front of a garden in a dream after a period of prayers. We had taken it as a good sign at the time but continued the search regardless. A few days passed, and we came across a family. My father and grandmother visited their house and realized that their home also stood in front of a small garden, like the one my grandmother had seen in her dream. After the necessary arrangements, my father remarried and our concerns of finding someone who could be a mother to me quickly went away. The words of God ask, ‘Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?’ And He suffices. Indeed, He suffices.
However, the temporary relief from worries would not last long.
As an Ahmadi living in Pakistan, the threat to life is ever-present, and our family was no exception—especially since my father and grandfather never hid their faith from anyone. This transparency often brought unwanted attention from the extreme proponents of so-called Islam. In 2013, our house was marked with a paper to signify it as a ‘Qadiani’ house. Later that year, letters were sent from under our front door containing grotesquely detailed threats about what these extremists wanted to do to our family.
To avoid any incident, we travelled out of town, towards Punjab for a few weeks. When we returned, some neighbors who were on good terms with us informed us that they had seen men with guns on motorcycles patrolling in front of our house. Naturally, this was a highly anxious time.
In the Holy Qur’an, God promises that Allah is the friend of those who believe, and He brings them out of every kind of darkness into the light. A few years prior, Huzoor (aba) [His Holiness] had told us to leave Pakistan if security became an issue. It was only for this reason that my parents considered it an option. As we applied for the visa, I remember sitting on a chair at the embassy reciting any prayer that came to mind as I was incredibly anxious. A wave of relief overcame me as the lady behind the desk informed us that we could expect a visa in the next few days. In June 2014, my stepmother and I left Pakistan. My father opted to stay behind for various personal reasons.
While most of my father’s stay in Pakistan passed without incident, he was once kidnapped by street bandits. They found out he was an Ahmadi Muslim and threatened to kill him as an act of repentance. His reply was, ‘If God wishes that I die here, then I accept that. However, if He wishes that I leave this place alive, there is not a single thing you can do to stop that.’ To me, that was an example of complete and unshakable faith in God, and his words rang true. In 2016, he joined us in the US as well.
All these incidents throughout my life not only serve as uplifting anecdotes but as living proofs of God and the truth of Islam Ahmadiyyat.
Trials come and go, but our Almighty God never leaves us. He guides us and is our mightiest source of comfort.