Abd al-Sattar Ahmad al-Aamari, Baghdad Iraq
(Translated from Arabic by Murtaza Ahmad, UK)
My name is Abd al-Sattar Ahmad al-Aamari and I come from a family of Shia Muslims. My parents were illiterate and knew nothing about religion, aside from what they might have been told. When I was young, on the day of Ashura,  I would accompany my parents and siblings to a Husainiya (a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies) where we would mourn Imam Husain (ra) and perform ‘Husaini rites’ such as beating our chests or retelling the story of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (ra). I disliked these spectacles, and I would always ask my father about them. My father would cry profusely, and I genuinely felt that he truly loved Imam Husain (ra) and that we should cry too, believing that’s what a true Muslim would do.
At such religious occasions, there was often talk of the Imam Mahdi. People said that he was hidden from the world and would return at the end of time. I hoped I would become one of his soldiers if he returned, because they used to say that whoever followed him would be greatly rewarded; it was said only few would meet him because he would be fought against, rejected and repudiated.
As the years passed, I matured. I turned 20 years old and was studying at a medical institute. While I would read both Shiite and Sunni religious books, my true nature was more inclined to reading Sunni religious books. I also read books on parapsychology and Sufism. After that, I served in the army in the Iran-Iraq war of 1988 – mandatory military service – but I was still occupied with thoughts of the Imam Mahdi.
After completing my service and receiving my military discharge, I went to a mosque in my area, where I inquired from one of the dervishes about a sect of Islam called the Tariqah Aliyyah Qadiriyyah Kasnazaniyyah. I asked the dervish about the Imam Mahdi and when and where he would appear. He told me that his sheikh would likely know because he had attained the status of a arif billah [one who has attained knowledge of God], and that he is ‘one of the qutbs  on the earth’. His name was Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Karim al-Kasnazani. He then remarked:
‘I think this sheikh is actually the Imam Mahdi, because not only is he a non-Arab, his name is Muhammad (sa), and he wears a turban. He instructs us to read the Holy Qur’an, and to apply all the teachings of Islam to our lives. He also receives revelations from Allah Almighty. He is the sheikh of mankind and the jinn.’
The subject of the jinn  used to terrify me, and I took the position of an ignorant learner, as though I knew nothing about religious matters. As the years passed, I remained a Sufi following this tradition, and I continued to go to the sheikh, engaging in various disciplines. I would fast and pray throughout the night with such vigour that there came a time when I did not sleep and days would pass when I did not eat anything at all. I had believed that these practices that would lead me to an experience of God Almighty, or allow me to see Muhammad (sa) the Messenger of Allah in my dreams, or perhaps see some jinn. My wife and I remained in this state of riyadah and mujahadah [spiritual exercises and striving] for 17 years.
One night, I dreamt that I climbed up a ladder to heaven, whereupon I came across a building. As I entered, there I found an Indian person. I sat beside him, and he spoke to me in what I understood to be an Indian language. He was teaching me, and I could understand his language even though I could not speak it. He then took me along with him to the Holy Prophet’s (sa) tomb and seated himself close to the tomb. I suddenly awoke from my sleep, and I told my wife and children what I had seen. I also asked one of the dervishes and officials in the Tariqah: ‘Is there a sheikh or walliullah [literally ‘a friend of Allah’ or saint] in India? They replied that there wasn’t. My thirst for spiritual knowledge ignited after seeing this dream and I decided to study the science of religion. But even after graduating from the Faculty of Shariah and Islamic Sciences, I could not quench the thirst of my soul or settle my spiritual and mental states.
Three years passed, and I still yearned to see the Holy Prophet (sa) in my dreams, or at least the Imam Mahdi, so that I may know him and recognise him upon his arrival. After desperately beseeching Allah, I was guided to a blessed channel that would change my life forever – MTA3 Al-Arabia. I saw respected Muhammad Sharif Odeh, the presenter of the program al-Hiwar-ul-Mubashir and within a minute, the photo of the Imam appeared and what was written on it was ‘the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi.’ ‘What is this?’ I thought to myself. ‘What on earth are these people saying? I always thought that the Promised Messiah (as) would – literally – pray behind the Imam Mahdi.’ I was in an utter state of mental confusion and chaos. Only later in life would I come to know that the Mahdi and Messiah are synonymous terms for one and the same person . I thought to myself, ‘are these people ignorant or is this just a biased channel?’ So, I sat day and night watching the channel and listening to what they were saying, and I found their words to be extremely rational, beautiful, magical and captivating. But on the second day of seeing the channel, I was feeling rather perplexed and anxious and said to myself: ‘Could we all be wrong, and they be right? Could I have been in the wrong for my entire 47-year life? I remained with the dervishes for nearly 20 years, could they turn out to be wrong?’
Meanwhile, Muhammad Sharif spoke on this channel and said, ‘Seek Allah Almighty’s help to know the true reality of this man.’ I told myself, ‘Well, this TV presenter has guided me to the correct, quick and easy way for me to know the truth.’ So, I sought the guidance of Allah Almighty in my prayer. While I was prostrating, I said, ‘O Lord, tell me, is this man truthful or an impostor?’ I slept in a state of ablution facing the qiblah [the direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah] .
That same night, I dreamt of a mid-day sun setting on the earth, and I heard a voice saying, ‘The Messenger (sa) of Allah has descended.’ Meanwhile, I held onto a brother’s hand and flew with him by my side to the place where the sun set. There, I rested at the feet of the Messenger (sa) and I kissed his feet. While I was sitting, the Messenger (sa) of Allah placed his hand upon my shoulder. He then instructed me, ‘Take off my robe and hand it over to your brother.’ I complied with his instruction. I then crawled, got off the ground and looked up at the Messenger (sa) of Allah. I could not behold his blessed countenance due to the intensity of the light that emanated from him; it was as if he was the sun. I noticed that next to him was a young boy whose light resembled that of the Messenger (sa) of Allah. I couldn’t tell him apart from the Messenger (sa) of Allah due to the sheer intensity of his light. I felt as though he was from among the angels (due to their venerable appearance and that they wear turbans ). I asked the people standing around me, ‘Who is that boy next to the Holy Prophet (sa)?’ They replied:
هَذَا الصَّادِقُ أَلَمْ تَعْرِفْهُ؟
‘This is the truthful one, do you not recognise him?’
It was uttered in a voice containing as much force as sarcasm.
I woke up trembling, crying and somewhat joyful. I recalled the words ‘Don’t you recognise him?’ as words referring to the dream that I saw three or four years ago where I was speaking to an Indian man in the building. I knew then that Allah Almighty had answered my prayers of wanting to see the Messenger (sa) of Allah or the Imam Mahdi in my dream. This dream made me believe in the Ahmadiyya Community, and the Imam Mahdi; it inspired me with such faith – faith that cannot be shaken but endures like the mountains. Imagine: I saw the Messenger (sa) of Allah after only two days of watching the MTA channel, when I had been begging Allah for twenty years to show me the Messenger (sa) of Allah in a dream! There is really no greater blessing than being divinely guided.
I was guided to the Imam of the age and I joined the ranks of the believers. Eventually I sent my pledge of allegiance to the current and Fifth Caliph of the Promised Messiah (as), Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba). I bought myself a printer and printed most of the books of the Imam Mahdi (as) available on the website (www.islamahmadiyya.net). Each time I perused the books, a new vision was conceived, a vision of divine blessings. Initially, I had a dream in which Hazrat Isa (as), or Jesus (as), was sleeping on the ground, and he called me and said, ‘O Abd al-Sattar, tell these people to stop throwing water at me.’ I sat near him and hugged him, and in doing so, I began to weep. He appeared very weak, with red curly hair and of red complexion. As for the interpretation of this dream, I later learned that the presence of water suggests life, as the Holy Qur’an describes that Allah has made every living thing from water.  In my dream, Hazrat Isa (as) was lamenting the fact that the Christians and [mainstream] Muslims attribute life to him. Yet, in actuality, he is not alive, but has died a natural death.
In another dream, I saw the Imam Mahdi (as) in India. I was with him in his house when suddenly he got up and went to a group of people who were cooking in the courtyard of the house. I saw fire under the large cauldrons. It was as though he was inspecting both the cooking process, and those who were working there. (This was before I ever knew about the prophecy  regarding the ever-expanding public kitchen (langar khana) established by the Promised Messiah (as) under divine command in Qadian, India, which is still in operation today in many countries of the world where the Ahmadiyya Community is established. It is also reported that the Promised Messiah (as) would personally inspect the cooking process of the public kitchen and at times he would ask for the lids to be lifted off the cauldrons so that he could inspect the quality of the food. ) Such was the care he took to ensure that all of the guests’ needs were attended to, regardless of who they were, or whether they were religious.
These dreams made me stronger and firmer in my faith. I started preaching to my family and friends, but they were not convinced. They would question me, ‘Why would the Imam Mahdi appear in India and not in an Arab country?’ My wife believed and supported me, as did my eldest daughter, Sarah, who sent the pledge of allegiance a few months after me. When I told one of my brothers that the Imam Mahdi had come and passed away and that we were now in the blessed era of his Fifth Caliph, he started cursing and hurling abuse at me and he called the Promised Messiah (as), God forbid, a liar. He also branded me a ‘disbeliever’.
I also learned that the senior officials, also known as caliphs, of the Tariqah Aliyyah Qadiriyyah Kasnazaniyyah knew the truth and hid it from the people. One day, I called on the Sufi dervishes and senior officials of the Tariqah. I explained to them that the Imam Mahdi had appeared and that we Shias were merely under the illusion that he was hidden and that he would appear one day. They were all reduced to silence but the officials, who were much more senior than I was, told me to calm down. Apparently, the sheikh’s deputy – who had served as Air Force Staff Major General in the Iraqi army – mentioned to them that he had watched the channel several years ago, in 2007. He followed the channel for around three months, but he stopped watching the programs thereafter.
‘How could he just stop watching it, and not tell us? This was merely a trust, something he’d been granted in order to share. The Holy Prophet (sa) prophesied the advent of the Promised Messiah (as) and Imam Mahdi and we have been commanded to follow him and pledge allegiance to him, even if we have to crawl over snow-capped mountains. This is not a matter pertaining to Tariqah schools-of-thought which you can simply ignore.’
It was at this point that I remembered that many years ago, before I had come across this channel, the sheikh’s deputy had once said to us, ‘By God, if you were to watch the channel that I came across, it would distract your hearts and shake your faith in the Tariqah and the sheikh.’
This official asked me to calm down and said that he would talk to the sheikh’s deputy himself. I replied to him: ‘I will neither speak, nor be spoken to by anyone other than the sheikh himself.’ The official replied, ‘Indeed, you may do so because you are a well-known and respected figure in the Tariqah.’ I wanted to meet Sheikh Muhammad, the Sheikh of the Tariqah, personally to ask if he knew about the Imam Mahdi. If he did, why did he not believe in him and why did he not inform us about him? This was of much greater importance than the Tariqah. It was the commandment of the Messenger (sa) of Allah to believe in the Imam Mahdi when he appears and to then bear witness to his truth.
I was also shocked when I realised that the members of the Tariqah had rejected Ahmadiyyat, but at the same time were quoting, verbatim, the Imam Mahdi’s (as) words, and contents from the Ahmadiyya website. They had even put the link to the Jama’at’s official website at the bottom of the page in their monthly magazine issued in 2007. This meant that they had known the truth of the Promised Messiah’s (as) claim and hid the matter. They told me that the sheikh was now traveling to Jordan and I was told to simply come back at another time to arrange the meeting. I then left the Kasnazaniyyah Tarīqah and never looked back.
On another occasion, I told my friends from our neighbourhood about Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, but they simply mocked and ridiculed him. I also spoke with the Dean of the Faculty of Sharia and Jurisprudence and Religious Sciences, who holds two doctorate degrees in jurisprudence and the principles of religion, and is considered an eminent religious scholar in the region. He repudiated the Ahmadiyya claims and said, You should be cautious of them.’ After a while, the son of this professor, who also has a doctorate in religious sciences, came to my elder brother’s house and said to him, ‘What is your brother doing? How dare he distribute his books to the people and incite them to become followers of this Mahdi?’
He added, ‘They are a group of agents working for the British, and they are spies. You should steer clear of them.’ As I had printed the Imam Mahdi’s (as) books, I had them distributed among some of my friends who had not yet declared me an apostate. Unfortunately, my friends took these books to a Wahabi group. One of the representatives of this group came and threatened my brother. It was then that my brother Ali came to me, shouting, ‘Why are you following the British agents and traitors? You should not speak about Ahmadiyyat in this area ever again, otherwise something bad will happen to you.’ I answered him, ‘How can you judge the Ahmadiyya Jama’at – what do you know? I have studied the Jama’at and I know it to be true.’ Still, he continued to mock and deride me, and he also declared me an infidel. Soon everyone I knew started to mock me and declare me a kafir (disbeliever). There was no friend, work colleague or companion from among the dervishes, not even a blood brother, who spared me, the Imam Mahdi (as) and the Jama’at from their mockery. They even boycotted me, and I met strong opposition from everyone. So, I stayed isolated with my wife, son and daughters, who witnessed the treatment I was subjected to, and even still, my family’s faith was not shaken or weakened.
These conditions continued into 2014, when they became so extreme that staying in that area threatened the life and safety of my son and daughters. I left all my possessions behind and rented a house and lived in a place far away where no one knew me.
Before this, in 2011, I decided to travel to Syria to meet Ahmadis for the first time and to observe their morals. When I arrived in Syria, I would ask people in the streets about Ahmadis and whether there were any Ahmadis in Syria. Three days passed in this search. (I was asking around because I had previously heard on MTA3 Al-Arabia that there were a Jama’at and an amir [administrative head] of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Syria, but the search was not fruitful). Then I called my daughter in Baghdad and asked her to contact the Jama’at’s Arab office in London to give us the address of the Jama’at in Syria. While waiting for her response, I was in a state of anxiety, and overcome by despair and frustration. I seriously considered going back to Iraq since I was unable to find out where the Jama’at was located; I started to feel that the Jama’at might not have any real presence in Syria. But on the fourth day, I received a phone call from Abdul Qadir Odeh, who introduced himself as a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. I was overjoyed and I praised Allah. Suddenly, I found myself filled with an indescribable love. He paid me a visit and we sat in my apartment while he was talking to me about the Jama’at and the Leader of the Faithful, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba). While he was talking to me it appeared that he had great love and awe for this Caliph (aba), and this discussion had, indeed, made an indelible impression on me and I, too, started to possess a deep love and awe for the current Caliph (aba). He was the first Ahmadi I ever met in whom I saw such humility and exemplary morals which I had not seen in anyone before. He invited me to the Ahmadis’ meeting place, where they observed the Friday prayers. So I went there, and found some Ahmadi brothers. I felt as if they were angels in the way they behaved.
A tranquillity of heart, mind and spirit descended upon me. I felt serenity in myself that I had not felt throughout my life, and it brought me a new sense of mercy, kindness and determination to serve mankind. I also stayed away from idle talk and avoided watching anything but MTA3 Al-Arabia, which I keenly watch all the time, except for the occasional news or other intellectually stimulating program.
I noticed that since finding Ahmadiyyat my life changes every year for the better – in terms of my economical, educational and social wellbeing. The most important factor of success is my current state of faith and belief, as well as my strong love and eagerness to meet our beloved master, the Leader of the Faithful (aba). My wish in this life is to meet him, kiss his hands, to sit in his company and listen to his words.
I find my Ahmadi brothers to be like a balm that heals wounds and I feel as though they lift my burdens. Whenever I talk to them, I feel a great sense of comfort and I become active and rejuvenated as if they nourish my soul and mind. I say to myself, ‘If this is what happens to me when I speak to the sincere followers of the Imam Mahdi (as), what on earth will happen to me when I speak to my beloved master, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba)? Yes, he will purify me and bring about a true revolution in me.’
This spiritual journey I have been through has shaped who I am today, and I am eternally grateful that God Almighty answered as I sought to know if this man was truthful or not.
About the Author: Abd al-Sattar Ahmad al-Aamari lives with his family in Baghdad, Iraq. He comes from a family of Shias and remained a devout follower of Tariqah Aliyyah Qadiriyyah Kasnazaniyyah before he converted to Ahmadiyyat in 2011. He faced severe persecution and social boycott for his beliefs.
 Ashura marks the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Calendar. Muslims commemorate the tragic martyrdom of the Holy Prophet’s (sa) grandson, Hazrat Imam Husain (ra) and his family and supporters at the Battle of Karbala.
 In Sufism, a qutb is the perfect human being, and it is the highest rank in the saintly hierarchy.
 The author refers here to the mainstream misunderstanding of the word jinn being translated as supernatural creatures made of fire and air. Ahmadi Muslims interpret jinn differently. For further reading refer to Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), Part 5, Section 3: Jinn.
 Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith 4039.
 The direction of the Ka‘bah, the sacred house in Makkah, which Muslims face when praying.
 Al-Hakim al-Nishapuri, Al-Mustdrak ‘ala al-Sahihain, Vol. 3 p. 361, Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith 25247, 25462. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Hadith 25154.
 The Holy Qur’an 21:31.
 ‘In a dream I saw an angel seated on an elevated platform in the guise of a boy. In his hand he was holding a pure loaf of bread, which was very bright. He gave it to me and said:
یہ تیرے لئے اور تیرے ساتھ کے درویشوں کے لیے ہے
“This is for you and for the dervishes who are with you.’”’
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Nuzul al-Masih, pp. 206–207, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 8, pp. 584–585.
 Hazrat Shaikh Zainul Abideen (ra) narrates that special arrangements were made regarding food in the days of the Promised Messiah (as). Hafiz Hamid Ali sahib said that once four huge cauldrons of rice were cooking, two of savoury and two of sweet rice. The Promised Messiah (as) came by and asked for the lids to be lifted. He said he did not find the aroma of the sweet rice good and asked both the cauldrons to be discarded. He said if he did not like the smell of the food how could his guests like it. “Significance of Hospitality”, Friday Sermon July 15, 2011