Sarah Malik, USA & Nadia Ambreen Karim, Canada
The historic 3-week tour of the Fifth Caliph & Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has just come to an end.
The emotions ran high as he arrived in Silver Spring, Maryland, for the last leg of his tour over a week ago, and the momentum did not halt as the days passed. Thousands flocked to catch a glimpse, pray behind him and express their love and affection for their Imam.
But some unacquainted with Islam may be surprised to note that Ahmadi Muslim women were consistently and visibly at the forefront of this. They did not waste a single opportunity to see and meet their Beloved Caliph. Donned in their scarves, Ahmadi Muslim women could be seen waiting zealously as early as before sunrise to see their cherished Caliph proceeding to the mosque to offer the morning prayers behind him.
Each day, this sea of Ahmadi Muslim women only swelled as the day progressed: more and more gathered from across the country, until right before the evening prayers, when entire families – infants, toddlers and all – stood excitedly awaiting the arrival of their Caliph to lead them in supplications.
As is usually the case on such tours, His Holiness’ schedule was packed with engagements as he personally met with hundreds of Ahmadi Muslim families and local delegates, led Nikah (Islamic marriage announcement) ceremonies, held group audiences, and most importantly, led daily congregational prayers.
Despite his saturated schedule, His Holiness regularly made it a point to take his time walking from one engagement to the next. He would wave and respond to countless voices saying Salam (The greeting of peace and blessings) paired with passionate slogans expressing the greatness of God & Islam.
The voices of Ahmadi Muslim women l carried across the mosque grounds expressing their sincerity and jubilance at seeing His Holiness.
We spoke to women on the ground, some of whom travelled from across the country to serve, visit, and pray behind their beloved Caliph. Many women commented that after a long pandemic resulting in limited access to their Caliph, this tour was a necessary revival for their faith and ties with Khilafat (the Caliphate).
Rukash Chaudhary recently moved to Maryland from Canada and last saw His Holiness in Calgary, Canada, six years ago. She was serving on the ladies’ security core team and although the primary goal is service and volunteerism, the nature of duty allowed her to regularly see His Holiness. But as she describes, seeing His Holiness is no ordinary experience. ‘It’s an entire aura, your breath gets taken away, your heart starts beating fast, the whole world seems still for a moment, Huzoor [His Holiness] is just walking, it’s a magical feeling.’
Huda Chaudhary recounted similar emotions on seeing His Holiness, ‘It was a spiritual awakening for me, seeing Huzoor [His Holiness] on TV and then in person, it’s a totally different experience. you really see the true beauty of him and the energy that radiates off of him. You can’t describe it in words.’
Not only did Huda see His Holiness, she was also among those fortunate enough to be part of a private audience with him. She describes the experience and thousands of others have, only further affirming the blessings people experience upon meeting the Caliph. She reminisces, ‘When you talk to Huzoor its like he knew you his whole life, you can’t describe it in words.’
Some ladies seized the opportunity to follow their Caliph across three different states over the course of His Holiness’ US tour. We met with Mahnoor Khan who’d not only committed herself to following His Holiness throughout his tour, but also volunteered her time and served in each city he visited. She expressed that she’d been traveling alone and was anxious about how she’d manage, but she quickly found herself at ease as soon as she saw her Caliph,’The day Huzoor came to Zion it changed my perception. It was such a spiritual experience, when he first walked in, it was like I’ve never seen him before, even though I’ve seen him a couple times in Canada. I felt like a child in a toy store.’
Raazia Tabassum attended the Waqf-e-Nau (those whose lives are devoted before their birth) class, presided by His Holiness, and shared that beforehand she’d been fatigued from the leading up to the class, but all of that changes as soon as His Holiness entered the hall, as she described, ‘The moment Huzoor came into the room it’s like all the troubles left and you know, there’s no worries in the world that I’m running late or I’m tired, it was just perfect.’
For Raazia, His Holiness’ tour was an opportunity to rejuvenate her bond with the mosque, and the Caliphate, ‘It was like rain after a drought…it felt like I got reconnected to mosque again. Because of Covid, I didn’t visit the msoque that much. Because of Huzoor it felt like that was home, this is it… Every time you see Huzoor it’s like the first time you’re seeing him, and his presence is just like such a spiritual and divine being is sitting in front of you and the Khalifa of the time is sitting in front of you and it’s such an invigorating moment for your faith and you reflect on your whole life in that moment.’
While in Maryland, His Holiness also led various Nikah (Islamic marriage announcement) ceremonies of Ahmadi Muslims. We caught up with Sultana Nasira from Brooklyn, New York who was overcome that it was her Caliph who led her marriage ceremony. ‘It was such a blessing, I’m blessed by Huzoor, and he prayed for me it was an amazing moment for me.’
Many women showed true grit out of love for the Caliph during this tour, braving frigid temperatures in hopes of seeing their Caliph, sacrificing sleep and rest to serve the guests who had also come to see His Holiness, and traveling long distances simply to pray behind their beloved Imam. The individual love that the Caliph gives each Ahmadi Muslim makes every personal experience incomparable to the next. While each resounding experience may be distinct, one sentiment was common to all – His Holiness’ presence in America will be sorely missed.
About the Authors:
Sarah Malik has a degree in Chemistry and is the recipient of the national American Chemical Society (ACS) award as the top student in the nation for her contribution to research and academic performance in Organic chemistry. Sarah has published and researched on her synthesis of a novel styrene polymer and on signaling pathways triggering GERD and oesophageal cancer. She is a team member of The Existence Project for The Review of Religions.
Nadia Ambreen Karim is a Canadian life-devotee of the Ahmadiyya Community who studied Theology & Islam at the Aisha Academy in Canada. Nadia serves in the Productions & Social Media team at MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) Canada Studios and is a translator of various programmes into French.