Man of God

Zia Seizes Power In July, 1977, Mr Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party, which had been returned to power with a truly astonishing majority, reached an agreement with the nine opposition parties. The PPP would relinquish a number of seats in the National Assembly and so end the complaints that the elections had been rigged. The agreement was to be announced in a joint statement which was now being pre p a re d . At 6 a.m. one morning General Zia-ul-Haq, Commander- i n – C h i e f of the Pakistan Army, arrested Mr Bhutto and his ministers and all the leaders of the nine opposition parties. General Zia and the generals commanding the five regions of Pakistan announced the imposition of martial law. New elections would be held within 90 days. People were at first willing to hope that he was telling the truth – that he intended to sweep away corruption and, as quickly as possible, return the country to parliamentary democracy. Soldiers, in the norm, live their lives by simple rules – they obey orders, they protect the country, they do not seek to make fortunes because of the power that is in their hands. It is small wonder that they despise the twistings and turnings of u n s c rupulous politicians and believe they could do better. Absolute power is said to c o r rupt absolutely and the dictum proved true with Zia. The 90 days passed and there were no elections. There were more promises. One by one the generals who had helped Zia fell away. Zia had deceived them, they said. 30 The Review of Religions – April 2003 Man of God The following is an extract from the book A Man of God by Iain Adamson (published by George Shepherd, Bristol, copyright reserved)which deals with the exceptional Divine assistance in the journey from Pakistan to England which Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV had to endure after a warrant for his unlawful arrest was issued by the government of Pakistan. Condemned by world opinion for his overthrow of a democratic government – even if it were inefficient and corrupt – Zia struggled to find legitimacy for his illegal government. He found it by imposing on Pakistan supposedly funda- mental Islamic laws. With these laws he obtained the backing of the ulama and so at first p resented to the world the appearance of being supported by the religious leaders of the majority of the nation. Public floggings and other barbaric medieval punishments were introduced. They satisfied the funda- mentalists and silenced with fear the rest of the population. Zia had become a dictator. He had been corrupted absolutely. To divert the attention of the population from their re a l grievances a well-known strat- agem of dictators is to pick a religious or ethnic minority and fan the embers of intolerance into flames. So it was with Zia. Persecution mounted against the Ahmadiyya C o m m u n i t y, their shops were pillaged and set on fire and mobs rioted outside their mosques. Some were broken into and b roken up. The discrimination practised by Bhutto against Ahmadis in every government service was stepped up. Ahmadis, innocent of any off e n c e against public and private morality save their re l i g i o u s beliefs, were beaten up by mobs and individual thugs. Other Ahmadis were murdered. The police, in some instances, appeared to do little to prevent orinvestigate these crimes. A parallel of similar re l i g i o u s persecution in recent history and the enormous price the world had to pay for remaining silent readily presents itself. The Khalifa urged restraint on his followers. Do not respond to these provocations. Defend yourselves, but do not attack your persecutors either phy- sically or verbally. He reminded them that The Pro m i s e d Messiah(as) had foretold that they would be persecuted and abused. But he had also foretold 31 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 that the Ahmadiyya Movement would triumph in the end. But though he urged forbear- ance on his followers he did not use the same restraint himself. He condemned Zia’s persecution. He denounced in sermon after sermon the injustices that Zia was inflicting not only on the Ahmaddiyya Community but on all the people of Pakistan. He was inflicting wounds on the entire c o u n t r y. He was stirring up rivalries, creating enmity, dividing families, destro y i n g c o m m e rce, depriving the country of good citizens and desecrating and befouling the w o rd ‘Peace’ which was the name of Islam. God would punish him if he continued in his evil ways, said the Khalifa. God’s wrath would be terrible. One poem he wrote created a f u ro re in Zia’s entourage and was reprinted again and again for distribution in the C o m m u n i t y. Ahmadi childre n learned it by heart. One Ahmadi was to say, ‘There are moments in history when a speech, a poem or a song seems to inspire a people. They appear to be defeated, all around them is chaos and despair, yet suddenly this speech or poem will rally a nation. Suddenly there is hope. ‘ Winston Churchill’s speech, when Britain appeared to be defeated, when he pro m i s e d “blood, sweat and tears” but 32 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 THE ELDERS OF THE COMMUNITY ASKED THE KHALIFA TO BE LESS PLAIN-SPOKEN. ZIA WAS KNOWN FOR THE U N R E L E N T I N G, C O L D F I E R C E N E S S O F H I S A N G E R AGAINST THOSE WHO OPPOSED HIM……THE KHALIFA R E F U S E D. I T WA S H I S D U T Y T O O P P O S E ZI A, H E DECLARED. GOD WOULD HELP THEM. GOD WOULD NEVER FORSAKE THEM. also promised final victory, was such a speech. It put new heart into Britain. ‘The poem by the Khalifa was similar. It put new heart into us. It gave vent to our pain and anguish. it recognised our despair, but it gave us hope. It promised us final victory – and the downfall of Zia’s tyranny.’ It is difficult to translate a poem. It needs a poet to do so and even then the flavour is lost. It becomes a new poem rather than a translation. In his poem, the Khalifa urged his followers to be patient. The dark storms of persecution that were raging would collide with the prayers they were offering and then the storms would d i s a p p e a r, almost as though they had never been. The darkness and peril of their persecution would pass away and tranquillity would light the dawning day. Continue to pray humbly, the Khalifa urged. Prayer had d e s t royed Nimrod the tyrant, the prayers of Moses ( a s ) h a d humbled the great Pharaohs. The sword of prayer was more powerful than any worldly weapon. Even if destru c t i o n appeared to be entering in at the door, do not give up hope. Pray harder. God would curse and overturn the tyrant. Zia was a well-read soldier. He became almost beside himself when it was reported that he was being compared to Nimrod. The elders of the Community asked the Khalifa to be less plain-spoken. Zia was known for the unrelenting, cold fierceness of his anger against those who opposed him. Moderate your language they said for the sake of the Community. They needed him. They would be nothing without the Khalifa. The Khalifa refused. It was his duty to oppose Zia, he declared. God would help them. God would never forsake them. In March, 1984, a telephone call was received at the head- quarters of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Rabwah. It was 33 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 from the United States embassy. A member of a U.S. mission would be passing near Rabwah shortly and would welcome the opportunity to meet the Khalifa. It seemed to the Khalifa that there was not much reason for a meeting, but he gave his a g reement and the American and some officials of the United States Embassy in Islamabad turned up shortly afterward s . When he heard where they had been, it seemed to the Khalifa that they had not been passing nearby, but had come specially to meet him. And as the discussion progressed it seemed to the Khalifa that they were in possession of some knowledge that might affect the future of the Community. They talked for an hour and a half. ‘What put me on my guard was his insistent interest in what would be my reaction if the Government did this or did that’. ‘So I said, What do you mean by this and that?’ He replied, ‘Well, you know that everybody is crying for your head. And the Government can succumb to the pre s s u re and take certain measures. In such a case what will be the reaction of the Ahmadiyya Movement?’ ‘I replied that we were a peaceful community. We will behave in the best traditions a c c o rding to our past expe- rience. Anyway, it was very obvious that he knew something and was trying to gauge my reactions before reporting to Washington. So I decided to go to Islamabad and try to find out what was happening.’ The Khalifa had many friends t h e re among the diplomatic community, some dating from when he represented the Third Khalifa, others since he had been elected khalifa. He would stay for two weeks he decided. He talked to many people. ‘I had contacts with the British, French, Canadian, Chinese and many other embassies.’ All were delighted to see him. Some he met at their off i c e s . 34 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 Others he met privately for they did not want to jeopardise their relations with the government of Zia. Something was definitely going to happen he gathered. But no one seemed to know exactly what. Opponents of the Movement w e re being transported into Islamabad from the North West Province by buses and lorries. Crowds had started to gather outside the house where the Khalifa was staying. ‘Then I received a message from General Zia via an officer of the Intelligence Bureau. What it said was that the ulama were making a lot of noise but I should not worry. Once he had dealt with a certain politician he would put the ulama in their place. So t h e re was no need to worry. This was a very strange message – it was the only message I ever re c e i v e d from Zia – though he was to send an emissary to me later. It seemed to say that I could stay in Islamabad and there was no danger.’ At the same time as I received the message from Zia, I received another message from an officer of the Intelligence Bureau. He gave me his personal advice to leave Islamabad immediately. Now the two messages were contradictory, but it was obvious that he knew what was planned and that he was a gentleman and that he did not want to be involved in trickery. The Khalifa was to receive a further personal call from a friend in police intelligence. The gist of the message was: ‘Leave Islamabad immediately’. Yet another person who seemed to know a little more than anyone else was an official of the F rench Embassy. The Khalifa met him at his home. French is still the language of diplomacy and the French are masters of the art of saying something 35 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 diplomatically even when they a re talking English – for the Khalifa did not speak French. The conversation seemed almost non-consequential. ‘How long a re you staying?’ asked the French counsellor. ‘Two weeks,’ answered the Khalifa. ‘I think the weather is not all that pleasant here at this time of the y e a r,’ the French counsellor observed. ‘I have no doubt that you will be wanting to leave as soon as possible.’ The visit lasted only fifteen minutes and then the Khalifa returned to the house where he was staying. Within the hour, he left for Rabwah. The Infamous Ordinance On Thursday, April 26th, 1984, the Gazette of Pakistan recorded the introduction of Ord i n a n c e Twenty made under martial law by the President of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq. It was designed, it said, to amend the law to prohibit the Quadiani g roup, Lahori group and Ahmadis from indulging in anti- Islamic activities. It began: ‘Whereas it is expedient to amend the law to p rohibit the Quadiani gro u p , Lahori group and Ahmadis from indulging in anti-Islamic activities: and whereas the P resident is satisfied that the c i rcumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action: now there – f o re, in pursuance of the Proclamation of the fifth day of July, 1977, and in exercise of all powers enabling in that behalf, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance.’ The title of the ordinance was to be ‘The Anti-Islamic Activities of the Quadiani Group, Lahori G roup and Ahmadis (Pro h i b i t i o n and and Punishment) Ord i n a n c e , 1984’. It would come into force at once and it would override any o rders or decisions of courts. The following new sections were added to the Pakistan penal code under section 298B: ‘Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc reserved for certain holy personages and places. 36 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 ‘1. Any person of the Quadiani g roup or the Lahori gro u p (who call themselves “Ahmadis” or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, (a) refers to, or addre s s e s , any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Pro p h e t Muhammad (Peace be upon his name), as “ A m e e r- u l – M u m i n e e n ” , “ K h a l i f a – t u l – M u m i n e e n ’ , “Khalifatul Muslimeen, “Sahaabi” or Razi Allah Anho; (b) refers to, or addre s s e s , any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as “Ummul- Mumineen”; (c) refers to, or addre s s e s , any person, other than a member of the family of the Holy Pro p h e t Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Ahle-bait; or. (d) refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as “Masjid”; shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to a fine. 2. Any person of the Quadiani group or Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis” or by any other name) who by w o rds, either spoken or written, or by visible re p resentation, refers to the mode or form of call to prayers followed by his faith as “Azan” or writes “Azan” as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to thre e years, and shall also be liable to a fine.’ The final section of the ordinance said: ‘Any person of the Quadiani g roup or the Lahori gro u p (who, call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name) who, directly or 37 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, by w o rds, either spoken or written, or by visible repre- sentations, or in any manner whatsoever out-rages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine.’ World reaction to the ordinance was one of incredulity. Among Pakistan lawyers, teachers, diplomats and businessmen there was sadness – sadness that their country was sinking into total religious intolerance, sadness that their country’s name was becoming synony- mous with infamous re g i m e s that oppressed its citizens because of their colour or religion. There were military and com- mercial considerations as well. Pakistan was regarded by the U.S. and other Western countries as a bulwark against commu- nism. How could their governments sanction the delivery of arms in the name of freedom while minority groups in Pakistan were being persecuted? The sheer illogicality of the law d e p ressed the lawyers and judges of Pakistan. They had tried, in the main, to hold on to notions of justice and liberty. How, they asked, could a state abrogate to itself the ability to define what was, and what was not, Islam? How could a particular number of Islamic divines, even though they were in the majority, consider that they, and they alone, could interpret the word of God as revealed in the Qur’an? How could a state justify its s u p p ression of the right of any g roup of people to proclaim its name and its beliefs, provided no anti-social or criminal off e n c e had been committed? And most important of all, how could any judge or jury decide that someone was posing as a 38 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 believer in any religion if all that he did was pray and observe the tenets of that re l i g i o n ? The Sunni, Shafie, Hanafite, Wahhabi and Ahmadi Imams all give the Azan or call to prayer. How was it that only the Ahmadi Imam was posing as a Muslim? Certainly there was a fun- damental difference between the Ahmadiyya Movement and all the other sects of Islam. But there are seventy-three sects in Islam and at various times their divines have issued decrees or fatwas declaring that such and such a sect was heretical. How could the state decide who was posing as a Muslim and who was not? It pre-supposes a kind of t h o u g h t – c o n t rol of Orwellian dimensions with thought-police able to see into people’s minds and decide which of those offering the daily prayers of the Salat are true Muslims and which are only posing as Muslims! Indeed it put the judges who decided in such a case as committing shirk, considering themselves equal to God. An American journalist, admitted to Zia’s presence for what was supposed to be an eulogistic interview, taxed him with violating Pakistan’s constitution and the United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights. Zia shrugged his shoulders in indiff e rence. ‘So what,’ he said. In Rabwah the Khalifa had summoned his most senior counsellors to a meeting. Recalling the meeting the Khalifa said: ‘I was never in any way scared of General Zia. I had criticised him very openly in my sermons. I had told him, “Mend your ways and your attitude. Cease this perse- cution or you will face the Wrath of God. But with this ordinance it was a d i ff e rent kind of situation. It was not my safety that was at stake, but my ability to speak 39 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 out. With this law Zia could silence me as the effective head of the Community. I could remain in Pakistan and speak out and then be put into prison. When I came out I could speak out again and be put away for another three years. In Ahmadiyyat you cannot choose another head while the first is living, even if he is imprisoned and completely out of touch. So that would mean a headless community. The Khalifa is guided by God in his decisions so he cannot delegate his decisions to a committee. Some decisions have to be taken by the Khalifa and that decision is final. If he w e re not able to take any decisions that could be a very dangerous situation. ‘ The advice of his counsellors was unanimous – he should leave Pakistan immediately. Zia’s Mistake The Khalifa accepted the advice of his amirs and other counsellors that he should leave Pakistan but on one condition – at the time he left no warrant should be out for his arrest and no official notice should have been served on him requiring him to appear before any commission re g a rding any alleged crime. If any such warrant were issued then he would not leave the country, he said. The price that the Community would have to pay for his safety would be too high. ‘My departure in those c i rcumstances would allow people to malign the khalifat, p e rhaps not dire c t l y, but certainly by rumour. It would be said that I was guilty of some crime and that was why I had run away. That was my fear and I was not prepared to allow that to happen.’ Reluctantly the amirs accepted his decision. The pre p a r a t i o n s for his escape were put into the hands of a retired senior army o ff i c e r. He decided that the Khalifa should leave Pakistan by KLM, the Dutch airline with which he normally travelled. A messenger was sent to Karachi 40 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 to book the seats rather than reserving them by telephone for they knew their telephone lines w e re tapped and all conver- sations were recorded. There were two KLM flights to Europe that week from Karachi, one that left very early in the morning on Monday, April 30th, the other on Wednesday, May 2nd. The Khalifa had proposed that he take the flight on the Wednesday because it would give him more time to prepare his departure, but when the messenger came back he reported that the KLM manager wanted him to take the flight on the Monday morning. T h e re were plenty of seats available on the We d n e s d a y flight but none on the Monday. H o w e v e r, the KLM manager said that he would make sure that at least six seats were available on the Monday flight. He did not give his reasons, but his advice was accepted. It was not until later that he explained that the Wednesday flight touched down in a Gulf state whereas the Monday flight went straight to A m s t e rd a m . If the Pakistan government put out an alert naming the Khalifa as a wanted criminal it could be that he would be arrested and detained in the Gulf state. At that time the headquarters of the Community at Rabwah was under the surveillance of five d i ff e rent security agencies of General Zia. They covered all roads in and out of Rabwah. It was not very difficult to spot them. One group, from the army, w e re dressed as beggars. But they were probably the only group of beggars in history who all wore stout army boots! The Khalifa insisted that there should be no lies or duplicity about his departure. He would not be disguised nor use a false passport. However, if Zia’s intelligence agencies made the wrong deductions then that was their affair. Early in the morning, therefore, shortly after the first prayers, the Khalifa’s car was seen leaving Rabwah. A man dressed in the white topcoat or achkan and wearing the winged white 41 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 pugree or Punjabi turban, with the gold centrepiece that was the normal dress of the Khalifa, was sitting in the back seat. The Khalifa’s car had its normal escort – one car in front and two cars behind. His personal security staff, well-known to the intelligence agents and com- pletely visible to them, sat inside these cars. It was presumed by the Ahmadis in the streets that the Khalifa was on the way to Islamabad, some 200 miles away. It was also the presumption of four of the five intelligence agencies who were watching Rabwah. They reported that the Khalifa was en route for Islamabad and, as was normal, his convoy was being shadowed. Some time later the cars following the convoy reported that the Khalifa was not going straight to Islamabad via Pindi. He appeared to be going to Jehlam where his cousin, Mirza Munir Ahmad, owned a c h i p b o a rd factory. Jehlam was some 70 miles east of Islamabad and it was presumed that he would stay the night at his cousin’s – as he had done occasionally in the past – and continue his journey to Islamabad the next day. If he had continued straight to Pindi or Islamabad the Government would have sent an official to meet him. But it was not the Khalifa who sat in the back of the Mercedes, but his 42 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 AT T H AT T I M E T H E H E A D Q U A RT E R S O F T H E C O M M U N I T Y AT R A B WA H WA S U N D E R T H E SURVEILLANCE OF FIVE DIFFERENT SECURITY AGENCIES OF GENERAL ZIA…….IT WAS NOT VERY DIFFICULT TO S P O T T H E M. O N E G R O U P, F R O M T H E A R M Y, W E R E DRESSED AS BEGGARS. BUT THEY WERE PROBABLY THE ONLY GROUP OF BEGGARS IN HISTORY WHO ALL WORE STOUT ARMY BOOTS! t h i rd oldest bro t h e r, Mirza Munawwar Ahmad. Three hours earlier, at 2 a.m., when it was completely dark, two other cars had left Rabwah. They took a minor road that led to the little town of Lalian and then on to Jhang and finally to the main highway to Karachi, which was 750 miles away. In the first car were other members of the Khalifa’s security staff. In the second car was the Khalifa. The re t i red army officer had insisted that only those who had an absolute need to know should be told of the Khalifa’s final decision to leave and that the number of those who knew the details of his departure should be even more restricted. Even those who had been consulted about his departure and most members of his family therefore did not know of his decision to leave. It was not a question of trust, the re t i red officer insisted, just normal security. If people did not know then they could not let anything slip out accidentally. God had already told two people, the Khalifa was to say later. Shortly after the decision of how and when he would leave – which was in two days’ time – a letter was delivered from an elderly Ahmadi called Usman Chou. Mr Chou had had a d ream that he did not understand, but which he believed contained some kind of message for the Khalifa. He wrote that in his dream he had seen that the Khalifa’s car was about to leave for Islamabad. He had approached in order to pay his respects, but when he looked in the side window he saw that the car was empty. ‘I was shocked and cried out, “The Khalifa is leaving and his car is leaving, but he is not in the car.” Then a voice told me that the Khalifa had left by another route and that he had gone abroad. So I accompanied the car and instead of going directly to Islamabad we went to Jehlam where it stayed for one night.’ 43 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 That was the dream recounted in the letter of Usman Chou. It contained the secret plan which had just been decided on some hours earlier! ‘I knew then,’ the Khalifa said l a t e r, ‘that the plan would succeed. God had approved it. I was therefore absolutely without fear of its success.’ The second person who received a message re g a rding his departure, though neither he nor she appreciated it at the time, said the Khalifa, was his second daughter Faiza. She was then 23. No one in the family knew of his imminent departure but the day before he left, Faiza related with puzzlement the dream she had had the night before. She had seen two cars on a lonely road and though they were not the Khalifa’s usual cars she had known that the Khalifa was there and he was leaving on a journey. The two cars slowed down as they approached a place where it appeared that the road was being re p a i re d . H o w e v e r, there was no work being done and indeed no workmen could be seen, just mounds of gravel which forced the cars to slow down. As they did so she suddenly saw some beggars approaching. She did not like their looks and became extremely panicky. Suddenly she saw a hand lean out from the car in front and scatter some one rupee notes. Most of the beggars ran for them and the cars moved forward again, past the piles of gravel, and then on to the main road to Karachi. What actually happened, the Khalifa said, was that between Lalian and Jhang, there were some areas where flood water had washed away most of the road. They were being repaired, but very slowly. The army intelligence group had taken advantage of this natural road block and installed their surveillance group, dressed as beggars, at that point. The two cars occupied by the Khalifa and his security group had slowed down and out had rushed the so-called beggars, some dressed as dervishes and 44 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 wearing only a gown. But all looked extremely healthy and they all wore army boots! The beggars were moving t o w a rds the second car and almost certain discovery of the Khalifa, who was sitting in the seat beside the driver, when one of his security staff in the first car opened his window and threw out a handful of one rupee notes. The beggars ran to pick them up and the Khalifa’s car moved f o r w a rd, skirted the piles of gravel then gathered speed and was on its way again. Some of the beggars had not b o t h e red to scramble for the largesse dropped in the road, but had gazed intently at the occupants of the cars. Later that day the army intelligence unit reported that the Khalifa was thought to have been in a car that was seen heading t o w a rds Jhang and so could be on the way to Karachi. But the re p o r t was ignored for the other four intelligence agencies had reported as a fact that the Khalifa and his security staff were on the way to Islamabad and had stopped at his cousin’s home in Jehlam for the night. The KLM flight to Amsterdam left at 2 a.m. and the Khalifa’s 750 mile journey to the airport was accomplished without difficulty, but not without worry for his security staff. En route they had stopped at a drivers’ pull-in where they could buy some tea and food. His driver stopped the car at the very edge of the pull-in and said he would bring the tea and food to the Khalifa because he was too easily recognisable. The Khalifa was having none of that. He knew the man who ran the cafe very well. He had often stopped there before he was elected Khalifa. He therefore got out of the car and exchanged memories with the cafe owner while drinking his tea. Then they got on their way again. At the airport he was shown to a private room and one hour b e f o re the scheduled take-off time he went through passport control. He then waited for the call to board the aircraft. It did 45 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 not come. Instead there was an announcement that there would be a delay in departure. In his private room, the Khalifa sat waiting. The minutes dragged slowly by. The KLM manager had assured him that the plane would take off on time. Now he arrived to say that the delay was the responsibility of the airport authorities. They had not given permission for the plane to take off. The Khalifa sat waiting. His wife and his security men tried to conceal their anxiety. His two youngest daughters, too young to understand what was going on, fell asleep. The minutes dragged slowly by. An hour after the scheduled departure time, their flight was announced. The Khalifa, his wife and two daughters, Chaudhry Hameed Nasrullah Khan, the Amir of Lahore, and the retired army officer settled down for the eight hour direct flight to Amsterdam. T h e re was no doubt that the delay had been due to the Khalifa’s presence, but it was not until months later that it was learned how near the Khalifa had been to arrest. The passport officers had in front of them a letter issued directly fro m General Zia. It had gone to all air and seaports and frontier posts. It stated that ‘Mirza Nasir Ahmad who calls himself the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Movement’ was not to be allowed to leave Pakistan. It was little wonder there had been the delay. 46 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 HE [THE KHALIFA] REACHED THE LONDON MOSQUE JUST BEFORE 12.30 WHERE SOME 300 AHMADIS, ALERTED BY WORD OF MOUTH, HAD ALREADY GATHERED TO MEET HIM. HIS CLOTHES WERE CRUMPLED, HIS EYES RED- RIMMED AND HIS FACE SHOWING SIGNS OF FATIGUE. BUT HE WENT STRAIGHT TO THE MOSQUE TO LEAD THE ZUHR PRAYER. General Zia had dealt most often with the Third Khalifa and so it was his name, Mirza Nasir Ahmad, that he had written by mistake on the banning order, not that of the Fourth Khalifa! HE HAD BANNED THE THIRD KHALIFA, WHO HAD BEEN DEAD FOR TWO YEARS FROM LEAVING THE COUNTRY! The Fourth Khalifa’s passport stated quite clearly that his name was ‘Mirza Tahir Ahmad’ and that he was Head of the Ahmadiyya Community. During the hour they had waited, Passport Control had tried to get someone in Islamabad to sort out the confusion, but at two o’clock in the morning, no one could be reached who could solve the problem. It must be an out-of- date order it was suggested. A n y w a y, there was off i c i a l information that the Khalifa was on his way to Islamabad. Finally permission was given for the plane to take off. At 3 a.m. the telephone rang in the apartment of the Imam of the London Mosque, Ataul Mujeeb Rashed. Mr Rashed picked it up. ‘Get ready,’ said the voice on the telephone. ‘I am ready. But what for?’ Mr Rashed asked. He had re c o g – nised the voice on the telephone as that of Masud Ahmad, the Director of Foreign Missions in Rabwah. Mr Ahmad told him that the Khalifa had left Pakistan four hours ago. They had wanted to be sure the plane was a p p roaching Europe before telephoning London. Mr Rashed recalls that he was o v e rcome with emotion. His wife asked him what was wrong, but before he replied he knelt down to thank God for the Khalifa’s deliverance. He then set about organising his reception. The senior officials of the Movement in London were telephoned and an emergency meeting arranged for 4.30 a.m. at the Mosque. 47 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 Meanwhile, his wife had started clearing the apartment for the arrival of the Khalifa. Into bed sheets went all their clothes and possessions which were knotted and made into bundles. The same thing happened in his office. Members of the Movement were telephoned in Holland and told of the Khalifa’s imminent arrival. Then came the news that he had landed and of the connecting flight he was catching to London. He reached the London Mosque just before 12.30 where some 300 Ahmadis, alerted by word of mouth, had already gathered to meet him. His clothes were crumpled, his eyes red-rimmed and his face showing signs of fatigue. But he went straight to the mosque to lead the Zuhr prayer. His voice was hoarse, he explained later. In Rabwah, in the mosque he had been obliged to speak very loudly because the use of loudspeakers was forbidden. Meanwhile in Rabwah the b ro t h e r-in-law of Mr Kahlon was puzzling over a telex which had been sent as soon as the Khalifa’s plane had landed at A m s t e rdam. It said, ‘Va l u a b l e package sent to Amsterdam has arrived safely. Will arrive London shortly.’ His bro t h e r-in-law could not understand the message. After asking round the office he telephoned his wife. ‘I don’t know what your bro t h e r’ s talking about. He has sent me a telex saying that a valuable package has arrived. But no one knows anything about it. Have you sent him anything?’ His wife began saying ‘No’, then paused and said there were rumours that the Khalifa had left Pakistan. He should take the telex to the amir, she suggested. It was the news that the few people who had been in the secret had been waiting for. And soon the news had spre a d t h rough Rabwah and then to every Ahmadi in Pakistan. The news that the Khalifa had left Pakistan sent Zia wild with rage. The senior officials of the 48 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 immigration department in Karachi were suspended. Enquiries were launched in all directions. There must have been collusion Zia raged. The people responsible would pay dearly. The senior police officer in the Jhang district and a friend were sitting in his office on the morning of his escape when a d i rect call came in fro m Islamabad and he was told to speak to the President of Pakistan. Zia’s voice was quite clear to the visitor. Where was Mirza Tahir Ahmad? Zia demanded. He must be produced immediately. The visitor said later that the police officer was visibly trembling as he answered, ‘Sir, I have no idea.’ Zia exploded. ‘What do you mean you have no idea? You are responsible. He is in your district. Why has he left for s o m e w h e re without your knowing it? I hold you responsible. He must be pro – duced immediately.’ The senior police officer replied as soothingly as possible that he would launch an immediate enquiry to discover the Khalifa’s whereabouts. Zia’s answer was a tirade of threats and abuse that went on for several minutes. In London, the head of security at the Pakistan embassy telephoned a former ambas- sador and asked if he knew w h e re the Head of the Community was. The former ambassador parried his question with another. ‘Why a re you asking me this?’ he said. The embassy security head said that he had received a re p o r t f rom Pakistan that the Khalifa had left Pakistan secretly for Switzerland but his contacts in Switzerland had said there was no trace of him. The former ambassador then replied that the Khalifa had left Pakistan as an ord i n a r y passenger on a normal flight and was now in London. The news of his escape made 49 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 f ront-page news all over the world. In Pakistan and India, Muslims were to hear the details of his escape and his plans for the f u t u re in his own words for the BBC World Service in both English and Urdu broadcast a twelve minute interview with h i m . Zia had hoped to silence the Ahmaddiyya Movement. Instead he had presented it with its g reatest opportunity. London was the cro s s roads of the world. Fro m London, the Khalifa had the opportunity to lead the Ahmadiyya Movement in its mission to convert the world to I s l a m . ‘God’s ways are wonderful,’ said the Khalifa later. It is believed that the Khalifa escaped arrest by some 12 hours. B e f o re news of his escape became known, the Governor of the Punjab telephoned and left a message saying that the Khalifa had to report immediately to his office in Lahore. If he had done so, he would have been arrested. Reproduced from the book, A Man of God by Iain Adamson, published by George Shepherd Publishers UK. ISBN: 1-873083-01-7 All rights reserved by the publishers. This extract is by way of introduction to this excellent and vobrant account of the life of Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Copies of this book are available in the UK from the Secretary Isha’at UK, 16 Gressenhall Road, London SW18 5QL or from Al- Shirakatul Islamaiyyah, Sheephatch Lane, Tilford, Surrey GU10 2AQ. 50 Man of God The Review of Religions – April 2003 Correction We re g ret that due to an oversight, an article on the Promised Messiah’s(as) Love of the Holy Prophet(sa) featured in the March 2003 edition attributed to Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad on the contents page, should have read a by Tommy Bockarie Kallon. Ed.