Life with the Promised Messiah

LIFE WITH THE PROMISED MESSIAH (Hazrat MauLvi Sher All) HazratMirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam lived in seclusion and was little known to the outside world when he sounded his trumpet call to the nations of the earth. Following the publication of his voluminous work Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya people started to visit him. They were, however, far and few between because Qadian was an out of the way village. Those visitors who did come found their stay to be the happiest days of their lives and they were loathe to part from him. When I came to Qadian in!897Isawa writing on a wall of the Jamia Mosque which had been written by Qazi Zia-ud-Din of Qazi Kot, Gujranwala district. He was the father of our present headmaster, Qazi Abdullah, B.A.B.T., who was formerly an Ahmadiyya Muslim missionary in London. If my memory is correct the writing bore the date 1885 and was to the following effect: Had it not been for my old and infirm mother at home, I would never have left the company of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. The words of the poet, ‘Suhbate bad az liqae to haram’ which means ‘It is unlawful to seek any other company after meeting thee’, were never more apph’cable to anybody than they are to him. I have quoted these words to show how much were those attracted to the Promised Messiah who came in close contact with him. Years later the same person who had inscribed the inscription on the wall told me that he became.so devoted to the Promised Messiah that he emigrated to Qadian with his children so that he could enjoy uninterupted bliss with him and to enable his children to enjoy the blessings of life in Qadian. He told me that one day when he was sitting in the company of the Promised Messiah he said to him: I feel contradictory desires rising in my heart. On one hand I earnestly desire that your truth and spiritual charm should be realised far and wide and that people ofaR races and creeds may come and drink from the fountain which God has caused to flow here; but at the same time the thought pains my mind that when others begin to come here in large numbers then I shaU be debarred from the pleasure of enjoying your close company as I do now because then 4 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS ‘ . you will be surrounded by other people and I shall lie deprived-of the happy privilege of sitting close to my beloved master and talking with him. Such are the contradictory desires which rise alternately in my breast. • The Qazi Sahib added that the Promised Messiah smiled when he heard these words. . ~ The fears and the desires of that old and • venerable disciple of the Promised Messiah soon began to be realised. In 1891, on the basis of divine revelation) Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced his claim to be the Promised Messiah, Although there arose, from all sides a storm of opposition against him, many thoughtful persons accepted him keeping in mirid the sanctity of his past life, the force of his arguments and the heavenly signs which God manifested through him. During the course of time when people saw more and more of his prophecies being fulfilled they flocked around him leaving their homes to live in his company. When I first came to Qadian on the eve of that memorable Bid which was followed by the fulfilment of the Promised Messiah’s great prophecy relating to the woeful end of Pandit Lekh Ram on the 5th of March, 1897.1 saw that many people had already settled and established their homes in Qadian. Among the early emigrants to Qadian were two most noteworthy persons. One was Hazrat Maulvi Hakim Haji Noor-ud-Din, of Bhera who became the first successor to the Promised Messiah after his death. He was a man of great learning and before he came to Qadian he had acquired a great reputation for his learning both at home and abroad. The other person was Maulvi Abdul Karim, of Sialkot. He also was a very learned man and he devoted his life to the service of Islam. For some time he had been an adherent of the Aligarh school of thought, the school of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan but soon accepted the claims of the Promised Messiah and adopted Qadian as his home. He recited the Quran in a very melodius and charming manner. It was he who usually led .the five daily prayers and also the Friday prayer. He was an eloquent speaker, he was a man of keen intelligence as may be judged from his book A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah, which has been translated into English for the benefit of Western readers. • . . . The Promised Messiah used to eat with his guests in the morning and evening.in the small mosque attached to his house. He continued this practice till a few years before his death when the deterioration of his health and the increased number of visitors prevented him from doing so. Instead guests were given their meals in the Guest House which he had established. In the same small mosque he offered his. five daily prayers in REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 5 congregation. He, himself, seldom led the prayers. The daily routine of the Promised Messiah was usually as follows. He would take ajregular walk in the morning and would be accompanied by his followers present in Qadian. The next time his followers could enjoy his company was usually between Zuhr and Asr prayers (2 to 4 p.m.), when he remained in the mosque. He also spent some time with them after the sunset prayer. They spent their remaining time either in the • Guest House or in the company of Hazrat MauM Noor-ud-Din where he treated his patients and gave Islamic discourses. They would also meet Maulvi Abdul Karim in the small mosque. Betwen Asr (late afternoon) and Maghrib (sunset) prayers they would listen to the addresses on the Holy Quran by..Hazrat Maulvi Noor-ud-Din in the Jamia Mosque. The topics of conversation with the Promised Messiah during his morning walks and when sitting in the small mosque were of miscellaneous nature. The Promised Messiah did not occupy any prominent position when sitting in the mosque which often made it difficult for a stranger to distinguish him from his followers. The first thing his followers were eager tp hear from him was some fresh revelation. These revelations generally contained prophecies, and their fulfilment in due time: They were published in the papers for the information of the public and also for his followers who did not live in Qadian. If there was a prophecy of particular importance the Promised Messiah published it by means of posters and handbills which were circulated widely throughout the country. He also included them in the books he was writing at the time. • ‘ • His followers often asked him questions on religious topics and his answers usually developed into a short speech. Occasionally he received visits from enquirers or tourists who asked him questions and to produce evidence in support of his claims. Although some of them spoke rudely to him he always replied calmly and dispassionately and restrained his followers from showing anger at their rude language. Once a young Arab from North Africa came to Qadian. He was barefooted and very simple in his habits and dress. When the Promised Messiah went out for his morning walk the new visitor met him and very indignantly asked him how he could be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi and said that it was’ very preposterous for him to make such a claim. The Promised Messiah explained to him the nature of his claim along with evidence, but even after more than an hour’s discussion the visitor remained unconvinced. He appeared to be a sincere and straightforward man. The Promised Messiah received a revelation encouraging him both to pray for him and 6 REVIEW, OF RELIGIONS / to continue his discussion.with him. Encouraged by this revelation, he too began to pray for him and continued to talk to him during his daily walks. These ended in his conversion and the former indignant Arab became a sincere believer and a devoted follower. He wrote and had printed a poster in Arabic in which he had set forth arguments in support of the truth of the Promised Messiah. He also purchased a number of the Promised Messiah’s. Arabic works before leaving for home where he promised to convey the message to his countrymen. Since then we have not heard from him. He was offered some travelling expenses but he declined. I remember seeing him walking barefooted to Batala railway station, a distance of eleven miles, carrying on his shoulders the bundle of books and posters which he had.taken from Qadian. Sometimes, when in the company of the Promised Messiah, his followers would tell him how they were persecuted in their villages or towns, how they were boycotted, how they were not permitted to draw water from their wells and every effort was made to-make their lives intolerable. Sons related how their fathers shut them up in their houses, bound them hand and foot, thrashed them, abused the Promised Messiah and called upon them to renounce their faith. Some related how false cases were brought against them in the courts of justice to get them punished. Some of his young followers told how they had been dispossessed of their belongings, stripped of their clothes and turned out of their homes. Others told him how the maulvis pronounced them to be kafirs (disbelievers) and that their marriages with their lawful wedded wives had become null and void. Such were the various forms of persecution to which they were subjected and which they related to the Promised Messiah with tears in their eyes. Some told how on a cold night while journeying to Qadian they sheltered in a village mosque but were turned out hungry and shivering by the local maulvi. The Promised Messiah said that his followers should never conceal the fact that they were travelling to Qadian as that would serve as an advertisement that the Movement was spreading far and wide. Even those residing in Qadian were not exempt from persecution. In order to cause annoyance and inconvenience to the Promised Messiah and his followers, a wall was erected by his cousins near the entrance to the mosque which necessitated worshippers to make a long detour. Later the wall was demolished by order of the court following legal proceedings. They were also harassed in other ways not only by Muslims but also by Sikhs and Hindus Who did their worst to trouble them. When, in the company of the Promised Messiah his followers would REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 7 sometimes relate how the. vengeance of God had overtaken certain opponents who had insulted him and how God had verified the truth of His revelation Inni Muhimm man arada; ihanataka which means I will disgrace him who will seek to disgrace thee. They all testified that the promise contained in the abo.ve revelation invariably proved true, as an infallible law of God. They related stories how those who had abused the Promised Messiah or who had sought to disgrace him in any way. had themselves, without fail, met with disgrace. Sometimes they would relate to the Promised Messiah accounts of debates; and discussions with- the maulvis which were generally very interesting. In those days there were no appointed missionaries. Every one acted as.a missionary by introducing the message of Ahmadiyyat to their friends and neighbours. At other times they would recite to him poems of their own composition which were usually in Punjabi which dealt with signs of his truth and, in particular, the-prophecies which they had ‘seen fulfilled With their own eyes. The subjects which the Promised Messiah usually addressed his followers when sitting with them pertained either to the evidence of his own claims, refutation of objections against Islam, an exposition of the beauties of Islam or a critical review of other faiths. He often exhorted them to live holy and pure lives and told them how they could enjoy special divine protection against the manifold visitations of God which had come upon the earth in fulfilment of his own prophecies as well as . those of the prophets of yore. He said that the times were like the times of Noah and only those could escape the tribulations of the times who would embark on this ark which was not made of wood and iron, but of the teachings which he gave to his followers. Later he embodied these teachings in a small book which he named Noah’s Ark in allusion to the fact that those who faithfully acted upon the teachings would enjoy the special protection of God and would be’held as his real followers in the sight of God. This book has been translated into English and has been published’ under the title of The Teachings of the Promised Messiah. The reader would do well to obtain a copy for himself and see what kind of life the Promised Messiah expected from his followers. If they took these noble teachings as ,a model for themselves and tried to act upon them, they will lead a-life of angels on earth.