Bashir Ahmad Rafiq tells about going to the annual Qadiani Jalsa at Qadian in 1944.
In December 1944, my father made up his mind to participate in the Annual Jalsa at Qadian. My brother Nazir Ahmad and I accompanied him. From Peshawar, we travelled by train in a railway compartment reserved for Ahmadis. As soon as the train began to move, we offered a long collective prayer. This was my first experience of joining in a collective prayer. All of us were sobbing and wailing and I was deeply affected. Then some young men raised slogans of ‘Allah o Akbar’. Mian Muhammad Yusuf, a jeweler, was traveling in the same compartment. He could not claim that he had a melodious voice, but throughout our journey, in a loud voice, he kept on reciting verses from ‘Durr e Sameen’. At Lahore, we changed to a train for Amritsar, which was not situated far from Lahore. The new train from Amritsar was full of Ahmadi brethren. Only a few Sikh passengers were to be seen. As soon as the train moved out of the Amritsar Station, the whole environment resounded with slogans of ‘Allah o Akbar’. Then there was a collective prayer and I was deeply affected by the wailing. Almost throughout the whole journey, slogans raised by Ahmadis were to be heard. We reached Qadian in the evening and Khuddam, by the dozen, were there to help us. They escorted us to the places where we were to stay.

The next day, after having offered our Fajr prayer we went to a teashop in which a long table had been laid. On the table lay cakes, pastries, samosas and various other articles of food. A servant kept on filling and refilling cups with tea from an urn. We had a good breakfast and at the point of exit we told the owner of the teashop, what we had consumed and we paid him the amount he asked for. I was extremely surprised that the owner of the teashop trusted his customers sufficiently to leave it to them to tell him what they had consumed. This was the first occasion when I experienced this measure of trust. Even now, the impression of honesty and trust then prevailing in Qadian is firmly imprinted on my mind. To me, this was proof enough of the revolution brought about by Ahmadiyyat.
The surroundings and the environment in Qadian were very different from any other place in the World. Everywhere, everyone was greeting and being greeted with the salutation; ‘Assalam o Alaikum’. Apart from that, there was complete calm, amity and silence. At that time many dozens of the Companions of the Promised Messiah were still living whom one met at every step. Close proximity and companionship of the Promised Messiah (pbuh) had brought about a great spiritual revolution in them. These Companions had been transformed into spiritual jewels and gems. Each one of them was a minaret of light. I will name only a few of those who then sanctified the lanes of Qadian:
• Hadhrat Moulvi Sher Ali
• Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq
• Hadhrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmad
• Hadhrat Syed Sarwar Shah
• Hadhrat Mir Muhammad Ismaeel
• and Hadhrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad.
Overall, because of these Companions Qadian had become a gorgeous, dazzling spiritual park.
Reverting to the subject of the 1944 Jalsa I can say that, in the dwelling allotted to us, along with other Pathan Ahmadis, we spread our bedding on the floor, which was covered with a thick layer of chaff (the outer covering of grains). The straw was not only a poor conductor of heat but it also made us very comfortable. We roamed around Qadian for the whole of the next day. In the evening Pathans from the Frontier Province were scheduled to meet Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II. That was to be my very first meeting with Huzoor. In accordance with our father’s wishes, my brother and I changed into clean and neat clothes. Along with our father, we went for the audience. Outside the room where we were to meet Huzoor, we saw the husband of my mother’s sister Hadhrat Qazi Muhammad Yusuf Sahib, Amir of the Ahmadiyya Jamaats in the Frontier Province. He was to present us formally to Huzoor. The whole atmosphere was solemn. Every one was engaged in invoking blessings upon the Holy Prophet (saw). After a while, the door opened and we filed in. Hadhrat Qazi Muhammad Yusuf Sahib was the first to greet Huzoor and then he sat down on his right. After that, one by one, all of us shook hands with Huzoor. Hadhrat Qazi Sahib introduced each member individually as we shook hands with Huzoor.
I became dumbfounded as soon as I saw Huzoor’s enlightened face. His countenance was so illuminated and becoming that I wanted to continue looking at him. The whole atmosphere was enlightening and fascinating. Huzoor sat on a chair and the lower part of his body was covered with a blanket. The devotees approached him one by one and saluted him by saying; ‘Assalam o Alaikum’. In perfect order, each Ahmadi shook and kissed his hand and then moved on. When it was my turn Huzoor put out his hand as I got close to him. I shook it and kissed it. The mere physical contact with his hand created in me an electric surge and the whole of my body shivered. I was barely thirteen years old then and was a fresh entrant into the spiritual trail. Since that day tremendous love and dedication for Huzoor has been embedded in my heart. Ever since that day, I have been prepared to sacrifice my heart and soul for him.
After our audience with Huzoor, we returned to our dwelling. All of us talked about of our audience with Huzoor. All of us were proud and pleased that we had been afforded an opportunity to kiss the hand of our master.
I have no clear recollection of the speeches that were delivered in the Jalsa. I cannot even remember who spoke or on which subject. However, I carefully listened to every word that Huzoor spoke but I will confess that I did not comprehend much. As far as Urdu was concerned, I was a complete novice. I knew no language other than Pushto.

The hustle and bustle in Qadian during the Jalsa days was worth seeing. The streets had been decorated and were full of people. At prayer times, in the Mosques, every square inch of space was taken. During prayer times the depth and warmth of feelings was noticeable. Sobbing and wails from the worshippers created a unique spectacle. I could not understand why so many people were shedding tears. Nevertheless, these pictures left a deep impression on my mind. After all, I was then passing through a formative age.
On conclusion of the Jalsa, when we boarded the train for our return journey, my father asked me how I had found Qadian. I said I liked it very much and it was indeed a very attractive place. He said to me:

“If I were to get you admitted to a School in Qadian how would you like it?”

I answered,

“It would be a great pleasure for me. Do please get me enrolled into the School in Qadian.”

To be admitted into the school, the next year, at the request of my father, my mother’s brother, Abd us Salaam Khan took me to Qadian. The Qadian that I arrived at that time looked very different. There was no Jalsa and no crowds. There were hardly any people in the streets. Then I realised that the Jalsa days were over and hence there were not so many people around. However, I was perfectly at ease. The next day my mother’s brother took me to see Hadhrat Syed Mahmood Ullah Shah, the Headmaster of the Taleem ul Islam School. He was very good-looking, had meticulous manners and was soft spoken. His sister had married Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II. He hailed from a highly respected Syed family.
Links and Related Essay’s

The 1914 Qadiani-Ahmadi Jalsa at Qadian

The 1956 Jalsa Salana at Rabwah, Pakistan

The Ahmadiyya Jalsa at Rabwah in 1954

The 1947 Qadiani-Ahmadi Jalsa in Lahore, Pakistan and Qadian, India

The 1927 Jalsa at Qadian, India


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