Bashir Ahmad Rafiq, commonly known in #qadiani circles as B.A. Rafiq, he was an Qadiani-Ahmadi mullah from 1959 until he died. He mostly worked out of London, which was the headquarters of Ahmadiyya in the West (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995). We have archived his entire autobiography herein. His wife is named Salima Nahid. He grew up in the village Mohib Banda, which is situated right in the midst of the agricultural fields. A few miles from his village, impatiently, in turbulent rapid waves, the water of the river Kabul joins the river Sindh at Attok. His family was the only Qadiani-Ahmadi family in the whole village.
In 1948, he joined the Furqan Force. He was thus immersed in Ahmadiyya and attended the Jamia at Rabwah until 1958 when he graduated.
In 1959, when he arrived in London, Dr. Abdus Salam lived 1/2 mile from the Fazl Mosque, thus, he was fast friends with Dr. Salam and his family. Dr. Salaam’s grandchild (a son of his daughter) Dr. Faiz ur Rahman, who is a son of Dr. Hameed ur Rahman and Dr.Azeeza Salaam, is engaged to marry my granddaughter Madeeha Henna Khan, a daughter of Abd ul Waheed Khan and Amat un Naseer (Neeno). May Allah bless this union overwhelmingly. Madeeha is very dear to me and she is my favourite.
Moulood Ahmad Khan was serving as the Imam of the London Mosque. I assisted him as his Deputy until the end of 1960.
In 1970, he returned to Pakistan to work as the private secretary of the 3rd Khalifa.
From 1973 to 1979, he seemed to be living in the same house as Chaudhary Zafrullah Khan. They were both living in the Ahmadiyya mission house in the UK. Zafrullah Khan became a permanent resident of the top floor flat of the Mission House in the UK. B.A. Rafiq and his family occupied the first floor. Zafrullah Khan translated Tadhkirah (1976) into english in this era and wrote many famous books on #Ahmadiyya.
Ahmadiyya sources claim that B.A. Rafiq was living in Pakistan in 1987, and wrote a book, and immediately moved to the UK, the Ahmadiyya movement claims that he was about to get arrested.
My father’s name is Danishmand Khan. He was born around 1890 in our village Mohib Banda. Abd ul Hannan Khan was the name of his father who owned extensive agricultural property. He was an authoritarian person and was easily roused. Since he was illiterate, when angry he would often exceed all limits. Due to this unfortunate feature, he became the target of a bullet shot at him by his own nephew.
Our grandfather had developed considerable animosity against Ahmadiyyat. Our father became an Ahmadi while he was in Mastung. He wrote to his father telling him what he had done and invited him to join the fold. Our grandfather received an unbearable shock. He took his son’s letter to the Mullah of the local Mosque and asked him to respond to his son’s letter. In order to disentangle himself the Mullah said that he should write to his son and make it clear to him that he had become an apostate. The Mullah also said that to reply to a letter of an infidel is tantamount to becoming an infidel. Therefore, he counselled him not to reply to his son’s letter. My grandfather was not quite content with the advice of the Mullah and he continued to be greatly distressed which resulted in his illness. As the days passed by, he became feeble and weak. He would often say to our grandmother: “While I am still alive Danishmand has pushed me into a grave. I am so humiliated that I dare not show my face to others.”
My grandmother responded by saying: “If Danishmand has taken a certain step after due consideration there is really no need for you to be furious. His affair is with his Maker.”
However, my grandfather remained frustrated and his health deteriorated rapidly. Then our grandmother sent a servant to Mastung to tell our father about the state of our grandfather’s health. She strongly suggested to him that he should immediately return to the village to see his father. Our father became exceedingly concerned about his father’s illness and immediately returned to the village. He found him extremely weak and he had lost a lot of weight. The two embraced each other and in that state wept for quite a while. Then, in an emotional voice, my grandfather said: “My son if you had been guilty of theft or robbery or even a murder it would not have caused me much concern. However, on acceptance of Ahmadiyyat you have blackened my face and I am unable to show it to anyone in the village.”
In 1921, his father converted to Qadianism via Moulvi Mohammad Ilyas Khan. He was working at a jail in Mastung, Pakistan, which is just south of Quetta.
His father was a Qadiani-Ahmadi and fanatical about Ahmadiyya tabligh. During my childhood, under the name of ‘Danishmand & Sons’, my father remained engaged in sizable business in barsaim. Not only did he sell the barsaim seed in the provinces of Sindh and the Punjab, but he also exported it as far as Egypt. In that region, because of his business in barsaim, he became famous. This trade flourished right until the creation of Pakistan. From then on his interest declined and towards the end, he paid no attention to this trade whatsoever.
His father died in 1976. The roof of his house collapsed.
He claims that his father and mother did Wasiyyat and is buried in Bahishti Maqbarah.
My mother, Fatima Bibi, was the eldest daughter of Moulvi Muhammad Ilyas Khan Sahib who lived in Mastung in Baluchistan. Perhaps my mother was born there. She was very dear to him. She was most fortunate in that a spiritual person of such a high order brought her up. The name of her mother was Ashraaf Bibi.
She was still very young when she was married to my father. Soon after their marriage, my parents returned to live in our ancestral village Mohib Banda and that is where they spent the rest of their lives.
He claims that his mother did Wasiyyat and is buried in Bahishti Maqbarah.
His brother was Colonel Nazir Ahmad, we are unsure who this is. This was his younger brother.
Amat ul Jameel: – My eldest daughter is called Amat ul Jameel. She was born in London. I was in Southall in connection with the Jamaat’s work and there I received a telephone call asking me to return to the Mission House at once. Shortly after my return Amat ul Jameel was born. Amongst Pathans, births of daughters are not viewed favorably. Normally on the birth of daughters, complete silence prevails in the household. By the Grace of Allah, breaking this worthless and absurd un-Islamic custom, I celebrated the birth of my daughter and distributed sweets.
Amat ul Jameel is married to Ijaz Ahmad Khan, son of Subedar Abd ul Ghafoor Khan of Topi of the Frontier Province.Subedar Sahib has, by the grace of God, served the Jamaat in various capacities. He had the honour of being a body guard of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II for a number of years. Both Ijaz and Jameela have been blessed with five boys. The eldest, Iftikhar Ahmad Khan has married Rabia a daughter of his father’s sister. The second son is named Riaz Ahmad, the third son is named Ghalib Ahmad, the fourth son is named Abbas Ahmad and the youngest is named Ayaz Ahmad. They all live in Detroit. Ijaz Ahmad Khan works in the IT industry. He and his whole family are enthusiastic workers of the Jamaat.
Amat ul Naseer: – My second daughter is named Amat un Naseer whom we call ‘Neeno’. She was also born in London. All my three daughters, Jameela, Neeno and Bushra were enabled to serve Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan and Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III. Amat un Naseer is married to Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan. His father, Abd ul Qudus Khan was my mother’s brother. He was enabled to render valuable service to the Jamaat and was Ameer of the Frontier Province for a long while. Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan and Hadhrat Chaudhry Bashir Ahmad, Anwar Ahmad Kahlone’s father, honoured us with their participation. May Allah reward them abundantly.
The Almighty has blessed Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan and Amat un Naseer with three children. The eldest is a daughter named Madeeha Henna. She is married to Faiz ur Rahman son of Dr. Hameed ur Rahman Khan of Los Angeles. Dr. Hameed ur Rahman’s father, Moulvi Khalil ur Rahman, was my teacher in Qadian. Being a Pukhtoon, he was very kind to me and loved me dearly. Faiz ur Rahman is the son of Dr. Aziza Rahman, daughter of Dr. Abdus Salaam, the Laureate. The son is named Humayun Ahmad Khan who is currently a student. May Allah assure him success. After Humayun there is a daughter named Alia Noor. Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan is very active in Jamaat work.
Bushra Nahid: – My third daughter is named Bushra Nahid. She was also born in London and for a while, she lived with us in Rabwah as well. She has gained a B.A. Honour’s Degree from London University and is married to Mirza Zamir Ahmad son of Mirza Bashir Ahmad of Gillingham U.K. Zamir Ahmad gained a MSc. Degree in Engineering from London University. They now reside in America and have three daughters named Natasha, Maha and Zainab Almas. Mirza Zamir Ahmad and Bushra are actively engaged in the service of the Jamaat in various capacities.
Mahmood Ahmad: – My youngest child is Mahmood Ahmad. After Bushra’s birth, we had not planned to have any more children. Hadhrat Mansoora Begum, the wife of Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III while on a tour of England was staying with us. She repeatedly said to us:
“I am praying that Allah will bless you with a son.”
A little later, by his Mercy and Grace, Mahmood Ahmad was born. I advised Huzoor by telegram and Huzoor telegraphed us congratulating us. Without a request from me, Huzoor told us to name the newborn ‘Mahmood Ahmad.’ There was another strange happening, which resulted in enhancing our faith. My dear friend and my elder, Dr. Nazir Ahmad, a son of Sardar Mehr Singh (Hadhrat Abd ur Rahman) who had been granted opportunities to render extraordinary services to the Jamaat in Abyssinia was then residing in London. He was indeed a very pious and a prayerful person. Once I asked him to pray that I may be blessed with a son. A few days later, he told me that he did pray and God willing I will be blessed with a son. However, he insisted that the boy must be named ‘Mahmood Ahmad’. When Mahmood was born, without a request from me, Huzoor named him Mahmood Ahmad. Dr. Nazir Ahmad came to visit us and to congratulate us on the birth of a boy. He asked what name had been given to the newborn. I showed him the telegram that I had received from Huzoor. There were tears in his eyes. Thus, the name that the Doctor had suggested was also made known to Huzoor.
Mahmood is married to Samar, daughter of my first cousin Abdul Aziz Khan Naib Amir of Peshawar. They have recently been blessed with a baby boy, Yousaf Ahmad.
All my children, the children of my daughters and the children of my son are all good-looking, well-mannered, sincere servants of the Jamaat, obedient to Khilafat and take pleasure in serving their parents. These are the sweet fruits springing from the prayers offered by my parents, the Caliphs of Ahmadiyyat and other seniors.
His brother’s and sister’s
Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 41: My Brothers and Sisters
My parents were blessed with five daughters and three sons. A brother and a sister passed away when they were five and six years old respectively. My brother was named Bashir Ahmad and my sister was named Mah e Talaat. Naturally, it was a great shock for my parents as two of their children had passed away within a period of forty days. Talaat was the first to go to meet her Maker and Bashir followed her forty days later.
At the demise of these two my parents displayed exemplary patience. Contrary to the normal practice in our villages, my parents did not go into mourning. They were reconciled and content at God’s Will. In a state of deep grief my father was shown a dream that he would be blessed with more children. He was particularly advised of the birth of two sons. He wrote down this dream on a piece of paper that I have seen with my own eyes. It is a pity that it has been lost.
Amat ul Kareem: – My senior sister was named Amat ul Kareem. She was three years senior to me and has passed away recently. Since her childhood, we had been very fond of each and were very close. She was married to Muhammad Hassan Khan Durrani, son of Muhammad Akram Khan of Charsadha. Muhammad Akram Khan was the first graduate from the Frontier Province. He was a classmate of the famous poet Iqbal. He was indeed a devout and zealous Ahmadi. He always showed great kindness to me. He would always come to see me in the Boarding House whenever he visited Qadian and would bring me some presents. He took up residence in a new village that he had himself established near Charsadha. The surrounding agricultural lands belonged to him. The Almighty blessed him with the order of a ‘martyr’. Details appear in the ‘Tareekh e Ahmadiyyat’ Volume 14 Page 256.
My sister’s husband, Muhammad Hassan Khan Durrani was a very sincere and honest person and had the character of a Sufi.
Amat ul Kareem and Muhammad Hassan Khan were blessed by God with three sons – Muhammad Saeed Khan Durrani, Muhammad Arshad Khan Durrani and Muhammad Daood Khan Durrani. They were also blessed with a daughter, Shahida Begum.
Col. Nazir Ahmad Khan: -I have only one brother, Col. Nazir Ahmad Khan who has now permanently settled in Chicago. Naturally, we spent our childhood together and by the Grace of God we always benefit from a great, mutual love. Although he is only three years younger than me he treats me and respects me as if I were his father. In the Army, he rose to the rank of a Colonel and commanded the Kharian Army Station. He saw active service during the wars with India.
When I left for England in 1959 my mother became somewhat downcast. In those days, whoever sailed across the Seven Seas was liable never to return. My mother kept on crying whenever she recalled me. Once my father took her along to see Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II. My father said to Huzoor that my mother remained downhearted and due to having parted with Bashir Ahmad often cried. Addressing my mother Huzoor said:
“Why do you cry? You should be happy and grateful to God that he has endowed you with two sons and one of them is a soldier in the spiritual Army and the other is a soldier in the Pakistan Army.”
After retirement from the Army Nazir Ahmad remains continuously engaged in serving the Jamaat Ahmadiyya in Chicago. For many years, he served as General Secretary of the Chicago Jamaat. Now he holds and in the past, he has held some other offices in the Jamaat. He married Shameem Akhtar, a daughter of a martyr, Muhammad Rustam Khan. His father in law was the first to be martyred during the third Khilafat. Opponents of Ahmadiyya shot and killed him in his own village.
Nazir Ahmad has been blessed with three sons; Tanweer Ahmad Khan, Dr. Nadeem Ahmad Khan and Dr. Faheem Ahmad Khan. He has also been blessed with a daughter, Durr e Sameen Nausheen. All of them are settled in Chicago.
Amat ul Hafeez: – My second sister, Amat ul Hafeez was married to the late Muhammad Hussain Khan, son of Abd ul Qayyoom Khan. They have been blessed with four sons; Dr. Mobasher Ahmad, Engineer Maqsood Ahmad, Kaleem Ahmad and Mansoor Ahmad. They have also been gifted a daughter, Rasheda. Muhammad Hussain Khan had a very gentle character. He was a sincere and devout Ahmadi.
Amat ul Hameed: – My third sister, Amat ul Hameed was married to Sahibzada Mahmood Ahmad, a grandson of Sahibzada Abd ul Lateef, the Martyr. A few years ago, Sahibzada Mahmood Ahmad passed away. He had a very gentle temperament and was a very sincere and a pious person. He has two sons; Dr. Manzoor Ahmad and Imran Khan. He also had two daughters; Amat ul Basith and Tahira Begum.
Amat ul Waheed: – My fourth sister, Amat ul Waheed is married to Sahibzada Fazil Lateef, a grandson of Sahibzada Abd ul Lateef, the Martyr. They have two daughters, Naomi and Aashi and one son, Khalid Ahmad. I pray that the Almighty God may make all of them earnest Ahmadis with a deep attachment to Ahmadiyyat and the Faith. (see http://www.bashirrafiq.com/page79/page55/index.html).
Per Ahmadiyya only sources (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995) he is born in the N.W.F.P. in British-India.
During World War II, before the creation of Pakistan, for the first time I saw a movie. An Army Recruitment Truck came to our village and projected a film. Throughout the day, announcements were made that at night there would be a Cinema show. Until then no one had ever seen moving figures on a screen. There was great eagerness in the whole village. In the evening, a large number gathered in the open ground. Ladies settled on the roofs of surrounding houses. The screen was installed at a height from the ground so that not only the spectators on the ground, but women on the roofs of the surrounding houses could also view it. The show started. It was a story of a family from which some youngsters had joined the Army. As a result, their families became financially comfortable. From poverty, they moved to prosperity. At the end, young men were invited to join the Army.
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.
He moves to Qadian and begins attending the Talim ul Islam High School.
In 1945, when I was in my eighth class, I devoted most of my time to studies. I was not inclined towards outdoor games. Once, a friend suggested that we should go out into the open fields and enjoy the open-air surroundings. I agreed and after school, we both went out of the township into an open environment where the crops in the fields, green trees and flowers flourished and we enjoyed them all. Suddenly, my friend took a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket. I was extremely surprised and shocked at seeing a packet of cigarettes on him. He lit a cigarette and gave a discourse on the benefits of smoking. In support of his claim, he said that smoking sharpened ones intellect. He quoted the example of Winston Churchill who, in spite of being a foremost politician, smoked with great passion. He also gave examples of other politicians and doctors who smoked on a regular basis. He argued that had smoking been harmful why these people would smoke.
That first cigarette became the foundation of my smoking habit that continued for fully 10 years. This bothersome malady tightened its grip and despite repeated variety of efforts, I could not rid myself of it. Gradually my smoking grew to 40 cigarettes a day. During my college days, the cost of the cigarettes that I smoked began to exceed my pocket money. To meet the extra expense, with one excuse or another, I would ask my father for more money. This bad habit continued from 1945 to 1958. Like a termite, it scoured my spirituality and, from within, it adversely affected my health. In 1953, during the Martial Law Regime in Lahore, we were confined to the College premises. During a one-hour break from the curfew, other students rushed out to buy provisions but I was only concerned about the stock of my cigarettes. In 1948, I served as a volunteer on the Kashmir Front. We were shelled throughout the day and at night as well we had to attend to duties assigned to us. Food was strictly rationed but I was least concerned about food; my only worry was procurement of cigarettes. In the battlefield, sometimes, I paid as much as Rs.5 for a packet which could have been bought in Lahore or Peshawar for only Rs.1. Thus, my hard earned money was sacrificed for a bizarre article. I continued to soothe my mind with a smoke. As time passed, the measure of my smoking became greater and greater.
In 1958 Huzoor’s Private Secretary advised me that Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II wished to see me. I was aware that Huzoor’s sense of smell was exceedingly sharp. Therefore, before meeting Huzoor I scrubbed clean the yellow coating of nicotine on my fingers. I further washed my hands with soap and spirit. I wore freshly laundered clothes and even wore some perfume. I thought I had made sure that Huzoor could not possibly detect any whiff of tobacco from my clothes or from my body. In those days, Huzoor used to receive visitors in his office on the first floor. I climbed the stairs and presented myself. Huzoor kindly gave me some general directions. At the end of the meeting when, after shaking his hand, I was about to leave, Huzoor asked me to wait a while. I sat down and all of a sudden, Huzoor asked me:
“How many cigarettes do you smoke in a day?”
For a moment, I thought my spirit had flown out of my body. I was extremely apprehensive. After all the enormous efforts that I had made to hide my secret it came to me as a shock that it was no longer a secret. I had never imagined that an exposure would occur in this way. I said:
“Huzoor, I smoke a lot.”
He asked how many and I responded by saying that I smoked 40 cigarettes a day. Huzoor was very surprised and he repeated two or three times:
“Do you really smoke 40 cigarettes a day?”
Greatly ashamed and with my head bowed with shame, I said:
“You hold a B.A. Degree and also a Shahid Degree and I believe you are an intelligent young man. Surely, you must have seen some advantages in smoking. Please, tell me some of them so that my knowledge may be enhanced.”
With my head hung in disgrace, I said:
“Huzoor, there is no advantage in it whatsoever.”
“Then why do you remain involved in such a worthless habit which, apart from being absurd and without any benefit, is patently harmful. How can we expect that an educated young man knowingly commits a weird act and thus ruins his own health?”
Then he said:
“I recently read an article in the ‘Reader’s Digest’ that a member of a European Mountaineering team who had set out to conquer the highest peak in the Himalayas died merely because his stock of cigarettes had exhausted and he just could not bear the shock.”
Again, he said:
“I was taken aback that one who was so proficient in mountaineering that he was attempting to conquer a Himalayan peak should meet his end only because of unavailability of cigarettes.”
Again, he said:
“The use of cigarettes, apart from ruining one’s health, invites the risk of Cancer. Smoking damages one’s heart and one’s mind. In any case, it imposes an unbearable financial burden. If only one tenth of what one spends on tobacco is used for a balanced diet, not only will money be saved but one’s health would also improve.”
After this conversation, Huzoor asked me:
“Are you seriously prepared to give up this habit?”
“Huzoor, I am seriously desirous of giving up tobacco. I have made earnest but unsuccessful attempts to rid myself of this worthless habit.”
Quoting an Urdu verse I said that this Kafir (bad habit) is extremely difficult to give up and that on-repeated occasion my determination faded away. Huzoor said:
“If, with a firm resolve, truthfully, accompanied by prayers, you promise to do what I tell you, if God so wills, you can be permanently rid of this bad habit.”
I promised that I would act in accordance with Huzoor’s instructions.
Then he said:
“Those who decide to give up smoking often think that they can be rid of the habit even if they begin to abstain after having finished the packet in their pocket or by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke per day. However, these methods always remain ineffective. It is my advice that when you go downstairs, you should crush under your feet the packet of your cigarettes that you may have hidden somewhere. You should go downstairs with full determination that you will never touch a cigarette again.
The second part of my advice is that for 40 days you will not go near the shop from which you have been buying your cigarettes. You should not even pass close to it.
The third part of my advice is that, if possible, you should refrain from meeting those friends who smoke. If that is not possible you should, today, go and openly declare that, in accordance with my instructions, you have stopped smoking. Tell them that he who persuades you to smoke will become guilty of disobedience to my instructions and that you will yourself tell me the name of such a friend.
The fourth part of my advice is that, as generally the urge to smoke crops up after a meal or after eating something, you should keep some roasted gram in your pocket. When you feel the craving for a smoke, eat some gram and this way the want of a cigarette will be substantially reduced.”
At the end, Huzoor said:
“You must follow these instructions for 40 days. After 40 days, report to me and truthfully tell me what came to pass.”
Before I left, I promised to act 100 % in accordance with Huzoor’s instructions.
For the first few days I was miserable; I was restless and fidgety all the time. I could not devote my full attention to any matter. However, I remained 100 % firm in my determination to keep my promise. After 10 or 12 twelve days, slowly, the desire of a cigarette began to subside. After 40 days I had totally forgotten that I ever smoked. On the 41st first day I went to see Huzoor. As soon as I entered, Huzoor asked:
“Was my prescription a success?”
I answered by saying:
“Huzoor, 100 %.”
Huzoor said aloud:
He asked how, having given up smoking, I felt. I said that I had put on some weight and I could not understand why. Huzoor said:
“As tobacco diminishes the sense of taste food intake diminishes. Now that you do not smoke, your sense of taste has improved. Your improved food intake has been responsible for the additional weight. This is only natural.”
The Talim ul Islam High School closes for summer break in June. He moves back to his village. The partition happens.
In 1948, we had electricity in our village for the first time and our house was the first to be connected. In those days, my mother’s brother, the late Abdus Salaam Khan served in the Electricity Department of the Frontier Province.
In 1948 when I was a Matriculation student in Chiniot, the Headmaster once directed all students in the 9th and the 10th classes to assemble in the hall. He said that Hadhrat Syed Wali ul Allah Shah, a high-ranking office bearer of the Jamaat, would address us. His address was indeed full of fervor and enthusiasm. He explained in detail the importance of Jihad and said that at the request of the Pakistan Government the Jamaat Ahmadiyya had established a voluntary Battalion to serve at the Kashmir Front. He said that Mirza Nasir Ahmad had been appointed as the Commander. Further, he said that it was Khalifa tul Masih II’s wish that some students from the High School should volunteer and join the force. This was the Furqan Force.
Between 1945 and 1949, the matter of my Waqf was never brought under discussion. After I had passed my Matric examination I asked my father what I should do next. He wrote to me from Lehri to say that I should be admitted into the College. About that time, I received a letter unexpectedly from the Private Secretary. He said that Huzoor had enquired of him the name of a Pathan boy who had dedicated his life in Qadian. He asked me if I had written to Huzoor from Qadian dedicating my life. In response, I said that I was that very Pathan boy. A few days later, I received instructions from Huzoor to report immediately to Rabwah. I met Huzoor and he instructed me to be admitted to the Taleem ul Islam College in Lahore.
It is indeed a long story. What I gained from my Waqf will be related elsewhere.
Per Ahmadiyya only sources (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995) he graduates from the Punjab University. In 1953 while I was, preparing for my B.A. final examination anti- Ahmadiyya riots suddenly erupted in the Punjab. Opponents of Ahmadiyyat, particularly the Ahrar, claimed that (may Allah forgive us) they would erase all traces of Ahmadiyyat. The Taleem ul Islam College was a specific target for their attacks. Every day, hundreds of miscreants in large groups, would besiege the college. They would shout Anti Ahmadiyya slogans and throw brickbats. Attempts were even made to enter the college premises and set it on fire. Thank God, they did not succeed. Under the leadership of its Principal Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, it had become a citadel. In those disturbed circumstances, we could not even think of studies. We were passing through very difficult times. The conditions in Lahore were particularly fearsome and many Ahmadis were martyred. The houses of a large number of Ahmadis were looted and set on fire. It appeared that there was no government in existence and the ‘Law of the Jungle’ prevailed. Apart from protecting the college, we were also sent to protect certain other premises. Shaikh Bashir Ahmad Advocate of the High Court Lahore, was the then Amir of Lahore. His house was attacked and finally he was arrested.
Per Ahmadiyya only sources (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995) he attends Jamia at Rabwah and graduates in 1958.
In 1956, when I was a student of Jamia tul Mobbashireen, my father wrote to me saying that soon he wished to discharge his responsibility concerning my marriage. He mentioned a few names and asked for my comments. In response, I said that I would happily accept his choice. Therefore, he could settle my marriage with whomsoever he wished. A little later, he told me that he had a strong preference for Salima Nahid, a daughter of Abd ur Rahman Khan of Ismaeela. Abd ur Rahman Khan was married to my mother’s sister. His father Khan Ameer Ullah Khan was a Companion of the Promised Messiah. Salima was therefore my first cousin. I had seen her on some occasions. I wrote back to my father at once telling him that I agreed with his choice. My father in law Abd ur Rahman Khan, a graduate, was a Civil Servant in the Government of the Frontier Province.
Abd ur Rahman Khan’s father, Hadhrat Khan Ameer Ullah Khan owned a lot of agricultural property and was acknowledged as one amongst the Chiefs of the region. He was well known and famous. He was blessed with an opportunity to accept Ahmadiyyat in 1905. At the end of that year, during the Annual Convention in Qadian, he was fortunate enough to pledge his allegiance at the blessed hand of the Promised Messiah. Therefore, by His Mercy and Grace, he was one of the Companions of the Promised Messiah. He loved me dearly. In 1959 when I left for England, in spite of his age and extreme weakness, he came to Rabwah to see me off.
I was married to Salima Nahid on 10th December 1956. The Bridal Party started from our village, Mohib Banda and went to Peshawar. With me, my bride came to my village.
Per Ahmadiyya only sources (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995) he is sent to London to be a missionary and deputy imam of the London Mosque.
By the first week of January 1959 all arrangements for my departure had been completed and the Wakalat e Tabsheer issued the relevant instructions. One day before departing from Rabwah Hadhrat Mirza Mubarak Ahmad Wakeel ut Tabsheer took me along to see Huzoor who dictated detailed instructions. He prayed and before departure, heaven embraced me.
From Karachi, we were to sail on the S.S. Caledonia that belonged to the Anchor Line. This vessel carried only one class of passengers.
The vessel was to sail in the afternoon of Friday 23rd January 1959. After attending the Friday service, along with my wife and my son Munir Ahmad I went to the Port. At the time of departure, apart from other friends, Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan and Dr. Basharat Ahmad were also present. Mr Khaleel ur Rahman, Secretary Ziafat, led a solemn silent prayer and we boarded the ship. Cabin No. B10, which was very comfortable, had been allotted to us. Apart from two beds, there was a cot for the child. Hot and cold running water was available and through a porthole, one could see the ocean.
After leaving our baggage in the cabin we went up to the Deck. Those who had come to see us off remained on the shore until the ship had gone too far out to the sea to be seen.
Anchors were weighed at 6.30 p.m. and very slowly we started moving into the open sea. The setting was charged with affection and I was overcome with emotion. It was a touching scene to see not only those who were traveling but also those who had come to see them off shedding tears. Some sobbed openly and others were inconsolable. My own condition was strange. Turbulent thoughts occupied my mind and I said to myself:
“You have indeed dedicated your life for the service of Islam, but will you be able to carry out its demands? Will you be able to surrender totally your feelings, your life, your belongings and your honor? Will you be able to spend the rest of your life in complete subordination to the will of Allah?”
On the one side, as a Missionary of Islam I was weighed down by the assignment that was being entrusted to me, and on the other hand I was assessing the deficiency in my knowledge. Whilst thinking of my own spiritual weaknesses and insufficient good deeds my heart sank with apprehension. It was indeed a very peculiar state of affairs through which I was passing. These thoughts overwhelmed me and I began to shed tears. With great humility, I raised my hands for prayers and said:
“My Lord, unless You show Your Mercy and Your Grace and be my constant Helper, I will find the responsibility entrusted to me very hard to bear. I fear that I cannot possibly discharge it adequately. My Lord, this worthless person has been entrusted with lofty responsibilities. I am likely to fail unless through Your Grace I am helped and guided constantly. Therefore, my Lord, help me and shelter me. With Your attribute of ‘Coverer of faults’, please cover and conceal my faults and help me through the Holy Spirit.”
After such lengthy supplications when I looked around, I could see nothing but water. The shore was no longer visible. As the ambient temperature had dropped considerably, we went back to our cabin. My wife, Salima was so weighed down with emotion that she seemed below par. This was our first journey taking us across the Seven Seas. The parents of both of us were alive and they had, with tears in their eyes, bid us farewell. By remembering them both, we attempted to warm our hearts. In those days, many who traversed the Seven Seas never returned. Many adopted European customs and settled in the West. Therefore, naturally, the relatives of those who embarked on journeys to Europe became extremely apprehensive. My mother had a heart condition. I was her eldest son. At the time of my departure from Rabwah, perhaps due to the prospect of a lengthy separation she collapsed. I was consumed by her thoughts. Then I recalled what my father just before my departure at Faisalabad Railway Station had said to me. With a halting voice, full of emotion, he said:
“According to your own option you have dedicated your life. No one pressurized you into this vocation. Now you will have to abide by the Covenant that you have made with the Almighty. Drifting away from your Waqf, due to some problems or trials, apart from resulting in a spiritual death, is wholly contrary to Pakhtoons traditions. God forbid, if you ever break your Covenant with God, remember that from then on that will also be the end of my relationship with you. Do not then turn to me as, from that day, for me you will have died. Moreover, if I ever find out that influenced by the European way of life, your wife ceases to observe Purdah, then I will have nothing to do with either of you.”
After resting a while in the cabin all the passengers assembled in the Dining Room for the evening meal. I discovered that at the various tables ladies and gentlemen, all mixed together, and were being seated. Of all the women on the ship, my wife was the only one who observed Purdah. Most women were Europeans and the remaining Asian women regarded Purdah as a ludicrous ancient custom. I sat at a table and asked a steward to take my wife’s dinner into the cabin as she observed Purdah and could not join other men. The steward said that he was permitted to serve only in the Dining Room. He said he would talk to the Captain. In a short while, the steward told me that the Captain wanted to see me. The Captain sat at a separate table in the company of some friends. I sat next to him and we talked as follows:
Captain: “You’ve declined to bring your wife into the Dining Room as she observes Purdah and cannot intermix with other males. As you are going to Europe, how will you cope there?”
Bashir: “Sir, I am going to Europe to make clear to the local population that our ladies hold highly respectable and elevated position in Islam. Purdah is designed to protect the honor and chastity of women. How can I turn away from an objective, which is contrary to my mission in Europe?”
Captain: “In my view, imprisoning ladies in Purdah is tantamount to being narrow minded. If women were given free choice not one of them would volunteer to remain in this jail.”
Bashir: “Sir, my wife is an educated woman. She is intelligent and she has quite happily and of her own will, decided to remain in Purdah. There is no pressure on her from my side. I can prove it by asking you to talk to her yourself. Having full regard to the fact that she observes Purdah you can meet her.”
Captain: “If you insist. Would it not be proper that without any third person you two can sit on a separate table in the Dining Room?”
Bashir: “This will be a most appropriate arrangement and I will be grateful to you.”
The Captain issued orders and we had the advantage of sitting at a table by ourselves.
At 8 o clock on the morning of 27th January the shore became visible. Almost all the passengers assembled on the deck. The sight of land appeared most attractive as they saw the land for the first time in four days. Around eleven o clock the ship dropped anchor outside the Aden harbor. In Aden, the ships always anchored away from the shore and motorboats were used to take passengers ashore. The Captain announced that to look around passengers could go ashore but must return before 7.00 p.m. as the ship would then sail. The Jamaat has an outstanding historic bond with Aden.
Once when Maharajah Daleep Singh was returning to India it was from Aden that he was asked to return to England. When the British defeated the Sikh Government, they took the young prince Maharajah Daleep Singh to England so that the commotion amongst Sikhs may subside. Maharajah Daleep Singh arrived in London when he was very young. He was housed in Guildford and then he moved to London.
A beautiful Hotel named Cannizaro is situated in Wimbledon. Before the building became a Hotel, it belonged to Maharajah Daleep Singh and he stayed in it for a long while. Daleep Singh had a very cordial relationship with Queen Victoria and he was often invited into the Royal Palace. Once, while they were drinking tea on a balcony in the Buckingham Palace Daleep Singh expressed a desire to have a glimpse of the Kohinoor diamond. The Queen went into her room and brought the Kohinoor. The Maharajah put it on the palm of his hand. To look at it in a better light he walked to the end of the balcony. The Queen dreaded that the Maharajah might throw the diamond away. Daleep Singh, who was very intelligent person, guessed the Queen’s suspicion and said to her:
“Madam! The rightful owner of the diamond would like to present it to your Majesty”.
The Queen repossessed the diamond and appreciated Daleep Singh’s sense of humor. Daleep Singh had an intense desire to visit the Punjab, stay there for a while and meet his near and dear ones. On a number of occasions, he had sought permission from the British Government and finally permission was granted. However, as soon as the Maharajah boarded a ship, the Indian newspapers published the news and with great anticipation, many started waiting impatiently for the Maharajah to land on the Indian soil. There was great eagerness, particularly amongst the Sikhs. To welcome him they made programs to hold elaborate functions. In anticipation, there was merrymaking all around. The Maharajah was seeing visions of an astounding reception and a bright future.
At that point in time, on hearing from the Almighty, the Promised Messiah predicted that the Maharaja would not be able to return to India. Not only did the Promised Messiah tell his friends of this communication from the Almighty, but he also made a mention of it in a Handbill.
On the one hand, there was definite news from the Almighty and on the other; the ship carrying the Maharaja was happily proceeding towards India. In the meantime, the British Government was advised by the Indian Secret Service Agency that the Maharaja should be prevented from returning to India. It was feared that if he returned to the Punjab the movement to hold his Coronation would be revived and strengthened and then the British Government might have to face problems. By then the ship had actually reached Aden.
Accepting this advice, the British Government ordered that the Maharaja should be taken off the ship and returned to England on another ship. That was exactly what happened and that was exactly in accordance with the information from the Almighty.
Before leaving Rabwah, I had advised Mr Abdullah Shabooti, the father of my dear friend Mahmood Shabooti that I would be passing through Aden. Mr Abdullah who lived in Aden was a dedicated and devoted Ahmadi. After having accepted Ahmadiyyat, he had to face innumerable problems but he never wavered. As soon as our ship had anchored, Mr Abdullah, along with a Somalian servant, came on to the deck. He welcomed me with warmth and deep affection. To look around Aden and meet other members of the Jamaat he asked me to spend the whole day with him. He invited me to attend a Reception being arranged by members of the Aden Ahmadiyya Jamaat. By a motorboat, along with him, accompanied by my wife and Munir Ahmad we landed at the harbor. From there, in his motorcar, we went to call at Dr. Muhammad Ahmad’s surgery in Aden. The Doctor was of Indian descent and was indeed a devoted and a committed Ahmadi. Two of his sons were my class fellows in Qadian. We stayed with him until lunchtime, met many friends and exchanged views. After Zohr, along with some members of the Jamaat, we set out sightseeing. Aden had assumed a modern pattern. Tall and stylish buildings had been built on an attractive dual carriage-way. It presented a pleasing picture. In the evening, we returned to the ship. Mr Abdullah’s love and devotion, his dedicated approach to the Jamaat and his firm commitment to Khilafat, left an indelible mark on me. Mr Abdullah was probably the first Ahmadi in Aden.
The ship proceeded towards its next destination. Once again we were encircled by water. Very early on 31st January, when it was still dark, we entered the Suez Canal. Right alongside is situated the township of Suez. On either side of the canal, there were small villages and the local population were seemed engaged in agriculture. Most passengers came out on deck, as the landscape on either side of the canal was eye-catching. At 11 o’clock, the ship entered the Great Bitter Lake in which, at that time, fifteen to twenty ships were already anchored. There are three or four of such spacious lakes along the canal. To ensure smooth flow of traffic some vessels from either side are asked to wait there. Thus, there is no problem in navigation and the traffic flows unhindered. Our ship remained on anchor until 5 p.m. In the canal, ships may not exceed the speed of five miles per hour. While in the canal the ships remain under the control of Egyptian pilots. At that time, to pass through the canal, every large vessel had to pay £3,000 as canal fees. The Suez Canal is 118 feet wide and 30 feet deep. It stretches over a distance of 101 miles. At one end of the canal is Suez and at the other Port Said. It joins the Red Sea with the Mediterranean.
We reached Port Said at 1 a.m. and anchored there for the night. It was announced in the morning that those who wished to look around the town could leave the ship after breakfast. They were warned to exercise great care against pickpockets and cheats. This announcement came as a shock to me as we were to land in a Muslim country where the reputation of the locals was so appalling. We hired a taxi that took us around the town in exchange of 10 shillings. A wealthy person named Abd ur Rahman had built a most beautiful Mosque in Port Said. To decorate the Mosque, beautiful Turkish carpets and Venetian chandeliers had been provided. In the dealings in the streets of Port Said, there was no trace of decency or honesty. It is indeed regrettable and a shame that tourists were often asked ten times the acceptable price. At 4.30 in the afternoon on February 3rd, the ship started sailing towards Gibraltar.
During that part of the voyage, instructions were received from the British Government that a few British soldiers had to be picked up from Cyprus. Therefore, the ship had to make a detour and the next day we arrived at Limasol, a Cypriot port. Offering all kinds of alcoholic drinks at ridiculously low prices a number of small boats came alongside. The European passengers showed great interest and a large number of bottles were purchased. On enquiry, I was told that there were a number of breweries that were able to sell their products at highly discounted prices. So much so that some exchanged a bottle of wine for a packet of cigarettes. We were not allowed to go ashore at Limasol but we were able to view the beautiful township from the deck. Hills covered with greenery presented an attractive panorama.
We anchored in Gibraltar on 7th February. I had an emotional attachment with Gibraltar. When I was a student in the 10th Grade, I was very fond of reading novels unfolding Spanish history. As a result, I had fallen in love with Spain. The Muslim conquest of Spain sprang from Gibraltar. I had repeatedly explored Gibraltar in my imagination and now I could see it with my own eyes. I had strange emotions. In fact, Gibraltar’s original name was Jabl ut Tariq. It is only a rock from where one can survey Spain. It was from that point that General Tariq first scrutinized Spain. He burnt all his ships and announced that there was no question of a return. He declared that they would either conquer Spain or lay down their lives in the attempt. I recalled Iqbal’s verse in which he narrated Tariq having burnt his boats.
When the ship had dropped its anchor at Gibraltar, I continued to pray for General Tariq. I also prayed that once again the followers of the Messiah might be enabled to re-establish Islam in that country. As the ship had to remain in Gibraltar for a whole day passengers were allowed to go ashore and we too disembarked. We offered prayers at the exact spot where General Tariq had made his strategy to conquer Spain. In order to identify the exact spot where General Tariq stood a plaque, with commemorative inscription in English, has been fixed.
There is any number of monkeys in Gibraltar and the British Government protects them. It is said that according to a legend, the day the monkeys abandon the Rock the British Government will have to leave Gibraltar. It is indeed very strange that the British, who have made such great strides in Science, should be so superstitious.
Early in the morning on 11th February 1959, our ship dropped anchor at Liverpool and thus our voyage ended. However, because of very thick fog it was impossible to disembark immediately. Once the fog had lifted, we went ashore and boarded the train for London. We reached Euston station by 6 o’clock. It was strange that at the point of disembarkation from the ship no one checked our Passports. An official sat on a chair and from a distance the passengers showed him their Passports and proceeded. No entry was made on the Passport nor was it stamped.
Those days were strange; there was no need for an Entry Permit and nor was there a problem about Visas. Having retrieved our baggage we heard an announcement that the London train was about to depart and that the passengers should board. That was the first time that we had travelled on a British train and we were deeply impressed with the cleanliness of it. There was no comparison at all with our trains in the Indian Sub Continent. Here they were neat and clean and they ran on time. May our country learn a lesson from the British. From Liverpool, it took us 6 hours to reach London. On either side of the train, we saw nothing but snow. It appeared that nature had covered the land with a snow-white sheet. However, the train was well heated. All of us had taken off our coats and some even removed their jackets. One felt reasonably comfortable in shirtsleeves or in a jumper.
Because it is a Port town, Liverpool is always very busy. Around 1890, in Liverpool an Englishman accepted Islam and chose Abdullah as his first name. His surname was perhaps Quillim and therefore he was known as Abdullah Quillim. He had started an Islamic periodical through which 15 or 20 gentlemen and ladies had embraced Islam. The Promised Messiah has made a mention of his in his writings. This mission died with Abdullah and now no one knew him.
The train reached Euston station at 7.30 p.m. At the platform, the following gentlemen were waiting to welcome us: Imam Maulood Ahmad Khan, Dr. Sultan Mahmood Shahid, Abdul Aziz Deen, Moulvi Abd ur Rahman and Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf. From the Euston station, we went straight to the Mission House at 63 Melrose Road. This was a three -storied building. Apart from the Imam’s residence on the first floor, it served as a Mission House on the ground floor. Alongside it was another building, 61 Melrose Road, which also belonged to the Jamaat. Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II had stayed in it when he visited Britain in 1955. On the fourth floor I was allotted a flat consisting of two rooms. Both these buildings have since been demolished. That is how our journey ended. .
Chapter 24: Maulana Yaqoob Khan of Woking
In 1959 when I reached London Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob Khan was the Imam of the Woking Mosque. He belonged to Pirpiaiee, a village at a short distance from my village. He was on extremely friendly terms with my father. In the early days, he was the Headmaster of the Muslim Model School in Lahore. Hadhrat Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad was one of his pupils. For many years, the Maulana edited the Daily Civil and Military Gazette. Later on, he also edited ‘The Light’, a magazine belonging to the Anjuman Ishaat Islam. During the Kashmiri’s struggle for liberation, under the guidance of Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II the Maulana also had the good fortune of making a significant contribution.
At the time of my departure from Pakistan my father had asked me to meet the Maulana as he was a perfect gentleman and also in accordance with the Pukhtoons traditions he was very hospitable.
A few months after my arrival in London I received a letter from my uncle (Khaloo) Hadhrat Qazi Muhammad Yusuf, Amir of the Frontier Province. He had instructed me to convey his letter to Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob. He had also instructed me that I should read the letter before delivering it. The gist of the letter written by Qazi Sahib to the Maulana was as follows:
When Maulana Yaqoob Khan was, a student of the Islamia College in Peshawar Hadhrat Qazi Sahib regularly visited the college to convey the message of Ahmadiyyat. The Maulana was one amongst those under his Tableegh. Qazi Sahib had given the Maulana a few books by the Promised Messiah (pbuh) to read. Qazi sahib said that every week he would go to the college and answer any questions raised by the Maulana. This process continued for quite a while. Finally the Maulana swore allegiance at the hand of Khalifa tul Masih I. Qazi Sahib added that when he was under Tableegh, Qazi Sahib never introduced the Promised Messiah to him as a mere Reformer. Instead, he always presented him as a Subordinate Prophet. When the Maulana swore allegiance, he surely believed that the Promised Messiah (pbuh) had been granted the station of a Prophet.
Qazi Sahib continued and said that he was swearing by God that when he placed his hand at the hand of the Promised messiah (pbuh) for Baiat’ he was absolutely certain that he was placing his hand at the hand of the ‘Prophet of the Age’. Qazi Sahib then posed a question.
‘After having accepted the Promised Messiah (pbuh) as a prophet, influenced by Moulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib why you have strayed away from the true path?’
As soon as I received the letter, I telephoned the Maulana and introduced myself. I also told him of the letter that I had received for him from Hadhrat Qazi Sahib. I also conveyed to him my father’s greetings. The Maulana appeared very pleased at having received my telephone call. He said that Qazi Sahib’s letter could have been sent to him by post but it was his wish that I should visit him and meet him. Accordingly he invited me for lunch on the following Sunday when I was received with great warmth. As soon as I looked at the Maulana’s countenance, I was convinced that this face belonged to a Muttaqi. He was handsome, tall, with a white beard and had a large Karakul hat on his head.
To begin with, we talked about Hadhrat Qazi Sahib and my father. Maulana Muhammad Tufail, at that time Imam of the Berlin Mosque and who, later on, for a long time, served as Imam of the Woking Mosque, joined us for a sumptuous meal. The conversation that ensued was both interesting and enlightening. Maulana Tufail said:
“For no reason at all you believe that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad is the Musleh Maood. The Musleh Maood will appear a lot later. Have you any proof that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad is the Musleh Maood?”
“Surely you believe the Hadeeth in which the Holy Prophet (pbuh)said that Satan cannot assume his appearance and surely you will also agree that the Satan cannot assume the resemblance of the Promised Messiah (pbuh)”
Maulana Tufail said that he accepted this tradition to be true. Then I said:
“I swear by the Almighty that I have seen a very clear and transparent dream in which the Promised Messiah confirmed that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was the Musleh Maood.”
I related my dream as follows:
“In a dream I saw a raised platform in the middle of a vast ground in which there were a large number of people assembled. A few were seated on the raised platform and I was one of them. Right in the middle of the raised platform sat Hadhrat Mirza Mahmud Ahmad on a chair. There was complete silence in which one could hear a pin drop. It was announced that the Promised Messiah (pbuh) is on his way. I saw the Promised Messiah taking slow steps towards the platform. He had a staff in his hand and was wearing a long robe. In a short while, he got to the chair on which Hadhrat Mirza Mahmud was seated. Huzur placed his hand on the shoulder of Hadhrat Mirza Mahmud Ahmad and said;
‘Some people are spreading misinformation concerning this son of mine. Today I wish to make it quite clear as to what his status is in the spiritual world.’ Then in a loud voice, the Promised Messiah repeated the words of the prophecy concerning the Musleh Mauood. After mentioning each attribute, pointing towards his son, he said that this attribute had been granted to him. In this manner he read the whole of the prophecy and again and again confirmed that it pertained to Hadhrat Mirza Mahmud Ahmad. In the end, in a most inspiring manner the Promised Messiah said; ‘Remember that Mahmud is a solid rock, whoever collides with him will be out of order into smithereens and with whosoever he collides with will be broken into smithereens’. After this the Promised messiah departed.”
I asked Maulana Tufail what he had to say in this regard. He said that since I had seen the dream it might be a proof to me.
Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob listened to our conversation in complete silence. After lunch I offered two Nawafil in the Shah Jehan Mosque and then took leave of the Maulana. I asked him if he was going to reply to the letter from Qazi Sahib. The Maulana said that he would send a reply to Qazi Sahib’s letter by post. A few days later, I received an open letter from Maulana Yaqoob Khan, addressed to Qazi sahib written in Pushto, which I read. In his letter, he said that every word contained in Qazi Sahib’s letter was true. He tried to justify and explain his position by saying that the boat in which he was sailing had covered a great distance. However, he did ask for prayers. I posted the letter to Qazi Sahib.
Later on I met the Maulana on many occasions and during every meeting, I found him absolutely full of praise for the Musleh Maood. I was indeed surprised that although he belonged to the ‘Ehl e Paigham’, in his own heart he had such great esteem for the Musleh Maood.
A short while later, before his return to Pakistan, the Maulana came to the London Fazl Mosque to see me and my wife Salima Begum. He said that he had made up his mind to spend a whole day with us. I thoroughly enjoyed his interesting and instructive discourse.
Shortly after his return to Pakistan he wrote to Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III saying that he wanted to swear allegiance at his hand. To enable him to fill in the necessary form for joining the fold Huzoor directed Hadhrat Maulana Abul Ata to meet Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob. After signing on the dotted line the Maulana asked Maulana Abul Ata to particularly advise me in London as I also had contributed in his joining the fold. Maulana Abul Ata wrote to me and congratulated me.
In the same year during the Jalsa Salaana at Rabwah Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob summoned me and met me with great warmth. He offered very many prayers for me and then he made enquiries concerning the Mosque in Woking. I told him that the Mosque was no longer in the custody of ‘Ehl e Paigham’ but was in the control of non Ahmadi Muslims. He said:
“That is good; in that Mosque a Baiat in the name of the Promised Messiah could not be managed, how could such a Mosque then be linked with Ahmadiyyat?”
Moulood Ahmad Khan was serving as the Imam of the London Mosque. I assisted him as his Deputy until the end of 1960.
In the early part of 1960, during the hours of darkness, an opponent of Ahmadiyyat shot at my father and wounded the lower part of his arm. First aid was not available in the village and by the morning, a lot of blood had been lost. On more than one occasion, he lost consciousness.
My younger brother Col. Nazir Ahmad, who, in those days was a Lieutenant in the army stationed at Nowshera, escorted him to the Combined Military Hospital in Nowshera. The wound had become septic and the doctors felt that in order to save his life they might have to amputate his arm. The doctors told my brother that when his father’s very survival was in doubt he could not afford to be very optimistic. They explained that his father was already more than 70 years old and had already lost a lot of blood. The success of the operation could not therefore be assured. My brother told them that the family were happy at God’s will and they should therefore proceed with the operation.
In 1960 the Pakistan International Airlines acquired their first Jet propelled Boeing. For their inaugural flight, they invited some Pakistani and British dignitaries from London to fly with them in the new Boeing. I also received an invitation. Perhaps in the month of April 1960, with permission from the Centre, I went to Pakistan for nearly a month. During my stay there, two or three times, I had the good fortune of an audience with Huzoor who, in those days, was unwell. In the course of a meeting Huzoor directed that we should pay particular attention to Tableegh in Brighton. He said that in 1924 when he toured England he visited Brighton at the invitation of the Brighton Council. During that visit he saw the room where, as guests of Queen Elizabeth I, some Turkish Muslim Generals had stayed.
Chapter 17: Launch of ‘Akhbar e Ahmadiyya’
In 1962, Hadhrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmad wrote to me and suggested that for the purpose of education, training and promoting mutual friendship amongst the members of the Jamaat it would be advisable to start a Paper on behalf of the British Mission. He said that it did not really matter if the paper consisted only of a few pages.
In accordance with his wishes, I started publishing a bi-monthly paper, ‘Akhbaar e Ahmadiyya’. A part of it was in English. For the Urdu portion, I made an attempt at calligraphy myself. The paper was printed on a cyclostyling machine and was distributed free of charge. Apart from the Jamaat news, it contained rebuttals of the allegations from our opponents. Articles concerning education and training formed an important part of it.
In the beginning, the cyclostyling machine was operated manually and it was quite a chore. A few years later, an electric machine was purchased. By then the standard of calligraphy and printing had improved considerably. For calligraphy Malik Khaleel Ahmad Lateef Jan and for printing Muhammad Ilyas Nasir Dehlvi rendered invaluable service.
By the Grace of Allah, this paper kept on progressing day by day. Even now, this paper is regularly published every month.
Chapter 23: Meeting President Ayub Khan of Pakistan
In 1962 when the former Chief Martial Law Administrator, Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, the President of Pakistan came to England he stayed in Claridges Hotel. Apart from having sent him a telegram welcoming him on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Britain, a request was made for an audience, to which he kindly agreed and indicated a time for a meeting. According to the program, a delegation consisting of the members of the Jamaat, in which I was also included, went to the Hotel. On arrival, we discovered that the President had cancelled all his appointments for the day as he had received news that an American U 2 Spy plane, as it was flying over their space and had taken off from Pakistan, had been shot down by the Russians.
In 1962, the Education Minister of Sierra Leone came to England. I called to see him at his hotel and extended an invitation to him to visit the Mosque – which he accepted. A dinner was arranged at the Mosque. On behalf of the British Jamaat, I welcomed the ambassador and his staff and in my address, I made a prominent mention of the efforts made by the Jamaat in the field of education in Sierra Leone. In his reply, the Minister said:
“I am a close friend of Mr. B.A. Bashir the Missionary in Charge and Amir of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Sierra Leone and I am a great admirer of the efforts made by the Sierra Leone Jamaat in the field of education. On behalf of my country I thank the Ahmadiyya Jamaat.”
In 1960, I started a periodical called “The Muslim Herald’. Chaudhry Sahib was appointed Joint Editor with me. He became General Secretary of the Jamaat and until his last day, he remained devoted to the work of the Jamaat. He remained deeply involved in the Jamaat work day and night. His heart and soul were in his desire to serve the Jamaat. To me he was as dear as my own real brother was. His wife, Tahira Chaudhry, taught for many years in English schools but at the same time, she gained distinction in the performance of work for the Jamaat, especially for the British Lajna Ima Ullah. May Allah accept and acknowledge the services of these two.
Another person, Muhammad Akram Khan Ghauri also migrated from East Africa.He settled in a house that he bought near the mosque and remained engaged in service to the Jamaat. He would visit the Mission House every morning and served very happily. May Allah grant him an elevated station in Heaven.
Some sincere friends who were intimately related to me for Jamaat work are still in the land of the living but I am not mentioning their names here. May Allah grant them long lives and shower them with His blessings. Abd ur Raheem of Mauritius had a very quiet temperament but he was exceedingly courteous. He was hospitable and took great pleasure in serving others. He took a great interest in the work of the Mission. He was a bachelor for a long time and had become an expert cook and on Eid and other functions, he would cook for all the guests. He got married rather late in life. Both Bashir Ahmad Bajwa and Daud Ahmad Gulzar were devoted friends; may Allah exalt their stations in Heaven.
In 1959, the British Mission House was spread over two adjacent houses. In 63 Melrose Road was the main office of the Mission. Apart from a basement, it had three Chaudhri Mushtaq Ahmad Bajwa (Imam)
1946 to 1950
. The kitchen was situated in the basement and there were two other adjoining rooms normally used for cooking. There were two rooms on the ground floor, the dividing wall was demolished and instead a sliding door was provided. The sliding door remained open for meetings. Apart from that, there were two other office rooms. There was a balcony on one side. The two upper stories served as the residence of the Imam.
The house at 61 Melrose Road was large and spacious and apart from a basement, there was the ground floor and two other upper stories. When the initial purchase was made, along with the building at 63 Melrose Road, a plot of land measuring one acre was acquired. The house at 61 Melrose Road belonged to an Englishman who became a bitter opponent after the construction of the mosque.
He objected to the call for prayers (Adhan) from the mosque and he even took the matter to court where it was decided in the favor of the Jamaat. During the Second World War when a few bombs fell around the mosque, he put up a ‘For Sale’ notice. However, he instructed the Estate Agent not to sell the house to anyone connected with the Jamaat. Hadhrat Maulana Jalal ud Deen Shams was then Imam of the London Mosque. He sent a British convert to Islam to the Estate Agent and he made an offer, which the owner accepted. Therefore, the house was registered initially in the name of the British convert and then it was transferred to the name of the Jamaat. This house had the great privilege and honor of housing Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II when he visited England in 1955. He lived on the ground floor. When I first came to England, apart from the flat on the top floor, the rest had been let out. Then in 1964 when I was appointed Imam I shifted to 63 Melrose Road.
The house at 63 Melrose Road is indeed historic. During his tour of England in 1967 Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III stayed in it. Some well-known and famous scholars, leaders and other notables from the Muslim world came to this house. Some are listed below.
President Tubman of Liberia, Crown Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, King Idris of Libya, Sir Muhammad Iqbal the famous poet, Sir Feroze Khan Noon who later became Prime Minister of Pakistan, Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Sir Singhate, The Governor General of Gambia.
Both these houses, i.e. 61 and 63 Melrose Road were demolished after the Mahmood Hall Complex was built.
Majlis Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya existed even in 1959. Malik Khaleel ur Rahman was then the Qaid Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya and he was indeed an active and sincere member. In 1962 the centre appointed me as Deputy Sadar (President) of all the Majalis Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya in Britain. In those days, the Sadar (President) of the worldwide Majlis Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya was based at Rabwah. At that time, in other countries of the world, Qaids were appointed and the name of every Qaid needed approval from Rabwah. In 1964, this arrangement was changed and the Missionary in Charge of every country was appointed Deputy Sadar Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya. As the then Imam, Chaudhry Rahmat Khan, was sixty-five years old, although I was a Deputy Imam in 1962 I was chosen to be the Deputy Sadar (President) of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya U.K.
Lajna Ima Ullah was also in existence and Mrs Naseem was its Sadar (President). Dr. Naseem was a retired judge of the Alahabad High Court. In 1959, he served as General Secretary of the Executive Committee. After Mrs Naseem, Mrs Ashraf served for a while as the Sadar. For many years after that Amat ul Hafeez, the wife of Dr. Abd us Salaam, served as Sadar Lajna in Britain. During the period of her Sadarat, the Lajna made considerable progress; new Lajnaat were established up and down the country and Annual Conventions began to be held. Her close co-operation with me as Imam and Missionary in Charge was inspiring. May Allah reward her abundantly.
In those days the arrangements for heating the Fazl Mosque was substandard. During the winter there were very few who offered Nimaz (Salat) in the mosque and as heating was expensive, from November to Easter the mosque normally remained locked. Prayers, including the Friday Service, were held in the Mission House. In those days it was bitterly cold in England and in December, January and February and sometimes right up until May, there was snow. The most bothersome problem during the winter was fog and smog. Often if lasted for three or four days and visibility was reduced to only a few feet.
Those days were dangerous for those who suffered from Asthma. I can clearly recall that in 1960 as I was walking towards the Mission House from the neighboring shops when a thick fog descended and visibility was reduced to nothing. I became extremely worried, as apart from the bitter cold I could also see nothing. I stood on a footpath and prayed to God so that He may guide me to my residence.
Suddenly, when I heard someone’s footsteps I cried out for help. Someone held my hand and told me that he was going in the same direction. He said he had some idea of the route and still holding my hand, he took me to my house. I thanked the Englishman most profusely. When she opened the door for me my wife was in a near panic, we both thanked the Almighty. In 1965, all coal burning industrial establishments were taken out of London and thankfully, that resulted in freedom from frequent fog or smog. The exterior of all buildings in London were black due to coal fires. Later on, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral and other historic buildings were sandblasted and cleaned at the expense of millions of pounds.
In those days, on the two Eids all those present were served lunch on behalf of the mosque. As the Mission was unable to bear the expense of feeding all those present, members of the Jamaat were asked to make special contributions. Throughout the night, in the basement of the Mission House, many members remained engaged in cooking. Until I was appointed Imam, I used to remain engaged in cooking along with other members. In those days, a large number of non-Ahmadis came to the mosque for the two Eids. Some Turk and Cypriot Muslims and Muslims from India and Pakistan also came.
On such occasions, neighbors and some dignitaries were also invited for lunch. In this manner, most of the days of Eid were passed in the mosque or in the garden adjoining the mosque. Most left in the afternoon. On one such occasion in 1931, for Eid ul Azhia, the Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah also came. After the meal, he delivered an extraordinary speech on the subject of “Freedom of India.”
Per Ahmadiyya only sources (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995), he is made the Imam of the London Mosque.
In 1964 I submitted a proposal to the Centre that the two houses belonging to the Jamaat at 61 and 63 Melrose Road should be demolished and instead a new, attractive and spacious Mission House be built. The Centre approved the proposal and made it a condition that the necessary funds may be borrowed which could be returned in installments. Under instructions from the Centre a ‘Building Committee’ was constituted of which, apart from me, Abdul Aziz Deen and Moulvi Abdur Rahman were members. The committee made contacts with several Finance Companies, and finally a Building Society agreed that they would arrange to put up a building according to our plans and over 25 years the Centre would pay back the sum in installments.
Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 29: The First European Muslim Convention
In 1965 in the course of Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan’s visit to London, in an inspiring manner, he made a mention of the names and their sincerity to the Faith of several European converts. He expressed a desire to hold a convention of such European Ahmadis so that they may be provided an opportunity to interact with each other. Ways and means, he said, of their further education and training could be discussed in this convention. I offered my services for the holding of such a convention and said that the Centre (Rabwah) permitting the convention could be held in London. I accepted responsibility for making all the necessary arrangements. I wrote to Rabwah and they granted permission. By the Grace of Allah a successful convention was held. A report, by Mr A.R. Chaudhry covering this event, was published in the ‘Muslim Herald’ issue of August/September 1965, which follows.
“The First European Muslims Convention“
With the ever-increasing activities of our Missions on the continent of Europe, it was thought appropriate to have a get together of the Ahmadi Muslims in order to foster the bond of spiritual fraternity and faith amongst them. Accordingly, the Ahmadiyya Jamaat of Great Britain as the host made all possible arrangements for the delegates who came to London to take part in the deliberations of the convention. The London Ahmadis generously offered the guests free accommodation, transport and their hospitality. The Lajna Amaulla, (the organisation of Ahmadi ladies), undertook to cook meals for them during their stay here. They did this painful job in an admirable cheerful manner.
On Sunday the 1st August, the hall of the Mission House presented a picture of a miniature U.N.O. where the Swiss, German, Danish, Swedish, Italian, Arab, Spanish, English, Pakistani and Indian delegates sat with mounting impatience to listen, besides the welcome speeches of the host Imam B.A. Rafiq and the Secretary, Imam M.A. Bajwa (Switzerland), to the inaugural address of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. In his inspiring address the speaker said that he considered this convention as a milestone of the propagation of Islam in Europe. He emphasized the point that as we have succeeded in setting up a family of Ahmadis on the continent it was necessary now to do our best to establish as quickly as possible the ideals of Islamic example, culture and brotherhood.
Mr A.S. Madsen (Denmark) in his speech on the propagation of Islam in Europe put forwards some of the new ways and means to achieve our object. He suggested the opening of the study circles at each centre and laid stress on giving training to the new converts to the faith. Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan endorsing his views added that the time had approached when the local individuals could be usefully trained to assist the Pakistani missionaries in their work.
In the afternoon, Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan addressed the audience on the important subject of existence of God and on establishing a firm connection with Him. Quoting several verses from the Holy Quran he explained to them that the true and lasting peace of mind and tranquillity could only be had through ones own relationship with Him.
On Monday, Mr A.R. (Switzerland) gave his commendable talk on ‘Some Aspects of Islamic State’, while Mr Eriksson (Sweden) gave his views on the crucifixion of Jesus. Mr Muhammad Naim-ul-Islam (Holland) spoke quite convincingly on Islam and Christianity. All the three talks had an exclusive standard of their own, which provoked a good discussion.
Mr E.A. Kunzi read out his admirable paper on the quest of the real God. His speech ‘From Humanism to the Unknown Real God’ is being reproduced in this issue.
The women delegates also addressed the gathering in a series of sweet little talks. Miss J. Koopmann, Miss N. Esseiva and Miss F. Paganini had the charming simplicity of their address, which was undoubtedly rich with ideas.
Mr Ibrahim Odeh conveyed the message of affection from the Ahmadis of Kababeer (Israel). Dr. M. Nassem read his scholarly paper on ‘The Missionary Spirit in Islam’.
At the close of the four days session Miss M. Cummins, on behalf of the U.K. Jamaat, thanked the guests for their inspiring talks and for the interest, they had taken in this religious gathering.
At the end, a meeting of the elected representatives and the missionaries took place. Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan was in the chair. The discussions centered round the following points:
Difficulties in the way of propaganda of Islam in Europe.
(i) Cultural conflicts. (ii) Need of an Islamic journal for Europe. (iii) Need of strengthening consciousness of Islamic brotherhood and personal relation between individuals and mission.
Some useful points emerged out of the discussions. Here was a small group of enthusiasts who took stock of their achievements, discussed their problems, reviewed their needs and planned to speed up their work. They seemed to join hands for the massive conquest of Europe for the Muslim faith. It should be noted here that besides the few intelligent speeches which added freshness to the proceedings of the convention, the contributions of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan by way of advice and guidance was undoubtedly great. His presence brought confidence to the members and his benevolent effect on the convention was to tug them all towards conformity by establishing the true spirit of common objective and ideal Islamic zeal.
It is to be added here that Lajna Imaulla gave a special reception to the lady guests during the convention. Mrs Tahira Chowdry welcomed them in an address. Mrs Nusrat Esseiva (Switzerland) in giving the reply thanked them for their hospitality.
The success of the convention rested on the untiring zeal of Mr B.A. Rafiq, the Imam of the London mosque and his executive committee. The Lajna, too, deserves credit for the hard work they had put in for a number of days. May Allah bless them all with His favor. Amen.
In 1965, the first Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Ram Ghulam, came to England. When I called to meet him at his hotel, he received me with great warmth. He paid glowing tributes to the services rendered by the Jamaat in Mauritius. He instructed his Ambassador, who was accompanying him, to always invite the Imam to all the Mauritian Embassy functions. Some photographs were taken on this occasion, which, along with a detailed report have been published in the May 1968 issue of the ‘Muslim Herald’.
Nazir Ahmad Hyderabadi arrived in England on 12th April 1966 as Missionary and worked with me until 13th April 1967. During this period, he also served as the Central Finance Secretary. He left on 7th July 1967.
In June 1967 Mubarak Ahmad Saqi, who was then Ameer and Missionary in Charge in Liberia wrote to me to tell me that in the immediate future the Liberian President was visiting England. He recommended that, on his arrival, the British Ahmadiyya Jamaat should welcome him. He said that the President’s relationship with the Jamaat in Liberia was both warm and cordial.
I contacted the British Foreign Office and obtained the necessary information concerning President Tubman’s visit to Britain. The Liberian President, after completing his official business spread over three days, settled in the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington where he had reserved a whole wing. I contacted his Private Secretary and asked for an appointment to see him. He returned my call the next day and told me that I could see the President, only for ten minutes, two days later. Accordingly, I got to the Hotel to meet the President. His staff, which had accompanied him from Liberia, had taken control of the management of that wing of the Hotel, which had been reserved for them. Even a lift was set apart for the exclusive use of the President, his staff and his guests.
I found the President, sitting by himself, in a beautiful, well decorated drawing room. He got up to receive me and after making the normal courteous enquiries, he expressed complete satisfaction and approval concerning the work of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Liberia. He said that he had issued standing instructions that Mr Mubarak Ahmad Saqi should be invited to all National functions. I thanked him and then very briefly I gave him an account of the British Mission. When ten minutes had elapsed, the Private Secretary opened the door and signaled to me to leave. I was about to get up when the President said that I couldn’t possibly leave, as I had not even had some coffee. He instructed his Private Secretary to send in some coffee. Therefore, the interview continued for forty-five minutes. We talked on various religious subjects. Although he was a Christian, he believed in the Unity of God and was a champion of religious tolerance. I invited him to visit the Fazl Mosque in London and he very kindly granted my request. He said that the exact date and time could be determined later. The following day his Private Secretary told me when the President would visit the Mosque. I requested that when the President visits the Mosque he should have a meal with us. Accepting our request the President told us that forty people would accompany him. Amongst them would be some Ministers, some Generals and some members of the staff Of Liberian TV and Radio and of course some journalists.
In 1968 His Excellency Sir F.M. Singhate, Governor General of Gambia visited London. I met him and invited him to visit the Mosque. He himself was an Ahmadi. He said:
“I wanted to visit the Mosque on my own but I am glad that you have invited me.”
He came to the Mosque for the Friday service. In my Friday sermon I made a prominent mention of a prophecy of the Promised Messiah i.e.:
“Monarchs will seek blessings from your garments.”
This prophecy having been fulfilled in his person I congratulated the Governor General. Many Ministers of his government accompanied the Governor General.
I hosted a dinner in his honour in the evening in which, apart from some Gambian Ministers, the Gambian Ambassador and members of his staff, the local Member of Parliament and some British guests were also present. At the end of the dinner, I thanked my honoured guests. On that occasion the Governor General applauded the efforts made by the British Jamaat and thanked the Almighty God that he had become a recipient of the blessings of Ahmadiyyat.
Chapter 14: Diabetes
Suddenly in 1970, I began to feel very thirsty and my tongue seemed as dry as a twig. In order to relieve my bladder during the night I had to get up several times. Once, I mentioned this problem to Hadhrat Chaudhry Zafrulla Khan and he asked me to see a doctor at once. My doctor sent me to a Hospital for tests of blood etc. Some tests were carried out after intake of glucose. I was asked to return in a few days. When I met the specialist, he told me that I had become a diabetic. I felt that a sentence of death had been pronounced on me and for a few moments, I was completely stunned. The Doctor asked me not to worry and said that, with proper care and daily exercise, this problem can be brought under control. He gave me detailed instructions.
When I got back home, I found Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib waiting for me. I told him that I had some good news and some bad news and asked him which one he wanted to hear first. The good news, I said, was that we were now associates. And the bad news, I said, was that I had become a Diabetic. Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib asked me not to be too concerned as he had been a Diabetic for forty years.
I was privileged to accompany Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III to visit Spain for the second time in 1970. How fortunate was this humble person to be given an opportunity to once again visit Spain, which could provide a new life to the historic and spiritual memories. Through his benevolence, Huzoor included me in his entourage.
In June 1970 the Spanish soil was restored to spiritual life with greater glory than in the past. After nearly four centuries the sterile soil of Spain once again witnessed the advent of a spring.
On 25th June, Huzoor, along with his entourage left London for Spain by air. In this historic journey, apart from Hadhrat Begum Sahiba, the following accompanied Huzoor:
Sahibzada Mirza Mubarak Ahmad, Ch. Zahur Ahmad Bajwa, Ch. Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Saleem Nasir and this humble servant (B.A. Rafiq). It was a flight that lasted about two hours. Huzoor became somewhat restive as we approached Madrid. When the Madrid Airport came into view, he turned back and said:
“I can hear the tramp of the hooves of Tariq’s horses. Can you also hear them?”
Per Ahmadiyya only sources (see B.A. Rafiq, “The Afghan Martyr’s” 1995), he was the private secretary of the 3rd Khalifa. He moved back to Pakistan.
In 1972 when Lt. Gen. Muhammad Yusuf Khan, the Pakistan Ambassador stationed in Britain was transferred to Switzerland, I arranged a farewell dinner for him at the Mosque. I had developed a friendship with him and he visited the Mosque at least two or three times. He had been inviting me to all the Pakistan Embassy functions. A report concerning the farewell Dinner Party was published in the ‘Muslim Herald’ is reproduced below.
“On Friday the 23rd June, 1972, a farewell party was given by the London Mission to His Excellency Lt. Gen. Muhammad Yusuf Khan, the Ambassador for Pakistan in the UK on His Excellency’s transfer to Switzerland. The party was attended by His Worshipful the Mayor of Wandsworth, Their Excellencies the High Commissioners of Ghana, Gambia and Nigeria and by seventy members of the Community. Other guests included the Manager of PIA Office in the UK and Mrs Senkyi, the wife of the High Commissioner of Ghana and Mr Standing.
After the dinner, the gathering was addressed by His Worshipful the Mayor of Wandsworth, Mrs J.D. Standing. She spoke for some time about the London Mosque, the beautiful Mission building, and her first impressions of this important centre of the Ahmadiyya Community. Mr B.A. Rafiq, the Imam, then, in his address welcomed their Excellencies and all other guests besides the chief guest of the evening Lt. Gen. Muhammad Yusuf Khan. He briefly spoke on the history of the Ahmadiyya Mission, its activities abroad and the part played by the London Mosque in furthering the cause of Islam. He also mentioned about the ‘Leap Forward Programme’ of Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III following Huzoor’s visit to West Africa in His Excellency, in reply to the address, thanked the Imam and the Ahmadiyya Community for arranging a sumptuous farewell dinner in his honour. He appreciated the services of the community in the cause of Islam and Pakistan and the part played by the UK Mission in participating in the Defence Fund during the last war.”
From February 1973 until September 1979, after retirement from the International Court of Justice Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan became a permanent resident of the top floor flat of the Mission House in the UK. At that time I occupied the first floor. During this period of 8 or 9 years, I was blessed with repeated occasions of being very close to him. It was our good fortune that, every day, he had all his meals with us. My wife took good care to serve him the kind of dishes that were suitable for his health. After dinner, Chaudhry Sahib would habitually talk about the current events and certain occurrences in his earlier years. For me his talk was like lessons provided in an academy. I learned a lot at the dinner table.
In 1975 I invited the Polish Ambassador for Dinner at the Mosque and very kindly he came with his staff. In my introductory speech I made mention of the activities of the Jamaat, particularly in the field of public welfare. In his response, the Ambassador, inviting me to visit Poland, pledged support in this matter. I met him on several occasions subsequently. To adequately cover the subject of establishing and promoting a sound and lasting relationship with the Members of Parliament and other dignitaries would take many pages but is by no means a part of my autobiography. However, there will be a mention of this in the Jamaat history, Inshallah.
I invited Members of Parliament, Peers of the Realm and other dignitaries to preside over the various sessions of the Annual Conventions of the British Jamaat. The most prominent amongst them has been Mr Tom Cox MP.In my view; along with the propagation of Islam it is necessary for the Missionaries to establish relationships with local and foreign dignitaries. In this way, the Jamaat can benefit in diverse ways. Eventually these relations will prove useful
During the period when I was Imam and Missionary In charge, the well established relationships resulted in unusual benefits. On two occasions, I was invited to the Queen’s Garden Party, which was held on the lawns of Buckingham Palace. Apart from Her Majesty, members of the Royal Family, Ministers, Ambassadors and other dignitaries were present. Naturally on such occasions it became possible for me to introduce Ahmadiyyat.
In 1976, as Private Secretary to the 3rd Khalifa, he accompanied Khalifa tul Masih III on his tour of North America. While in Toronto, they were staying at the ‘Inn on the Park Hotel’.
Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 32: Journey to Kashmir
In accordance with the instructions from Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III, when I was preparing myself to participate in the Annual Convention in Rabwah in December 1977, it occurred to me that since, in the following year an International Conference on ‘Deliverance of Jesus from the Cross’ was to be held, why not persuade a British Press representative to accompany me to Rabwah. (Further details appear elsewhere). He could, after attending the Conference, accompany me to Kashmir and see for himself, with his own eyes, the grave of Jesus Christ (pbuh). He could then research, investigate and gather information independently, which could then be presented in the forthcoming Conference. An invitation was extended to a number of major Newspapers. Finally, the ‘Sunday Telegraph’, a famous British newspaper that had a large circulation, accepted the invitation. They agreed to send a Press Representative and a photographer with me. They made it a condition that, other than the usual hospitality, their representatives would meet all the relevant expenses themselves and would not accept any financial assistance from us. So Mr Philips and a high class Photographer accompanied me and we reached Rabwah on the appointed day.
Before he became Khalifa, Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih IV wrote to me on the 3rd of July, 1981 as follows: “In accordance with my potential, even earlier on I have been praying for you. Apart from your dedicating your life for the service of the Faith, the remembrance of your father also inspires me to pray for you. I was very close to him. I often met him on the road. We exchanged greetings, not only while crossing each other but we tarried a bit, enquired about each other’s health and we derived great pleasure through such encounters. On occasion, walking towards the Mosque together we would engage in conversation. He would often relate faith-boosting events of his life. I have always felt that whenever we met he greeted me with great warmth and cordiality. I hope that he too was aware of my regard and esteem for him. You have asked me to pray for him. Even if there were no other grounds this reason alone is sufficient. I often hypothesize that devout parents are like a cool spring from which beneficence flows. In itself it is a great favour and it is impossible either to count such parental favours or to return such gifts.”
Khalifa tul Masih IV wrote the following letters to me on 25th June 1983.
“Your letters always remind me of your virtuous father and persuade me to pray for him. He was an embodiment of perfect consistency between what he said and what he did. I was extremely close to him and I am extremely close to him now. This relationship manifests itself in the desire for prayers. May Allah overwhelm him with Divine Mercy and may all his progeny become his heirs in the true sense of the word.”
In April 1987, covering the period that I had the privilege to spend close to Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan I wrote a book entitled ‘Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
– A Few Remembrances’. The book had been printed but I had only received a few copies. The remaining copies were still in the press when the Government of Pakistan confiscated all copies and instructed that, apart from me, the owner of the printing press and some members of his staff should have proceedings started against them and also that an F.I.R (First Information Report) should be registered against all. Accordingly, the owner of the printing press and four of his staff, all of them non-Ahmadis, were arrested. Before I could be arrested, under instructions from Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih IV I reached England. On arrival in England Huzoor appointed me as Additional Wakeel ut Tasneef and permitted me to send for my wife and children. Two weeks later, they also arrived in England.
The major problem that confronted us in England was that of residential accommodation. There was no room in Islamabad and the Jamaat had no other residential accommodation at their disposal. To live in I purchased a flat quite close to the Mosque. I sold the comfortable and beautiful house that I had built for myself in Rabwah and for the second time all of us started living together in England. Since in the past I had served as Wakeel ut Tasneef in Rabwah and had gained some experience in that line I did not therefore have any difficulty in assuming responsibility of the work assigned to me in England. Then again, at every step Huzoor’s supervision and guidance was available to me.
Chapter 36: My Visit to Dera Baba Nanak
In 1991, the Centenary Annual Convention (Jalsa) of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya was held in Qadian. Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih IV himself travelled to Qadian to participate in that blessed occasion. I was privileged to accompany Huzoor as Huzoor had very kindly included me in his entourage. We flew to Delhi on the appointed date and after a few days’ stay there, via Amritsar and Batala, travelled by train to Qadian. After partition of the sub-continent, this was the first occasion when a Khalifa tul Masih visited Qadian. Therefore, for every single person i.e. Huzoor, members of his entourage and every resident of Qadian it was an extremely sentimental occasion.
Even after the partition of the sub-continent, I had been privileged to visit Qadian on a number of occasions. However, this journey was totally different and unique. Thousands of Ahmadis from Pakistan had the good fortune to attend the Jalsa. From very many parts of the world, in their thousands, members of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat attended this celebrated convention. In a book, that he has written Mr Hadi Ali Chaudhry has covered this journey in some detail. Here, it is not my intention to describe the historic occasion. Therefore, I move on to describe our visit to Dera Baba Nanak to pay homage to the ‘Cloak’.
A day after the conclusion of the Jalsa I said to Fazl Ilahi Khan, a ‘Dervish’ of Qadian and a member of the Nazaarat Umoor e Ama Qadian. Presuming Huzoor grants me permission, would it be possible to visit Dera Baba Nanak to pay homage to the Cloak. He said that he saw no difficulty in arranging a visit but he warned me that it might not be possible to view the Cloak as it always remains secured in a glass treasure chest and that it always remains covered with expensive fabrics. Some very rich Sikh people bring the fabrics for the specific purpose of covering the casket. Visitors and pilgrims are only allowed to view the casket. Since the cloak is 500 years old, for fear that it may get torn or soiled, it is kept in a folded condition.
He writes, “The Afghan Martyr’s”.
Chapter 35: A Meeting with the Prince of Wales
On 13th December 1996, the Almighty afforded me an opportunity to meet the Prince of Wales and also some Muslim and non-Muslim dignitaries and scholars. The Foreign Office of the British Government arranged a seminar named
‘A Sense of the Sacred- Building Bridges between Islam and the West’.
The Prince of Wales was invited to participate and speak, an invitation that he kindly accepted. There were about 30 participants in the seminar. Amongst them were Ambassadors of some Muslim countries, senior officials in the Foreign Office and some intellectuals. Participants sat around a very large Round Table. As I had also been invited to attend the conference, on 13th December I reached Wilton Park Station by train, where along with other participants I was met. We were all given distinctive badges to wear. At 10 o’clock, a Helicopter carrying the Prince of Wales landed in the Park. All participants stood in a row. The Prince shook hands with every one. Each participant introduced himself. The participants stood around the Prince for a short while when some Islamic subjects came under discussion. The Prince said he was happy that the Islamic teachings were now beginning to be better understood and that the old prejudices were subsiding. In an informal manner, all participants sat around the Round Table. Alongside the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan, I sat opposite the Prince. On the other side sat the Saudi Ambassador.
The proceedings of the meeting commenced with a speech delivered by the Prince. Only those participants who had already been nominated were allowed to take part in the discussions.
Then Bishop Michael Nazir Ali of Rochester, who is of Pakistan descent, presented his paper on ‘Tolerance Amongst Religions’. In his speech, the Bishop quoted English version of some verses by the poet Iqbal. In them, there was a prominent mention of the relationship between God and man. Here is the English translation of the verses:
“You made the night, and I the lamp. You the clay and I the cup You – desert, mountain-peak and vale I – flowered, Park and Orchard.”
In his speech, the Bishop laid great emphasis on the fact that both Islam and Christianity believe in the same God and both lay great stress on the need for mutual respect. Therefore, he said, there was no reason why the followers of the two faiths should not live together with mutual love and respect. In his support, he quoted several examples from the Islamic and Christian history. Some other speeches were also delivered.
The meeting continued until midday and after that, participants were given an opportunity to intermingle with each other. Apart from discussing various matters with other participants, I had a lengthy conversation with Bishop Michael Nazir Ali. For the atrocities being perpetrated on their members in Pakistan, he sympathized with the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. He stressed the need for followers of all major religions to use their best endeavors to create an atmosphere of tolerance so that no one should be persecuted merely because of his dissimilar beliefs.
At 1 o’clock, at the dining table, all participants sat around the Prince. Arrangements had been made for a group photograph with the Prince. Since I also appeared in the photograph, I was sent a copy. I was extremely surprised to see that amongst the participants, I was the only one wearing a hat – all others were bare headed. After the photograph had been taken the Prince once again shook hands with everyone and left in a motorcar. I regarded this occasion as a blessed one as I was enabled to convey the message of Islam to them.
He launches his website and blog.
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