In the 1970’s, Professor Muhammad Aslam, who was working as a history professor and seems to have visited Qadian and was shown around extensively. He published his experiences in a book entitled, Safarnama-e-Hind. which was published in the Khatam-e-Nubuwwat magazine in Karachi. It contained two books, Mein ne Qadian mein Kya Dekha [What I saw in Qadian] and Bahishti Maqbarah Mein Chand Lamhey [A few moments in Bahishti Maqbarah].
He explains how there were barely 1300 Ahmadi’s in Qadian wherein the population was 15,000, which is 11% of the population. Mirza Waseem Ahmad was not in town when Aslam toured the place. Read about Khalid Mateen’s analysis of Qadian herein.
______________________________________________________________________________________________Who is Professor Muhammad Aslam?
Prof Muhammad Aslam Sahib was born on 28 November 1932 in British India, Jalandhar District, Punjab Province. His father’s name was Tufail Muhammad. He was educated from first-class to MA (Master of Arts) in Lahore. After acquiring an MA, he moved to England in 1958 where he obtained a BA (Bachelor’s degree) from Durham University, following which he did an MA in Persian from Manchester University and attained MLitt (Master of Letters) degree from Cambridge University.
He returned home in 1967 and was appointed as a lecturer in the department of history at Punjab University. He reached his retirement as professor and president of the history department on 27 November 1992. He married the daughter of Saeed Ahmad Akbarabadi. Prof Muhammad Aslam also remained the secretary of West Pakistan Urdu Academy for some time.
Prof Muhammad Aslam has written several important works on history and obituaries: Din-e-Ilahi aur us ka pas manzar (1970), Tarikhi Maqalaat (1970), Surmaya Umar (1972), Wafiyat-e-Mashahir Pakistan (1990), Khuftgan-e-Karachi (1991), Slatin-e-Dehli aur Shahaan-e-Mughliya ka zoq-e-Mosiqi (1992), Wafiyat-e-A‘yan-e-Pakistan (1992), Khuftgan-e-Khaq-e-Lahore (1993), Safarnama Hind (1995), Muhammad bin Qasim aur us ke ja nashin (1996).
Many books of Prof Muhammad Aslam are included in the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan. He also wrote dozens of papers. He died on 6 October 1998 in Lahore.
Prof Muhammad Aslam’s book, Safarnama-e-Hind, was in fact a collection of historical and religious, scientific, literary commentaries of places in India. It was first printed in 1995.
“When I finished the visit of Masjid Aqsa, Abdur Rahim Aajiz asked his son, Abdul Hafeez, to take us to Bahishti Maqbarah and tell the doorkeeper there that we were given special permission to see Bahishti Maqbarah at this time. On the way, Abdul Hafeez told us that only women were allowed to go there from Asr to Maghrib. That is why we got special permission.
“As we entered through the gate, women in burqas saw us and stood facing the walls. Accompanied by Abdul Hafeez, we reached the qitta-e-khas [the area of Bahishti Maqbarah where the Promised Messiahas, his close relatives and some companions are buried]. Apart from Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908) and the first Khalifa, Hakim Nuruddin of Bhera (d. 1914), there were graves of Mirza Sahib’s relatives in this area. Near the feet of Mirza Sahib were the graves of his three daughters-in-law, Sara Bhagalpuri, Umm-e-Tahir and Amatul Haye. Sara was a resident of Puraini, a town in Bhagalpur district in Bihar province. She was the sister of Abdul Qadir, the headmaster of Talim-ul-Islam High School Qadian and the aunt of Abbas bin Abdul Qadir, one of my teachers. Her tombstone stated that she was married to Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad based on a revelation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Umm-e-Tahir was the mother of Tahir Ahmad, the current Khalifa [this was written in the time of the Fourth Khilafat] of the Qadianis.
“In this graveyard, there is an area surrounded by four walls [qitta-e-khas]. Iron rods had been placed there [around the grave] so that people could visit the grave whilst keeping their distance. Buried in rows, outside [the four walls] are the graves of Mirza Sahib’s companions. Each of them had their outstanding services written on the tombstones. On one tombstone, it was inscribed that the person buried here was present with Mirza Sahib in the debate that took place in Ludhiana. On another tombstone, it was written that the deceased buried here partook in Mirza Sahib’s burial. A companion had bequeathed that it should be written on his tombstone that he was Mirza Sahib’s personal assistant.
“One of these graves belonged to Bhai Abdur Rahman. Abdul Hafeez told me that he [Hazrat Bhai Abdur Rahmanra] was a Sikh by birth and by profession, he was a granthi [a person one who recited the Granth (a sacred book of the Sikhs which contains hymns, poetry and the teachings of gurus) to people. Among the Sikhs, a granthi is called Bhai Ji [brother]. Therefore, ‘Bhai’ became a part of his name. As he [Hazrat Bhai Abdur Rahmanra] studied different religions, he saw the truth in Qadianiyat [Islam Ahmadiyyat] and thus, he became a Qadiani [Ahmadi].
“After the establishment of Pakistan, he came to Pakistan. He said in his will to be buried in Bahishti Maqbarah. Thus, his will was carried out and it was the only Mirzai [Ahmadi] whose body was taken from Pakistan to India and buried in Qadian.
“Akhtar Orenvi (Syed Akhtar Ahmad) was a professor of Urdu at Patna University. He has done a great service to the Urdu language and literature. He was a very truthful person and was a Qadiani. He died on 31 March 1977, at Kurji hospital, Patna. According to his will, his body was taken to Qadian from Patna and buried in Bahishti Maqbarah. His wife, Shakila Akhtar, passed away on 2 February 1994. She was a good novelist. She must have been buried there too.
“Syed Barakat Ahmad belonged to the family of Khawaja Mir Dardrh. He was employed in the Indian Foreign Service. He wrote a book entitled Muhammad and the Jews, which was translated into Urdu by Prof Mushir-ul-Haq (d.1990) under the title Rasul-e-Akramsa aur Yahood-e-Hajjaz. After retirement, Barakat Ahmad had taken up residence in Indore with his daughter. According to his will, his body was also taken to Qadian and buried in Bahishti Maqbarah.
“Abdul Hafeez also showed us the place where Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s janazah prayer was offered. He said that there were seven rows of worshipers at Mirza Sahib’s funeral, and thus, for this reason, it has now become a tradition that seven rows are formed at the time of funeral prayers.
“Abdul Hafeez took us to his house where his father had prepared tea. He offered us tea and then saw us off. He told me to stay the night [for rest]; however, I apologised and left.
“After two years, I happened to go to Amritsar, Batala and Qadian again. This time, I walked around Qadian alone and visited the town, which, at that time, was inhabited by 1,300 Qadianis. The majority of the population were Biharis who had started a little work for a living. Someone was repairing a radio, another had opened an electrical appliance store, someone else was running a small tea restaurant, a man was sitting in the market selling ice cream. One Mirzai was repairing bicycles. Poverty was reflected in their faces. Their only achievement was that they had settled in Qadian.
“The population of Qadian is 15,000, of which 1,300 are Mirzais [Ahmadis] who, all together, live in a corner of Qadian. The streets and shops were empty, a desolate place. Mirza Sahib had written, based on a revelation [he received], that the population of Qadian would increase and would expand to Lahore. It would develop into a magnificent city. In this vast city, he was shown a vision in which was shown a bazaar that was packed with people, so much so that pedestrians found it difficult to make their way through the traffic; buggies, carriages, the Victoria [an elegant carriage] and God knows what types of modes of transport were there in motion [in the vision]. Gold and silver were being traded in this market by rather large and well-fed bankers and jewellers who graced the market with their presence.
“Mirza Sahib had said, based on his revelation, that there would come a time when people would enquire about Lahore, and they would be told that it was now a part of the mahalla [locality] of Qadian. I [Prof Muhammad Aslam] was contemplating on this revelation while standing in the deserted market of Qadian. This revelation seemed as weak as a spider web that sways away in the air. Here, instead of rather large and well-fed businessmen and jewellers, there were empty-bellied [people], withered-face shopkeepers who had gathered in a corner of Qadian. Instead of spreading, Qadian had now become a small place.
On page 406 of the book mentioned above, with regard to his journey to Kashmir, he wrote:
“There is a grave of a man named Yuz Asaf in the area of Khanyar, Srinagar. The Mirzais [Ahmadis] have made it famous as the tomb of Jesusas. Khawaja Kamaluddin (d. 1932) has even written a book on this subject in English. He says that Jesus did not die on the cross. When he was put on the cross on Friday afternoon, the day of Sabbath followed afterwards. When the guards left, the Christians took him off the cross and healed his wounds. When he recovered, he secretly reached Kashmir where he spent the rest of his life. His mother, Hazrat Maryam, also travelled to Kashmir from Jerusalem […] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s ‘prophethood’ is based on such misconceptions.” (Safarnama-e-Hind, pp. 406-407)
On page 413 of this book, in the chapter entitled “Amritsar, Batala and Qadian”, the details of his journey are given. On page 427 with reference to his stay and engagements in Batala, it is written:
“Parveen Pal [a local guide] (of Batala) and I were standing near the crematorium when a bus appeared. Parveen said that the bus was going to Qadian. ‘Will you go there?’
“When I enquired [how far it was], Parveen said that Qadian was only 10 miles from here and bus staff charged only one rupee per passenger. When the bus came close and stopped, we got on it. Along the way came a village named Wadala Granthian and we reached Qadian in 20 minutes.
“When we got off the bus at the bus stop, I saw a minaret in the distance. A thought came to my mind that it may or may not be the Minarat-ul-Masih. When we asked for directions, some shopkeepers guided us.
“As soon as we reached the path leading towards Minarat-ul-Masih, from a distance, we saw a rather large looking Qadiani, dressed in a shirt, pyjamas and a cap and coming towards us. As I approached, I greeted him with salaam. He replied to my salaam and introduced himself in these words: ‘My name is Abdur Rahim Aajiz. I am a retired government officer. I have taken up residence here for the service of religion after retirement. And I am the secretary of Anjuman Ahmadiyya.’
“I expressed my desire of visiting Bahishti Maqbarah and Masjid Aqsa. He replied, ‘We shall surely take you to see [the places you want to see. But first] let me show you some places.’
“Abdur Rahim Aajiz took us to see the residence of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani (d. 1908). He showed us a room. There were niches in all four walls [of the room]. In Arabic, such a shelf is called mishkaat. Abdur Rahim Aajiz told me that Mirza Sahib was accustomed to walking and writing. Mirza Sahib would have a pen and paper in his hands and would write by dipping his pen in these inkpots. I said, ‘That’s the way of the masha’een [a method adopted by Greek philosophers, like Aristotle, who would walk around whilst delivering lectures at the Athens stadium].’ He [Abdur Rahim Aajiz] smiled and said, ‘If you think so, then it must be so.’ There was another small room within this room and to enter it, one must climb up two or three stairsteps. This room is called Dar-ul-Huzn [Bait-ul-Dua]. We are told that Mirza Sahib used to sit in this room and weep over the plight of the ummah. There was another similar room called Dar-ul-Fikr. Sitting in this room, Mirza Sahib used to contemplate over the matters relating to the [Muslim] ummah and would enter Masjid Mubarak through this room. This mosque was adjacent to his house.
“Mirza Waseem Ahmad, the grandson of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, lives in a house adjoining this house. He is the head [nazir-e-ala wa amir-e-muqami] of the Qadianis of India. In those days, he had gone to Hyderabad Deccan, which is why we could not meet with him.
“From here, Abdul Rahim Aajiz took us to Masjid Aqsa. Water was being sprinkled on the floor there. We were told that at the time of Maghrib, all the Qadiani men and women of Qadian gather in this mosque and a veil is put in the middle.
“From Maghrib to Isha, sermons and exhortations continued. The Minarat-ul-Masih was being repaired in those days and marble was being laid on its outer surface. Abdur Rahim Aajiz told me to go up [the staircase of] the minaret. I apologised, but he insisted. At his insistence, I climbed the staircase and began panting. (If I died, they would have buried me there in Bahishti Maqbarah.) As I caught my breath, I looked around and saw the view was clear and I could see miles ahead. On one side, I saw a clump of trees. I thought to myself, this could be the Bahishti Maqbarah.
“In the courtyard of Masjid Aqsa is the grave of Mirza Ghulam Murtaza (d. 1876), father of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani. In Punjab, Sir Lepel Griffin and Colonel Massy testified that Ghulam Murtaza was always on military service during his visit to Nau Nihal Singh, Sher Singh and Darbar Lahore. In 1841, he was sent to Mandi and Kullu with General Vinchora. In 1843, he was sent to Peshawar as an infantry commander. He made a name for himself in the Hazara uprising and when the uprising of 1848 took place, he remained loyal to his government and fought on its behalf. His brother, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din, also rendered good services on this occasion.
“Elsewhere, these two historians [Sir Lepel Griffin and Colonel Massy] write that this family rendered great services during the mutiny of 1857 [Indian Rebellion of 1857]. Ghulam Murtaza did not recruit many men; and his son, Ghulam Qadir, was in the army of General Nicholson, Sahib Bahadur [a title given to Indian Muslims and Parsis during the British rule], when the officer crushed the insurgents of 46th Infantry Division at Trimmu Head Chenab River. General Nicholson, Sahib Bahadur, gave a certificate to Ghulam Qadir in which it was written that in 1857, the Qadian family of Gurdaspur district was far more loyal than other families. This is what is known as ‘Jadu wo jo sar char kr bole’ [a trick or plan is good when it succeeds and is admired even by the rival].
“When I finished the visit of Masjid Aqsa, Abdur Rahim Aajiz asked his son, Abdul Hafeez, to take us to Bahishti Maqbarah and tell the doorkeeper there that we were given special permission to see Bahishti Maqbarah at this time […]”.
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