Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 6: Waqf
In 1937, in the service of Sardar Muhammad Bakhtiar Khan Domky my father was posted in the State of Lehri in Baluchistan. My mother, my brother and my sisters continued to live in the village. My maternal grandfather, Hadhrat Moulvi Muhammad Ilyas Khan, almost permanently lived in Mastung in Baluchistan. My father instructed us that as my uncle, Abd us Salaam Khan, was proceeding to Mastung, along with him we should travel to Lehri. I can distinctly recall that journey. We got off the train at Bail Paht Station and took a bus, which proceeded towards Lehri. The entire route was like a desert. There was hardly any road and the driver kept on driving according to his own intuition. At last, in the evening we reached Lehri where my father was waiting for us. He took us to his house, which was vast and spacious; without exaggeration, the compound covered an area of around eight kanals. There was any number of rooms, each one decorated and furnished tastefully. After a few days, my father said to me that the proprietor and ruler of the State had expressed a wish to see me. Therefore, in the evening we went towards the palatial house of Sardar Muhammad Bakhtiar. When we went through the main gate, we saw armed guards all around. Everyone showed great deference to my father as he was ultimately in charge of all the possessions of the Sardar. We entered an attractive room in which beautiful carpets had been spread. A portion of the room was covered with white sheets. The Sardar, leaning against an over sized Gao Takia, sat on it. He had long hair that was covered with a white turban. He had an impressive face and he was not very old. He welcomed us and my father introduced me. The Sardar asked me to sit close to him. After the usual conversation the Sardar, addressing my father said:
“From this day Bashir Ahmad is also our son. We will send him to Cambridge for higher education and we shall bear all the expenses of his education.”
My father said:
“I have decided to make him an Ismael so that I can become an Ibrahim. I have made such a bargain with the Almighty. I have made a firm resolve that Bashir Ahmad will be sacrificed in the name of Allah.”
On hearing all this, the Sardar was not only surprised but also perplexed. He said:
“Danishmand Khan, I do not follow what you are saying. We want him
to get the best education and become a great man. Your conversation is above me.”
At that time, I could not comprehend the conversation. I had never heard of Cambridge or of Ibrahim or of Ismael. However, the whole conversation was firmly imprinted on my mind.
A little later, I had a strange dream. I saw that a few people had taken hold of me and were taking me towards deep water. It appeared that the river was excessively flooded and water was spilling from its banks. At that point, I heard someone say that the flood would subside only after presentation of a human sacrifice. Pointing towards me, someone said:
“Throw Bashir Ahmad into the waves of the river so that the flood in the river may subside and we may be saved.”
I was both frightened and perplexed. I was also extremely apprehensive. Suddenly those people lifted me up and threw me into the river. After that, I lost consciousness. A little later while still dreaming, I became conscious and found myself in a beautiful orchard in which there were plenty of fruit trees and flowers. Its splendor was beyond description. In that orchard, there were beautiful canals. The beds of flowers and their fragrance were enough to intoxicate me. Out of the river, I found myself in a fine looking garden. Then I opened my eyes and the impact of the dream was overpowering. I believe that my resolve to devote my life for the service of the Faith was related to that dream.
Time passed on normally and until 1945 when I joined the Taleem ul Islam School in Qadian at the age of fourteen, there was never any mention of my Covenant to dedicate my life.
The period spent in Qadian definitely enhanced my faith. At nearly every step, I had the privilege of meeting some Companions of the Promised Messiah. After Maghrib prayers, Huzoor used to stay behind for a while in the Masjid Mubarak. His discourse was always spellbinding. In a way, during these sessions he freely distributed gems of spiritual knowledge. One could hear the words; ‘Qaal Allah’ from every direction. This environment brought about a complete change in me and I began to take delight in religious subjects. Participating in the sittings with Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II brought about a complete revolution in my life. At about that time, during a Friday sermon, in an effective manner Huzoor invited young Ahmadis to dedicate their lives for service to the Faith. As soon as the Friday Service was over hundreds of young men rushed to offer their lives for the service of the Faith. I was one of those fortunate ones. A few days later, I received a card from Huzoor advising me that my offer to dedicate my life had been accepted. The card included a few prayerful words advising me to remain steadfast. I wrote a letter to my father and in a way apologized that without having obtained his prior consent I had pledged my life in the way of Allah. My father wrote back a most sentimental letter in which he said that from the very moment of my birth he had promised the Almighty that he would sacrifice me in His way. Therefore, throughout very many years he had been supplicating for fulfillment of his desire. He had resolved to continue his prayers but he was also determined not to ask me or bring upon me the slightest pressure to dedicate my life. He felt confident that entirely on my own and with his prayers, I would pledge my life for service to the Faith. The Almighty had listened to his prayers and for this favor, no amount of gratitude could be sufficient. During the summer vacation when I went back to the village, I made a mention of my Waqf to my mother and sought her permission.
“My Dear son, I am an illiterate woman. I do not even know what the dedication of ones life means and what responsibilities such a step carries. I am very ignorant but I do know that any undertaking to win the pleasure of Allah is definitely always accompanied by untold blessings. Allah will never let you go to waste and my prayers will remain with you for ever.”
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.
After I had decided to dedicate my life temptations repeatedly surfaced in various shapes and forms but I was not lured. In our village, apart from my father and his family there were no other Ahmadis. My uncles and other relatives were worldly people. They said they ‘believed’ but they had no inkling as to what they were saying. They would spend their days gambling and in meaningless talk. Immediately after sunset young men would assemble in Hujras and spend their time in singing lyrics using earthenware vessels as a Tabla. During the nights, the seniors and the elderly slept in their houses whilst the youngsters slept in the Hujras. How could my non-Ahmadi relatives comprehend what Waqf was and what heavy responsibilities were attached to it in such an environment? An attempt to explain to them would have been tantamount to casting pearls before swine. My own real uncle and other relatives made fun of me and said in a sarcastic tone:
“Look at Bashir Ahmad, in spite of being a son of a Landlord and being well educated, he is becoming a Mullah.”
In the villages, Mullahs were downgraded to the lowest order. They were shown some apparent respect but the Khans really treated them disgracefully. Such taunts were indeed bothersome to me and I would walk away from such company. My father always encouraged me and would enlighten me concerning blessings flowing out of Waqf. He advised me to keep my distance from my relatives. However, this was a period of trial for me. My uncles and my cousins who were not nearly as well educated as I was were rich and proprietors of property. They would often tell me that I had brought shame upon myself with my own hands. They would say:
“You own material wealth and you are well educated, you could easily get good employment. So why do you want to become a Mullah? Leave such plans alone.”
However, the Almighty helped and guided me and I did not allow my resolve to weaken. When I look back on the past after the lapse of half a century, my heart is filled with praises for the Almighty. What God has given me through Waqf is far, far beyond the imagination of my non-Ahmadi relatives and cousins. May Allah be glorified. Viewing my better way of life with envy some of them have even said:
“Alas, had we been Ahmadis we could also have been recipient of the blessings that you have received.”
Some of my relatives had the gift of being very astute. One of them was my uncle Muhammad Sameen Jan Khan. He was a Law graduate and was the most successful lawyer in Mardan and apart from that he was a well know political leader. For many years, he was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s right hand man. Later he joined the Muslim League and became one of the topmost leaders of the Muslim League in the Frontier Province. In 1945 when the Muslim League party won the elections and established its government, Muhammad Sameen Jan Khan was appointed the Minister for Education and Prisons. He served as Minister for many years.
He seemed to be very fond of me. Once when he came to the village he sent for me and started probing into my Waqf. I filled him in with the relevant particulars in some detail. He was already familiar with the Jamaat Ahmadiyya through my father and to a degree; he had remained under my father’s influence. After listening carefully to what I had to say he said:
“Bashir Ahmad, you have devoted your life for a lofty purpose therefore the Almighty will never let you go to waste. Now that you have stepped onto this trail, do not ever falter. Keep marching on this highway. Do not care for what others may say; these people are illiterate and they do not have the capability to figure out the importance of Waqf. Therefore, just leave them alone.”
Then quoting his own example he said:
“Look, I am a worldly man and I have devoted my life to politics. In this pursuit, on many occasions I have had to bear the hardships of prison. I have also had to suffer great financial losses but never did I abandon the course that I had chosen for myself. You have dedicated your life for a lofty purpose i.e. service to your Faith. You will surely encounter problems and obstacles but, in keeping with the proud traditions of the Pukhtoons, face them courageously. Never turn back under the weight of complex problems.”
Of course, I have had to face trials.
The Pir of Manki Shareef was a great Muslim League leader and at one time, he was the right hand man of the Quaid e Azam. He had learnt much about politics from my uncle Sameen Jan Khan and so he showed him great deference. After I had graduated from the Punjab University and joined the Jamia tul Mobashereen in Rabwah I once met him. During our conversation, the Pir Sahib enquired about my plans and I told him about Waqf in some detail. He was deeply impressed and said that he held our Imam, Hadhrat Mirza Bashir ud Deen Mahmood Ahmad in great esteem. He said he was a great leader and that his contribution to the well being of so many would be recorded in gold. He said that he had met Huzoor at a function in Karachi and he was deeply impressed by his supernatural disposition. He said:
“If you have dedicated your life in response to his invitation then you will surely be successful. Now listen carefully to my advice. After completing your education, do not undertake any training programs in the Frontier Province. You should ask Huzoor to send you to another country.”
I was surprised and asked him why I should not serve the Faith in the Frontier Province?
The Pir Sahib said that apparently the Pathans look upon religious people with deference. However, in the Pathan culture the Mullah does not command any respect though they do look up to the Pirs. Pirs are normally the rich landowners and Jagirdars. Since the Mullahs derive benefits from the public they are not looked upon with any reverence. Most Pathans will also see you as an Ahmadi Mullah. Therefore, it is my advice that instead of working in the Frontier Province you should work in another province of Pakistan or in another country. I told him that I had dedicated my life and I would go to work wherever my Khalifa sends me. Respect is entirely in the hands of the Almighty.
After having spent many years in Waqf, even today, based on my own experience I can truthfully say that the folks from my region have, through Allah’s Mercy and Grace, always shown me great respect. Whenever I visit the Frontier Province and whomever I meet, I am always shown great respect and esteem.