Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 7: T.I. College and Furqan Force
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 Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad had been appointed as the Commander. Further, he said that it was Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II’s wish that some students from the High School should volunteer and join the force
At the end of the speech I, along with other boys volunteered to go to the battlefield. In those days, India and Pakistan were engaged in a war at the Kashmir Front. News of death of the soldiers from either side was received daily. The volunteer boys were told to go back to their homes to secure formal permission from their parents and to meet friends and relatives. On a fixed date, they were directed to report at Sarai Alamgeer situated on the bank of the river Jehlum. When I went home, my father quite happily granted me permission and wholeheartedly approved my move. However, my mother was very worried and for as long as I stayed in the village, she appeared to be deeply concerned. When I had to go to the Front, to see me off, my father took me to the railway station. He too was on the verge of tears. He said:
“You have volunteered on your own and you were certainly not under any pressure. It is quite likely that you may have to face death. In such an event, lay down your life bravely. He who comes into this world has to depart from it one day. The real objective of life on Earth is to gain the pleasure of Allah. If in your early youth you are fortunate enough to gain martyrdom, what else can you possibly ask for?”
It was of course a great sacrifice on my father’s part as I was the elder of his two sons and God alone knew what expectations and ambitions he entertained in my regard. However, he did not seem to care and quite happily, he showed readiness, if it was His will, for me to die in His way.
On boarding the train due to overwhelming emotions, I continued to cry for quite a while. The next morning at Sarai Alamgeer Railway Station a young man from the Furqan Force received me and took me to the camp. Some of my school friends were there already. For the next fifteen or twenty days we were trained in rifle shooting and in the use of grenades. Every day we heard speeches on the importance of Jihad.
After completion of our training while it was still dark, in a number of army trucks we were taken to Bhimbar (in Azad Kashmir). The following day, again in the dark, we moved to the Front on foot. This journey, over hilly tracks and climbing all the time, was very agonizing. Our feet became benumbed due to the march. As we were being shelled by the enemy continuously we were not even allowed to talk. The shelling caused terror in our hearts. Finally, we reached the Front code named ‘Barbat’, which was situated on the summit of a hill. Trenches had already been dug and that was our abode for the next three months. To protect ourselves from enemy fire we remained in the trenches all the time. The shelling became more intense at night.
Colonel Qaisarani was then the Battalion Commander. Those three months were very difficult for me. I lost weight because of inadequate food and unfortunately, due to the absence of cleanliness and sanitation, boils and pimples appeared all over my body. At the Front, some simple medicines were available but it was difficult to treat such a condition. Of course, it became necessary to undergo a thorough medical examination. In view of my declining health, the Commander ordered me to leave. After an absence of three months, I got back to my village. After having passed my Matriculation examination, I joined the Taleem e Islam College in Lahore. In those days, close to the Government College in Lahore, the T.I College was housed in the premises vacated by the D.A.V. (a Hindu college). Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad was its Principal. As we had migrated from Qadian, when the college was re-established in Lahore, obviously, there was a lack, even absence of the necessary means and equipment. However, due to the selfless hard work put in by the members of the faculty and due to the prayers offered by Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II, the college secured 90% success in the results. By His grace, the college gained fame throughout the country. In the field of sports, the college also earned a great name and for many years, in the tournaments arranged by the University, the college rowing team secured first positions.
The Talim ul Islam College inaugurated its College Magazine ‘Al Minar’ in April 1950. It had both English and Urdu sections and soon it began to contain high quality articles. Since the get up was good and it was printed on art paper it gained immediate fame. As a result, it surpassed other college magazines that had been in existence for many years and had, already gained considerable recognition.
It was my good fortune that, from the very first year, I was appointed the Assistant Editor of the Urdu section. Two years later, I became its Editor. Many of my articles were published in it. One of them concerned the life and poetic works of Khushal Khan Khattak, which was liked by many and that proved to be the beginning of my literary life. After that, by the grace of Allah, very many of my articles were published in the ‘Al Fazl’ and other organs of the Jamaat. Alhamdolillah!
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.