Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 1: Preface
My life has not been of a whole string of beads of success and progress or an album of discharge of significant responsibilities. I am fully aware of my weaknesses, my lapses and my sins. I am also fully aware that whatever I have been blessed with has arisen directly from the prayers of my parents, my elders, particularly Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrullah Khan and the Caliphs of Ahmadiyyat. I did not really have a hand in any success that has come my way.
The person who groomed me most and the discipline from which I benefited most was that of Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrullah Khan. One occurrence has left a deep impression on my heart. It has always occurred to me to reflect that if, in spite of his meritorious life and innumerable virtues, Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib rated himself near to the ground what can be the position of someone like me who may be rated lower than a particle of dust.
On one occasion, a sincere but simple friend from a European country wrote to Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib complaining that he had not visited him. At the end of the letter, in his innocence, he wrote that perhaps Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib had not visited him as he was beyond doubt a great man and he himself belonged to a much lower category etc. On reading this sentence, Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib was extremely distressed.
The next day he wrote his reply. He asked me to read it and then post it. On perusal of the letter, I was so stunned that I shuddered from head to toe. Even now when I think of the contents of that letter I begin to shiver. After having apologized to the writer of the letter for not having visited him, Chaudhry Sahib said that when he reached that portion of the letter where it was said that he regarded himself a great man he posed a question to himself. Chaudhry Sahib asked himself: “After a thorough search and investigation, tell me what you think your standing is in your own eyes?” He said: “I postponed my reply until such time as I had received an answer to my question. I pondered over this question for a whole day and a whole night and remained engaged in soul searching. Finally, on receiving an answer I am writing to you.
Now listen how my inner self responded to my question. Addressing me it said to me; ‘Zafrullah Khan, your standing is lower than the position of a dead dog. You possess no greatness or merit. Whatever has been bestowed upon you is merely by the Grace of Allah and nothing else.” Addressing myself, I said, “If Zafrullah Khan assesses himself in this manner how should we, pathetic sinners, who are virtually depleted useless persons assess ourselves?
The question now arises as to why with self-assessment I have ventured to write my autobiography and why have I troubled my dear brother Anwar Ahmad Kahlon to translate it. The answer lies in the fact that my children have, on repeated occasions, insisted that I should write, as they have no knowledge whatsoever of my earlier days, my village, my parents and the environment in which I grew up. They insisted that for their guidance I should put pen to paper and write the story of my life. For a longish period, I kept on making excuses. One-day brother Anwar Ahmad Kahlon came to my house for breakfast. I told him of what my children had been repeatedly insisting on. He asked: “Why not? Why don’t you accept a very reasonable demand?”
I submitted: “I can only write the story of my life with ease in Urdu whiles my children and their children, though they speak Urdu, cannot read Urdu.” Without a moments hesitation Anwar Ahmad Kahlon said: “I’ll be very happy to translate your work into English.” This kind offer inclined me to undertake this task.
I ask my children not only to be grateful to their ‘Baba Ji’ and my brother Anwar Ahmad Kahlon but should also remain engaged in prayers for him. May Allah reward him abundantly for this service to me and may He be his guardian over all his worldly and spiritual affairs. Amen.
I have written this book primarily for my children and a limited circle of sincere friends. In no way should it be considered a part of the history of the British Ahmadiyya Jamaat. It should not be quoted as an authority as I have merely briefly put into words my experiences. This autobiography has not been prepared relying on a diary or a record of events and therefore surely it will contain a large number of mistakes, which can perhaps be rectified in a later edition. Therefore, the contents of this book should not be regarded as very authentic. An autobiography should not be equated with history; their scope is very different. I would also request my children to; if possible, have my book ‘Muhammad Zafrullah Khan – Chand Yadain’ translated into English so that the younger generations and converts to Islam and Ahmadiyyat may benefit from it. Similarly, they should arrange publication of my book ‘Muslim Prayer Book’. This is a useful book and many thousands have already benefited from it.
At the end of this book, I want to tender some advice to my children and I do hope that they will give practical shape to my counsel. In a most humble manner, I ask for prayers for myself so that He may forgive my sins, overlook, cover and conceal my faults, mistakes and lapses. May He make my progeny pious, spiritual and humble so that each one of them should blossom into enviable beings. May they become deeply religious and God fearing and May each one of them be provided a bed of roses. May they remain firm to the awe of anti Christ and may they be protected from the unhealthy influences of the West. May they become true servants of Islam, Ahmadiyyat and Khilafat e Ahmadiyya. “O! My Lord, please do accept my humble supplications. I acknowledge that I have committed innumerable sins and my life is a mere collection of lapses and neglect. If You do not extend the canopy of Your mercy over me no one else can rescue me.”
On this occasion, I express my deep gratitude for my wife Salima Nahid. She has always extended her unconditional co-operation to me. In looking after my children, their upbringing and training, extending hospitality to my guests and taking care of my relations, she has always put in her very best endeavors. I do not have the words to express my gratitude. She is a loving wife and a doting mother. “O my Lord, shower all Your worldly and spiritual blessings upon my wife for the manner in which she has looked after us in this world. Shower on her blessings of every kind both in this world and the Hereafter.