Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 39: Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III
In 1945, for the first time in my life, when I was a student at the T.I. High School in Qadian I had the privilege of an audience with Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad. However, from the early part of 1949 when in my first year I joined the T.I. College in Lahore, a strong, loving and benevolent relationship began. Huzoor was then the Principal of the College and in those days, in a way the T.I. College was at its zenith. Due to Huzoor’s excellent administration, in many ways, the T.I. College had surpassed all other colleges in Lahore.
I was Imam of the London Mosque when Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih II passed away in 1965. Thousands of miles away from the Centre, all Ahmadis in Britain, active in their prayers, were impatiently waiting to hear who had been elected to be the third Khaleefa. Engrossed in these thoughts many Ahmadis had assembled in the Mission House. A British Muslim, Bilal Nuttall, approached me and told me that he knew who the next Khalifa would be. I was very surprised and asked him how he knew ahead of the election who would be chosen to be the new Khaleefa. Bilal Nuttall gave me a photograph that he had in his hand and in a choking voice said:
“Here is a photograph of Sahibzada Nasir Ahmad, taken in the London Mosque that he gave me. In those days, he was up at Oxford for his studies. I had spent a period very close to him and I found him to be God fearing, well mannered and an arch lover of the Holy Prophet. After my first glimpse at the Sahibzada I have always been absolutely certain that he deserved to occupy the exalted position and that the Jamaat would surely elect him.”
Bilal Nuttall was still with me when we received a telegram from the Centre telling us that Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad had been elected as the third Khaleefa. Therefore, being far sighted, in Huzoor’s youth, for the fulfillment of a monumental task Bilal had his eye on Huzoor. He was a witness that Huzoor was a chaste, pious and God-fearing person. He was also a witness that Huzoor was an arch lover of the Holy Prophet of Islam.
Many members of the family of the Promised Messiah had a close relationship with a British farming family in Cornwall (England) The Pearce family were well to do and had a farm called Trenodden near Liskeard. While Huzoor was a student at Oxford, along with his cousins Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad and Mirza Zafar Ahmad, in a most unceremonious way, he would often spend his holidays at the farm. Once, along with Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, I also spent two or three days in Cornwall. Mrs Pearce repeated all the old tales concerning the times the three grandsons of the Promised Messiah spent at the farm.
During the course of our conversation, Mrs Pierce enquired about Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad. She pointed to the room where Huzoor stayed and said that during his stay whenever she passed in front of his room she could hear a fascinating hum. She said that she would stand next to the window and hear what was being recited. Once she asked Nasir what he recited every morning without fail. Huzoor replied that he recited a portion of the Holy Quran. Mrs Pearce also said that at the evening meals the grandsons of the Promised Messiah often talked about their plans. When it was Huzoor’s turn, he would say:
“I intend to serve the Islamic faith and I am determined to devote all my life for this purpose. I have no other desire or ambition and I am certainly not inclined towards worldly affairs.”
Normally the British, particularly the Christian British, do not have a strong inclination towards religion. Mrs Pearce admitted that on hearing this discussion she said:
“What a waste of time.”
“Now that I see he is the Head of the Jamaat I feel sorry that I let such a remark escape from my lips. Now indeed, he has been granted the kind of life that he had wished for. Even in his youth he was very shy and a very affectionate person. During his holidays, he would assemble children, give them chocolates out of his pocket and feel very pleased. He would only eat Halal meat and as Halal meat was not easy to come by he would slaughter a chicken with his own hand.”
I was shown a photograph of him in the course of slaughtering a chicken.
In 1967 nearly two years after Khilafat, in order to inaugurate the Ahmadiyya Mosque there Huzoor went to Copenhagen. I was also present. When, for the first time after his ascension to the throne of Khilafat I cast my eyes on Huzoor’s countenance I had a very strange sensation. With great compassion, Huzoor embraced me and allowed me to stay with him for a while. A few days later, when Huzoor came to England, all of us in the British Jamaat were very happy and over the moon. At the Heathrow Airport, for his reception, a modest stage had been arranged and a microphone had been provided.
On Huzoor’s arrival, the Queen’s Building at the Heathrow Airport resounded with slogans of ‘Takbeer’ and other Islamic slogans. I asked Huzoor if he would like to address the audience but he said that he was so impatient to meet other Ahmadis that there was no need for a speech but instead he would shake hands with all those who were present. No plans had been made for shaking of hands and certain difficulties arose. However, Huzoor insisted and shook hands with all the hundreds of Ahmadis who had assembled. He even embraced some of them. Most returned to their houses very pleased. Huzoor had to remain on his feet for an hour and a half but on meeting Ahmadis Huzoor’s face was aglow with pleasure.
Huzoor stayed at 63 Melrose Road and the Mission House shifted to the adjoining building at 61Melrose Road. That building, at that time, was not in a good shape. Parts of it were covered in dust and smelt of fresh paint. I would normally remain in the other building at Huzoor’s disposal. At night, with great pleasure I attended the Majlis e Irfaan.
Once, when I got home in the evening my wife told me that due to the stink of the fresh paint and the presence of dust, our senior daughter Amat ul Jameel had suffered a severe attack of Asthma. When the doctor came to see her, at his advice, the child was moved to a Hospital. I rushed to the hospital and found that my daughter was very weak and in an oxygen tent. The doctor on duty was far from pleased with her condition and said that she may not survive the attack. He asked me to pray. When I got back home, I found Huzoor just about ready to lead the Isha prayer. I was deeply worried and in that state of mind, I told Huzoor about Jamila’s sickness and the doctor’s opinion that she may not survive. Huzoor asked me not to worry and promised to pray. He assured me that Allah would grant a healthy long life to Jameela. Even when I got home, I remained engaged in deep supplications.
After the Fajr prayers, Hadhrat Begum Sahiba told me that throughout the previous night Huzoor did not sleep a wink and with great humility he prayed for Jameela. Begum Sahiba instructed me to go to the Hospital and enquire about Jameela’s condition. On arrival at the hospital, I saw a great sign of the acceptance of prayers. Jameela was no longer in an oxygen tent but was sitting happily in an armchair. The doctor told me that after I had left there was an extraordinary recovery and now she was out of danger. After a few days Jameela came back to the house. This miracle was a direct result of the heartfelt humble prayers offered by Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih III. Instead of my daughter facing death, she was gifted with a long life.
At every step during this tour the British Jamaat witnessed signs of the acceptance of Huzoor’s prayers. While in Scotland, by the way, Huzoor asked a devout Ahmadi, Muhammad Ayub how many children he had. He answered that he had three daughters. Huzoor smiled and said:
“It is high time you had a son.”
In a despondent manner, Mr Ayub said:
“Now I cannot hope for a son.”
In a very firm tone, Huzoor told him that it was a sin to be despondent and that it did not behove a believer to be pessimistic. Then Huzoor promised to pray for him and said that, God willing, he would have a son. A little later Mr Ayub wrote to Huzoor and advised him that his wife was pregnant and asked him to pray that they may be blessed with a son. In reply, Huzoor assured him that the Almighty would grant him a son and asked him to name the child ‘Ibrahim’. This letter from Huzoor was written four or five months prior to the birth of the boy. In fact, Mr Ayub brought the letter to me. I congratulated him. On the due date, a son was born and he was named ‘Ibrahim’.
Similarly, Sadiqa Haidar, a woman living in London started crying bitterly when she met Huzoor. When asked the reason Sadiqa said that she had no children and the topmost specialists in London had told her that it was not possible for her to bear any children. In a very firm tone, Huzoor said to her:
“Our faith is based upon the living and sustaining God and not upon any Doctor. I will pray for you. Do not despair. The Almighty Allah will show His Mercy and Grace.”
A little later Sadiqa told Huzoor that she was pregnant but that the doctors felt that she would miscarry. Huzoor wrote to her, gave her the glad tidings of the birth of a boy, and assured her that she would not miscarry. The Almighty accepted Huzoor’s prayer. There are very many other occasions, which I cannot possibly recount, as there is not enough space in this article. Huzoor had been gifted with a special sign; i.e. acceptance of his supplications.
In the matter of the intake of food Huzoor always exercised great restraint. He often said that the root cause of ill health is overindulgence. He would say that a believer is he who eats very little. He related that once, when he was a guest of a (zamindar) landowner for his meal he was given seven chapattis (flat bread) with some saalan (curry). As was his habit, he ate very little. The landowner’s wife was watching him from behind a curtain and she said:
“Today you must not eat like you eat at home. You must eat as much as I would like you to.”
Huzoor assured her that normally he ate very little but she had difficulty in believing him and kept on insisting that he should eat more and more.
He was kindness personified. He would become restive at even the slightest problem faced by those around him. In May 1971 when I had, the honor and privilege of being his Private Secretary once a day had been set aside for meeting visitors. On that day, from early morning, to meet Huzoor many visitors assembled from everywhere. According to the schedule, the meetings were to begin at 11 a.m. At around 10 a.m. Huzoor suffered extreme weakness. Sahibzada Dr. Mirza Munawar Ahmad came immediately and for a whole hour kept on dispensing various medicines. At 11 a.m., Dr. Mirza Munawar Ahmad strictly prohibited him from meeting any visitors and instructed him to take complete rest. Huzoor said:
“Since some members of the Jamaat have come from great distances how is it possible for me to send them away without meeting them. Therefore I will definitely meet them.”
Dr. Mirza Munawar Ahmad made it a condition that Huzoor would only shake hands with the visitors and would not get involved in any dialogue. Huzoor started meeting the visitors and in fact, after shaking hands he conversed with them for an hour and three quarters. Signs of weakness were apparent on Huzoor’s face and one could clearly see that he was unwell. Nevertheless, he met the visitors and only returned after having seen all of them.
A missionary once complained to Huzoor that the Anjuman had refused to pay a few hundred Rupees due to him. Huzoor passed the application on to Sadar Anjuman Ahmadiyya who held that in accordance with the Rules and Regulations no amount was payable to the missionary concerned. On perusal of the report, enclosed in an envelope, Huzoor gave me six or seven hundred Rupees and instructed me to send for the missionary and explain to him that being bound by their own Rules and Regulations the Anjuman could not accept his claim. Therefore, the missionary was advised to withdraw his claim and accept from Huzoor the amount that he had claimed. Accordingly, the whole amount was paid to the missionary concerned. Often when either a son or a daughter of a missionary or a Devotee of Life would get married, Huzoor would send for me, put a reasonable amount of money in an envelope and instruct me to deliver it on his behalf. On occasion, the cash enclosed in the envelope would be in thousands. The gratification that Huzoor derived from these gifts is beyond description.
Huzoor strictly adhered to what had been enjoined in the Hadeeth ‘He who does not show gratitude to others does not show gratitude to Allah’. He would glorify Allah all the time. He would also advise Ahmadis to show gratitude to God. He once gave a certain medicine to an Ahmadi and asked him to use it along with honey. The recipient said that it was very difficult to obtain pure honey. Huzoor said to him
“I am prepared to give you pure honey but on the condition that for every spoon that you use you will express gratitude to the Almighty 2,000 times as in accordance with a Divine command 2,000 bees have to work hard to collect a spoonful of honey. These bees derive nectar from flowers in an area of a mile and a half. It is in this way that a clear, pure, aromatic, life giving, naturally sweet honey is prepared. It is therefore incumbent upon us that every moment of our lives we should remain engaged in thanking Allah for His gift and while consuming every single drop of honey we should recall Allah’s blessings in that He has, of His own Mercy and Grace, instructed hundreds and thousands of bees to prepare syrupy honey.”
Huzoor remained continuously engaged in the observation of natural phenomena. His speeches are dotted with hundreds of examples where he refers to observation of natural phenomena. He once said that in the Holy Quran the Almighty says:
“And there falls not a leaf but He knows it.” 6:60
Therefore, it is quite apparent that not even a leaf can fall from a tree without His command. Huzoor said that he once chose a Peepal tree for his personal observation. He would sit next to the tree every morning. He observed that some leaves that had become pale should, following the natural pattern, fall, but these remained together with the tree and some apparently green and healthy leaves fell. Had the natural law been in force all the time the yellow leaves should have fallen first only to be followed by the green leaves. However, the green leaves that received Divine command, in obedience to Him, fell ahead of the yellow ones.
Huzoor mentioned another example. He said that in the event of a hailstorm crops in some fields are ruined and in other fields, under identical circumstances, remain perfectly secure. The natural laws are equally applicable to both but the Almighty of His own will suspend the natural law and the crops in some fields remain safe. In a way the natural laws operate but subject to the Divine Command.
He showed great interest in research. From time to time he would prove the truth of Islam based on his research. Once he said that because of research it had been established that gold and silver are also constituents of the human brain. Earlier on doctors had believed that gold was not a component of the human body; therefore they prescribed kushta (oxide) of gold, which would be excreted naturally. He said that another matter that had been established because of research is that in the female brain the content of gold is only half of that in the brain of males. The results of this research prove the wisdom of the instructions of the Holy Prophet that men should not wear gold. The amount of gold needed in the male brain is adequate and therefore they have been prohibited from wearing gold. Since the female share is not as much they are permitted to wear gold ornaments.
I have had the privilege of being a recipient of continuous kindnesses, affection and love for a period of seventeen years. Because of Huzoor’s kindness and love every single particle of my body prays that in the next world the Almighty God will grant Huzoor the proximity of his master, Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (saw). Amen.
I was privileged to be included in Huzoor’s entourage when he toured Europe and America. While in America, I served him as his Private Secretary.
For a long time I have been in the habit of drinking coffee every morning at 11 a.m. Almost exactly at that hour, I hanker after coffee. Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib was aware of the habit of mine. When Huzoor toured Europe, which included a visit to Scotland, I was asked to drive his car. Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib travelled with Huzoor. Before leaving London, in a somewhat sarcastic manner, Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib said to me:
“How will you manage as Huzoor will not stop for coffee at 11 o’clock?”
I said that God does arrange for procuring what one is habituated to. Chaudhry Sahib laughed at my response. On our way from London to Scotland, a quarter of an hour before 11 o’clock I saw a board for ‘Services’. I slowed down and signaled for turning left. Huzoor enquired why I was leaving the Motorway. I said that right ahead are Services where the toilets are neat and clean where we could make a stop for a while. We could make use of the washing facilities and stretch our legs. Huzoor liked the idea and said that he himself wanted to get out of the car and relieve himself. When the car came to a stop and Huzoor stepped out, Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib chuckled a bit. He said to me:
“Somehow you have managed to stop for your coffee at 11 o’clock!”
I also laughed. On enquiry, Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib told Huzoor that I was in the habit of drinking coffee at 11 o’clock. He also told him of our conversation prior to leaving London. Huzoor was also amused. For me a bonus arose from that incident. From then on, a few minutes before 11 o’clock Huzoor would say to me:
“It’s nearly 11 o’clock; you can make a stop for your coffee.”
In 1970, when I was appointed as Huzoor’s Private Secretary, at exactly 11 o’clock, even while busy reading his mail, he would say:
“You can go and have a cup of coffee. I will continue reading the mail.”
On the very first day of my appointment as Private Secretary at Rabwah Huzoor said to me:
“I want you to be my driver. While you are driving I remain tranquil.”
Therefore, during a period of eighteen months, while I was Huzoor’s Private Secretary at Rabwah I had the honor of driving his car. During that period, on one occasion, while I was driving Huzoor’s car Hadhrat Dr. Mirza Munawwar Ahmad was seated in the front next to me. As usual, Huzoor and Begum Sahiba occupied the rear seat.
Mian Munawwar pointed out to me that the exterior of the car was covered in dust and that I should take care to see that it is clean. Huzoor did not like this comment and addressing Mian Sahib, in a voice a little louder than usual,
“Munawwar! It is a favor of the Imam Sahib that he drives my car. In fact, he is not a driver but my Private Secretary. Cleaning the car is not his responsibility. Others are employed for this purpose.”
That evening when we went out for a walk, Mian Munawwar Ahmad said he was sorry that he made that remark.
In 1971, when for the second time Huzoor sent me to England as Imam of the London Mosque and Missionary in Charge, out of the compassion of his heart he said to me:
“As you are my Private Secretary I do not really wish to send you to England. However, many of the British Jamaat has written to me asking me to post you back to England. I am, therefore, asking you to go to England unwillingly.”
Two days before my departure Huzoor had marquees erected in his own compound and threw a party for me to which, apart from members of the family of the Promised Messiah some other dignitaries such as Nazirs and Wakeels were invited. For me this was the greatest tribute.
While I was his Private Secretary at Rabwah, with great hesitation, I said to Huzoor that I wished to invite him and Begum Sahiba for a meal at my house but I was fully aware of my station. Huzoor replied instantly:
“Why not? We will come to your house for a meal whenever you like.”
I was thrilled and a few days later after making the necessary arrangements, I invited Huzoor, Begum Sahiba and some of their children for a meal at my house. Huzoor and the members of his family came along. My parents, a sister and her children were staying with me and they too participated in the get-together. Huzoor stayed until late at night and held a discussion on various subjects.
Although my residence was only a few paces from my office, as soon as I assumed charge, Huzoor kindly told me that my midday meal would be sent to me from his residence. This routine remained in force for a period of eighteen months. At the exact time fixed for lunch my meal would be sent to my office. Once or twice, I humbly submitted that my house was very close to my office and there was really no need for my meal to be sent from Huzoor’s residence. However, Huzoor did not agree and until the day I left for England this practice continued.
It is totally impossible for me to record the never-ending favors and love that I was recipient of during those days.
I have seen Huzoor from close quarters and I always found him to be God fearing, an arch lover of God and a spiritual giant. His interior and exterior were identical. He was a very shy person. He habitually covered and concealed faults of others. He never kept a grievance in his heart. Even when he got cross, he soon forgave. Throughout the time that I worked with him, his favors were showered upon me continuously. He would take care of my smallest needs. He would address me as ‘Imam Rafiq’ in an affectionate manner. In all his European and American tours, he included me in his entourage. While meeting Heads of State and other important political figures he would always keep me with him. The treatment of Hadhrat Mansoora Begum Sahiba was of the same pattern. Her treatment to me was that of a kind and benevolent mother.