Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 54: Education and Tarbiyyat Activities
When I first arrived in England, the Jamaat mainly consisted of young married couples and therefore there was no problem about Tarbiyyat of their children. However, in 1962 very many from Pakistan, India and East Africa migrated to England. Obviously, they came with their children. There was therefore an obvious need to organize programs for the Tarbiyyat of the children and the young on a sound basis so that our new generation may not become a victim of the western influence and so that they may not lose their identity and their culture. This was indeed a very important undertaking. I held consultations with the Executive Committee, the Khuddam, the Ansaar and the Lajna Imaullah. I sought assistance from Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan and from the Centre. After prolonged consultations, the following proposals emerged:
A Sunday school must be established in the Mosque where young children would be taught to read the Holy Quran and learn some of the basics of the Faith.
For the Tarbiyyat of the new generation, in a simple language, covering Islamic subjects some books may be prepared. The younger generation may be provided opportunities to practice delivering speeches so that they might use the skill in Tableegh. They may also be invited to write articles on Islamic subjects.
1. In every year, a few days may be set apart during which, the new generation in particular and other members of the Jamaat in general should remain engaged in Tableegh for the whole day.
The first task performed under this program was the establishment of a school where Bashir Ahmad Khwaja took charge as its Headmaster. A.R. Chaudhry, Daud Ahmad Gulzar and Moulvi Abd ur Rahman assisted him. Later on Malik Abd ul Azeez also joined the teaching staff. On 18th October 1964, not only children who lived near the Mosque but also some who lived at a distance started to attend the school. Their parents would bring them to the Mosque. By the Grace of Allah, many dozens of children learnt to read the Holy Quran and they learnt much of other Islamic subjects. In this manner, our duty of religious Tarbiyyat was also discharged to a degree. Even today, this school functions on a large scale and is rendering valuable service.
As suggested by Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan weekly seminars meant particularly for the older children began to be held. Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib and I addressed every seminar. Some other scholars and missionaries were also invited to address. Laeeq Ahmad Tahir who was then the Deputy Imam involved himself in this effort with great enthusiasm. The younger generation profited a lot as they were blessed with the company and proximity of Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib. This was no less than a great bounty. One of those young men is currently the National Ameer of the United Kingdom i.e. Rafiq Ahmad Hayat. His brother Laeeq Ahmad Hayat was also a member of that class. A list of those students who participated in the seminars is very lengthy but, I can say that by the Grace of Allah, all of them are now engaged in serving the Jamaat as Office Bearers.
Under the auspices of Lajna Imaullah, guided by Mrs Salaam the Sadar, separate classes were held for female children. By the Grace of Allah, the young children who benefited from the class are now grown up young ladies and are engaged in serving the Jamaat. The efforts made by Mrs Salaam and her active team to save our young female children from the detrimental effects of the western environment will be written in gold in the History of Ahmadiyyat. It is my wish that if Allah enables her, Mrs Salaam would herself record the services rendered by her team so that others in the Jamaat will become aware and pray for them.
The second part of the program consisted of preparing books for the children. A beginning was made by publishing ‘The Muslim Prayer Book’. This book became most popular and has been translated into many languages.
I also wrote a book entitled; ‘Islam – My Religion’ and three or four editions have since been published. The book gained great popularity. With great diligence and hard work, Chaudhry Rasheed Ahmad prepared a number of books for the children and all of them became very popular.
Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan kindly translated ‘Shamaele Tirmizi’ into English and called the book ‘The Prophet at Home’. This book proved a bounty for the younger generation. Two or three editions have been published since. Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib also translated hundreds of Traditions of the Holy Prophet. A book entitled ‘The Wisdom of the Holy Prophet’ was published by the British Mission. Some of the younger generation memorized some and many became familiar with the traditions.
The third part of the program consisted of training the younger generation to deliver speeches. It was agreed that in the monthly meetings of the Jamaat at least one youngster would speak. Also a Declamation Contest would be held each year. To encourage the successful speakers philanthropic members of the Jamaat would be asked to provide shields and members of the teams would be given trophies. This practise continued for many years and many youngsters participated with great enthusiasm. Both individually and as a part of team members from Gillingham, Birmingham, Bradford and London joined in these contests. As a result, the task of Tarbiyyat was fulfilled to some extent. Members were not only provided training in speaking but some also got involved in research work. Many from amongst those who participated became very good speakers and now rank amongst the best.
Mansoor Ahmad Shah as Secretary of this programme did excellent work.
The fourth part of this programme consisted of generating a wish and a desire for Tableegh amongst the new generations. Every year a few days were set apart for Tableegh.
The first Tableegh day was celebrated on 17th March 1968. Many young and many of advanced age gathered in their own localities and prepared placards on Islamic subjects. Pamphlets styled as ‘Introduction of Islam’ and ‘Islam a Religion of Peace’ was printed. After collective silent prayers young and old spread them in their respective localities and remained engaged in Tableegh for the whole day. They returned to their respective centres in the evening and shared with each other their experiences during the day. Both the BBC and The Times made a mention of this first ‘Yaum e Tableegh’ and some local papers also made a reference to it. Some photographs of Ahamdi men and women engaged in Tableegh were also published. This programme continued on a permanent basis and as a result not only did many join the fold of Ahmadiyyat but also the message of Ahmadiyyat was extended to very many. As a result considerable enthusiasm for Tableegh was generated. In short, the exercise was a great success.
For the education and Tarbiyyat of the Jamaat another significant programme in the shape of a Taleem ul Quran Class was launched on instructions from Hadhrat Chaudhry Zafrulla Khan. Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib, some other missionaries and I used to address this class every other week. Participants were encouraged to ask questions. A very large number attended and the class successfully continued for many years.
It is necessary to make a mention of another matter in which Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib and I played an important role. In spite of his advancing years, Chaudhry Sahib used to attend the Tarbiyyati Class with great regularity. He would address meetings of the Jamaat and at my request on many dozen occasions, he delivered Friday sermons. He would accompany me on my tours of various Jamaats and in a most admirable manner discharge responsibilities in connection with the education and Tarbiyyat of the Jamaat. I cannot recall a single occasion when I requested him for any job for the Jamaat and he turned me down. He would share with me the pain and pleasure pertaining to the Jamaat and remained diligently engaged in solving problems confronting any members of the Jamaat. He would visit their houses and would engage himself in discourse on educational and Tarbiyyati subjects. To be honest, I would say that throughout the time he was based in England and that covered the major part of my service as Imam, very many tasks could not have been satisfactorily attended to without his advice, help and active co-operation. It was a piece of great good fortune of the British Jamaat that a great well-wisher, sincere and God Fearing teacher was available to them. O Allah grant Hadhrat Chaudhry Sahib a truly elevated status in the hereafter. He was truly Your arch lover. He had reserved every moment of his life for the benefit of humankind. Although financially he was extremely well off for Your sake he passed his days most frugally. He was truly great but he always behaved with great humility. He was an arch lover of the Promised Messiah who in turn was an arch lover of Your Messenger Muhammad (saw). He was wholly obedient and subservient to them both.