Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 55: My Second Term in England
In April 1987, covering the period that I had the privilege to spend close to Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan I wrote a book entitled ‘Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan - A Few Remembrances’. The book had been printed but I had only received a few copies. The remaining copies were still in the press when the Government of Pakistan confiscated all copies and instructed that, apart from me, the owner of the printing press and some members of his staff should have proceedings started against them and also that an F.I.R (First Information Report) should be registered against all. Accordingly, the owner of the printing press and four of his staff, all of them non-Ahmadis, were arrested. Before I could be arrested, under instructions from Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih IV I reached England. On arrival in England Huzoor appointed me as Additional Wakeel ut Tasneef and permitted me to send for my wife and children. Two weeks later, they also arrived in England.
The major problem that confronted us in England was that of residential accommodation. There was no room in Islamabad and the Jamaat had no other residential accommodation at their disposal. To live in I purchased a flat quite close to the Mosque. I sold the comfortable and beautiful house that I had built for myself in Rabwah and for the second time all of us started living together in England. Since in the past I had served as Wakeel ut Tasneef in Rabwah and had gained some experience in that line I did not therefore have any difficulty in assuming responsibility of the work assigned to me in England. Then again, at every step Huzoor’s supervision and guidance was available to me.
A little later, very kindly, Huzoor appointed me Chairman of the Board of ‘Review of Religions’. While in Rabwah, I had edited this famous magazine for a period of two years. By the Grace of Allah, in that capacity I was enabled to discharge my responsibilities for a lengthy period. Since Mr Orchard, the editor of the magazine and I were old friends and were familiar with each other’s temperament, in the management of the affairs of ‘Review of Religions’, by mutual co-operation, for the second time, there did not surface any difficulty whatsoever. Mr Orchard was a saintly person; he was simple in his demeanour and had attained a very high order in the spiritual world. He was absolutely saturated in the love for Islam and Ahmadiyyat. There was never any disparity between what he said and what he did. He lived the life of a Sufi. To gain the pleasure of Allah, as a Moosi, he had made to bequeathed to the Jamaat one third of whatever he left behind. During his entire life, he always paid to the Jamaat one third of his income. He had strictly limited his own needs. He was extremely brief in his conversation. He had ordered his life to strictly comply with the instruction to say little, eat little and to sleep little. I never heard him indulge in backbiting. He was sympathetic to everyone and he was a well-wisher of everyone. While in his company one felt a strong magnetic field, which invariably left on one a special kind of spiritual impact. May Allah grant him a high order in Heaven.
Professor Mrs Amat ul Majeed Chaudhry has a substantial part in the management of the ‘Review of Religions’ in England. She assisted Mr Orchard and me with great devotion and hard work. She was responsible for printing, proof reading, despatch and other associated odd jobs. She continues to discharge these functions admirably.
A little later, graciously, Huzoor appointed me a Member of the Board of Directors of ‘Al Shirkat tul Al Islamia Ltd.’ and also made me responsible for the MTA Department. In those days, through a Russian satellite, MTA were only able telecast for a few hours a day. For quite a while, as a result of the hard work put in by Saeed Jaswal, Waseem Jaswal and Raja Tahir Ahmad this organ continued to function admirably. From the very beginning the Almighty had granted MTA many hard working and selfless volunteers. Huzoor’s prayers and their extreme hard work made MTA a roaring success. Today it has assumed the shape of a great shady tree.
While I was Additional Wakeel ut Tasneef, by the Grace of Allah and Huzoor’s guidance and supervision, I was enabled to have several books published. To crown all, from 1987 until 1996, the date of my retirement, for a continuous period of nine years, I had the great privilege of working closely with a great Khalifa. That was the sum total of my accomplishments. Throughout this period, I was overwhelmed with gracious benevolence and numerous favors from Huzoor.
During this period I was also enabled to render some service in the field of Tarbiyyat. I was enabled to deliver speeches in the various Jamaats in England as well as to deliver speeches at the Annual Conventions of the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Germany. In 1991 Hadhrat Khalifa tul Masih IV undertook an historic journey to Qadian. I was included in the sanctified group that accompanied Huzoor. Mr Hadi Ali Chaudhry has written a detailed account of the journey that will be printed in due course.
I was also privileged to speak at the Central Annual Conventions held at Rabwah, Qadian, and Islamabad (UK).
At this point I want to make a mention of some friends who are no longer with us. They were all sincere, devoted and hard working members. Mr Bashir Ahmad Hayat worked closely with me throughout the period that I was Imam. He left a very pleasant impression on me. He had a simple temperament and he rendered selfless service. He was a well-wisher of all and he was sympathetic towards all. May Allah forgive him.
Mubarak Ahmad Saqi also served the Movement during this period. Our close relationship was spread over a quarter of a century. He was a simple person and by tradition always prepared to serve. He was always cheerful and was completely harmless. We were very close to each other and we were very fond of each other.
I had another two friends whom I can never forget. They were Ch: Hidayat Ullah Bangvi and Mr Nazir Ahmad Dar. Both these gentlemen having retired from very senior positions remained wholeheartedly engaged in the service of the Jamaat throughout the period of my Imamat. For a long while Ch: Hidayat Ullah Bangvi served as First Secretary in the Pakistan Embassy in London. Mr Nazir Ahmad Dar served as an Inspector General of Police, in Tanzania and for having rendered outstanding service had been honored by awards from the British Government.
When Ch: Hidayat Ullah Bangvi was first posted as Second Secretary in the Pakistan Embassy he came to my office to see me. I was then the Imam of the London Mosque. During this very first meeting, I was deeply impressed by his devotion, sincerity, humility and deep love for the Jamaat. At the very first meeting he made an offer to serve the Jamaat in every way. Soon he would spend all his spare time in the Mission House. He worked in various capacities and soon, as a result of his pleasant demeanour, willingness to help others and humility he created a vast circle of friends for himself. I was particularly impressed to find in him complete harmony between what he did and what he said. He always spoke the truth and in simple words. Although he had served in very high positions it was difficult to find another as obedient as he.
We were very fond of each other and our relationship developed to a stage where we could be real brothers. There are very many incidents in my mind that I would one day, Inshallah, record. I pray that he may be given an exalted position in Paradise.
Mr Nazir Ahmad Dar was a bundle of superb qualities. He always fully discharged his responsibility towards his friends. He was always willing to serve others. He was always found to be a well wisher of all. He adhered to his principles so meticulously that very often some people were offended. However, everyone knew that his heart was filled with love for all. Until the very last day of his life, he continued to serve the Faith. I had a special relationship with him of love and sincerity. As Imam, I worked very closely with him for a long time. He was a perfect example of obedience.
Occasionally he would take a stand but whenever I said anything in my position as the Imam, he would agree and never deviated even slightly from the dictates of obedience.
Both these gentlemen were blessed with the opportunities of being close to the Kholafa of Ahmadiyyat. They presented an excellent example of love and devotion for the Kholafa.
Now we do not physically see so many but we cannot possibly forget them even if we try.
Hadhrat Syed Iqbal Shah was a saintly person with the temperament of a Soofi. He left a very deep impression on me and I learnt a lot from him. He devoted the remaining days of his life for service to the Faith. He would regularly turn up at the Mission House and work in an office next to mine. I have never seen another meek and humble person like him. It appeared that one could see an angel in his person. He would continuously remain engaged in supplications. He was extremely honest and deeply conscious of his duty. He died suddenly and the books of the Jamaat, which he was responsible for keeping, balanced to the last penny.
He was extremely kind to me and dealt with me with love and sincerity. I was younger than his children were but merely because I was the Imam he showed such great respect to me that I would be put to shame. I would often protest and say that I was in need of his prayers. He was a virtuous example for me to follow.
His sons Syed Wali Ahmad Shah and Syed Mansoor Shah, following in the footsteps of their father, hold me dear and are always extremely kind to me. I am deeply indebted to both the brothers.
In the early days of my Imamat it was Mr Daood Ahmad Gulzar who left no stone unturned, day and night, in the service of the Faith. After attending to his personal business, he would spend all the remaining time in serving the Jamaat. He always made supreme efforts to avoid incurring Allah’s displeasure. He was a young man, virtuous and pure. He spent a considerable time in supplications. He was a son of Hadhrat Moulvi Qudrat Ullah Sanori, a Companion of the Promised Messiah PBUH. He tried his best to follow his father’s example.
Apart from the few friends who have passed away and whom I have mentioned above there are very many others who are still alive. They too worked with me very closely and diligently and they too carried out meritorious work. Since they are still in the ‘land of the living’, I do not think it appropriate for me to mention them by name. May Allah shower His Blessings on all of them.