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Articles Section > 'The Islamic Review' Archive > In Memory of Imam Muhammad Anwar by Dr. Zahid Aziz


In Memory of Imam Muhammad Anwar:
by Dr. Zahid Aziz
The Islamic Review, June/July 1986, pp. 16 - 17, 21


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The tragic news of the assassination of Mr. Muhammad Anwar, Imam and missionary of the Central Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at-i Islam, Lahore (Pakistan) stationed in London, on 9 April 1986 in Georgetown, Guyana, will have become generally known by now. On Saturday 12 April, an informal gathering of a shocked and grieving U.K. Jama'at [branch] and its friends took place in the London Centre, at which I recited and explained some verses of the Quran which have a direct bearing on what happened and on the situation in which we find ourselves. Hazrat Ameer Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan had instructed on the phone from Lahore that the following verse should be mentioned in particular:

"Say: Nothing will afflict us except that which Allah has ordained for us. He is our Patron; and on Allah let the believers rely. Say: Do you await for us but one of the two most excellent things? (9:51, 52).

The believers are here told to reply, in the words given above, to their enemies who were attacking them with the aim of wiping them off the face of the earth. The "two excellent things" are (1) attaining victory, or (2) dying in the struggle. The believers who struggle in the path of God are told to say that one or other of these two excellent things will happen to them. So they cannot be losers in either case.

The following verse gives a description of those who struggle in the way of God:

"Surely Allah has bought from the believers their person and their property - theirs in return is the Garden. They fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Quran. And who is more faithful to his promise than Allah? Rejoice, therefore, in your bargain which you have made. That is the mighty achievement. Those who turn to Allah, who serve Him, who praise Him, who fast, who bow down, who prostrate themselves, who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and who keep to the limits prescribed by Allah" (9:111-112).

The mujahids are those who treat their lives and property as belonging to God. The words "They fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain" are a digression from the main theme, to indicate the circumstances of the Muslims at the time. The verse, and the promise and the bargain spoken of in it, applies generally to believers who undertake the appropriate mode of struggle for Islam which is relevant to their times. In our age, this struggle consists of publicising the teachings of the faith in their true light. Although this jihad is not a physical fight, yet the mujahid can still risk his life, and lose it in the course of duty. In return for bearing this risk is a high spiritual rank according to God. It may be noted that our bai'at to "hold the service of the faith above worldly interests" is really the same as selling one's person and property (worldly interests) to Allah (i.e. service of the faith), which is the bargain mentioned in this verse.

At the end, the passage above mentions the qualities to be possessed and displayed by those who strive in Allah's way. This throws much light on the concept of who is a mujahid and shaheed (martyr). Unfortunately, it is popularly believed that a soldier of a Muslim country's armed forces is what is meant by a mujahid, and if he is killed in action he becomes a shaheed. This verse negates such ideas. No one can be a mujahid unless he leads a life in which he shows these qualities (of turning to God, serving Him, etc.). To be a shaheed is to die, or be killed, while leading a life of struggle for the cause of Islam, a life in which these qualities were constantly displayed.

Bearing this in mind, Mr. Muhammad Anwar was certainly a shaheed. He had devoted his life to the cause of Islam, through the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, and was cheerfully, without the slightest complaint, bearing all sorts of hardships in the conduct of his jihad. Day in and day out, he was engaged in a struggle in the way of Allah. So hard was his work that the pressure often caused him spells of migraine. Yet he accepted this in Allah's way. And while doing this work, he undoubtedly showed the spiritual qualities required in the above verse. Looking at each one of these qualities, we can still visualise Mr. Anwar embodying them. Allah's name and His praise were ever on his lips. His prayers were sincere, humble and charged with spiritual life. He was a deeply Godly man. Another verse in the Quran reads:

"Among believers are men who are true to the covenant they made with Allah; so of them is he who has accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet awaits, and they have not changed in the least" (33:23).

The pledge (bai'at) taken in Ahmadiyyat to serve the faith of Islam is a "covenant made with Allah," since it is made with the mujaddid sent by Allah to call people to this service. One from amongst us has passed away who was true to the covenant he made with God, true to the very last, and hence he has accomplished his vow. We pray that there now remain amongst us those "who are yet waiting," those who shall be true to their covenant till they have accomplished their vow, and that they shall not change in the least in their resolve.

The following verse underlines the importance of jihad as a requirement in Islam:

"The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, then they doubt not, and struggle hard [Arabic: jihad] with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah" (49:15).

Here it is said that only those are true believers who take part in jihad. In this age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has performed the great miracle of unravelling the true meaning of jihad. It never meant war or a physical fight. It was the special circumstances under which the early Muslims had to fight, which made their battles into one form of jihad. In fact, they had been engaged in jihad long before they ever fought a battle. Hazrat Mirza showed that the collective jihad of the Muslims in this age (as distinct from the permanent individual jihad of self-purification) is to combat unbelief and to spread the truth by means of pen. And to do this, one needs to sacrifice property and life, just as in the early Muslim wars. Hazrat Mirza was not only a scholar who explained what jihad really is, but he was also a spiritual man who was able to influence many persons in his time to devote their lives to that struggle. This influence has been so penetrating that its effect has continued for long after Hazrat Mirza's death. Mr. Anwar was in the illustrious list of persons who devoted their lives at the call of the Messiah and undertook this jihad.

Those characteristics of jihad which are mentioned in the Quran specifically in connection with the Holy Prophet Muhammad's wars actually apply to other forms of jihad as well, including the type of jihad conducted by this Jama'at. This jihad, too, like those wars, can mean leaving your home and its comforts, and going to unknown places, risking life and limb. Mr. Anwar was, in fact, at the time of his death, doing jihad upon jihad, because he had gone forth to a jihad in Guyana while being permanently on a jihad in England from Pakistan.

Those who suffer loss while striving in the way of God receive the highest spiritual rank, as the Quran says:

"Speak not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive but you perceive not. And We shall certainly try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits. And give good news to the patient who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah's, and to Him we shall return" (2:154-156).

"And think not of those who are killed in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive, being provided sustenance from their Lord, rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace" (3:168).

Persons who are killed in God's way receive a very high form of spiritual life. They are alive in this sense. They are also alive in the sense that we remember them and recall their sacrifices and deeds, and because their entire lives were so exemplary that we wish their example to be emulated by others.

There is also another piece of guidance that the Holy Quran gives us for a situation of this kind. It happened during the Holy Prophet Muhammad's life that when some Muslims were killed struggling in the way of God, and this was a great loss. Some weak-hearted people who had stayed behind began to say that the martyrs would not have lost their lives if they, too, had held back and stayed at home. The Quran says in this connection:

"O you who believe, be not like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren when they travel in the earth or engage in fighting: Had they been with us, they would not have died or been slain" (3:155).

By "their brethren" are meant those relatives of the disbelievers who had become Muslims and had, therefore, to undertake journeys and to fight in the way of God. The believers must not speak in the way indicated here:

"Those who said of their brethren while they themselves held back: Had they obeyed us, they would not have been killed. Say: Avert death from yourselves, if you are truthful" (3:167).

"Those who said" are the weak-hearted persons who did not want to venture forth to face the enemy. Again, it is not right to speak in the way these people did. All persons, even those who stay behind, are bound to face death, and do not know how or when it shall come about. It is entirely mistaken and illusory to think that by not venturing forth in the way of God a person is "safe" from loss and death. Such words must not come upon the tongue, nor must such thoughts be entertained in the mind. The manner of Mr. Anwar's demise shows us clearly, and makes it certain, that he holds a very high rank in God's sight. Still, we pray that Allah admit him into His great mercy and raise him to the highest places in paradise. Ameen. It is a heavy loss for his family. So we pray that Allah give them strength and patience, and that He may Himself be their Guardian and Protector. It must also be said that Mrs. Anwar - Bano - has herself played a key role in the running of this mission and centre. She and Mr. Anwar were a team which did so much work. Mr. Anwar's death is an equally heavy loss for his spiritual family - the U.K. Jama'at. While his family have lost the physical guardianship he provided, the U.K. Jama'at has lost his spiritual and moral guardianship, so we also pray that Allah, Who is Rabb (Lord and Provider) for both physical and spiritual needs, may look after and provide for both Muhammad Anwar's physical and spiritual families.

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Articles Section > 'The Islamic Review' Archive > In Memory of Imam Muhammad Anwar by Dr. Zahid Aziz

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