Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Sher Muhammad -- My Benefactor:
My association with Hafiz sahib goes back to 1975 when a convention was held in the U.K. The first I saw of him was when he made a speech at a meeting in Woking. It is a measure of my ignorance that I understood very little of it despite the fact that Hafiz sahib had a very simple and lucid style of both speaking and writing. A few weeks later, Hafiz sahib, accompanied by Hazrat Amir Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan sahib, came to visit me. Hazrat Amir had brought with him from Pakistan a list of the names and addresses of Ahmadis resident in the U.K. Using this list, he had embarked upon a campaign to gain members and elicit funds for the Jamaat in the U.K. I was very critical of our then imam in the U.K., the late Maulana Shaikh Muhammad Tufail sahib. Hazrat Amir supported Shaikh sahib, saying that we should help Shaikh sahib and not just criticise him. Hafiz sahib said very little at that meeting and shortly after departed for South America. He was to return to the U.K. many times. It was my good fortune that, as the U.K. Jamaat did not have a place of its own, I had the honour of serving as Hafiz sahibs host.
As he had moved to Lahore from his home town, Khushab, he soon came into contact with Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali. He was much impressed by Hazrat Maulanas deep learning and piety. He had previously read some of the Promised Messiahs works. However, he now embarked upon a detailed research of these writings and discourses. Whenever he saw the word nabi or rasul applied by the Promised Messiah to himself in his writings, not knowing how he made use of such terminology, Hafiz sahib would become agitated. He would then complain to Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali. Hafiz sahib used to relate how Hazrat Maulana would gently request Hafiz sahib to be patient and everything would become clear.
Once Hafiz sahibs questions had been answered and he joined the Jamaat, his faith in the fact that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the mujaddid of the fourteenth century, and the Messiah and Mahdi promised by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, never wavered for a moment. As Justice Van Den Heever said in her judgment in Jassiem v Muslim Judicial Council (the second case of 1987):
I have no doubt as to the sincerity of the belief of this witness that Mirza was not only a Muslim but a great reformer in Islam, a saint, the Promised Messiah (page 107).
The most remarkable thing was Hafiz sahibs steadfastness in face of the most severe cross-examination, of which I was a witness. Of this the learned judge said:
nor did Mr Hoberman (advocate of the opposite side) succeed in dislodging one iota of his conviction not only that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a saint, a reformer, the Promised Messiah, but also that he himself and all adherents of the Ahmadiyya Movement are Muslims. (page 110).
Later, Hafiz sahib was appointed as the administrator of Anjumans missionary college, which he ran with great success. He never let slip any opportunity to introduce the Promised Messiah and the Jamaat to the people. Central Anjuman offered scholarships to the prospective students for their missionary college. The applicants were required to be Ahmadis. However, some of the applicants were not genuine. They were only applying because they knew that for two years, the Central Anjuman will provide them with free board and lodging as well as pocket money. Soon after these students joined, Hafiz sahib found out. However, he did not report the matter. His view was that real propagation is to serve the poor regardless of their beliefs. In any case, one never knows whose heart Allah may open to the Truth. Although none of these students joined the Jamaat, one of them told Hafiz sahib after leaving that through his studies at the college he had come to regard Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a great Muslim who had done unparalleled service for the cause of Islam.
Work in Fiji
As soon as Hafiz sahib landed in Fiji, he set about his task with great vigour. The sacrifice required to leave ones home and family and to go and live in foreign lands with alien cultures and depend on others is something that only experience can teach. There was great opposition to Hafiz sahib both from the Sunnis and the Qadianis. Members of the Jamaat were demoralised and disorganised because the Jamaat had not functioned as a separate body since the 1930s. Hafiz sahib organised the Jamaats in various towns, travelling great distances to give lectures and discourses of the Holy Quran. He also started a campaign of writing leaflets in Urdu and distributing them throughout Fiji. In some instances his material would be translated into English by members of the Jamaat and published in the newspapers as letters to the editor.
So successful was he that the Sunnis soon requested Maulana Ihtasham-ul-Haq Thanvi to come and destroy this evil. No sooner had Ihtasham-ul-Haq landed in Fiji, that Hafiz sahib started a campaign to force him to give a verdict on whether Ihtasham-ul-Haq would declare his own uncle, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, to be a kafir for allowing a disciple to recite the Kalima as La ilaha ill-Allah, Ashraf Ali rasul-ullah (There is no god but Allah, Ashraf Ali is the Messenger of Allah) instead of in its correct form: La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah). After a few feeble excuses, Ihtasham-ul-Haq fled from Fiji, and he was never seen in those parts again. In the same way, for so long as Hafiz sahib remained in Fiji, the Qadiani khalifa did not visit there, despite requests from the local Qadiani Jamaat. Having established Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam as the greatest force, in a short time, Hafiz sahib collected sufficient funds to be able to purchase Muslim Leagues property. Having purchased this property, he then set about the most ambitious project the building of the largest mosque in the Pacific. It took many years of hard work and fierce opposition, with the Sunnis threatening any construction company that took part in the project. Hafiz sahib toured the globe many times making appeals for funds. He saw the completion of this mosque, called Masjid-i Nur, and another smaller one called Muhammad Ali mosque before he left Fiji for the U.S.A.
Work for Survival
of Jamaat after 1974:
In 1975, Hafiz sahib toured the Jamaats in various cities of Holland and raised their morale through his speeches. In the same way, he visited Suriname where certain members of the Suriname Islamic Association which had been associated with the Central Anjuman for fifty years, wanted to break away and join Rabita. Here again, Hafiz sahib made a great contribution to the success of the referendum ordered by the courts to decide whether the Suriname Islamic Association was to remain linked to the Ahmadiyya Movement or become turn-coats and join Rabita. He made speeches, he had debates, he appeared on television, and he spoke on the radio. Allah granted the Ahmadis victory against the evil machinations of our enemies. When Hafiz sahib visited U.S.A. and Canada, indeed whenever he visited any country, he went to great pains to seek out Ahmadis and their children who had migrated to those parts. He would then encourage them to organise a Jamaat. It was, in the main, through his efforts that Jamaats were formed in U.S.A. and Canada.
He made a great contribution to the work of the U.K. Jamaat. When this Jamaat was formed, some Sunnis from Woking published a booklet against us and challenged us to a debate. I contacted Hafiz sahib who immediately accepted the challenge to a written debate. This was made known to these persons but we did not hear from them again. Another time, in response to a letter I had written to the press, the Qadianis started corresponding with me. I requested Hafiz sahib for help. After each side had written three letters, the Qadianis ran away. Sometimes I would receive questions about the Jamaat that I could not answer. I would write to Hafiz sahib, and back would come a scholarly reply. I would myself raise questions, or objections that I had heard for which I could not find a convincing reply, and Hafiz sahib was only too happy to reply. He sat half way across the world from me and yet I learnt more from him than from any of our imams stationed in London.
Every time Hafiz sahib visited London, he brought with him addresses of Ahmadis from many countries resident here. He would visit them all at his own expense, encouraging them to take part in the activities of the Jamaat.
Second Court Case
in Cape Town:
On one occasion, while on the way to South Africa from Lahore, he even neglected to collect his essential medication. In Lahore, he wanted to discuss matters with Hazrat Amir and therefore did not have time. In Karachi, Mian Umar Farooq sahib and other members went to see him and he could not get away. The result was that by the time I collected him from London airport, he was having breathing difficulties. As it was late on a weekend, it was with great difficulty that I obtained the necessary medication. Many people borrowed money from him. They were not honest enough to pay him back, and he did not want to ask for repayment, in case it caused a problem in the Jamaat. His hospitality was legendary. He may not have much money but he would insist that his guests have a proper meal before leaving. He also had a great passion for books. He spent both his time and money on just two things: hospitality and books. I hope and pray that the library he spent a life-time collecting, and which has many rare items, is preserved at Dar-us-Salaam in Lahore.
I will always remember Hafiz sahib with great affection as my benefactor the man who developed in me an interest in the Jamaat, the man who patiently answered all my questions (many of which seem to be silly on reflection) and the man who never treated me with derision or contempt despite his great knowledge and my equally great ignorance. May Allah grant him a high place amongst His beloved.