CHAPTER 65: FINANCIAL COMMISSIONER PUNJAB VISITS QADIAN

Land purchased for school

One of the growing responsibilities and needs of the Ahmadiyya Organization was the expansion of Madrasah Talim-ul-Islam (School of Islamic Education) which was currently a high school lodged in an ordinary mud building located inside the town. A suggestion was made to construct a spacious boarding house and academic building for the school. 

Consequently, a vast tract of land inthe north of Qadian was purchased from the Ahmadiyya Organization’s own funds collected from monthly member donations. Specialdonations were requested for the construction of the buildings during the Annual Conventions of the years 1906 and 1907. In the year 1908, Maulvi Muhammad Ali, who was the secretary of the Central Anjuman (Association), Qadian took the matter up in earnest andstarted col- lecting funds for the purpose.

Financial Commissioner of Punjab visits Qadian

While the land purchased for the school was still lying undeveloped, Mr. Wilson (the Financial Commissioner of Punjab) announced that he would stop in Qadian during his official tour of the area.

Since Mr. Wilson had accepted Hazrat Mirza’s and his Organization’s invitation to be their guest during his visit to Qadian, the tract of land for the school was cleared and leveled so that the tents and other dwelling accompaniments of the hon- orable guests could be accommodated there. In addition, a gate was erected with a“WELCOME” sign on it, and a platform was constructed next to it on which the dignitaries of the Organization could be seated to welcome the guests.

On Saturday, March 21, 1908 Mr. Wilson accompanied by Mr. King, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, the Settlement Officer, and Mr. Wilson’s Private Secretary arrived at the venue around 11:00 A.M. Khwaja Kamal-ud- Din, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, and Khwaja Jamal-ud-Din, went on horseback to receive the visiting party a mile outside the town. They accompanied the visiting party to the camp where a large number of dignitaries from the Organization, which included many from out of the station, were assembled to receive the honorable guests.1 

The visiting party was greeted by Maulvi Muhammad Ali, secretary of the Central Anjuman, who then introduced Mr. Wilsonto other members of the reception party.

Mr. Wilson had accepted the Organization’s invitation to host the din- ner that night. However, in accepting the invitation, Mr.Wilson had expressed the wish to meet with Hazrat Mirza if that would not be too bothersome for the latter. When this wish was conveyed to Hazrat Mirza, he stated that since Mr. Wilson was their guest, he would go after the Asr prayer to meet him. Accordingly, in the evening around 5:00 P.M. Hazrat Mirza along with a few disciples went to the camp to meet Mr. Wilson. The Financial Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner were waiting for him in the tent for guests.

The meeting lasted for nearly forty-five minutes, and the conversation ranged over a variety of topics. Upon Mr. Wilson’s inquiry, Hazrat Mirza expressed his displeasure at the rebellious activities of the Congress Party, and explained the real Islamic meaning of Jihad. However, he expressed his conviction that encouraging the use of domestic manufactures would be very beneficial for the local populace.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the two guests expressed their great pleasure and thanked Hazrat Mirza for his hospitality. As Hazrat Mirza emerged from the meeting, such a large number of Organization members had assembled outside that it became difficult for him to walk. So Hazrat Mirza stopped just before the outskirts of the town and started bidding them farewell by shaking their hands.

But the crowd was so large that it was a long wait for most people just to shake Hazrat Mirza’s hand. The next day, The FinancialCommissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, and their accompanying officials departed from Qadian.

Hazrat Mirza’s simplicity and self-effacement

Because of the Financial Commissioner’s visit, a large number of peo- ple had come to Qadian and the situation became akin to a Convention gathering. The day of March 20, 1908 was a Friday, and so the people coming from out of station came a day earlier to join the Friday congregational prayer in Qadian.

Because of the large number of attendees, the Mubarak Mosque could notaccommodate all the worshippers. Hazrat Mirza therefore directed that the congregational prayer be held in the larger Central Mosque. As soon as the announcement was made that the venue had changed, people who had gathered in the Mubarak Mosque started hurrying toward the Central Mosque.

Since the public entrance and exit of the Mubarak Mosque was at the back of the Mosque, the people sitting in the back rows had the advantage of exiting first. The early arrivals in the Mubarak mosque who were sitting in the front row got left behind in the race to the Central Mosque, I (the author)being among them. When I reached the Central Mosque, all the places inside the mosque building had been taken and I could only find aplace in the first row being formed in the courtyard. My place in the row was just opposite the middle arched gateway into the mosquebuilding.

Contrary to normal practice, a prayer-rug had been placed for Hazrat Mirza near the place where the imam would stand to lead theprayers — I say that this was anomalous because special arrangements were never made in the mosque for Hazrat Mirza; he would stand on the same cotton rug on which the other worshippers stood to pray. Before the Mubarak Mosque was extended, Hazrat Mirza used to stand in the first row behind the Imam, but later when the number of worshippers increased and space became very lim- ited, Hazrat Mirza would stand to the right of the Imam in a small vestibule in the front of the mosque. 

In the Central Mosque, Hazrat Mirzawould stand in the first row behind the Imam but no special prayer rug or other arrange- ment was made for him. But today because ofthe large number of worshippers, the disciples had probably spread out a prayer carpet to act as a place holder for him.

I was distraught because the place Hazrat Mirza would stand to pray was far away from me. It was inside the mosque and I was out in the courtyard. Sheikh Rahmatullah and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din were standing near the prayer-rug designated for Hazrat Mirza, and were waiting for his arrival. I was looking at them, feeling very envious of their good fortune that they would soon be seated near Hazrat Mirza, and thinking ruefully that it must be the shortcoming of my deeds that I would be seated so far away from him. 

While I was occupied by these thoughts, Hazrat Mirza arrived in the mosque. A huge crowd was following him and it appeared to me as if a bright moon was coming being followed by a cloud. 

As he reached the courtyard, our eyes met and his countenance lit up with happiness. Hazrat Mirza addressed me and said: “Aha! You have come too.” I replied, “Yes Sir! I am in attendance.” He kept conversing with me and sat down next to me, all the time having a smile on his face. Some people thought that perhaps Hazrat Mirza would go inside the mosque once he had concluded his conversation with me, and they inquired accordingly, but Hazrat Mirza directed that Maulana Nur-ud-Din should commence the Friday sermon, and kept sitting next to me.

The worshippers inside the mosque could only rue their luck while I was ecstatic about God’s blessing on me and my good luck. At the same time, I was amazed at the simplicity and humility of Hazrat Mirza. Here was this great and magnificent man, the leader of a huge organization, a person to be obeyed; it behooved him to walk majestically to his reserved place next to the Imam.

But such ideas never even crossed his mind — he was a living example of brotherhood and egalitarianism. He never desired any special privileges for himself. Among friends, he appeared to be one of them and made them feel likewise. This was the thing that showed his greatness.

Hazrat Mirza did not lead prayers himself

Hazrat Mirza did not lead the prayers himself. As long as Maulvi Abdul Karim was alive, he led the prayers in Mubarak Mosque, and also delivered the Friday sermon. Maulana Nur-ud-Din delivered the Friday sermon and led the Friday prayer in the Central Mosque. After Maulvi Abdul Karim passed away, Maulana Nur-ud-Din began leading the daily prayers in Mubarak Mosque. But since on Fridays, Maulana Nur-ud-Din had to deliver the sermon in the Central Mosque, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi would lead the Friday prayer and give the sermon in Mubarak Mosque.

Hazrat Mirza always remained especially mindful of fulfilling the prophecies of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Among the Traditions of the Holy Prophet was one that stated: During the time of the Promised Messiah, the prayer leader O Muslims will be one of you.2 

Hence Hazrat Mirza did not lead the congregational prayers himself with the exception ofthe funeral prayer. The funeral prayer is really a prayer for the forgiveness of the dead person and hence he would lead the funeralprayer himself. Towards the end of his life, Hazrat Mirza often felt unwell and weak in the evenings, and the physical enervation madeit impossible for him to go to the mosque for the Maghrib (evening) and Isha (late evening) prayers. He would then pray while sitting in the courtyard of his house and the female members of the household would join in behind him.

Friday Congregational Prayers

As long as Hazrat Mirza remained in good health, the Friday congregational service was held only in the Central Mosque.Towards the end of his life, when his health deteriorated, he started joining the Mubarak mosque congregation on Fridays because theMubarak Mosque was adjoining his residence. When the Mubarak Mosque became filled to capacity on Fridays, the remaining people would go for prayers to the Central Mosque. If for some reason there were many out of station members visiting Qadian, Hazrat Mirza would make an effortand go to the Central Mosque for Friday prayers despite his weakness. The Eid prayers were always held in the Central Mosque.

Footnotes

  1. I (the author) was also among them.
  2. Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah: “…Jesus son of Mary will then descend and Al-Mahdi will invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say:No!…This is the honor from Allah for this Ummat.” Sahih Muslim, Book 1, #1028.

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