During March and April of 1902, the province of Punjab was in the grip of a severe outbreak of plague. The appointees of God arefull of affection for God’s creatures. Hazrat Mirza felt the pain of the suffering humanity and wrote a pamphlet to inform the public about measures to protect themselves from the calamity of plague. He titled it Daafe-ul-Bala-wa-Mayaar Ahl-ul- Istifaa (Repeller of the Calamity and the Standard of Chosen People.) This pamphlet was published on April 23, 1902. In this pamphlet, Hazrat Mirzasuggested two curative measures to combat the dreaded disease:
- The first measure was physical in nature and consisted of following some simple rules of hygiene such as keeping away from filth and refuse, keeping houses and gutters clean, maintaining a clean and simple diet, ensuring good ventilation, eradicating rats and mice, getting vacci- nated against plague and upon observing rats dying from the plague, evacuating homes and setting upmakeshift shelters in open spaces, etc. These measures were not foolproof and were certainly not such as to guarantee totalimmunity from the disease. Plague vaccine was effective for only three months, but even during this period, the protection was not complete in that the vaccine only reduced the chances of getting plague but did not eliminate it totally.
- The second measure was spiritual in nature and was the one that would truly be effective. Among the latent causes for the prevalence of plague was the opposition of the people to the truth and their excessive wanton- ness and mischief. Thus, the only realand effective remedy for protection from the plague was to give up sin and wickedness and to make peace with God. In this critical time, he advised the people to turn to the person appointed by God, answer his call to religion, and desist from rejecting and ridiculing him.
Hazrat Mirza referred to the prediction he had made four years earlier regarding the outbreak of plague in the province of Punjab andrepeated the words of that Divine revelation: “Certainly Allah does not change the condition of a nation until the people change thecondition of their souls. Surely He sheltered this town.” The reference to town in this revelation was to the town of Qadian. Hazrat Mirza then elaborated upon the significance of the Arabic word aavaa (to shelter) in the revelation. The word is used in Arabic to mean shel-tering from destruction and anxiety. Thus, the meaning of “Surely He sheltered this town” was that Qadian would not be ravaged byplague in the manner it was ravaging the rest of the countryside where entire habitations were being wiped out, leaving abandonedhomes behind, and a frenzied pop- ulation fleeing the pestilence but falling victim to it in their flight. However, a few stray cases ofplague whose number stayed within the realm of insignif- icance would not be construed as negating the truth of the revelation. In fact,such stray occurrences would accord perfectly with the revelation because the word aavaa implied that God would take Qadian into Hisprotection after it had undergone a certain degree of torment. However, Qadian would not face the situation prevalent in the other towns ofPunjab where the plague was wip- ing out entire villages with their inhabitants finding no place of shelter. God would shelter Qadianbecause His appointee lived in that town. Following this, Hazrat Mirza presented his claims with supporting arguments so thatanyone who accepted his claim would do so on the basis of sound reasoning.
In accordance with the Divine revelation received by Hazrat Mirza, Qadian remained relatively safe from the plague. The fewincidents of plague that took place were isolated occurrences that remained fairly localized and did not become an epidemic as was happening in the surrounding areas of Qadian. The Ahmadiyya colony of Qadian, in particular, escaped virtually unscathed by the scourge. But all around Qadian, the plague was wreaking havoc and the scene was one of utter devastation.
Another revelation that Hazrat Mirza received during these days stat- ed: “Surely I shall protect all those inside this house (daar),except those who are rebellious and proud.” It appeared from this revelation that though plague would not reach epidemic proportions inQadian as it had in other towns, the Divine guarantee of complete immunity was reserved only for members of Hazrat Mirza’s household, and not for those residing elsewhere. So Hazrat Mirza invited several of his close associates to take up residence in hishouse. Maulvi Abdul Karim and his wife were already living in a room on the roof of Hazrat Mirza’s house. Those who now took up residence in Hazrat Mirza’s house included Maulana Nur-ud-Din and family, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi, and Maulvi Muhammad Ali and family. Besides the above mentioned, several other families also took up quarters in Hazrat Mirza’s house. Each family had to make do with a single room.
It never ceased to amaze me how so many families could live in such cramped quarters and yet be so perfectly happy. For themost part, each fam- ily had one room, and some of the rooms were very small. Maulvi Nur-ud-Din’s room was so small that it could barely fit two charpais (cots) with no space left to walk. This same room also had to serve as a place to cook, to take a bath and to storethe necessary accoutrements of life. The two charpais in the room were so designed so that one could fit under the other. During the day, the charpais were stacked one on top of the other to create space for cooking or taking a bath. At night, one of the charpais was draggedout and the bedding was unrolled on it for sleeping.
These people were so intoxicated with the love of their faith that they felt no discomfort. There were happy and contented faces to be seen all around; neither heat nor cold bothered them. It seemed as if they were living in bungalows and palaces, and nobody evercomplained about cramped quar- ters. In the areas surrounding Qadian, the plague raged with fury and the general populace was the verypicture of sorrow and anguish. In Qadian, how- ever, it appeared as if the Ahmadis were peacefully sailing in an ark. There was neither perturbation nor anxiety. Instead, happiness and joy was to be found within the Ahmadi community, there was no trace of fear or sorrow.
Two extraordinary facts
Two extraordinary observations of the period that deserve special men- tion are:
- First, communal living in cramped quarters often gives rise to social ills like immodest behavior, internecine strife, gossiping, backbiting and jealousy. However, in this case, all the families that had taken shelter in Hazrat Mirza’s house were the embodiment of morality, modesty and chastity. The residents were modest of gaze, and there was no internecine strife, no immodesty, and no backbiting. Instead, there was strong camaraderie, and all the inmates gave the impression of being one large, contented and happyfamily.
- The second amazing thing was that when so many people reside in the same house, the quality of the air is bound to be degraded. Thisdeterioration in the quality of air is especially dangerous during times of plague because it enhances the chance of an outbreak. But allthe residents remained healthy and did not even have minor health issues. A couple of very interesting health related incidents areworth narrating from this period:
Illness of Maulvi Muhammad Ali
Maulvi Muhammad Ali was one of the residents of Hazrat Mirza’s house and lived in a room allocated to him. It so happened that Maulvi Muhammad Ali came down with a high fever. Since the plague was ravaging the localities around Qadian, Maulvi Muhammad Ali thought that he had contracted the dreaded disease. Although he was a resident of Hazrat Mirza’s house, the revelation promising protection to the residents was conditional and had made an exception in the case of “those who are rebellious and proud.” Maulvi Muhammad Ali concluded that he had been infected by the plague because of some spiritual shortcoming on his part. This thought so dominated his mind that he summoned Mufti Muhammad Sadiq and began to dictate his will to him.
When Hazrat Mirza was informed of Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s illness, he immediately went to his room and enquired about his health. Maulvi Muhammad Ali replied: “Sir, I have contracted the plague; see what a high fever I have.” Hazrat Mirza responded withgreat emotion: “If you have con- tracted the plague, then I am a liar and my claim of receiving Divine revelation is false.”1 After sayingthis, Hazrat Mirza took Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s hand to check his pulse, and an extraordinary example of God’s power manifested itself. No sooner had Hazrat Mirza’s hand touched Maulvi Muhammad Ali than his body instantaneously became cool and there was no sign of the fever. Maulvi Muhammad Ali is alive today by the grace of God, and he is a witness to the fact that when Hazrat Mirza entered his room he had a high fever and that, when he touched him following his emo- tional statement, there was not even a trace ofthe fever left. Maulvi Muhammad Ali felt well instantly and was able to sit up. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq corroborated this incident and stated that he had touched Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s body only a few minutes before Hazrat Mirza came in and Maulvi Muhammad Ali was burning like a stove. But as soon as Hazrat Mirza touched Maulvi Muhammad Ali, the fever disappeared magically. Such miraclesof Divine power rejuvenate a person’s faith.
Illness of Mir Ishaaq
In the book Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, Hazrat Mirza has recorded some of his spiritual visions. One of the visions recorded concerns the plague epidemic and is narrated as follows: 1
On one occasion I saw Dr. Abdul Hakim Khan, Assistant Surgeon, leaning against the door-post outside the penthouse roomin which I live. Then somebody informed me that Ishaaq’s mother had summoned Abdul Hakim Khan inside the house. (Ishaaq’s mother is Mir Nasir Nawab’s wife, and the three of them reside in our house.) On hearing this, I replied that I shall never let Abdul Hakim Khan enter my house because doing so would be a disgrace to us. Then he disappeared from sight, and did not come inside. Itshould be remembered that in the sci- ence of interpreting dreams, the interpreters have written — and this has been borne by experience many times over — that if an opponent enters someone’s house, it augers the visitation of some calamity or death inthat house.
Dr. Abdul Hakim is currently our arch enemy who awaits our downfall day and night. It is precisely for this reason that God showed him in the vision wanting to enter our house. And the mother of Ishaaq i.e., the wife of Mir Nasir Nawab invites him. The interpreters have stated that the significance of inviting someone is that the inviter on account of certain remissness, known only to God, invites the misfortune into the house i.e., the person’s present condition deserves the visitation of a calamity… Thus the meaning of this dream was just this that some remissness on her part beckoned the enemy into the house but my intercession stopped him from coming in. In the dream, I stopped Abdul Hakim Khan from entering into the house; that is, the blessings of God that are with me deprived the enemy of rejoicing at our dis- tress…The next morning, Mir Nasir Nawab’s son Ishaaq developed a high fever and glandular swellings in both his groins, and was in great distress. It thus became certain that he hadcontracted the plague because incidents of plague had been reported from some villages of the district. The interpretation of the vision became clear and my heart was greatly grieved. I informed Mir Nasir Nawab’s family that I will supplicate, but that they should repent and extensively ask for forgive- ness because I had seen in a vision that they had invited the enemy into the house, and this was an indication of some remissness on their part. And although I know that death and dying is a law of nature fromtime immemorial, but the thought crossed my mind that if — God forbid — someone died in my house of plague, there would be an infernal din denouncing us as liars. And then even if I presented them with a thou- sand signs, it would have no impact on them in the light of their objection, that I had written and published on hundreds of occasions, and stated in front of thousands of people that the residents of my house would not die from the plague. I cannot put into words what I was going through at thattime. I immediately started supplicating, and following the prayers, I witnessed an amazing sign of Divine power.
Within two or three hours, Ishaaq’s fever miraculously subsided, the glandular swellings disappeared leaving no trace behind, and he sat up in bed. Not only this, but he started walking around, running and playing as if he had never had any illness. This isgiving life to the dead.
Although Allah had promised protection to all the residents of Hazrat Mirza’s house through the revelation, “Surely I shall protect all those inside this house,” but there was a proviso, “except those who are rebellious and proud.” Thus anyone who wasrebellious and proud was not in God’s protec- tion even within the confines of Hazrat Mirza’s residence. It was on account of this proviso and some weakness on the part of Mir Nasir Nawab’s wife that Mir Ishaaq came down with the plague. However, Hazrat Mirza’s sup-plications invoked God’s blessings and the danger dissipated miraculously. The protection accorded to the residents of Hazrat Mirza’s house in the rev- elation was conditional, but Hazrat Mirza was given an unconditional guarantee of Divine protection through another revelation that stated: “I will safeguard you especially.” Thus, Hazrat Mirza was given an unconditional Divine promise of immunity from the plague. There was a promise of safety for the other residents of Hazrat Mirza’s house as well but it was not uncon- ditional,and the condition was as stated above.
Of the families that took up residence in Hazrat Mirza’s house, many continued to reside there till the time of his demise. HazratMirza’s affection for them was so great that he could not bear that they should take up residence outside, nor did those people deem it appropriate to go elsewhere. They kept on living in those same cramped quarters, and considered their abode as heaven.
Hazrat Mirza’saffection was so great that if he had had his way, and if it was at all possible, he would have asked all his disciples to reside in his house. For this reason, Hazrat Mirza decided to enlarge his house and appealed for financial contributions from the members of his organization. This appeal was made both separately and also as an integral part of his book, Kishti-e-Nuh. The idea was to allow as many disciples as possible to live within his daar (house). It was under this campaign that he had that portion of the house constructed atop the new guestroom that came to be known as Dar-ul-Barakaat (The House of Blessings).
During the period plague was ravaging the countryside, Hazrat Mirza never tired of inviting his disciples to take up residence in his house. Once, when I went to Qadian along with my family on an extended leave, we were given quarters for some time in NawabMuhammad Ali Khan’s residence.
Later, Hazrat Mirza gave us a rather large room in his own house. At the end of my leave, I returned to Pindi Gheb to resume my employment, and found the area in the grip of a severe outbreak of plague. After some time, I took a few days leave and returned toQadian. I mentioned the plague’s virulence in Pindi Gheb, and also requested Hazrat Mirza for his prayers. He replied very affectionately, “You and your family should all come and stay with us.” I thanked him greatly, but expressed my inability to stay in Qadian because ofwork commitments. Thereupon he affectionately promised again to pray for us.
Hazrat Mirza’s love for humanity led to long supplications and even- tually he announced that any person who followed his teachings, no matter where he was, would be considered to be in his house. For this purpose, he wrote the book Kishti-e-Nuh in which he exquisitely elucidated his teach- ings. What are those teachings? They are a remarkable distillation of the Holy Quranand the Hadith.
- Haqiqat-ul-Wahy: The spiritual vision recorded here is the third of three visions narrated under Sign 143 of the book.