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The Great Mujahid: Life Story of Maulana Muhammad Ali

Part 4: Recollections of Maulana Muhammad Ali

4. Memories of my beloved
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Part 4
Recollections of
Maulana Muhammad Ali

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4. Memories of my beloved

by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui

The late Maulana Muhammad Ali was my brother-in-law, husband of one of my sisters, and because of this close relationship I had much occasion, as would be usually expected, to see him and stay with him. In fact, I had even greater opportunity to be close to him because from 1922 to 1929 I was studying in a college in Lahore and lived right next to Ahmadiyya Buildings. In that time I saw him every day. During the long summer vacation in the college I had the good fortune to stay with him at Dalhousie, where I used to live in his house and was thus in his company day and night. Later on, when I was in government service in Bombay, the Hazrat Maulana paid a visit there twice and stayed at my house. Lastly, fortunately for me, he spent the last three summers of his life with me at my house in Karachi.

Maulana Muhammad Ali’s personality, qualities, writings and speeches are so distinguished that in the history of Islam he must be ranked among the most renowned men. You will find details of his services and achievements elsewhere in this book. In this chapter I shall speak only of his personal qualities. While his writings and books exist in print and are spread all over the world, and his speeches have been committed to writing, I wish it were possible to have an equally detailed record of his personal qualities.

Widely respected and loved

Even strangers who met the late Hazrat Maulana were captivated by him. It is no small tribute that there are hundreds of thousands of people who acknowledge his excellent moral qualities, knowledge and learning, and spiritual accomplishments. However, many men can show a good example of themselves to the general public, but very rare are those who can show such an example in private, in their own home, to those who live with them day and night, making them their wholly devoted admirers. The late Hazrat Maulana fulfilled perfectly the sublime criterion laid down in Hadith that “the best of you is he who is best to his family”. His near relations not only held him in the highest possible respect, loved his excellent personal virtues, and regarded him as a very great saint, but they were also entirely devoted to him heart and soul. This is quite remarkable because usually it is among relatives that friction and grievances arise and your relatives are your worst critics.

My late father, Dr. Basharat Ahmad, was himself an outstanding spiritual personage possessing vast knowledge of the Holy Quran, and being Maulana Muhammad Ali’s father-in-law he was the Maulana’s senior. Nonetheless my father respected the Hazrat Maulana, his son-in-law, as a son respects his father who embodies all virtues. My mother was the same, respecting and revering the Hazrat Maulana as a disciple respects his perfect spiritual guide. Likewise, all near relations did the same.

Extraordinary qualities

In addition to spiritual knowledge, religious learning and moral virtues, he had the unexpected quality of being fully conversant with affairs of the world. He was a specialist in mathematics, had an M.A. degree in English, and had passed his law examination with distinction in the entire province. This, however, had been in his youth. After he spurned all worldly ambitions and dedicated his life to the service of religion, he was  engaged day and night for that cause. However, even then he would find time to read newspapers and books to keep abreast of current affairs, so that whenever he expressed his views on world affairs they were knowledgeable and accurate. For this reason, people not only sought his advice in religious and spiritual matters but in worldly affairs as well, and it was mostly sound and correct. God had thus blessed him with both worldly and religious virtues. Although he had no involvement whatsoever in worldly matters, yet he was a well-informed observer of them.

Another extraordinary quality in the late Hazrat Amir was his absolutely strict punctuality and regularity in his work and habits. You could set your watch by him. His times of daily and nightly activities were so fixed and undeviating that he fulfilled all his personal religious and worldly obligations and yet rendered the maximum possible service to Islam. His work in the form of writings and speeches is on such a grand scale that it would have been excusable if he had not been able to fulfil his everyday duties expected of any man. But I observed that he always found as much time as was required to help and care for his relatives, friends and even outsiders. Yet despite this, he would be so busy and engrossed in his writing work as if oblivious of everything else.

During his stays with me in Karachi, when he would rise from his writing table at lunch time, for example, you could tell without looking at the clock that it was five minutes to one because he would always go to perform wudu at that time and come to the dining table at 1.00 p.m. After lunch, followed by the zuhr prayer, he would rest, and when he would emerge from his room we all knew that it was 3.30 p.m. because after working for half an hour he would come to the table for tea at exactly 4.00 p.m. The part of his time which was under his own control was regulated by him like clockwork. If other people disturbed his schedule, he tolerated it because of his pleasant nature.{footnote 1}

His jovial nature

Another of his enviable qualities was that, despite his spiritual exertions and worship, hard work and religious devoutness, he was not at all of a humourless and boring nature, but was always cheerful, laughing and smiling. He used to join his relatives and friends in an informal way and indulge in innocent, good humour.

Once my father was being transferred in the course of his employment from Khanpur to Karnal, and on the way he had to stay in Lahore. There were altogether some twelve to fifteen people in the group that was travelling because, in addition to our own family, there were some orphans and widows who lived with us (of whom he was guardian). Due to insufficient space at the Maulana’s own home, while most of us stayed with him, some were to stay at the house of Chaudhry Zahur Ahmad, my other brother-in-law. The Maulana informed us of these arrangements in his usual humorous manner, saying: “The old, the children and the sick at my place, the fit and healthy at Chaudhry Zahur Ahmad’s”!

Once my father was relating an incident that he was delivering a Friday khutba somewhere in severely hot weather. Due to the shady and cool atmosphere inside the mosque, and the constant, soporific pitch of the sound of the sermon, the members of the congregation were lulled to sleep one by one. This left my father standing there, wondering what to do. When he reached this point in the story, the Hazrat Maulana interjected and said: “You should have sat down and dozed off as well”!

My late father loved me very much and this love between father and son was felt by the whole family. The late Maulana would humorously apply the much-used Christian terms “Father”, “Son” and “love” to our relationship and then laugh and make all of us laugh as well.

Gentle and mild but courageous

Another of the Maulana’s qualities was gentleness and tenderness. In the Holy Quran it says about the Holy Prophet Muhammad:

“Thus it is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them. And had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you.” (3:159)
This was also what the Hazrat Maulana was like. He was so gentle, kind and forgiving in his treatment of others that it was amazing. On the other hand he was brave and courageous to the highest degree. In Dalhousie his residence ‘Darus Salam’ was close to my father’s house ‘Parveen’. Running between these two houses, alongside ‘Parveen’, was a mountain stream. Higher up there were houses and land belonging to some Hindus. The right approach to their houses was on the other side but to be nearer to the road they wanted to make a path through this stream. On this route the Hindu passers-by used to look into the courtyard and veranda of ‘Parveen’, violating the privacy of our girls. This dispute eventually went up to the British Deputy Commissioner of the district, Mr. Kennedy. His head clerk was a Hindu who wrote him notes in favour of the Hindus, so Mr. Kennedy took the other party’s side. With great difficulty he was persuaded to visit the site and see for himself. He came but treated his visit as a mere formality and started to leave without properly examining the situation or listening to the complaint. My father was not even given a hearing. The Hazrat Maulana was standing there, and as the Deputy Commissioner made to leave, he stepped forward, took hold of Mr. Kennedy by his collar and said to him: “Where are you going? Isn’t it your duty to listen to him properly and examine the situation thoroughly?”

Witnessing this scene, my father and all others were utterly dumbfounded — such boldness in the face of a Deputy Commissioner, one who was British and also younger and stronger than the Maulana! To manhandle a government official could itself constitute an offence. Everybody waited to see what would happen next. But by the grace of God Mr. Kennedy was so over-awed by this that he softened in response. He then listened to the complaint and inspected the area. But after returning to his office he gave his decision against us due to the influence again of his Hindu head clerk. Then the help of God came in the form of the start of the rainy season. The rain water washed away their path, and whenever the Hindus rebuilt it the rain would again wash it away. Ultimately they gave up and started using the longer route.

His forgiveness and forbearance

I know several incidents and many persons, not just one or two examples, where people caused the Hazrat Maulana so much hurt and pain that no other man could have forgiven them. But he forgave all of them and continued to treat them with utmost kindness. I have never seen anyone else doing good in return for evil to such an extent. There was a certain man to whom the Maulana had done many favours since his childhood. He committed a clear error but tried to justify it from the religion and insisted to the Maulana that what he had done conformed with religious teachings. Although the Maulana was gentle in nature and in speaking, he would never allow truth and falsehood to be confused. He kept on explaining to him politely that religion did not support him. That man became offended and started telling people, and even writing, that the Maulana was an ‘alim bi-‘amal (a learned man only in theory, who fails to act on his principles in practice), who has knowledge of religion but when it came to applying Islamic principles to certain actions he did not follow the religion or his own learning. Hazrat Maulana must naturally have been much aggrieved by these comments but all he wrote to me was: “It is this man’s generosity that he at least regards me as learned”. I was absolutely amazed.

Similarly, the Hazrat Maulana had an old friend who had great regard for him, but for some reason or other he became displeased with the Maulana (which was not because of any shortcoming in the Maulana’s excellent character or conduct). When his son was getting married he invited all his friends to the wedding but pointedly did not invite the Maulana, even though his sons insisted that he should be invited. As soon as the wedding was over, the Maulana visited him at his house one day to offer his congratulations. Instead of being embarrassed he said to him quite boldly: “Maulana, even though my sons much insisted that I invite you to the wedding, but I did not”. The Maulana smiled and said: “You did what you thought was right and I did what I thought was right”. These are the kind of virtues that are indicated in the saying of the Holy Prophet: “Imbue yourself with the Divine morals”.

His prayers

In Dalhousie, the part of the house in the lower storey where I slept was directly under the room in which Maulana Muhammad Ali said his tahajjud prayer. I would be sleeping in the deep slumber of youth, but if I woke up during the later part of the night then in the utter silence of the mountains and the deadly hush of the forest where this house was located, I would hear the sound of the Maulana’s crying before God coming through the wooden ceiling of my room. I used to wonder as to the overwhelming passion burning in his heart for the propagation of Islam and the difficulties in its way, which made a man who was so content during the day, cheerful and smiling, give up his sleep at night, unable to rest, and cry profusely like a child and plead tearfully like one in great pain. Later, after twenty years had passed and his spirituality had progressed to much higher stages, the Hazrat Maulana spent the summer, during the last couple of years of his life, at my house in Karachi. As during the summer nights it used to feel suffocating indoors, he used to say his tahajjud prayers outside on the terrace. My bedroom was on the upper storey and whenever I woke up during the later part of the night I used to catch the sound of him saying his tahajjud prayer. Now it had acquired a different form. His crying and pleading was not of an ordinary form now, but of a strange kind. It seemed as if he was in another world, in some other realm, and was chanting like a bird of paradise. What the words were, and what the prayers were, I never understood. But just as a bird calls out melodiously in the garden, similarly this man, unconscious of the world and everything in it, would be praising and glorifying God in a garden of another world, like a beautiful bird.

His physical postures and gestures during prayer were attractive and appealing to look at. The folding of the arms, bowing of the head, the performance of bowing and prostration (raku‘ and sujud) etc. were so beautiful, dignified and deeply moving that you wanted to keep on watching him. During the last two years of his life, when he stayed with me, whenever he raised his head from sajda (prostration) a light and radiance would be shining upon his countenance, which is what is mentioned in the Holy Quran in the following words: “Their marks are on their faces in consequence of prostration” (48:29).

Passion for service of the Quran

Maulana Muhammad Ali had the utmost love for the Quran and spent his entire life in the service of the Quran. It took him seven years of hard labour to complete the English translation and commentary the first time. I was a small child at that time but my maternal uncle Shaikh Razi-ud-Din Hasan, retired headmaster, told me that he used to see in Qadian that in the Maulana’s office there were tables all around loaded with voluminous books in Arabic, English and Persian, such as dictionaries and commentaries of the Quran. While writing, he would be bending over one table or another consulting those books. He said that seeing the room full of so many large books and the Maulana going around them, he used to be amazed at the hard labour and work he was doing. After the English translation, he wrote the valuable and voluminous Bayan-ul-Quran, the Urdu commentary in three volumes. In this commentary he has noted all the different meanings of every word and the various explanations of every verse that had previously been given as well as other possible interpretations, and explained the reasons why he prefers the particular interpretation which he has adopted. The great benefit is that people who teach the Quran and its exegetists can find all this treasure of knowledge collected together in one place, and even if they disagree with him they are still indebted to him because it is due to his hard work that all the meanings and explanations have been brought together and they are able to adopt whichever they prefer.

In addition to these, he also wrote brief versions of the commentaries in English and Urdu. In his other books he has also drawn arguments from the Holy Quran to support his explanations. In his articles he has made rivers of knowledge to flow from verses of the Quran. His Friday khutbas, addresses at the annual gatherings and other speeches were all based on the Quran. During tahajjud and the morning prayers he recited lengthy portions from the Quran. For many years, in Lahore and at mountain resorts in the summer, he taught the Quran from a number of different aspects. At home he would teach the Quran to the women and children. He always himself read and corrected the proofs of the English and Urdu translations and commentaries. On journeys I have myself witnessed that whereas people take other books to read, he always carried a copy of the Holy Quran in his briefcase, reading it when he had free time in the train. In short, he never got tired of reading and teaching the Holy Quran. Even during his final illness, when the doctor administered morphine injections to ease the pain of angina, the influence of the anaesthetic could not make him sleep at the time of his tahajjud prayers. He called me in the later part of the night and asked me to read the Quran to him. We did not turn on the light in order to help him to go back to sleep, and I read out the Quran to him by torchlight. In that dim light if I made any mistake in reading, he would correct me even in his semi-conscious state. After finishing my office work in the afternoon, I would visit him and he would ask me to read out from the Holy Quran to him. To sum up, he loved the Quran passionately.

On 29 September 1950 his condition deteriorated greatly. His pulse was failing, so the doctor advised me not to go to the office because his heart could stop at any time. At that time the Hazrat Maulana was unconscious. As soon as he regained some consciousness he called me and told me something. But his voice was so faint that I could not hear what he was saying. Eventually I put my ear near his mouth and heard his very feeble voice. And what was it? He knew his condition was critical, but what was he worried about? His wife or children? His property or money? Some worldly matter? No, what he said was: “Our duty is to take the Quran to the world. The Quran will then do its own work”. This was his last will which I conveyed to the Jama‘at in my speech at the annual gathering after his death, and now I record it in writing.

The Merciful God heard our prayers and he began to improve miraculously. We thought that his recovery took place because our prayers were answered, which would also be a reason. But above that, the reason was that God wanted the new edition of the English translation of the Holy Quran to be completed by his hands. So after his critical condition had passed, for the whole of the next year as the proofs of the new edition kept arriving from England, the Maulana read and corrected them with his trembling hands while lying on his death bed, reclining with the pillow raised. He finished the last proofs only a few days before his death. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had exhorted his community as follows:

O you indifferent, unaware one! gird up your loins to serve the Quran, before the call is sounded that your life is over.
The Hazrat Maulana had acted on this instruction in a way that is hard to equal.

His love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad was so great that he wrote books both in English and Urdu on the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet, in which he presented his character, personality and magnificent work in the best possible light. Whenever he came across any objection against the Holy Prophet, his family or his companions, he would not rest until he had written a reply to it. During his last days, he saw an obnoxious book by an American author about Hazrat A’ishah. He marked the objectionable passages with his trembling hands and started to write a short book in reply but he did not live to complete it.

While mentioning the rivers of knowledge and wisdom that the Hazrat Maulana made to flow, I recall a dream my father had in the early days when he was working in the Civil Hospital, Campbellpur, from 1914 to 1916, which he recounted to me at the time. It was that in his dream he and I were sitting on the rear facing, back seat of a tonga{footnote 2} and on the distant horizon there was a man standing who was so tall that while his feet were on the ground his head reached the sky. My father was told (or he thought) that this was Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh.{footnote 3} He was walking towards us and as he approached us his height was diminishing to human proportions, until when he was close to us we recognised that he was Maulana Muhammad Ali. Seeing him, I said: “Please pray for me”. The Hazrat Maulana replied: “I will do so, but you must pray for yourself as well”. The interpretation of this dream, as to what it says about the Hazrat Maulana, is that in God’s estimation his eminence and greatness is such that his feet are on earth but his head has reached the sky. Renouncing the world and giving up the prospects of a bright worldly future, he had gone to sit at the feet of Hazrat Mirza sahib as an ascetic and then for the rest of his life he stood and remained above worldly concerns, trampling them under foot. His head being in the sky indicates that his thoughts were about spiritually elevated matters and his knowledge was conferred upon him by God. The name of Data Ganj Bakhsh also contains wonderful indications. Just as the Data sahib settled in Lahore and was buried here, similarly the Maulana was destined to come and settle in Lahore, do his best work here and be buried in this city. In addition, the words Data Ganj Bakhsh indicate clearly that the Hazrat Maulana is such a Data (meaning one who gives generously and liberally) who would give treasures of knowledge to the world. Curiously, it was only a short time after this dream that, in 1917, his long series of writings began to be published, starting with the English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran, and continued till his death.

Incidents showing effect of his literature

I now illustrate by some incidents how God caused the seeds sown by him to spread far and wide all over the world.

1. In Karachi Mr. Yusuf Haroon who, after serving as Chief Minister of the Sindh, later became the Pakistan High Commissioner in Australia, told me that once when he was touring a small town in Australia an Australian came to see him and began conversation in this way: “I heard that you, the High Commissioner of Pakistan, are visiting here so I have come to ask something. In your country there is a city, Lahore, where there is an author called Muhammad Ali who has written a translation and commentary of the Quran. Having read it, I and all my family have become Muslims. Now when I learnt about your arrival, I have come to ask you some questions about Islam.” Mr. Haroon told me: “I became worried that he thought every Pakistani would be a scholar of Islam. I had to put him off by a tactful ploy.”

2. The visit to Lahore of Miss Kuterman, Chief Reporter at the London office of the famous Turkish newspaper Alwas, and her meeting with Maulana Muhammad Ali, has already been mentioned. I was also present on the occasion when she visited the Maulana at his residence and told him how she received guidance from his translation of the Quran and kissed his hands with reverence.

3. Once the Hazrat Maulana came to me in Bombay, not for sightseeing, nor for socializing, but with the aim that dominated his mind, that of making arrangements to send the magnificent literature that he had produced on Islam to the world. In this connection a meeting was held in the Islam Club Chopati under the chairmanship of Sir Nur Muhammad, attended by the leading Muslim figures of Bombay. After the Maulana’s speech, Sir Karim Bhai, baronet, rose and said that during the Second World War, he was living in London when that city was being bombed day and night. It was a time of great worry and anxiety. In a London club, an eminent Englishman asked him: “At such a time you are not looking perturbed or anxious. What is the reason?” Sir Karim said to him: “I have a book which I read every morning and it gives me peace of mind.” The Englishman asked him to show him that book. That book was the Hazrat Maulana’s English translation of the Quran. So Sir Karim gave him that translation to read. After a fortnight the Englishman came back to him and said: “I want to become a Muslim. What do I need to do?” Sir Karim got him to recite the Kalima to bring him into the fold of Islam.

4. Once in Karachi, Syed Miran Muhammad Shah, who had been Speaker of the Sindh Assembly for many years and was now a minister in Sindh, invited me to a tea party. As the Hazrat Maulana was staying with me at that time, I asked the Shah sahib if I could bring my brother-in-law along, to which he replied: “Do so by all means”. At the party I introduced the Maulana only as my brother-in-law. After a while Miran Muhammad Shah came to me and said: “Why didn’t you introduce the Maulana properly? You kept saying he was your brother-in-law, but you didn’t say that he is that famous author and translator. Let me tell you that if his English translation of the Quran had not reached me by chance during my college days, I would have become either an atheist or a Christian”. At the same party there was a Muslim from South India who had been vice-chancellor of Mysore university there. He also made similar remarks about the Maulana.

5. In New Delhi the prayer centre of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at was opposite the Badshahi Mosque and study classes in the Holy Quran were held there in the evening. Once a stranger came up the stairs and after the class he said he wanted to say something. He told us that he was, at that time, a sub-Registrar in U.P. When he was studying in Aligarh he came into the clutches of a Christian missionary and was ready to became a Christian. Seeing this, one of his friends in the student hostel gave him a copy of Muhammad And Christ, one of the Maulana’s early writings. After reading that book a great change came in his thinking and in his next meeting with the missionary he started asking him critical questions with the result that the missionary put an end to their meetings. That visitor concluded by saying: “Later on I studied some more of your literature, and today passing by here and seeing your signboard, I came to see you.”

Iqbal

Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who had earlier been a great admirer of the Ahmadiyya Movement and Ahmadis, later became an opponent for some reasons. When he was suffering from his final illness, Maulana Muhammad Ali went to see him despite his opposition to the Ahmadiyya Movement, so magnanimous and generous was the Maulana. During their conversation, Iqbal said:

“Maulana, please do something for the Muslim youth of today. They are turning away from religion more and more everyday.”

The Maulana, referring to Iqbal’s poetry and speeches, said:

“You have done great work for them yourself.”

Hearing this, Iqbal wept and said:

“Maulana, everyone is impressed by my words, but there is no practical effect.”{footnote 4}

Raising funds

These are only a few examples of the hundreds of such events that have occurred. As to the future, God alone knows how much more success and support He is going to give to the noble aspirations of the man who planted these seeds. This labourer in the way of Allah’s cause, like a tiller of the land, cared not for the coldness of the winter or the heat of the summer, nor about his own health or illness, but continued to struggle day and night to plant the seed of Islam on as large a scale as possible. He personally made greater financial sacrifices than he could afford, and before making an appeal for funds he used to announce his own contribution first. Because of his appeals, parsimonious people were worried about listening to his speeches and preferred other speakers whose speeches were of high standard but they did not appeal for funds for fear of losing popularity. The Hazrat Maulana also used to appeal to those of his friends and sympathisers who were outside the Movement, though he knew that asking for contributions is to make yourself unpopular. Although the Maulana was not inclined by nature to mix with the rich and wealthy, nonetheless for the sake of asking for donations for the propagation of Islam he would go and knock on their doors. Once in 1942 he visited the Muslim state of Junagarh. There the Nawab welcomed him and showed him much hospitality and honour but gave nothing in donation. In those days I was stationed in district Thana near Bombay. I wrote to the Maulana requesting him to honour me with a visit as he was so near. He accepted the invitation and when he came he delivered a lecture on the future of Islam to a small group of respected Muslim figures. They were astonished to learn what useful work was being carried out. His speech created such a favourable impression that it would have been easy to raise twenty to twenty five thousand Rupees. However, a lawyer who was rather emotional stood up and said: “All of us should become Ahmadis”. This caused a commotion in the audience and the atmosphere became hostile to some extent. As a result, only ten to eleven thousand Rupees were collected. Even on that the Hazrat Maulana bowed to Allah in gratitude.

In 1945 the Hazrat Maulana came to Bombay and delivered lectures on the imperative need for the propagation of Islam and for financial sacrifices for this cause. These made a very good impact but the anti-Ahmadiyya Muslim clerics, upon learning of his success, started a campaign of opposition through newspapers and meetings. This alienated the Muslim public and the opportunity was lost to lay a magnificent foundation for the work of the propagation of the Quran. Someone else in his place would have been disheartened due to disappointment after such success and would have returned to Lahore to avoid facing the hostility and opposition. But the Hazrat Maulana on such occasions always showed the courage of a lion and he extended his stay for an indefinite period. Everyday he would go through all the newspapers and immediately reply to the objectionable articles. The president of the Jami‘at-ul-Ulama of Bombay wrote a letter to the Maulana in which he did not even greet him with assalamu alaikum because he regarded the Maulana as a kafir. The whole letter was full of offensive and hurtful material, as well as containing threats and ordering him to leave Bombay. Someone like me would have been too angry to reply or would have replied in strong language. But the Hazrat Maulana responded by addressing him courteously. Writing out the complete form of the Islamic greeting assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu, he asked the president what was his verdict now in view of the Quranic order to Muslims “say not to any one who offers you salutation, You are not a believer” (4:94). He also clearly explained his beliefs and mentioned the services to Islam of Hazrat Mirza sahib and the Lahore Jama‘at and appealed to him. The president did not dare to answer the letter but continued with his opposition through newspapers and speeches. In spite of all this opposition, a considerable amount of donations were received from enlightened Muslims, although not as much as expected.

Later, during his stay in Karachi, the Hazrat Maulana approved and adopted the plan of sending sets of books to the libraries of the world, each set containing the English translation of the Holy Quran, and books such as Muhammad The Prophet and The Religion of Islam. At the annual gathering of the Jama‘at that year he appealed for donations for it. Then during his next stay in Karachi he continued his efforts in that direction, which were blessed by God with much success. This has led to the seed of the complete knowledge of Islam being planted all over the world in most of the major libraries. It is Allah Himself Who will enable it to grow and bear fruit — “the most excellent Patron and the most excellent Helper” (the Quran, 8:40).

Once, a saintly member of our Jama‘at who received communications from Allah, namely, Hazrat Syed Asadullah Shah, had a revelation which he mentioned in a letter to me, saying that he had never had a revelation of such force and severity. This revelation came to him in a dream with such force that he woke up panting and sweating due to its intensity and asking for a drink of cold water despite it being a very cold, wintry night. The revelation was as follows:

Kana khalifatu-na fil-ardi yuqalu la-hu Muhammad Ali. Huwa lailat-ul-qadr wa ilai-hi marji‘u-kum.
which translated is: “There is Our khalifa on earth whose name is Muhammad Ali. He is the lailat-ul-qadr (meaning that just as heavenly blessings and light descend during lailat-ul-qadr, so have they come through this man) and to him you must turn”. Along with this revelation the Shah sahib had other intimations in which the words “four hundred thousand” occurred. I wrote about these revelations to the Hazrat Maulana and added: “I hope that Allah may allow four hundred thousand Rupees to be raised for your scheme of sending books to the libraries of the world”. The Hazrat Maulana wrote back saying: “I am praying that the words ‘four hundred thousand’ refer to the number of people who will join the Jama‘at and serve Islam on a permanent basis”. He used to say: “It is always possible to raise money but what I am concerned about is workers, as they are hard to get.”

Death of Maulana Muhammad Ali{footnote 5}

During his stay in Karachi in 1950, Maulana Muhammad Ali had a serious heart attack. In spite of being greatly weakened by this, he continued to serve Islam and the Quran as he had ever done all his life. When he came to Karachi the following year, his health was poor. Nonetheless he used to read proofs of the English translation of the Holy Quran most of the time lying in bed. It was at this time that some members of the Jama‘at caused him much distress. He was already weakened due to heart problems for the past eighteen months or so. He used to say that it was not his illness but those people who had broken his heart. Even in that condition he started to meet this opposition, although we tried to force him to stop because the doctor had strictly instructed that he must avoid such stress and work. At last his strength and stamina gave in and his condition started to deteriorate day by day. During the last two or three days he called me and said: “Inform the Jama‘at of my condition and request them for prayer. If Allah wills me to live longer then may He relieve me from this distress, and if not then may I drift into the eternal sleep of peace”. So I sent a telegram to Lahore.

The third day after this was 13th October 1951, and as it was the 10th of Muharram I was at home because it was a public holiday. When we mark his death on 13th October every year, the events and scenes of that day come before my mind’s eye like a film. It dawned as a normal day. Although he had grown weak he did not appear to be in any danger, except that when the doctor came and wanted to give him an injection he said (in English): “Doctor, please let me die in peace”. The doctor said: “No, please don’t talk like that”, and gave him his injection and left. The doctor this time did not indicate even indirectly that there was any danger.

At about 11.30 a.m. my wife came to me greatly alarmed and told me to come immediately as the condition of the Hazrat Maulana was very grave. I ran to his room and at that moment he took his last breath, and that holy man had left us forever. Within a short time relatives who could be informed started gathering. It was decided that the body be taken to Lahore that same evening on the Khyber Mail train service which departed at about 6.30 p.m. Some years earlier I had gone through a harsh ordeal in transporting my father’s body from Bombay to Lahore, so I was not about to make the same mistakes again.{footnote 6} It was already 1 p.m. Due to the Ashurah holiday all offices and shops were closed. First of all, arrangements were to be made to take the coffin by Khyber Mail, and that too in the passenger carriage with us. I and the late Hazrat Maulana’s older son Muhammad Ahmad, who was himself in the railways, went to the Divisional Superintendent of Karachi railway who lived near my house. Due to the favour of God upon us, he not only allowed us to take the coffin by Khyber Mail the same day but also to keep it with us in the same carriage, instead of insisting on carrying the coffin in a separate compartment attached to the train. He also telephoned to reserve for us a six-seat compartment, which usually would not have been available at such short notice. In all my life, it had never happened, except rarely, that the apparently impossible became possible in this way. At this occasion the Almighty was showing regard and honour for this holy man whose soul had gone to his Maker but whose body we were planning to take to Lahore that same day.

After obtaining all these permissions and facilities we returned home and I set Muhammad Ahmad to making telephone calls to Lahore and other places to convey the news, while I went to make arrangements for the funeral necessities and the coffin. For this I decided to seek information from Chaudhry Amjad Khan, an administrator who had lived in Karachi for long and was familiar with the city. It was now about 2 p.m. As he had no phone, I had to go to his residence and this involved crossing Bandar Road. There I found a huge crowd like a wall in my way. Being the 10th of Muharram, Shia processions mourning the martyrdom of Imam Husain were passing along that road, which was closed to traffic. These processions in Karachi are miles long and we had to catch the train at 6 p.m.!  I left my car there and attempted to pass through the crowd on foot, but the police as well as people in the crowd angrily tried to stop me, thinking that I was trying to get to the front for a better view of the processions. Listening to their abuse and jostled by them, only Allah knows how I managed to cross the road safely, having passed through the procession in which swords were being wielded and then through the spectators on the other side of the road. Then, tired and perspiring, I made my way through side streets with great difficulty to reach the building where Chaudhry Amjad Khan lived. His flat was on the fourth or fifth floor and the lift was out of order. When I finally reached his flat, breathless and exhausted, I was informed by a lady inside that he had gone out and would return in the evening. I cannot put into words the terrible disappointment that I felt on hearing this. The plan of travelling that evening began to seem an impossibility.

I now had to return through the same crowd. This time their abuse and jostling made no impact on me in view of my anguish that it was almost 3 p.m. now and no arrangements had been made for preparing the body or procurement of a coffin, while the whole of Karachi was shut down for the 10th of Muharram. Penetrating through the crowd somehow, I got on to the road but I found it impossible to pass through the crowd on the other side of the road to reach my car. I could do nothing but walk along the middle of Bandar Road, against the flow of the oncoming processions. It was while I was in that state of utter dejection and sorrow, having no more strength or energy left, that the mercy of Allah came into action, not for my sake but for that saintly man whose last rites I was unable to perform by myself. Suddenly, right in the middle of the road, there stood before me a police inspector, like an angel sent from above to help me. He recognised me,{footnote 7} gave me a salute, and said: “Sir, what are you doing here? Can I be of any help?” I did not know him but obviously he recognised me. It was nothing but Divine assistance that, out of the thousands of police officers in Karachi, I was confronted by one who recognised me. I told him my story and he immediately instructed a police constable to take me to the imam of the ‘Police Lines’ mosque from whom a shroud, which was kept in reserve, and other necessities could be obtained by giving the reference of the inspector, and then to accompany me to a certain coffin maker who may have a ready-made coffin available. I thanked the inspector from the bottom of my heart. The next worry was that, as the whole city seemed to be out watching the processions on Bandar Road, whether these people would be found at home. Further Divine mercy came to the rescue in that all the funeral necessities were obtained. The coffin maker was also found at home and he had a fine coffin of the right size, which was also airtight and met the railway regulations. Thus it was that a beloved of Allah undertook his last journey according to plan, safely with dignity.

I then returned home and informed that all arrangements were complete and we would be able to leave in the evening. At about 5 p.m. Maulana Abdul Wahhab, his personal assistant for many years, washed the body, we then held the funeral prayers on the lawn of my house and left by Khyber Mail. Without help from Allah, it would have been impossible to make the arrangements on a public holiday so quickly.

The Hazrat Maulana’s body, accompanied by his relatives, was brought to Lahore with great dignity on the train, arriving the following evening. It was met by a huge crowd of friends who carried the coffin in their hands. The funeral prayers were held in the Ahmadiyya Buildings mosque, led by his older brother Maulana Aziz Bakhsh, where the late Maulana had delivered Friday khutbas for nearly 38 years and said his daily prayers. Then members of the Jama‘at carried the coffin on their shoulders to the Miani Sahib cemetery, in which the late Maulana had selected his burial spot during his life, and he was laid to rest at nearly 10 p.m.

Spiritual experiences

The Hazrat Maulana was not in the habit of mentioning his spiritual experiences, and due to his humble nature he would rarely mention his visions, revelations and true dreams. The case of the men commissioned by God is different, as they proclaim their experiences and revelations by Divine command. As the Hazrat Maulana held no Divine office he would not himself mention his spiritual experiences out of humility, but if questioned on this matter he would say something.

Once I asked him if he had ever experienced Lailat-ul-Qadr. He replied:

“Yes. Once in Dalhousie I was saying tahajjud prayers during the last ten days of Ramadan. When I was reciting At-tahiyyat suddenly a very bright light appeared in the window. At first I thought that on the road below some people were passing carrying gas lamps, but then I realized that no one would be out in these backwoods at 3 a.m. Then I looked through the window to see what the light was, and saw that it was illuminating even the trees on the mountain far ahead. That scene disappeared as I watched it. Then it occurred to me that it was the illuminations of Lailat-ul-Qadr that Allah had shown me.”

Once in Karachi in 1950, again during the last ten days of Ramadan, it was the night of the 29th. During tahajjud prayer I found myself deeply engrossed and felt as if my soul was melting away at Allah’s threshold. I was in the state that I did not want to rise up from sajda. During the pre-dawn meal, where the Hazrat Maulana was also present, I said to him that I thought this night had been the Lailat-ul-Qadr. He replied:

“I think so as well. Last night when I was saying the ‘Isha prayer, after reciting the Fatiha the verse inna anzalna-hu fi lailat-il-qadr came again and again to the tip of my tongue but I recited some other verses. During tahajjud just now, when I was reciting the darood, suddenly a light spread in front of my eyes. I looked up and saw that the sky and the clouds were illuminated by this light. After a short while this scene disappeared.”

Prediction of creation of Pakistan{footnote 8}

In 1946 I was Deputy Commissioner of Karachi. The Governor of the Sindh was Sir Francis Mudie, one of the few British who, being fully aware of the machinations of the Hindus, was a great sympathiser of the Muslims and supporter of the Pakistan cause. As I had previously served as his secretary, he used to tell me his inner feelings, especially as he found me to agree with his views. Even after I became Deputy Commissioner of Karachi he used to have discussions with me in favour of the creation of Pakistan. His support of the Muslims being no secret, the Hindu press used to refer to his name sarcastically, from his initials F.M., as “Fateh Muhammad”, and send telegrams against him to the Viceroy Lord Wavell and the Secretary of State for India Lord Pethick-Lawrence. But Sir Francis Mudie, instead of being overawed or intimidated, was undeterred and used to fight these complaints.

A British cabinet mission came to India in 1946, headed by  Lord Pethick-Lawrence, to discuss the question of Indian independence, and on their way from London to New Delhi they stayed in Karachi for one night as guests of the Governor of the Sindh. The following morning it was my official duty, as District Magistrate, to be present at Karachi airport for their departure. After they left, the Governor beckoned me to accompany him in his car. As soon as the car moved off, he said to me: “Faruqui, they are not going to give us Pakistan”. This appeared to be the final, irrevocable decision of the British government. Naturally, I was filled with sadness and gloom, but due to the confidential nature of this news I could not mention it to anyone. Prayer to God was needed, but I myself was far from having closeness to the Almighty. Maulana Muhammad Ali was in Dalhousie at the time, and I knew full well how much his prayers were accepted by God. The matter being confidential, I wrote to him only these lines:

“The cabinet mission stayed the night in Karachi and proceeded to New Delhi: ‘What the eye can see, cannot be brought to the lips; I am in bewilderment as to what the world will become’.{footnote 9} Sir, please pray specially for the future and welfare of the Muslims.”

The Hazrat Amir replied by return post as follows:

“I am always praying for the welfare and the religious and worldly success of the Muslims. But on receiving your letter I was praying specially during the night when I heard the voice: Pakistan Zindabad.{footnote 10} Although there appears to be despondency everywhere, it seems that it has been decided in heaven that Pakistan will come into being. I will continue to pray to God in this matter.”

I became satisfied upon hearing this prophecy but my tranquillity soon vanished when the cabinet mission proposed a kind of united India and the Muslim League accepted it and joined the future government to be headed by Nehru. Not only did the dream of Pakistan appeared to come to an end with that, but I became uncertain about the fulfilment of Hazrat Amir’s prophecy. However, events changed their course when that plan failed because of the obstacles placed by the Congress party. At last  Pakistan came into existence the following year, and towns and cities echoed with the chant Pakistan Zindabad, fulfilling the Divine revelation received by that man of faith.

Vision of God

When I went to Lahore in December 1950 for the annual gathering, I found the Hazrat Maulana very frail due to his final illness. One day when I visited him in the afternoon he had just risen from his siesta. I was the only person with him and contrary to his habit he mentioned a spiritual experience without prompting. He said:

“I have just seen a wonderful vision. I saw that I was an infant and sitting in the lap of a very comely, handsome person. I was made to understand that He was Allah Himself. This person clasped me to his bosom as a mother takes her son to her bosom with love. This expression of love also made me restless so that I unbuttoned his shirt (as if even the shirt did not intervene between them), put my arms around him and clung to him. These words then escaped from my lips: Allahumma, anta muhibbi, faj‘al-ni min ahibba’ik — O Allah, You love me, so make me from among those who love you.”{footnote 11}

This lover of God went to His lap to bask in His love. O God, shower Your abundant blessings on the soul of this virtuous, sincere man. As he did good to us and indeed to the whole of humanity, may You reward him in even greater measure. But most of all, kindle in our hearts a spark of the passion that burnt in his heart for the propagation of Islam and the Holy Quran and enable us to follow in his footsteps. May You safeguard and help the Jama‘at founded by Muhammad Ali which he put to the service of Islam and the Quran so well and successfully for almost forty years. Let the work of the propagation of Islam and the Holy Quran, which Your vicegerent carried out with such toil and labour, thrive and succeed, so that Islam may spread in the world and humanity take refuge in the fold of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him. O Allah, this world will perish without Your Islam and Your Quran. Come to its rescue. Amen, O Most Merciful of the Merciful ones!


Footnotes

(To return to the referring text for any footnote, click on the footnote number.)

[1]. This paragraph is added from Mr. Faruqui’s article in Paigham Sulh, 1 October 1989, p. 13.

[2]. Horse drawn passenger carriage.

[3]. A most renowned and revered Muslim saint whose tomb in Lahore is visited from far and wide. His real name was Ali Hujwiri (d. 1071 C.E.).

[4]. The Iqbal incident is related by Mr. Faruqui in his article in Paigham Sulh, 10-17 October 1979, p. 7.

[5]. The account in this section has been supplemented by a detailed article Mr. Faruqui published in Paigham Sulh, dated 7–14 October 1981.

[6]. In his article in Paigham Sulh, 7–14 October 1981, Mr. Faruqui has at this point recounted in detail that ordeal in transporting the body of his father, Dr. Basharat Ahmad, to Lahore from Bombay by train, where he died in April 1943 while staying with him. He writes: “Due to inexperience, I had considered it sufficient to reserve a four berth carriage on the Frontier Mail from Bombay to Lahore, not knowing that a coffin was only allowed to be transported in a separate four-wheel carriage, and that such a carriage could never be attached to a Mail train. When we arrived with the coffin at Bombay Central Station, the railway staff only allowed the coffin to be taken in to the platform because it was blocking the gate, and strictly prohibited it to be taken on board the train. I was asked to obtain permission from Mr. Perry, Deputy General Manager of the Railway, so I ran to phone him but he was not available at home. Meanwhile our relatives and the baggage had gone on board while the coffin was still being prevented from embarkation by the railway staff. As I returned and we argued with the railway staff, the train whistled to leave. I boarded the train with the intention of pulling the emergency stop chain in case the train moved off without the coffin. Suddenly a clerk came running saying that Mr. Perry had granted permission to board the coffin, so we rushed to put it in the carriage. However, the railway staff then demanded that we buy a ticket for it costing over one thousand Rupees. By chance, a friend of mine had sufficient cash, but there being no time to buy it we and the ticket issuer jumped on the train as it moved off and the ticket was bought on board. When we arrived in Lahore the railway staff were astonished and angry to see a coffin emerging from a passenger compartment. They demanded to know who allowed it on board, and I replied: Mr. Perry. They ordered the compartment to be sealed after our disembarkation and telephoned ahead for it to be disinfected when the train reached its destination, Peshawar. I have heard that an enquiry was subsequently conducted into the incident at Bombay railway station to find out which clerk had wrongly stated that Mr. Perry had given permission. That clerk could not be identified. I firmly believe that this was an act of Divine intervention and that God sent someone to deliver us from that intractable predicament for the sake of my father’s honour so that his body could complete its final journey with dignity.”

[7]. Mr. Faruqui held, at that time, the high civil service post in Karachi of Chief Secretary in the Government of the Sindh province.

[8]. The account given here has been supplemented by a more detailed article Mr. Faruqui published in Paigham Sulh dated 6–13 October 1982.

[9]. This is a poetic verse quoted by Mr. Faruqui.

[10]. Meaning: ‘Long live Pakistan’.

[11]. In an article in Paigham Sulh, 10–17 October 1979, Mr. Faruqui adds here: “Just then someone else came in. I wanted to relate this vision to him but the Hazrat Maulana stopped me by an indication. However, I do not think there is any harm in relating it after his death.”

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