Saturday, March 17, 2012

Promised Massih (as): Portrait as a Young Man- I

In his Friday Sermon of March 16, 2012 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius spoke about the Promised Massih Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as). The speech graphically portrayed a picture of Hadhrat Ahmad as a young man and also that of Qadian, birthplace of the Promised Massih (as).  The growing up years of the man who would eventually be raised with a Divine Mission, as emerging from this Biographical note, makes one really appreciate the Divine Plan behind it all.  

Read the Extracts from the Speech:

"When Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) was born in India there was no schools or colleges. Education in Muslim households consisted of learning the Holy Quran and, at the best, learning to read Urdu and Persian.

The first tutor of Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) was engaged when he was about six or seven, around 1841. He taught Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) verses of the Quran and started on a few elementary Persian books. When he was about 10 years old, another tutor was engaged. He worked hard with Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) and taught him the elements of Arabic. A few other boys came to his house to share the services of the tutors. One tutor was often teased. It is not known whether Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) joined in, but it is unlikely. He was a serious, studious boy and when the day’s lessons were done, they were held in what was a living room, he normally climbed the stairs to his room, which was immediately above and continued reading.

When he was about 17 another tutor, Gul Ali Shah from the nearby town of Batala was engaged. He lived in Qadian for several days and then returned to Batala. He taught Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) more Arabic and something of logic and philosophy.

Qadian was long past the days of its glory. Its importance as a fortress had vanished. The city walls still existed, but were crumbling. Three-quarters of the houses were in ruins and uninhabited. The remaining quarter of the houses were inhabited by some 500 people. Many of them paid no rent. So few people wanted to live in Qadian that the house owners were happy if they could merely have them lived in and maintained. From a brustling, thriving town, the most important in the district, Qadian had become a village of no importance. A visitor of that period has described it as “almost in a state of mourning”, in a rather pitiable state. The bazaars existed almost in name only. There were just three shopkeepers, a man selling sweets made from milk he had been unable to sell, another offering local medicines and one selling some general goods. Little money changed hands. It was done on a barter system.

The barber would cut people’s hair and be paid later when the harvest were in. Flour was ground by hand. Milk was only occasionally available. Meat was almost uneatable. The people were desperately poor; many were without work or a legal means of gaining a livelihood. An unknown visitor to Qadian at that time described the women as clad in such pitiful rags that their dress was almost indecent.

The low-lying land, one of the reasons for Qadian’s existence, was now a menace to its future. It became a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Malaria was rampant. In the rainy season you could sometimes paddle round the village in a small boat. People from nearby villages would strip naked and swim across to Qadian to the disgust of local Muslims. The visitor to Qadian declared, “Cleanliness hardly existed. Open filthy drains were always full, blocked and overflowing. Even during daylight it was difficult to pass through the streets...” And according to him, even before dark jackals, wildcats and foxes could be seen on the piles of rubbish and as the wolves were in abundance, a pond even came to be known as the wolf’s pond.

Indeed wild animals were in such abundance and so destroyed the crops that, in one minor respect, Qadian became famous again; at least locally – it was noted for its hunting dogs! The village’s isolated position made it attractive to “thieves and vagabonds” said the early visitor. There were “large sections of well-planted, beautiful fruit trees” but there were also areas of dense forest. People did not leave their homes at night for fear of what could happen to them in the wilderness.

When Gul Ali Shah, the tutor of Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace), decided he could no longer undertake the three to five hour journey to Qadian there was no one well enough educated in the village to continue the further studies of Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace). His father therefore arranged that his youngest son (upon him be peace) live in Batala and continue his studies under Gul Ali Shah. These studies were not onerous. The teachers were not men of great learning. Education and scholarship was at a discount and any person who had read a few books of Persian or Arabic was considered to be a learned person.

The proficiency attained by him (the Promised Messiah (upon him be peace)) consisted merely in the reading of Persian and Arabic and the ability to express himself fluently in the former and to a limited extend in the latter. His education went no further. As regards religious instruction he received little of it from any of his teachers.

Among the other pupils of Gul Ali Shah in Batala was a boy called Muhammad Hussein. His family lived in Batala and though there were rumours about his background; they were about his family and not about Muhammad Hussein himself. He too, was a studious boy, intelligent and quick-witted. They enjoyed each other’s intellectual ability and became friends. There was also a Hindu boy called Lala Bhim Sen. Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (upon him be peace) thus led a privileged life. Most village boys were herding goats from the time they were six or seven and their parents had no conception of education and no means to carry it out if they had..."

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