Tuesday, July 4, 2017

‘Qadian is Dead’, says Fourth Khalifa

Qadian- seat of the Promised Massih (as)

Qadian’s spiritual significance lies in the fact that it was once inhabited by a servant of God- a human soul deeply immersed in the Divine waters. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), whom the Ahmadi Muslims consider as the Promised Massih and Imam Mahdi of the Later Days, lived there in the last century. For the followers of the ‘Promised Massih’, Qadian is thus a sacred space where much of the events pertaining to the life and spiritual experiences and Divine revelations and Signs of God associated with the holy founder of the community originally took place. 

Moreover, the social history of Ahmadiyya community in the last century also evolved from Qadian, including the famous institutionalization of a system of successor-ship in the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya known as the “Khilafat” in May 1908, following the death of the Promised Massih (as). 

Likewise, the intellectual tensions associated with the interpretational differences over doctrinal matters leading to the Great Split in the community also evolved and took shape in Qadian in the aftermath of the death of the founder and later, after the first caliph Hazrat Maulvi Hakkim Nooruddin Saheb (ra), leading to the separation of a segment of the Community based out of Lahore under the leadership of Hazrat Maulvi Muhammad Ali SahebHowever, the majority of Ahmadis at that point of time showed preference to work with the second caliph, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad Saheb (ra) (1914-1965) who went on to preside over the community over half a century, at a critical stage in the fortunes of the community's organizational framework. 

In his testamentary declaration, entitled "Al Wassiyat", the Promised Massih (as) expressed the pious hope and wish that Qadian would always be the "headquarters" of the Ahmadiyya "Anjuman" which will act as the "representative of God's Khalifa (Khalifatullah)" in future, in furtherance of the objectives outlined in the Book. His pious wish was apparently inspired by the conviction that "Allah has blessed this place", as he noted in Al WassiyatLater, however, within half a century of the death and departure of the Promised Massih (as), it was the Will of God that Ahmadis had to virtually abandon Qadian in the backdrop of an earth-shattering political event in the Indian subcontinent- the Great Partition of India, with a great majority of Muslims in the north of India becoming refugees to Pakistan. 

Under the astute leadership of the second caliph Hazrat Musleh Maoud (ra), the base of the community was relocated to Rabwah in Pakistan and only a few Ahmadis left behind in India to protect the historical spaces of the community in Qadian (India). The second caliph was enormously conscious of the weight of history and at Rabwah, he administered a solemn pledge with the rank and file of the community on the need to be ready to do all sacrifices for securing Qadian and preparing people to undertake this task at all costs.

Qadian woke up from the deep slumber of a quiet existence only in the 1990's, with the visit of the fourth caliph Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Saheb to Qadian, the first time that an Ahmadi caliph returned to Qadian to attend the Jalsa Salana of the community after the tumultuous Partition of India in 1947. The caliph had ambitious plans for the development of Qadian, even to the extent of envisioning the establishment of a Global Islamic University. But, after visiting the place and observing everything in close quarters, the caliph understood that Qadian, to put it mildly, was not yet ready for the transition to such a trajectory of excellence. (Inset: the caliph speaking at the 1991 Jalsa Salana in Qadian). 

Qadian under the Fifth Caliph
With the onset of a new wave of globalization in the 1990s, and the consequent shifts in the economic policies of India and a new opening up to the world, coupled with the return of peace in the Punjab after the turbulent 1980's, Qadian increasingly became accessible to foreign Ahmadis on an even more visible scale and level. The fifth caliph Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad Saheb visited Qadian in 2005. Though he was again in India in 2008, the caliph could not make it to Qadian despite waiting at Delhi for weeks altogether, due to the turbulent political relations between India and Pakistan at that point of time, following the Mumbai terror attacks by Pakistani mercenaries leading to the killing of over 200 people. 

Be that as it may, the border township of Qadian, located on the district of Gurdaspur in the Punjab, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Ahmadis travel to Qadian from the remotest corners of India. From many other parts of the world also, they flock in by flights. For the devout Ahmadis, it is often an emotional journey: of being closer to the places of sacred history and memory of the pious ancestors. And for many Ahmadis, Qadian is the nearest they can reach to the space of a Messenger of Allah (as) who came into this world. After all, the land of the Holy Prophet (sa) remains legally barred for them due to the institutionalized policies of sectarian bigotry  in Saudi Arabia that are designed to exclude the Ahmadis. Hence, Makkah and Madinah are virtually ruled out for most of them. The third holiest site of the Islamic world, Al Aqsa Mosque at Jerusalem continues to be under foreign/Zionist occupation. Given this complex 'internal' and 'external' environment they face, like the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish, Ahmadis may wonder: 

Where should we go after the last frontier? 
Where should birds fly after the last sky?’

The new 'branding' of Qadian

"I am more concerned that people coming after me may stumble 
when entrusted with such large amounts of wealth and that they may take to the love of this world".
- The Promised Massih (as) in Al Wassiyat, p. 28

Of late, the Nizam-e-Jamaat is seeking to ‘position’ Qadian as the seat of the ultimate spiritual blessings and Divine illumination for the spiritually- parched souls.  The leadership of the community ‘understands’ the abiding quest for Divine illumination among common Ahmadis so as to soar high in the spiritual heavens by being near to a Divine servant. In the absence of a living Divine servant appointed by Allah (swt) for the manifestation of grand Divine Signs in support of Islam, the Nizam-e-Jamaat is seeking to project the inherited structures and institutional practices as an alternative channel to cater to the devotees. They understand the need for erection of huge memorials and buildings as markers of 'identity' in this world for a community of people that had been persecuted by its enemies elsewhere. With the thriving business of extortionist 'Chanda' collection by the Nizami inspectors in the 'voluntary giving' system, and also with the generosity of people who made money abroad, precious wealth is being diverted to create lofty concrete structures in Qadian, as symbols of identity. 

The new generation of Ahmadis elsewhere in India and abroad are being ‘culturally conditioned’ to reinforce their ‘connections’ with Qadian, be it in the form of regular visits to the place and also the establishment of family relations in Qadian, the land of the pure.  The intra-community social dynamics among the Ahmadis ensures 'superior' social status to such marital alliances with the families in Qadian. Besides, Qadian is being 'branded' as an investment destination to well-to-do Ahmadis to buy up property and construct buildings there. In short, the Nizam-e-Jamaat is effectively 'pitching' Qadian today as a ‘spiritual haven’/earthly paradise to be experienced and enjoyed by every Ahmadi in the world. The Nizamis are seeking to tap on the devotional vulnerabilities of common Ahmadi folks by offering access and nearness to Qadian as a panacea for all their problems.

It is interesting to note that when the Promised Massih (as) was alive and was challenging the world to bear witness to the Divine Signs being vouchsafed to him, he also had a deep wish that his disciples and followers come and stay with him for experiencing the Divine favours. 

And almost all Ahmadis today believe that the system of “Khilafat” that they invented and instituted for themselves is nothing but the ‘continuation’ of the days of the Promised Massih (as) by other means and they confidently assert that the ‘system’ will continue till the Qiyamah. Yet, ironically, the Khalifatul Massih today is not ‘challenging the world to bear witness to the Divine Signs being vouchsafed to him’, if any. This is despite his claiming to be in the ‘shadow’ of the former’s office as his vicegerent/successor!

Gradually, Ahmadis will understand the truth behind the subtle, ongoing doctrinal 'engineering' and commercial exploitation of their deeply-held beliefs. They will realize that unlike in the times of the Promised Massih (as), Qadian today is a spiritually-dead place, despite its materialist ‘after life’ now. The opulence of the memorials and buildings being constructed on a continuous basis notwithstanding, there is no living Messenger of God there for providing spiritual illumination. As the reality of the profound absence dawn upon them, they would be able to open up their eyes from the blind worship of the present leadership, and introspect on questions that are staring them in their face: Is the reigning caliph really a 'man of God'-being spoken to by Allah/ being blessed with Divine revelations? Is he capable of re-living the Divine Signs for spiritual illumination as in the times of the Promised Massih (as)? Or, is it that he is merely leading the community based on his own wisdom or that of his advisors, with no claims of any Divine communion?

Fourth Caliph on Qadian

For the attention of those who have larger expectations from Qadian as a space for Divine illumination now, we are reproducing below a question posed to, and answer given by, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Saheb, fourth caliph of the community, in the year 2000 AD, pointing to the spiritual death of Qadian in the absence of a Divinely-appointed soul over there. The extract is taken from Page Number 218 of a Book-length compilation of Questions and Answers posed to the fourth caliph by people on various occasions and published by the Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, Kerala, in the Malayalam language. The compilation was done by Mr. Shiraz Ahmad of Chennai and the responses were originally telecast as part of the Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International programmes. 

Qn. 604. The Promised Massih (as) has once stated that he has his own doubts about the Imaan of those people who do not visit Qadian and reside there for some days. What is the meaning/ are the implications of it?

"The Promised Massih (as) wished to meet with the Ahmadi brethren, just as Ahmadis also wished to meet with him. He (as) wished that they reside at Qadian so as to directly experience and bear witness to the Divine Signs on a daily basis. For various purposes, you can visit Qadian; but, today, the Promised Massih (as) is not present in Qadian. Hence, there is no point in going to Qadian for spiritual illumination and to soar high to Allah (swt). Today, there is no one in Qadian who is there appointed by God to bestow upon you Divine Light emanating from the Lord."  

'Where should birds fly after the last sky?’

Ahmadis might wonder where they should look   for Divine illumination and spiritual progress when the old Qadian is 'dead' and the reigning, man-elected Caliph is incapable of producing 'living Divine Signs'. By the sheer Grace of Allah, Allah (swt) has raised His Elect in this era, the Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hazrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius. For those Ahmadis who are sincere and are true seekers of Divine illumination, there is an extraordinary opportunity to soar high in the realm of spiritual progress under the discipleship of this servant of God. 

Reproduced below is the relevant part of a Long Declaration made by the Hazrat Saheb (atba) as early as 31 January 2006 (2 Moharram 1427) on the issue. 

"Hazrat Massih Maoud as , has through his own life given the proof that Islam is a living religion. He has said:

“My Beloved, My Lord speaks. If somebody wants to witness this sign he should come to stay with me for some time. He will definitely see such a sign.”

And today, by the Grace of Almighty Allah, I also am making this declaration that if someone wants to know the Living God who answers our prayers and who has power over all things, let him contact me. 

Incha Allah I will give him the proof of the existence of Allah If Allah wills and if his quest is sincere".

To read the Full Text of the Official Declaration, click here.