Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (The Promised Messiah) — As I Found Him
by Dr. Basharat Ahmad
The Young Islam, 1st July 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1, Supplement p. 1)
The Promised Messiah was so strict in his observance of the ways of the Prophet (Sunnah) that he never allowed the slightest aberration from it in any of his sayings or actions. There was nothing of artificiality in anything he did. He observed the utmost of simplicity in matters of food and dress. It was not unoften that his coat was found unbuttoned. The mosque was his drawing room. Even here he had no special carpet or raised seat reserved for him. He used to sit in a corner of the mosque, and the late Maulvi Abdul Karim (one of his devoted followers and a very learned man of Sialkot) used to take his seat under the niche just opposite to the entrance door. Many a time strangers who came to see him would mistake Maulvi Abdul Karim for the claimant to the Messiahship and shake hands with him, a mistake which the Maulvi Sahib had to correct.
People would sit in his company quite in an informal manner, and narrate their own stories. Every follower would think as if the saint had a special love for him. Naturally, he would state whatever he liked without the least thought for any etiquette or courtesy. If anyone would continue his narration even for several hours together and even if it were a useless one, he would go on listening to it with the fullest attention. Many a time others present would find it beyond their power of tolerance to continue listening to such a talk and express their tiredness by yawning and other signs, but not a single sign of displeasure would appear in any movement of the saint during all these tiring moments. No wonder his manners in this respect would excite surprise in those who had ever been in the societies of the ordinary pirs (spiritual leaders) of the day.
So much so that once a certain man remarked that there was no etiquette observed in his mosque, as people would talk to him without restriction of any kind. In reply he said,
“It is not my principle that I should sit with such a serious and frightening appearance that people should be afraid of me as they are afraid of bloodthirsty animals. I abhor being made into an idol. I have come to eradicate the worship of idol, and not to become one myself so as to make people worship me. I call God to witness that I do not give any preference to myself over others. To me there is no greater idol-worshiping and unclean man than he who is proud. A man of pride worships no God but his own self.”
In whatever company, he knew no manner of conventional sitting. Any guests that came would be greeted by him with a smile on his face. He would warmly ask them how they were doing. He would always personally look after them to give them every possible comfort. He would himself ask for their tea and see them taking it in his own presence. Sometimes when he would give the guest company in his meals, he would himself go and fetch hot breads and preserves and pickles from the inner apartments. If there were any special dishes like that of meat he would help the guest to it with a special attention. His behaviour would give one the impression as if he was showing his cordiality towards an intimate friend of his, and there was never any vestige of that seriousness which generally subsist between the spiritual guide and his disciple. Also in his talks he would bring in all sorts of homely topics, unless the visitors themselves would raise any question for discussion or make a request for a religious discourse. He was averse to the practice of unnecessarily imposing his sanctity on others by delivering sermons and homilies, in season and out of season. Once, two gentlemen of Sufi type came to pay him a visit. Maulana Abdul Karim whispered to him saying that they were great Sufis and that he should make such a speech as would give them an idea of the deep spiritual knowledge and enlightenment he was gifted with. There was a mark of strong resentment on his face and he began to say in quite a loud voice,
“Maulvi Sahib, do you think I am a showy man who would speak before people to impress them with the profundity of his knowledge? I consider it a polytheism to speak or write on a religious subject not with the intention of pleasing God but to create an impression of one’s greatness and pride.”
In this strain he went on and delivered, in fact, a pretty long sermon dealing with very amazing subtleties of show and pride which surprised his two Sufi visitors. When he left the room after this homily, Maulvi Abdul Karim smilingly remarked that after all he had succeeded in achieving his object.