The Great Reformer (Vol. 2) [‘Mujaddid-e-Azam’]

Biography of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian

by Dr. Basharat Ahmad

Translated by Akram Ahmad

Chapter 52: Stay in Amritsar

Lecture in Amritsar:

Hazrat Mirza departed from Ludhiana on the morning of November 8, 1905 and reached Amritsar in the afternoon. He spent one and a half days in Amritsar on the request of the Amritsar chapter of the Ahmadiyya Organization.

The Ahmadiyya Organization in Amritsar had distributed flyers announcing that Hazrat Mirza would deliver a public lecture at 8 A.M. on November 9, 1905, at Mandwa Kanhaiyalal Hall.

The flyer stated that the lecture would elucidate the virtues of Islam and support the claim of Islam as the one true religion by furnishing rational arguments and highlighting the rewards of an Islamic life and the blessings and enlightenment that follow. It also stated that Hazrat Mirza would provide arguments to verify his claims.

Since Amritsar was the hotbed of opposition and there was a real danger that the opposing clerics may try to disrupt the proceedings by hooliganism, an oath was included in bold letters at the beginning of the flyer. The oath stated:

“We administer an oath in the name of Allah (the trespass of which is a grave sin) to every Muslim and followers of other religions not to raise any objection or ask a question either before, during or after the speech.”

This statement was necessary because the objective of the lecture was merely the propagation of Islam. It was not intended to be a forum for argumentation or debate.

However, such an oath cannot stop determined opponents who are bent on creating mayhem and causing dissensions. This concern was borne out by the events that followed.

On the morning of the lecture, Hazrat Mirza narrated that he had seen a field of sugarcane in his dream. According to the interpretative science of dreams, a sugarcane field is indicative of riots and tumult. By the appointed time of the lecture, the Mandwa Kanhaiyalal Hall was completely packed with people.

Hazrat Mirza was not feeling especially well that day, but despite his indisposition, he began his lecture at the appointed time of 8 A.M. Hazrat Mirza made the following statement at the outset:

“About fourteen years ago when I came here, there were only a few individuals with me. The clerics had passed a decree excommunicating me from Islam and Abdul Haq Ghaznavi entered into a prayer duel with me.

“In this prayer duel, both of us took an oath in the name of Allah, but I merely swore against myself to the effect that if I were a liar and falsifier with respect to my claims, then may God disgrace and ruin me. Far from disgracing and ruining me, God has assisted me tremendously by His grace since the prayer duel. Today, thousands of people are among my disciples, and devotees surround me in large numbers. And despite the vehement efforts and machinations of my opponents, God has exonerated me in litigations.”

Hazrat Mirza had spoken for approximately forty-five minutes when one of his disciples, possibly thinking that his throat must be dry, presented him with a cup of tea without his asking.

Because of his indisposition and the fact that he was traveling, Hazrat Mirza was not fasting, but he did not want to needlessly give his opponents an opportunity to object. During the Ludhiana lecture, Hazrat Mirza had not asked for tea or anything else and similarly, he had not asked for tea here in Amritsar. The disciple who presented the cup of tea did so out of a spirit of excessive enthusiasm to serve and acted entirely on his own volition.

Hazrat Mirza detested hypocrisy and ostentation. Now that tea had been offered to him, he did not want to give the false impression to the audience that he was fasting. So he took a sip of tea.

This was just the kind of opportunity that the opponents were waiting for. A clamor went up immediately:

“This is the month of Ramadan! Why are you not fasting?”

Hazrat Mirza responded:

“I am a traveler and also I am indisposed. God says in the Quran:

وَ مَنۡ کَانَ مَرِیۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰی سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّۃٌ مِّنۡ اَیَّامٍ اُخَرَ ؕ

‘And whoever is sick or on a journey, he shall fast a like number of other days.’ (2:185)

Further, the Hadith puts so much emphasis on taking advantage of this allowance that the Holy Prophet called one of his Companions ‘disobedient’ who had not broken his fast during the journey.”

But Maulvi Sanaullah’s party and the Ghaznavi clan who had come solely for the purpose of creating a commotion were not dissuaded. They kept on shouting and jeering and finally stood up and started clapping, whistling and uttering offensive abuses.

The gentry of Amritsar repeatedly asked the hooligans to desist from such actions, and the police attempted to quell the disturbance, but all their efforts were in vain. Because of the din in the hall, the lecture had to be discontinued. The police tried to disperse the crowd but without much success. Under the circumstances, it was deemed appropriate that Hazrat Mirza should return to his lodgings. Hazrat Mirza was escorted to a closed carriage and no sooner had he boarded it when a shower of bricks and stones hurled by the ruffians hit the carriage.

Given the situation, the probability of serious injury or death was very high but it was entirely God’s protection through his angels that saved Hazrat Mirza and his disciples that day. If a stone had hit and shattered any of the glass windows of the carriage, the flying shards could have been dangerous for the passengers inside.

Praise be to God that no stone hit Hazrat Mirza and that his disciples too escaped, albeit narrowly. On the way back, Hazrat Mirza remarked,

“It was necessary that this tradition should also be fulfilled.”

It has forever been the custom of evil people to stone the God-sent people. The people of Taif had followed the Holy Prophet, pelting him with stones for many miles when he had visited their town for propagation.

The Amritsar chapter of the Ahmadiyya Organization spared no effort to serve Hazrat Mirza and his many disciples who had gathered in Amritsar. Their hospitality was commendable.

Arrival in Qadian:

Hazrat Mirza along with his family and disciples departed from Amritsar and reached Qadian safely at noontime on Friday, November 10, 1905, where the congregational Friday prayer was offered.

Exemplary Admonition:

Given the compelling reasons why Hazrat Mirza was not fasting, the drinking of tea during the lecture was certainly not an action against Islamic law.

It is in fact an injunction of God and His Prophet that travelers and patients should not fast. A worldly, fame-seeking person would never have had the moral courage to drink tea before the public when not fasting. Even if a disciple had mistakenly offered a cup of tea, he would have said:

“Take it away, I am fasting.”

Such people are seekers of fame and of building a false reputation and would never act in a manner that is objectionable in the eyes of the uninformed general public.

A common malady these days is that people who are meticulous in abiding by one injunction of God, i.e., to fast during Ramadan are inattentive of another injunction, i.e., not to fast when sick or on a journey.

Some people have stipulated such strict conditions regarding the circumstances of sickness and journey before the allowance of not fasting can be availed, that for all practical purposes, the conditions can never be satisfied and neither can the allowance be availed. Some people say that it is very burdensome to fast after the month of Ramadan, and so somehow or other they should just keep fasting during Ramadan.

In short, people do not pay serious attention to the fact that just as God has commanded that healthy and stationed people should fast during the month of Ramadan, there is another parallel injunction that exempts travelers and sick people from fasting. It could only be the work of a reformer to draw attention, without regard to the popular opinion, to God’s injunction of not fasting when sick or on a journey, and to strive to remove this weakness from the minds of the Muslims that it is difficult to fast after Ramadan.

After all when it is God’s injunction to fast, then just as it is obligatory to fast in Ramadan, it is similarly obligatory for patients and travelers during the month of Ramadan to make up the fasts in other months. If there is any regard for the orders of God, then people who consider it necessary to fast during the month of Ramadan should consider it equally necessary to fast out of Ramadan.

Otherwise, there is no excellence in customarily fasting during Ramadan but being lazy about the expiatory fasts after Ramadan. In fact, it is disobedience. Although Hazrat Mirza himself had not wished to drink tea during that lecture, lest there should be scope for dissension or tribulation, it appears as if God had wished to bring this matter to light and created the appropriate circumstances for this to happen.

Hazrat Mirza’s action was entirely justifiable under Islamic law, and had a reformative message for the laziness and remissness of the populace, but it nevertheless provided the opponents with an excuse to create mischief and mayhem.

But God has a keen sense of honor and His sense of Honor finally manifested itself. During the month of Ramadan in 1909, there was such a severe outbreak of malaria in Amritsar that almost the entire Muslim population of Amritsar was laid up in bed with fever and could not fast.

Public booths were set up throughout the city for free distribution of beverages and indigenous medicines to the poorer sections of the society. People were seen publicly taking their medicines and drinks during the hours of fasting, and Ramadan ceased to be the month of fasting and instead became a month of eating and drinking for the Muslims of Amritsar. They did exactly what they had used as an excuse to hurl stones at a pious man of God. Such is God’s keen sense of honor and the consequences of opposing the friends of God, that God deprives the opponents of the opportunity of doing good.