Friday Sermon: Gloriously Extraordinary West African Visit

May 9th, 2008

On his return from the extraordinary West African visit of the Khilafat Centenary Year Huzur gave a discourse on this very special visit in the Friday Sermon today.

Huzur said everyone is aware that he has recently been on a visit to three West African countries. The main programmes of his visit, the Jalsa proceedings etc. would have been watched by many on MTA and they would have thus witnessed the profusion of Allah’s grace – in accordance with His promise - on the Community of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). Huzur said much of his visit is detailed in reports but as the majority of people do not read Al Fazl (Urdu newspaper, which is publishing the reports) and also because a lot of people have expressed the wish that Huzur would relate incidents of his visit he would recount those aspects which perhaps the camera does not capture and which are of the emotional nature.

Huzur said this was his first visit of the Khilafat Centenary and people had prepared for it with great excitement. The keenness and fervour of some was of astonishing level. Allah has granted the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) people with such love, sincerity and piety. People who give precedence to faith over worldly matters, whose nationality and race is different but who have such incredible love for the Khalifa of the time that it is overwhelming. Huzur said this was promised to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and was indeed destined to happen for Allah had promised the Messiah (on whom be peace) that He would give him honour and renown that would reach the ends of the earth and He would generate his love in hearts. Huzur said the world is witness to the fact that this promise was fulfilled with great glory during this African visit. There is nothing concealed, nothing exaggerated, the camera captured the images and the world saw that the people of Africa have great love for the Messiah and when they raise the slogan of ‘Ghulam Ahmad ki Jai’ (long live Ghulam Ahmad) in their specific manner the Divine promise of honour and renown is seen fulfilled with a unique glory. Huzur said certainly no human effort can inculcate so much love, nor can worldly greed bring about such delight on faces and such love in eyes. These people do not have any worldly wealth but they are laden with the wealth of Iman (belief) and no amount of worldly wealth can buy their love for the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). The love that they have for the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and subsequently for Khilafat is unique. It is our God Who has infused the love of Khilafat in Ahmadis because of the love they have for the Messiah (on whom be peace) and African Ahmadis are becoming a model of this.

Huzur explained that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that those who are with the prophets of God are always weak people. High and mighty people have all sorts of other thoughts and it is beneath their ‘dignity’ to be where the weak and the poor gather. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that he noticed that there were hundreds of very poor people in his Community but their boundless sincerity was astonishing. These people possessed firmness of faith, truth in belief and sincerity that if those who had wealth got to know of the satisfaction they had, they would be ready to give away all they had in exchange for it.

Huzur then related a few incidents of his recent visit. Huzur said everyone saw the welcome at Accra airport. It was night time and while people may have seen the general ambience of fervour [on MTA] the love exuding from the eyes of those people could only be seen by those present. The Jama’at headquarter is based in Accra but the Jalsa was held at a place about 30 kilometres away called ‘Bagh e Ahmad’. It is a newly acquired location with area of in excess of 400 acres and is conveniently situated besides a highway. Allah has bestowed this site to the Ghana Jama’at who have worked hard, have cleared it and planned it well. It is an old disused poultry farm with sheds etc. which have been cleaned, new flooring put in and are now used as living quarters. Huzur said if there was lack of space at Jalsa no one complained. A huge number of people had come there, well-off business people, teachers and other professionals; however, if there was no space, they quietly slept outdoors. Their reasoning was that they had come to listen to the Jalsa in the presence of the Khalifa of the time and it was only a temporary inconvenience of two days. Huzur said the site was new and the number of people tremendous but there was not a single complaint to be heard! There were people in excess of a hundred thousand present. It was also their first experience to operate Langar Khana (The Promised Messiah’s kitchen) on the level that they did. One day it transpired that some people from Burkina Faso were not fed. Three hundred of them [from Burkina Faso] had cycled the distance of 1,600 kilometres to reach the Jalsa site. When an apology was extended to their missionary about the food slip-up he said they had attained the objective for which they had come to the Jalsa and that the [spiritual] sustenance they received there was not available anywhere else. Huzur said the Burkina Faso Jama’at is advancing in their sincerity. There is so much poverty among them that some of them arrived in just one outfit but had saved pennies to come to the Khilafat Jalsa; who else but Allah can generate such love and devotion?

Huzur said the Khuddam [from Burkina Faso] who had arrived on bicycles had travelled for seven consecutive days, camping in between. The group had a few Ansars of 50-60 age group and two 13 year olds. Prior to travelling when the Ameer sahib of Burkina Faso told these boys that they were too young to make the trip, they were most disheartened and insisted to join and were delighted at being allowed. The Sadr Khuddam Burkina Faso, Abdur Rahman had said that they wished to emulate the tremendous sense of sacrifice of the early Muslims at the occasion of the Khilafat Centenary and planned the bicycle ride. Initially 1,400 people gave their name to join but due to some administrative matter only 300 were chosen. Huzur said it is not as if they had new, strong bicycles, rather these were old, rickety and dilapidated bikes but their sincerity for Khilafat which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had prophesised was such that they made the journey. Huzur said a TV correspondent asked one of the bikers from Burkina Faso how had he travelled on such a dilapidated bicycle. The reply was that no doubt the bicycle was dilapidated but the faith was strong. Huzur said this was broadcast on national television with striking headlines. Huzur said these are not born-Ahmadis, are not the family of any of the companions of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). They live thousands of miles away in places without electricity, without running water and where there is intense poverty. Yet having joined the Community of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) they are resolute in their resolve. Huzur prayed that may Allah increase them in their sincerity.

A person called Isa Sayama who took his bai’at in 2005 said ‘I realise today how fortunate I am.’ [Upon meeting Huzur]. Huzur said some expressed their love for Khilafat with tears. Indeed those unfortunate people who raise objections against the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) should see these people and the revolution that God’s Messiah has generated in them and the incredible love for the Khalifatul Masih that they have.

Huzur said a group of people arrived from The Gambia by bus, travelling some 7000 kilometres. Of course as those who have been to Africa know the buses there are not that great and the roads are poor. However when these people arrived at the Jalsa Gah, rather than look for somewhere to rest, they looked for the place where Salat was to be offered as it was Salat time. Huzur said the detailed reports will be printed in Al Fazl and those who can should read them.

A group came from Ivory Coast travelling a long distance. Allah had enabled many local people to bear the travelling costs of many who could not afford and who had been distressed at not having the capacity to travel. Huzur said various ways and means were utilised to attend the Khilafat Centenary Jalsa. The Ivory Coast Jama’at had decided that a group of a hundred people would travel to the Jalsa. These are extremely deprived people. They decided to cultivate a field in order to meet the travel expenses. Allah blessed them and 103 people came in their group.

In another group from Ivory Coast there were 23 women who have borrowed money in order to travel to the Jalsa and intend to pay back their loan from the proceeds of the crop that they have cultivated. Young girls from a region had started working on crops when they knew of Huzur’s visit to Ghana and thus managed to travel. Huzur said a lady from Ivory Coast came to the Jalsa. She was very ill. Her husband and her brother related that when she had left her village she told people that she was travelling to the Khilafat Jalsa despite her illness. She said she felt she would not return so she asked people to forgive her [any wrong]. Huzur said she was extremely ill and the journey was long, she had a mulaqat with Huzur and later passed away. Huzur said he led her funeral prayer.

Huzur said he has but related a minuscule part of the whole experience. He said the people of Ghana must be wondering that they have not been mentioned whereas it was their Jalsa! Huzur said the ardent love of the Ghanaian Jama’at for the Messiah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) emerges as a model. He said he remembers when Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (may Allah have mercy on him) visited Ghana in 1980 Huzur was stationed there. Hadhrat Khalifatul Maish III (may Allah have mercy on him) had come to Ghana from Nigeria. Masood Dehlvi sahib was accompanying him and had earlier reported/written that the reception at Nigeria was the ultimate. However, when he witnessed the reception at Ghana he said that all that could be written about it was that it was ‘like a surging ocean’. Huzur said indeed this is exactly how the Jama’at of Ghana is; the old and the new Ahmadis alike.

Huzur said it was their first Jalsa on such a huge scale. Indeed the world saw the grand spectacle on Friday. A friend from Ivory Coast said he had never seen such a gathering after Hajj. Huzur said during the Friday sermon as he looked on he wondered if the MTA team were showing it properly. However, Alhamdolillah, Huzur said the MTA young men who had travelled from UK displayed great expertise in this, may Allah reward them.

Huzur said one of the qualities he noticed of people at Jalsa at Ghana was the patience they exhibited listening to the proceedings despite the heat. Not just this Huzur said, at the time of Tahajjud and Fajr, the ground would be just as full. He said when he went for Fajr on Saturday morning he was astonished to find the crowd looked even bigger than at Friday Prayers. Huzur said his residence was at a distance of 6 kilo meters and the car would crawl on the way there due to people thronging around; women carrying little children, radiating love, urging the children to say salaam to Huzur. Such are the men and women of Ghana, Huzur said, who also safeguard their Salat and these indeed are the people to whom Allah has promised eternal Khilafat. Huzur said in Ghana the Langar was operated by women. He said when he went to have a look at the Langar the slogans raised were so passionately loud and fervent that Huzur deemed it best not to inspect the whole Langar lest in their passion and zeal the ladies overlooked that they had stoves and hot food around them. Huzur said the Khuddam too rendered their duty extremely well. Huzur said he watched them resolute on duty in pouring rain.

Huzur said in Benin the Ameer and Missionary-in-charge insisted that Huzur inaugurated the large mosque of Port Novo that he had laid the foundation stone of during his last visit. Their Jalsa also scheduled. Huzur said it is a new Jama’at in Benin and most of them are new converts. When Huzur crossed the border into Benin a governmental minister came to receive Huzur. Huzur said he was there mostly to meet with the Ahmadis who raised fervent, passionate slogans. Huzur said the next day was the last day of the Jalsa and was attended by 22,000 people who had travelled great distances. May Allah increase their love and sincerity. Huzur said such visits also provide opportunities for Tabligh. Huzur said an MNA took bai’at although Huzur told him to think it over but he said he was prepared, so the bai’at went ahead. A friend of an Ahmadi came to visit him and remarked that the visit of ‘your Khalifa’ is a visit of extraordinary blessings. Huzur said a special lady envoy of the President of the country came to see Huzur at the mission house. After Huzur had left she re-visited and asked if Huzur had been pleased with the visit. She also remarked that she had never attended such a Jummah in her life (earlier she had attended the Friday Prayers led by Huzur) and said that she had never heard anyone explain the Holy Qur’an (as Huzur had). Huzur said she is very close to accepting Ahmadiyyat and it is hoped that she will take her bai’at.

In Nigeria, although it was not planned Huzur was requested to unveil a plaque for a mosque near the border. Huzur agreed. Huzur said Nigeria is no less [in their zeal and sincerity]. Huzur said when they reached the site Huzur was relieved he had decided to come because the entire Jama’at stood waiting, certain that Huzur would come. They all wanted to have a handshake with Huzur which was not possible. Women wished to see Huzur from nearby. In the crowd, Huzur said, a member of his entourage said to a woman to step aside. Huzur recalled most amusingly that the woman was livid at this and retorted who did he think he was to come in between her and the Khalifa of the time! Huzur said it was entirely possible that she could have picked up the person and thrown him aside. Huzur said Nigerian women are very strong.

Once inside the mosque Huzur said when he asked for silence they all sat down. When Huzur told them that he did not have a plan to stop there but had come for them they raised such a passionate slogan that it felt the roof of the mosque would blow up. Huzur said the Jalsa site was at a distance of 1,200 kilo metres. En route Huzur said he witnessed the same sincerity, the same passion; women running alongside Huzur’s car with little children in their arms, drawing the children’s attention to Huzur, connecting them to Khilafat.

At the Jalsa people had also come from neighbouring Chad and Niger. Huzur said he met many governmental officials here and raised further awareness about the Jama’at. Relating about a local king Huzur said he has opened a girls school in the memory of his mother and requested Huzur to lay the foundation stone. Other traditional kings and government officials were present at the ceremony. The king openly expressed his affiliation with the Jama’at and with Huzur. Huzur prayed that may Allah open up his heart further and may he come into the fold of the Community of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and may Allah gather all pious souls on the hand of the Messiah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

Huzur said in 1940 following a situation that had developed in Nigeria Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) had told a group within the Nigerian Jama’at to either be obedient or be excluded. During this visit of Huzur the media asked Huzur about this group and Huzur said they had made no difference to the Jama’at at all. Huzur said those people now seem to realise their mistake. An Imam and an elder from them came to see Huzur and Huzur told them that the situation is quite clear and evident now and that they should stop being obstinate and come and join. Huzur said apparently they seemed to pay heed. Let us hope Allah opens their hearts.

Huzur said he would say to the missionaries there, in fact the missionaries around the world to raise the standard in terms of their connection with Allah and to inculcate this in their families as well; to display more sincerity, especially those who are in Africa. The earlier missionaries had made tremendous sacrifices and had set great models; everyone should try and attain the high standards they set. Huzur said the world is watching all this on MTA and we need to turn to Allah more than before. A lot of prayers are needed although it is Allah’s promise that He will make us triumphant but we should also increase in our sincerity and turn to Him more than before. May Allah so enable everyone and may He show us greater destinations of progress and advancement.