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‘They Are Living, Only You Perceive Not.’

A decade has passed since the horrific act of terror committed against the Ahmadi Muslim Community in Lahore on 28 May 2010. Anas Salman is a young Muslim who witnessed the atrocious attacks on one of the mosques, Dar uz-Zikr. Read his eye witness testimony below.

By Muhammad Mussawar Ahmed

One of the most brutal attacks ever encountered by this community was the Lahore attacks of Pakistan on 28 May 2010. As we reflect upon a decade since those martyrs who sacrificed their lives in this inhuman act of terrorism, it is difficult to understand the pain that the families of the affected went through. The attack took place in two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore, Pakistan whilst the peace-loving Ahmadis were busy in Friday prayers. The responsibility of this attack was claimed by Tehreek e Taliban, Pakistan. The attack was carried out in two different mosques (Dar ul-Zikr & Bait al-Noor) at the same time. The initial attack was followed up by making the people inside the two mosques hostages for hours . The saddest part of this brutality was that the attackers entering the mosque murdered everyone they found alive indiscriminately. Moreover, a lack of proper support from authorities made it even easier for these perpetrators to shed blood of innocent Ahmadis without fear.

However, it was the courage of our courageous Ahmadi brothers who eventually overpowered two of the attackers in Model town mosque and handed him over to the police. An eyewitness and survivor of the attack named Anas Salman, a Khadim who now lives in the UK, explains this whole experience in the following words:

“It was one of those days which I can never forget. I got up from the office and went to Garhi Shaho mosque (Dar ul-Zikr) for Jumma prayer. When I reached there, I offered my first set of ‘sunnat’ prayers and as soon as I finished my prayers, I heard gunshots. The Murabbi sahib who was delivering the sermon asked the worshippers to stay calm. Soon, we noted that bullets started getting fired from one of the mosque hall windows on the left and some people got injured.  People started running to save their lives towards the right corner of the hall. Murabbi sahib started reciting prayers in loud voice but all of a sudden, the door behind him was blasted with a grenade and he embraced martyrdom in front of my eyes. A terrorist entered from the destroyed door and started firing. I was in the second last row, so I ran towards the back door with others and came to the open hallway.

As soon as we came to the hallway, one of the terrorists there blew himself up in a suicide blast. We tried to run to save our lives by hiding in the toilets, rooms and underneath the staircase. During that time, we continuously heard the gunshots. When I looked around, I saw myself surrounded by around 30 people which included children as well. People were in a state of shock and some were calling police, whilst others were calling their loved ones to say final good byes. I also tried to call my mother but the network was busy. I was worried about what would happen next. Suddenly, one of the attackers fired at us from the opposite ceiling of the hall. Many people got hit and I also got hit with two bullets: one on the upper chest and the other penetrated my arm. I wanted to talk to my mother one last time but the network didn’t allow it. I laid there in despair waiting to embrace death. Luckily there was a basement beside that staircase. When I realised that I am still breathing after 15 minutes, I gathered my strength and asked all others to go into the basement. It was half past 3 and we could still hear the gunshots. After some time, my phone rang and I could hear my mother’s voice on the other side. I got emotional after listening to my mother and started crying. However, the reply my mother gave shook me and raised my morale. She replied back by saying: ‘Son, you are God’s property and whatever He will do for you will be better’. These words really gave me a boost and I asked her to give the phone to my father. She said that he is in ‘sajda’ and is not getting up. I asked them for prayers and said goodbye.

Bullet holes in the walls of one of the Mosques in Lahore.

Bullet holes in the walls of one of the Mosques in Lahore

We could still hear firing and gunshots, so we stayed in the basement and started praying. At around half past 5, we heard chants of ‘Allah o Akbar’ and the announcement asking us to come out as everything was alright now. However, these voices were suppressed by a loud bomb blast. We felt that the ceiling of the mosque would fall upon us but we remained safe. Later on, we realised that it was systematically plotted by terrorists due to which they managed to kill more people. At around half past 6, we again heard similar chants but we did not move. However, after a while, our Khuddam brothers knocked on the basement door and called us out upon which we came out. We were thankful to God that we got saved but as soon as we saw the scenes of bloodshed and brutality in the mosque, I fell on the ground unconscious and was taken away by our Khuddam brothers to the ambulance.”   

The scene outside of Dar ul-Zikr, Lahore, on the day of the attack.

More than 80 worshippers were brutally martyred and another 120 were severely injured. Most of the victims were buried in the town of Rabwah, the official headquarters of Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan. The attack was condemned by many main stream media outlets and politicians but none of them attended the funeral services or visited the affected. Independent organisations claimed that this type of atrocity is primarily targeted to Ahmadis easily due to their constitutional ‘non-Muslim’ status. Today, on this day of 28 May 2020, we pledge allegiance to the martyrs of 28 May through our heartiest submissions. It is hard to believe that those terrorists were chanting slogans of Takbir while killing innocents on the day which is declared Yaum e Takbir officially by the government of Pakistan. However, under the divine guidance of our beloved Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmed (aba), this community showed an immense example of patience and composure. There was no protest recorded, no official statements being made and no reports were lodged. This blessed Jama’at rested its case with the highest of courts, that of Allah Almighty. Fellow Ahmadi brothers hugged and consoled each other by saying,

“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V. 157)   

This agony created a state of restlessness in the community which was encountered by endless prayers seeking help and justice from Allah. Ahmadis all over the world became witness of this sacrifice that “O my martyr brother, you have set an example of the Sahaba of Uhud and enabled yourself to claim your place in the gardens of Jannah”. Huzoor (aba) also comforted the Jama’at on this occasion with the following words:

“Allah the Almighty is certainly capable of taking revenge from those who have tried to cause this collective harm. He knows better how He will show His Power, how He will catch those who commit this mischief and oppression. But may Allah make these people, who are repeatedly challenging the honour of God and are increasing in oppression, a sign and example for people; Insha-Allah, it will happen.” (Friday Sermon, 28 May 2010) 

Today as we witness the completion of these ten years of this incident, we can surely feel that this sacrifice did not restrict the progress of this blessed Jama’at. In fact, this community qualified themselves among the ones following the footsteps of the Holy prophet (sa) and the Sahaba (ra) as per the hadith. Today every Ahmadi can surely feel the wounds those takbir slogans inflicted them with. The love for ‘Takbir’ however, will still be there.

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Hatred Towards Ahmadi Muslims Permeates More Spheres Than We Think About

A Regional Nazim Tabligh posted a message condemning the terror attacks in Paris and promoting the peaceful teachings of Islam. However, hatred towards the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community meant that such a message of peace was not well received by some.

I posted something on my social media accounts recently regarding the incidents in France; these were quotes of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba condemning terrorism and stating that Islam is a religion of peace. To my surprise, my post went viral, but not exactly in the way one would hope. I woke up to an astounding amount of abuse on Linkedin. Being an Ahmadi Muslim, it was, of course, the usual group of individuals declaring me to be well on my “way to hell”, and that I would partake in “curses of all 1.2 billion other Muslims” (I’m quite sure the guy who said that didn’t ask all of them).

It’s very difficult reasoning with such people. As Ahmadi Muslims we do, as always, try to prove through our conduct that Islam is a religion of peace, not hate. But examples of such practice fall upon deaf ears.

What’s worse is that my post was literally defending Islam. The French President labeled Islam as a “religion in crisis”. My post merely pointed out that, in reality, that was not the case and that it was those identifying as Christian, whose numbers are dwindling. My post was nothing but condemning the recent attacks while defending the beautiful teachings of Islam. However, I was shocked with the hate I received, from those identifying as Muslim. I am sure they do not know what Islam truly means.

Yet on the other hand, I was very much moved by the messages of love that were directed my way. U nderstandably, there were people that were genuinely confused about what was wrong with what I had said; they were unaware of the prejudice that many Muslims harbour against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Here are some of the messages of support I received:

One non-Muslim gentlemen posted a comment saying: “I’m struggling to understand some of the horrendous and vitriolic comments that I’ve read in response to this post.”

Another message read: “The people commenting frivolously on a post related to condemning a horrid attack on a religion is being condemned by the believers, why are you guys even commenting on something you do not agree with. You can choose to ignore instead of hurling abuses or simply get yourself excused from Mr. Farasat’s professional network.”

A lady posted a comment which read: “Just fallen upon this post. I am of no religion. When I read the post I thought how good that someone is condemning the acts of violence that have been committed. When reading the comments WOW, some of you guys putting curses on the person who has written this post, being so hateful and saying that if he doesn’t follow the last prophet and those teachings that he can’t be a Muslim. I think whatever religion you follow you should advocate peace, however many of the comments on this post are completely awful and just go to show that if people are not following your teachings you hate them, you truly hate them… what a very sad state of affairs.”

Nevertheless, I feel sorry for all those who misunderstood the whole context of the post and were attacking me personally. But this demonstrates that if such hate can occur on a professional platform, one that has nothing to do with religion per se, then imagine how deeply the hatred of Ahmadi Muslims permeates those societies where persecution is backed by law.  We need to educate people including ourselves more than ever.

My post reached over 81,000 views (growing still). I urge all Khuddam to use social media as a tool to spread the message of love and peace as much as possible. Just imagine if a single effort can make such a big difference, then what can the collective achieve? Honestly, I am not an Imam but a normal Ahmadi Muslim who just loves his faith, his Khalifah and his religion. The abuse I received did move me quite a bit.  After hours in a state of disturbance, a light from within me boosted my faith and gave me so many reasons to keep continuing to spread the Islamic message of peace and love between all people.

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Amoomi Duties At Islamabad: Blessings To Remember

Khuddam reflect on moments during duties which they will hold onto forever.

  1. March 2020 announced the start of national lockdown in the UK and various other countries. With it brought great sorrow to Ahmadis around the world due to them not being able to meet Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba anymore. The Khuddam from Muqami region, who had recently been bestowed the privilege of doing regular duties since Huzooraba had shifted to Islamabad, were brought even more sorrow. They were informed that they would not be able to conduct duties in Masjid Mubarak. Nevertheless, whilst adhering to government guidelines Islamabad was closed to visitors. However, since the protection of the residence of the Khalifa-e-Waqt is still the responsibility of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, by adhering to social distancing guidelines, duties were conducted during the lockdown. What is unique about these duties is that many of our Khuddam experienced numerous blessed and joyful encounters. Here are a few of the incidents Khuddam from Muqami region have experienced. I should point out that, in order to demonstrate the love that Khuddam have for our beloved Huzooraba, I have passed on these occurrences to be published as were received.

One Khadim narrates, “I am a Pharmacist by profession, and sometimes I travel further away from home to work in different pharmacies. One day after travelling a long distance, I came straight to Islamabad for my four-hour shift in the evening. When I arrived, I was famished and was shy to ask for any food from my shift in-charge. I prayed to Allah that I am in your holy land, so please relieve me from my hunger. After a short moment, I noticed that a Khadim was approaching my car. When I looked out, he answered: “Huzooraba has sent some refreshments for Khuddam, and this refreshment is for you, so please take some.” For a moment, there were tears in my eyes as I had just observed Allah’s love. There and then, I was convinced that this is purely the work of Allah who blessed and rewarded me for coming here to do duty.”

Another Khadim narrates, “I remember Jamia Ahmadiyya UK had the blessed opportunity of offering duties as soon as Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba had moved to Islamabad. It was Ramadan – a blessed and holy time and it was a Friday. Myself and my classmate were doing duty from 11am to 10pm at Qitta-e-Khas [inner compound]. I remember finding it particularly difficult to fast whilst offering duties; and every hour we would countdown to the moment of Iftar.

There was around an hour until Iftar, and we were particularly struggling at this point but all of a sudden, another Jamia student – who was offering his duty at scanning – needed a replacement so that he could offer his prayers. I volunteered, and walked to scanning whilst he went and offered his prayers.

I was only at scanning for a few minutes, and I knew I had to get back to Qitta-e-Khas soon; but right then and there, lo and behold, Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba opened the door of the Private Secretary’s office and looked outside. In that surreal moment, it felt like it was just me and my Khalifah. I hesitantly waved, not knowing that Huzooraba had even seen me. However, I saw my Beloved Khalifah smile at me, and wave at me before heading back inside his office. At that moment I realised the immense blessing of not only being in Islamabad offering duties for Huzooraba, but the sheer blessings of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Another Khadim narrates, “once Hazrat Ameerul Mumineenaba  came to inspect the field of Islamabad and to my good fortune I was outside having a drink of water. I was very fortunate to be one of the few that were accompanying His Holinessaba through the grass. During this 10-15 minute walk he turned towards me and asked whether my wife and daughter had arrived in the UK. To this I replied as of yet they have not but InshaAllah they would be joining me soon. It was a surprise for me as Huzooraba was very busy and interested in this inspection and the fact that he took time to ask about my family personally left me speechless and ever more thankful at  having the opportunity to serve so close to Huzooraba.”

Another Khadim narrates, “After Eid Prayers Huzooraba came out of the mosque and walked over to my class fellows and inquired about each of them, I was one of the few that were not there as I was on duty around the perimeter of Islamabad. When I found out Huzooraba had come to see our class, I was happy for those who were present there, however, a slight part of me wished I had been there as well. Soon after I saw a car approaching from which a young man came out and said Huzooraba has sent this for those who are on duty. It was Huzoor’saba Kahwah [traditional green tea] that Huzooraba had drank after the Eid Sermon and was a source of blessing for me and my colleagues. This reminded me straight away that however far I or anyone maybe, we are always in Huzoor’saba thoughts and prayers.”

Eid-ul-Adha was one of the most joyful days for Khuddam conducting duties in Islamabad. Not only because it was Eid, but that each Khadim received a precious gift from beloved Huzooraba that they will never forget. The gift bags had the Khadim’s name written on them and they contained various different items such as a tie, toppi, pair of socks and scarves.

One Khadim, upon picking up the gift pack from myself, became very emotional and could not express his gratitude. He said this motivated him even more to come and do Amoomi duties.

Another Khadim, when receiving the gift, excitedly sent an audio message to his Qiadat group, expressing his emotions and how blessed he was feeling. He said he wanted to share his feelings with his fellow Khuddam in the Qiadat so that those who are not taking part in the duties may listen and come forward.

In June and July 2020, I learnt that Huzooraba had graciously sent mangoes for all Khuddam who have been conducting duties in Islamabad. Sadr sahib instructed that they must be distributed immediately. As a result, a list of Khuddam was made and each one was contacted so they could collect the mangoes. Within the same day, almost all Khuddam on the list came delightfully and collected the Tabaruk [blessing]. I could personally see the joy on everyone’s faces when they came to collect the mangoes that Huzooraba had graciously sent for them. All were excited to go home and share this blessing with their families.

Duties in Islamabad have been blessed for every Khadim who participated. We hope and pray that this pandemic ends quickly so Khuddam can continue serving the Jama’at.

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The Power of Durood Shareef

Understanding the Need for Durood Shareef in Today’s World.

The Promised Messiahas says that there is now one way for us to seek salvation and the love of Allah. That is through complete devotion and obedience to the Prophetsa. As Allah the Almighty says to the Holy Prophetsa :

Say, If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you and forgive you your faults. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (3:32)

This year’s theme approved by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih Vaba is: The Power of Durood Shareef.

The importance of such a theme cannot be taken lightly. Rather it is a theme that should be part and parcel of our entire lives. The love of the Holy Prophetsa should be infused within us with such vigour that we, as Ahamdi Muslim youth, are always ready to sacrifice ourselves to defend the honour of the Holy Prophetsa and seek to obtain the blessings of Allah the Almighty by invoking Durood on His beloved Messengersa.

The importance of loving the Holy Prophetsa was once explained by the Prophetsa himself. Hazrat Anasra narrates that Prophetsa said:

“None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.”

It is only by increasing our knowledge about the life of the Holy Prophetsa that we can truly love him and understand his exalted station. We should inculcate in ourselves, based on that knowledge, love, honour, and respect for the Holy Prophetsa; which is a requirement of our faith.

To truly send Durood, we must be conscious of the rank and honour that Allah the Almighty granted the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.

The Promised Messiahas stated:

“I always wonder how high was the status of this Arabian Prophet, whose name was Muhammad, (thousands of blessings and peace be upon him). One cannot reach the limit of his high status and it is not given to man to estimate correctly his spiritual effectiveness. It is a pity that his rank has not been recognised, as it should have been. He was the champion who restored to the world the Unity of God which had disappeared from the world; he loved God in the extreme and his soul melted out of sympathy for mankind. Therefore, God, Who knew the secret of his heart, exalted him above all the Prophets and all the first ones and the last ones and bestowed upon him in his lifetime all that he desired.

He is the fountainhead of every grace and a person who claims any superiority without acknowledging his grace is not a man but is the spawn of Satan, because the Holy Prophetsa has been bestowed the key to every exaltation and he has been given the treasury of every understanding. He who does not receive through him is deprived forever. I am nothing and possess nothing. I would be most ungrateful if I were not to confess that I have learnt of the true Unity of God through this Prophet. The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this perfect Prophet and through his light. The honour of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance, has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet.”

Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! You also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace. (33:57)

We should send blessings upon him, keeping in mind his high status and the great pains and lengths he went to  so that we could learn Islam, and with a realisation that even now it is only possible to come closer to Allah if we have love for him in our heart and follow his footsteps.

The Durood that we send upon the Prophet Muhammadsa should be heart-felt. The Promised Messiahas stated in a letter to one of his companions:

“Stay intensely focused in invoking Durood and seek blessings for the Holy Prophetsa with the same sincerity and discernment with which one seeks blessings for a dear one.”

Durood Shareef is a way to gain blessings, wipe out our faults and elevate our spiritual rank. Hazrat Anas bin Malikra narrated that the Holy Prophetsa said:

“Whoever sends salutations upon me once, Allah will send peace upon him tenfold, and will erase ten sins from him, and will raise him ten degrees in status.”

Durood Shareef is thus an essential part of the life of a Muslim. There is no other person upon whom so many blessings are sought, and in consequence of which so many blessings are reaped.

In today’s world where the blessed and noble character of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa is deliberately mischaracterised in the media, it is essential for us to not only counter such negativity by manifesting his exalted status, but it is equally important for us to always invoke salutations upon him.

It is only when we truly begin to love our beloved Prophetsa that we can truly be counted as Muslims, this is because it is in his practice that we find perfection, and it is by emulating his example that we can come to understand the significance and value of the teachings of Islam.

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