a hidden saint and an apparent kafir
Opinion of Rais Ahmad Jafari
Hai wali posheedah aur kafir khulaa
Urdu poet Ghalib
The extract below is translated from the Urdu book
Deed-o-Shuneed A Collection of Personal Impressions
about People (What I saw and heard) by Rais Ahmad Jafari, published
by Rais Ahmad Jafari Academy, 1B, 5 Mi‘maar Terrace, Gulshan-i
Iqbal No.1, Karachi, pp. 120, 121, Second edition 1987. In the 1948
edition this extract appears on pages 160163.
In 1924 the Annual
Conference of Nadwatul Ulama was held at Lucknow with much pomp
and splendour. Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman Khan Sherwani, the Nawab
Sadr Yar Jang Bahadur of Hyderabad Deccan, came especially to preside
over the Conference. Students of the Nadwatul Ulama had played a
significant role in the Khilafat movement and the All-India Congress
Party. That was why a considerable number of political leaders also
graced the occasion. Maulana Shaukat Ali, “the lion of Islam”,
was conspicuous among them.
I was a student of Grade 1 of the Nadwah. Annual examinations
had just ended and the younger students were allowed to avail the
vacations and go home. But the lure of the Conference was so overwhelming
that I did not go home and remained in Nadwah till the end of the
I was standing in the side verandah of the hall when
a friend of mine said to me: Let us go and listen to the lecture
of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. I immediately went along with him. On the
stage there was a handsome, imposing man delivering a fine speech.
His voice was so loud and resounding that even at the back of the
hall each and every word of his speech could be heard. His face
was quite full and he had a black beard. Instead of the typical
Muslim style pajamas (trousers) and achkan (long coat),
he was wearing a coat and on his head he had a turban with tassels.
The speech on “The Propagation of Islam” was so impressive
and convincing that everyone was listening to it attentively with
The general impression about Qadianis is that they
are kafirs (unbelievers). The Khwaja sahib also belonged
to the same Movement. It was a matter of wonder how the heart of
a kafir had so much sympathy for Islam, such great fervour
for the preaching of Islam and such tremendous enthusiasm for the
propagation of Islam. Later I came to know that the Khwaja sahib
had already set up a permanent centre in England for the propagation
of Islam, and many people in Europe had entered the fold of Islam
through him. He was also publishing a magazine in English and its
Urdu version was published monthly under the title Ishaat-i
Islam from Lahore. Later I also learnt that he is a member of
the Ahmadiyya Community which does not believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
sahib to be a prophet but only a Mujaddid. Anyhow the more
I came to know about his Islamic activities the more his respect
and estimation increased in my heart. I never accepted for a moment
that, God forbid, he was a kafir, although most people considered
him a kafir and firmly refused to accept him as a Muslim.
I never saw the Khwaja sahib again after this. However,
I witnessed an incident of his life which I still remember and probably
will remember forever.
After the speech of the Khwaja sahib, the Conference
was adjourned to the next day. All the guests went to their respective
rooms. One room was reserved for the Khwaja sahib and he went to
his room. At the end of the session I was roaming about and passed
by the Khwaja sahibs room. There was complete silence; no
one was in the gallery except me. I saw the Khwaja sahib all alone
offering his ‘asr prayer. I have seen all kinds of
people offering their prayers, great and small, learned and uneducated.
But witnessing the concentration, absorption, humility and submissiveness
with which the Khwaja sahib was offering his prayer made a deep
impact on my heart and created an indelible impression which still
exists even today.
The definition of prayer [in Hadith Editor]
is that the person offering it should feel as if he is seeing God,
or if not then at least he should have the feeling that God can
see him. It was clearly evident from the Khwaja sahibs prayer
that he was feeling as if he was seeing God. Without this feeling,
that state of concentration, absorption, humility and submissiveness
cannot be attained, of which the Khwaja sahib was a visual embodiment.
It is possible that some people still consider him
a kafir, but my heart carries a deep impression of his practice
of Islam which even vicissitudes of time could not efface.