6 months to a lifetime

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In this quiet suburban corner of south west London sits the first mosque built in this city, Fazl Mosque, where the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community resides. I walked into the security cabin and caught a conversation between two of our senior security members Major Sahib and Mohammad Ahmad Sahib.

MA: Major sahib, you have been fortunate enough to work directly under Khilafat since 1984. Tell us about the first time you came to London and when you met Khalifatul Masih IV (ra).

MJ: I was called to do Waqf for 6 months from Pakistan and I came to the UK in November 1984. When I arrived, I met with Khalifatul Masih IV (ra), he welcomed me and said ‘I am happy that you have come and I am appointing you officer hifazat-e-khas’. In April 1985, I attended Jalsa UK in Islamabad and I was also able to bring my family over from Pakistan who stayed with me for 3 months. After their stay, I had been in London for 9 months and I requested my in-charge to allow me to complete 3 more months before getting permission for me to go back to Pakistan. 

In the mean time, Eid arrived and we travelled to Islamabad for the celebrations. On the way back, Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) mentioned how my assistant would have to travel back to Pakistan due to a family emergency and a new assistant would be arriving. Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) asked me if I have any problems with this? Even though in my head i thought of my family waiting in Pakistan for me I stated that I have no problem. Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) then stated ‘Ok, InshAllah we will go back to Pakistan together and in the mean time your family can come and stay in London’. That was the end of the conversation.

MA: You mentioned the first Jalsa with Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) in Islamabad, can you tell us a little bit more about that?

MJ: My first Jalsa in Islamabad was held in April and there was snow everywhere, it was very cold but the marquees were heated up. It was our first jalsa in Islamabad and we had one tent for the men and one for the women. The next year the attendance increased, as more and more people were wanting to see the Khalifa of Islam. So we had to start borrowing land and this happened every year as the Jalsa grew and grew. 

Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) then decided to move Jalsa from April to July due to the cold weather and into the summer holidays to give everyone a chance to help with the preparations and allow more people to come from around the world.

MA: Is there any significant moment that stands out in your mind?

MJ: Every moment with Khalifatul Masih is significant. It is difficult to differentiate when you are working with Khalifatul Masih. You never know what is going to happen next or what he is going to say next. So you have to be alert at all times and remain on your toes. It is difficult but we are very blessed.

 

MA: Tell us about the biggest change that you have seen over the years

MJ: Those kids, those kids that were working with us years ago, who were supplying us with water as children are now fathers. Now their sons are now working with us. This is the biggest change and blessing that we get to witness. But we have witnessed improvements in every department within the jama’at Alhumdolillah.

MA: MashAllah you have been under the umbrella of Khilafat for such a long time. Tell us a little about the first few days, months or even years of when you first came and how security detail was approached back then

MJ: When I arrived here I was shocked to find out that there were no full time members of the security team, all the security were khuddam volunteers. There were only 3 of us in total that were called over from Pakistan, thankfully we were able to call for reinforcements as well.

MA: Can you tell us a little bit about the infrastructure back then..

MJ: When I first came here there was no cabin, no post, nothing. We used to stand in front of the main entrance of Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) home. We used to keep a telephone on the corner and that would be it. We would then call some volunteers to come at night and sleep on the floor inside the corridor and would give them the telephone. We then would lock the door and stand outside or be doing our rounds while they slept and attended any calls. No matter the weather we would be standing there with no walkie talkie, no mobile phone, no cameras – we would be totally blind. We would lock the main gates with a key and that would be it. My shift would be at 2am and I would be handed the key. One of the members of the jama’at had a large, well trained guard dog so I would request that he would bring him, and I would do my patrols with the guard dog. This is how we started doing security in London for Khalifatul Masih IV (ra).

It just shows the blessings of the jama’at and the development and growth. Back then we were hardly 3 and now alhmdolillah I have a very large full time team. There has been a substantial change across all departments within the jama’at but I have had first time hand experience at the development and growth of the security team.

MA: MashAllah you have had the opportunity to travel with two Khalifas over the years. In a ‘Readers Digest’ version tell us about some of your more memorable trips

MJ: Every moment with Khalifatul Masih is a memorable moment.

MA: A story that I find fascinating and inspiring of yours is when Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) went to Mauritius, can you tell us about that? 

MJ: Like I said every moment with Khilafatul Masih is memorable and special. We were in Mauritius and Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) was due to give a speech at the university there, with a lot of high level dignitaries. Whilst in the car, Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) was reading his notes and once we arrived he handed me the notes. I thought they were A4 pages but the moment he handed them to me smaller papers fell out. I immediately picked them up and put them back. I went straight to Private Secretary sahib and asked him to rearrange them, and he stated that he couldn’t do it. I then asked him to write down a note that I could pass on to Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) while he was sitting on the main table, stating that the speech was not in the correct order. Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) read the note and didn’t do anything to his notes. I then got worried that he didn’t see it so I wrote another note and handed it to Khalifatul Masih IV (ra). He read it and still didn’t do anything. I then went outside thinking that’s it,  I will be suspended for this. When Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) turn came he took his notes with him and at the podium he started to look at them and kept shuffling them around, one page on top of another on top of another. Then he finally said “I think someone liked my speech a little too much and shuffled up the papers” and he laughed.

And then he put his notes to the side and just started to proceed with a speech without any notes. That speech was so wonderful that it has now been turned into a book. And Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) of course forgave me for my mistake.

MA: Do you remember that incident when we were driving the Khaafla from Cleveland, Ohio to Toronto, I believe in the 80s. I recall that you were responsible for making sure that there was water for the whole car and the passengers. I was driving the car and you were sitting up front with me keeping me awake. Then Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) asked me a question and I gave a weak answer. Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) thought my throat was dry and I needed some water. So Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) asked you (Major Sahib) “Ahmad needs some water, make sure you give him some now”. Major Sahib you then looked down for the water bottle and came up looking red faced and looked at me and whispered ‘there’s no water’. So I said to Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) ‘It’s ok I don’t need any water’ and Khalifatul Masih IV (ra) said ‘ok – if Ahmad won’t have any water – I will have some water’ of course then we had to own up to it. 

The room filled with laughter. 

MJ: But like I said all moments with the Khalifa are memorable moments, I could sit here for hours talking about them.

 

We then looked at our watches and realized that it was almost Zuhr time, which for them meant duty calls.