21 Feb Memories of Al Haaj Rashid Ahmad American
Having just flown across the country in a red-eye flight, my eyes were slightly red to say the least. The Ijtema site was a sight for sore eyes, for the grandeur of all the activities and the grandeur size of the site itself. I remember reaching the warm cafeteria, taking off my shoes in hopes that my soggy socks would dry. It was in that disheveled state of mine that I met Rashid Ahmad American Sahib. He was an illuminating light in that empty cafeteria. His serenity spoke even while silent.
At that time, I was with Dr. Ahsan Khan and we both were graced by Rashid Sahib’s presence. As I continued to hear from Rashid Sahib’s accounts, I found out that this was a person who was amongst the esteemed company of Hazrat Musleh Mauod (ra). Although Rashid Sahib is an elderly individual, he had such passion in his eyes when speaking about Ahmadiyyat. You could feel the strength exuding from his person, and you could feel that this was a person who has entirely dedicated his being towards the Jamaat. Just like Hazrat Musleh Mauod (ra), Rashid Sahib continued to strive in the way of Allah even in his elderly age. Such are the personalities of people who maintain a strong connection with the Khalifa of the time.
During the few moments of silence when in Rashid Sahib’s company, I asked Rashid Sahib what was the one thing he would want to focus on. Rashid Sahib unequivocally stated that he would want to focus all his energies in tabligh, in propagating the pure teachings of Islam. There was such sincerity and desire in Rashid Sahib’s words when he talked about his desire to want to tell the world about the beauty of Islam. The Promised Messiah (as) has spoken about how individuals who reach a high spiritual state begin to emanate a type of light from their faces. This light itself becomes a type of tabligh as it attracts others. Here Rashid Sahib not only exudes a light that attracts other, but Rashid Sahib also strives in the way of Allah through his person.
At this point, I was a bit embarrassed when thinking about my own condition. As a khadim, as a servant of God, I should be striving in my person in any way I can to spread the message of Islam. Whether it be by my words, my actions, or my pen, I have the privilege to demonstrate the beauty of Islam wherever I may be.
But sometimes these lofty words can just be empty space without any words. Often it’s the little actions of tabligh that we do that can plant the seeds to create forests. During the end of the Ijtema, Naib Sadr Sahib Zahid Mian spoke about such an opportunity to plant a seed, a book hand out tabligh initiative. I decided to follow in the footsteps in Rashid Sahib and to give the books to some of my friends.
Once I returned home from the Ijtema, I had the books sitting on my shelf. One thing that I learned from Rashid Sahib was that Tabligh isn’t simply about a specific day where you focus on tabligh, but is also about having tabligh ingrained in your being. I decided to take the Jamaat books off my shelf and take them with me to class, just as I would carry any other book. At the very least, others would see me with these books, and I would continually be reminded by my Muslim identity.
In my very first class, a student across the table asked to see my books. She started to thumb through Hazrat Musleh Mauod’s biography of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him. Before I even had a chance to say anything, she asked if she could borrow the books.
This simple incident revealed the simple beauty of tabligh. As Ahmadi Muslims, we are surrounded with an immeasurable wealth. Allah helps us when we merely create the intention that we want to share this wealth. By doing so, we come closer to following the esteemed footsteps of our elders, and we come closer to ingraining tabligh in our beings as well.
Grandpa was always a businessman, he could sell anything and when he would do tabligh he would use his excellent selling skills to talk to people. He was very smooth when talking to people. He would start the conversation with whatever caught the person’s attention and somehow circle it back to God or religion without the person even realizing what was happening.
One time a conservative/right-wing man came to our store to get his snow blower fixed. Grandpa happened to be there and started talking to the man. Grandpa was so confident in preaching that he could spark a conversation with anyone. The conversation started with the man complaining of how his snow blower broke down and how he was having a string of bad luck. So grandpa talked to him for a few minutes then suggested to the man that “submission” was the answer to his problems. Grandpa said that the man needed to stop fighting his problems and simply submit to his problems. The man agreed and left satisfied. After the man left grandpa started laughing because he had convinced the man submission (Islam) was the answer to all his problems. The funny thing was that in the whole conversation grandpa never once mentioned God or religion but rather indirectly convinced the man to submit to the will of Allah and his problems would be solved.