Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Obituary -- Colonel (r) Nazir Ahmad -- A Life Well Lived


They say a soldier never dies he just fades away, but truth be told my beloved uncle had so much joie de vivre, right to the end of his life that far from fading away, he lit up our lives, and will be sorely missed by all his extended family.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Author
By Munir Rafiq | April 30, 2018

“At every stage my blessings for you would keep on increasing like beautiful clouds in the sky, one more beautiful and bountiful than the other”.

Hazrat Danishmand Khanra Sahib, a staunch Ahmadi from the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP), Pakistan saw a dream that he recorded on the blank pages of a copy of Braheen-i-Ahmadiyya. He dreamt that a large glowing, shiny diamond was handed to him by Allah Almighty and while he was still admiring the diamond, it split into two pieces. The two pieces shattered further into a hundred different pieces. At the time, he interpreted the dream as a sign that Allah would give him two sons whose progeny would multiply into hundreds.

Hazrat Danishmand Khan Sahibra did indeed go on to have two sons. The first of his sons was the late Bashir Ahmad Khan Rafiq, my father, a Waqfi Zindagi and former Imam of the London (Fazl) Mosque. His other son was my uncle- Colonel Nazir Ahmad.

A few days ago, my beloved uncle Colonel Nazir passed away Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. He was 84 years old. My uncle was a larger-than-life figure, who lived his life as a proud Ahmadi Muslim and observed all the tenets of his faith.

After serving with gallantry in the Pakistan army and seeing active service in 1965 and 1971, he retired from the army as a Colonel. He later emigrated to the USA and settled in Chicago. It had been his custom and practice throughout his army life, that he kept in touch with his jamaat wherever he was posted, and never hid his faith as an Ahmadi Muslim regardless of any worldly consequences. Perhaps if he had hidden his faith he may have reached a higher rank, but that would have been against his principles.

There was a culture of drinking in the army and social gatherings were mixed, with no consideration of purdah. My uncle rejected both these customs and he made clear to any visiting General or senior officer that he neither drank or served alcohol, and nor would there be any social mixing with the wives. His wife fully supported and cooperated with her husband, and remained his loving and faithful  companion throughout his life.

My uncle had a big heart and was renowned for the love and compassion he extended to everyone who came across him. Wherever he was stationed, villagers from his hometown of Mohib Banda would travel a great distance to ask him to use his influence and contacts in order to support someone who had fallen on hard times, or simply needed help. If it was in his power, my uncle would go out of his way to assist.

The late Aziz Dogar Sahib used to relate how he had been involved in a road accident near Kharian. Though he was blameless, the police took him into custody- as is custom in Pakistan- and demanded a bribe to release him. Dogar Sahib was a close friend of my father, and had heard him mention that his brother, my uncle, was stationed in Kharian as the station commander. Despite it being the middle of the night, he asked the Kharian SHO to allow him to make a phone call to the station commander of Kharian.

The police officer laughed, saying that it was the middle of the night and the Colonel would be very angry- it would be better to ring in the morning. But Dogar Sahib insisted, and the call was made to my uncle. Dogar Sahib explained that he was from Rabwah, and that he was a close friend of Bashir Rafiq Sahib. As soon as he said this, my uncle told him to put the phone down as he was on his way.
My uncle turned up in his staff car, wearing his uniform, and demanded to know from the SHO why Dogar Sahib had been detained. The SHO obsequiously said that it had all been a mistake and that Dogar Sahib was free to go. It didn’t matter to my uncle that he didn’t know Dogar Sahib personally; the mere fact that he was from Rabwah and that he was a friend of my father was enough for him to move into action. That was the measure of the man.

He was a deeply religious man who practised his faith and was proud to be an Ahmadi. He had a beautiful melodious voice and could recite large tracts of the poems of Hazrat Masih Maud (as) and particularly loved reciting poems from Durre Sameen. In his younger days, he would even sing the occasional popular Indian song. In temperament, he was jolly and convivial and lit up any company in which he sat. He had a wealth of knowledge of Qur’an, Hadith, and had read the writings of Hazrat Masih Maudas. He was devoted to Khilafat I Ahmadiyya throughout his life, ensuring that he met and stayed in touch with each Khalifat ul Masih. He often related with pride the story of how his father, the late Hazrat Danishmand Khanra, met the Khalifatul Masih Hazrat Musleh Maudra. Hazur was always gracious and kind, and often enquired about his sons. When my grandfather explained that his eldest son was a Waqif I Zindagi and that the other was an officer in the Pakistan army, my grandfather stated that Hazur exclaimed, “Both your sons are soldiers, one is a soldier of Islam Ahmadiyya (Deen Ka Sipahee) and the other is a soldier who fought in defence of the nation (Qaum Ka Sepahee)”.

Blessed with four children- three sons and a daughter- Tanveer, Nadeem, Faheem and Nosheen were devoted children and his pride and joy. My uncle believed in the power of prayers and throughout his life was a prayerful individual who put his faith totally in the will of Allah. He was a loving father and an obedient and devoted son. His son Dr Faheem relates:
“My father told me that when he was young his father had expressed a desire that my older brother (Bashir Ahmad Rafiq Sahib) become a Waqif I Zindagi and I become a medical doctor. When my father expressed the above desire, I was in 10th grade and was studying non¬-science subjects. But I had not studied any science subjects that would have helped me to gain admission into a medical school. But because of his desire I switched over to science subjects, but it was too late to study science and when I appeared for the final exam I barely passed the exam. Because of my very low score, none of the colleges in the North West Frontier province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) would grant me admission. 
Meanwhile one evening my maternal uncle Hazrat Abdus Salam Khanra visited our village. He had an English newspaper with him “The Pakistan Times” and it had an advertisement for a new pre¬-cadet College shortly to be opened in Peshawar for the needs of the students from the Frontier Province. My uncle asked me "why don't you apply for admission to this college?"  I told him my qualifications may not be enough to be granted admission. He told me that surprisingly there is no mention of any special conditions for admission. The application form was also printed in the newspaper. Since my English was very poor I did not understand it and did not know how to complete the application. My uncle asked me to accompany him to Peshawar and said that he would help me to complete and submit the application. After I sent the application I told my father that I was not confident, and was sure I would not be accepted with my qualification but he consoled me and said that "Allah the Almighty has not rejected any of my prayers so far" so you should believe in the power of prayer.  One day I received a letter from GHQ Rawalpindi that I should report for pre-admission test at Peshawar military cantonment. The test was spread over three days with one paper each in English, Mathematics and General knowledge. About 800 applicants were taking the test. During this time, I saw my father getting up every night and praying for my success throughout the night. To my astonishment I managed to pass the preliminary exams and now had pass the selection board in Kohat.
I was very worried because I was told that a person with my qualification would not pass, and it would be impossible for me to qualify. I expressed my apprehension to my father and told him that this was the make or break stage. He again assured me that his prayers will not be wasted and that I would be able to pass the exam with flying colors. At the same time, he asked me to join him for Tahajjud prayers and to pray for my success. He woke me up after midnight and as I did my ablution "wadhu" he asked me to pray for my success in the 3 day examination. During the prayers I really wept and asked for Allah’s mercy to help me pass the test at Kohat for admission to the Pakistan Military Academy. 

I went to sleep after prayer and during my sleep I saw a dream. I saw that I am in Kohat appearing before the selection board and I had passed my intelligence and leadership test and then it was suddenly announced that students would also be tested in Persian language. I was really good in Persian and was surprised to hear this. The other students said that I was lucky since I was the best among them in Persian language. In my dream I saw a raised ground where we had gathered to appear in the Persian language test. I saw that a man came by the name of Professor Bostan. He said to recite a sentence of a Persian proverb and we were required to translate it and give a commentary. The sentence was:
ہر زماں رحمت بر ابر رحمت بيشتر گيرد
When I heard the sentence, the translation was easy but I was not sure what the commentary was. The translation was:
“At every stage my blessings for you would keep on increasing like beautiful clouds in the sky, one more beautiful and bountiful than the other”.   
 I kept on thinking about the commentary and I started repeating the sentence again and again during my sleep and sat down in bed still asleep. Whilst my father was busy in prayers a few feet away from me he heard me saying this sentence, and he shook me. He said why do you worry about this test? God is telling you that not only will you pass this test but in future Allah will continue to shower his blessings upon you. Then I felt happy and confident that, God willing, I would pass the three-day test in Kohat. I was finally selected with 20 other cadets for future training to become an officer in the Pakistan army.” 

Both my father and uncle were exemplary siblings who loved each other. Without fail every day they would ring and talk about every subject under the sun. In fact, if for some reason either missed the others call they would both remain agitated until they had spoken to each other. Temperamentally they may have differed but in their love and loyalty to each other you could not have found two more devoted brothers.

They say a soldier never dies he just fades away, but truth be told my beloved uncle had so much joie de vivre, right to the end of his life that far from fading away, he lit up our lives, and will be sorely missed by all his extended family. May Allah bless him and shower him with his bounties, and grant him an exalted place in Jannatul Firdaus (Ameen).

Please remember his wife Auntie Shamim who loved and cared for him throughout his life, and for his children Tanveer, Dr Nadeem, Dr Faheem and daughter Nosheen who have lost their dear and beloved father - and we have lost our very own Kaka Jee.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die



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1 comment:

  1. “Whoever said that loss gets easier with time was a liar. Here's what really happens: The spaces between the times you miss them grow longer. Then, when you do remember to miss them again, it's still with a stabbing pain to the heart. And you have guilt. Guilt because it's been too long since you missed them last.”

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