The Golden Journey: A Spiritual Journey of a Lifetime
By Ghazala Hassan Qadri
Alhumdulilah by the Grace and Blessings of Almighty Allah and the Wasila of His beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) I have had the opportunity to travel many times in the close company of my Shaykh and spiritual guide Qibla Quaidi Mutharram, Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. Indeed I would term this not as an opportunity as such but a privilege and honour that no amount of wealth can replace. In this short extract I will relate to you the most recent journey that took place. Unfortunately my words cannot do justice to the 'experience' of travelling with Qibla Quaidi Mutharram but I hope this will provide you with a flavour and personal insight to his life. By relating the events of just one journey I hope you, the reader, will be able to see the beautiful qualities of our Quaid, the dedication he has to his Mission and workers and the relentless pace he inflicts on himself.
In order to raise funds for the Mission many youth workers had pledged money in exchange for a "Golden Journey", which would be an opportunity to travel with Qibla Hazoor and benefit from his spiritual company. This journey had been delayed for three years due to Qibla Hazoor's work commitments, and had now finally come to fruition. In order to make up for the delay Qibla Hazoor had asked that the monies given would be used solely for the expenses of the journey and not donated to the Mission in order to ensure a successful trip after such a long wait. Although the official group consisted of 150 members, (brothers, sisters and families), many joined the group as the tour progressed so the final group total was around 200.
The journey began on Saturday 18th September 2004. Qibla Hazoor and our family departed from the house at 7:00 am. However due to some late packing of books we had no time for breakfast and preceded straight to Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore to catch the 8:00 am flight to Islamabad. The flight was 35 minutes long and as soon as the plane took off Qibla Hazoor took out his books and began to study. Snacks were served on the plane, but he was so engrossed in his work that he was oblivious to all the hussle and bussle of the serving and declined to eat anything. We arrived on time and reached his Parliament lodges at 9:30 am. He immediately rang Brother Sajjid Bhatti Sahib, the organiser of the trip to get an update of their location. They were travelling by road in coaches, buses and cars. It was finally decided that we would leave Islamabad at 10:00am and meet their coaches in Abtobad for the first and main programme. At this point I tentatively reminded Qibla Hazoor that he had been awake since Fajr and had not eaten a morsel of food and perhaps he should take breakfast. However he declined and said a cup of milky tea would suffice since time was short. This was the beginning of his usual routine, work first and food last, a strict regime that all around him, including his guards follow without complaint and which was the precursor to an interesting comment made by a Christian Father later on in the tour.
We left Islamabad at 10:00 am by road. The route from Islamabad to Abtobad is breathtaking in its scenery. Grand mountains line the route with beautiful trees and greenery clothing their exterior. Open valleys are spread out, magnificently intertwined with lakes which encircle the entire journey. Throughout the four hour journey Qibla Hazoor continued his studies, reading a variety of books and making notes, preparation for his speech. He would occasionally glance up and admire the scene, sighing and saying "By Allah! What great beauty this country has and what misfortune in its rulers who refuse to develop it and make it prosperous for the poor". He repeated this sentence several times throughout the journey and there seems never to be a moment in his life when he forgets his Mission and the purpose of his life, always concerned about humanity, their misfortune and dreadful plight, even in such glorious surroundings.
As we entered the District Thesil of Abbotabad at 1:00pm about 100 local people had heard that Qibla Hazoor would be passing through and cheered as he passed. Along many walls and shop windows, posters of the main event were placed. As Qibla Hazoor read the posters he smiled and said "Our thanzeem members are 'baadshah'! They did not inform me that this programme was on Miraj-un-Nabi. I have been studying several Hadith on a different topic all of this time! He again smiled and said, "Allah Almighty is Rahman. Despite a lack of discipline in their lives Allah Ta'ala still provides our members with Rizq". Putting all his books away he said: "No matter, I will speak on Miraj-un-Nabi instead!" There was no anger, frustration or even a hint of disapproval on his face just a smile of humour knowing that no matter what the topic, the situation or event, with the Grace and Blessings of Allah and His Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) he is always able to deliver whatever the subject.
The main reception by the Abtobad Thanzeem took place as we entered the city at 1:30pm, with several hundred people gathered together, young and old, poor and rich all chanting slogans and cheering to see their leader, the carrier of their hopes and dreams. We reached our residence at around 2:00pm to pray and have lunch.
The main programme was held at Fawara Chowk, in the city of Abbotabad and the Golden Journey group members arrived directly there. One of the guests travelling in the company of Qibla Hazoor was a Christian Chaplain, Father Richard Cock of England. He had heard of Minhaj-ul-Qur'an and the work of its Patron and wished to meet him, so Qibla Hazoor asked him to travel with him for the three days. During lunch Qibla Hazoor asked him if he would like to address the gathering for a few minutes before his own speech. Father Richard seemed to be taken aback a little, shocked that he would be allowed to speak but readily accepted. This is a very common thing for Qibla Hazoor to do. He is always the first to welcome any guest, show him generous hospitality and treat the guest with friendliness and open arms regardless of their Faith and Beliefs.
We arrived at Fawara Chowk at 3:30 pm. Although the programme was being held on a working day, and in the afternoon, there was a huge gathering of people, and despite the hot midday sun, the entire ground was completely full. As Qibla Hazoor reached the stage, slogans for Allah Akbar and the Holy Prophet reached fever pitch, their chants being heard from many miles afar. Unfortunately the ladies had been designated a spot on the side behind very tall curtains that had been temporarily erected. We could not see the stage and were provided by a miniature television set from which to watch the proceedings. Some of the sisters were upset at being sidelined but I knew that no matter the time or place, or how hectic the environment, Qibla Hazoor would soon notice the absence of sisters and re-arrange the seating. Sure enough after the noise subsided we received a message that Qibla Hazoor had asked some of the brothers to move and make room for the sisters so they could enjoy the programme directly. This time it was the sisters who said "takbir!"
As the programme began the audience gave an enthusiastic welcome to Father Richard who spoke about peace and tolerance, the message that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) came with from God. This was indeed an unusual sight, an Anglo-Saxon Christian Father addressing an audience of the North West Frontier of Pakistan, in an upper middle class English accent. To his credit he seemed to enjoy himself and to the credit of the brothers listening they applauded his speech, perhaps secure in their knowledge that if their Quiad had allowed him to speak, then Islam must tolerate this too!
During the journey Qibla Hazoor had developed a severe toothache that had been troubling him for several days. Before he delivered his speech he apologised in advance to the audience saying it would be quite difficult to speak due to the pain. However he spoke for one hour and thirty minutes (having to cut it short only due to Asr prayers) and spoke in his normal electrifying and charismatic style. It is apparent that when the truth is being spoken and words of love are uttered for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) then Allah Almighty gives strength and power to His Auliya to continue no matter how painful the task.
During his speech Qibla Hazoor described the significance of the oath taken by Almighty Allah when describing the Miraj in the Holy Qur'an and the uniqueness of the loyalty displayed by Abu Bakr when asked by the Kufar about the Prophet's (peace be upon him) journey. He also elaborated upon the dua'a of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) who wished to see Allah Almighty, and its link with the Ascension of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). This was a new and novel angle presented by Qibla Hazoor, all the more amazing since he had presented this particular speech with no preparation what so ever.
After the programme Qibla Hazoor was again in excruciating pain so he went directly to the dentist for treatment who could only offer temporary relief. As he reached home members of Minahj-ul-Qur'an and PAT had gathered for a consultation meeting about future planning. Qibla Hazoor was then engrossed in this meeting for several hours and was finally free at around 11pm. By this time all of us were exhausted and hungry from just the travel and attending the programme! However Qibla Hazoor returned to the residence, in a lot of discomfort due to the pan of his teeth, but otherwise physically fine still attending calls from members!
The next day (Sunday 19th September) we set off from Abtobad at around 10:30am. Since Qibla Hazoor had been in a lot of pain during the night, he wanted to visit the dentist again in the morning, so it was decided that the remainder of the group would set off earlier on as they were travelling on large coaches and would take a longer time to reach Naran. It had been decided that we would meet at a point arranged by the group and have lunch together. As we travelled towards Naran, we again admired the breathtaking beauty on the way. As we reached Data, 6km from Mansera a large crowd of local villagers gathered to see Qibla Hazoor. They were elated that he was driving through their village and threw flowers out of their happiness. Qibla Hazoor alighted from the cars to greet them and a very old man stood up and read poetry in his honour. Qibla Hazoor was astounded at the level of affection contained in his phrases and quickly asked for a pen and paper to write it down. As he wrote it the old man was thrilled to see his endeavours were being appreciated so much.
This is something so beautiful in Qibla Hazoor's personality, that he always makes his followers and lovers feel special and loved by him too, be they rich or poor, whether he personally knows them or not.
As we drove passed the city of Mansera all of a sudden many small school children, dressed in white Arabic dresses and head gear came onto the streets cheering and chanting slogans. This was the second reception for Qibla Hazoor. The children belonged to a Madrassa run by Pir Syed Lal Hussain Shah who is the 'Sajjada Nasheen' of Darbar Qadria Dhaman Shareef. Hundreds of his Mureeds came to greet him and again Qibla Hazoor alighted to greet them. They were fervent in their joy and pleasure at seeing him, and Pir Syed Lal Hussain Shah announced loudly to his followers, with tears in his eyes "You are my Mureed and I am your Murshid, but today my Murshid, Qibla Hazoor has arrived and I am his Mureed'. At this point the cheering grew louder and Qibla Hazoor was presented with a local turban to wear. The children bid us farewell and we carried on. It is amazing that amongst these mountains and far off places, with only the bare necessities of life, these children and people not only recognize but love Qibla Hazoor. They have no videos or televisions in which to listen to his lectures, nor do they have the chance to travel to major cities to listen to him directly. They have never met him before so why do they love him so much? Then I remembered a Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) where he states that those people who are the lovers of Allah and His Prophet (saw), Allah loves them too. Allah then asks His Angels to love them and He then places love for them in the hearts of men and women in this world. This indeed was evidence of that.
As we caught up with the coaches, Qibla Hazoor stopped the cars and alighted onto the coaches to meet the group members for the first time. They were overwhelmed by his presence and happy to see him. They informed him that a party had gone ahead and were preparing lunch in a place called Balakot and we would meet in a picnic spot further on.
When we drove through Balakot (the coaches were some distance away being slower) Qibla Hazoor saw the members, who were in charge of arranging the food, in some disarray. He commented that it seemed unlikely that lunch would be on time! We arrived at the spot chosen by the members for lunch, which was a small run down caf?/motel type establishment with no seating or scenic view. Qibla Hazoor laughed and said this was not suitable at all and ordered every one to move on, again commenting that lunch would be late, despite placations from the group leaders that lunch was 'just around the corner'!
A few miles later Qibla Hazoor asked us all to stop at a beautiful resort on the banks of a river called 'Fairy Land Hotel'. He announced that we would stop here to pray and enjoy the anticipated lunch. By this time it was 4pm and many group members who had been travelling for nearly 6 hours with small children were worried that lunch had turned into supper! Qibla Hazoor became concerned for everyone and made several calls to find out what had happened. He then asked the Minhaj Nath Council, who were part of the trip to set up their sound system and begin a Mehfil e Dhikr. He joked and said if we were hungry he would provide spiritual nourishment. The group proceeded to read beautiful nath's that resonated around the mountains and we all performed the Dhikr of Allah. The group became placated as the Mehfil finished and after prayers we set off for the rest of the journey.
We reached Naran late in the evening and lunch or rather dinner would was finally served at 10:00pm!
The next day (Monday 20th September) all of the group members met together at a beautiful lake called 'Lala Zaad Jeel'. Qibla Hazoor was aware that the group members had suffered some discomfort the day before and felt sorry that having paid for this trip they had felt any inconvenience. However this had been due to some administrative problems and the team leaders had done their best to resolve the situation. In order to lighten the situation he gathered everybody together on the river bank and before the next Mehfil was to begin he introduced the concept of 'Hyde Park Corner' to the group. This is a place in London where members of the public are allowed to speak about any topic and complain about anybody without any accountability or answerability. So in jest he announced that this lake was the Hyde Park Corner of Naran and he wished all group members to announce what punishment the group leaders should be inflicted with for the problems encountered the day before. After many humorous suggestions including dipping them in the cold lake everybody agreed that the group leaders were doing there best and congratulated then for their hard endeavours.
After this another Mehfil e Nath took place and after the Dhikr Qibla Hazoor gave a short talk on the Shaf'ath (intercession) of the Holy Prophet and related a an incident of Hadrat Jafar bin Sadiq. In this Hadith Hadrat Jafar was asked about Shaf'ath on the day of Judgement. As he spoke, Hadrat Jafar broke down in tears and said "All of you have no worries but what about me? How will I be able to face my Lord? Who will save me on that fearful day? So let us all join hands today and promise to forgive each other on the day of Judgement". After this talk Qibla Hazoor asked all the group members to make an oath and promise to themselves never to leave their Salat. He asked them to close their eyes in Muraqaba, meditation, and to become lost in the ecstasy, remembrance and love of Allah Almighty. An uncanny silence ensued interspersed with the weeping of the group out of remorse.
Father Richard had been quietly observing all of this and became so motivated that he stood up and began to sing a song about trusting God. After this Qibla Hazoor explained to Father Richard the respect and reverence Islam has for Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and Hadrat Maryam (peace be upon her). The Mehfil was finished by the recitation of Surah Maryam by Allama Nisar Sulaimani Sahib.
The next part of the trip consisted of a visit to Lake Sayf-ul-Mulook, a beautiful lake high up on the mountains. Originally Qibla Hazoor had not planned on travelling to the lake since there is no proper route to the Lake. One must travel on Jeeps through the rough terrain and due to the bumpy tracks Qibla Hazoor had declined to travel due to his spinal cord problems. However in order to compensate the group members further for any possible discomfort he agreed to the trip. Around 25 jeeps then proceeded up the long and winding track to the Lake. After a bumpy ride we reached Sayf-ul-Mulook, a beautiful lake, green in colour set between high rising mountains and untouched by pollution. Upon arrival lunch was served and despite freezing temperatures and short bursts of rain we all enjoyed the rest of the day there!
Tuesday 21st September was the last day and we set off from Naran for home at 10:00 am. The coaches set off earlier and we would again meet at the Fairy Land Hotel for a last meeting. As we drove out of Naran we were met by the Director of Fisheries of Mansera. He used to be the Youth League President of Peshawar and was now posted here. He wanted Qibla Hazoor to visit an official trout farm on route and make a du'a there. Qibla Hazoor agreed and despite torrential rain took a tour of the farm and even lifted the trout fish out of their water habitat for photographs. All of the workers at the farm were overwhelmed by his presence and exited that their establishment had been given this honour.
At 1:00pm we reached Fairy Land Hotel for a final session with the group. After prayers the entire group assembled and Qibla Hazoor presented the members with certificates for coming on this journey. He then related a spiritual dream he had seen about Imam Jalaludin Suyuti a few months earlier and stated that all the Blessings that Allah Almighty had bestowed upon him were favours which he was not worthy of, and having dedicated his life to the Ummah of the Beloved Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) he prayed that his humble efforts would be accepted. This was followed by a dua'a and thus the Golden Journey ended for the participants a journey they would remember for many years to come.
However for Qibla Hazoor the day had just begun as he had further commitments throughout the journey back. After bidding farwell we continued our trip. After a few hours we needed to break for Asr prayer so Qibla Hazoor asked a member of Minhaj-ul-Qur'an, who had been travelling in one of the cars with us, where to stop. The man was hesitant and then said, "Hazoor I am from Mansera and my house is not far form here. However it is just one room with an outside bathroom". Qibla Hazoor smiled and said: "That is excellent. If you allow us we shall all come, do fresh wudu and pray Asr in your house!" When we reached his house, indeed they were humble surroundings but this man and his family may have been of small means but had a huge heart of generosity. As we had still not taken lunch, he quickly offered tea to all of our party, his family running around enthusiastically serving everybody. Just before leaving Qibla Hazoor thanked his hospitality with a gift. Father Richard was amazed to see pictures of Qibla Hazoor in every room, his books and audio lectures littered everywhere. This was a small house in a village miles from any major city, yet still they had all of these items.
As evening began to we reached the outskirts of the city of Mansera. Here Father Richard was to depart company with us as he had other commitments. He thanked Qibla Hazoor for a fantastic journey, one he would never forget. As a last remark he said "In England we have fairly strict timings regarding work and food and rest. Being in your company I have realised that work is your priority, food and rest is just a sidelined activity. Today at 1pm I began to have hunger pangs and really thought I would die. It is now 6pm and still you are on the move. I truly admire your commitment to your work". With these words he departed.
We arrived in Mansera at 6:30pm. Our host was a very old man called Kabuli Baba. He was Afghani and had migrated to Mansera from Mazar Shareef. Kabuli Baba had aquired some holy relics of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from his ancestors which included two hairs of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), his footprint, Naqsh-i-pak and stones from inside of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) mosque in Madina. Qibla Hazoor prayed Maghrib and then did 'ziyarah' of the holy relics. Finally at 7:30pm he sat down to have lunch, which had again become supper. During this visit he also found time to resolve a dispute between the Kabuli Baba and the Imam of the local mosque, after which we headed off for Rawalpindi for a late workers convention.
During this journey Qibla Hazoor again developed severe toothache and was by now in excruciating pain. We reached Rawalpindi at 10:30pm where he went straight to the dentist for some pain killer injections. After this he proceeded to the workers convention which consisted of over a thousand workers and returned to his lodges at 2:30am in the morning. Finally he was able to sleep but before he rested he informed me he would be visiting the National Assembly in the morning!
Although the Golden Journey had ended for its members the journey of Qibla Hazoor will continue as long as he remains with us. His life is a continual journey carried on at a relentless pace. Qibla Hazoor has dedicated his life to Islam and its propagation, but at the same time he has never neglected the well being of his family, friends, close associates and workers. This journey is just one example of many, where despite pain and discomfort his dedication never recedes. May Allah Bless all that he does with endless Barakah.