Part 1 – By Ibrahim Ikhlaf (life devotee of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community)
Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand), our beloved master and guide is like a whole of which we are just a part. Indeed we will perish if we break away from him. I am unable to fully describe my suffering and the near-death experience I went through when I was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few weeks ago.
I am extremely grateful to all our brothers and sisters who prayed earnestly for us. The prayers of all our brothers and sisters who are like the limbs of the body of Khilafat were heard, because Allah the Almighty responded and accepted the supplications of our Imam, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand).
Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand) supplicated earnestly and lo, Allah, the Bestower of Life revived me from death and granted me a new life.
During my illness, I deeply felt that Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand) beseeched Allah the Almighty with such sincerity, love, faithfulness and unshakeable resolve that Allah the Supreme created the antidote and changed His Destiny. His will took on a different shape and the cool breeze of the Healer and Protector started to blow.
Indeed, I blame myself for my ailment.
On different occasions in the past has Huzoor told me:
“Ikhlaf sahib, you seem not to sleep more than 3-4 hours; you have to sleep 6 hours as the body has a right over you. I am telling people to work and as far as you are concerned I am telling you to sleep; buy a sofa bed for your office, close the door and sleep in the afternoon for half an hour to one hour to complete the 6 hours!”
Although by Allah’s Grace I am extremely obedient to Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V’s (may Allah strengthen his hand) instructions, I somehow unconsciously and unintentionally continued to sleep 2, 3 or 4 hours maximum and worked around 18 or 19 hours daily. Although my body is strong, it was impossible to maintain a strong immune system.
“I was drowning”
Some days before being admitted to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, I experienced some symptoms related to coronavirus, so I isolated myself completely. Every limb of my body was aching extremely. I could neither sit nor stand; I was extremely exhausted and gradually I started to wheeze.
During the evenings I had a high temperature. My whole body would sweat and I started to feel drowsy and dizzy. In the meantime, my respected wife Reem also started to feel unwell and showed symptoms.
We thought to ourselves:
“Could this be the coronavirus? And if we are afflicted by COVID-19 then how will I disclose this?”
This was because, unfortunately, some people considered this to be like the sign of the plague during the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him)’s lifetime. They assumed that one who gets infected is weak in faith.
We prayed, cried and beseeched Allah the Almighty not to be afflicted with the coronavirus. While I isolated myself, I continued to perform my Jamaat work from home. However, the illness exacerbated and on Thursday morning I started coughing blood and had a fever reaching 40°C.
Ultimately Allah the Almighty bestowed upon me such high resolve that I told my wife:
“Whether it’s coronavirus or something else, it seems I can’t survive and I am about to leave this world; please call the ambulance and call respected brother Mian Waqas sahib (Sahibazada Mirza Waqas Ahmad) and tell him to humbly request Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba to pray for me.”
Mian Waqas sahib later that day informed my wife that Huzoor is praying for Ibrahim.
I was immediately admitted to the hospital where an X-ray and blood tests had been taken. Meanwhile, a throat swab was taken to detect for coronavirus.
I informed brother Abid Khan sahib about my situation and he sent a text message informing me that Huzoor, not yet aware that I had COVID-19, was praying for me and recommended I should give Sadqa, while myself and my family should take homeopathy.
This of course strengthened me and gave me hope. Throughout the day, my illness worsened as my lungs became filled with inflammatory material and were unable to get enough oxygen into the bloodstream, reducing the body’s ability to take on oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. It seems I ended up with severe respiratory conditions including pneumonia accompanied with restlessness and anxiety. I felt as if I was drowning and death was approaching me rapidly.
As if the fever approaching 40°C was not yet enough, I discovered that the room temperature was extremely high as the nurses had forgotten to switch the heater off that was blowing hot air and I was unaware of it. I was gasping for air.
In general, I love the weather around Fajr time as the level of oxygen is very high. I told the nurse to open the window and I felt the oxygen entering my lungs, which gave me some comfort.
Beseeching the Almighty
At that moment, I prayed fervently to Allah, while my eyes were filled with tears that coursed down my cheeks:
“O, Allah the Most Supreme, throughout my life You saved me from all calamities. O, Allah, You know that I dedicated my Life to You and I am fully aware that You are my lifelong Friend Who has always been with me since childhood. Because of my faith in the Promised Messiahas, the Imam and Prophet of our Age I, for Your sake, lost all my family members [with the exception of my mother and siblings who are Ahmadis].
“I was attacked once by 300 to 500 Sunnis in a mosque who severely beat me up and left me for dead because of my faith and You saved me. Moreover, there was once a conspiracy to kill me; someone attacked me, because of my faith, aiming with a brick to smash my head, but You made him miss the target, and he failed to fulfil his objective. He did this as his son accepted Ahmadiyyat through me.
“Then a well-known Mullah delivered seven Friday Sermons against Your Jama’at in which I was quoted several times as an outlaw. He incited people against me, which led to the fact that I was suddenly attacked by the follower of the Mullah in a bookshop; I fell over while the bookshelves fell down and he wounded my hand with his nails which were as sharp as knives. The mark after 20 years is still on my hand and then he started to pelt me with stones.
“O, my Allah, You always saved me. O, my Allah, O My Beloved One, Indeed I am sinful and do not deserve Your Love, but You are the Merciful One; have mercy on me and save me this time as well so that I can serve Khilafat and perform more good deeds. O, Allah, I dedicated my life to You and so did my wife and children. Have Mercy on us.”
During my stay in the hospital, whenever I closed my eyes I saw the illuminating and handsome face of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba. I thought:
“SubhanAllah, the Khalifa is appointed by Allah and then becomes the Guide, Master and the only real ‘Alim [scholar] on the surface of the earth from whom the world can benefit and in reality the only one to benefit from.”
Therefore, I had an immense pain that my father, uncles, aunts, cousins and hundreds of other family members were unable to see the right Path of Ahmadiyyat.
But there was something strange which remained in my heart the whole time:
“Why are you worried? Huzoor is your compassionate father!”
Then I would wake up and think how fortunate I am to have accepted Ahmadiyyat, the True Islam.
In anguish and severe pain, I prayed:
“O, Allah, the Almighty, I love Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand) extremely and I want to serve Khilafat as this is the only remedy for the world; please give me another life to serve the Plant that You planted with Your own Hand.”
My only wish was that someone could extend my ‘Assalamo Alaikum’ to Huzoor.
A devastating diagnosis
The next day, Friday, around Fajr time, the doctor, who is very well-known and had served in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, arrived and informed me:
“You have contracted coronavirus and there is no way out unless you are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit [ICU]. You still have some strength and it would be better because your condition is worsening.”
I was extremely saddened by the doctor’s statement especially when he told me that there was a possibility that I would not survive. I was terrified.
My wife Reem was called to be informed. I asked her whether Huzoor was praying for me as I humbly needed Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand)’s prayers.
She comforted me, saying that: “Huzoor is praying for you”.
Then my state was imbued with serenity and tranquillity by Allah the Almighty.
During those moments I uttered the following words:
“La Hawla wa-la Quwwata illa billahi al-‘Aliyyi Al-‘Azeem, O, virus, do not think that you are that powerful. You do not have any power nor might to harm me nor to benefit me except if Allah the Almighty so wishes. Moreover, the doctor who thought that I possibly won’t survive should be aware that my life is in the Hands of the One Who created me.”
It appears that my body was extremely affected by the virus. My eyesight was weakened and occasionally I could just see some colours in front of me.
Before being sedated, I was put into a medically induced coma and had a tube put into my windpipe so that a ventilator could breathe for me as I needed 80% oxygen.
For a second, as a Waqf e Zindagi (life devotee), I worried that my sudden death should not create some kind of temporary vacuum with regard to the work which Huzoor allocated me. Then I felt happiness because in all the departments I worked for, I trained and created, according to Huzoor’s instructions, a second in line who could take over.
My dearest brothers and sisters; how astonishing is this that the same day when Huzoor had been informed that I had been admitted to the ICU, Huzoor, very concerned, told brother Farooq Aftab sahib:
“Ibrahim should have been admitted to the ICU much earlier. However, you should bring him some homeopathic medicine; it should reach him even if a few drops have to be put in his lips.”
Interestingly, when Huzoor was informed after Jumma, the hospital reported that my condition had improved and that the sedation was going to be reduced and I just needed 60% oxygen.
All the time, whether I was awake or sleeping, the following was awe-inspiringly, powerfully and very firmly imprinted in my heart:
“I am the Supreme One [the attribute Al-Qahhar was constantly perceived], I am so Supreme, I am the Highest, beyond people’s reach! I do not care for people [if they do not worship Me]! If they worship Me, it is good for them; if they do not worship Me it will not affect Me in the least.”
I was so much inspired and frightened that I informed my wife several times regarding this inspiration.
Unfortunately on Saturday, after my condition improved and the doctors thought to remove the ventilator, I suddenly got a panic attack; the nurse immediately reported to one of my brothers that I wrote to her asking for the South East direction, the Qibla.
In fact, I am unable to remember this incident, but I know very well that deep in myself I was so greatly worried about missing my prayers [during the ICU], and it looks as though this was the reason of this first panic attack I had.
The nurse later reported this to my wife too, upon this Reem told her:
“Please tell Ibrahim that our spiritual leader is praying for you and the community members all around the world are praying for you too”.
The nurse wrote it down in order not to forget anything and asked my wife:
“Can I ask you out of curiosity what this worldwide Community is and who this Spiritual Leader is?”
So, Reem explained to her who we are, and she kept saying ‘amazing’!
Then the second panic attack I had was on Sunday, I was too anxious and my temperature went up. I requested the nurse to speak to my wife, again I can’t recall this incident, but based on the written statements and my wife’s statement, it became very clear that I was worried whether Huzoor was praying for me or not; indeed I was continuously thinking:
“Is Huzoor praying for me? Is he pleased with me? I know that his pleasure is a reflection of Allah’s Pleasure.”
On this occasion Reem states that the nurse called her and put the phone in a way that I could hear her, while the nurse read out what I was writing.
I asked my wife:
“Is Huzoor (may Allah strengthen his hand) praying for me? Did Huzoor (may Allah strengthen his hand) make it clear?”
She told me about Huzoor’s statement in Al-Hakam about the coronavirus, and said:
“Huzoor (may Allah strengthen his hand) is praying fervently for you and he is asking for regular updates. He firmly said that you will survive; so be strong now, nothing is going to happen to you!”
Later in the day, the nurse told my wife that after this call, Ibrahim calmed down so much and started improving.
Reem was in fact referring to a great miracle reported by respected brother Munir Odeh sahib, who informed Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand) in his office Mulaqat that Reem is extremely affected and is waiting for a word of reassurance from Huzoor.
As is the way of Allah’s Prophets and Messengers, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (may Allah strengthen his hand) kept silent and continued to talk about other matters related to the office Mulaqat.
SubhanAllah, when Munir Odeh got up to leave and reached the door, Huzoor said:
“Tell Reem, rest assured, nothing will happen to Ibrahim, and he will recover from it”.
Alhamdulillah that same day my condition improved drastically and the doctor reported that I was smiling and seemed to be the strongest among all other patients.
The doctors then said that possibly the ventilator will soon be removed.
END OF PART 1
Note: Part 2 will be published in the coming days, which includes details of Ibrahim sahib’s first direct interaction with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his helper) after being released from hospital.