On 20th June 2012 we left Ohio and embarked on the next part of the tour.
It was a day that I was looking forward to a lot as we were travelling to the Jamaat Headquarters at Baitur Rahman in Maryland. I had visited USA on a few occasions over the past couple of years for Jamaat conferences and so I had visited Baitur Rahman on a number of occasions. Relatively speaking, Baitur Rahman felt like a home within the USA for me!
Before reaching Maryland we had one major stop to make and that was to the Nur Mosque in Pittsburgh which was around three hours drive from Columbus.
Before arriving at the Nur Mosque, Hazur‐Aqdas and the Qafila stopped for a few minutes at a cemetery in Pittsburgh where a number of distinguished Ahmadis had been buried.
Hazur prayed at the grave of Mirza Munawar Ahmad Sahib, who was an Ahmadi Missionary posted to Pittsburgh in the 1940s and who had passed away in the city after developing an illness.
Speaking to local Jamaat members I found that they had a great sense of appreciation in their hearts for Mirza Munawar Ahmad Sahib and for the sacrifices he made for the sake of the local Jamaat. Even people who had been born well after his passing spoke with great reverence about him.
Hearing the stories reminded me that a person who is righteous and who sincerely serves Allah’s Jamaat is never forgotten and this is one of the real beauties of our Ahmadiyya Jamaat.
The graveyard was the most beautifully designed graveyard I had ever seen. It had small rolling hills, pure green grass and had been very well maintained.
We returned to the car after a few minutes to proceed to the Mosque.
Throughout the tour Sakawat Bajwa Sahib and Bashir Sahib sat in the same car as me, whilst in the USA our driver was a Khadim by the name of Waqas Sahib.
I am relatively quiet but I used to very much enjoy the car conversations.
Sakawat Sahib would keep us entertained with jokes and stories, whilst Bashir Sahib would tell us interesting facts or comment upon the latest news stories.
As we left the cemetery that day Bashir Sahib informed us that in America you could only rent graves for a period of time and then families would have to pay more money to rent them for a further period.
I was quite shocked to hear this and so without thinking I commented that: ‘In America nobody is allowed to rest in peace!’ Hearing this Bashir Sahib, Sakawat Sahib and Waqas Sahib started laughing a lot and found it a very funny comment. I was left feeling happy that in the tour I had managed to make at least one joke, even though my comment had initially been made in all seriousness!
We arrived at the Nur Mosque in Pittsburgh at around 2pm. Once again there were hundreds of Ahmadis to welcome Hazur. Normally on such occasions I try and go stand near to Hazur‐Aqdas so that if he gives any particular direction to the local Jamaat then I can note it down. However on this one occasion my mind was elsewhere.
The reason being was that a few hours earlier, we had stopped at a petrol station for a few minutes. The temperature was extremely hot and suffocating and so when Sadr Sahib Khuddam‐ul‐Ahmadiyya, Rizwan Alladin, offered me and Waqas bhai a smoothie we could not reject. I took the smoothie, which was very large, back to the car and within a few minutes I had drank the entire cup. And so by the time we arrived at the Mosque I was desperate to use the bathroom! Truly the last hour or so of the journey had been extremely difficult!
Therefore on this one occasion, rather than make notes I ran and asked a local Khadim if he could show me where the bathroom was which he kindly did.
Afterwards I narrated the story to Waqas bhai and he said that when travelling in a Qafila you should never drink a large cup quickly otherwise you are bound to face difficulty, rather you should take a sip or two every half an hour. It was good advice and something I followed for the rest of the tour and in all seriousness I learnt a good lesson on that day!
After Zuhr and Asr prayers and lunch, Hazur met with the local Ahmadis in Mulaqat. Many of them were African‐American and as they left Hazur’s office one by one their faces were gleaming with joy.
As we witnessed those scenes, the local President of the Jamaat, Omar Shaheed Sahib, also an African‐American, said to me that he had no doubt that even though Hazur’s visit to Pittsburgh was only for a couple of hours it would lead to an everlasting change in the Jamaat and would be a means of spiritually charging all of the Ahmadis, Insha’Allah.