by Munir Khan
Danishmand Khan was the eldest son of his father Abdul Hannan Khan who was a powerful and influential Khan of his village in what was then known as the North West Frontier Province (and is now known properly as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).Villagers deferred to Danishmand Khan and accorded him the respect that he merited by virtue of his being the son of an influential Khan. Like many in the village Danishmand was not overly religious, and largely paid simple lip service to observance of his faith.
In pursuit of further employment he decided to move from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and move to Mastung, in Balochistan.Before departing his father Abdul Hannan Khan gave him his parting advice; which was that he (Danishmand Khan) should avoid “Qadianis” and not be ensnared by the adherents of this faith. At the time India was awash with stories about the Qadiani Mahdi and in some cases, enemies had twisted his pure message so as to arouse opposition against Ahmadis. With this advice & warning ringing in his ears Danishmand Khan travelled and eventually settled in Mastung, Baluchistan.
Hadhrat Maulvi Muhammad Ilyas Khan was a noted and famous personality in Mastung. He was revered for his piety and honesty and was regarded with great respect by Pashtuns of the area. But far more important to him was the fact that he had taken the Bait at the hands of the Hadhrat Mirza Hakim Nur ud Din a.s, Khalifatul Masih I, and was a devout Ahmadi and disciple of the Promised Messiah.
By coincidence Hazrat Maulvi Sahib met Danishmand Khan as he was proceeding to Juma one day. Hazrat Maulvi Sahib suggested that as he was also going to Juma that he should join him. With great misgivings Danishmand Khan found himself at Juma with Hadhrat Maulvi Sahib and other Ahmadis of Mastung. During the Juma service and subsequent prayers he discovered to his amazement and contrary to all the lies that he had been told that Ahmadis observed all the fundamentals of Islam and far more, took time to translate and explain the Holy Quran & Hadith. Upon Danishmand Khan stating that he did not understand the meaning of the Holy Quran, Hadhrat Maulvi Sahib took it upon himself to patiently teach Danishmand Khan the meaning of the Holy Quran. For Danishmand Khan this was a tremendous re-awakening of faith in his heart and soul. Being in the company of such a holy personage, led to a spiritual re-awakening in the soul of Danishmand Khan. He memorised portions of the Holy Quran and Hadith and became adept at understanding Tafsir of the Holy Quran.
Eventually Danishmand Khan himself performed his bait and joined the jamaat. His father back in the village was told that his eldest son had become an Ahmadi and he was enraged at this turn of events. When after a few months Danishmand Khan returned to his village his father raged against him and cried out that had he become a gambler, drunkard or taken up any other vice that would not have bothered him so much, than the fact that his eldest son had become an Ahmadi. Despite dire imprecations Danishmand Khan remained steadfast in his adherence to Ahmadiyyat.
One day Danishmand Khan’s mother called him over and told him that his father had stated that he was going to give Danishmand one last chance to recant at Fajr tomorrow and if he didn’t he would kill him on the spot. His mother advised him to flee, and as his father was likely to carry out the threat Danishmand Khan left his village and returned to Mastung. For 10 long years he was unable to return to his village for fear of his father. Eventually, wishing to see his mother he returned to his village, and presented himself at the family Hujra (guesthouse), and sent word to the main house that he was back. A few hours later his mother came out to see her eldest son and tearfully advised him that his father was, as she spoke cleaning his old musket and preparing to come down to theHujra to kill his son. She begged Danishmand Khan to leave; which he did with great reluctance.
Danishmand Khan had given up all his vices. He had, for the first time studied the Tafsir of the Holy Quran, prayed 5 times a day, kept all his fasts and observed all the requirements of his faith and yet none of these qualities mattered in his father’s blind opposition to his son’s acceptance of Ahmadiyyat. Danishmand Khan never again saw his father alive, and only returned after his father was shot by his opponents as part of a land vendetta. Later in life when Danishmand Khan’s son would wistfully ask that he regretted never having met his grandfather; Danishmand Khan would smile wanly and say “Be grateful that you never set eyes upon him”.
Danishmand Khan returned to his village as the only Ahmadi, and by virtue of his bravery, upright nature, piety and honesty lived openly in the village as an Ahmadi. He was held in so much respect that the village Mullah shared the communal mosque with Danishmand Khan where he regularly prayed with his sons and occasional Ahmadi visitors. In 1953 when a wave of anti Ahmadi riots broke out across Pakistan, Mullahs arrived to incite the village against Danishmand Khan. The village Khan’s all united as one, and drove the Mullah’s out and warned them that they would protect Danishmand Khan and they would kill the Mullah’s if they returned.
Danishmand Khan would often chuckle and say that becoming an Ahmadi for a Pashtun was doubly difficult as some of the traits that made up Pashtun character; such as a warlike temperament and adherence to the code of revenge were all anathema to being an Ahmadi. Despite this, Danishmand Khan was passionate in his defence of Ahmadiyyat and would allow nobody to abuse the jamaat or the Promised Messiah. Once whilst he was waiting at a government office another Khan arrived accompanied by a number of armed gunmen as was the custom in the region. Danishmand Khan knew the Khan and they engaged in conversation. During the conversation the Khan used disparaging remarks for the Promised Messiah, at which Danishmand Khan without thinking for his own safety pulled out his revolver and aimed it at the Khan and demanded that he take back his words. The Khan realising that Danishmand Khan was resolute in his defence of the Promised Messiah withdrew his words, and the situation was defused.
There was occasional opposition to Ahmadis, and at one point a cowardly opponent shot Danishmand Khan whilst he was asleep. He was in his 60’s at the time, and doctors did not think that he would survive his injuries. The doctors advised amputation of his arm at the shoulder. Danishmand Khan’s eldest son had become a Waqfi Zindagi and was serving overseas as the Missionary in Charge and Imam of the Fazl Mosque (Mr.B.A.Rafiq).
When he heard about the attack upon his father he was consumed by grief. Travel back to Pakistan was impossible in those days, and all he could do was pray for his father’s life. He states that he went to the Fazl Mosque and quietly closed the doors behind him and wept bitterly during prayer and prostration before Allah. Danishmand Khan had made his son Bashir Rafiq promise upon leaving for the UK as a missionary that he would never give up his vow to serve the jamaat as a Waqif I Zindagi. So much so, that he had said to Bashir Rafiq that if he ever broke his vow he would have nothing whatsoever to do with his son. His son begged Allah through his grace and mercy to grant his father Danishmand Khan the gift of life and survive his ordeal, as he felt that if something happened to his father he would be compelled to break his vow and return to care for his mother and unmarried sisters. Whilst deep in prayer he saw a vision in which he was told that his father had been granted a further 10 years of life. Despite the fact that few expected a 60+ old man to survive amputation of his arm, Danishmand Khan survived the ordeal.
Danishmand Khan was passionate about tabligh and was a familiar sight in Rabwah waking tall and upright wearing a gun belt and revolver across his chest, and never once complaining about his disability or loss of his arm.He regularly spent part of the year in his village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the other half in Rabwah.
Every evening as the Chenab Express would pull into Rabwah railway station three old and venerable Pashtun’s would be waiting on the railway platform. They would wait until the train had stopped and then go to the last carriages where poor Pashtun workers could be found as passengers travelling to Karachi. Danishmand Khan and his two companions would call out in Pashto to the workers and ask whether they had heard the glad tidingsthat the Promised Mahdi had arrived, and hurriedly imparted the message of Ahmadiyyat to the workers. The Pashtun workers would always listen respectfully to these blessed individuals.
Hadhrat Khan Danishmand Khan continued to preach until the end of his days. He was a man of great principal and dignity and fearless in his love and devotion to the jamaat and the institution of Khilafat.He was immensely proud of his sons and would recite with pride the words of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II who had said that “You should be proud that you have two sons, one of whom serves as a soldier of Islam as a Waqfi Zindagi (B.A.Rafiq), and the other as a soldier in the Pakistan military (Col.Nazir Ahmad)”.
Every day Ahmadis are required to make sacrifices and suffer hardship in their life across the world because of their adherence to their faith. This is not something new and it is important to remember that Ahmadis have never flinched in their devotion to the jamaat and many like Hadhrat Danishmand Khan have walked tall in the footsteps of the Promised Messiah.