On 31st of August 1924 a Muslim holy man who had been imprisoned for many months in a dark, windowless cell in a dungeon in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan heard the sound of a drumbeat in the distance. As the sound of the drumbeat drew closer he could make out the sound of the town crier calling the people of Kabul to gather that evening at the mainmaydaan (open ground) to witness a great public spectacle. The event was to be no ordinary spectacle but the public stoning to death of the holy man himself sitting in that dark cell.
Some year previously another Muslim holy man of great renown had been imprisoned and publicly stoned to death in Kabul. He too had been an Ahmadi and for many years the Ahmadis of Kabul had been dispersed and had been living in hiding constantly under fear of arrest. But by 1919 it was felt that an Ahmadi should return to Kabul to care for the spiritual wellbeing of the remaining Ahmadis in Afghanistan. Mullah Naematullah a young Afghan seminary student who had been studying in Qadian was asked to return to Kabul. He was instructed not to advertise the fact that he was an Ahmadi and thus invite the ire of the virulent mullahs but to go about his business discreetly and to engage primarily in Tarbiyyat.
Kabul was at the time ruled by Amir Amanullah Khan the son of Amir Habibullah Khan. He was a man ostensibly known as someone who was of a more western and cosmopolitan frame of mind. When the young Naematullah heard an announcement declaring that in Kabul there would be complete freedom of religion he communicated this fact to Hadhrat Mirza Bashir ud Din Mahmood Ahmad Khalifatul Masih II, and enquired whether he should go about his activities more openly. Remembering the past duplicity of the Amir’s father in his treatment of Ahmadis, Hadhur wisely and prudently took steps to ensure that the Amir stuck to his word.
In August 1919 a delegation led by Mohammed Tarzi former Ambassador to France and currently the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan arrived in Mansoori, India to negotiate a treaty with the British. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II despatched a delegation led by Naik Mohammed Khan Ghaznavi an Afghan Ahmadi national settled in Qadian to meet the Afghan delegation and seek assurances regarding the remaining Ahmadis of Kabul. Such assurances were given by Sardar Tarzi and the delegation was assured that Ahmadis wold be safe in Afghanistan.
Mullah Naematullah was told of these assurances, but was nevertheless urged to have them re-confirmed in Kabul and further letters were written to Sardar Tarzi and to the well-known Turk General Jamal Pasha resident in Kabul and someone who was influential at court and a confidante of the King. Once again fulsome assurances were received from all official quarters assuring Ahmadis that they would be safe in Afghanistan.
Before leaving for Afghanistan, and whilst he was still in Peshawar waiting to leave for Kabul Mullah Naematullah had met Hadhrat Qazi Muhmmad Yusuf Sahib of Mardan and the Ameer of the Ahmadiyya jamaat in NWFP .Hadhrat Qazi Sahib had been concerned for the young man’s welfare and had asked the young Mullah Naematullah:
“suppose the Amir breaks his promise and you are faced with the same fate as Sahibzada Abdul Lateef who had been stoned to death what would be your reaction; would you remain firm in your belief or flee Kabul?”.
The young Mullah Naematullah replied quietly:
“Qazi Sahib, I can only answer that question when I am faced with such a situation any other answer could well be considered a boast made without real foundation”
History would show that in duplicity and treachery Amir Amanullah Khan proved to be his father’s son and reneged on all the assurances given to the jamaat. As soon as Mullah Naematullah came out in the open, he was arrested and incarcerated in prison. The prison in Kabul was nothing more than a dungeon and cesspit and apart from the absence of light he was kept in complete isolation. Left to his thoughts he spent his time in prayer and contemplation and in his imagination wandered down the narrow streets of his beloved Qadian, and remembered the days spent in prayer and reflection. He remembered how after Fajr prayers he would walk to the graveyard of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and offer silent prayers and gaze at the plaque on which the names of the other two Afghan martyrs (Hadhrat Sahibzada Abdul Lateef & Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Rehman) were also inscribed, and wonder if his name would also join that list of blessed martyrs. In one of his last letters smuggled out he wrote:
“As darkness deepens, simultaneously, to a corresponding degree Allah grants me light of the heart and tranquillity”
He was filled with such nobility of heart that he was more concerned for his fellow Ahmadis that they may be concerned and worried for his welfare; and in particular he was worried that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih would be deeply perturbed for his welfare. From his cell he wrote:
“I request my Ahmadi brethren to pray to the Almighty that I may be able serve my faith. Throughout my days in prison I have been praying. Oh Lord grant this unworthy servant the ability to serve the faith. I am not asking for release from prison or deliverance from death. I only ask Oh Lord do enable this unworthy and sinful servant to sacrifice every particle of his body for Islam. If it is destined that I should die then grant me my wish, that along with the names of the companions of the Promised Messiah(PBUH) my name be also inscribed upon the epitaph which is placed in the Bahishti Maqbara
Name of this servant -Naematullah Khan son of Amanullah Age 34”
After languishing many months in a Kabul dungeon and suffering indignities and cruelties too awful to contemplate on the 31st August 1924 Mullah Naematullah was finally about to hear his fate. The people of Kabul heard the sound of the beating drum that announced important events in the city. The town crier announced that the residents of Kabul were summoned to the main ground to witness the public stoning of an individual. Mullah Naematullah could also hear the drum and heard the sound of his own sentence being announced throughout the city, and yet despite this he remained stoic and calm and prepared to meet his maker. He had written all his final letters and shortly before Zuhr this young 30 old man who had the rest of his life to look forward to, and was on the cusp of his young life was led out of the dark dungeon in which he had languished for so many months. It was a bright beautiful day as he was led out from the darkness. He had been offered many opportunities to recant, but had refused all such offers. It was later said by witnesses, that as he was dragged through the streets of Kabul chained and shackled there was a look of tranquillity upon his face.
Mullah Naematullah was known for his piety throughout Kabul and many citizens of the city were witness to his diligence in observing all the fundamentals of Islam. There were many in the crowd who were troubled that such a devout, religious young man who recited the Kalima Shahida and faced Qibla whilst praying should be faced with such a fate; and yet they remained silent spectators.
For the people of Kabul this was a public spectacle and thousands had begun to gather after Zuhur in the great Maydaanwith an air of excitement & expectancy. The bloodlust amongst the people as they gathered stones and rocks for the great sport was palpable. Upon arrival in the ground the still chained and shackled Mullah Naematullah sought permission from his tormentors to perform his Asar prayer. This caused much consternation but after some debate amongst the mullahs he was granted such permission. With quiet grace and equanimity this young man with a courage and bravery that is difficult to contemplate performed his prayers; whilst thousands of bloodthirsty spectators silently looked on. After completing his prayers he got up and faced his tormentors. In a loud clear voice he recited a well-known Hadith and declared to the crowd that:
“He who offers his prayers like us facing Qibla and eats meat in the prescribed manner is indeed a Muslim”
A shallow hole had been dug and the young Mullah Naematullah was buried up to the waist in that shallow hole, and the ground firmed up around him, so that he could not struggle free. A signal was given and the bloodthirsty mob made a circle around him and drew closer.
As the first stone struck Mullah Naematullah he loudly called out the Kalima Tayyaba:
“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Messenger”
For as long as the rocks and stones hit his bruised and bloodied body he kept reciting these words loudly and firmly. Not one of the bloodthirsty and frenzied mob felt any shame that they were stoning to death a fellow Muslim, who was reciting the same Kalima Tayyaba that they recited. He was pelted with rocks and stones until his body were covered with rocks, and his young life was extinguished. Young Mullah Naematullah Shaheed’s suffering had come to an end and had “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and “touched the face of God”
Some days later in Peshawar Hadhrat Qazi Muhammad Yusuf Sahib received a letter. Upon opening the letter he discovered it was from Mullah Naematullah in which he had written:
“Revered Qazi Sahib,
By the time you receive this letter I will have answered the question that you posed to me during our final meeting in Peshawar”
Like Hadhrat Imam Hussein before him Hadhrat Mullah Naeemuddin was martyred during the month of Muharram (29th),and the land of Kabul after shedding the blood of this Ahmadi martyr has flown with blood to this day.
“O land of Kabul! you are a witness to the heinous crime committed on your soil. O miserable land! you have, in the sight of Allah, been condemned as you are the scene of this most atrocious crime”.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad