It was with great pain and deep sadness that we learnt of the death of Colonel Mahmud Shaukat, which took place in Florida, USA, on 26th April 2014. Inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi rajioon. He was about 90 years of age.
There have been many people in the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at who served its cause quietly and unassumingly, while their names, qualities and sacrifices are not widely known or prominent. The late Colonel Shaukat sahib was one such man. I became acquainted with him during his stays at our London centre as Imam during the 1980s and then again in the mid-1990s. This short tribute is based on my contact and experiences with him.
A “man of God” would be the truest description of Shaukat sahib. The dhikr of Allah was ever on his lips, but silently and imperceptibly. I remember that he had a note book in which he had noted down various prayers and supplications. These, however, were not supplications by rote or recited as a custom and ritual, but they came from his heart.
Among his sacrifices for the Jama‘at, and that of his wife, Asma, was that they came to stay at our London Centre where Shaukat sahib served as Imam, giving up their own home and comforts. He did so in response to the request by his father-in-law Hazrat Dr Saeed Ahmad sahib, who was also Head of the Jama‘at at the time. Shaukat sahib worked as Imam in an honorary capacity, taking no recompense for his duties. In fact, he even offered to pay rent for his accommodation at the Centre.
His talks and khutbahs were simple but inspiring. He was most hospitable, warm, friendly, affectionate, social and courteous. When people visited our London Centre, he loved inviting them upstairs to the small flat where he and his wife lived, and entertaining them.
During the 1990s, at our London Centre we organised what were called ‘Young People Classes’ a number of times, run by myself and my wife Fauqia. Young people, whose ages ranged up to their early twenties, stayed at the Centre for two or three days receiving religious instruction and participating in educational and social activities. When Shaukat sahib was present as Imam in London, he gave to the class, and in fact to the teachers as well, the benefit of his Quranic knowledge as well as his paternal affection. I then realised the depth of his knowledge of the Quran and benefitted from it.
He recounted events of the past. If my memory serves me right, Shaukat sahib had met Mahatma Gandhi. I do clearly remember that he mentioned seeing Muhammad Asad, the Austrian Muslim convert who is known for his English translation of the Quran (The Message of the Quran). He said this was when Asad had come to Abbottabad to meet Hazrat Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan sahib. This would be in the 1940s.
Shaukat sahib had a close contact with Allah, and as a result he had great moral qualities as well as moral strength. Due to this spiritual strength, he made many sacrifices to serve the cause that he believed in. Shaukat sahib remained steadfastly loyal to Ahmadiyyat despite great pressure being brought to bear on him from certain close quarters around him to dissociate himself from the Jama‘at. He referred to this in speeches sometimes, saying that remaining within Ahmadiyyat was spiritual life, and abandoning it was spiritual death. When the UK Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at held a convention in 2009, Shaukat sahib, who then lived in the USA, sent a speech to be read out. This speech was published in The Light, UK Edition, October 2009. It begins as follows:
“My speech is inspired by a small personal incident, and this incident, I believe, foretold of events in the future. It happened over 50 years ago when the late Syed Assadullah Shah sahib, a very pious Ahmadi and a recipient of ilham (Divine revelation), used to stay with the late Hazrat Ameer Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan. People went to Shah sahib for praying for them. My father also requested him to pray for his sons. The answer to his prayers was: “Two will also die”. The record of this ilham and of others is kept in the late Hazrat Ameer’s papers, with dates and signatures. This ilham was not about the physical death, an end which everyone will surely meet, but regarding the spiritual death. Later events confirmed this, when in 1974 Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim by the government of Pakistan. My two brothers (I being the third) gave an advertisement in a leading English newspaper that they, the two of them, were Muslims and not Ahmadis etc. Mark the words of the ilham: “the two will die”. This is no slur on their decision because they did what they sincerely believed. But for me, when I believe in the rightness and genuineness of Hazrat Mirza sahib’s mission, a turning away from Ahmadiyyat would have been a total spiritual death. I am very thankful to God that He saved me from this very ignoble death. Shah sahib’s ilham was fulfilled and God’s decree and command was carried out.”
His making this statement openly in a speech, with reference to his close family members, shows the height of courage and the greatest sense of truth and justice that he possessed. Shaukat sahib suffered material and worldly loss, which he cheerfully accepted, in the path of remaining loyal and true to the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at.
Shaukat sahib was widely read and was always reading some latest book. One subject he was greatly interested in was research on Afghans and Pathans being descended from the Israelites. He gave me an Urdu book on this topic, which I have just located in my books. It is an 80 page historical research book entitled Afghanon Ki Nasli Tarikh written by Khan Roshan Khan, published in Karachi, 1981. The book concludes: “Afghans who are in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, are in fact remnants of the exiled tribes of the Israelites”, and the author adds “just as our ancient ancestors were granted by Allah to follow the law of Moses and the guidance of Jesus, He graced us and our forefathers with the blessing of the religion of Islam after the appearance of the Holy Prophet Muhammad”.
I have also just located manuscripts of three articles by Shaukat sahib which he sent me for future publication, when he was Imam here in UK, but which I have been remiss so far in publishing.
Shaukat sahib was a man of high spiritual standing, who received true dreams and communications from Allah. He was a man of the utmost sincerity and humility, who was self-effaced in Allah. And now he has returned to his beloved Allah. May Allah grant him forgiveness and protection, admit him into His mercy, raise his grades in the hereafter, and join him with His righteous servants, ameen.
— Zahid Aziz