The Martyrs in Burkina Faso: Stars of Ahmadiyyat
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Amad(aba) recited the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
And say not of those who are killed in the cause of Allah that they are dead; nay, they are living; only you perceive not. And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient, Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 2:155-157)
A New Page in the History of Africa and Ahmadiyyat
His Holiness(aba) said that this is what God Almighty has said regarding those who sacrifice their lives for the sake of God – that they are not dead, but they are living. For more than a century, Ahmadis have been sacrificing their lives for the sake of God. Have their sacrifices gone in vain? No. Rather, not only did God elevate the name and status of those martyrs, He also made it a means for the continuous progress of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. These are the people who are enabling the success of those left behind; how then can they be considered to be dead?
His Holiness(aba) said that these martyrdoms began with Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed(ra). Then, in Africa, there was a sincere Ahmadi in Congo who was martyred in 2005. In recent days, the love, loyalty, sincerity, firm faith and resolve shown by Ahmadis in Burkina Faso is astounding and their example stands alone. When they were told to renounce the Promised Messiah(as) and declare that Jesus(as) is alive in heaven in order to save their lives, they responded that their life is to end one day or another, they will not lose their lives whilst abandoning their faith. Then, one after the other, they presented their lives for the sake of God. Their wives and children were made to look on, yet none wailed or exclaimed, rather they showed the utmost patience. Thus, these are the people who have gone down in the history of not just Africa, but Ahmadiyyat all over the world. They gained eternal life for themselves. They fulfilled their oath of sacrificing their life, wealth and time to the fullest extent. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah make them the recipients of the rewards promised to those who sacrifice their lives for his sake.
Nine Martyrs of Burkina Faso in the Way of Allah
His Holiness(aba) said that on 11 January in the Mahdi Abad community of Dori, Burkina Faso, 9 Ahmadis were martyred for not renouncing their faith. According to reports, 8 people on 4 motorcycles came to the Ahmadiyya mosque at the time of the evening prayer (Isha). They had an announcement made that everyone should come into the mosque swiftly as there were some people who had come to meet them. They then asked who the Imam of the mosque was and who the associate Imam was. They asked various questions about the belief of Ahmadis, to which the Imam confidently gave answers. They asked about whether Jesus(as) is alive or has passed away, to which the Imam replied that the Ahmadiyya belief is that Jesus(as) has passed away. He then also told them about the advent of the Promised Messiah(as). They then brought in pictures of the Promised Messiah(as) and the Caliphs and the Imam gave an introduction to all of them. They then said that – God forbid – the Promised Messiah(as) was false in his claim. The terrorists then formed groups of all those present in the mosque, separating the children, youth and the elders. There were about 11 or 12 women present in the mosque as well. Then, the terrorists took the elders out into the courtyard of the mosque. There were 10 elders at the time, including one with an ailment, who the terrorist told to stay inside. Whilst outside, the terrorists said that whoever renounced Ahmadiyyat would be saved. The Imam replied that if they wished to behead him then they could, however he would not renounce the truth after having found it. They laid him down on the ground with a knife to his neck, however he said that if they were going to kill him they should let him be upright. Upon this, they shot him, and thus, the first martyr was Imam Alhaj Boureima Bidiga.
An Extraordinary Example of Remaining Firm in One’s Faith
His Holiness(aba) said that after this, the terrorists thought that upon seeing this, others would be scared and renounce their faith. They moved on to the next elder, however he said he could never renounce Ahmadiyyat and he was content with following the path of the Imam. Upon this, they shot him in the head. Then the terrorists went to the rest one by one, asking them the same question, receiving the same answer, and they all met the same honour of martyrdom. They all exhibited the highest level of patience and perseverance. Their faith did not waver for even a moment, despite seeing their brothers being martyred and they all gave the same answer. Each martyr endured about 3 or so bullets. Two of the martyrs were also twin brothers. When 8 people had been martyred, AG Adramane Agouma remained, who was 44 years old and the youngest among the martyrs. The terrorists said that he was the youngest and should save his life. He boldly replied that he was ready to sacrifice his life just as his elders had, and he was subsequently martyred.
His Holiness(aba) said that with reference to a dream he saw about Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed(ra), the Promised Messiah(as) commented that God would send others like him. Surely, the events in Burkina Faso are a fulfilment of that.
His Holiness(aba) said that the entire ordeal lasted for about an hour and a half. One can only wonder the difficulty that the children and others present endured having to watch their elders be martyred. The terrorists did not immediately leave and continued spewing threats, saying that others who did not renounce Ahmadiyyat would face the same end.
Establishment of the Mahdi Abad Community in Burkina Faso
His Holiness(aba) said that the Community of Mahdi Abad was established in 1989. In 1999, a majority of a nearby village accepted Ahmadiyyat. The Imam of the area was Alhaj Ibrahim Bidiga who was a Wahabi Imam. He converted to Ahmadiyyat after a great deal of investigation and study. He then became a fearless soldier of Ahmadiyyat. When faced with the option to renounce Ahmadiyyat he said that after having seen the truth which is attested to by the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa)), then how could he abandon the truth? In 2004, due to finding gold in their village, a mining company displaced them to a different area. Most of these people were Ahmadi, and so upon writing to the Caliph, this area was named Mahdi Abad. In 2008, IAAAE created the first model village in this area, which was the very first of its kind.
His Holiness(aba) said that the terrorist had struck fear into the people, there was a fear that if the bodies were retrieved, the terrorists would return. The nearby army camp did not send anyone despite being informed and no security personnel arrived until the next morning. The martyrs were buried on the morning of 12 January.
Nine Shining Stars of Ahmadiyyat
His Holiness(aba) said that he would give details of each of the martyrs.
Alhaj Boureima Bidiga.
He had lived in Saudi Arabia for some time for studies. He was a scholar of the Tamasheq language, especially of the commentary of the Holy Qur’an in this language. Before accepting Ahmadiyyat, he was the chief Imam of various areas, and many scholars would come to stay with him to learn and benefit from his knowledge. Sometimes, this number would reach five hundred, and they would remain with him for a week. The first time he heard about Ahmadiyyat was in a market. When he learned that Ahmadis believe in the death of Jesus and the advent of the Promised Messiah(as), he went to the mission house in Dori to learn more. He accepted Ahmadiyyat after a great deal of research. His Holiness(aba) said that some opponents say that the Ahmadiyya Community targets to convert poor people, however these martyrs have refuted this as well, for he is an example of those who accepted Ahmadiyyat after a great deal of research and study. In 2000, he travelled to the UK to attend the Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana). He had an immense passion for the propagation of Islam. It seemed as if he did not care for anything else as much as he did for this. He endured many death threats but he never responded harshly. Many great scholars of the area accepted Ahmadiyyat due to his efforts and many villages also entered the fold of Ahmadiyyat due to his efforts as well. He had a profound love for the Caliph; he would sit and intently listened to the classes that the Caliph held with children, despite not knowing any Urdu at all. He said it was an honour for him just to sit and listen to the Caliph. Many of his students work as local missionaries now in different areas of Burkina Faso. He was regular in offering the five daily prayers in the mosque. He had two wives and 11 children. His Holiness(aba) attested to his firm faith and resolve and also presented the personal accounts of many who were positively impacted by him. His Holiness(aba) said with regards to the sincerity of people in Burkina Faso, that whilst on a tour there, he noticed that whenever people met him, they would always try to hug him. Even the Fourth Caliph(rh) once stated that he found the soil of Burkina Faso to be fertile and ready to accept the truth.
AG Maniel Alhassane.
He was a farmer by profession. He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999 and was among the foremost Ahmadiis in the village. He had a great deal of love for Khilafat. He was regular in offering prayers, offering financial contributions, and always presented sacrifices for the sake of the Community. He was well liked by all. He would always be at the forefront of fulfilling any call made by the Community.
AG Maliel Ousseni.
He was the twin brother of the above-mentioned martyr. He also accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999. He was among those who accompanied Imam Boureima to the Dori mission house to learn more about Ahmadiyyat, He was regular in offering the five daily prayers and the pre dawn voluntary prayers.
AG Hamidou Abdouramanae.
He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999. He was also a farmer by profession. He was very kind and always attended programmes conducted by the Community. He always taught his family to remain attached to the Community. He always watched MTA with regularly
AG Ibhrahim Souley.
He was also a farmer by profession. He always read prayers in congregation and presented financial sacrifices. He possessed great knowledge and would have scholarly discussions. He was very kind and gentle and treated everyone with kindness.
AG Soudeye Ousmane.
He was a sincere Ahmadi, always presenting his time and wealth. He helped with the construction of the mosque in Mahdi Abad. He always presented whatever income he made first for the sake of the community. He would also help others in need however he could.
AG Maguel Agali.
He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1999 along with his father. He was a very sincere Ahmadi. He was regular in offering prayers and financial contributions.
AG Idrahi Moussa.
He was also a farmer by profession. He was an active Ahmadi and was regular in offering his prayers. He would spend time in the mosque whilst occupied in the remembrance of God. He regularly wrote letters to the Caliph and would pray for him as well.
AG Adramane Agouma.
He was the youngest among the martyrs. He accepted Ahmadiyyat at the age of 20. Thereafter, his attachment to the Ahmadiyya Community only increased. When the terrorists entered the mosque and asked who the associate Imam was, he boldly stated that it was him. He would always be among the first to arrive at the mosque. He would also bring his children to the mosque in order to keep them attached as well. He was an expert cyclist and even cycled to Ghana in 2008.
His Holiness(aba) said that these are the shining stars of Ahmadiyyat. They have left us with an example. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah increase their progenies in sincerity. The enemy may think that they will eliminate AHmadiyyat from the area with their martyrdoms, however, God-willing, Ahmadiyyat will only increase in the area. His Holiness(aba) said that the local community should carefully devise a plan to continue propagating the message of Ahmadiyyat. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah continue to grant patience to the families.
His Holiness(aba) said that in order to help support the families of martyrs, a fund was started at the time of the Fourth Caliph(rh) called the Syedna Bilal Fund. His Holiness(aba) said that since this incident, people have been sending donations directly for these people, however people should donate these funds to the Syedna Bilal Fund and specify that this donation is specifically for the families of the martyrs in Burkina Faso. His Holiness(aba) said that this is not a favour being done, rather it is the Community’s responsibility to care for them.
His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah continue to elevate the station of these martyrs. May their martyrdoms bear fruits and be the means of the message of the Holy Prophet(sa) spreading swiftly across the world.
His Holiness(aba) said that in addition to the nine martyrs, he would also lead the funeral prayers in-absentia of the following sincere members:
Dr Karimullah Zirvi
He was fromUSA and was the son of Sufi Khuda Bakhsh Zirvi. Dr Karimullah Zirvi passed away on 4 January 2023. He was also the son-in-law of Malik Saifur Rahman. He was a great scholar; he has written various books and served the Community in various ways. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah grant him forgiveness and mercy
Amatul Latif Zirvi
She was the wife of Dr Karimullah Zirvi and the daughter of Malik Saifur Rahman. She passed away on 6 January 2023, two days after the passing of her husband. Her mother’s name was Amatul Rashid Shaukat who served as the Editor of the Al-Misbah magazine in Rabwah. She possessed great intellectual prowess, and also had the opportunity of serving the Community. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah grant her forgiveness and mercy. Her brother writes that both husband and wife had great love for each other. They endured difficulties but never complained. They were both oceans of knowledge and cared for everyone around them with love until their last days.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions.