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Home Islam Ahmadiyyat Library Online Store A Life Sketch of the Promised Messiah
Amatul-Hadi Ahmad - England
The Review of Religions, December 1996
Prophets achieve a closeness to God and a high spiritual station, but it is through their relationship with humanity that they are recognised. Indeed it is their example that leads others to God. This month while we celebrate the knowledge and wisdom of his lecture delivered at the Great Conference of Religions we should not forget the smaller, simpler details of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's everyday living--incidents that may appear small things at first glance but nevertheless reflect the depths to which his character was immersed in the love of the Holy Qur'an and of his master, the Holy Prophet (saw) of Islam. We recount a few brief incidents reported about the life of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community related by some companions who were able to observe him at close quarters. At times we find bitter enemies transformed into devoted disciples, at other times we find incidents related which may appear insignificant to some today, but which left deep impressions upon the hearts of his followers and enabled them to reform their behaviour to accord with the approval of their master. Many left their homes and their belongings, which were sometimes quite affluent, to go and live in the small unknown village of Qadian in India, which for them appeared to be in the wilderness, separated from any main town or transport provisions by a day's journey. Some literally gave their lives for his sake.
With his beauty of spirit, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) of Qadian captured the hearts and minds of many, rendering them helpless in their love for him. It is the testimony of these devoted companions that makes it possible to present a sketch of his life through the various anecdotes, observations, statements and details related by them. These, in turn, offer an understanding of the reasons for their deep and ardent devotion to Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as). How is it that a person born in a small, unknown village in India, living in complete anonymity, became surrounded by devoted followers who left every worldly things behind them to be with him, acknowledging him as their Guide and beloved Master?
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was born in 1835 in Qadian, a small village situated in the district of Punjab in India. He was born to a noble, land-owning family of Qadian. He received his education from various tutors who were 'not men of any great learning and the proficiency attained by him consisted merely in the reading of Persian and Arabic and in the ability to express himself fluently in the former and to a limited extent in the latter. His education went no further'.1 He had, however, also studied a few books on medicine under the guidance of his father who was a skillful physician. Together with his love of study, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was a devout worshipper and wished to spend a great deal of his time in prayer and supplication.
From an early age he received revelation from God, as well as visions and true dreams. It was in a state of relative seclusion and anonymity that in 1868/69 he received the revelation,
Thy God is well pleased with what thou hast done. He will bless thee greatly, so much so that Kings shall seek blessing from your garments.
This followed the occasion when the locals of Batala had insisted that he dispute a certain point with Maulvi Muhammad Hussain of Batala but, although having travelled for the debate, he declined to argue the point finding nothing objectionable in Maulvi Hussain's statements. He was looked down upon for his refusal, yet he had preferred to hold to the truth above the admiration of other people. This seemed a strange revelation at the time--why should kings have sought blessings from the raiment of someone hardly known outside his immediate locality?
The flow of revelations and visions continued, gathering momentum, until in 1882 he received the revelation which made manifest God's design that he, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), was to be the appointed one, the one commissioned by God to serve His cause. Part of the revelation received in 1882 was as follows:
O Ahmad, God has blessed thee......
Say, I am commanded to guide the world to the path of
righteousness and I am the first to believe......
Help shall come to thee from men whose hearts Allah has himself
prepared through revelation.2
It was not long before this prophecy came to be fulfilled. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) had written the first part of his book Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya in 1880. The second part, published in 1882, included the above revelation relating to his appointment as the Promised Reformer of the age. Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya caused a stir in the scholarly circles and people started to come to see him from near and far. They came to Qadian, a small unknown village, a place not easily accessible.
Hadhrat Bhai Abdur Rahman (ra), who was to become a very close companion of the Promised Messiah (as), describes the ordeal of reaching Qadian from his own experience when he first wished to visit Qadian, around 1895. 'The first difficulty one faced was due to the relative anonymity of the small village (of Qadian) and, having located its whereabouts, the second great difficulty was the matter of actually getting there. The absence of any proper channel of transport was such that even finding a mode of transport was a difficult feat. When some transport did become available, it consisted either of a cart pulled by bullocks or similar, or a horse-driven carriage for which a more appropriate name would have been the 'wheels of torture'! Riding on it made one's ribs ache, gave one stomach pains and the whole body felt as if it had been pounded. It was not uncommon to see the horse and carriage turned upside down on the beaten track--along with its passengers! However, having achieved the first goal of finding a carriage, the second difficulty was the disappearance of the driver who would take off in search of other passengers before he was ready to take one to Qadian. The state of the paths was such that no matter how healthy and strong an animal was before it was set to the task of pulling a carriage along this route, it soon became weak and feeble. The sight of these animals sometimes was so pathetic that some passengers took pity on them and preferred to walk. The rainy season made the trials of this journey even more horrendous.'3
Within Qadian itself the situation was not much better. In the words of Hadhrat Bhai Abdur Rahman (ra), wherever you looked there were old ruins, the town being almost deserted with an air of sadness all around, as if it was in a state of mourning. There were two bazaars, but in name only, with just a handful of shops selling just a few commodities of a poor quality. Most of the requirements had to be obtained from the two nearest towns of Batala and Amritsar. This was the Qadian to which God had promised that men whom he had prepared through revelation, would come in large numbers, from near and far!
The first of these visitors was Pir Sirajudin Haq Nomani (ra) who was himself well-known spiritual leader with a large following. He paid a visit to the Promised Messiah in 1882 having read his book Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya. As soon as Pir Sirajudin Sahib met the writer of this work, he was filled with joy as he found in him the true guide and saviour of Islam. After this he paid numerous visits to Qadian and finally settled there so that he could be close to his blessed Master. His visit to Qadian was soon followed by others who also came having read the epoch-making work, Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya. Munshi Abdullah (ra) Sahib came from Sanur in Patiala. India. followed by Chaudhri Rustum Ali Khan (ra) of Madar in Jullunhar, Sayyed Nasir Shah Sahib of Lahore, and many others. Three gentlemen from Kapurthala visited Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) in the year of 1886, all having read his scholarly work. One of them, Munshi Zafar Ahmad (ra), Registrar High Court of Kapurthala, when he had got hold of a copy of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya he studied it and read it out aloud to his friends and soon became a fervent admirer of the writer of this book. Together with two of his friends, Munshi Rure Khan and Munshi Muhammad Khan, they eagerly sought the first opportunity of visiting the writer. Upon their meeting, the three friends were so enamoured with Hadhrat Ahmad that they requested to be initiated at his hand but he politely refused stating that he had not been so commanded by God (that was to come later in 1889).
The great Maulana Maulvi Nurudin (ra) of Bhera, Royal Physician to the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the most eminent scholars of India, came to Qadian in 1885 to see Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), having read the book Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya. He immediately recognised Hadhrat Mirza Sahib as the Promised Reformer of the age and became a fervent admirer and an earnest supporter. As their first meeting came to an end, Hadhrat Mirza Sahib remarked, 'I hope you will come back soon'. Maulvi Nurudin Sahib replied that he would.
In 1889 Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) received the Divine revelation:
When thou hast determined, put thine trust in Allah. And build the Ark under Our eyes, as commanded by our revelation. Verily, those who swear allegiance to thee indeed swear allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hand.4
Pursuant to this revelation Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) wrote a Notice that was extensively publicised. It began thus: 'I have been ordained to announce that those who are seekers after truth should swear allegiance to me so that they may be enabled to find a way to the true faith, true purity and the love of God.' The Divine call for Initiation was answered immediately by those who had already recognised in Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) the Divine light and they rallied round him to be initiated at his hand. The first Initiation ceremony took place in Ludhiana on 23 March 1889. Hadhrat Maulvi Nurudin (ra), as was his wish, became the first person to be initiated at his hand. He came to Qadian again in 1894 and stayed there permanently, never returning to his native town of Bhera.
The question that naturally arises here is 'Why'? What was it about the character and personality of the Promised Messiah (as) that inspired such deep feelings of love, respect and devotion in those who became his disciples and his followers that they were prepared to leave everything and come and settle in Qadian so that they could be close to their revered Guide?
One of his companions, Munshi Rure Khan (ra) of Kapurthala was asked a similar question by Mr. H. A. Waiter, who was Secretary of The Young Men's Christian Association. He asked the questions, 'How long were you in contact with Mirza Sahib, what proof of his truth appealed to you most and what feature of his character impressed you more than others?' Munshi Sahib replied very simply: 'I knew Mirza Sahib even before he claimed to be the Messiah. I have never seen such a holy and luminous countenance. For me his luminous appearance and magnetic personality constituted the greatest proof of his truth. We were always eager to see his radiant face.' Then, recalling those days, he began to sob, overwhelmed with emotion. Mr. Waiter was so impressed by this simple incident that he made a mention of it in his book and remarked: 'We may call Mirza Sahib deluded, but we can never call one who has created such a deep impression upon his disciples, an impostor'.5
Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) of Sialkot who was a learned scholar and a brilliant orator, came to take the Oath of Allegiance in 1889 and soon left everything behind and came to live in Qadian, in the close company of the Promised Messiah (as) Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) on more than one occasion turned down offers of employment at handsome salaries as these would have taken him away from his beloved Master. He became one of the Promised Messiah's most constant and devoted companions. When he came to Qadian, the Promised Messiah (as) gave him space in his own house on the third storey, while the Promised Messiah (as) himself occupied the second storey. It was this living arrangement that enabled Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) to observe the Promised Messiah (as) from very close quarters and thus enabled him to present, so successfully, a portrait of the Promised Messiah (as) which detailed many aspects of his character and personality. In one such sketch, he writes that the Promised Messiah (as) possessed such humility and meekness that it is impossible to possess them in higher degree and he goes on to relate an incident to illustrate this point. 'A few years ago in Ludhiana, I went to sleep on a couch in one of the newly built rooms in the house of the Hadhrat Mirza Sahib. As I fell asleep, he was pacing up and down in the room but when I awoke, I saw him lying on the floor near my couch. Seeing this, I hurriedly sat up. Thereupon he very kindly asked me why I had sat up. I said, 'How can I go on sleeping on a couch when Your Holiness is lying on the floor?' He smiled and said, 'I was keeping watch over you. The children were making a noise and I was trying prevent them, lest they should disturb you in your sleep.'6
In the mosque the Promised Messiah (as) occupied no place of distinction and a newcomer could not tell him apart from others by any outer distinguishing marks. He always sat to one side of the mosque while Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib, who led the prayers, occupied the central niche (Mihrab). It often happened that a newcomer, eager to meet the Promised Messiah (as) headed first towards Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra). Such mistakes were, however, quickly corrected either by the person himself or by other people pointing in the direction of the Promised Messiah (as).
Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) further relates: 'Every disciple of the Promised Messiah (as) thinks that he is particularly loved by him and speaks out his mind freely to him. A man may go on telling his story to him for hours; he continues to listen to him with full attention, no matter how tedious it may be. Often it so happens that other members of the company become completely tired of the story but no gesture of the Promised Messiah (as) betrays any feeling of annoyance and vexation.'7
The Promised Messiah's feeling of respect for others and especially for his companions is well illustrated by the following observation of Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) Sahib. He relates: 'The Promised Messiah (as) always uses a respectful form of address when calling his followers by their name or when addressing them, he names them respectfully even when they are absent. I have often overheard when he is talking with his honoured wife that he always mentions a person's name respectfully, just as he does when the latter is present. It is usual with him to use the form "My brother Hadhrat Maulvi Sahib" or "My brother and friend in God, Maulvi Sahib". Similarly, in his conversation he always uses a form such as 'Hadhrat Maulvi Sahib says so and so.'8
Another of his deeply devoted companions, Munshi Zafar Ahmad (ra) of Kapurthala has described the following incident, which beautifully reveals the extent of the Promised Messiah's sensitivity for the feelings of others. He relates: 'Once the Promised Messiah (as) was sitting on the roof of the Mubarak Mosque, Qadian, awaiting the arrival of some guests with whom he was to have a meal. One very poor Ahmadi friend, Mian Nizam Din Sahib of Ludhaiana, wearing ragged clothes, was also sitting there at a short distance. In the meantime, some well-to-do, respected guests arrived and came and sat near the Promised Messiah (as). To make room for each of them Mian Nizam Din Sahib had to move further back and he did so until he reached the place where shoes were kept. When the meal was brought, the Promised Messiah (as) who had observed the whole scene, took a plate of food and addressing him said, 'Come, Mian Nizam Din you and I will eat together inside,' meaning his chamber next to the mosque. At that Mian Nizam Din Sahib's joy knew no bounds, and those who had sat near the Promised Messiah (as), pushing Mian Nizam Din Sahib farther away, were duly mortified.'9
Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) describes an incident which provides an illustration of this commitment to the needs of the poor. He relates that once a large number of country women came with their sickly children to ask the Promised Messiah (as) to prescribe medicines for them. Other women also joined in, containers in hand, wanting syrups and medicines for themselves or their children. The Promised Messiah (as) had that day to write an important and urgent article. I also happened to go there and found that he was standing there, active as a European at his post, ready to serve these people. Five or six boxes were lying open before him and he was dispensing different medicines to different patients. This dispensing lasted for about three hours. When he had finished, I said to him, 'My Lord, this is a very troublesome business and in this way much time of your Holiness is wasted'. Whereupon he replied most cheerfully and calmly, saying: 'This too is a sacred work. These are poor people and there is no dispensary here. I have provided some English and Unani (Greek) medicines which I give to these people when they need them. This is a highly meritorious work and a Muslim should not be neglectful or indifferent in this matter.'10
The Promised Messiah's natural feelings of goodness towards mankind did not exclude even his opponents. Sheikh Yaqub All Irfani (ra) relates that once Lala Sharampat, who belonged to the Arya Community and was very hostile to the Promised Messiah (as), fell seriously ill with a malignant abscess in his stomach, which greatly worried him, causing him to despair of life. When the Promised Messiah (as) came to know of his illness he would often go to his lowly dwelling to inquire after his health. Lala Sharampat was so eaten up with anxiety that when the Promised Messiah (as) visited him, he would humbly solicit his prayers, despite his hostility towards Islam. The Promised Messiah (as) always sought to comfort him and prayed for him. He continued to visit him and prayed for him till he recovered completely.11
The same affectionate treatment was accorded to another Arya of Qadian namely Lala Malawa Mal who in his youth used to visit the Promised Messiah (as) although he entertained extreme religious and communal prejudice. Several times the Promised Messiah (as) asked him to publicly bear witness to the Divine signs to which he was an eye witness but he always evaded doing so. It so happened that in 1881 Malawa Mal began to suffer from tuberculosis and his condition became hopeless. In that condition he came to the Promised Messiah (as), described his miserable plight, wept bitterly and humbly beseeched him to pray for his recovery. This only illustrates how deeply Lala Malawa Mal had been impressed with the Promised Messiah's piety. The Promised Messiah (as) took pity on him and prayed earnestly for his recovery. His prayers were answered and he was informed in advance by God of Malawa Mal's recovery. Shortly after this he recovered from his affliction, which was considered fatal in those days.12
The gentleness and kindness of the Promised Messiah (as) was like a warm ray of sunshine which brightened everything it touched. His treatment of children, his attitude to the servants of the house, towards the beggars that called out for alms, his treatment of the lowly and the simple of mind, in short, every aspect of his relationship with others bore the mark of a person acutely aware of the Divine presence.
Commenting on the remarkable magnanimity and forbearance of the Promised Messiah (as), Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) cites the following example. He states: 'I have seen hundreds of times that while he is sitting in his room in the second storey, with doors closed as is the habit with him, engaged in writing a book or engrossed in meditation one of his children knocks heavily at the door saying, "Abba, open the door". Immediately he rises and opens the door. The child enters the room, looks around for a while and then leaves. The Promised Messiah (as) again closes the door as usual but before two minutes have passed the child is again at the door pushing it with all his might and crying as before, "Abba, open the door". Again the Promised Messiah (as) quietly rises and opens the door. This time, again, the child withdraws after only peeping into the room once or twice. Again, the Promised Messiah (as) stands up, with not a wrinkle on his face, shuts the door and once again resumes his work. But before five minutes have passed the child is again at the door, crying at the top of his voice, "Abba, open the door". Again the Promised Messiah (as) quietly rises and opens the door. He does not say a word as to why he comes, or what he wants and what purpose he has in coming so often and why he troubles him in this way and interferes with his work. Once, I sitting in my own room upstairs, counted this process being repeated twenty times, but not once did the Promised Messiah (as) utter a word of rebuke.'
Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) states: 'I have seen the Promised Messiah (as) engaged in writing on difficult subjects and even composing Arabic works of unparalleled linguistic elegance in the midst of a great tumult and uproar. Reckless children and simple minded female servants are quarrelling all around him, screeching and screaming. But all this fails to disturb him in the least and he goes on writing as if he were sitting in a place of solitude. It is in such noisy rooms that all his great and unparalleled works in Arabic, Persian and Urdu have been written. I once asked him how he was able to think and write so calmly in the midst of such noise. He smiled and said I do not heed what is going on around me and, therefore, I am not disturbed'.13
Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) further writes, 'Similar is his attitude towards the female-servants in the house. A woman comes to him again and again and asks for what she wants. He never says to her, "0! Wretched woman, why do you trouble me again and again. Why don't you take all that you want in one go?" He further adds, "The house-servants cook for themselves whatever food they like; they have as free a hand as if the house and everything in the house was their own property. If they ever forget to prepare food for the Promised Messiah (as), they are never admonished. He will not do even so much as say in a mild tone, "Why is it so?"14 The unlettered servants returned his kindness with love, affection and loyalty. Once in the hot summer season, after the sunset prayers the Promised Messiah (as) was taken very ill. People were attending to him all around. When Pira, one of his servants, heard of his sudden illness he came running to him, his feet covered in mud, and rushed straight up to him. Someone tried to stop him but the Promised Messiah (as) said, "Don't stop him. What does he know about where not to tread with muddy feet? He has come with love--let him come."'15
Another incident is related by Hadhrat Munshi Zafar Ahmad (ra) of Kapurthala, illustrating the Promised Messiah's humility in his dealings with fellow human beings, no matter who or what they were. He states that once the Promised Messiah (as) was returning from the Aqsa Mosque in Qadian when Miraan Bakhsh, a man of simple and confused mind who suffered from delusions, called out loudly and roughly after him, saying, 'O, Ghulam Ahmad'. The Promised Messiah (as) stopped and replied politely, saying, 'Yes'! (Such were the high morals of Hadhrat.) Miraan sometimes suffered from the delusion that he was a king and people needed to settle their accounts with him. Addressing the Promised Messiah (as), he said, 'Listen, you should say salaam'. The Promised Messiah (as) said, 'Assalamo Alaikum'. Miraan then said, 'You need to settle your account'. The Promised Messiah (as) took a coin from his pocket and gave it to him, which greatly pleased Miraan and he went off singing.' (It is recorded that as Hadhrat Munshi Sahib was narrating this event he sobbed uncontrollably at the memory of the beautiful character of his Holy Master.)16
The Promised Messiah's dealings with his own family were a beautiful example of gentleness and kindness. Those who had the occasion to observe closely his relations with his family, bear witness to the fact that he possessed the most excellent morals in this regard. The female servants of the house were often heard to remark that he 'accords the wishes of his wife,' which was a practice not commonly observed in other households. The Promised Messiah (as) has himself commented that, 'It appears to me to be highly disgraceful that we being men should quarrel with women...... We should treat women with kindness and gentleness.' Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) relates, concerning the noble wife of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), 'His respected wife has entered into his ba'iat (Oath of Allegiance) like other disciples and sincerely believes him to be a Messenger from God..... In every matter she believes him to be truthful and trustworthy, like the greatest of his disciples.'17
The Promised Messiah (as) was much opposed to the beating and rebuking of children. Quoting again from Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra), 'No matter how troublesome and naughty they are and however pressing may be their unreasonable demands and however much they may insist on having what is unprocurable, he never beats them or scolds them or shows any sign of anger'. Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (ra) further states, 'I have often seen that nothing annoys him as much as to hear that some one has beaten his child. A gentleman here one day beat his children, as a matter of habit. This greatly moved the Promised Messiah (as) who sent for him and delivered a highly touching discourse.'18
He took care of his own children's up-bringing through prayer and through his own example. Once in the winter season, Mian Mahmud, who was then only a child, put a piece of stone in the pocket of the waistcoat of Hadhrat Mirza Sahib so that whenever he lay down on his side it poked into him. He mentioned to his servant that of late he had been feeling some pain in his ribs. In an attempt to check this the servant passed his hand over that area only to discover the brickbat and he took it out. The Promised Messiah (as) smiled and said, 'Now I remember, Mahmud put this in my pocket and asked me not to take it out for he would play with it later.' Hadhrat Mirza Sahib asked that it should be left there for when Mahmud wished to claim it back.
'I have often seen his own and other children sitting on the same couch with him, compelling him to gradually move to the end of the couch, and reciting to him in their childish stories--tales of frogs and crows and sparrows. He listens to them with apparent delight as if they were reciting to him some lines from the mystic poems of Maulana Rum.'19
Another occasion in this regard is related by Dr. Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahib (ra) recorded by Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), one of the sons of the Promised Messiah (as). He writes, (during their stay in Ludhiana) 'When the Promised Messiah (as) published his claim to be the Messiah I was a young child in the third year of school. One day when I went to school some boys said to me that the Mirza Sahib from Qadian who lives in your house has claimed that Jesus (as) has died and that he is the expected Messiah. Dr. Sahib said that I spoke in support of their argument, that how can that be when Jesus (as) is alive and will come down from heaven? Anyhow, when I came home Hadhrat Sahib was sitting down. I addressed him and said that I have heard that you say that you are the Messiah. Dr. Sahib states that hearing this The Promised Messiah (as) rose in silence and went to the cupboard inside the room and brought out a copy of his booklet Fateh Islam (Victory of Islam, which was his latest work) and gave it to me and said, "Read this." Dr. Sahib added that this too was a proof of the truth of the Promised Messiah (as) in that he took an innocent question from a small child very seriously when he could have just said something to avert his mind.'20
There were many who flocked to surrounded the Promised Messiah (as) and wished to become closer to him. Among them were the lowly and the meek but also the noble, the learned, the Prince and the Nawab (a Count). They came from near and they came from afar. What is more, they came in the face of severe opposition from those who were unable to see the light of truth. The incident leading to the acceptance of the Promised Messiah (as) by Hadhrat Ghulam Nabi Sahib (as) is a cogent testimony to the strength of those who abandoned their opposition once they had glimpsed the beauty of the truth of the Promised Messiah (as). They became instead his ardent admirers, caring not a jot for those who remained his enemies.
'It was in 1891 in Qadian that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) received repeated revelations that Jesus (as) of Nazareth, in whose second advent both the Muslims and Christians believed, had died a natural death and that what was meant by his second advent was that a person should appear in the spirit of Jesus and that he himself was that person, the Promised Messiah (as). When he received repeated revelations commanding him to publish this fact, he had no choice but to do as was commanded. He proceeded to Ludhiana and there issued a Notice announcing his claim. No sooner was the announcement made that an unprecedented storm of opposition was raised.'21
Maulvi Ghulam Nabi was a very influential scholar and had a considerable following among the Muslims whom he delighted with his scholarly knowledge of the Qur'an and the Hadith. It was during this period of the Promised Messiah's stay in Ludhiana that Maulvi Ghulam Nabi used to bring with him a crowd of people to pitch outside the residence of the Promised Messiah (as) where they proceeded to pour out venom against him. The situation of the residence of the Promised Messiah (as) in Ludhiana was such that there was no through entrance to the men's reception room from the ladies' side and the Promised Messiah (as) had to approach the men's area externally. One day it so happened that as the Promised Messiah (as) was making his way to the men's reception room, Munshi Ghulam Nabi caught a glimpse of his face and this completely overpowered him. Prior to this occurrence he was busy delivering his usual speeches arousing the public's animosity against the Promised Messiah (as). Having seen the radiant face of the Promised Messiah (as), he rushed towards him and seeing him approach, the Promised Messiah (as) extended his hand, offering greetings of peace. Maulvi Sahib returned the greeting, took hold of his hand and accompanied him inside. Once inside, Maulvi Sahib not only sat close to the Promised Messiah (as), he also began to declare his love and admiration for him.
Being a scholar, naturally he raised many pertinent questions relating to the Promised Messiah's claim about the death of Jesus (as) and about his own Commission. The Promised Messiah (as) replied quoting references from the Holy Qur'an, to which Maulvi Sahib said: 'Certainly, the Holy Qur'an is with you'. The Promised Messiah (as) responded that if the Holy Qur'an was on his side, then on whose side was Maulvi Sahib? To this he immediately replied that he sided with the Promised Messiah (as), and at this he wished to take the Oath of Initiation. From that time on Hadhrat Maulvi Ghulam Nabi Sahib became totally immersed in the love of the Promised Messiah (as), paying frequent visits to Qadian, wishing never to leave his side.22
In his book, Arba'een, the Promised Messiah (as) states: 'I would like to make it known to all Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Aryas that I have no enemy in the world. I love mankind as dearly as an affectionate mother loves her children, nay, even more. I am the enemy only of false beliefs and doctrines which undermine truth.'
The beauty of the Promised Messiah's truth attracted people not only from the Muslims, but also from other faiths and beliefs. Hadhrat Bhai Abdur Rahman (ra), for example, joined the fold of devoted followers of the Promised Messiah (as) as a young boy of about sixteen years of age. He belonged to a well-to-do Hindu family but having read some of the writings of the Promised Messiah (as), he came to see him in Qadian in 1895 and became a Muslim. The story of his steadfastness, loyalty and deep devotion to the Promised Messiah (as) is a story most inspiring. Similarly, Hazrat Bhai Abdur Rahim (ra) adopted the faith of Islam, abandoning the Sikh beliefs with which he had grown up, and took his Oath of Allegiance at the hand of the Promised Messiah (as) in 1894, and there were many others. Even a scant knowledge of the social and communal history of India of that period would show that such conversions to Islam were acts of immense courage and strength. It was an action akin to an invitation to death! The ethnic division of Indian society between Hindu, Muslim and Sikh was so deep that the whole social domain was coloured by it. Hence, when people from a Hindu or Sikh background abandoned their beliefs and accepted Islam at the hands of the Promised Messiah (as), it unleashed a storm of reaction against them from their own families who sought to reclaim their progeny by any means, fair or foul. The attraction of the truth and goodness of the Promised Messiah (as), however, was such that once the converts took the first, courageous steps towards the Promised Messiah (as), they never looked back!
Professor Raig, a renowned English astronomer of his time, came to see the Promised Messiah (as) on 12 May 1908. He raised many questions to which the Promised Messiah (as) gave an enlightened response. The Professor parted on 18 May 1908, wishing to hold further sessions. Some of the conversations of the Professor with the Promised Messiah (as) were recorded and preserved.23 Following his meetings with Promised Messiah (as), Professor Raig accepted Islam and remained a Muslim to the end.
There also came to Qadian, in 1902, a noble and saintly scholar from the Royal Palace of the King of Afghanistan. The saintly person was Sahibzada Abdul Latif of Khost, Afghanistan. He was himself a renowned scholar, acknowledged as the most eminent divine in Afghanistan, with a huge following of his own. He was held in great esteem even by the King who had appointed him as the Court Scholar. Sahibzada Abdul Latif did not lack in material wealth. His estate spread over a hundred thousand acres in the province of Khost as well as another considerable estate in Bannu, on the frontier land.
In 1893 he was appointed a member of the Royal Commission, set up to negotiate terms with the British and the two parties camped near the border in Parachanar. Among the English group was a stenographer, from Peshawar, who was a follower of the Promised Messiah (as). He was Chun Baadshah who, seeing in Sahibzada Sahib a saintly and scholarly person, courageously presented him with the Promised Messiah's book, A'ina Kamalat-e-Islam. The Sahibzada Sahib spent the whole night captivated by that book and by the morning he was convinced that the person prophesied by the Holy Prophet (as) of Islam, as the Messiah and Mahdi was doubtless the writer of this book.
One of his closest disciples, Sayyed Abdus Sattar Sahib has related that Sahibzada Sahib read this book before them and declared that this is that Mahdi who was to come. The rest is history! It is the story of perception and acknowledgement of truth, of the strength of love of Sahibzada Abdul Latif (ra) Sahib for his beloved Master, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi--a love for which he paid with his life. He was, however, not the first martyr among the followers of the Promised Messiah (as).
Before visiting Qadian himself, Sahibzada Abdul Latif Sahib sent one of his trusted disciples, Maulvi Abdur Rahman to Qadian to observe the Promised Messiah (as) and his activities and to send back a diary of his observations. Upon his return journeys to Kabul, he brought for his Master various books of the Promised Messiah. In 1901, on one such return journey from Qadian to Afghanistan, he had with him some literature of the Promised Messiah (as) including his pronouncements upon the issue of Jihad. This was reported to the King who issued orders for his arrest and he was subsequently murdered in jail by being suffocated with a cloth. He thus became the first martyr among the followers of the Promised Messiah (as).
Records do not, however, show that Sahibzada Sahib was interrogated as a result of this incident and he continued to send other close and trusted disciples to Qadian with the same mission. Finally, in 1902 he decided to meet the Promised Messiah in person. When he arrived in Qadian and saw the illuminated and holy face of the Promised Messiah (as), it was a case of love at first sight. He had no hesitation whatsoever in accepting Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) as the Promised Messiah and took the Oath of Allegiance at his hand. He stayed in the company of the Promised Messiah (as) for several months and parted from him very unwillingly.
Upon his return to Afghanistan, he was asked by the King and the clergy to renounce his acceptance of the Promised Messiah (as). He refused to reject the claims of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, and as a result the King of Afghanistan, in connivance with the Court clerics, ordered his imprisonment, pending execution. On 14 July 1903 the King ordered that his already shackled body should be dragged along the streets of Kabul, by a rope pierced through his nose--dragged thus to the place of his execution. People in their multitudes lined the streets, jeering and mocking. At the place of his execution, he was half buried in the ground and the first stone was hurled by the chief Qadi (Judge) followed by the King himself, and then by a hail of stones--(O human cruelty! Do you know no bounds?) His body, buried under the heap of stones, was later given a secret burial by his disciples. Thus ended the saintly life of Sahibzada Abdul Latif Sahibzada, martyred in the path of love, in the path of God, faithful to the end.24
Commenting on this episode, the Promised Messiah (as) wrote: 'Prior to this tragedy there had also occurred the murder of Mian Abdul Rahman, one of my followers, on which God kept quiet, but He will not overlook this brutality and the terrible consequences of this event shall be witnessed. It has been reported that after the killing of the deceased martyr by thousands of stones, an epidemic of cholera broke out in Kabul and a great number of people, including prominent men and dignitaries of the state and a number of the Amir's relatives, perished. But that is not all. This was a most merciless murder which has no parallel under heaven. Alas, what a pity! What has this ignorant Amir done? He has brutally killed such an incomparable, innocent and righteous man and has ensured his own ruin.
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.'25
Our readers can gauge for themselves the validity of this prophetic statement.
The story of love and devotion of the companions of the Promised Messiah (as) is a living testimony to the fact that when the beauty of a person's truth and goodness truly attracts, it compels the beholder to follow in the same path of goodness. This, surely, is a far more powerful statement of acknowledgement and acceptance than any verbal statement could ever be. It is this compelling attraction that makes a divinely inspired Guide the 'window' through which the soul can glimpse the ultimate beauty, the beauty of truth, the Beauty of God. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, treading in the footsteps of his own Master, the Holy Prophet (saw) of Islam, enabled many who followed him to know God. He enabled, and continues to enable a person to achieve the true purpose of life, namely, that 'the window of his heart should open towards God'.26
Hadhrat Ahmad by Hazrat Mirza Bashirudin Mahmud Ahmad. Ed 1916.
Tadhkira, 1969, (p.43/50). Ed.
Ashab-e-Ahmad by Malik Salahudin M.A., (Vol. 9).
Tadhkira, ed. 1969, (p.168).
Ahmadiyya Movement by H. A. Waiter.
A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah by Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib, ed. 1924.
Ashab-e-Ahmad, by Malik Salahudin M.A., (Vol. 4).
A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah by Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib, ed. 1924.
Seerat Masih-e-Maoud (Part II) by Hadhrat Yaqoub Ali Irfani.
The Promised Messiah by Mirza Mubarak Ahmad.
A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah - see above.
A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah - see above.
Seerat Masih-e-Maoud (Part III) by Hadhrat Yaqoub Ali Irfani.
Ashab-e-Ahmad (Vol. 4) by Malik Salahudin M.A.
A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah - see above.
Seerat Masih-e-Maoud (Part III) by Hadhrat Yaqoub Ali Irfani.
Hadhrat Ahmad by Hadhrat Mirza Bashirudin Mahmud Ahmad, ed. 1916.
Report by Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Sahib (from Ansarullah magazine October 1995)
Malfoozat vol. 1O pp. 353-364 (See also Review of Religions June 1994)
The Afghan Martyrs by B. A. Rafiq.
Tadhkiratush Shahadatain (Narrative of Two Martyrdoms), 1903.
Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam (p. 86), ed. 1989.
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