‘Surely men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him – Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward.’ (Ch.33:V.36)
Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra), born in 1865 and who passed away in 1952, was an excellent example of all the qualities mentioned in the above verses of the Holy Qur’an. She was a modern-day example of the spiritual, moral and personal excellence which can be achieved by following the commandments of the Holy Qur’an and by the blessings of Allah, the One God. Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra) was the wife of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and her name, Nusrat Jehan, meaning ‘Helper of the World’, further demonstrates her qualities and was a prophecy in itself.
Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra) is known within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community by two other names, ‘Ummul-Mu’mineen’ meaning ‘Mother of the Believers’, signifying her value and the respect in which she is held by the community as the wife of the Promised Messiah(as), but she is also known very commonly by the affectionate term by which family members called her, ‘Amma Jaan’, which is roughly translated as a term of endearment as ‘Respected and Dear Mother’.
Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra)’s marriage to the Promised Messiah(as) was foretold many hundreds of years ago by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) himself.
‘Ibn ‘Umar(ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“Isa son of Mary will descend, then he will get married and offspring will be born to him.”’1
This Hadith illustrates the importance of the blessed marriage of the Promised Messiah(as) and signifies that the offspring born to this match would also be especially blessed.
The marriage was also foretold to the Promised Messiah(as) in a number of revelations and took place in extraordinary circumstances. The Promised Messiah(as) was already married, although his first wife had by this time given up her marital rights and chosen separation with continued financial support from him. There was also an age difference of thirty years between Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) and the Promised Messiah(as) and she came from a noble and distinguished family of Syeds (descendents of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw)) and lived in Delhi.
Thus, it was arranged according to the revelation received by the Promised Messiah(as):
“I have decided that you should be married again, I shall arrange it all Myself and you will not be put to any trouble.”2
Therefore, although the circumstances of the match were unique and extraordinary, the ceremony simple, and the change in lifestyle for the young bride major, it could literally be described as ‘a match made in Heaven’. But even though the marriage had been ordained by Allah the Almighty, it took the special efforts of Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) to win the pleasure of Allah to make the marriage the success it was.
Worship and Service to Humanity
Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) had the highest standards of worship and in this day and age is an excellent example for modern women living in this materialistic world of ours. It is known, for example, that her worship was outstanding at all times and she offered her daily prayers with such humility, love and devotion that those watching could not help but be affected. In the monthly days when she was not required to offer Salat [prayers], she would instead spend the time after the Adhan (call to prayer) praying and remembering Allah.3 In Ramadan, whilst in good health, she always fasted. She made a special effort with regard to worship in this month and in addition to her five daily prayers she also woke up in the night to offer Tahajjud (late night/pre-dawn) prayer, offered an extra early morning prayer (called chasht in Urdu) and then a mid-morning prayer (ishraq) along with other extra voluntary prayers.
She was extremely regular in giving charity in this month and also regularly cooked food, often herself, for three or four people as fidyah (expiation for those who cannot fast). She recited the Holy Qur’an often and asked the girls in the house to recite to her regularly too. It was her practice in these days to recite Darud (invoking Allah’s Blessings on the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw)) and to ask Allah’s forgiveness in the form of Istighfar. She encouraged those around her to do the same. If she knew that any of her daughters or granddaughters were fasting, she would make special food for them in the evening. She would also keep note of children who were offering prayers in congregation so that she could express her pleasure on these actions. It was her tradition to invite her children regularly to open the fast in the evening at her house.4
As the wife of the Promised Messiah(as), Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) had an extremely large household, full of elders, relatives, children, orphans, widows, household helpers and a regular stream of guests from the community. She worked hard, and it is related by her son, Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra), that she was regularly busy cooking, spinning, boiling milk, feeding buffaloes, growing flowers and herbs in addition to training and helping the household attendants. She would daily go walking in Qadian and visit ladies and relatives. She would enquire after people’s health on these visits and would advise ladies with regard to the running of their households, compliment them on any tasty food she was offered, and suggest home improvements which could be done within a low budget e.g. making simple clothes or cushions. Thus even her daily routine was spent in the service of humanity and in the kind guidance of ladies.
Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) also kept food prepared 24 hours a day for guests so that if the Promised Messiah(as) requested parathas (fried flat bread commonly used in South Asia), tea, pickles, chutney, lassi (yoghurt drink) or milk for a guest, it was always available. She was even known to also make enquiries about prisoners who were in jail due to financial debts and sent money for such Muslim and non-Muslim prisoners so that they could enjoy a good meal.
In the field of financial contributions also, Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) can be said to have surpassed all expectations. For most women, even today, any property or jewellery they inherit or own is an important security for any time when financial circumstances become straitened. It is thus, difficult to sacrifice ornaments. However, there are three incidents which give an indication of her spirit of financial sacrifice. In May 1900, when the Promised Messiah(as) announced that he needed a hundred people to donate one hundred rupees each to build Minaratul Masih in Qadian, a total of 10,000 Rupees, Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) responded by selling some property in Delhi and giving 1000 rupees (a significant amount in those days) herself for this appeal.
On the occasion of one Jalsa (Annual Convention), when Jalsa expenses were undertaken by the Promised Messiah(as) himself, it became apparent that there was no food for guests that evening. The Promised Messiah(as) immediately sent a message to his trusted and beloved wife, Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra), who soon provided some jewellery which could be sold to cover the expense of the food that evening.
On the demise of the Promised Messiah(as), she herself settled any monies owed to others by her beloved husband by selling her own jewellery and did not ask community members to help her with this although countless members would have been pleased to do so. Hadhrat Musleh Ma’ud(ra), the Second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, has written about this:
‘My heart was deeply affected [by the fact] that Allah Almighty had given the Promised Messiah(as) such a loving and co-operative partner.’ 5
Another incident relates to a very personal part of her life history, that of her having children. During her married life, she had ten children, of which five survived to grow up. Losing one child is hard enough but to lose five children was indeed a great test which she passed with great steadfastness. Hadhrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad(ra), her son, has written,
‘When dear Mubarak Ahmad, who was our brother, passed away there was no wailing in our house. Neither the boys wailed, nor the children nor Amma Jaan. In fact when the Promised Messiah told Amma Jaan that he had passed away she expressed words only of thanks and acceptance to the will of Allah.’6
The Promised Messiah(as) was very pleased with her steadfast reaction. Soon, however, great news arrived when the Promised Messiah(as) received the revelation, ‘Khuda khush ho gaya” meaning “God has become happy”.7 When Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) learnt that God was happy with her she responded:
“I am so happy with this revelation that even if two thousand Mubarak Ahmad’s had died, I would not have cared.”8
This is indeed the example of a true believer found in Hadhrat Ummul Mu’mineen, Mother of the Believers, Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan Begum(ra).
Another aspect of her personality is of particular interest. A very feminine quality that Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) exhibited was that she was extremely conscious of women’s dignity and honour. Her daughter, Hadhrat Nawwab Mubaraka Begum(ra), describes this quality in the following words:
‘Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra), compared to most, had a much higher standard of righteousness and this specific quality is worth keeping in view. She would often warn that the honour of ladies is very delicate. She did not approve at all of women who were inappropriately friendly with each other or who made unsavoury jokes with each other. She would like wives who were most loving to their husbands and would express her appreciation in this regard.’9
Sakinatun Nisaa writes about her religious knowledge:
‘As for religious knowledge regarding the teachings of the Promised Messiah(as), she was such an expert that none of us ladies’ minds could compare. Hadhrat Amma Jaan’s faith in Hadhrat Aqdas’ (the Promised Messiah’s) prophecies was strong and unshakeable.’10
Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq(ra), a Companion of the Promised Messiah(as), has written:
‘Hadhrat Amma Jaan would concentrate deeply as the Holy Qur’an and Hadith were read to her. In addition to this the Promised Messiah(as) would often disclose his revelations and prophecies and special subjects (essays) at home before informing the outside Jama’at (community). This meant that Hadhrat Amma Jaan thoroughly understood the issues and important works of the True Silsilah (movement).’11
Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) has described his respected parents’ relationship: “as if they shared one heart beating in both their chests”.12
It is well recorded that although Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) was married after the demise of her respected mother-in-law, Chiragh Bibi, she knew of the relationship of deep love and affection shared with her by the Promised Messiah(as) and appreciated this. She also spoke very respectfully of her older sister-in-law, Murad Bibi, who was a very pious lady.13 This appreciation and respect of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law was exhibited in front of her children, when she spoke of them both and is a good example of how we should also behave. She also ensured that her children respected the Promised Messiah(as)’s first wife whom they addressed as “bari valida,” roughly meaning ‘elder mother’. Respect of in-laws and elders harmonises a household. It is also very important in strengthening marital relationships which in turn can have a deeply positive effect on future generations.
Even as a young bride, Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) tried her best to please her respected husband and as such soon one day tried to make a favourite dish of his, sweet rice. Due to inexperience she added about four times as much sugar as was required and due to it already being mealtime, she did not have a chance to start again. When the Promised Messiah(as) saw her obviously upset over this cooking disaster he kindly tasted it and remarked that it was fine and he liked it this way! The reciprocal care and consideration both husband and wife showed each other in this small incident is a good example to all who wish to achieve marital happiness.
Furthermore, it was her habit throughout her marriage and even after becoming widowed, in memory of the Promised Messiah(as), she particularly made an effort to cook the foods her respected husband liked.
On one occasion Hadhrat Nawwab Mubaraka Begum(ra), her daughter, relates that as a child she one day became upset with her mother as she was hungry and went into the kitchen and repeatedly asked for a paratha, but Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) replied that the stove and Cook were both busy so she had to be patient. After her father’s food had been prepared, her paratha could be made.14 This example reflects how she gave priority to the Promised Messiah(as) and trained her young children in patience and respect.
Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) was married in 1884, and yet her father, Hadhrat Mir Nasir Nawwab(ra), later a most devoted servant of the Promised Messiah(as), did not perform the bai’at (initiation) until 1892. This did not prevent her in the least from accepting and believing in the truth of her husband. Many daughters would perhaps feel their loyalties split, but Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) was devoted to her husband in such a way that it really does remind one of the blessed wife of the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Khadijah(ra). This comparison is also mentioned in the revelation of the Promised Messiah(as), “Ushkur ni’matee ra-aita Khadeejatee” i.e. “Be grateful to Me as you have seen my Khadija”.15
The brother of Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra), Hadhrat Dr Mir Muhammad Isma‘il(ra), has also witnessed that:
‘Since I reached the age of understanding, I did not ever see or hear of the Promised Messiah(as) being angry with Hadhrat Amma Jaan. In fact I always witnessed them to be as an ideal couple should be. Very few husbands take as much care of the feelings of their wives…’16
On one occasion, some years after their marriage, a situation occurred which reflects the great value and respect the Promised Messiah(as) had for Hadhrat Amma Jaan. There was an uncovered courtyard in which the family of the Promised Messiah(as) slept in the summer. However, in the rainy season, the beds had to be moved from there so that they would not get wet. To overcome this dilemma, Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) had requested that a roof should be constructed over a part of the courtyard and the Promised Messiah(as) gave instructions to this effect.
However, when Hadhrat Maulawi Abdul Karim(ra), a respected Companion of the Promised Messiah(as), heard about the proposed construction, he came to see the Promised Messiah(as) with concerns that the courtyard would become small. Air would no longer circulate properly there and it would not look as pleasing as it currently did. Other Companions also present agreed with the points he made. The Promised Messiah(as) answered the concerns of his friends but in the end said:
‘Allah has blessed me with promised sons from this wife who are Sha‘a’ir Allah (Sacred Signs) therefore, consideration for her is a must and in such matters her opinion must be accepted.’17
This comment was an important point for all who were present then about the status that Allah had granted Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra).
Another incident shows us how she was an outstanding a wife.
At one time the Promised Messiah(as) prophesised that he would marry again a lady called Muhammadi Begum (under certain conditions). Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) repeatedly prayed for this prophecy to come true. She did this because she believed the prophecy was the word of God, and she wanted it to come true even though the pain of her husband’s marrying again in her own words, ‘may kill her’.18 May Allah bless her and grant her a lofty station in paradise. Amin.
Thus Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) was a foremost believer in the truth of the Promised Messiah(as). Her emotional and moving words after his demise reflect this when she said:
“You were the moon of the prophets. Because of you angels descended in my house and God spoke.”
Women today can also learn from her example as a mother. We have already observed how she encouraged her children and grandchildren with regard to religious worship. However, her daughter, Hadhrat Nawwab Mubaraka Begum(ra), has described her remarkable methods of training children in a few basic principles:
1. She always showed great trust in her children so much so that they did not want to disappoint her.
2. She taught her children to have an aversion to lying and any kind of falsehood. She used to say, “My children do not lie.” Thus Hadhrat Nawwab Mubaraka Begum has related that they could not even imagine lying even in the absence of their parents.
3. She believed that children should be taught the habit of listening to parents. However, she was not overbearing or harsh and said they should not be bothered all the time.
4. She encouraged that the training of the eldest child was really important as younger children then followed the eldest and would easily adopt good habits.3
Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad(ra) her eldest grandson, who later became the Third Khalifa of the Promised Messiah(as), was brought up by Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra). He has written about his upbringing:
‘Amma Jaan taught me to say Salam [greetings of peace] as soon as I awoke. She said to return home directly (without going anywhere else) from school. (I) would say Salam and the first thing would be to wash my hands and face. At prayer time, she would send me to pray after doing wudhu’ [ablution]. Before eating dinner she would insist I washed my hands. She would say Bismillah [In the name of Allah] aloud and I would also. In the evening after ‘Asr [mid-afternoon Prayer] she would send me out to play but with strict instructions to return home upon the call of Adhan [call to prayer] for Maghrib [evening] prayers. And after Maghrib I was not permitted to go out anywhere. When I grew up if I had important Jama‘at work then I was allowed to go but otherwise I was not even allowed to go to other’s houses.’20
‘I remember that Hadhrat Amma Jaan brought up two orphans (a brother and sister). She would wash and bathe them herself and would remove their head lice too. I remember the room where she had placed a cloth on the floor for food for the children and she herself sat down with them. I don’t know why but on that occasion I would not sit with them with the result that I did not get any food from Hadhrat Amma Jaan. In the evening I had to go and ask for some food myself. There was a lesson in this that whilst the world called them orphans, or needy, the people of God know it is their duty to protect and look after them.’21
He has also described her standards of hospitality and said that when it was the days of Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention), she would give the grandsons’ and other family members’ beds to the guests; and that they would themselves then sleep on the floor.22 These incidents reflect how deeply Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) would work on children’s habits, whether it was saying Salam, keeping clean, playing within an allotted time, tolerance and sacrifice for others and the habit of staying in after Maghrib.
Another small but significant training exercise has been described by her granddaughter, Sahibzadi Amtul Mateen, how when she was little, Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) would give her some lentils and rice grains mixed together and ask her to separate them. Once this was done, she would mix them together and ask her to do this again. We can see that this practical activity encouraged not only obedience, but interest in household skills, diligence, hand-eye co-ordination, patience and being able to work on fine details. She would also take the girls of the family on outings, sometimes arranging a private area where they could play tennis so that they were able to exercise and relax in a suitable atmosphere.
Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) also brought up a number of orphans over the years, even arranged the marriages of some and sent gifts when they went on to have children of their own.
A young orphan named Chiragh stayed in the household of the Promised Messiah(as) from the age of 8 to about 11 years. He has said that in his years in their house Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) never once shouted at him or became angry with him.23 Thus her kindness and compassion was extensive.
Her own message to us recorded on audio tape only two or so months before her demise in 1952 was:
“My message is this that my Salam reaches you all. The Jama‘at must remain steadfast on righteousness and faith and should never be slack in the preaching of Islam and Ahmadiyyat. All blessings are in this. I always pray for the Jama‘at. The Jama‘at must also remember me and my children in their prayers.”
(Recorded by Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) on 7th February 1952)24
In her forthcoming book soon to be published in English, Mrs Munawara Ghauri has called Hadhrat Amma Jaan(ra) ‘an inspiration for us all’.
We have witnessed in Hadhrat Amma Jaan many of the traits of believing women as are mentioned in Surah Al-Ahzab, Chapter 33, Verse 36 of the Holy Qur’an quoted at the beginning. We pray that:
“O Hadhrat Amma Jaan, to know you is to love you. May Allah Grant you the loftiest station in Paradise and may Angels call down blessings on you. May your beloved Jama‘at always be rightly guided with the blessings of Khilafat and may your descendents remain forever righteous and blessed. Amin.”
- Al Muntazem – Ibnul Jawzi taken from Al Nusrat magazine, May 2010
- Tadhkira, p.38
- Seerat o Sawaneh Hadhrat Amma Jaan, Prof. Syeda Naseem Saeed, Lajna Imaillah Lahore (Prof SNS), p.133
- Prof SNS, pp.357-358
- Prof SNS p.666
- Prof SNS p.680
- Seerat Hadhrat Sayyedatun-Nisaa Hadhrat Ummul Momineen Nusrat Jehan Begum, Sheikh Mahmood Ahmad Irfani, Part 1, p.265 = (SMAI)
- SMAI p.265
- Prof SNS p.346
- Prof SNS p.363
- Prof SNS p.363, Misbah Special Issue
- Draft copy Hadhrat Amma Jaan an Inspiration For Us All, by Munavara (Nabbo) Ghauri, p.176
- Prof SNS p.519-20
- Prof SNS p.505
- Prof SNS p.26 (Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya p.558)
- Prof SNS p 112
- Prof SNS p110
- SMAI p.473, p.441
- SMAI pp.269-270
- Prof SNS p.607
- Prof SNS p.606
- Prof SNS p.607
- SMAI p.427
- Prof SNS p.627