Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) – Before Khilafat

O my Lord, increase me in knowledge. (Ch.20:V.115)

The supplication contained within this verse is important in the pursuance of Islamic knowledge. It signifies a limitless fountain upon which the great figures of history have drawn in order to quench their thirst for knowledge. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was ever interested and consumed with a burning desire, to increase his knowledge. His thirst was not only for the blessed knowledge of Islamic sciences but also for the knowledge of ordinary science and literature. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was known as someone who would always eagerly seek knowledge wherever he could find it and he would read many books on different subjects at his University library.

After becoming proficient in the Islamic sciences, through his formal training at the esteemed Jamia Ahmadiyya of Rabwah, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) made the long and tiring journey to London with his blessed father, the Second Khalifa, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra). Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) accompanied his father throughout a European tour visiting Switzerland, Germany and the UK. It must have been an especially distressing time for Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) because his father was still feeling the effects of the tragic blow to the neck that he had received in Rabwah. A consultant in London informed his father that it was too dangerous a procedure to attempt to remove the tip of the knife which had become embedded in his jugular vain1. When his father was about to return to Pakistan, it was decided that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) should remain in London in order to study at University.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was only twenty-six years old and enrolled in the renowned School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS).

During Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) time in London, he also studied English Phonetics at London University. Following his studies in London, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) spent some time travelling throughout the UK and Europe where he became more accustomed with the culture, customs and wisdom of the West. This was one of the purposes for which his father(ra) had sent him to Europe. Even prior to his time in Europe, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was well accustomed to its culture having read Shakespeare, Dickens and Conan Doyle amongst other books. Commenting on his understanding of European values Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) says: “It was not at all alien to us for, in some ways, my father was very advanced… from childhood I knew both German and English ways. I knew how they looked at things. And, of course, from reading so many English books I was familiar with English life and English humour.’’2

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) early education and moral training was firmly planted in the rich Islamic sciences, knowledge of the Holy Qur’an, the Ahadith/ Sunnah of the Holy Prophet(saw) and the writings of the Promised Messiah(as), and rich and wise understanding of the sciences of the western world.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) distinct knowledge and understanding of the West would greatly aid him during his blessed years spent in the United Kingdom as Khalifatul Masih. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) comments on this saying:

“Before, I lived in India and Pakistan. Now I had lived in Europe and at the School of Oriental and African Studies I had met people from all over the world – from Africa, from Germany and Poland, from all parts of Europe really. And from America and Canada and South America. I believe that was important, that God had decided that was what I should do even though I did not know it at the time. He had decided that I should meet all these people and that I should go out and travel in Europe… I think that was His design. The Ahmadiyya Movement, though we naturally did not know it, was going to face tremendous challenges and we were going to move our headquarters temporarily to London. So it was important that I spoke and understood English for that was the language for which I would be able to reach the majority of the people when our persecution began… And my exile in Britain has allowed me to help carry out what God had said to the Promised Messiah – that He would carry his message to the far corners of the earth.’’

Return to Pakistan

‘…And let not the enmity of a people, that they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque, incite you to transgress. And help one another in righteousness and in piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah; Surely Allah is Severe in punishment.’ (Ch.5:v.3)

Following this period of study and reflection Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) returned to Pakistan in 1957 having spent some years in the UK. This was a very prominent year in the life of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) because during it, he would re-establish his presence in Rabwah and be assigned greater responsibility within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was well-known throughout Rabwah and was renowned for his vibrant, passionate and humorous nature. Upon his return, he met all of his old acquaintances and those people who were new to the town.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) time in Rabwah became more consumed by his official Jama’at responsibilities. However, he would always find time to relax and enjoy his great love of sports. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) particularly enjoyed squash and badminton and once played against the then world champion Hashim Khan. Commenting on his love for sport Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) said: “I pursued other pleasures. I went cycling. I played badminton. I went horse riding and swimming. I went for very long walks.’’3 Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was also a keen hunter and would hunt wild game which he would either take home to his family or distribute to the people of Rabwah.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) Jama’at responsibilities increased further when he was  assigned to the Waqf Jadid department (founded in 1958 by his father, this department organises propagation of Ahmadiyyat in rural areas as well as the spiritual reformation of members in such areas). He was also elected as the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organisation (Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya). Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) explains the magnitude of the duties he undertook in the Waqf Jadid department by saying: “I had to look after these communities, to find out how well they were maintaining their standard of faith and dedication… I had to look after their secular knowledge as well and see how they could be helped in any way that was possible – perhaps with experts in agriculture who could show them improved methods, or engineers or doctors or nurses who could help with water supply or medical knowledge. And, of course, teachers.’’4

Despite his hectic work schedule, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) quickly developed a system whereby he could work tirelessly with only a few hours a day. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) comments: “I never felt tired. I found work exhilarating.’’5 Further elaborating on Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) daily routine his biographer, Iain Adamson, writes: “He was at the office at 8 a.m., an hour and a half before anyone else and left long after everyone else had left, often at 10 p.m. Even on Fridays, which was a holiday for everyone, he was at the office until noon, went to Aqsa mosque where the Khalifa would preach to around 15,000 people and then he returned to the office.”6 Such resolute dedication was an ever present quality in the character of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) and he was no doubt following the noble example of the Holy Prophet(saw) and His Companions(ra).

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) held other positions of prominence in the Jama’at serving as the Director of the Fadl-i-Umar Foundation, and Patron of the International Ahmadiyya Association of Architects and Engineers (IAAAE). As well as holding the position of President of the Ahmadiyya Youth Organisation, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was later elected as the President of the Ansarullah Organisation (Majlis Ansarullah Markaziyya – An organisation which caters for the social and secular needs of all Ahmadi Muslim males above the age of forty years). He held this post until the blessed day upon which he was elected as Khalifatul Masih IV.

In 1957, whilst studying in London, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) wrote a letter to his father(ra) expressing his wish to marry and how, in his estimations, Hadhrat Asifa Begum Sahiba(ra), a childhood friend, would make for a wonderful wife. His father(ra) approached her family and ascertained that she felt the same way as Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) and it was thus decided that the marriage should go ahead.  Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) enjoyed a very close and caring relationship with his blessed wife whom he loved dearly and  he was a model example of how a righteous husband should conduct himself and treat his wife.

Over the next fourteen years Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) and Hadhrat Asifa Begum Sahiba(ra) were blessed with four daughters. They are Sahibzadi Shaukat Jehan Begum (1960), Sahibzadi Faiza Luqman (1961), Sahibzadi Yasmin Rehman Mona (1971) and Sahibzadi Attiyyatul Habib Tooba (1974).

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was a model father and despite his great responsibilities he would always try to make time for his children in the true and pure example of his beloved, Hadhrat Muhammad(saw). Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) comments: ‘‘We used to play at catching each other and competed to see who would climb a certain tree. We played at hide and seek. I felt exactly their age when I played with them – it was my pleasure and relaxation.’’

Political Intuition and the Events Leading up to 1982

Throughout Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) term as Khalifatul Masih, it was clear for all to see that he not only took a keen interest in the socio-political environments of the world but also played an active role in propagating a pure form of politics which was based on the core Islamic principle of ‘absolute justice.’ Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) keen and shrewd interest in politics actually began many years earlier, in Pakistan. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) developed a wide range of friends within the religious, political and military spheres of Pakistan. This was coupled with a unique quality of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) to quickly, and precisely ascertain the key figures, constituents and goals of complex political situations.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was also renowned for his wisdom and honesty which meant that many leading political figures would often seek advice and counsel from him. Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad III(ru) knew full well of Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadru) many abilities and would often dispatch Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) with his instructions for those political leaders who requested the advice of the Jama’at on various matters of importance. Whilst it may seem today that the Pakistani Government takes a very negative and unhelpful stance towards the Jama’at, this was not always the case. Particularly during the Khilafat of Khalifatul Masih II(ra) and up to 1982 it was always the case that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, or one of its members, would be found at the very heart of any decision that affected Southern Asia and indeed the whole Muslim world.

From the time of the Promised Messiah(as), it has been amongst the principles of the Jama’at that it does not interfere in the political arena. However, to not associate and offer moral guidance to secular leaders would constitute, by omission, a grave act of injustice. Commenting on the Jama’at’s stance, during that period, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) says: “We had a campaign of meeting and understanding their policies. It was not meddling with politics. What we were concerned with was the survival of Pakistan and the survival of the Community. We could not isolate ourselves and divorce ourselves from what was happening in the country… we must advise them, but we must not meddle.’’7

There are many examples of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) prowess in this field we shall focus upon the relationship which Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) developed with the once Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Adamson writes that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) first came to know Bhutto in 1965 as a result of the progress which Pakistan made, under the leadership of the Ahmadi General Akhtar Malik, in gaining control of much of Kashmir in the Frontier war with India.8

Following a famous speech made by Bhutto to the United Nations, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) visited him in order to convey that Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad(ru) was impressed with the words of Bhutto. Describing their first meeting, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) says: “When Bhutto learned why I had come, he immediately  told me to come out of the drawing room as it was not safe to talk there. He took me to another room which had just a table and a few chairs. We talked and became very friendly.’’9

Bhutto greatly respected the honesty and frankness of Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) and therefore, invited Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) on many occasions to his residence so as to seek his guidance on different matters. On one occasion, there was a plot being carefully constructed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which would have seen the downfall of Bhutto and it was Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(ru) astuteness which alerted Bhutto to the plot. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) said: “They [PPP] had ensured that over 70 per cent of the candidates on the final list for election to the National Assembly were communists or fellow travellers. If they had been elected, then the communists would have taken over Pakistan… I told Bhutto of my information and said that if he wanted a communist takeover then he should go ahead. If not, then he should re-examine the list and proceed with great caution.’’10 Bhutto subsequently reviewed the lists and balanced them out so that the communists would not take control.

The relationship between Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) and Prime Minister Bhutto was later to deteriorate when Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) came to know of Bhutto’s plans to become a kind of political ‘Nasirite’ leader across the whole of the Muslim world. In order for Bhutto to realise his ambition, he would need to levy power by pushing a Saudi agenda to create a new system of Khilafat to be based out of Khadim-al-Haramain (Custodian of the two Holy Cities (Makkah and Madinah) with the then King Faisal of Saudi Arabia as the Khalifa. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) saw the obvious dangers this would cause the Jama’at remarking: “But, of course, the institution of Khilafat of the Ahmadiyya Community stood in their way. You cannot have two Khalifas. So we had to be extinguished. We had to be declared non-Muslims.’’11

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) warned Bhutto that he felt a campaign would be launched to excommunicate the Jama’at from the Muslim Ummah but Bhutto deceptively attempted to assure Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) that no such plan was in place. However, when a conference to discuss the proposed Khalifa was arranged, Bhutto ordered that none of the officers overseeing the conference should be Ahmadi. Pamphlets were then distributed to the delegates, who represented every Muslim country in the world, advocating the expulsion of the Jama’at from the Ummah as apostates. The Jama’at and Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) were fully aware of this trickery and were even provided with copies of the actual leaflet by a sympathetic Prime Minister of an African country who attended the conference. Bhutto, and his eager-for-power friends, were unsuccessful in their attempt to create a united Ummah. The political differences between the Muslim countries and doctrinal disparities between the many sects, meant that harmony was far from a realistic goal. The result was that they failed to establish any kind of Khalifa whilst the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at remained intact.


Not pleased with his initial failed efforts to dismantle the Jama’at. Bhutto then openly declared his opposition to the community and a case was thus filed proposing to declare all Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) headed a delegation of five individuals, the youngest of whom was Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru). It was obvious that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) greatly admired, loved and respected his younger brother and chose him to be a part of the team because he was, by now, an established scholar of great esteem commanding great knowledge far beyond his years. Bhutto had insisted that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) led the team. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) commented on this decision saying: “Now this was Bhutto’s mistake, I think he suspected that I would be sent and that I would be able to handle the Attorney General and mullahs better than the Head of the Community… And there he was so wrong. I assure you that it was impossible for me to present the case as beautifully as Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru).

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) very concisely wrote the first three chapters of evidence to be presented by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru). These chapters  broadly speaking, dealt with:

1. The legitimacy of an Ahmadi to be called a Muslim.

2. The legitimacy of the proposed law and its inherent dangers.

3. The finality of Prophethood.

Describing this period Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) says: “…I was up most of the night, taking instructions from him [Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru)] and reporting back to him. I was deeply involved in preparing material for him along with the other members of his support group. We discussed how it should be presented so that there should be no misunderstanding and so that everything was presented as clearly as possible… We would suggest new arguments made on the comments made by members of the National Assembly. He would not accept everything we put forward, but generally he did.’’12

The environment within the Assembly was constantly fluctuating and Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III(ru) and his delegation would constantly have to address new arguments. This constant adjustment required immense ingenuity and research from the delegation. Their efforts were not in vain and Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was shocked at the ease with which the Islamic scholars present were defeated in argument. Commenting on this Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) said: “They did not rebut a single argument contained in the written presentation. The most important issue, according to them, was the verse relating to ‘Khatmun Nubuwwah’, the finality of prophethood of Muhammad(saw). But no Muslim has ever disputed the finality of Muhammad(saw) as the last law-bearing prophet. That is unthinkable… no single argument was advanced by them in favour of their own particular view of the finality of prophethood. They merely said, ‘because you believe in this you are not Muslims’ and ‘because you believe in that you are not Muslims’… The entire Ahmadiyya which was created and concocted by them was unreal… We said, ‘We reject these views. These are not the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Community.”13

Despite great efforts and sound overwhelming arguments presented to the Assembly, Ahmadis were declared as non-Muslims and this has remained the case since 1974. The events of 1974 in no way disheartened Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) and he remained steadfast in his firm belief that Allah is All Powerful and in Him must all trust be placed. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru), in actual fact, saw a dream which left him shivering from an indescribably powerful force. During his sleep he began repeating the words More destruction, more bitter…” Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) comments that after seeing this he, “became totally resigned to the Will of God in whatever way He might unfold it.’’14

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) continued with his duties in the Jama’at until he became Khalifatul Masih. Bhutto on the other hand was eventually executed in 1979 under the charge of murder. He was replaced by the infamous and ruthless General Zia-ul-Haq.


1.    A Man of God. p.64.

2.    Ibid, p.43.

3. A Man of God, p.76.

4. Ibid, p.73.

5. Ibid, p.75.

6. Ibid, p.75.

7. Ibid, pp.82-3.

8. Ibid, p.91.

9. Ibid, pp.92-3.

10. Ibid, pp.93-4

11. Ibid, p.97.

12. Ibid, p.102.

13. Ibid, p.104-6.

14. Ibid, p.111.