Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was born on 18 December 1928. The railway reached Qadian in 1928; he often remarked that he was the harbinger of the train service to Qadian. He grew up under the guidance of his father (Hadhrat Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra)) who was the second Khalifa (see The Review of Religions, February 2008) and devout mother. At the age of 10, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) was asked by a well-know Ahmadi Savant, Maulana Abdul Rahim Nayyar: “Which reward would you cherish most for doing good work?” he replied: “Allah – Only Allah.” The gift of spiritual awareness was apparent long before his tenure as Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) – the head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
Older members of the community and family remember his laughter and great sense of humour. He was a happy child. He was curious and daring – in fact no different to what one may expect of a young boy.
His mother, Maryam Siddiqa was a very pious lady (she was a descendant of the Holy Prophet(saw)) and ensured Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was observant in the study of the Holy Qur’an and Islamic teachings. Her aspirations for him were of a high spiritual nature.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s mother wanted him to pursue a professional career, but by his own confession, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) was not a competent student yet his thirst for knowledge was a natural gift. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) states:
“My education was not a formative factor in my life – I do not think it played any role whatsoever. What happened was that instead of going through my books and memorising the right parts in order to get good marks, I just skimmed through them. I understood what was said, I got the message and got the platform so that I could move on. But I was never a good student. For instance, my scientific studies were a total failure as far as obtaining good marks were concerned. But they opened new avenues for me and I would study other books on those subjects and enjoy myself by enlarging my knowledge, but it was not the knowledge that would help you as far as getting diplomas and degrees, I was just in love with knowing more and more.” (A Man of God, p.22)
From a young age, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) enjoyed many sports – an interest that remained with him for many years. He enjoyed hockey, soccer, cricket, badminton and horse-riding. His interest in badminton was well-known to UK community members as he often played well into his 60s.
In 1937, Mirza Tahir Ahmad’s father, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), announced a New Scheme of enlisting members to partake in duties to help spread Islam to the rest of the world. Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad’s father gave a speech, the impact of which was so intense that it encouraged not only thousands of Ahmadis to take part, but Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru), who was only nine years old at the time, also offered his services having been so moved and overawed. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) stated: “I remember the change that the sermon wrought… it helped us to acquire a special attitude to life, to be liberal minded… and not to be ashamed of any kind of work.” Despite being the son of a Khalifa, no special treatment in the carrying out of community duties were afforded – everyone was treated the same.
In 1944, when Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) was sixteen, his mother, who had been ill for some time passed away. She was only in her 40s and this affected Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) greatly.