Demise of the Promised Messiah(as)
By the end of 1905, the Promised Messiah(as) began to receive revelations warning him that his end was imminent. He published his Al-Wasiyyat (Testament) giving the Community the glad tidings that after him they would witness the Second Manifestation of God as had happened on the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw) when Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) had been raised to the office of Khilafat and, by the grace of Allah, through Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) Islam had safely weathered the fierce storm that had overtaken it so suddenly. The Promised Messiah(as) had set up the Sadr Anjuman Association (Central Ahmadiyya Association) charged with the administration of the affairs of the Movement and appointed Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) as its President. Very briefly, the institution of Al-Wasiyyat required its participants to contribute one-tenth of their estate to the community and a spiritual reformation by each participant.
Towards the end of April, 1908, the Promised Messiah(as) embarked upon a journey to Lahore to seek medical advice for his ailing wife. Before departing, he asked his eldest daughter Nawab Mubarakah Begum(ra) to pray for advice about a matter he was contemplating without disclosing to her what the matter was. She complied with his instructions. The next day she told her father that in a dream she had seen Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) sitting in a room with a book in his hand. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) looked up and said to her: “This book contains the revelations given to Hadhrat Ahmad concerning me. I am Abu Bakr.” The Promised Messiah warned her not to mention anything to her mother. This was a clear indication that as Abu Bakr(as) was the First Successor to the Holy Prophet(saw), so would Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) be the First Successor to Hadhrat Ahmad(as).
During his stay in Lahore the Promised Messiah(as) began to write a brochure, the purport of which was to bring about a better understanding between Muslims and Hindus and thus enable both parties to live together in peace and amity devoid of all bitterness and rancour. This compilation, which he concluded on 25 May and entitled A Message of Peace, proved to be his last book. He had been suffering from attacks of dysentery while in Lahore and on the night of 25 May he had an attack of the same complaint, which rendered him very weak. Despite the best efforts of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ur-Din(ra) and other doctors, Syed Muhammad Husain Shah(ra) and Dr Mirza Yaqub Beg(ra), the weakness of their august patient increased progressively.
At dawn on 26 May, he performed his symbolic ablution (Tayammum) and said his prayers while lying in bed. Thereafter, he began to lose consciousness and when, at intervals, he regained consciousness he was heard to repeat: ‘Allah, my beloved Allah.’ By 9:00 am his breathing became laboured and at 10:30 he took a couple of long breaths and his soul departed from his body. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.
Election as Khalifatul Masih
A death certificate confirming that he did not die of a contagion which might have prevented the transfer of his body was obtained from the British authorities. The sacred body of the Promised Messiah(as) was transported to Qadian that same evening. Despite repeated warnings of his approaching end in Divine revelations vouchsafed to him, the impact of his death on his followers was shattering and in their grief, they fell prostrate at the threshold of God in heartfelt supplications for His guidance.
Senior members of the Movement, including members of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, gathered together and unanimously agreed that Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) should be requested to undertake the heavy responsibility of leading the Community as Khalifatul Masih. He was the most learned and most righteous of all, they said, and just the exemplar they needed. His orders would be binding upon them as were the dictates of Hadhrat Ahmad(as). This request was conveyed to Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) in a document which bore the signatures of the leading personalities of the Community and was couched in the following terms:
“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. We praise Him and call down His blessings on His Noble Messenger(saw). All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessings and peace be upon the Khatamun Nabiyyin, Muhammad(saw), the chosen one, and upon the Promised Messiah(as), the Khatamul Auliya’. According to the command of the Promised Messiah(as) set out in Al-Wasiyyat (Testamentary Direction), we Ahmadis, whose signatures are appended below, are sincerely convinced that all present and future members of the Ahmadiyya Community should take the pledge of spiritual allegiance, in the name of Ahmad(as), to the First Emigrant Hadhrat Haji Hakim Nur-ud-Din, who is the most learned and most virtuous of us all and is the most devoted and oldest friend of Hadhrat Imam(as) who held him up as an excellent example, as he said:
‘How good would it be if every member of the community were a Nur-ud-Din; so would it be if every heart were filled with the light of the certainty of faith.’
“Hadhrat Maulawi Sahib’s orders will be as binding upon us, as were the orders of the Holy Hadhrat, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as).”i
Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) received the request in silence and intimated that he would give his response after supplicating God for guidance. Accordingly, he washed and stood in prayers.
After prayers, they all proceeded to the Garden of Ahmad(as) where his followers had converged from all directions. In accordance with the wishes of all present, the written request of the senior members to Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) asking him to take the lead was read out by Dr Mufti Muhammad Sadiq(ra). Then Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) made the following response:
“I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship save Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.
And let there be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness, and enjoin equity and forbid evil. And it is they who shall prosper. (Ch.3: V.105)
Having elaborated that not all promises are fulfilled in the lifetime of a Prophet, he added:
“Look at my past life. I have never coveted leadership. I know myself well, and my Lord knows me even better. I desire nothing of the world. All I desire is that my Master may be pleased with me. For this I pray, and for this do I reside and will continue to reside in Qadian. I have for some time reflected on what shall be our situation after Hadhrat Sahib(as). That is why I have striven that Mian Mahmud’s education may be pushed forward.
“There are three likely persons among the close relatives of Hadhrat Sahib(as). There is Mian Mahmud Ahmad, who is both my brother and my son. I have a special relationship with him. Then Mir Nasir Nawab, being Hadhrat Sahib’s(as) father-in-law, is entitled to his respect and our respect. The third one is his son-in-law, Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan. Of the devoted servants of the faith there is Sayyid Muhammad Ahsan, who possesses outstanding ability. He is a descendant of the Holy Prophet(saw). He has performed such meritorious service to the faith as puts a person like me to shame. In his old age he has written several books in support of Hadhrat Sahib(as) and thus rendered a unique service. Then there is Maulawi Muhammad ‘Ali who serves in ways that I cannot even conceive. All these are available in Qadian. Among outsiders there are Sayyid Hamid Shah, Maulawi Ghulam Hasan Khan and several others.
“This is a heavy, a perilous responsibility, which can be carried only by a commissioned one of God, who has wonderful promises of divine support which sustain him against back-breaking burdens. At this time it is necessary that men and women should become united. To achieve this, pledge your allegiance to any of the revered personages I have named; I shall also do so along with you. I am feeble, remiain unwell and my temperament is not suited to the task, which is heavy and not easy to perform.
“Hadhrat Sahib(as) performed four functions: (a) The discharge of his personal obligations as a servant of God. (b) Looking after his family, (c) Hospitality, (d) Propagation of Islam, which was his real purpose. Of these he has carried (a) with him. As he served here, so will he serve in the hereafter. Of this you may consider yourselves relieved. Of the remaining three, the propagation of Islam is most important and very difficult. Besides atheism, Islam is beset with internal dissensions and differences. God has appointed our community for the removal of these dissensions and differences. You may consider this easy, but for him who may have to carry this burden, it is most difficult. I promise you solemnly that if you choose any one of those I have named, I shall pledge my allegiance to him along with you.
“But if you insist on pledging your allegiance to me then note carefully that this pledge means total commitment. On one occasion Hadhrat Sahib(as) indicated to me indirectly to think no more of my home. From that moment all my honour and all my thinking became centred on him, and I never thought of home. Thus pledging allegiance is a solemn and grave matter. He who takes the pledge subordinates all his freedom and the flights of his fancy to the will of another; that is why Allah, the Exalted, has named man His servant. It is difficult for an individual to discharge the personal responsibilities entailed by this servitude, [so] how and to what degree can he assume and discharge such responsibilities on behalf of another? Having regard to the diversity of temperaments, a high resolve is needed to bring about accord. I always wondered at the works of Hadhrat Sahib(as). He enjoyed indifferent health and yet carried such a heavy burden comprising diverse types of activities. But he enjoyed continuous Divine support, and I, almost of his age, find myself empty. It is Divine bounty that had made us all brethren. Nothing can be achieved without His grace.
“I wish to draw your attention to a great event in the history of Islam. In the time of Abu Bakr(ra) the whole of Arabia, with the exception of Makkah, Madinah and one or two other places, was carried away in a revolt. The Makkans also hovered over the edge, but he rallied them with the admonition: ‘You were the last to believe, why do you wish to be the first to renege?’ His daughter ‘A’ishah(ra) said: ‘If the mountain that has fallen upon my father had fallen upon anyone else, he would have been crushed.’ Twenty thousand able-bodied men were available in Madinah, but as the Holy Prophet(saw) had intended to send an army to the north, Abu Bakr(ra) despatched them accordingly. In that stark situation God Almighty manifested His power and demonstrated the fulfilment of His promise: He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them (Ch.24:V.56). We are today faced with a similar situation. I desire that before the burial of the body of the Promised Messiah(as) accord may be established between us.
“After the death of the Holy Prophet(saw) his companions had, under the direction of Abu Bakr(ra), to carry into effect several great projects, of which the greatest was the compilation of the Holy Qur’an in book form. A parallel activity today would be to concentrate on putting it into practice. Then Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) organised the collection of Zakat. That is a grand project which calls for a high degree of obedience; and there are several other duties and obligations which have to be discharged. Now whatever may be your individual inclinations you will have to carry out my orders. If this is acceptable to you I shall undertake this responsibility willingly or unwillingly.
“The ten conditions of the pledge laid down by the Promised Messiah(as) shall continue in force. I shall include among them and would emphasise the teaching of the Holy Qur’an, the collection of Zakat, the training of preachers and such other projects with which Allah may be pleased to inspire me. Religious instruction and the courses of study in the theological seminary will require my approval. I undertake this responsibility solely for the sake of Allah, Who has ordained: Let there be from among you a body of persons who should enjoin good and forbid evil (Ch.3:V.105).
“Remember, all good proceeds from accord. A leaderless people is dead.”2
His speech was received with acclamation and all members surged forward to take the pledge at his hands. They had been occupied with tearful supplications for guidance and were much relieved that in the person of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra), they once more had a spiritual preceptor.
When all present had taken the pledge, Khalifatul Masih(ra) led the funeral prayers of the Promised Messiah(as) and his sacred remains were interred that evening. To Allah we belong and to Him do we return.
The following day, the Secretary of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya issued a public statement to all Ahmadis the terms of which were as follows:
“Before the funeral prayer for the Promised Messiah(as) all members of the community who were present in Qadian and whose number was twelve hundred, accepted Hadhrat Haji Hakim Nur-ud-Din, may Allah keep him, as his Successor and Khalifa, according to the directions set out in Al-Wasiyyat and in conformity with the recommendation of the members of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya then in Qadian and the relatives of the Promised Messiah(as), and with the permission of Hadhrat Ummul Mu’minin; and took the pledge of allegiance to him. Of the members of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya there were present Maulawi Sayyid Muhammad Ahsan, Sahibzada Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan, Shaikh Rahmatullah, Maulawi Muhammad Ali, Dr. Mirza Ya‘qub Baig, Dr Sayyid Muhammad Husain Shah and Dr. Khalifa Rashid-ud-din.
“Though death was sudden and notice was short, a large number of respected friends arrived from Ambala, Jullundhur, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Lahore, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Jammu, Gujrat, Batala, Gurdaspur and other places, and unanimously accepted Hadhrat Qiblah Hakimul Ummah, may Allah keep him, and joined in the funeral prayer for the Promised Messiah(as). This intimation is addressed to all members of the Movement that on its receipt they should immediately take the pledge of allegiance to Hadhrat Hakimul Ummah, Khalifatul Masih wal Mahdi, in person or by letter.”3
Upon receipt of this statement, members from all quarters eagerly pledged their allegiance to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih(ra) so that within a short span of time, the Community was once again united at the hand of one Imam.
Although, by Allah’s grace, the unity and solidarity of the Community was secured, soon rifts began to appear. The first test came only after six days in the form of a challenge to the very institution of Khilafat, by a number of prominent individuals in the Community, notably, Maulawi Mohammad ‘Ali who was later to become the leader of the dissident Lahori group, Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din and Sheikh Yakub ‘Ali. Even though they had unequivocally pledged their allegiance to Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) as Khalifatul Masih, now they began to have second thoughts and tried to redefine the role and status of Khilafat. The Khalifa, they said, was purely a symbolic spiritual preceptor, entitled to honour in that capacity. His authority was confined to leading the prayer services and pronouncing marriages. Knowing that they were in the majority in the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, they started giving currency to the notion that the Sadr Anjuman Association was the real successor to the Promised Messiah(as) as far as the regulation and administration of the affairs of the Community were concerned and Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra), as President of the Sadr Anjuman Association was entitled to full obedience in that capacity alone. This challenge to the authority of the Khalifa was thus to continue, overtly and covertly, throughout the Khilafat of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra).
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) repeatedly castigated them in various sermons and speeches for their impertinence. Religion did not need a parliament, he responded. Religion needs leaders guided by God. To remove any doubts from the minds of the members of the Community as to the real source of authority, the Khalifa resigned as President of the Sadr Anjuman Association and appointed Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad(ra) as President.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) continually expatiated (explained in discourses and writing) on the status of Khilafat and the nature and quality of obedience due to the Khalifa. ‘Hearken! My prayers reach the Throne, and my Lord fulfils my designs even before I supplicate Him’, he said. ‘To contend with me is to contend with God. So desist and repent.’ It was for God rather than man to appoint a Khalifa, he pointed out, and God Almighty had made Khalifa whom He willed after the Promised Messiah(as). He was not dependent upon any of them, he continued. God had told him that if any one of them deserted Ahmadiyyat, then He would replace him with a whole group of people.
That he enjoyed the unconditional loyalty and devotion of the illustrious family members of the Promised Messiah(as) was another manifestation of the Divine authorship of his Khilafat and he pointed this out to the dissentients:
“All the members of Hadhrat Mirza Sahib’s(as) family obey me as ‘Ali(ra), Fatimah(ra) and ‘Abbas(ra) obeyed Abu Bakr(ra) – even more so. Every one of them is so devoted to me that I cannot conceive any of them entertaining a wrong notion about me.”4
To safeguard the members of the Community against aspiring to any office, especially to the office of Khilafat, he remarked during the course of an address to all presidents and office bearers of the various branches:
“My own attitude is that if, on the death of the Promised Messiah(as), his infant daughter Amatul Hafiz had been chosen to succeed him, I would have been the first to swear allegiance to her and would have obeyed her as I had obeyed her father, in the certainty that God’s promises would be fulfilled at her hands also.”5
But the efforts of the dissenters continued unabated. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) was verging on seventy. They were apprehensive that on his death the succession might go to Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad(ra) who scarcely yet twenty years of age was to them a mere stripling. He had, however, given proof very early on of a very keen intellect, a very just appreciation of spiritual values and a highly developed faculty of expression both in speech and in writing. His obedience and dedication to the Khalifatul Masih(ra) were exemplary and he subordinated all his activities to the approval of the Khalifatul Masih(ra). He was inspired by a great zeal in support of the noble ideals and principles of the Community. For all these reasons, the members of the Community at large had deep reverence and affection for Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad(ra) and the Khalifa himself made no secret of the high esteem in which he held him. Whenever the Khalifa could not attend the prayer service he appointed the Sahibzada to do so.
When Maulawi Muhammad ‘Ali prevailed upon Hafiz Raushan ‘Ali(ra) to enquire from the Khalifa why, in the presence of older and more learned divines, he had directed that the young Sahibzada should lead the Prayer services, Hafiz Raushan ‘Ali(ra) made the enquiry without mentioning who had inspired it. In response, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) said:
“The Holy Qur’an says: Verily, the most honourable among you in the estimation of Allah is he who is the most righteous among you (Ch.49:V.14). Name from among the whole community one as righteous as Mian Mahmud Ahmad(ra). Then shall I appoint Maulawi Muhammad ‘Ali to lead the Prayer services and deliver the sermon?”6
The primary purpose of the Promised Messiah(as) was to establish the supremacy of Islam through the true exposition of Islamic values and their illustration in practice. When he assumed the mantle of Khilafat this became the pre-occupation of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra). The greater part of his time was devoted to the exposition of the vast treasury of spiritual verities comprehended in the Holy Qur’an and illustrated in their perfection by the example of the Holy Prophet(saw). In other words, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) proved himself a worthy Successor of the Promised Messiah(as).
His first task was to take up projects that were pending or were contemplated at the time of the demise of the Promised Messiah(as). The Promised Messiah(as) had established the Madrassah Ahmadiyya, a theological seminary, but for a lack of funds this had not yet taken off the ground. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) took the necessary steps to establish the seminary on a firm footing. This seminary which had as its purpose religious instruction at a high level and preparing and training scholars and divines who could be entrusted with the sacred task of carrying the message of the Movement and propagating its tenets and ideals far and wide has today evolved into the Jami’a Ahmadiyya whose graduates are doing just that in different parts of the world.
In response to the growing financial requirements of the Community, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) set up the Baitul Maal or Treasury charged with the responsibility of collecting all funds and donations. This was following the precepts of Hadhrat Umar(ra) the Second Successor to the Holy Prophet(saw) who had similarly established a Baitul Maal when the need for it arose.
Nur-ud-Din Memorial Hospital
Another project concluded during the period of the first Khilafat was the establishment of a hospital that was named Nur-ud-Din Memorial Hospital. Another of the beneficent projects was the construction of a number of quarters for the indigent. For all these humanitarian projects, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) made generous personal donations.
Talimul Islam High School
Though not completed in his lifetime, the foundation stone of a new building for Talim-ul-Islam High School, which consisted of a school, hostel and mosque, was laid in the tenure of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) and completed in the era of the second Khilafat.
Expansion of Masjid Aqsa
In view of the expansion of the Community, during the period of the first Khilafat Masjid Aqsa was further extended. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) himself took part in the expansion work which prompted many others to join in. By so doing, the work was completed in time for the coming Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention).
Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad(ra) sought permission from Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih to start a weekly newspaper. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih granted his approval and suggested the name should be Al-Fazl and appointed the Sahibzada himself as its Editor. Thus was to start a very popular newspaper that has throughout maintained a very high standard and was to become the official daily organ of the Movement.
In pursuance of a dream, Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad(ra), with the approval of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra), established the Anjuman Ansarullah with the instructions that the members should keep themselves occupied with propagating the message of Islam and undertake, on a large scale, the study and teaching of the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith.
First mission to England
Allah had revealed to the Promised Messiah(as): “I shall carry thy message to the corners of the earth.” The fulfilment of this grand prophecy began to take place during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) when he sent Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Syal to England to lay the foundations of the very first foreign mission outside of India in the UK.
At a time when no Ahmadi owned a riding horse in Qadian, the Promised Messiah(as) had seen, in a dream that Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had fallen from a horse. Towards the end of 1910, Hadhrat Mirza Nur-ud-Din(ra) fell while riding a pony. He received many injuries one of which, on his right temple, was quite serious and became a sore. He reacted with great equanimity and tranquillity. More than anything else, he was pleased to see the prophecy of the Promised Messiah(as) fulfilled. The commissioned one of God, that is, the Promised Messiah(as) has been justified, he declared.
His period of convalescence lasted six months during which time he kept himself fully occupied with the demands of his exalted office and set a very high example of devotion to duty. The love that the members of the Community expressed for him during this period can be garnered from a message he published just eleven days after his accident:
“The trial through which I am passing has been the occasion of the manifestation of numerous aspects of Divine compassion, mercy and grace. Allah, the Exalted, has disclosed to me the devotion of the hearts of many whom I should love. There are some concerning whom I was not aware how much love they have for me and for their fellow members of the community. The way in which they have served me day and night during my illness is an indication of the degree of their devotion, whereby Allah has manifested their qualities. It is proof of God’s care for this humble one….”7
His own love for the members of the Community and how much he desired unity and accord amongst them can again be ascertained from a statement he made during the course of his speech at the Annual Convention in December of that year:
“Owing to my illness I am not able to go into prostration during Salat, yet, for your sake, I have prayed long and earnestly for you while in prostration. Therefore, in acknowledgement of your obligation to me, give up all discord and dissension.”8
From the moment he gained some strength right till he breathed his last, he repeatedly admonished the Community on the cultivation of mutual love, affection, unity and accord and at the same time urged them to discard all discord, dissension, hostility and contentions. In the words of the Holy Qur’an, he emphasised persistently and recurrently: And hold fast, all together by the rope of Allah, and be not divided (Ch.3:V.104). He knew his end was approaching. His primary concern was the dire consequences of differences and division on his death. ‘May it be that when I depart from this world my eyes and my heart should be in comfort on your account,’ he said in earnest.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) emphasised accord and unity among the members of the Community so much so that it is truly surprising that all his warnings of the dire consequences of division and dissension had no more than a temporary, if at all any, effect upon the hardcore dissentients. However, by the grace of Allah, the bulk of the Community, being duly forewarned, were safeguarded against the mischief of this intransigent minority.
At the start of 1914, the health of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih(ra) began to deteriorate. On February 2, he gave the following direction:
“Remember, no provision shall be made for my children out of any charitable fund, or alms, or Zakat, or out of funds for the uplift of orphans or the indigent. God will make some provision for them. Anyone who writes my biography should mention this direction of mine and should restrain any contravention of it. I have no money. All my debts have been paid off. I do not owe anyone anything. No one should claim anything from my children.”9
By this time he had become weaker and his voice was low. He was advised by his physician to move in with Nawab Muhammad ‘Ali Khan who was only too eager to host him. The house was situated in a garden at some distance out of town. Before the Friday service of March 13, 1914, he sent for his eldest son, Mian ‘Abdul Hayy. ‘I believe in Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) as the Promised Messiah and as a chosen one of God. I loved him so much that I held his children dearer than you’, he told him. ‘I commit you to God Almighty. I am sure he will not let you perish. I admonish you to read the book of God, teach it and act in accordance with it.’ The end came shortly afterwards. At the time for prayers, everyone proceeded to the Aqsa Mosque. He was alone but for a few attendants. He performed symbolic ablution and offered his prayers. No sooner had he finished than his breathing became heavy. A few minutes later his soul departed from his body. To Allah we belong and to Him do we return.
He died six years after the death of the Promised Messiah(as) so that, being six years younger than the Promised Messiah(as), his age was the same as the age of the Promised Messiah(as) at the time of his death. The same had been the case with Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), the First Successor to the Holy Prophet(saw) who was a couple of years younger than the Holy Prophet(saw). Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) had passed away two years after the death of the Holy Prophet(saw) when he had reached the age at which the Holy Prophet(saw) passed away.
Naturally, the illness of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih(ra) had given rise to speculation as to what would happen on his demise. When the sad news became known, Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad(ra) addressed the Community after a prayer service of the heavy responsibility that now lay on their shoulders and requested them to pray fervently for Divine guidance.
Maulawi Muhammad ‘Ali sought to delay the election of a successor for four or five months so as to give his group time to mount a campaign. However, when leading members were consulted, it was agreed that a successor should be elected before the burial of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih(ra) took place. By the afternoon of the next day, thousands of members from Qadian and beyond gathered in the Nur Mosque. After the prayer service, Nawab Mohammad ‘Ali Khan(ra) read out the will of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih(ra) which had been committed to his custody:
“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. We praise Him and call down His blessings on His noble Messenger. This humble one, in full possession of his senses, affirms: There is no god except Allah; Muhammad(saw) is the Messenger of Allah. My children are small and I have no money. Allah will safeguard them. They should not be provided for from any fund for orphans or the poor. A benevolent loan may be advanced, to be repaid by such of my sons as are able. My books and my property should be constituted into a trust for the benefit of my children. My successor should be one who is righteous, popular, erudite and of good conduct. He should overlook the shortcomings of and exercise forbearance towards the old and new friends of Hadhrat Sahib(as). I was a well-wisher of everyone; so should he be. The lessons of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith should be continued. Wassalam. Nur-ud-Din. March 4, 1914.”10
Nawab Mohammad ‘Ali Khan(ra) then added, ‘I have discharged the trust of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih(ra), it is now for you to act accordingly.’ This was greeted from every direction with shouts of ‘Hadhrat Mian Sahib, Hadhrat Mian Sahib’. The few dissidents tried to speak but the crowd would not entertain them. They withdrew from the gathering in disappointment. And then the silence! The Promised Son of the Promised Messiah(as), Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad, merely twenty-five years of age had been elected as Khalifatul Masih II by the universal will of the members of the Community who had assembled but, as everyone rushed towards him, he sat motionless as if deep in meditation. Finally, he looked up and espying Maulawi Sayyid Muhammad Sarwar Shah(ra) among the horde, said to him, “Maulawi Sahib, this heavy responsibility has fallen on me suddenly and unexpectedly. I cannot recall the terms of the pledge. Will you kindly instruct me.” Thus was the pledge of allegiance conducted. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) spoke the words of the pledge as instructed by Maulawi Sayyid Muhammad Sarwar Shah(ra) and the assembly repeated after Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra).
Once again, the Community had weathered the tempest that had overtaken it and were once again reunited in spiritual fellowship. Hearts were comforted and souls felt at rest. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) then led the funeral prayers of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra). There was a huge concourse of people, which included non-Ahmadi Muslims and non-Muslims as well as Ahmadis who had gathered to pay their last respects to one who, throughout his life, upheld the moral and the spiritual above the material and the physical. His sacred remains were buried next to the grave of the Promised Messiah(as). May Allah be pleased to immerse him in His Mercy and grant him a most exalted station in Paradise among His choicest servants.
Eulogistic tributes came from all sections of the press. The Zamindar wrote:
“Among today’s telegraphic news the Muslims, particularly the Ahmadis, will be grieved to read of the death on March 13, after an illness extending over some weeks, of Maulawi Hakim Nur-ud-Din Sahib, who was an erudite divine and a learned scholar. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.
“Maulawi Hakim Nur-ud-Din(ra) was known among his followers as Khalifatul Masih and was the Successor of the late Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). His death will be a severe shock for the Ahmadis, which shall affect them for a very long time.
“Even apart from doctrinal differences, the personality and talents of Maulana Hakim Nur-ud-Din were of such a high order that all Muslims would be grieved by his death. It is said that it takes a century for a man of outstanding genius to appear. Maulana Hakim Nur-ud-Din was, by virtue of the vastness of his erudition and scholarship, a man of such genius. We mourn today the loss of an eminent divine. We have sincere sympathy for our Ahmadi friends who have been sore afflicted by this grievous calamity. We pray that the Most Merciful One may be pleased to receive Maulawi Hakim Nur-ud-Din(ra) into His mercy and to bestow steadfastness upon his followers and the members of his family.”11
The editor of the Curzon Gazette wrote:
“We had not only known the late Maulawi Hakim Nur-ud-Din(ra) personally, we were on very intimate terms with him in Jammu for several years. We met every evening. He was very good-hearted and benevolent. He possessed a keen sense of humour. He was tall, handsome, fair-complexioned, and wore a thick beard. He supervised the state schools and hospitals dili-gently and honestly. He enjoyed a large salary, the greater part of which he generously devoted to the maintenance and upkeep of deserving students. Throughout his life he provided for hundreds of poor students…
“Thus Hakeem Nur-ud-Din was a living example of true benevolence. He had two great passions, promotion of the welfare of indigent students and the collection of rare books. All his large income was devoted to these two purposes. He was very humble and courteous. He performed all his duties righteously. Those who worked under him were well-pleased with him and never had any grievance. He was an erudite divine and a great scholar; he possessed great proficiency in Arabic. During his leisure hours he gave lessons in Bukhari and Muslim. He had a profound understanding of the faith.”12
The Municipal Gazette wrote:
“We announce with great grief and sorrow the death in Qadian at 2 p.m. on 13 March, after an illness extending over several weeks, of Maulawi Hakim Nur-ud-Din Sahib, the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Community. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.
“As is well-known, the deceased, on account of his matchless learning, piety and righteousness, was undoubtedly a holy and praiseworthy Khalifa for the Ahmadiyya Community, but for the Muslims of India generally also he was a great scholar and a learned divine. His love for the Holy Qur’an was unmatched. The way in which he expounded the verities and insights of the Holy Qur’an to the Ahmadiyya Community in the latter part of his life was exemplary. He was also an expert physician. He wrote several books about Islam based on extensive research and inquiry and forcefully refuted the critics of Islam. His death is not only a great shock for the Ahmadiyya Community, it is not any less distressing for the general body of Muslims. May Allah, the Exalted, receive him into His mercy and bestow steadfastness upon his survivors.”13
The Tabeeb of Delhi wrote:
“We announce with great sorrow that a famous and outstanding physician of India, Maulawi Haji Hakim Nur-ud-Din Sahib, who was also an outstanding divine and was a pious of righteous personality, and the revered leader of the Ahmadiyya Community, died last Friday, after having suffered for some time from the ills that are inseparable from old age. To Allah we belong and to Him shall be our return. The Hakim Sahib of blessed memory set a high example of compassion for all the creatures of Allah without distinction of Ahmadi or non-Ahmadi, Muslim or non-Muslim…
“His greatest service to the cause of Islam and humanity was the courageous and valiant defence, justification and exposition of the institution of Khilafat which was vital for the spiritual survival and progress, not only of Islam and the Muslims, but of the whole of humanity. His love for the Holy Qur’an was proverbial, his devotion to the Holy Prophet(saw) was exemplary and his obedience to the Promised Messiah was perfect and matchless. May Allah reward him richly and without measure for his devoted service. Amen.”14
Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, who was subsequently to become President of the All-India Congress, and Minister of Education in the Indian Government, wrote in Al-Balagh, under the caption, Farewell Nur-ud-Din:
“I regret that I am the last in expressing my condolences over the departure of the head of the Ahmadiyyah Movement, and the expert diagnostician of the eternal verities, Hakim Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din. A personality that combined a vast expanse of erudition with a treasury of the practical manifestations of the piety and righteousness is no longer present among us. Erudition in all that pertained to the faith and a deep understanding of verities, tempered by a wide scholar-ship that comprehended every type of literature from divine scriptures to masterpieces of fiction, had raised Nur-ud-Din’s mind to a level whence it was able to contemplate and penetrate the mystery of human emotions… Though I do not find myself in agreement with some of the concepts of the Ahmadiyyah Community, yet I contemplate in wonderment the spiritual blaze whose flame had melted my frozen emotions into shedding tears of love. The honoured personality of Nur-ud-Din is now hidden from our physical eyes, but its footprints continue clearly discernible on the format of the universe and serve as our guide to the mansion of steadfastness. May divine grace and mercy shed the perfume of amber on his dust.”15
1. Badr June 2, 1908.
3. Al-Hakm May 28, 1908, Al-Badr June 2, 1908.
4. Badr July 11, 1912.
5. Badr January 12, 1911.
6. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra), p.232.
7. Damima Badr December 1, 1910.
8. Badr January 12, 1911.
9. Al-Fazl February 11, 1914.
10. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra), p.293.
11. Ibid, p.309.
12. Ibid, p.310
13. Ahmadiyyat: The Renaissance of Islam, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra) , p.221
14. Ibid, p.222
15. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan.
• Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra).
• Hakeem Noor-ud-Deen, The Way of the Righteous, by Syed Hasanat Ahmad.