Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra): Before Khilafat

In Quest of Knowledge

In the prime of his youth, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) embarked upon the pursuit of knowledge and for this purpose set out on foot for Rampur, a centre for religious education. He did so in the company of two other seekers after knowledge. As they knew no one in Rampur, they took shelter in a mosque on their arrival. A few days later, they met Hafiz ‘Abdul Haq who, learning of their mission, agreed to provide for them all they required in terms of shelter, sustenance and studies. In such carefree circumstances, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) made rapid progress with his studies.

While at Rampur, once a debate arose among a large company of students. Maulawi Ghulam Nabi, a revered personality and an eminent grammarian, was chosen to umpire the debate. He was so impressed with Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din’s(ra) exposition that he referred to him as Maulawi. Thus did Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) acquire the title of Maulawi (minister of religion).

There was a pious personality in Rampur by the name of Shah ‘Abdur Razzaq with whom Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had developed closeness and whom he visited frequently. He visited once after an unusually long interval. When Shah ‘Abdur Razzaq queried Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) as to what had kept him away, the latter replied that he had been pre-occupied with his studies though he was honest enough to admit he had also been a little forgetful. Shah ‘Abdur Razzaq then asked Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) whether he had ever noticed a butcher while carving rubbing his knives together to sharpen them as they are blunted by animal fat. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) replied in the affirmative but added that he did not follow the drift of his analogy to which Shah Abdur Razzaq added, “absence makes both of us a little forgetful, and a meeting sharpens us both.” Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) often remarked that he had derived great benefit from this wise counsel of Shah Abdur Razzaq. The company of the righteous stimulates spiritual alertness.

He stayed in Rampur for three years and after recovering from a serious illness, his eagerness to study medicine was revived. He had expressed the same eagerness when he was merely twelve years old and was successfully treated from an illness by the famous Hakim Ghulam Dastgir of Said Mitha. At the time, he was persuaded by his eldest brother, Maulawi Sultan Ahmad, to pursue a course in Persian instead, which he did. Four years later, on a visit to Lahore, he started the study of medicine but his stay in Lahore was cut short.

Now, however, he was much resolved to study medicine and he set out for Lucknow to meet Hakim Ali Hussein who he had come to learn was the most celebrated physician in the country at the time. The road was unmetalled so that by the time he arrived in Lucknow he was covered in dust and looked scruffy. Nevertheless, he immediately enquired as to the residence of Hakim ‘Ali Hussein and made his way there.

Arriving at the residence of Hakim ‘Ali Hussein, he marched unceremoniously into the building just as he was. Beyond the entrance in a large room, he beheld an angelic personage, white-bearded, beautifully clad, cushioned on either side and surrounded, in a reverential attitude, by some respectful looking persons. The scene struck the weary traveller as a revelation. Nevertheless, unfazed, he deposited his baggage in a corner and advanced boldly towards the central figure who he rightly surmised was Hakim ‘Ali Hussein. Arriving in front of the revered personage, he greeted him in a resounding voice with: Assalamu ‘Alaikum (Peace be unto you!), and extended his hand for a handshake. Hakim ‘Ali Hussein returned his greeting and shook his hand. Then Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) seated himself respectfully opposite the worthy Hakim. The company were outraged by the whole proceeding and one of them, a leading personality, took it upon himself to ask of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din, somewhat sarcastically: “Sir, which civilised region do you hail from?” Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) responded: “This lack of ceremony and my bold greeting are the result of the teaching of the unlettered one of a barren valley, who had at one time been occupied with grazing goats and may my father and mother be his sacrifice.” His words struck the company like lightning and Hakim ‘Ali Hussein was overcome with emotion. He turned to the questioner and said: “You have been a courtier of the Royal Courts; have you ever been so confounded before?”

Hakim ‘Ali Hussein then enquired from Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) what the purpose of his visit was and he replied that he had come to learn medicine from him. Hakim Ali Hussein was reluctant in accepting Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) as his student. He was getting too old to be a teacher, he argued. He proposed the name of another physician who would happily and capably instruct Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) in medicine. However, when he discovered how determined Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) was in his resolve to study medicine from him alone, he surrendered and offered his tutelage. He enquired of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) how much proficiency in medicine he was seeking. His response was he aimed at being the equal of the greatest ever physician who lived. This brought a smile to the Hakim who observed: “You will reach somewhere. Had you aimed any lower, I would have been disappointed.”

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din’s(ra) training under Hakim Ali Hussein, supplemented by his own diligence and keen intellect, progressed apace. His mentor constantly tested him and always found him well above the mark, so that he soon began to respect his judgement. He stayed with Hakim ‘Ali Hussein for a couple of years and after receiving from him his formal testimonial, he asked leave of him in order to resume his study of Arabic and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).

With this objective, he headed for Bhopal. Along the way, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had the first chance to practise his medicine curing a neighbouring village Headman’s son of cholera. The headman, by way of gratitude, entertained him and also arranged for his transportation to Bhopal. He was to receive numerous other favours for his skilful treatment of his patients later in life.

In Bhopal, the weary traveller found his way to a large mosque where he happened to meet Munshi Jamaluddeen, the Chief Minister of State. Munshi Jamaluddeen was a man of great generosity who took a lot of interest in the welfare of the blind. He had settled a quarter of the town for their accommodation and met their needs at his own expense. Upon learning that Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had arrived in search of knowledge, he took him as his guest and gave him free access to his library. He also appointed Maulawi ‘Abdul Qayyum as his teacher who instructed him in the Sahih Bukhari and Hidayah.

Munshi Jamaluddeen himself gave regular lessons on the Holy Qur’an. During one session, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) posed a question regarding the hypocrites about a subtle discrimination made between the Qur’anic verse that was under exposition (Ch.2:V.77) and another verse of the Holy Qur’an (Ch.2:V.15). In the verse under exposition, the Holy Qur’an says, “when they (the hypocrites) meet one another” whereas in the other verse it says, “when they (the hypocrites) are alone with their ringleaders”. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) wanted to know why in one verse they are referred merely as fellows but in the other they are described as satanic ringleaders. When Munshi Jamaluddeen failed to provide an explanation, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) suggested the reason. He explained that there were two categories of hypocrites in Madinah – one from among the Jews and the other from among the idolaters. The Jews being from among the ‘People of the Book’ were referred to as fellows in the verse under exposition whilst the idolaters were castigated as satans in the other verse. So impressed was Munshi Jamaluddeen with this elucidation that he rose from his seat and asked Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) to occupy it and continue the lesson adding that from now on Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) should conduct the lessons to which he would attend himself to profit from his erudition.

In addition to his studies in Bhopal, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) also had the occasional opportunity to practise medicine. It is thus that he once came to treat the son of a wealthy man who, being cured completely by the first dose prescribed by Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra), was so grateful that he presented Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) with several rich dresses and a large sum in cash. As he had no use for rich dresses he arranged for them to be sold so that now he had a considerable amount of money and believed the Hajj had become obligatory upon him. With this he decided to go on pilgrimage to the Hijaz.

Pilgrimage to Makkah

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) took affectionate leave of Munshi Jamaluddeen and Maulawi ‘Abdul Qayyum, his teacher in Bhopal, and travelled to Bombay from where he joined a ship for Jeddah and from Jeddah he travelled to Makkah on a camel. He had heard that any prayer made at the first sighting of the Holy Ka’abah is always granted. In keeping with tradition, therefore, when he first beheld the Holy Ka’abah on approaching Makkah, he supplicated:

“Lord, I am ever in need of Thy succour. I beseech Thee, therefore, that whenever I supplicate Thee, of Thy mercy, grant my supplication.”1

He was to recount later:

“I believe in God and in His great mercy Who accepted my prayer. Whenever I came across atheists, non-believers and philosophers in debate, I always triumphed over them on account of the acceptance of the prayer that I made on the first sighting of the House of God.”2

While in Makkah, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) availed himself of the opportunity to further his studies of Traditions with three renowned scholars. He read Abu Daud, Ibn Majah and Nasa’i with Sheikh Muhammad Khazraj, Muslim with Syed Hussain and Muatta’ with Maulawi Rahmatullah. He later met an erudite divine Hadhrat Shah ‘Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi of Madinah whose learning and liberal thinking won the admiration of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din. He submitted to Hadhrat Shah Sahib that he would wish to go to Madinah and study under him. The latter readily agreed.

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) was to benefit greatly from him time in Madinah. Hadhrat Shah ‘Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi happened to be the 27th carrier in an unbroken chain of narrators of forty Traditions of the Holy Prophet which had been orally passed down through the ages. He narrated these to Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) so that he had the honour of becoming the 28th carrier of these forty Traditions. He subsequently passed them on, together with the names of the whole chain of narrators, to, among others, Hafiz Raushan ‘Ali(ra) and Mir Muhammad Ishaq(ra).

Hadhrat Shah ‘Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi, though a man of very few words, was very far-sighted and percipient. He instructed him in Bukhari, Tirmidhi and Mathnawi of Maulana Rum. On his advice, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) concentrated on the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:

…We are closer to man than his jugular vein. (Ch.50:V.17)

…He is with you wheresoever you may be… (Ch.57:V.5)

Consequently, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had the honour of beholding the Holy Prophet(saw) frequently in his dreams.

Renowned Physician

On his return from the Hijaz, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) returned to Bhera, got married to Fatimah Bibi, daughter of Sheikh Mukarram Qureshi ‘Usmani, and set up a medical practice. His skill and competence were immediately recognised. His simple, inexpensive methods won him applause, procured him respect and, of course, aroused professional jealousy. He attracted patients of all sorts – rich and poor, old and young, men and women – all received his full attention, special care and earnest prayers. Never did he discriminate between any of them and throughout his life never did he charge a fee for his services, accepting happily whatever his patients wanted to give him. To the poor and needy of his patients, he regularly provided financial assistance. His ministrations were totally eclipsed by an impeccable trust in Allah as the source of all beneficence, power and might. Little wonder, therefore, that he was able to successfully treat unusual, near-impossible cases, which in turn boosted his practice.

After practising in Bhera for a while, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) beheld the Holy Prophet(saw) in a dream who asked him: “Would you like to see Kashmir?” “Indeed, Messenger of Allah”, he replied and they both set out for Kashmir. This was an indication that he would leave Bhera for Kashmir.

It so happened that Dewan Kirpa Ram, Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, was passing through Pind Dedan Khan, came to know of the high reputation of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) and mentioned it to His Highness, the Maharaja of Kashmir, Randir Singh. It was thus that Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) was appointed Deputy Physician to the Maharaja and shortly after, at the age of thirty-six, he was appointed Chief Physician when Hakeem Fida Muhammad Khan, the former Chief Physician, retired. In this capacity he was also in charge of all hospitals in the State. He held the office of Chief Physician for fifteen years during which time his relationship with the Maharaja became quite intimate and he received numerous favours from him.

As with everyone who came into contact with him, the Maharaja was deeply impressed not only with the talent of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) as a physician but also with his sterling moral and spiritual qualities. One evening the Maharaja suffered from an attack of an ailment and urgently summoned Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din. Presently, the wife of a sweeper came running to him and in great agitation besought him to go examine her husband who was in agony. His humanity would not permit him to ignore the sufferings of a humble and resourceless sweeper. He therefore told the Maharaja’s emissary to go ahead and inform the Maharaja that he would be on his way shortly. The emissary took exception to what he considered giving preference to a sweeper over the Maharaja and no doubt relayed this to the His Highness on his return.

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) diagnosed the sweeper as suffering from severe congestion of the bowels and administered an enema which brought instant relief. The sweeper was deeply grateful and with utmost humility he said, “May Allah bless you abundantly and also he who made you available to us here.” He said this benediction so earnestly that Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) was convinced the Maharaja would be relieved of whatever ailment he had.

This is exactly what came to pass. Arriving at the Maharaja’s residence, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) found that the Maharaja was indeed relieved of the ailment and was no longer in need of his ministrations. The Maharaja asked what had delayed him and he proceeded to give an account of what happened adding that he was convinced that it was the fervent prayers of the sweeper that caused the Maharaja’s trouble to be removed. Profoundly impressed, the Maharaja commended his action as worthy of a true physician and bestowed upon him two heavy gold bangles. Before departing Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) called the emissary and gave him one of the bangles. In utter amazement, the emissary asked what had prompted the enormous gesture. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) explained that had the emissary not complained against him to the Maharaja, he would not have presented him with the two bangles and therefore the emissary was entitled to a share of it.

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din’s(ra) activities were not however, confined to medicine. He was on a substantial salary from the State and he regularly received numerous valuable gifts of diverse forms so that he was on a very large income, all of which he devoted to the promotion of good causes including the welfare of students, widows, orphans and the needy. So far as he himself was concerned, he attached no value to money, wealth or property. He had an impeccable trust in Almighty Allah and on numerous occasions, his needs were fulfilled in an extraordinary manner beyond his conception, in accord with the divine assurance set out in the Holy Qur’an:

…And he who fears Allah—He will make for him a way out, And will provide for him from where he expects not. and he who puts his trust in Allah – He is sufficient for him…(Ch.65:Vs.3-4)

Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II(ra) states:

‘Hadhrat Hakim Maulawi Nur-ud-Din Sahib(ra) the First Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya community was posted as a royal physician to the Maharaja of Kashmir for a long time. Once, the Maharaja of Kashmir said to him that if nothing else, at least worship Kali Ma (black goddess) because she is very severe. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I responded, “Maharaja, this goddess can say nothing to us.” After thinking for a while, the Maharaja himself admitted, “Yes, Maulawi Sahib, I have understood what you say. I cannot punish one who does not live under my rule. Likewise, as you do not accept the rule of the Kali Ma and consider yourself beyond her jurisdiction, she cannot cause you any harm.’ Tafsir Kabeer (Urdu): Surah Al-Kafirun Ch.109 pp. 437-438 (Ruhani Khaza’in set)

He remained a most devoted servant of Islam and took advantage of every opportunity to clear up misunderstandings about Islam. He had the privilege of giving lessons on the Holy Qur’an to the Maharaja and his personal attendants. His love for the Holy Qur’an, nourished from earliest childhood, had reached the loftiest dimensions. On a month-long journey to attend a royal wedding he memorised half of the Holy Qur’an, a project he continued to pursue piecemeal until he had committed the entire text to memory. By so doing, Maulawi, Hakeem, Haji Nur-ud-Din(ra) also became a Hafiz. Furthermore, by this accomplishment, he followed in the footsteps of his father and at least ten of his immediate male ancestors who had also committed the Holy Qur’an to memory.

Search for a Spiritual Preceptor

By this time Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had for long been looking for a spiritual preceptor. In his pursuit, he had travelled far and wide and had studied under a number of eminent and learned divines. But these divines worshipped in solitude and were not engaged in promulgating the true message of Islam to the world. Among ordinary Muslims, emphasis was laid on trivial points of ceremonial rituals without any zeal to foster high moral qualities and promote spiritual values. Islam was under attack from Christians, Aryas, atheists and philosophers yet no one came to the defence of Islam.

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) was well versed in the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw). He was acutely aware of the promise made by God in the Holy Qur’an that he would make the believers successors in the earth. He was also conscious of the prophecy made by the Holy Prophet(saw) that Allah would raise at the head of every century someone who would rejuvenate Islam. In that state he was looking towards the heavens for some light. He came to know of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian through one of his announcements and felt a strong urge to visit him. He relates himself:

“Ever since I have become aware of the evils in which my contemporaries are involved and have observed the changes that have occurred in religion and among religious people, I have been eager and have been praying that God, the Exalted, may lead me to a person who would revive the faith of Islam, and should subject its enemies and the wicked to spiritual bombardment…

“The Holy Prophet(saw) was most truthful and most trustworthy. He said that Allah would raise among his people at the beginning of every century one who would revive the faith. Thus I was among those who awaited this mercy of His; and for this purpose I travelled to the place of the manifestation of the lights of truth and certainty, the Sacred House of Allah. I went through forests and crossed deserts looking for him among the godly…

“I did not find any of the divines occupied with expounding the true message of Islam to Christians, Aryas, Brahmos, atheists, philosophers, agnostics and other opponents of Islam…

“In this situation I received intimation of the advent of the most exalted personage, the great learned divine, the Reformer of the century, the Mahdi and Messiah(as) of the age, author of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah. I hastened to him to see for myself, and I realised at once that he was the Promised Arbiter, and it was he who had been appointed by Allah, the Exalted, for the revival of the faith. I immediately responded to the call of Allah, and fell into prostration in gratitude for this great bounty.”3

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) was forty-three years old at the time and throughout the rest of his life, he remained wholly devoted to the Promised Messiah(as). He kept touch while away from Qadian, sought guidance in whatever he did and whatever was asked of him he complied with forthrightly. It was upon the Promised Messiah’s(as) request that he wrote his book Fasl-ul-Khitab, a four volume compilation in refutation of Christian allegations against Islam, even though at the time he had little knowledge of the type of criticisms made by Christian apologists against Islam and had to make time for research, study and writing, his busy schedule notwithstanding. He also financed the publication of this book from his own resources.

Pandit Lekh Ram, an Arya Samajist opponent of the Promised Messiah(as), wrote a book in attempted refutation of the Promised Messiah’s(as) Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. As the Promised Messiah(as) was preoccupied with the writing of his book Siraj-e-Munir, he requested Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) to write a response to Pandit Lekh Ram’s book. The words of the Promised Messiah(as) in his written commission show how much he valued Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra):

“I do not exaggerate, nor am I moved by a desire to praise you, when I say that God has impressed it on my mind that there is no one else whom He has filled with so much eagerness to serve the faith and to help me. I, therefore, ask you to take the trouble to read this book from beginning to end and prepare a list of all the objections raised by the author against Islam, and reflect upon the most reasonable answer to each objection.”4

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) responded to and executed this commission in an excellent manner by the compilation of his book Tasdiq Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah.

The Promised Messiah(as) was full of praise for Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) and always received him with great deference. When he fell ill, the Promised Messiah(as) travelled all the way to Jammu to see him. He later gave expression to his high esteem of Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) in the following terms:

“Ever since I have been commissioned by Allah, the Exalted, and have been revived by the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting One, I have been eager to meet distinguished helpers of the faith, with an eagerness greater than that of a thirsty one for water. I supplicated day and night: ‘Lord, I am alone and helpless, who will be my helper and my assistant?’ When my hands rose repeatedly in suppli-cation, and the atmosphere became charged with my prayer, Allah, the Exalted, heard my entreaty and the mercy of the Lord of the worlds was roused in my behalf and He bestowed upon me a sincere and faithful friend who is the very eye of my helpers and is the essence of those who are my faithful friends in the cause of the faith. His name, like his shining qualities, is Nur-ud-Din(ra) (light of the faith). His birthplace is Bhera, and by descent he is Quraishi, Hashimi, and thus one of the chieftains of Islam. He is of gentle birth. My joy at meeting him was such as if a severed limb of mine had been restored to me. My heart was filled with such delight as was experienced by the Holy Prophet(saw) on meeting Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra). When he came to me and met me, and I looked at him, I perceived that he was a sign out of the signs of my Lord; and I realised that he was the result of my constant supplications, and my intuition informed me that he was one of the chosen servants of Allah. I observe that wisdom flows from his lips, and heavenly light descends upon him. When he addresses himself to the exposition of the Book of Allah, he reveals the sources of mysteries, and causes the springs of subtleties to gush forth, and uncovers wonderful treasures of wisdom that had hitherto been covered up. He investigates the minutest particles of erudition, and delving into the roots of verities exposes shining lights. The wise stretch forth their necks in token of affirmation of the miraculous effectiveness of his discourses. He demonstrates the truth like a polished lump of gold, and uproots the objections of the opponents.

“All praise is due to Allah, the Exalted, Who bestowed this friend upon me at a time when I was in great need of him. I pray to Allah that He may bless his age, his health and his dignity. God is my witness that I perceive unusual grandeur in his words, and esteem him as one of the foremost in resolving the mysteries of the Holy Qur’an, and in penetrating into its meaning and import. I conceive of him as two high mountains, one of erudition and the other of wisdom, facing each other, and I do not know which of them surpasses the other. He is one of the gardens of the sublime faith. Lord, send down on him blessings from heaven, and safeguard him against the mischief of his enemies, and be with him wheresoever he might be and have mercy on him here and hereafter, O Most Merciful One, Amen.”

“I render humble thanks to Allah, the Exalted, that He has bestowed upon me such an excellent faithful friend who is righteous and possesses learning of the highest degree. He is far-sighted and keenly discerning. He strives in the cause of Allah, and has outstripped his contemporaries in his devoted love of Him. He is in such complete accord with me as the pulse is in accord with the breath.”5

Foremost Disciple

On the 23rd of March 1889, under Divine guidance the Promised Messiah(as) undertook the initiation of his disciples, having announced a little earlier the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had the singular honour of being the first invited to take the pledge. He had offered to swear allegiance to the Promised Messiah(as) upon their very first meeting but the Promised Messiah(as) had told him he had no authority from Allah to bind people to himself through such a covenant and could take no such step without Divine instructions. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had then requested if and when he should receive such a direction, he should give him the chance of being the first to take the pledge. The Promised Messiah(as) had given his word which he duly kept.

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) had learnt somewhat of palace intrigues during his service to the Maharaja and had scrupulously steered clear of them. However, when in 1892 the Maharaja died and was succeeded by Partab Singh, as Allah wills, a conspiracy in the council of the state had him dismissed as Chief Physician to the Maharaja. The Promised Messiah(as) asked him to migrate to Qadian and not to consider Bhera his home anymore. The thought never even occurred to him for the rest of his life, he relates. Even when, upon the Promised Messiah’s(as) direction, he visited Bhera to treat a leading citizen, he did so, prescribed for him and left without visiting family or friends. Such was Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra)! Little wonder then that the Promised Messiah(as) singled him out for a glowing tribute:

“How excellent it would be if every member of the Community were to become a Nur-ud-Din. So would it be if every heart were filled with the light of the certainty of faith.”6

In Qadian, he dedicated his life to the service of the Community and looking after the poor and indigent. He opened a clinic where he saw patients daily and demonstrated yet again that in diagnosis he was matchless. His striking improvisations fully justified themselves. He was also occupied in teaching the Holy Qur’an, the Traditions and Arabic and adopted a very pragmatic approach. Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II(ra) who had the privilege of learning the Qur’an and Bukhari Tradition from Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ur-Din(ra) during this time was to recount later:

“On one or two occasions I also asked a question and received an answer. On the third occasion when I asked a question, he said: ‘You are a servant of God, and so am I. You are a follower of Muhammad(saw), the Messenger of Allah and so am I. The defense of Islam is not only my function, it is yours also. You should reflect and find the answers. Do not ask me.’ Thereafter I put him no more questions. I consider that was the most valuable lesson he taught me.”7

Most of the time in Qadian, though, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ur-Din(ra) busied himself with the service of the Promised Messiah(as), correcting the proofs of his books and hunting up old and rare books required for reference by the Promised Messiah(as).

Every moment of his life was true illustration of the pledge he had made. He excelled in his love, loyalty and devotion to the Promised Messiah(as) to the extent that no matter what he was occupied with, the moment he learnt that the Promised Messiah(as) was accessible, he would stop in the middle of a sentence or halfway through his meal, stand up and winding his turban and dragging his shoes, proceed to wait on him.

Once, while visiting Delhi, the Promised Messiah(as) requested that a telegraphic message be sent to Qadian calling for Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) to join him in Delhi. The person who worded the message wrote: “Come immediately. Ghulam Ahmad.” Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) received this message when he was in his clinic. He literally obeyed the instruction “immediately” and proceeded at once to the local horse carriage stand for the nearest railway station at Batala. He did not go to his house to change, collect any necessities or even say goodbye to his family. The next morning he presented himself before his master in Delhi.

On another occasion, he was requested to go to Batala to treat an ailing lady. The Promised Messiah(as) granted him permission to go but expressed his desire for him to return that same night. By the time he had completed his mission it was very dark and had started raining so profusely that there was water everywhere with deep pools and puddles all over the unseen track from Batala to Qadian. His hosts tried and tried in vain to persuade him to postpone his departure until the next day. He insisted that he would leave immediately and travel to Qadian even if he had to walk all the way. In fact that is exactly what he did. Covering  part of the way on horse cart, most of it he waded through pools of water on foot, wounding his feet on submerged bushes of thorns, brushing along the hedges in the dark, undeterred by the dangers from robbers and ruffians, he reached Qadian just in time for the dawn prayers. After the service, the Promised Messiah(as) enquired: ‘Did Maulawi Sahib come back last night?’, and before anybody could speak, he stepped forward and submitted: ‘Yes Huzur, I am here,’ and did not utter a word about his difficult journey.

Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) grew into an eminent divine full of wisdom, knowledge and learning. His library, which he had transferred to Qadian from Bhera, consisted of many rare books and manuscripts he had acquired for considerable sums. He had read the whole of Shakespeare in Arabic. His discourses on the Holy Qur’an, possessed of esoteric and exoteric lore, held his audiences spell-bound. As a result of his expositions, many of the doubtful re-affirmed their faith in Islam and many a disbeliever repented their disbelief. He was an exceptional writer and his books received much accolade. In spite of repeated requests, however, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) refused to publish a commentary on the Holy Qur’an. His reasoning: “The Holy Qur’an is the Word of Allah; as Allah is Infinite, so is His Word. Therefore, we cannot confine its interpretation to certain defined conceptions.”

A new arrival to Qadian who arrived at the time of the afternoon prayers at the Aqsa Mosque joined the other worshippers after the prayer service as they gathered around a personage of venerable appear-ance who then proceeded to recite and expound upon a few verses of the Holy Qur’an. The newcomer was deeply moved and enquired whether the personage was the Promised Messiah(as). When told it was in fact Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra), he was lost in wonder: ‘If this paragon was only a disciple, how exalted must be his preceptor!’

Maulawi Hasan ‘Ali(ra) of Bhagalpur in Bihar recorded his impressions of an exegesis on the Holy Qur’an presented by Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) at an Islamic conference at a time when the former had not yet become a member of the Ahmadiyya Community:

“I am unable to express in words how deeply I was affected by his discourse. When he finished, I stood up and said: ‘I am proud that my eyes have beheld so great a divine and commentator, and the Muslims should be proud that there is among them such a learned personality.’”8

He later asked Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) what he had gained from swearing allegiance to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian. He answered: ‘I had tried to get rid of a sin and had not succeeded. After I swore allegiance to Hadhrat Mirza Sahib(as), not only did I get rid of it, it became repugnant to me.’ Maulawi Hasan ‘Ali(ra) was deeply impressed with this and subsequently remarked that had Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) mentioned miracles and prophecies of the Promised Messiah(as) he would not have given them much importance. Consequently Maulawi Hasan ‘Ali(ra) was to visit Qadian and having spent time in the company of the Promised Messiah(as) swore allegiance to him.

When the Promised Messiah(as) made his claim to be Divinely commissioned as the reformer and voice articulate of the age, a storm of opposition was roused against him. Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) stood firm as a rock in his support and exerted himself to the utmost in championing his cause. One objection raised against the Promised Messiah(as) was that he had only succeeded in misguiding some Muslims into believing in him but had not succeeded in converting non-Muslims into Islam. The Promised Messiah(as), upon hearing this, directed Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) to prepare a list of non-Muslims who had embraced Islam at his hands. In carrying out this instruction, Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) wrote down his name as the first name on the list. When someone in his surprise queried this, he answered: ‘I had the honour of learning Islam only through the Promised Messiah(as).’

The Promised Messiah(as) was keen to see Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) re-marry. Although he had been married before, he had lost all his sons while still in their infancy. The Promised Messiah(as) supplicated for guidance and made enquiries about a suitable match. Following these, he recommended Sughra Begum(ra), daughter of the saintly Sufi Ahmad Jan of Ludhiana. By the grace of Allah, the match proved to be blissful and the couple were blessed with four sons and a daughter, Amatul Hayy, who upon attaining maturity married the Promised Son of the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II(ra).


1.      Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra), p.30.

2.      Mirqaatul Yaqeen fi Hayat-e-Nur-ud-Din, by Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ur-Din(ra), p.111.

3.      Karamatus Sadiqin, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.7, pp.149-151.

4.      Mirqaatul Yaqeen fi Hayat-e-Nur pp.139.

5.      A’inah’-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.5, pp.581-582.

6.      Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra), p.101.

7.      Al-Fadl, October 12, 1960.

8.      Risala Ta’idi Haq by Maulawi Hasan ‘Ali Bhagalpuri p.64.


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.

Ahmadiyyat: The Renaissance of Islam, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra).