Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), the Promised Son, and Second Successor to the Promised Messiah (as). ©Makhzan-e-Tasaweer
Sarmad Naveed, Canada
On January 22, 1886, The Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) travelled to a town in India called Hoshiarpur, where he entered into a 40-day period of solitude, in worship of his Lord. During this time, he received a grand prophecy regarding a promised son, who would prove to be a true servant of faith, and a large proponent to the spread of Islam throughout the entire world. One aspect of that prophecy was that ‘he will be filled with secular and spiritual knowledge.’
What Made this Prophecy So Special?
This, the sixteenth prophecy within the grand prophecy can seemingly be applied to anyone. It is not at all out of the ordinary for a person to have either one or both secular and spiritual knowledge. We can look to our elders or even at some of those around us, and find such people who hold such great knowledge. So when God the Almighty revealed these characteristics to the Promised Messiah (as) while in Hoshiarpur as he sat in seclusion, was He stating mere facts, that the Promised Son, like others would also attain secular and spiritual knowledge? Surely there must be more to it.
When we analyze the life of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (ra), who we now know as the fulfillment of this prophecy, while keeping this part of the prophecy in mind, we find that its meanings are extremely profound. It was a promise made by God Almighty, that by His Own hand He would tend to, care for, educate, and grant spiritual knowledge to the Promised Son granted to the Promised Messiah (as)
The fact that such a grand prophecy had been vouchsafed to the Promised Messiah (as), along with the fact that he had widely publicised it, using it as a means to further establish his truthfulness; the eyes of both believers and opponents alike were focused upon Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (ra) from the moment he was born on January 12th 1889. They wanted to see what was so special about this child, what would make him different from any other child? The believers wanted to strengthen their faith while the opponents desired the Promised Messiah’s(as) downfall. With this in mind, one would expect that the Promised Messiah (as) would have paid special attention to this child’s upbringing, specifically in regards to his studies, ensuring that he would acquire scholarly qualities so that there would be no doubt remaining as to the fulfillment of this prophecy. However it is almost surprising that when we look towards the childhood of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), we find that the Promised Messiah (as) did not take extraordinary measures in terms of his son’s education. Aside from the traditional education; for example a tutor coming to the home and teaching the simple recitation of the Holy Qur’an, the Promised Messiah (as) did not take any drastic measures. One may wonder why this was?
The answer to this lies in pondering over the words of this prophecy: ‘he will be filled with secular and spiritual knowledge’. To be filled implies that there must be someone who carries out the action of filling. Just as a glass can only be filled once someone pours water into it, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) would be granted secular and spiritual knowledge in the same way. In essence, the promise made here by God is that He Himself would give the Promised Son knowledge in both the secular and spiritual forms.
This was something which the Promised Messiah (as) recognized; the fact that when it came to the son who was promised to him, all things, including his secular and spiritual knowledge were the result of God’s immense favours and blessings. When Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) completed his first reading of the Holy Qur’an, the Promised Messiah (as) wrote a poem, expressing his thanks to God as he was overjoyed at the occasion. It is in this poem, the Promised Messiah (as) expresses his realization of God’s favours with regards to his son:
‘It is Thy bounty alone, we did nothing of our own; ‘Tis Thee, O my Belovèd, Who hast shown these joyous days’
Hence the Promised Messiah (as) knew that when it came to the education of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) or even his spiritual training, God had promised to tend to it all Himself. Although Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) would have various tutors, the Promised Messiah (as) never forced his son to attend classes, or even to do exceptionally well, rather he remained steadfast upon his belief and trust in God and knew that all would be taken care of.
When it came to the acquisition of knowledge in his early years, in no way did Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) learn by any conventional means. Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) himself states, ‘the manner in which my education was undertaken clearly shows that it had nothing to do with human effort.’ There are various reasons for this; of course his fragile health has been documented in the books of history, however there is one point which stands out in this regard, within which is an amazing sign as to the fulfillment of the prophecy regarding his secular and spiritual knowledge. In the field of attaining knowledge, eyes or eyesight is a very crucial factor. To be able to read books, articles magazines, to be able to see things and learn from experience; in essence a large part of this things depend on sight. Of course in today’s day and age there are means by which even the blind can attain knowledge just the same as someone with perfect vision, however in the time of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad’s (ra) early childhood
When describing his own vision as a child, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) writes, ‘I was almost blind in one eye.’ He says, ‘I could see the path which I was walking on, however I could not read books. If someone was sitting a couple of feet away from me and I did not already know who it was, I would not be able to recognize the person.’ How could a child, who was unable to even read because of his eyesight, be expected to attain an education, particularly at such a time when it is crucial for a child to establish their foundation?
Remember, God has made the promise that He would tend to every matter regarding this child’s education and it was in this way that God Almighty granted Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) with a very special tutor. A man who revered him as the son of the Promised Messiah (as) as well as the Promised Son who was foretold by God Himself. This man was Hazrat Al Haaj Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin (ra) (who later became the First Caliph). Regarding him Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) writes,
‘Of all my tutors, the greatest favour done upon me was by Hazrat Khalifatul Masihil Awwalra. Since he was also a doctor, he understood that my state did not allow me to look at books for an extended period of time. Hence his way of teaching me was that he would have me sit beside him and would say ‘Mian! I will read and you listen’’
The Promised Messiah (as) had advised Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) of three things when it came to learning from Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Noorudin (ra). He advised him that he should learn the Holy Qur’an, Bukhari(compilation of traditions of the Holy Prophet (sa)) and that he should learn medicine as well. Hence, in the same manner, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) would sit beside Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Noorudin (ra) and would listen to what he taught. Describing this Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) writes,
‘It was with great effort that he taught me the Qur’an and then Bukhari. He did not teach the Qur’an to me slowly, rather the way which he adopted was that he would read out the Qur’an and would provide the translation alongside it. If he found a certain point to be important then he would tell me, otherwise he would continue reading quickly. He taught me the entire Qur’an within the span of three months.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) further states:
‘I also studied medicine as well as the commentary of the Holy Qur’an from him (Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddinra). He finished teaching me the commentary of the Holy Qur’an in two months. He would have me sit beside him and would sometimes read out the translation of half a part, or sometimes even an entire part of the Qur’an and would provide the commentary for some verses. Similarly he completed teaching me Bukhari within two to three months. Once during Ramadan he gave lessons on the entire Holy Qur’an and I also was present for those. I also had the opportunity of studying some Arabic writings with him. Hence this was my education’
Through this, it becomes clear how great the mental capacity and capability which God Almighty had granted the Promised Son with was. This was the unconventional way in which he learned and the amazing speed at which he did so, absorbing oceans of knowledge as he went along. He was not taking extravagant measures as other potential and aspiring scholars of the time would have been. Rather, God Almighty bestowed upon him the capability, along with a tutor who himself was a chosen man of God through whom Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) expanded his horizons.
The Greatest Lesson Learned
Interestingly enough, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) writes that the greatest lesson which he learned from Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin (ra) was that during these classes, whenever he would ask a question, he would not answer it. Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Noorddin (ra) himself gives the reasoning behind this when he says, ‘whenever the young Mian (ra) would ask me a question, I knew that God the Almighty had bestowed upon him knowledge of such vast proportions, and his connection with God was so close and strong, that if he went home and pondered over the very question he had asked, he would surely be guided upon the straight path and would come across the correct answer, whether it had to do with the Holy Qur’an or anything else.’
Hence in this way, perhaps even indirectly, Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin (ra) guided Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) towards realizing the fact that God had blessed him with extremely special qualities and capabilities, such which he may not even have realized up until this point. This helped start his habit of pondering deeply and searching within himself and through his connection with God, for the verities which he sought. This was a quality which would further lead him towards unparalleled achievements.
For example, this method taught to him by Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin (ra) would lead him to attain a great deal of knowledge regarding the Holy Qur’an. He states in his own words,
‘Allah Almighty has now blessed me with so much knowledge …but it was he who created a relish and craving for this Book (Qur’an) and he set me on the right course concerning its commentary. And He laid such foundations upon which I was able to build a structure. For this reason I always consciously pray for him [Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin (ra)].’
Extraordinary Knowledge in Many Fields
Along with his knowledge of the Holy Qur’an, it seemed as if Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad’s (ra) knowledge encompassed every possible field. He was a wide ranging scholar, a fact which has been attested by many other scholars.
Syed Abdul Qadir, vice principal of Islamia College, Lahore said that he had the honour of listening to a lecture by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) on the subject of ‘The Economic System of Islam and Communism’. He found this lecture, like his other lectures, to be polished academic thoughts and filled with information. He said that ‘Mirza Sahib’ possessed God-given capability and had complete proficiency on every aspect of the given subject and for this reason his thoughts deserved to be valued and considered.
Similarly Syed Abdul Qadir presided another session in which Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) spoke on the topic of‘The Outset of Dissention in Islam’. In his concluding remarks Syed Abdul Qadir said
‘Gentlemen I have also studied history somewhat and when I came here this evening I thought I knew most of Islamic history and I can easily critique it. But now after listening to Mirza Sahib’s speech I realized that I am only a beginner. The difference in my depth of knowledge and that of Mirza Sahib’s depth of knowledge is the same as between the light of this table lamp (the lamp sitting on the table) and that big electric lamp (which was hanging from the ceiling).
Gentlemen, the brilliance and command with which Mirza Sahib has commented on this very difficult subject in Islamic history is unique to him. There are very few people who could talk on this very complicated chapter in Islamic history. As far as I know there is none here in Lahore. I wish we had such knowledgeable people in our society. I think that if a person of such extraordinary intellect and status would become a member of our society, it would bring great honor to our society.’
Khawaja Hassan Nizami writes
‘He has got political astuteness and is also very strong in religious knowledge and sagacity. He is also well versed with the military profession, that is, he is an expert in both intellectual as well as lettered warfare.’
Endeavors to Spread Knowledge
From just these limited examples it is evident that the knowledge of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) knew no bounds. What’s more, he would endeavour and strive to spread his vast knowledge to the world whether it was through his various speeches, sermons or books, for which he worked tirelessly and endlessly.
His sermons given on Fridays, Eids and at the occasion of many Nikahs(marriages) number 2076. It is narrated that once for a single sermon, while preparing he read 1200 pages and when writing his sermon he did not copy a single word, rather he took the information and established his own points and presented his understanding of the subject.
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) wrote 10 books and journals on argumentation, 31 books and journals on spirituality, Islamic morals and Islamic creed, 13 books and journals on the life of the Holy Prophetsa, 4 books and journals on history, 3 books and journals on jurisprudence, 25 books and journals on the politics of pre-partition India, 9 books and journals on post-partition politics and the establishment of Pakistan, 15 books and journals on the politics of Kashmir and 100 books and journals on the Ahmadiyya Movement and he has covered hundreds of other subjects as well.
This glimpse is not even a fraction if the knowledge, insight and capabilities granted to Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) , all proving that he truly was filled with secular and spiritual knowledge.
About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves on the Editorial Board of The Review of Religions and coordinates the newly launched Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’
Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat Vol 4 p. 36
Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat Vol. 4 p. 54-55
Al Fazl 3 November 1954
Ta’assurrat-e-Qadian, p. 162-163
Adil, Delhi, 24 April 1933 as reported in Khalid, November 1955
Friday Sermon February 21, 2014