Achievments of the Promised Reformer

7Review of Religions – February 2002 ‘I confer upon thee a sign of My mercy according to thy entreaties and have honoured thy prayers with acceptance through My mercy and have blessed this thy journey. A sign of power, mercy and nearness to Me is bestowed on thee, a Sign of grace and beneficence is awarded to thee, and thou art the key of success and v i c t o r y. Peace on thee, O victorious one. Thus does God speak so that those who desire life may be rescued from the grip of death, and those who are buried in the graves may emerge therefrom, so that the superiority of Islam and the dignity of God’s Word may become manifest unto the people, and so that truth may arrive with all its blessings and falsehood may depart with all its ills; so that people may understand that I am the Lord of Power and do as I will and so that they may believe that I am with thee, and so that those who do not believe in God and deny and reject His religion and His Book and His Holy Messenger, Muhammad, the chosen one, on whom be peace, may be confronted with a clear Sign and the way of the guilty ones may become manifest. Achievements of the Promised Reformer By Ataul Munim Rashed – UK Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad 8 Review of Religions – February 2002 Rejoice, therefore, that a handsome and pure boy will be bestowed on thee. Thou wilt receive an intelligent youth who will be of thy seed and will be of thy progeny. A handsome and pure boy will come as your guest. His name is Emmanuel and Bashir. He has been invested with a holy spirit, and he will be free from all impurity. He is the light of Allah. Blessed is he who comes from heaven. He will be characterised by grandeur, greatness and wealth. He will come into the world and will heal many of their ills through his Messianic qualities and through the blessings of the Holy Spirit. He is the Word of Allah, for Allah’s mercy and honour have equipped him with the Word of Majesty. He will be extremely intelligent and understanding and will be meek of heart and will be filled with secular and spiritual knowledge. He will convert three into four. It is Achievements of the Promised Reformer FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib, Mirza Sharif Ahmad Sahib, Hadhrat Sayeda Nawab Mubarka Begum Sahiba, Hadhrat Mirza Mubarak Ahmad (who passed away at an young age). 9 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 M o n d a y, a blessed Monday. Son, delight of the heart, high ranking, noble; a manifes- tation of the First and the Last, a manifestation of the True and the High; as if Allah has descended from heaven. His advent will be greatly blessed and will be a source of the manifestation of Divine M a j e s t y. Behold a light cometh, a light anointed by God with the perfume of His pleasure. He will pour His spirit upon him and he will be sheltered under the shadow of God. He will grow rapidly in stature and will be the means of procuring the release of those held in bondage. His fame will spread to the ends of the earth and people will be blessed through him. He will then be raised to a spiritual station in heaven. This is a matter decreed.’ (Green Announcement – 20 February 1886) This was a grand prophecy vouchsafed unto Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He had been in retreat for 40 days devoting himself entirely in solitude to Divine worship and supplication. Having completed his period of 40 days, he announced on 20th February 1886 that during the period of his retreat he had been honoured with the disclosure of many matters with regard to the unknown. Out of them he mentioned the above prophecy which related to his own person. Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddeen Mahmud Ahmad, the Second Successor to the Pr o m i s e d M e s s i a h( a s ) was a remarkable personality. He was the Promised Reformer and fulfilment of this grand prophecy. To live up to the many qualities mentioned in the The Promised Messiah(as) (in the dark coat) with his companions. To his right is the young Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad. 10 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer prophecy is inconceivable for an ordinary person, but the Promised Reformer was to fulfil the various aspects of his role most magnificently. It was the decree of Allah, the Almighty. His period of Khilafat for nearly 52 years was a golden period in the history of the Ahmadiyya Movement and of Islam, one that is remembered with pride to this day, and he will be remembered forever and ever. This article outlines the major achievements of his lifetime, particularly with regards to the progress of Ahmadiyyat. In fact, his achievements begin quite some time before his Khilafat. He formed M a j l i s Tasheez-ul-Azhan at the young age of 17, a committee that was later to start a monthly publication by this name. This not only showed the great intelligence and capability that God had endowed him with, but the good way he used this by initiating a publication that so many children still enjoy and benefit from even today. The Promised Reformer was its first editor. In 1913, he also started the Al-Fazl, which is a daily Proceeding to an Annual Gathering in Rabwah. On the right of Hadhrat Musleh Maud is Ch. Ghulam Ahmad Akhtar Sahib, Nazir A’la. 11 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 publication. It is the official organ of the Ahmadiyya Community. These two examples highlight his sincere dedication to serve Ahmadiyyat right from an early age. A few years later, in 1908, while still only 19 years old, he displayed a clearly unique single-minded resolve. It was the year that his holy father, the Promised Messiah passed a w a y. While standing by his body, he promised that even if all the others deserted him, he would strive to continue the mission of the Pr o m i s e d Messiah(as). History bears witness to how true he was to this pledge. This was not just an emotional claim at a sad time but a sincere one. At the young age of 25, in 1914, he was elected as the Second Khalifa to the Promised Messiah. There were many at that time that doubted his ability and maturity at such a young age. A small section of the community even refused to take the Bai’at or Oath of Allegiance at his hand and went their own way to form the Lahori Ahmadi group. But God had assured the Promised Messiah that this Promised Son of his would grow rapidly. And as was the decree of Allah, in the years of his Khilafat to follow, the Ahmadiyya Community became a truly dynamic force. It became organised and began to expand rapidly as had not been seen before to all parts of the world. The Promised Reformer played a key part in this. As with all things, organisation is a vital precondition for success. But this was even more so in the Addressing an Annual Gathering. Ch. Muhammad Asadullah Khan, younger brother of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan is on Hadhrat Musleh Maud’s right. 12 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer case of the Ahmadiyya Community, for which God had promised that it would spread all over the world. The Promised Reformer realised this and made changes that we still thrive on today. The propagation of the message of Islam was so important to him that in April 1914, just one month into his Khilafat, he called a Consultative Body known as Majlis-e-Shoora particularly for deliberating the dissemination of the message of Islam. By 1922, M a j l i s – e – S h o o r a w a s established as a permanent institution within the Community and is convened annually or as is necessary to deliberate important policy matters of the Community. This blessed idea, mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, is now one of the great features of Ahmadiyyat that no one else can claim to have. In fact, it is an institution in Islam second only to Khilafat. Hadhrat Musleh Maud arriving at the Talimul Islam College, Rabwah. In black cap is Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Principal, who later succeeded as Khalifatul Masih III. In the middle is Professor Habibullah Khan Sahib. 13 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 In April 1919, various departments known as Nazaarats were set up. This was indeed a very profound landmark in the history of Ahmadiyyat, which consolidated its structure of organisation and increased its efficiency tremendously. In the years to f o l l o w, the Community was divided into various auxiliary organisations. Lajna Ima’illah was the first of these. Created in December 1922, it was an organisation for ladies above the age of fifteen. In 1928, M a j l i s N a s i r a t u l – A h m a d i y y a was formed for girls under the age of 15. Then in December 1938, Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya was born. This was for young men between the ages of 15 and 40. Majlis Ansarullah, for men above 40, was established in July 1940 along with M a j l i s A t f a l – u l – A h m a d i y y a for boys under the age of 15. With these auxiliary organisations, all the different groups in the Community could then be activated to work towards the common goals of Ahmadiyyat, namely to spread the message of the true Islam, in whatever way Hadhrat Musleh Maud with hsi eleven fellow travellors at the 1924 Wembley Conference. Behind Huzur on the right is Hadhrat Sahibzada Mirza Sharif Ahmad Sahib. 14 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer was appropriate. It was for this specific task that in May 1928, he re-inaugurated J a m i a Ahmadiyya, an elite institution for the training of those who wished to devote their entire lives for the service of Islam and become missionaries of a high calibre. This idea was so useful and successful that we now have similar Jamias not only in Rabwah and Qadian, but also in Indonesia and various countries of West Africa. In this regard, it Providing specific instructions on a visit 15 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 must also be mentioned that he was also responsible for the full- scale launch of the scheme for Wa q f – Z i n d a g i, or dedicating o n e ’s life for the service of Islam. This was done as early as 1917. This revolutionary scheme has, by the Grace of Allah, become a distinguishing mark of the Ahmadiyya Community. Ahmadiyyat has spread, by the Grace of Allah, as a result of these volunteers, who have chosen this noble work over everything else, and solely to gain the pleasure of Allah, not enticed by any worldly gain. The great sacrifices made and being made by these devotees will, through Divine grace, be written in golden words in the history of Ahmadiyyat. And credit is certainly due to the Promised Reformer(ra) for starting this. While he had high desires and expectations for the progress of the Community, he also looked after its welfare. An example of this is that he established the first ever orphanage in Ahmadiyya history. This was in Qadian, in 1919. This fulfilled a very important need of the Community, and was an example to all of the high qualities of Islam that Ahmadi Muslims wished to spread. He also established a judicial system in the Community, known as Dar- ul-Qadha, in 1925. This provided the Community with a very easy, fair, economic and dignified way for Ahmadi Muslims to get their internal disputes settled, in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Ever since, this has continued to operate throughout the world. The Pr o m i s e d Reformer was also a great educationist, deeply interested in increasing the educational and intellectual standards of all men and women. For this purpose, he established an institute for scientific research. For ladies, he established a M a d r a s s a, started a theology class and laid the foundation of the Nusrat Girls School in Qadian. These, and many more institutions of similar nature, played a very important role in enhancing the standard of education within the C o m m u n i t y, and are fine examples of how much emphasis Islam lays on acquiring know- ledge, and also on the duty of both men and women to do so. He became the perfect leader 16 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer that the Community needed. God Almighty had declared him, in the words of the prophecy, to be a ‘key of success and victory.’ He not only guided the Community most skilfully, but also enabled the Community to serve the cause of Islam as a whole. He himself was a great champion of Islam who always grabbed every opportunity of serving and defending the cause of Islam. Through his noble example, he created the same zeal and dedication amongst the members of the Community and encouraged them to uphold the banner of Islam flying high at all times. The Shuddi Camp is a case in point. In 1923, the Hindus launched a widespread campaign to convert Muslims to Hinduism in the Indian subcontinent. The Pr o m i s e d Reformer immediately rose to the occasion and launched a counter-campaign. He set up ‘this’ organisation (the Suddi Camp), where 150 trained members of the Community began preaching. This proved such a success that not only were Muslims no longer being led a s t r a y, Hindus started coming into the fold of Islam. Allah showed, as He has on so many occasions, that the supposedly weak can overcome the mighty. As a result of this well-planned action, the Hindu designs were utterly frustrated. Pr o m i n e n t Muslim leaders with immense gratitude openly acknowledged this fact. In this respect, even one of the most outspoken and hostile newspapers, Zameendar, had to admit the following: ‘The dedication, zeal, compassion and enthusiasm with which Ahmadi Muslims have taken part in this campaign is so sublime that every Muslim is genuinely proud of it’. (The Daily Zameendar – Lahore, 24 January 1923) In the following year, in 1924, he attended the We m b l e y Conference of Religions in London, where he presented the message of Islam before believers in other religions. In doing so, he became the first successor to the Pr o m i s e d Messiah to travel abroad for propagating the message of Islam. His famous lecture, later on published in a book entitled Ahmadiyyat: The True Islam, was eloquently read out by 17 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. It was well received and greatly appreci- ated by all. The Promised Reformer was not a politician. He was a divine and religious person and gifted with qualities of head and heart. He also had a deep understanding and insight into political matters. A couple of examples illustrate the case in point. In 1930, the dispute over Kashmir was becoming a crisis. The Promised Reformer became involved at this time at the repeated requests of the respectable Muslim leaders of India. The famous poet, Alama Iqbal proposed his name, and to the delight of all, he was elected to lead the All-India Kashmir Committee as its first President. He strove hard for the rights of the oppressed Kashmiri people. It was a struggle for humanity and justice, as well as for fellow Muslims. The first ever Kashmir Day was celebrated under his guidance. His dedicated services in this cause are indeed a part of history that no one can overlook. After the partition, in June 1948, he raised a battalion of Ahmadi Muslim volunteers, named the Furqan Force to fight along with the Pakistani Army for the liberation of Kashmir. There were many successes and fine examples of bravery among the Ahmadi Muslim fighters, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (white turban) at the Imperial Institute, London where The Conference of Religions within the Empire was held in 1924 18 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer openly acknowledged by the then Commander-in-Chief. He put the name of Ahmadiyyat in history forever. Sadly though, these services are all but forgotten by most of the people, and today Pakistan is paying the price for its deplorable ingratitude. His era saw the freedom of over 30 countries in the world. Though this was not through his direct efforts in all cases, it can be argued that the decree of Allah was at work. In the case of many countries winning their freedom, the Promised Reformer was really the person behind it. Hadhrat Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrullah Khan was his able spokesman in the UN General Assembly. The Promised Reformer was his source of guidance. In any case, the part of the prophecy that Hadhrat Muslah Maud on his 1955 European Tour with a Dutch guest and the Missionary- in-Charge of Holland. 19 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 said he would be the means of procuring the release of those held in bondage was fulfilled. The Promised Reformer, during these difficult times, did not at all neglect the Community. On the contrary, he took measures to ensure that the Community would be resilient and self- subsisting. In 1934, there was a nation-wide anti-Ahmadiyya movement launched by the Ahrar group, their declared mission being to eradicate the name of Ahmadiyyat from the surface of the earth. This was the design of the enemy of Ahmadiyyat; but Allah Almighty had His own scheme of things. He enabled the Pr o m i s e d Reformer to steer the ship of Ahmadiyyat to safety while also laying the foundations of its global victory. Reference is made here to the establishment of Tahrik Jadid, the fund he set up for the propagation of the message of Islam in foreign countries that is still active today. Presently, the Community is well established in nearly 176 countries of the world with thousands of mosques, mission centres, hospitals, clinics, schools, colleges and printing presses dedicated to the service of Islam. These are all the sweet fruits of Tahrik Jadid. Along with this was Waqf-e-Jadid, started in 1958. It was for similar purposes, with particular emphasis on preaching in the rural areas of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. There was a new drive for the propagation of Islam. Ahmadiyyat began to spread like no one had imagined. The message now reached the masses of people within the rural communities. At the same time, missionaries were being deployed all over the world to form centres that are now well established and bearing great fruits. Part of the success was due to the way the Promised Reformer inspired the members of the Community to contribute. He laid down guidelines such as only cooking one dish for meals. Simple though it was, it created a collective spirit of sacrifice not seen in any other community. It brought about simplicity and maximised the resources of the Community. Perhaps his greatest achie- vement was his outstanding contribution to literature. Though he had no worldly 20 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer qualifications, he clearly displayed the ability that he was promised by Allah in both religious and secular know- ledge. He liberated the world from old and corrupted ideas and beliefs. He wrote about two hundred books on various topics, including argumentative books, books on history, jurisprudence, politics, Kashmir, and also one hundred on Ahmadiyyat. Some of the notable ones are Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, E c o n o m i c Structure of Islam, Remembrance of Allah a n d Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an (an extract from this book follows as a separate article). The latter was one of many of his works on the theme of the Holy Qur’an. This was the area of his greatest success. Very early on, he began the practice of a regular Dars-ul- Qur’an, an educational session for propounding the deeper meaning of Qur’anic verses. He was granted a remarkable understanding of the Qur’an by Allah, which he passed on to the Community. He himself said that he was a teacher to the world. He was granted knowledge that was previously undisclosed. He delivered over three hundred talks on Surah-Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an, alone. He went on to write over 6000 pages on the subject of the Holy Qur’ a n , including the ten glorious volumes of Tafseer-e-Kabeer, an in-depth commentary, and also the more brief commentary, Ta f s e e r- e – S a g h e e r. There was thus something for everyone to benefit from. He also followed the Promised Messiah in writing a great many poems that are now compiled in the collection entitled Kalaam-e-Mahmud. He was so confident in the knowledge God had given to him that he invited anyone to discuss any matter with him to witness this fact. Being a teacher to the whole world, he took on the painstaking task for the first time of translating the word of God so that it could be understood by all. During the period of his Khilafat, the Holy Q u r’an was translated completely in no less than sixteen languages. On this foundation, the Community continued to build, and now, by the grace of Allah, more than fifty translations are complete. Another landmark in Ahmadiyyat 21 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 was just after the time of the partition. Many Muslims, including many Ahmadis, were forced to flee from India and the Community was in a delicate position, with- out any headquarters to operate from. But then, under Divine indication, a piece of barren land was bought to set up the new headquarters of the Community in Pakistan. This was, of course, Rabwah, founded on the 20th of September 1948. To begin with, it had only mud huts on an area that was considered uninhab- itable. But the idea proved a wise invest- ment and became the active centre of the Community and an exemplary town in its peaceful environment. Qadian also benefited from him with the completion of Minarat-ul-Masih, the white minaret. Construction had begun in the life of the Promised Messiah but was not completed. Its completion in 1915, under the supervision of the Promised Reformer was an all-time reminder of a prophecy regarding the coming of the Messiah, and became an identity symbol for Ahmadi Muslims. The life and achievements of the Promised Reformer will always stand out in the history of Ahmadiyyat and Islam. He led the Community for over half a c e n t u r y. He started with just a few thousand people with him and led them through times of 1955 European tour: On Hadhrat Musleh Maud on the right is Sahibzada Mirza Mubarak Ahmad Sahib, Sayed Mir Daud Ahmad Sahib and Ch.Abdul Latif Sahib, Missionary Germany. 22 Review of Religions – February 2002 Achievements of the Promised Reformer great adversity. With all the odds against him, even to survive would have been an achieve- ment. But the Pr o m i s e d Reformer did so much more and fulfilled the prophecy to the word. He then returned to Allah on the 9th of November 1965. He was indeed a sign of the glory and power of God. There now follows one of the many tributes paid to him. Under the heading of A Great Nation-Builder, the Editor of The Light w r o t e : ‘The death of Mirza Basheer- ud-Deen Mahmud Ahmad, head of the Ahmadiyya movement, rang the curtain down on a most eventful c a r e e r, packed with a multitude of far-reaching enterprises. A man of versatile genius and dynamic personality, there was hardly any sphere of contemporary thought and life during the past century, from religious scholarship to missionary organisation, even political leadership, on which the deceased did not leave a deep imprint.’ (Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, Editor, The Light, 16 November 1965 under the caption, ‘A Great Nation Builder’) That was the view of at the very most, an impartial person. We, as Ahmadi Muslims, owe the Promised Reformer immense Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad – Promised Reformer 23 Achievements of the Promised Reformer Review of Religions – February 2002 gratitude for the way we are now. So many of his achieve- ments are still with us today. He himself said, on the occasion of Annual Convention in 1961: ‘I declare, depending on the favours and the blessings of Allah, that my name shall be preserved in the world forever. Although I will die one day, my name shall never be erased from history. This is a decree of Allah.’ He goes on to say ‘If not today, then after forty years, or fifty years, or maybe after a hundred years, history will decide itself whether this statement is right or wrong. No doubt I will not be present at that time, but one thing is for certain, that whenever the history of Islam and Ahmadiyyat is going to be written, then every Muslim historian will be duty-bound and compelled to mention my name in that history. History will not be complete without the mention of my achieve- ments.’ This could not have been stated any better. This article is a humble attempt to summarise his achievements and pay tribute to him. It is in no way a perfect assessment. In fact, to go into full depth and discuss the far-reaching impact of his extraordinary performance is beyond the ‘author’. He himself pointed out that the full and real assessment will only be made by nations coming after several generations. May Allah enable us to value his efforts, and to carry them on, and may He grant him the highest of rewards. We conclude with one of his couplets: ‘A time will come when all people will proclaim in unison: May the mercy of Allah descend upon this great servant of Islam, who sacrificed his whole life for this cause. Ameen.’

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