Syed Taalay Ahmed
‘I do not know the reason why, but it is true that since my childhood, I have had a sort of natural attachment to the science of the ahadith [sayings of the Holy Prophet (sa)] and whenever I read a hadith, I feel as if I were being transported to the presence of the Holy Prophet (sa), and being favoured directly with his holy speech. My imagination takes me 1,400 years back, giving me the pleasing taste of spiritual association and companionship with the Holy Prophet (sa), in the Holy Masjid of exalted Makkah and in the Prophet’s Mosque in sacred Madinah and in the lanes of these two exalted cities and in the desert paths of Arabia. Then, for a while, I am lost to the world, breathing in the atmosphere where our most loved master spent 23 long years of his God-gifted prophethood.’
-Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), Forty Gems of Beauty
Hazrat Amma Jan (ra) would lovingly call her son ‘Bushra’ (glad tidings). Her little boy had grown into a tall, long-bearded man and his childhood hat had been replaced with a turban, but the nickname remained. The olive-skinned Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) could now be seen in Qadian wearing a coat over his traditional Asian shalwar kameez (loose pants and a longer shirt) and carrying with him a pocket watch and red handkerchief.
The maternal bond remained as strong as ever: ‘When grown up and married, I had separate quarters of my own, and a separate household, according to my needs, but Hazrat Amma Jan (ra) [the blessed wife of the Promised Messiah (as)] sent meals for me on so many occasions that it is impossible for me to count them.’
Even in old age, Hazrat Amma Jan’s (ra) care for her ‘Bushra’ remained: ‘A short time before her death, when she was very, very weak and seriously ailing, one of my maternal aunts, who was staying with her, the better to be able to nurse her and look after her, asked me one day during the month of Ramadan that in the evening I should break my fast at Amman Jan’s (ra). At the time I thought my aunt had invited me on her own volition, thinking my presence would be a source of satisfaction and joy for Amma Jan (ra). But at the proper time when I went there, I found elaborate arrangements for the occasion and then my aunt told me the invitation had been extended at the express wish of Hazrat Amma Jan (ra).’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was an equally loyal son. He would regularly set aside a share of his income for Hazrat Amma Jan (ra) and could often be seen visiting and caring for his mother on the way to or from the mosque. He gifted her some orange trees and when the fruit came she would distribute the shares. At the head of the list she would write the names Mahmud Ahmad, Bashir Ahmad and Sharif Ahmad followed by the rest of her relatives.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) demonstrated remarkable obedience towards Hazrat Amma Jan (ra). He writes: ‘On one occasion a woman approached her for a loan at a moment when I was present. It so happened that Hazrat Amma Jan (ra) did not find herself in a position to personally help, but she turned to me: “Miyan (she always addressed her sons as Miyan) if you can spare the amount, give her the loan: this woman is honest and pure in her dealings.” I then gave the woman the amount, and in spite of the fact that she was a poor woman, she returned the loan in time.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) daughter-in-law, Asifa Masooda, relates another example of his obedience. She says: ‘My mother, Hazrat Nawab Mubarka Begum (ra), told me that when I was two, Amma Jan (ra) took a liking to me and told my mother that she would have me engaged to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) son, Mubashar. In the meantime, my uncle Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) returned from prayers. He used to pass by Amma Jan’s (ra) veranda on his way. She saw him and said: “Miyan Bashir, listen! I have engaged this girl to Mubashar.” He simply replied: “Yes, Amma Jan.”’
‘Some years later when Mubashar was of age, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) brought him a list of ladies he could ask to marry, including girls much prettier than me. However, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) put my name on the top of the list and said: ‘It is your choice who you marry, but this is who Amma Jan (ra) desired for you.’
‘Mubashar chose to propose to me.’
The Second Caliph
Hazrat Nooruddin (ra) once remarked during a speech: ‘There is not one of you who obeys me as do my dear ones Mahmud, Bashir and Sharif and as do Mir Nasir Nawab and Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan. I do not affirm this to please them but state it as a fact that they love me out of the desire to win the pleasure of God.’
Following Hazrat Nooruddin’s (ra) demise in 1914, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) was elected the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Now, the brother who had competed against him in childhood games transformed into such an obedient servant that he would be seen eagerly anticipating the caliph’s every step and one observer described him as the ‘humblest of servants’.
As well as being the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) was also the Musleh Maud (ra) (Promised Reformer). Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was acutely aware of the importance of the Promised Son prophecy. His great- grandson, Mirza Ahsan Ahmad, says: ‘Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) daughter, Khala Amtul Hameed, told me that he said: “You should visit Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). You will live to see many Caliphs, but he is unique.”’
Similarly, Muhammad Nazim Ghauri, a late elder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK, related how on trips to Rabwah he always made sure to visit Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) first, because he knew Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) would always ask: ‘Have you met Hazrat Sahib first?’
This outstanding example of obedience was highlighted by our present Caliph in his Friday Sermon on 6 June 2014: ‘Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) used to say: ‘On some issues I have my own opinion and I present my opinions with what I consider evidence to the Caliph. But if my opinion is discarded then I have never even wondered why this is the case or what my opinion once was. My opinion becomes exactly what the Caliph-of-the-time’s opinion is. With complete obedience, I begin fulfilling that instruction.’
Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra) love
Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) once invited some relatives, including Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) to visit Jaba, a summer resort in a famous salt range. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) grandson, Capt. Khan says: ‘Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) wanted Abba Jan (ra) to be given accommodation with direct entry from either side. He announced that people will visit Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) so such-and-such an apartment which is adequately suited should be cleared for his use. One of his own children had already moved into this apartment, while Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was elsewhere, so they suggested Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) simply make use of their apartment for the purpose of meetings. At this Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) exclaimed: “You will treat my brother like this during my lifetime?!”’
On another occasion, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) wrote to Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) expressing his views on some issue. Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) strongly disagreed and wrote back most firmly. No sooner had he sent the letter that he recalled the messenger.
Capt. Khan narrates: ‘Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) said: ‘If he reads this, he will have a heart attack.’ So he wrote a cover letter addressed to Hazrat Mirza Aziz Ahmad (ra) (a mutual nephew) and asked him to pass on a summary as he felt appropriate to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra).’
Nor was Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) the only sibling Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) showed such consideration for. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) writes their younger brother was generous to an exceptional degree: ‘[Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad (ra)] would not limit his generous hand even in the era of his own lesser circumstances. With an open heart he would participate in helping the poor. Sometimes while going on his way, as he passed a poor person he would without hesitation withdraw a 100-rupee note and hand it to him. The recipient would be left rubbing his eyes in astonishment while this holy king would quietly go on his way. Because he did not control his expenses, at times he would fall into debt.’
On one such occasion, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) became worried. Mirza Ahsan Ahmad says: ‘Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) expressed concern to Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) that Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad (ra) should not fall into financial difficulty. At this, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) succinctly responded: ‘Are his elder brothers not living?’ Meaning – how could he fear any trouble while his elder brothers were alive to help?’
Another example of Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra) love came when he ordered a plane flown by a Mr Chawla to visit Qadian and make some circuits with local passengers. Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra) cousin, Syed Muhammad Ahmad, would later recall: ‘Mr Chawla made a short test flight and, after landing, invited Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). But for the first flight, he chose his brother Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) and eldest daughter Nasira Begum to be the passengers. For the second flight he chose his youngest brother Mirza Sharif Ahmad (ra) and second daughter Amtul Qayoom (ra). On the third flight Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) went up himself with Mirza Sharif Ahmad (ra).’
‘The plane took off but did not land after completing a circuit. Instead it flew even higher in an easterly direction from Qadian, and after a while disappeared from our sight. At this all the spectators became uneasy. Some even thought that this was a secret scheme to abduct Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). Some started to cry, others to pray out loud. The worry and prayers were continuing when the plane came into view from the east, flying at some height. Seeing it, the people stopped worrying and some even offered prostrations of gratitude. After landing, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) explained he had asked Mr Chawla to fly to the Beas River so that he could see the area between Qadian and the river from the air.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) compared the temperaments of Hazrat Amma Jan’s (ra) three sons thus: ‘While making decisions on important matters or while giving advice, [Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad (ra)] gave a very balanced opinion. Neither would he – like his first brother – display a most excellent and glorious jalal splendour (although this jalal was according to divine prophecy) and neither was he like his second brother – whose soft nature was so overpowering that in some eyes it amounted to weakness. But, like the Promised Messiah (as), in his temperament we find a subtle sort of balance.’
Hazrat Nawab Mubarka Begum (ra) expands on this theme: ‘[The Promised Messiah (as)] had a love for the community, in fact for the whole of mankind, like a father and mother combined. Like a father he trained, strictness and softness and like a mother he had softness and love and a mother’s affection.’
‘After him it seems as though the two brothers united to share this work. The elder brother, the second Caliph, became the community’s kind father. However a father keeps a strict eye on training and to maintain his awe he must sometimes remain reserved.’
‘But a mother covers her children’s mistakes, quietly explains, conveys fear of the father’s anger. If she hits you she immediately hugs you to her chest and with affection says: ‘I only say this for your betterment that if your father sees you then what will he say?’ So this mother’s love for the whole family, for the whole community, was naturally assigned to my middle brother’s care.’
Several incidents illustrate the point. Once, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) had expressed displeasure with some member of the community. On this, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) wrote on their behalf seeking pardon and sent the letter by the hand of a mutual nephew. At this, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) expressed his anger and dismissed the letter entirely. When the nephew informed Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), far from being perturbed, he wrote immediately again. Once more, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) sent the nephew away, asking not to be disturbed with such requests. A third time, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) wrote asking for this person to be forgiven. At this, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) relented and granted pardon.
Mirza Ahsan Ahmad tells a story narrated to him by Sheikh Mubarak: ‘Sheikh Mubarak encountered a problem with some Ahmadis. He informed Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) that he intended to complain to Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). At this, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) said: ‘First try to resolve the matter once more yourself.’ Sheikh Mubarak agreed and in this manner the matter was indeed resolved.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was blessed with a gentle sense of humour and his shoulder would shake as he silently laughed. The present National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada, Lal Khan Malik, tells of how immediately after departing the mosque a boy left the path to take a shortcut. At this, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) stopped him and humorously remarked: “You have only just finished praying: ‘Guide us on the straight path.”’
In another incident, a man visiting Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) office was told he was busy the ‘entire day’. The visitor asked: ‘What if I were to return after Maghrib prayers?’ Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) gently replied: ‘If you feel the time either side of Maghrib is not part of the entire day, then you are most welcome to return!’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) loving demeanour extended to household staff. Capt. Khan says: ‘Once, one of the men who worked in his house began to suffer from deep depression. Every few minutes he would fearfully ask “Will everything be okay?” For months he suffered from this anxiety and so would insist that Abba Jan (ra) hold his finger until he fell asleep. I witnessed this with my own eyes, that he would not let go of the servant’s hand until he fell asleep.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) regularly received requests for prayer. Once a young student named Waqi uz Zamaan became anxious about an upcoming exam when he saw Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) at the mosque. Frantically, he rushed past him, requesting ‘heartfelt prayers’.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) turned. He stopped the boy and said: ‘Look, you have asked for ‘heartfelt prayers’. However I can only offer heartfelt prayers for someone who has offered great services to Islam or someone with whom I hold a personal bond.’
In the years to come, Waqi uz Zamaan would successfully form a warm personal relationship with Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra).
Presently, only one of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) children remain – one daughter – the rest having reached old age and passed away. Sahibzada Mirza Majeed Ahmad related that his father would never beat his children. He was so gentle that when Hazrat Sarwar Sultan Begum (ra) would become angry, they would run to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) and seek sanctuary. By his side they would remain until the danger passed.
The gentle father had such an extreme aversion to being strict that he would ask his younger sister to correct his children’s mistakes. Hazrat Nawab Mubarka Begum (ra) writes: ‘For his progeny he was the best, kindest father. If he did explain something, he always did so gently. Often, when the need for some reform came to his attention, perhaps thinking himself too soft, he would secretly ask a relative to explain the matter to such-and-such child of his. He would take this service from me too.’
There was to be one exception to this pattern. At a particular time, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) had forbidden visiting fairs. However some boys went anyway, and this included a son of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra). When Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) was informed, he remarked that these children should be punished.
On hearing this, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) naturally gentle temperament was cast aside to such an extent that finally Hazrat Sarwar Sultan Begum (ra) – the stricter parent in all other circumstances – intervened to save the boy.
Generally though, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) had a most gentle manner of training his children. His daughter-in-law Sahibzadi Asifa Masooda says: ‘I arrived late to the amins [ceremony to mark the first complete reading of the Holy Qur’an] of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) grandsons, Humayun and Majid. At this he asked to speak privately in another room. I still vividly remember that he didn’t embarrass me by speaking to me publicly. All he said was: “Look, you have arrived late and the boys’ mothers [his daughters] will be upset.” However, I think he also spoke separately to my sisters-in-law and asked them to forgive me because they didn’t express a word of anger.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) instilled a deep respect for the Promised Messiah (as) among his children, says Capt. Khan. Despite being his son, he never referred to him by a familial relationship, instead always using the title ‘Promised Messiah (as)’. We too have never seen a grandchild of the Promised Messiah (as), whether from Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) line or another, using anything but the proper title.
In fact, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) would ensure his children did not take advantage of their position in the Promised Messiah’s (as) family in any way. Capt. Khan recalls: ‘Once some Ahmadi boys had been rude to an elder. I myself hadn’t participated but had been present among the party when the incident occurred. Anyhow, a complaint against us was sent to Nazarat-e-Umur-e-Amma [Department of General Affairs] and an inquiry began. At that time Abba Jan (ra) wrote to them: ‘Whatever punishment is thought appropriate for Mahmood, I will personally ensure it is implemented.’ During the entire inquiry, he would say salam to me, but wouldn’t speak beyond that.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was equally meticulous in other areas of his children’s development. Capt. Khan says: ‘I once began opening a fruit container upside-down. He stopped me and said: “It is only a small thing, but if your mind can accept opening the container in this incorrect manner today, gradually you will start accepting greater wrongs.”’
‘At another time it became the fashion for people to wear tight trousers. When Abba Jan (ra) saw mine, he looked me up and down and expressed: ‘I do not like the family of the Promised Messiah (as) becoming involved in fashion.’
‘On another occasion I was in need of 500 Rupees, a large amount of money in those days. My mother wrote a note to her father asking for a loan. When Abba Jan (ra) received it, he gave the 500 rupees but added: “She is my daughter, so even if she wanted the money as a gift I would give her it. But as she has asked for a loan, which she writes she will return in ‘June’, she should specify June of which year.”’
‘I once asked Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) if he is the recipient of revelations,’ says his cousin, Mir Mahmud Ahmad sahib – the former Principal of Jamia Ahmadiyya Pakistan, the seminary for missionaries of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) would later answer that he had indeed experienced revelations, including the words: ‘Assalam Alaikum’ (peace be upon you)
Similarly, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) daughter, Amtul Lateef, says: ‘Once as a young girl in Qadian, I came into a room to find Abba Jan (ra) staring silently at an open Qur’an. I asked him: “What are you doing?” He replied: “I was reading when I came across a verse that promises Allah will reward salvation to certain people bighair hisaab [without measure]. I was wondering if I would be such a person when the entire pages in front of me became blank and on top of them I saw spread only the words bighair hisaab.”’
Again, Amtul Lateef says: ‘Abba Jan (ra) told me he was once severely ill for some days and so was praying at home. One morning, at the time of the Fajr (pre-dawn) prayer, he felt someone shaking his toe. When he looked down his bed, nobody was there. He exclaimed: “If you have come to frighten me, then I am not scared; if you have come to wake me for Fajr then I am unwell, but today I will attend the mosque.” At this the shaking stopped.’
Another incident has been related by Abdul Manaan, son of Abdul Mughny. He says three elders of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community had been on a trip – Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), Hazrat Maulvi Sher Ali (ra) and Abdul Mughny. They returned to Qadian’s train station late one night to find a dusty wind making it impossible to see ahead. Luckily, someone approached with a lantern to guide them home. They began following the lantern until the time came for each to turn separately towards his own house. Now, the three elders began to argue, each insisting one of the others should keep the guide.
When the three men next met, each began to apologise. ‘I am sorry that the lantern stayed with me until I entered my home,’ each of them said – only to realise the light had miraculously guided all three, even after they had split to head to their respective doors.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) writes: ‘It was the habit of the Promised Messiah (as) that he would carefully listen to every person’s dreams and sometimes he would give a note.’ Similarly, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) would help his own children interpret their dreams.
His daughter Amtul Lateef recalls: ‘I saw in a dream that I am sat on a charpai bed and in my lap is a 6-7 month baby girl who I am lifting in the air and playing with. Light shines from her eyes. Meanwhile, Abba Jan (ra) arrives and asks: “Who’s child is she?” I reply: “She is my daughter.” At this Abba Jan (ra) says: “You should name her Shama.”’
‘In the morning I narrated this dream to Abba Jan (ra) and he said: “Enlightened eyes signify knowledge” and he urged me to write this dream and not to forget it.’
Around this time, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) announced Amtul Lateef’s wedding in the Al Fazl newspaper. A year later, she was blessed with a boy, followed three years on by twins – two more boys. Five years on, a fourth son was born. Fifteen years of marriage had passed before the birth of Amtul Lateef’s only daughter.
In each graduate level exam, Punjab University would award a gold medal to the student with the highest mark from all the colleges associated with it. Ayesha Siddiqa Shama won a gold medal not once or twice but on 13 separate occasions over a period of five years as she studied basic and clinical sciences. Following a distinguished medical career she now serves as an Assistant Professor, practicing and teaching at a leading medical college in the USA.
This was not the only dream Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) asked his daughter to record: ‘When I was a very young child in Qadian, I saw an enormous photo of the Promised Messiah (as) in the sky. In the dream, I ran to tell Abba Jan (ra). When he looked to the sky, the photo of the Promised Messiah (as) dissolved and was replaced by photos of all the prophets, led by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), who was wearing a garland of flowers. On seeing Abba Jan (ra), the Holy Prophet (sa) saluted.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) once noted: ‘For the perfect and victorious propagation of Islam, knowledge of the Arabic language at a high order is very essential because the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic and it is a vast spiritual world all of its own, with limitless treasures concealed in it which continue to unfold themselves before those who give proper thought to its contents.’
So, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) returned to formal education and fulfilled the Promised Messiah’s (as) old prophecy by completing his Arabic MA in 1916. His new qualification was soon being put to good use and under the guidance of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) became a prolific writer.
Capt. Khan recalls his grandfather’s method: ‘He would write and rewrite and edit and cross out. He would read what he had written aloud and would ask others to read it aloud and would change any phrase with which the tongue struggled.’
This scene is reminiscent of another. Writes Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra): ‘The Promised Messiah’s (as) writing method wasn’t that he would write something once and that would remain, but over and over he re-examined to improve and sometimes he would cut something and in its place write again…I have frequently seen these corrections on the Promised Messiah’s (as) manuscripts and proofs.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was soon a popular contributor to various religious publications. By 1919 the Urdu edition of The Review of Religions magazine was serialising what would become perhaps his most significant work, The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets. Astonishingly, he was only 25 or 26 years old when publication began.
His son, Sahibzada Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad would later recall: ‘My deepest and abiding impression about my father centres around his total submission and unbounded love for Allah, the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa), and the Promised Messiah (as). It seemed as if his whole life revolved around them. In family gatherings, particularly when addressing his children, he would narrate some story about each of his three loves and his eyes would be filled with tears through intense emotions…It is therefore no coincidence that he wrote books on these three topics which directed his life and consumed his attention.’
The complete first volume of The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets (sa) was published in 1920, covering the Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) life in Makkah. Work on a second volume covering Madinah began. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) writes: ‘A short time afterwards, when the Second Caliph, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community based in Qadian, took an interest in completing this work and instructed me to complete the second volume of biography in the beginning of 1929; he also advised that taking into account people of all academic backgrounds, this second volume should contain more research and analysis in particular as compared to volume one…The Second Caliph (ra), Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community very graciously spared his invaluable time and reviewed a better part of the manuscript and granted me the opportunity to benefit from his precious guidance on various occasions.’
The work received praise not only from Ahmadi Muslims, but even non-Ahmadi leaders such as Sir Muhammad Iqbal. It is one thing to be admired by your contemporaries, but quite another for a work to still be admired and respected decades or even a century after it is written. Yet Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) would often reference the book in his question-and-answer sessions. On one occasion he responded to the allegation Islam promotes slavery by saying: ‘As far as the Ahmadiyya point of view is concerned, you better read a chapter on slavery by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) in his book Life and Character of the Seal of the Prophets (sa). The best handling of that question that I have read so far is in that book.’
Following this, the fourth Caliph (rh) instructed the relevant chapter reprinted in The Review of Religions magazine for the benefit of the modern western audience. Similarly, as part of his response to a question alleging Islam had been spread by force he said: ‘Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) in his book The Life and Character of the Seal of the Prophets (sa) has made a very interesting comparison, quoting figures. He shows that during the time of the Holy Prophet (sa) the spread of Islam during wartime is so limited that it seemed to be progressing at a snail’s pace, but the spread during the peace of Hudaibiyah, that short period, is so rapid that there is no comparison.’
Again, in 2012 when the French publication Charlie Hebdo published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad (sa), our present Caliph instructed in his Friday Sermon: ‘Books on the life of the Holy Prophet (sa), which have been translated into English, should be placed in libraries in Europe, England, and English-speaking countries. These books can be provided free if necessary, especially books which have been translated into English, or which have been translated into other languages. Such books should be widely distributed. For example, the book by Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), Life of Muhammad (sa), has been published in English. Similarly, there is the book by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets (sa).’
About the Author: S. Taalay Ahmad (1990-2021) served The Review of Religions as the Team Leader of the Indexing and Tagging Project. He also served in Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA) and the Press & Media department of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
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