Syed Taalay Ahmed
‘Ahmadis living in different countries, under different states and governments, are loyal to the countries in which we live, to the states and government under which we live. Ahmadis of Pakistan are loyal to Pakistan, deeply concerned to exert and to pray for its progress and prosperity.’
—Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), The Question of Divided Loyalty
On 26 April 1938, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was pondering a revelation of the Promised Messiah (as) when he gained a new understanding. He wrote to Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) that this revelation indicated the community would be forced to migrate abroad due to some action of the ruling governments. His foresight proved to be a decade ahead of its time, but Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) was already twenty years further ahead; the letter was returned with the following note:
I have been saying this for twenty years. The truth is the community has not yet understood its position. One month ago, I was thinking of this question: that the Aqsa Mosque, etc., should have their positions marked from which the mosque can be rebuilt. In this way, at a distance from the four corners markers should be placed and their plan should be kept safe in various countries so that if the enemies attack, they can be rebuilt in exactly the same place. The question on passports was also based on this.
Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’
Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra) note instructed Indian Ahmadis to ensure their passports were ready for the coming migration as early as 1938. He ordered copies of the community’s literature sent abroad for safekeeping and even purchased two airplanes to ensure Qadian could not be cut off at a time of anarchy.
One pilot appointed to the planes was Syed Muhammad Ahmad. His father had wanted him to become a civil engineer, but the field was extremely competitive and he was not granted admission – thus displeasing his father. Instead, Syed Muhammad Ahmad joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1943 at the height of the Second World War.
Aged only 18, he sat lonely at Qadian’s rail station: a junction between the safety of his home and a war already taking millions of lives. His father was still upset and so not a single soul had come to see him off. He wondered if the fighting ahead would ever allow him to return. It was at that moment he saw Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) and Hazrat Sarwar Sultan Begum (ra) unexpectedly arrive to bid him farewell.
And return he did. By 1947 he was accepting missions from a far greater authority than the Royal Indian Air Force. He writes: ‘One morning, slightly before the time for the flight from Qadian to Lahore, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) called me to his office in Qasre-Khilafat. He said to me that today you have to carry the most precious object in my life to Lahore, and you must protect it diligently, and deliver it to Shaikh Bashir Ahmad (at the time the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Lahore) by calling him to Walton Airport. He also said that you have to tell Shaikh Bashir Ahmad to look after and protect this object, using the same words I am using right now. Then you have to get a receipt from him, which you must return to me.
In my young mind I had the silly idea that perhaps Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) was entrusting me with a box filled with jewels. Having said what he needed to, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) got up and from an adjacent room brought me a small and not very clean canvas travel bag. Even its zip was broken. The bag was full of papers. Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) placed the bag in front of me and said that he had already published part of the commentary of the Qur’an that he had been writing. But part of the work had been written and not yet published and the large part had yet to be written.
Since writing this commentary was a major mission of his life, he said, he had the habit that whenever he got a new idea about explaining a verse of the Holy Qur’an, whether day or night, walking or sitting, he would write it down on a piece of paper and put it into this bag. This way the idea would be safe and could be used when he needed it. There might not be any order to the way the papers were placed in the bag, but for the Caliph it was a great treasure. I took the bag from Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), placed it in the plane and flew to Lahore.’
However a mishap occurred. After receiving the bag, Sheikh Bashir Ahmad forgot it at the airport, before it was eventually retrieved – to Syed Muhammad Ahmad’s relief.
He continues: ‘After reaching Qadian, I went straight to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) and told him what had happened. After listening to the whole account, he advised me most strongly that under no circumstance should I tell Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) that Shaikh Bashir Ahmad had forgotten the bag at the airport. I should not mention it that day or ever in the future. Therefore, when I met Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), I gave him the receipt but did not mention the incident to him, neither then, nor ever in the future.’
Prior to the partition, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) had been working on the third and final volume of The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets (sa). However the migration to Pakistan proved a challenge: ‘After leaving Qadian a large collection of [my reference] books were left behind,’ he wrote.
Astonishingly, from this temporary home in Ratan Bagh, Lahore, the third volume was published in 1949. By then, the establishment of new headquarters was already underway. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was among the earliest settlers in the freshly-built brick and mud houses of Rabwah, but sorrow for the home he left in Qadian remained.
An Unhappy Event
In the early years of Rabwah, a son of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) proposed to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) daughter, Amtul Majeed.
However, following the marriage it became apparent not all was well. Amtul Majeed was deeply unhappy, but her father would not countenance delivering such terrible news to his beloved Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). Finally, she arranged a meeting with the Caliph herself.
Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) asked: ‘Do you not like my son?’ He explained the serious nature of divorce before himself granting Amtul Majeed permission on one condition: none of the gifts he and his family had given her were to be returned. In a further act of magnanimity, following his next tour Hazrat Muleh Maud (ra) returned with gifts for his children and one addition: Amtul Majeed. Nevertheless, arranging her remarriage would continue to worry Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) for some time to come.
By the mid-1950s, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was managing diabetes, a heart condition, high blood pressure and gout. His grandson, Capt. Khan, then a young boy, would assist with his care. On one such occasion, the telephone rang. Capt. Khan asked the caller’s name and then replied: ‘Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, who?’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) had been bedridden, but on hearing these words he jumped up and exclaimed: La haula wa la quwatta [There is neither might nor any power except with Allah]! Grabbing the phone, he spoke to Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), who was ringing to check on his health.
A few minutes after the call, a knock was heard on the door. The Caliph had made the short walk through Rabwah accompanied by two bodyguards.
Capt. Khan says: ‘I asked him to come in, but he said no – first obtain permission from Abba Jan (ra). So I went to his room. He did not immediately call for Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) to enter. First, he wore his turban and ensured he was ready and only then did he ask Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) in. I left them in the room and Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) remained for quite a while.’
Worried for his brother, the Caliph recommended some medicines and immersed himself in prayer. During one such bout of illness, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) saw a vision in which Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) was walking from side to side, appeared happy and healthy and had hung his walking stick behind his back.
Within two days his health improved.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh)
The Promised Messiah (as) had arranged Mirza Mubarak Ahmad’s marriage to Hazrat Syeda Maryam (ra). Being children, the marriage was not yet more than an intention for them to unite on reaching adulthood when Mubarak passed away.
A decade or so later, it came to Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra) attention that Hazrat Maryam (ra) had not remarried and he began to investigate. He wrote: “I was told that according to the family custom they can only marry this widow within the family of the Promised Messiah (as), otherwise the girl will remain as she is. This was quite shocking to me. I tried very hard to get her married in different places but my efforts only met with failure.
‘Finally, I approached my brothers in different ways to encourage one of them to marry Maryam, so that the girl’s life is not wasted. However their response was also negative. Therefore, in keeping with the dictates of the Promised Messiah (as) that one should not be the cause of the ruin of anyone’s life and also because I was very close to her two brothers, Syed Habibullah Shah Sahib and Syed Mahmoodullah Shah Sahib, I decided I would marry Maryam myself.’
Hazrat Maryamra raised a son and three daughters: Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), Amtul Hakeem, Amtul Basit, and Amtul Jameel. Sadly, Hazrat Maryam’s own life was short and she passed away while her children were still young.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) shared a mutual love for his nephews and nieces, who would call him ‘Amu Sahib’ – respected uncle. A particular favourite among his nephews was Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), who would often begin and open Ramadan fasts at Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) house. Mir Mahmud Ahmad Sahib recalls one particular expression of love: ‘Mirza Tahir Ahmad and I had been in Europe and we kept the date of our return in 1957 quiet. Somehow Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) found out and was waiting to greet us with many friends.’
During his own caliphate, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) would fondly relate anecdotes during his question and answer sessions and classes, which had originally been shared by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra). We cannot record them all, but one story went: ‘In Qadian during the time of the Promised Messiah (as) there was one friend named Mian Baga. He was a very straightforward man of little education. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) told me he once asked: “Mian Baga, did you ever preach?” He replied: “Yes and I was most successful. I once went to a farm to obtain some wood. There the people took me to a non-Ahmadi cleric and he began a debate. The cleric made a long speech arguing that Jesus (as) has risen to the sky. I replied that I have not understood at all. He explained again and once more I rejected him on the basis that I could not understand. Finally I asked, how did he go? He took hold of a stone and threw it to the sky. When the stone descended I pointed to the floor and said, there it is. At this the farmers lifted me up and declared my complete victory.”’
Another began: ‘Because Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) had an MA and was very capable, having attainted an outstanding degree, the government of Punjab once began to send him BA papers to mark. And for quite some time, he began marking papers. One Kashmiri friend wrote a note at the end of his paper. “Oh examiner! Have mercy on my condition! For ten to twelve years I have been taking this paper and I have young children and they are waiting for me to finally pass. However the cruel examiners fail me each time! For God’s sake, have mercy on me!”’
With a full smile, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) continued: ‘Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad would always mark fairly, but his heart was so affected that he resolved to be very generous; He gave full marks for every question answered, but the student had attempted so few questions that his total remained less than half the pass mark.’
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) was married to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) granddaughter, Hazrat Asifa Begum, in 1957 and they were blessed with four daughters. The eldest of these were born within Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) lifetime and were his great-granddaughters.
However, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) attentions were not only devoted to his grandson-in-law. Mirza Ahsan Ahmad says: ‘Because Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) was so occupied with his duties, often his children would instead take their problems to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra).’
One year at the end of May – a sweltering month in Pakistan – Amtul Basit, the daughter of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) and Hazrat Maryam (ra), suffered pregnancy complications. Around the same time, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) own health issues and advanced age meant doctors ordered complete physical and mental rest. Instead he had taken on more work: he was appointed a senior administrator on the Nigran Board, was corresponding with missionaries and Ahmadi Muslims worldwide and, whereas previously he had not given many talks, he now delivered
a speech each year on the closing day of the Jalsa Salana. Although these only lasted a little over an hour, they required meticulous advanced preparation.
Yet, Amtul Basit’s mother had passed many years ago and she could not be abandoned. Her daughter Amtul Nasir Nusrat says: ‘My mother told me the childbirth lasted three days. During this time, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) would arrive each morning outside our front door and spend the day walking from side to side engaged in earnest prayer. I asked my mother that after I was finally born, why didn’t she request him to read the Azan in my ear? She said as soon as he heard the good news he left.’
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) and Hazrat Sarwar Sultan Begum (ra) raised four daughters: Amtus Salam, Amtul Hameed, Amtul Majeed and Amtul Lateef and five sons: Muzaffar, Hameed, Mubashar, Muneer, and Majeed. The age gap between the eldest child, Amtus Salam, and the youngest, Amtul Lateef, was almost thirty years.
The first son, Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad, studied at Oxford and was married to a daughter of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). In Pakistan, he served in various roles as one of the country’s most senior civil servants. In the 1970s a hate campaign targeted him on account of his Ahmadiyya beliefs, culminating in an anti‐ Ahmadiyya cleric, Aslam Qureshi, stabbing him at his office. Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad was able to hold off the attacker and escaped with injuries.
He left Pakistan to work as an executive director at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. He was elected president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the USA and played a role in the establishment of the alislam.org website.
Meanwhile his younger brother, Mirza Majeed Ahmad, became a life devotee (Waqf-e-Zindigi) for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He served in both Ghana and Rabwah. He was blessed with five children and when his youngest son, Mirza Ghulam Qadir Ahmad, was born, he was brought to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) and placed in his lap. With tears in his eyes, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) began to pray for the child and said: ‘By the grace of Allah, he is a very beautiful child. His forehead is wide and enlightened. He will one day become a great man.’
Ghulam Qadir was an accomplished student who continued his post‐graduate education in the USA. Despite having a range of career options, he chose to return to Rabwah as a life devotee and established the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s first IT programs.
In 1999, Ghulam Qadir was running an errand for his parents when he was abducted by four anti‐Ahmadiyya terrorists. They planned to attack a Shia mosque and leave behind his body with explosives, so the attack would be blamed on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. En route, Ghulam Qadir ascertained their intentions and began to struggle. Even as they strangled him, he managed to stumble from the vehicle onto the road, where he was shot before passing away.
The Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), devoted two subsequent Friday Sermons to the martyrdom, in which he said: ‘I will read you a revelation of the Promised Messiah’s (as) which is certainly related to the martyr Mirza Ghulam Qadir. It cannot be anyone but him. On 25 November 1904, the Promised Messiah (as) received the revelation: “Ghulam Qadir came and the house became filled with light and blessing. Radd Allahu ilayya” – which translates as “Allah sent him back to me.”’
He added: ‘This martyrdom’s aspect is such that I believe until the end of time every drop of the martyr’s blood will twinkle like stars in the skies of Ahmadiyyat.’
Mirza Ghulam Qadir Ahmad, 37, left behind his wife (Amtul Nasir Nusrat, a granddaughter of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra)), a daughter, a son and twin baby boys too young to understand why their father didn’t come home.
Another son of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), Mirza Munir Ahmad, established a chipboard factory in the city of Jhelum. His own family home was built on the same land and there he kept a small mosque for local Ahmadis. Following his demise, the site was managed by his son, Mirza Naseer Ahmad, who also served as the president of the local Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is married to Nusrat Jehan, the sister of Mirza Ghulam Qadir Ahmad.
In November 2015, an anti-Ahmadiyya mob numbering thousands attacked the Jhelum site. They ransacked the factory and laid seige on Mirza Naseer Ahmad’s house, where he and his wife were trapped. As the assailants reached his bedroom door they were miraculously able to escape, but the entire property was burnt down and the family have not been able to return.
Following the attack, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) noted in his Friday sermon: ‘The patience and gratefulness shown by the wife of Mirza Naseer Ahmad and his daughter‐in‐law and their children is worthy of appreciation… it is clear they have shown complete contentment with the will of Allah.’
Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad wasn’t the only son to marry a daughter of Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra). Mirza Hameed Ahmad enjoyed the same honour. Later, he inherited the Promised Messiah’s (as) coat from his father. Mirza Hameed Ahmad’s family gifted this priceless garment to the Ahmadiyya caliphs. The coat is sometimes worn by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) at the annual international bai‘at.
‘In the way we have the Waqf-e-Nau scheme now,’ says Asifa Masooda, ‘among Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’sra children it was understood from the start that my husband, Mirza Mubashar Ahmad, and Mirza Majeed Ahmad will be life devotees.
However when my husband completed his studies and offered his services, he received a letter from the administration saying they were not required. The mistake he made is that without any further investigation he enrolled in the army.
There had been some clerical mix up, but my husband could not now fulfil the service expected of him, because in those day once you had enrolled you weren’t permitted to leave. At this, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) became most displeased and even mentioned it in his Friday Sermon.
All this was happening two days before our wedding was scheduled and we began to worry Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) was so angry he would not attend. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) could be seen walking with tears streaming down his face, but he was so obedient he wouldn’t utter a word.
My own mother was determined to speak, so she prepared to visit Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). At this, I sat on her burqa [a long, loose outer garment worn by Muslim women] and said: “If Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) asks us to, the wedding will have to be called off.” My mother replied: “Don’t worry, nothing will happen.”’
‘By this time my father had passed away, so she said to Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra): “This is a fatherless girl,” and asked about the wedding. He replied: “I have said I will not participate as the boy’s guest, I never said I would not enter from your side.” And so the wedding went ahead and Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) attended.’
However, Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (ra) anger with Mubashar would last for some time.
Amtul Majeed’s Sign
Brigadier Waqi uz Zamaan, the student who had once asked Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) for ‘heartfelt prayers’, was now serving at a senior rank in the Pakistan armed forces. He had married, but his wife passed away, leaving behind a very young daughter. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) would often advise him to remarry, but to no avail.
Anyhow, he had his own child, Amtul Majeed, to worry about. Parents are always especially anxious to see their daughters happily married, but, if they are divorced, the concern becomes even greater. Capt. Khan says: ‘One Ramadan, Abba Jan (ra) decided to pray especially for Phupi Mojan’s [Amtul Majeed] marriage and he asked Allah for a sign that his prayer would be accepted. The sign he requested was that Allah should Himself arrange the entire month’s food for opening the fasts.’
Throughout Ramadan, it seemed Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) sign would be delivered; each day food was sent by someone or other for his household. Then came the month’s final day. Zuhr passed, Asr passed, but no food arrived. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) began to worry. As he reached the final minutes of the fast, there was still no food.
Capt. Khan says: ‘At the nearby mosque, the microphone turned on in preparation for the adhan (call to prayer) that would signal the end of the fast. Then they tested the microphone by drumming their fingers. Just as the words “Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]” emanated, someone arrived with a meal at Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’s (ra) door.’
About the Author: S. Taalay Ahmed (1990-2021) served The Review of Religions as the Team Leader of the Indexing & 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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