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Book Review

34 BOOK REVIEW A MAN OF GOD: .The life of Hazrat Mirza’ Tahir Ahmad, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV, by Ian Adamson. First edition published by George Shepherd Publishers, Bristol, 1990-215 pages ISBN 1 873083 00 9.U.K 7.95 plus postage and packing. Simplicity, honesty, unassuming with, ah adventurous spirit in an adorable, charismatic and likeable character have urged many to record their everlasting impressions of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community in Islam. Ian Adamson’s biography is the most recent and extensive coverage of a life which bubbles incessantly. It is undoubtedly an admirable account based on first hand interviews and impressions of many closest to’ Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV. . Ian Adamson was born in Strathclyde, Scotland. After a military career and- a diploma in political science, he became a .foreign correspondent for many national newspapers. He managed a public affairs agency and has been the author of a number of biographies and historical books. Baptised and married into the staunchly Protestant Church of Scotland, he has known the Ahmadiyya Community since 1978. Last year he published MIRZA GHULAM AHMAD OF QADIAN: A LIFE OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH. Unlike that book his latest biography has been written out of his own violation and desire. Though he has an upright approach, he has been unable to hide his admiration for the amazing personality about whom he writes. It quickly becomes apparent that Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad has led a full and wholesome life. Though the author conveniently signposts the major stop stations the Khalifa merely tiptoes through them’ before resuming like an express train. This is not due to a fault on the part of the author but a sign of the Khalifa’s modesty in .not dwelling for too long about himself lest he be misconstrued as being superhuman. The only problem is that this sword of Ahmadiyyat the True Islam, as many see him is not an ordinary man but an ‘astonishing man’ as the author puts it. We are introduced to Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad through an abbreviated history of a nascent community of God fearing people. Born on the day that the first ever train arrived in Qadian from Amritsar, REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 35 Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (hereafter in the authors parlance, referred to as ‘Tahir’) son of the second Khalifa, was the first surviving, male born of Maryam Siddiqua. After he had been weaned his nurse took him every day to a nearby farm where the milk from the teat of.a buffalo was squirted directly into his mouth”. Speaking ofHazrat Maryam Siddiqua, Mr MM. Ahmad recalls ‘She was deeply religious and her one passionate wish was that Tahir should grow up and shine as a star in the galaxy of Islam, and Ahmadiyyat’. Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad recalls: Eight from the start I was the poorest possible student. My education was not formative factor in my life. I don’t think it played any real role whatsoever^ Regarding his scientific studies: It opened new avenues for me and I would study other subjects from books and enjoy myself by enlarging my knowledge, but it was not the knowledge which would help you as far as getting diplomas and degrees. I was just in love with knowing more and more. Even when he moved to London for further studies: My’habits didnot change: I started meeting people, going places, visiting towns, hitch-hiking all over Britain, socialising, playing squash, everything except the prescribed course. Ilivedas truant and was accepted as such. When I started writing poetry, it was always very full of pathos, it was an expression of suffering. I could not write ‘poetry on ordinary things. It had to be emotionally charged or humorous – there was no middle way. Three of his poems are included at the end of the book.- . We then pass through the numerous offices he held in the Community; glimpses of his. family life, his. contact with Bhutto and Bhutto’s- admiration for him; the conspiracy hatched in 1973 in making king Faisal as the Khalifa of the Muslim world and Bhutto as its political brain. Bhutto’s turn about on the Ahmadis when this plan failed; to be followed’ by the Pakistan National Assembly’s closed door bizarre decisions; and President Zia’s martial law administration seeing through Bhutto’s execution. Running parallel to this is a history of the Ahmadiyya Movement. Upon the sudden death of Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IH, the electoral college met to discharge its responsibility with prayerful 36 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS discipline. Then tense drama is recalled through the eyewitness account of Muhammad Zafrullah Khan intermingled with Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad’s recollections and his emotions as the events took their predestined course, Then suddenly I was Khalifa. We would be going.too much far if we were to describe this election or the events which followed ‘the infamous Ordinance’ of President Zia. Suffice it to say that the miraculous escape from Pakistan of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad under president Zia’s nose has as yet not been captured in writing in such detail as in this book and’ are retold as a pacy thriller leading up to the Mubahala challenge. and president Zia’s dramatic death. In this respect Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad said: And my exile in Britain has allowed me to carry out what God has said to the Promised Messiah – that he would carry his message to the four corners of the world. There is much in this book for the reader who wishes to know the Khalifa better. His simplicity, humility, honesty, loyalty to his mission and many other qualities which colour his character are. reflected in an even more purified manner since he assumed his’new responsibilities. He derives inspiration from God who speaks to him directly and guides all his decisions. More.th.an ten million have taken the covenant of allegiance to him. Today they represent the most dynamic missionary, force in Islam. They have translated the Holy Quran, or else a hundred selected verses from it, into.117 languages. They have established mosques, missions, schools .and hospitals in 120 countries and directed doctors and teachers to work along side their missionaries. Illustrated and set in large typeface, this is an enjoyable and -readable account of a dynamic leader of a growing Muslim Community. The youth of Britain, who remember him through bars of chocolate he hands out at private audiences when their parents require from them their best behaviour in his august presence, have always found him relaxed. Many of them know that he is bursting with energy. He is the one who has taught them patience and cheerfulness. This book opens up for them the Khalifa as never before. Many others will now know that the khalifa has gone off oranges and cauliflowers and whatever are his pastimes. The book, however, suffers from a few minor faults. There is no index nor is there an adequate cross reference for the more serious student (continued on page 48)