In Memory of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Writings of Prominent Followers, about his Influence on their Lives
The Light & Islamic Review (US), May/June 1992 Issue (Vol. 69, No. 3, pp. 4–7)
Editor’s Note: The May issue of ‘The Light’ is traditionally devoted to articles about the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in commemoration of his death on 26 May 1908. Compiled below are extracts from the writings of several of the most prominent men of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, describing how Hazrat Mirza influenced and changed the course of their lives. The final contribution, by a brilliant research scholar, relates an intellectual miracle of the Founder.
The importance of the views expressed by these great men lies in the fact that their services to Islam, and also their personal spiritual qualities, are acknowledged by vast numbers of Muslims outside the Ahmadiyya Movement. As Maulana Muhammad Ali asks in the extract below: Can an imposter produce such men?
Maulana Muhammad Ali (d. 1951):
Maulana Muhammad Ali’s unique literary services to the cause of Islam have been acclaimed by eminent Muslim intellectuals all over the world, some of whom have confessed to finding the light of Islam through his books. In an Urdu booklet, A Moment’s Reflection for every Muslim, published in 1949, the Maulana traces the events which led him to the service of Islam.
“The man who directed me to this work, then set me on this path, and guided me correctly is the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. At a time when I had gone into a worldly path, he not only pulled me out of the mire of this world but also created within me a light of faith which has stayed with me throughout this struggle. I declare this openly that if the Imam and Mujaddid [Reformer] of this age had not guided me, I was not capable of doing this work. I received a spark of the light which filled his breast.
“The nineteenth century of the Christian era had drawn to a close. In exactly the year 1900, when I was on my way to Gurdaspur to start my law practice, with all arrangements completed, the premises rented, and my belongings and books moved there, my guide [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] took me by the hand and said: You have other work to do, I want to start an English periodical for the propagation of Islam to the West, you will edit it. What great fortune that, on hearing this voice, I was not indecisive for a moment as to whether I should start this work or the work for which I had prepared myself.
“This periodical was issued on 1 January 1902 under the title The Review of Religions. In 1909 I began the English translation of the Holy Quran. When I review this today, after half a century, I fall before God in gratitude that He gave me such long respite and enabled me to do so much work.
“In reality, this is not my work. It is the work of the one who took my hand and set me on this road. And not only myself, but whoever went to him he put a spark of the fire of the love of God in the heart of that disciple. Just like me, the late Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din too, by sitting at the feet of the Imam of the age, was blessed with opening the first Islamic mission to Europe at Woking, shedding such light on the teachings of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad that the entire attitude of Europeans towards Islam changed. Not only this, that Mujaddid produced thousands of people whose hearts ached with the urge to spread Islam, and who gave their lives and wealth to spread the Divine faith in the world.
“To those people who harbour ill-feeling against the holy Mujaddid, or who fail to give him the honour and love due to such a servant of the faith, I say: Has there ever been in the world a liar and imposter who filled the hearts of his followers with such an urge for the propagation of Islam, and to whom Almighty Allah gave so much help as to continue fulfilling his dreams and aspirations long after his death? In the beginning we did not have the longing that Islam should spread in the world. It was the yearning of the Imam of the age who set us on this work, and set us on it so firmly that the longing which was in his heart was transmitted to thousands of other hearts.”
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (d. 1932):
He was the famous founder of the Woking Muslim Mission in England, the first Muslim mission in the modern West. Some of the most prominent Muslims of the time, in the years 1913 to the 1930s, patronised that mission and considered the Khwaja sahib as the Muslim missionary most capable of running such a centre. As one of them, Shaikh Mushir Hosain Kidwai of Gadia wrote in a booklet Islam in England:
“I am far from being a follower of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, but I cannot but give him credit for having fired English educated Muslims with a missionary zeal for Islam. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din is one of those men who were, so to say, reclaimed to Islam by the Mirza sahib, and that to this extent that he gave up his flourishing practice at the Bar and voluntarily accepted to be an exile and came to England with the sole object of preaching Islam. … There is no question of any new convert being fit to take his place in England when even among the seventy million Muslims of India I do not know of any other man who could have accomplished the self-assigned duty in a better way.”
The Khwaja sahib himself pays the following tribute to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad:
“It was through him that I was rescued from Christianity, to which I was getting nearer day by day, and in 1892 I became a Muslim anew. Not only did I become a Muslim, but through his guidance and prayers I was able to make amends for the sin which had been taking me towards Christianity by showing Christians the right path today. It was the most auspicious and blessed day of my life in 1893 when I took the pledge, at the hand of the Messiah sent by God, to hold religion above the world. I would give anything for those times which I spent in the company and service of this spiritually perfect man, which enabled me to fulfil my pledge as best as I could. How can I forget those favours and that love which he bestowed on me, especially on me! Even if I spent my whole life working for the aims and objects of the Divine mission of this Muslim Messiah, it would be little recompense for the continuous prayers he said for me. …
“I took the baiat [pledge] on 22 November 1893, and pledged at his hand to hold religion above the world. I have tried to fulfil this promise as far as I could. Hazrat Mirza sahib bestowed special favours upon me. He was affectionate to me as one is to a dear child. He prayed for me, and said endless prayers. Purely through the grace of God and the kindness of Hazrat Mirza towards me, I was able to be of service to him in difficult times, as no one else in the Movement. I was his adviser in the most delicate matters. He sought my advice regarding the future of members of his family and what would happen after him. He acted on my recommendations. On my insistence, he prayed to God in certain matters, and informed me of God’s decision.”
Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig (d. 1936):
He was one of the handful of Muslim medical doctors in the days when, regrettably, the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent were entirely neglecting their education. He was also an untiring worker and official of several Muslim educational, social, charitable and political rights associations, and was admired by, and a close friend of, almost every prominent Muslim of the Punjab. He writes:
“I had the privilege of taking the baiat [pledge] a day before my brother, on 4 February 1892. The strange thing was that both of us brothers acquired an extraordinary love for Hazrat Mirza sahib by attending his company for only two or three days. Our hearts were attracted to him by a force like magnetism. I was fully convinced by just looking at the face of the Promised Messiah that this could not be an imposter. I was not interested in the question of whether Jesus was dead or still alive, and it is by the grace of God that my heart never inclined towards this question, nor was I desirous of listening to a theological debate. What I needed was to take hold of a guide who showed the example of being a true follower of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, so that one would acquire love for the Holy Prophet and everything to do with him; and awe and reverence for God enter one’s heart, so that one would acquire a nature which resists every kind of sin and evil.
“Seeing Hazrat Mirza sahib and listening to him convinced me utterly that he was devoted to the love and perfect obedience of the Holy Prophet. Awe and reverence for God marked every word of his. I became as convinced of his truth as one does on seeing the sun that the day has begun. So, I took the baiat with him. After the baiat, I received such spiritual blessings and favours that I cannot be sufficiently thankful for them. This was entirely the favour of Allah, as I am a mere humble mortal. I cannot describe the spiritual pleasure and delight regarding one’s faith in the unseen which one used to receive by seeing the signs of the truth of the Promised Messiah being fulfilled daily. It was a favour of God that He drove into my heart the truth of the Promised Messiah like a steel nail at such a young age.
“After the baiat, there was a prominent change in both of us. Before that, we took no notice of prayer, fasting and other religious ordinances, and like other young people we gave no importance or value to the teachings of Islam. However, after the baiat, we became regular not only in the five daily prayers, but even in the tahajjud prayer; and we felt very much engrossed and moved during our prayers. We began to have true dreams, which were of an entirely new and delightful nature.
“Sometime ago, when our father was telling a friend of his about the blessings of Hazrat Mirza sahib, he made mention of us as well. He said: ‘I sent my sons to English schools and spent much on their education. They worked hard on their studies but when I used to see their attitude towards religion I used to worry for hours on end’. My father saw that we had no inclination for prayer. Now and then we might join him for prayer, but generally we did not bother. There was no question of fasting. Sometimes we might fast on the day before Eid, but usually not even that. … We had no bad habits, but we were not interested in matters religious either, and in fact we scoffed at religious practices.
“My father told his friend: ‘When these two boys came and stayed with me in the summer holidays of 1892 and 1893, I found a complete transformation in them, which was astonishing. I was wondering how God had changed their hearts so much that they said all their prayers; at exactly the appointed time they would rise up for prayer with enthusiasm, love and tenderness of heart, and perform the prayer with the deepest feeling. Often, I would notice that after the prayer their faces would be tearful, showing signs of awe and reverence of God Almighty. Seeing them in this condition at such a young age, I was so pleased that I bowed before God with thanks untiringly.’
“My father further told his friend: ‘I was pleased beyond all limits at the change in their spiritual condition, but it was a puzzle to me how they received this blessing at such a young age. At last, I came to know that these two boys gained this good fortune, righteousness and purity from taking the baiat of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah.’
“One of the main reasons why my father himself entered into the baiat of Hazrat Mirza sahib was the practical change within us brothers, which gave him the opportunity to form an opinion about the spiritual purity and righteousness of Hazrat Mirza sahib.”
Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi (d. 1977):
70 or 72 followers in Gospels? — A Miracle of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, best known for the voluminous work Muhammad in World Scriptures, was one of the top-most missionaries of Islam and scholars of religion of this age. He entered into the baiat [pledge] of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1907 at the age of 19 and worked for the Central Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore since its foundation in 1914. His successful debates in India with Hindu and Christian polemicists, his later world-wide travels as a Muslim missionary, and his literary services to Islam, have been acclaimed by many prominent Muslims outside this Movement.
To show his view of Hazrat Mirza, we give below extracts from a series of articles the Maulana wrote in our Lahore Urdu periodical Paigham Sulh, replying to various allegations made against one of our books by a highly experienced and prominent Christian missionary of the Indian subcontinent, whose name was also Abdul Haq.
The Christian critic objected that a statement by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in a book referring to “72 emissaries of Jesus” was incorrect since the number given in the Gospels is 70. He claimed that no Ahmadi could show the figure 72 anywhere. Extracts from the Maulana’s reply, in Paigham Sulh of 26 August and 2 September 1964, now follow.
“In reply, we admit that in Luke 10:1 seventy followers are indeed mentioned. But learned people know that in Divine scriptures the numbers seventy and seventy-two stand for a large number. In English this is known as “round figures”, and these merely mean a large number. This was not such a serious matter that you should have accused a respectable Imam of a community of exaggeration and fabrication. However, God intended that you should be utterly vanquished in your combat with His champion (i.e., Hazrat Mirza), and therefore He caused you to issue the challenge that the number of these followers was 70 and not 72.
“The mention of 72 instead of 70 from the pen of the Promised Messiah is a miracle. Hazrat Mirza did not know Greek, nor was he well-versed in English. In the Urdu and English translations of the Gospels, designated as authentic, the number of these preachers is given as 70. And in the Greek text published by the Church of England, their number is also Ebdom or seventy, but in the margin it is noted that in some Greek manuscripts the number is Ebdom duo, or seventy-two.
“It was God, the Knower of the unseen, Who caused the Imam of the time to write these words, because he was taught by the Holy Spirit. The Christian missionary Abdul Haq did not know it despite studying and teaching the Gospels all his life, and this humble writer (Maulana) Abdul Haq would never have known it if he had not consulted that Greek text to reply to the missionary’s objection about the number 72. My faith in the Promised Messiah has increased. Certainly, it was God Who caused Hazrat Mirza to write these words, and today we can even show this self-styled Christian “conqueror of Qadian” the word seventy-two, not in the margin, but in the main text itself.
“The top-most Christian clergyman of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent accuses Hazrat Mirza of fabrication. Normally one would expect that a Christian missionary who has been studying and teaching the Gospels for over half a century, taking part in religious debates, and is the head of their theological college, is bound to be knowledgeable, indeed extremely learned, in the Gospels. On the other hand, there is Hazrat Mirza, who had definitely studied the Gospels, but he did not have the opportunity or the resources available to the Christian missionary for this study. It is certainly not an ordinary thing that such a prominent Christian theologian challenges the Imam of the age about a reference in the Gospels.
“The challenge of the reverend, made after Hazrat Mirza’s death, is to every Ahmadi, not only those of the present time but the millions to come till the end of the world, that they shall not be able to meet his demand. As against this bold challenge, there is the promise of Allah to the Imam of the time as follows: La nabqa la-ka min al-mukhziyat dhikra, meaning, ‘We shall not leave behind thee anything which can humiliate thee’, so that anyone trying to disgrace him will face disgrace himself.
“It is perfectly true that in the Gospels published till the time of the Imam of the age, in Urdu, Persian, Arabic and English, which were called the Authorised Versions, the number of disciples is given as 70 and not 72. However, when this Christian missionary issued what he firmly believed was an unassailable challenge, and accused Hazrat Mirza of fabrication, then God, the Defender of the honour of His own Imam, manifested a miracle. A humble servant of the Imam set out to look through the Greek texts of the Gospels, and discovered the reference to 72 in the marginal notes of the Greek edition of this same authorised version, saying that in some manuscripts the number is given as 72. But after this, I received a Greek edition of the Gospels published in the U.S.A., in which not in the margin but in the main text the number of these followers is stated to be 72.
“This is a miracle of the Imam of the age. I received this edition only two weeks ago, exactly at the time of need when I had to reply to this allegation. Although the Imam of the age did not know languages such as Greek and Sanskrit, but the Imam of the age is after all the Imam of the age. He is the Imam appointed by God, and it is not possible for the theologians of the world, be they eastern or western, to find faults with him.”