How Maulana Muhammad Ali met Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and joined his Movement
From ‘A Mighty Striving’, the Biography of Maulana Muhammad Ali
The Light (UK), June 2010 Issue (pp. 1–3)
In January 1892 when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad visited Lahore, Maulana Muhammad Ali and his older brother Maulvi Aziz Bakhsh, who were young college students at the time, had the occasion to see him. Maulvi Aziz Bakhsh, many years later in 1933, wrote of it as follows:
“We arrived in the field of debate.1 There was a huge crowd and in the middle of it the Maulvis (religious leaders) were sitting with piles of books. By chance I looked towards the people who were standing in the veranda on one side and caught sight of a man whose face was radiant with inner light and his appearance dignified. He was wearing a long robe, and standing with his eyes cast down. It appeared as if he was a saint absorbed in contemplation whose sight was not towards this world. Immediately the thought came to my mind that if he was Mirza sahib who has claimed to be the Promised Messiah then he is really true because this cannot be the face of an imposter. I asked one of the people standing near me to tell me which one was Mirza sahib. He and his friends pointed towards the man with the radiant face. At that moment I felt such exhilaration in my heart that I cannot describe it.” (Paigham Sulh, 7 November 1933)
In May 1893 when the two brothers were still doing their B.A. in Government College (Lahore), a major debate took place between Hazrat Mirza sahib and Christians in Amritsar. The leader of the Christian side was Deputy Abdullah Atham. Full details of the debate are given in Hazrat Mirza sahib’s book Jang Muqaddas. Reports of this debate were issued daily and the brothers would get them by post to read. Then from 1894 till 1897 when Maulana Muhammad Ali was still a professor in Islamia College Lahore, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was also teaching there and they used to discuss about Hazrat Mirza sahib and his claim. The Khwaja was already an Ahmadi. Maulana Muhammad Ali also wrote some articles in newspapers in support of Hazrat Mirza sahib; these were his first writings. However, he still had not taken the pledge (baiat). At last, in 1897 he went with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din to Qadian for the first time and took the pledge of Hazrat Mirza sahib. Maulana Muhammad Ali has himself described in detail his acceptance of Ahmadiyyat as follows:
“I first came to know about the Promised Messiah from my dear friend and fellow student Munshi Abdul Aziz of Delhi. My elder brother and I were studying in Randhir College, Kapurthala, and this dear friend was also studying there, whom we used to call Bhai Jan (brother) out of affection.
“In 1890, after passing the entrance examination, both of us brothers joined Government College, Lahore, and it was here that we learnt about the Promised Messiah’s claim. During the summer break of 1891 when we came home, we went to Kapurthala to see Bhai Jan and he gave us the book Izala Auham that had been published recently. On the way back we met a former teacher of ours, the late Maulvi Rahmatullah, who, seeing the book in our hands, showed much disapproval, saying that one can became kafir (unbeliever) by reading it. We explained that there was no harm in reading it and if we found in it anything against Islam, we would not accept it.
“As soon as we got home, both of us and our father, the late Hafiz Fateh-ud-Din, read the book and we all agreed that whatever was written in it, was true: Jesus was dead and Hazrat Mirza sahib was right in his claim.
“Our late father had not only committed the Holy Quran to memory but had also mastered other Islamic books. So religious matters were always under discussion in our family. It was due to our father’s influence that from an early age we became so zealous about prayers that during our school days in Kapurthala we said the five prayers regularly in congregation in the mosque.
“Our village Murar was not very far from Qadian, perhaps twenty miles, and Hazrat Mirza sahib was well known in these areas as a most holy man. People knew that in Qadian there was a very saintly man whose prayers were accepted by God and who was without equal in piety, worship and religious knowledge. My father knew all that, and it was the renown of the good name of Hazrat Mirza sahib that was the first reason in attracting us to accept him.
“Today the many people who are indifferent towards Ahmadiyyat are perhaps under the impression that before accepting it you have to engage in many complicated discussions and study many intricate religious issues, but the three of us at least never needed to go through that. The first deciding point for us was his righteous and blameless life. The Holy Quran itself has offered the same proof to establish the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s truth:
فَقَدۡ لَبِثۡتُ فِیۡکُمۡ عُمُرًا مِّنۡ قَبۡلِہٖ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶﴾
‘I have lived among you a lifetime before this. Do you not then understand?’ (10:16).
“When Allah wants to appoint someone to a high position, that is how the ground is prepared: first the hearts are captured by his saintliness, high moral character, truthfulness and service of humanity.
“The scholastic matters were not difficult either. Our father was well versed in religion, and though we two brothers were only students it was not difficult to understand the simple fact that the Holy Quran proves the death of Jesus. This belief is the foundation stone of accepting Ahmadiyyat. Even an illiterate person who is willing to accept the verdict of the Holy Quran can understand it without difficulty.
“The second stage of accepting Ahmadiyyat is the issue of the descent of Jesus. Even for this you do not need much knowledge. Everyone knows that the advent of the Messiah among the Muslim people was foretold by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and there are the most reliable Hadith reports speaking of this.
“If the foundation stone has been laid and you have accepted Jesus’ death then the next step is also very easy. Who is this Messiah that had been mentioned in the Hadith reports? After admitting the death of Jesus, one of two views must be accepted: either that the Promised Messiah must be a mujaddid (Reformer) of this Umma [Muslim nation] or that all those Hadith reports are untrue. The second view cannot be accepted by any Muslim who has reverence for the Holy Prophet’s Hadith because in that case the entire mass of Hadith reports will have to be rejected. So there is no choice but to accept the first view, that a mujaddid of this Umma will fulfil the prophecies of the descent of the Messiah.
“In resolving this issue some other points also come to mind. All Muslims agree that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was the Last Prophet. The Quran makes it clear that there will not be any prophet after him. A prophet can only come if there remains some work of prophethood to accomplish. If the doctrine of the finality of prophethood is true then no prophet can now come. It makes no difference whether he was raised to prophethood before the Holy Prophet or after him. After the Holy Prophet Muhammad the coming of any prophet in the world is prohibited, and after him only mujaddids are needed.
“The other point is that authentic Hadith reports give different physical descriptions of what Jesus and the coming Messiah look like. If the same Jesus was the coming Messiah, how could the physical appearance be different?
“The third question is that if it is true that Jesus has died and it is also true that the Promised Messiah must be a mujaddid of this Umma, then is Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian that Messiah or do we wait for someone else? This step was also very clear because his claim to be mujaddid had been widely established. There was no one who could doubt his truthfulness and righteousness. A man who had never made a fabrication about a human being, could not make a fabrication about God, let alone that a mujaddid could do such a thing. Moreover, he was the man to whom such a great truth was disclosed, to whom Allah told the secret which had not been made known to other people for such a long time, and whom Allah had informed of the real meaning of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s prophecies. Who could be more deserving of fulfilling these prophecies than him? The truth is that when the time comes for the fulfilment of a prophecy it is only then that people are informed about its real meaning.
“I have mentioned these broad, basic points that helped my father, my brother and I to take our decision. These points were so clear that after studying Izala Auham all three of us reached the same decision simultaneously and were convinced of the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah’s claim. However, none of us at that time entered into the pledge of Hazrat Mirza sahib. When in 1892 the Promised Messiah came to Lahore where he had a debate with Maulvi Abdul Hakim — which ended in his announcement that he was not claiming to be a prophet and that he used the word ‘prophet’ only in its linguistic sense as meaning muhaddas [a person receiving non-prophetic Divine revelation], and that even after this explanation if the Muslim brethren object to the use of this word then they may consider it deleted and replaced by the word muhaddas — it was on this occasion that we two brothers had a chance to see the Promised Messiah and our belief in his truth increased even further.
“After passing my B.A. examination in 1894, when I was studying for my Master of Arts, and Maulvi Aziz Bakhsh had gone to the teacher training college, I became a professor of mathematics in Islamia College and it was then that I met my dear friend Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din who was also doing his M.A. and was a professor at Islamia College. The Khwaja sahib had already taken the pledge, though I had not. Yet there was such affinity in our ideas that we soon became very close. In those days I used to write newspaper articles in favour of Hazrat Mirza sahib.
“About two years or so after I had befriended Khwaja sahib, he asked me to accompany him to Qadian and meet Hazrat Mirza sahib. So in March 1897 I went to Qadian with him (some other friends were also with us). Our stay of only a few days unfolded a new spiritual world before our eyes. Although the writings of Hazrat Mirza sahib showed his fervour and passion for the advancement of Islam, but what we discovered in his company was that he had absolutely no other interest or occupation, day or night. After the fajr prayer he would sit and talk about the propagation of Islam. A little later when he would go for a walk, all the way the topic would be the same. On his return, while sitting and eating with his friends the same thing would be under discussion; and similarly when he would sit in the mosque after the maghrib prayer till the isha prayer. The discussions would be about how no other religion can stand against the truth of Islam, how Islam can be propagated in the West, the need to meet the challenge of the Arya Samaj in India, how to create a connection with God, how to derive enjoyment from prayers, and the necessity to make the Holy Quran our guide. In short, this was the only pastime, which is not found in any worldly gatherings. I stayed there for seven or eight days, and in the end through Khwaja sahib I myself expressed the desire to take the pledge of this holy man and entered into his baiat.
“After taking the pledge I informed my elder brother Maulvi Aziz Bakhsh and my late father. Both of them immediately took the pledge. Later on, all my other brothers and various other relatives followed, so that today by the grace of Allah there is a very large group of these relations all of whom are helping the cause of the faith according to their means.”2
- This debate was with Maulvi Abdul Hakim of Kalanur. During this stay of Hazrat Mirza sahib in Lahore, Mirza Yaqub Baig who was a medical student at the time and his younger brother Mirza Ayub Baig took the baiat [pledge]. ↩
- Paigham Sulh, 7 November 1933. ↩