The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement
A Short Study of the Life of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Appendix 1: Obituaries in the Muslim Press (Compiled by Dr. Zahid Aziz)
We quote below from some obituaries of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad that appeared in the Muslim press in India at his death.
1. Mirza Hairat of Delhi (Editor of the Curzon Gazette):
Mirza Hairat of Delhi was editor of the Curzon Gazette. In his obituary of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, he wrote:
“The services of the deceased, which he rendered to Islam in confrontation with the Christians and the Arya Samajists, deserve the highest praise. He completely changed the flow of the debate, and laid the foundations of a new literature in India.
We admit, not because of our being Muslims but being seekers after truth, that the top most Arya Samaj leader or Christian missionary could not dare open his mouth to confront the late Mirza sahib. The incomparable books which he wrote in refutation of the Arya Samaj and Christian creeds, and the shattering replies he gave to the opponents of Islam, we have not seen any rational refutation of these except that the Aryas have been hurling abuse at the Founder and the teachings of Islam in an uncouth manner, without being able to give a sensible reply. Although the deceased was a Punjabi, yet his pen was so powerful that today in the whole of the Punjab, even in the whole of India, there is no author of such power.… and it is true that, on reading some of his writings, one goes into a state of ecstasy. Although he did not receive any regular education in Arabic language, literature or grammar, he gained such a proficiency in Arabic by his God-given intellect and nature that he could write it quite naturally.…
His followers are not only common and unlearned people, but include able and bright graduates, viz., B.A., M.A., and very learned Ulama. It is a matter of no small pride for a religious leader of this day that persons educated on traditional lines as well as persons educated on modern lines, both types, should become his followers. Surviving the heat of predictions of his death, opposition, and criticism, he cleared his way to reach the highest pinnacle of progress.” — Curzon Gazette, Delhi, 1st June 1908
2. Maulvi Bashir-ud-Din (Editor of Sadiq-ul-Akhbar):
Maulvi Bashir-ud-Din, editor of Sadiq-ul-Akhbar, Rewari (U.P., India), wrote as follows in his obituary:
“As Mirza sahib, with his forceful speeches and magnificent writings, shattered the foul criticism of the opponents of Islam, silencing them forever and proving that truth is after all the truth, and as he left no stone unturned in the service of Islam by championing its cause to the full, justice requires that one should condole the sudden and untimely death of such a resolute defender of Islam, helper of the Muslims, and an eminent and irreplaceable scholar.” — Sadiq-ul-Akhbar, May 1908
3. Maulvi Sayyid Waheed-ud-Din (Editor of Aligarh Institute Gazette):
Maulvi Sayyid Waheed-ud-Din, editor of Aligarh Institute Gazette, wrote:
“The deceased was an acknowledged author and founder of the Ahmadiyya Sect.… He has left eighty writings, twenty of which are in Arabic. Undoubtedly, the deceased was a great fighter for Islam.” — Aligarh Institute Gazette, June 1908
4. Editor of the Lahore Municipal Gazette:
The editor of the Lahore Municipal Gazette wrote:
“The Mirza sahib was specially renowned for his knowledge and scholarship. His writings were also eloquent. In any case, we are grieved by his death for the reason that he was a Muslim. We believe that a scholar has been taken from the world.” — Municipal Gazette, Lahore, 1908
5. Acting Editor of the Wakeel of Amritsar:
The acting editor of a well-known Muslim newspaper, the Wakeel of Amritsar, wrote a lengthy tribute, from which we quote extracts below:1
“That man, that very great man, whose pen was a magic wand and whose tongue spell-binding; that man whose brain was a complex of wonders, whose eye could revive the dying and whose call aroused those in the graves, whose fingers held the wires of revolution and whose fists were electrical batteries; that man who for thirty years was an earth-quake and typhoon for the religious world, who, like the trumpet of Doomsday, awakened those lost in the slumber of life, he has left the world empty-handed. This bitter death, this cup of poison, which entrusted the deceased to dust, will remain on thousands, nay millions of tongues, as words of bitter disappointment and regret. The stroke of death which slaughtered, along with one who was very much alive, the hopes and longings of many, and the wails it raises of lament, will remain in memories for a long time to come.
The demise of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib of Qadian is not such an event that a lesson should not be learnt from it, nor should it be consigned to the passage of time to efface. Such people who produce a religious or intellectual revolution are not born often. These sons of history, in whom it rightly takes pride, appear but rarely on the world scene, and when they do they bring about a revolution for all to see.
In spite of our strong differences with Mirza sahib in respect of some of his claims and beliefs, his separation for ever has convinced the educated and enlightened Muslims that one of their very great personages has left them. And with him the mighty defence of Islam against its opponents, which was linked with his person, has come to an end. His special characteristic, that he acted against the enemies of Islam as a victorious general, compels us to express openly our feeling that the grand movement which for so long defeated and trod over our opponents should be continued in the future also.
Mirza sahib appeared in the front line of devotees who, for the cause of Islam, accepted the dedication to sacrifice their time from the cradle, through the springs and autumns, to their graves in fulfilling the pledge of loyalty to their beautiful beloved Islam.…
The literature produced by Mirza sahib in his confrontation with the Christians and the Aryas has received the seal of general approval, and for this distinction he needs no introduction. We have to acknowledge the value and greatness of this literature from the bottom of our hearts, now that it has done its work. This is because that time cannot be forgotten nor effaced from the mind when Islam was besieged by attacks on all sides, and the Muslims, who had been entrusted with the defence of Islam by the Real Defender, as the means of defence in this world of causes and means, were lying flat sobbing in the aftermath of their shortcomings, doing nothing for Islam or not being able to do anything for it.…
Then began that counter-attack from the side of the Muslims in which Mirza sahib had a part. That defence not only shattered to bits the initial influence of Christianity, which it really had due to support from the government, and saved thousands, nay millions, of Muslims from this dangerous attack which would have succeeded, but the talisman of Christianity itself was blown away like smoke.…
So, this service rendered by Mirza sahib will place the coming generations under a debt of gratitude, in that he fulfilled his duty of the defence of Islam by joining the front rank of those engaged in the jihad by the pen, and he left behind him as a memorial such literature as will last so long as Muslims have blood flowing in their veins and the urge to support Islam remains their prominent national characteristic. Besides this, Mirza sahib performed a very special service for Islam by crushing the poisonous fangs of the Arya Samaj.… His writings against the Arya Samaj shed clear light on the claim that, however much the scope of our defence may be widened in the future, it is impossible that these writings could ever be overlooked.
Natural intelligence, application and dexterity, and continuous debates, had lent Mirza sahib a special splendour. He had vast knowledge, not only of his own religion, but also of other religions. And he was able to use his vast knowledge with great finesse. In the art of preaching and teaching, he had acquired the accomplishment that the person whom he addressed, of whatever understanding or religion, was thrown into deep thought by his spontaneous reply. India today is an exhibition house of religions, and the number of great and small faiths found here, along with their mutual struggles which announce their existence, cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. Mirza sahib’s claim was that he was the arbiter and judge for them all, but there is no doubt that he possessed a special talent to make Islam pre-eminent among all these religions. This was due to his natural ability, taste for study, and hard work. It is not likely that a man of this grandeur will be born again in the religious world of the Indian sub-continent, who would devote his highest desires in this way to the study of religions.” — Wakeel, Amritsar
6. Maulana Abdullah Al-Imadi (Editor of Wakeel):
A few days after the obituary quoted above, the permanent editor of Wakeel, Maulana Abdullah Al-Imadi, added his own tribute in this paper as follows:
“Although Mirza sahib had not received systematic education in current knowledge and theology, yet an assessment of his life shows that he had a unique nature not granted to everyone: by the aid of his own study and his upright nature, he had attained sufficient mastery over religious literature. In about 1877, when he was 35 or 36 years old, we find him charged with unusual religious fervour. He is leading the life of a true and pious Muslim. His heart is unimpressed by worldly attractions. He is as happy in solitude as if he were in congenial company, and when in company he is enjoying the bliss of solitude. We find him restless, and it appears as if he is in search of a lost thing, no trace of which can be found in the mortal world. Islam has so overwhelmed him that he holds debates with the Aryas, and writes voluminous books in support of Islam. His debates in Hoshiarpur in 1886 were so delightful that the feeling of enjoyment has still not been forgotten.…
The state of ecstasy created by reading his invaluable books which were written to counter other religions and to uphold Islam, still has not faded. His Barahin Ahmadiyya overawed the non-Muslims and raised the spirits of the Muslims. He presented to the world a captivating picture of the religion [of Islam], cleansed of the blots and dust that had collected upon it as a result of the superstition and natural weaknesses of the ignorant. In short, this book raised a loud echo in the world, at least within India, which is still reverberating in our ears. Though some Muslim religious leaders may now pass an adverse verdict on Barahin Ahmadiyya, … the best time to pass judgment was 1880 when it was published. At that time, however, Muslims unanimously decided in favour of Mirza sahib.
As to his character, there is not the slightest trace of a blot on it. He lived a virtuous life, the life of a righteous, God-fearing person. To conclude, the first fifty years of his life, in terms of high morals and commendable habits, and in terms of services to the religion, raised him to an enviable position of distinction and honour among the Muslims of India.” — Wakeel, Amritsar, 30 May 1908
7. Maulvi Siraj-ud-Din (Editor of the Zamindar of Lahore):
Maulvi Siraj-ud-Din was the editor of the leading Muslim Urdu daily paper, the Zamindar of Lahore, at the time of Hazrat Mirza’s death. He was the father of the well-known Maulvi Zafar Ali Khan, who himself later became editor of Zamindar. Extracts from his obituary of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as published in this paper have already been quoted in chapter 1 of the main body of this book.2 He wrote:
“Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib was a clerk in the district of Sialkot round about 1860 or 1861. He would be about 22 or 23 years of age at the time. We can say from personal experience that, even in his youth, he was a very virtuous and righteous person. After work all his time was spent in religious studies. He did not much meet people. In 1877 we had the honour of his hospitality at his home in Qadian for one night. In those days too, he was so engrossed in worship and devotion that he conversed little, even with guests.… We have often said, and we again say, that even if his claims were the result of mental pre-occupation, he was innocent of pretence or fabrication.… Scholarly figures such as Maulvi Nur-ud-Din and Maulvi Muhammad Ahsan, and products of modern education such as Khwaja Jamal-ud-Din, B.A., Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, B.A., and Maulvi Muhammad Ali, M.A., are among his followers. Though we personally did not have the honour of believing in his claims or revelations, nonetheless we consider him to be a perfect Muslim.” — Zamindar, 8 June 1908
- It is thought, but cannot be entirely confirmed, that this acting editor was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who later became a famous Islamic scholar, author and journalist. He also later held high political office in India. ↩
- The translations of the same text as given here and as in chapter 1 are worded slightly differently but represent the same original text. ↩