The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement
A Short Study of the Life of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Chapter 7: Final Days
The Last Will:
The year 1905 was coming to a close when he received certain revelations to the effect that his end was nigh. On 24th December 1905, he published his last will, Al-Wasiyya (or The Will), in which he wrote at the outset:
“As Almighty God has informed me, in various revelations following one another, that the time of my death is near, and the revelations in that respect have been so many and so consecutive that they have shaken my being to its foundations and made this life quite indifferent to me, I have therefore thought it proper that I should write down for my friends, and for such other persons as can benefit from my teachings, some words of advice.”
Below are given some of these revelations:
“The destined time of your death has drawn nigh, and We shall not leave behind you any mention which should be a source of disgrace to you. Very little has remained of the time appointed for you by your Lord… And We will either let you see a part of what We threaten them with or We will cause you to die… Very few days have remained, sorrow will overtake all on that day.”1
A few words of comfort are added for his disciples, and they are told that the movement will prosper after his death:
“Bear in mind, then, my friends, that it being an established Divine law that He shows two manifestations of His power so that He may thus bring to naught two false pleasures of the opponents, it is not possible that He should neglect his old law now. Be not, therefore, grieved at what I have said, and let not your hearts feel sorrow, for it is necessary for you to see a second manifestation of Divine power, and it is better for you, for it is perpetual and will not be intercepted to the day of judgment.”
The arrangements for the carrying on of the movement are then suggested. The first point was initiation into the movement. While the founder was alive, he personally initiated new members into the movement. After his death, he directed that members should be initiated by the righteous from among his followers. And he wrote:
“Such men will be elected by the agreement of the faithful. Anyone, therefore, about whom forty of the faithful should agree that he is fit to accept baiat from other people in my name shall be entitled to do so, and he ought to make himself a model for others.”2
Anjuman to Carry on Work after him:
The second point was the management of the affairs connected with the movement, and for this an Anjuman was established with full powers to deal with all such topics. This Anjuman was formed under the name of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya (or The Chief Society of the Ahmadis), and the rules and regulations controlling it were given under Ahmad’s own signature. It began to function immediately after the publication of The Will, exercising full authority over all the affairs of the movement, including its finances. When a dispute arose, about twenty months after the Anjuman was formed, as to the extent of its powers, and the matter was referred to the founder, he gave his decision in the following words:
“My opinion is that any matter about which the Anjuman comes to a decision that it should be thus, such decision having been taken by a majority of votes, the same should be considered as the right decision, and the same should be the final decision. Nevertheless, I would add this much that, in certain religious matters which are related to the special object of my advent, I should be informed. I am fully confident that this Anjuman will not do anything against my wishes. This is written only by way of precaution, for it may be that the matter is one which is ordained by God in a special manner. This rule is to be observed only during my lifetime; after that, the decision of this Anjuman in all matters shall be final. — Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 27 October 1907.”3
The Anjuman was thus entrusted by him with the fullest powers in all affairs relating to the movement, and in his own words in Al-Wasiyya
“the Anjuman is the successor of the Divinely-appointed Khalifa”,
the khalifa being the Promised Messiah himself.4
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad lived for two years and five months after the publication of this Will. During this time he wrote two important books, Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, dealing with the question of revelation granted to the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and Chashma-i Marifat, dealing with the objections of the Arya Samaj against Islam. The latter book was published only six days before his death.
Message of Peace:
As already noted, in April 1908 he went to Lahore. There his speeches were listened to by leading Muslims and Hindus and made a deep impression. Eager Muslim listeners wondered when they heard from his own lips that he was not a claimant to prophethood and that he laid claim only to being a recipient of Divine revelation like the great Muslim sages and mujaddids of the past. While occupied from day to day in explaining his position to Muslims, he also began writing a pamphlet containing a special message for his Hindu countrymen, aiming at bringing about lasting union between the Hindus and the Muslims. The message was based on the broad Quranic principle which he had been preaching all his life that all religions emanated from a Divine source, as the Holy Quran clearly said:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِیۡہَا نَذِیۡرٌ
“And there is not a nation but a warner has gone among them” (The Holy Quran, 35:24).
In accordance with this verse, he held that prophets must have appeared in India, and as Rama and Krishna were the two great reformers recognised by the Hindus, they must have been the prophets sent to that people. He called upon the Hindus to reciprocate the Muslim recognition of the Hindu prophets by recognising the prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. If they did that, a lasting peace could be achieved between the Hindus and the Muslims, in which case he and his followers were prepared to make a further concession to Hindu religious sentiment by giving up their lawful right of slaughtering cows and using beef as an article of food. This message was aptly named the Message of Peace, and it proved to be his last message.
At the age of seventy-three, he was still wielding his pen in the cause of Islam with the energy of a man of thirty. He had just finished the last lines of his Message of Peace, outlining the possible basis of an everlasting peace between the Hindus and the Muslims, when suddenly he fell ill at 10 p.m. on the evening of 25th May, with an attack of diarrhoea, to which he succumbed at 10 a.m. on the morning of 26th May 1908 in the house of Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah at Ahmadiyya Buildings.5 The Civil Surgeon of Lahore certified that death was not due to an infectious disease, and it was on the production of this certificate that the authorities permitted the carrying of his body to Qadian, where it was consigned to its last resting-place on 27th May.
Thus ended an eventful life which in the short space of eighteen years — 1890 to 1908 — not only had revolutionised many of the existing religious ideas but had even taken definite steps in an entirely new direction — the presenting of Islam to, and the spiritual conquest of, the West. Deep religious mysteries which had baffled human minds for centuries had been unravelled. The second advent of Christ, the tribulation of the Anti-Christ, the prevalence of Gog and Magog, the coming of the Mahdi and similar other topics were mysteries which affected the two great religions of the world, Christianity and Islam, both contending for the mastery of the world, and an inspired man was indeed needed to lift the veil from the face of these mysteries. Such a man was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He was gifted not only with inspiration to elucidate the deepest mysteries, but also with the faith and energy which enabled him to give a new direction to the dissemination of Islam, which had hitherto found the West deaf to its message. Christianity was out to conquer the Muslim world; in temporal matters it had ousted Islam, but in the spiritual domain Mirza Ghulam Ahmad made a bold start and gave a challenge to Christianity in its very home. It is as a result of that challenge that mosques are being built in the great centres of Christianity, that a vital change is being brought about in the attitude of Europe towards Islam, and that thousands of cultured and advanced Europeans are finding a haven of peace under its banner.
Habits and Nature:
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was very simple in his habits. His diet and his clothing were models of simplicity. He never gave much attention to the one or much time to the other. For a long time he used to dine with his friends and guests for both the main meals of the day. His hospitality was the proverbial hospitality of the Orient. If necessary, he would leave his own compartments to lodge a guest. When bidding farewell to a friend or visitor he would sometimes accompany him on foot even two or three miles.
He could concentrate his attention on the subject before him to such an extent that he was quite unaware of what was going on near him. Sometimes children, playing round about him, made a great noise but they could not disturb him. If personally provoked, he was never angry. He was not even severe on anyone for not having done something according to his instructions. The little dishonesties of domestic servants he always passed over. When someone complained to him of the dishonesty of a servant in some trivial matter, he replied that high morals could not be expected of them and that one must learn to bear with them. He was very patient and forbearing. Abused face to face when sitting with his guests and friends, he would only ask his friends to remain silent.
Often someone would go on for hours reciting his story or reading some paper which he had written, and Ahmad would listen to it with patience, however devoid of interest it might be. Among his disciples he sat like an ordinary man, and a newcomer could not recognize him from his position. He was very kind to his friends and so regardful of the tie of friendship that he was never the first to break it.
Even during his court cases he was never remiss in his duty to God. When the prayer time came, he never knew any other business. Often the case would come up for hearing while he was engaged in his devotions. It was in the law suits of his early life, which he conducted in obedience to his father, that his love for truth became known to all concerned. Not for the sake of any interest would he allow a word of falsehood to pass his lips. For this he had become so famous that even his opponents in these cases were conscious of it.
Under trials and difficulties his fortitude was remarkable. When involved in such a serious case as that instituted by Dr. Clarke, no one could discover any expression of anxiety on his face. He was sometimes severe on his opponents, but only when their attack was on religion. Never did a personal attack provoke him.
- Al-Wasiyya, pp. 2–3. ↩
- Al-Wasiyya, p. 5–6. ↩
- Editor’s Note: The facsimile of the original Urdu hand-written note has been published in books several times. ↩
- Al-Wasiyya, Appendix, Clause number 13. ↩
- Editor’s Note: Ahmadiyya Buildings later became the centre of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement after the Split in 1914. ↩