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The Great Mujahid: Life Story of Maulana Muhammad Ali

Part 2: Life at Qadian,
From May 1899 to April 1914.

1b. The Promised Messiah's Time (2nd of 2 sections)
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Part 2
Life at Qadian
From May 1899 to April 1914

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1b. The Promised Messiah’s time

(Second of two sections)

The dreams, visions, revelations and writings of Hazrat Mirza sahib about Maulana Muhammad Ali

At that time it could not appear to the outward eye that this young man of twenty-five or twenty-six years of age would one day be a true successor of the ‘Master of the Pen’ (Sultan-i Qalm), the Promised Messiah, and would be the means through which his heartfelt desires and aspirations would be fulfilled. Hazrat Mirza sahib reviewed the character and qualities of Maulana Muhammad Ali and wrote, as quoted above, “I am sure that my foresight will not go wrong in this, that this young man will make progress in the path of God, and I am sure that by the grace of God he will prove to be so firm in righteousness and love of religion that he will set an example worthy to be followed by his peers.” Then, mentioning his deeply-held wishes, he handed over to Maulana Muhammad Ali that practical work which he declared as the real aim of his coming. It was on the basis of his foresight that he gave the Maulana the responsibility for this work. According to Hadith, the foresight of a true believer is illuminated by the light of God, and the faith which Hazrat Mirza sahib had in his foresight could only have been created by Allah in his heart. The following letter proves this point, in which Hazrat Mirza sahib writes to Maulana Muhammad Ali:

“I hold an extremely favourable opinion about you. This is why I have a special love for you. If your nature had not been pure in the sight of God, I could not possibly have thought so well of you, never. I love you fervently from the bottom of my heart, and often pray for you in the five daily prayers. I hope that at some future time these prayers will show their effect. … I am busy praying, with heart-felt passion, for your welfare in this world and the hereafter, and for your body and soul, and I am awaiting the effects and results of the prayer.”

As mentioned above, this opinion of the Promised Messiah was based not only on his foresight and his observation of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s character and qualities, but the Promised Messiah also had dreams, visions and Divine revelations indicating that it was ordained by Allah that Maulana Muhammad Ali would inherit the Promised Messiah’s mantle of knowledge. Keeping in view the needs of the time, the Promised Messiah was to carry on jihad with the pen and not with the sword. So it was necessary that there should arise from among his companions a man who would be his successor in continuing this jihad. It was also natural that Hazrat Mirza sahib should see this man of letters in his visions. It appears from many dreams, visions and Divine revelations of his that he was shown beforehand that Maulana Muhammad Ali would accomplish the most tremendous service to the cause of religion.

The most important and foremost task was to produce a commentary of the Holy Quran which would prove the truth of Islam in this age. In his book Izala Auham on page 773, the Promised Messiah had expressed his wish to write a commentary himself, as has been quoted earlier. But elsewhere he was shown in a clear vision that the commentary was written by ‘Ali’ and ‘Ali’ was presenting to him that commentary. Hazrat Mirza sahib referred to that vision in the following words:

“I remember at this point a very clear vision.”

The vision had two parts, the second part being related by him as follows:

“After that a book was given to me, about which I was told that this was the commentary of the Holy Quran written by Ali and now Ali is giving that commentary to you. Allah be praised for this!”

(Tazkira, p. 21; Barahin Ahmadiyya, p. 503, subnote 3 on footnote 11)

Though Hazrat Mirza sahib had expressed his intention to write the commentary himself, it was the will of Allah that this vision should be fulfilled and ‘Ali’ write a commentary and give it to him. Accordingly, in the preface of the commentary Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote the following words in English:

“… the greatest religious leader of the present time, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, has inspired me with all that is best in this work. I have drunk deep at the fountain of knowledge which this great Reformer — Mujaddid of the present century and founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement — has made to flow.”

So the knowledge of the Maulana came from the Promised Messiah and the aspiration to produce the commentary was also of the Promised Messiah. This was indicated in the vision in the words that this was “the commentary of the Holy Quran written by Ali and now Ali is giving that commentary to you”.

The selection of Maulana Muhammad Ali as the one to inherit the knowledge of the Promised Messiah and to carry out jihad by the pen is also elucidated in another vision, which was related by Hazrat Mirza sahib as follows:

“I saw in a dream that I was riding a horse and going somewhere. On the way it grew completely dark so I turned back. There were also some women accompanying me. On the return journey, due to dust in the air it became pitch dark. I was holding the reins by groping for them. After a few steps light appeared and in front of me I saw a large terrace. I dismounted on it. There were some boys there who cried out: ‘Maulvi Abdul Karim has come’. Then I saw Maulvi Abdul Karim sahib approaching. I shook hands with him and said assalamu alaikum. The late Maulvi sahib took out something and gave it to me as a present, saying that the bishop, who is the head of the Christian priests, also uses it. This thing looked like a rabbit, brown in colour. Protruding from it was a long tube, with a pen at the front of the tube. That pen ran easily without effort. I said: ‘I did not send for this pen.’ Maulvi sahib said: ‘Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib must have sent for it’. I said: ‘I will give it to him’.”

(Tazkira, pages 675–676; Al-Hakam, 17 November 1906)

Hazrat Mirza sahib has himself added the interpretation of the vision as follows:

“The women represent weak people. The pen means that Allah will give Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib such power of intellect that he will write forceful articles to combat the opponents.” (Ibid.)

There is another vision of Hazrat Mirza sahib which was narrated by Maulana Muhammad Ali as follows:

“Another of his dreams, which I have not seen in print anywhere, was told to me by the Promised Messiah himself. It was that the Promised Messiah and I were riding a horse, with me sitting behind him, and it was galloping at a great speed through the narrow streets of a city. At every corner there would be danger of a collision but the horse would clear it safely. In the end we reached an open ground where there was a man who pointed towards me and said: ‘His name is Majadd-ud-Din.” (Paigham Sulh, 15 January 1935)

Maulana Muhammad Ali’s riding a horse sitting behind Hazrat Mirza sahib indicated that it was destined that the Maulana would carry on Hazrat Mirza sahib’s literary work after him and the name Majadd-ud-Din meant that the work would be for the glory of Islam (as majad means glory). By the grace of God, so did it happen. The literature produced by Maulana Muhammad Ali painted a beautiful, complete picture of the religion of Islam which resulted in the strengthening and glorification of Islam.*

* Footnote: Maulana Muhammad Ali published this dream at the very beginning of the Split in the Ahmadiyya Movement, and also referred to it on two later occasions. When, following the Split, the Qadiani community was making all kinds of allegations against him, this revealed name was printed appended to the Maulana’s name in many issues of Paigham Sulh in 1914.

It seems appropriate to mention here also that in the Hadith reports of the Holy Prophet Muhammad regarding the coming of the Mahdi there are three reports which Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan has quoted in his book Hujaj-ul-Kirama on pages 442 to 443, which indicate that after the death of the Mahdi there would be a khalifa of his, but on the death of this khalifa people will desert the Quran and they will be involved in tribulation and dissension. Then they will choose a khalifa from the household of the Mahdi, who would cause more harm than good. A man would arise against him who would have the title Mansur.

There is another Hadith report, in Abu Dawud, that the Promised Messiah has quoted along with one of his visions, in his book Izala Auham in a footnote on pages 95 to 99. He writes that a man shall come forth from Ma wara’-un-nahr, meaning that his country of origin will be Bokhara or Samarkand, and he shall be called by the name ‘Harith’, meaning that as regards the ancestral occupation of his family he will be a farmer. The words of the Hadith report are as follows:

“It is related on the authority of Ali that the Messenger of Allah, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him, said: A man will come forth from Ma wara’-un-nahr who will be called ‘Harith’, a farmer. The commander of his army will be a man called ‘Mansur’.”

The Promised Messiah has applied the prophecy about Harith to himself, and so he writes:

“Let it be clear that the prophecy contained in the authentic hadith of Abu Dawud, that a man called Harith, a farmer, will come forth from Ma wara’-un-nahr, which means Samarkand, who will strengthen the followers of the Holy Prophet … this prophecy and the prophecy about the coming of the Messiah who would be an imam of the Muslims and be from among the Muslims, both of these are about the same subject, and they are both fulfilled by my humble self.”

Then he explains the words of the hadith “the commander of his army will be a man called Mansur” as follows:

“And the commander of his army, that is the head and leader of the followers of Harith, will be a man helped by God who will be known in heaven as Mansur because God Himself will be the helper of his aspirations to serve the faith. Although this Mansur is described as the commander of an army, what is really meant is not military war or fighting, but that this will be a spiritual army which will be given to Harith. This is as I saw in a vision that there are two men sitting in a house, one on the ground and the other near the roof. Then I called to the man who was on the ground, saying that I needed an army of one hundred thousand. But he remained silent, giving no answer. Then I turned towards the other man who was near the roof and towards the sky and said to him that I needed an army of one hundred thousand. He replied that he could not give one hundred thousand, but five thousand soldiers would be given. Then I thought to myself that although five thousand is not much, but if God so wills, a few can triumph over a greater number, and I recited the Quranic verse: ‘How often has a small party vanquished a numerous host by Allah’s permission!’ [2:249] Then I was shown that man Mansur in a vision, and I was told that he would be successful and blessed. But due to some hidden purpose of Divine wisdom, I was not allowed to recognise him. However, I hope he will be shown to me at some other time.”

(Izala Auham, pages 95–99; Tazkira, pages 181–182)

It has been made very clear in this vision that the Promised Messiah saw two men leading his community, one sitting on the ground and the other near the roof towards the sky. The man on the ground had so many people that he was asked to spare one hundred thousand, but he remained silent. Then Hazrat Mirza sahib addressed the man on the roof and repeated the same request. He replied that he could only give five thousand men. In fact this is the ratio between the Qadiani Jama‘at and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at is hardly one-twentieth of the Qadiani Jama‘at. The ‘sitting on the ground’ and the ‘sitting near the roof towards the sky’ refer to the inclinations of the leaders of the two Jama‘ats. The Qadiani Jama‘at has concentrated more on worldly gains while the other group focussed its attention on those higher objectives which are those that fulfil the mission of Hazrat Mirza sahib. Another point made clear from this vision is that the leader of his spiritual army, Mansur, is the one who is the leader of the smaller group whose Jama‘at, in its work, fulfils the Quranic verse: “How often has a small party vanquished a numerous host by Allah’s permission!”.

At the end of this vision, the Promised Messiah has mentioned another point. He says:

“Then I was shown that man Mansur in a vision, and I was told that he would be successful and blessed. But due to some hidden purpose of Divine wisdom, I was not allowed to recognise him. However, I hope he will be shown to me at some other time.”

His book Izala Auham in which this vision is written was published in 1891. At that time neither Hazrat Mirza sahib had seen Maulana Muhammad Ali nor had the Maulana seen Hazrat Mirza sahib. Later on, when Maulana Muhammad Ali settled in Qadian, the manner in which Hazrat Mirza sahib expressed his desires about his mission and handed over all the work relating to it to Maulana Muhammad Ali shows that Hazrat Mirza sahib himself appointed the leader of his army.

The Promised Messiah had another dream about Maulana Muhammad Ali in June 1904, which is perhaps in reply to what the leaders of the Qadiani Jama‘at later on said about Maulana Muhammad Ali. He says:

“I saw Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib in a dream: You also were righteous and had noble intentions. Come and sit by me.” (Al-Badr, 1 August 1904, p.4; Tazkira, p. 518)

Two things have been said here: he was “righteous” and he had “noble intentions”. The first quality really answers those Qadianis who accused Maulana Muhammad Ali of being impious (fasiq), for ‘righteous’ (salih) is the opposite of impious. The other accusation made against him was that he was a mischief (fitna) maker and the breaking away from Qadian was called ‘the Paighami fitna’ (the word Paighami was coined in reference to the Lahore Ahmadiyya periodical Paigham Sulh). But Hazrat Mirza sahib himself testified to the Maulana’s pure and good intentions, and his asking Maulana Muhammad Ali to sit beside him in the hereafter indicates that the Maulana continued the work of the Promised Messiah.

In short, all these dreams, visions and other writings of the Promised Messiah show that it was willed by God the Most High that Maulana Muhammad Ali be chosen to carry on the mission of Hazrat Mirza sahib and to bring his aspirations to fulfilment, and that Hazrat Mirza sahib delegated this work in his lifeime to the Maulana. And as it turned out, it was Maulana Muhammad Ali who was enabled by Allah to produce the commentary of the Holy Quran and write other comprehensive and excellent books on Islam, and it was the Maulana through whom Allah brought to fulfilment all the wishes of Hazrat Mirza sahib. In this way the Maulana’s life is a part and a continuation of the life of Hazrat Mirza sahib, for it was Hazrat Mirza sahib’s heartfelt desire to do the work of the propagation of Islam but it was the will of Allah that he should do some of that work in his life and the rest be completed after him by one of his followers. This is just as the keys to the palaces of the Caesar and the Chosroes (Qaisar and Kasra) were given to the Holy Prophet Muhammad in a vision but both these kingdoms were conquered by Hazrat Umar and the keys came to his hands, so that the lives of  Hazrat Abu Bakr and Umar proved to be part of the life of the Holy Prophet. Similarly, some of the aspirations of the Promised Messiah were granted by God during his own lifetime but others were fulfilled after his death through Maulana Muhammad Ali, proving that Maulana Muhammad Ali’s life was part of Hazrat Mirza sahib’s life.

Another interesting incident may be related in this connection. In the months of March and April 1902, the epidemic of the plague was raging in the Punjab. In Qadian it never assumed a serious form even though it was causing havoc in the surrounding villages. At that time Hazrat Mirza sahib had a revelation from Allah as follows: “I will protect everyone in this house except those who are disobedient with arrogance”.

As in this revelation God had promised protection for all those who lived in his house, Hazrat Mirza sahib invited many people to reside with him. Maulana Abdul Karim and Maulana Muhammad Ali were already living there. Then Maulana Nur-ud-Din, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan of Amroha with his family, and some other families also moved into his house, each family living in one room. During that time it so happened one day that Maulana Muhammad Ali felt a high fever and he thought that, although he was living within the house, but as the revelation made an exception for the arrogant disobedient he might have some spiritual weakness within him and as a result he may have got the plague. Overcome by this thought, he sent for Mufti Muhammad Sadiq and started making his last will before him. When the Promised Messiah heard of this, he immediately came to visit Maulana Muhammad Ali and enquired as to how he was. The Maulana said that he had got plague and pointed to his high fever. On this the Promised Messiah said with great emotion:

“If you have got the plague then I am a liar and my claim to receive Divine revelation is wrong.”*
* Footnote: Hazrat Mirza sahib has himself described this incident, and written the words quoted here, in his book Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, page 253.

Saying this, the Promised Messiah felt for the pulse of the Maulana with his hand. A strange manifestation of the power of God took place, that the body cooled down as soon as he touched it and there was no sign of any fever. Maulana Muhammad Ali sat up fully recovered.{Footnote 1}

Mufti Muhammad Sadiq has stated that he had himself touched Maulana Muhammad Ali’s body just previously to this and it was burning hot, but after Hazrat Mirza sahib arrived only a few minutes later the fever just disappeared.

On another occasion, writing about the Talim-ul-Islam school, Hazrat Mirza sahib said:

“Our aim in starting this school is only that it can enable people to give priority to religion over worldly matters. The general curriculum has been introduced alongside so that this knowledge can be made to serve religion. Our aim is not that the students after passing their F.A. and B.A. examinations should go in search of worldly jobs, but that they may devote their lives to serving their faith. This is why I feel such a school to be a necessity, that it could be a useful institution in the service of the religion. The problem is that whoever gets even a little education goes after material gains. I wish that such people could be produced who would do the kind of work that Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib is doing. There is no certainty of life, and he is all alone. One cannot see anyone who can assist him or take his place.” (Al-Hakam, 30 November 1905; Ruhani Khaza’in No. 2, vol. 8, p. 270)

The Promised Messiah had so much confidence in Maulana Muhammad Ali with regard to having a correct and true understanding of the Promised Messiah’s teachings, beliefs and claims that he issued the following instructions:

“Hazrat Mirza sahib called in the editors of Al-Hakam and Al-Badr and emphasized to them that they must be very careful in writing down his speeches and articles, in case something got misreported by mistake, which would then be used by the critics in their support. … So [added Hazrat Mirza sahib] ‘it is proper that before publishing such articles in your newspapers you should show them to Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib, M.A. You will benefit by this, and also people will be saved from error’.” (Diary for 2 November 1902; Ruhani Khaza’in No. 2, vol. 4, page 159)

Need for an English Translation of the Holy Quran

By 1907 the need for an English translation of the Holy Quran was being widely felt among the educated Muslims, and many Indian newspapers were alluding to it. At that time the editor of the Ahmadiyya community newspaper Al-Hakam, referring to the dire necessity for an English translation, wrote that for this work a person was needed who was not only an expert of the Arabic language but also had full command of English. Besides this, he should be a godly person, having great zeal and fervour for the propagation of Islam, and be fully acquainted with the needs of the modern times. As to who could be that saint, the editor wrote:

“It is a fact, which, if people do not realise it now, they will do so at a future time, that this revered person is the worthy young man Maulvi Muhammad Ali, M.A. By writing in defence of Islam and expounding its truth through the Review of Religions he has established the reputation of his pen in Asia and Europe so firmly that figures like Russell Webb and philosophers like Tolstoy acknowledge that the concepts of Islam presented in this magazine give satisfaction to the soul.

In Europe and America the articles of this magazine have been read with great interest. They are not ordinary articles but deal with such important topics as hell and heaven, slavery, polygamy, jihad, preservation of the Quran, and compilation of Hadith reports, etc., that not everyone can write about. …

I have not put forward Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib’s name so that Muslims of India may choose him for this purpose or send him subscriptions. He neither needs this nor desires it. He has been working for years, sincerely and enthusiastically, serving Islam under the man sent by God. He is neither motivated by any greed nor can any difficulty or problem stop him. If God allows, he will do this work quietly and the world will find out how zeal for the service of Islam is made manifest.” (Al-Hakam, 17 August 1907)

Represents Hazrat Mirza sahib in court cases

In addition to the literary and other religious work which Maulana Muhammad Ali was doing in Qadian, he also assisted Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din in representing Hazrat Mirza sahib in some court cases in that period.

On 15 July 1901, Hazrat Mirza sahib had to go to Gurdaspur to testify in a court case instituted against one Mirza Nizam-ud-Din and others who had tried to block public access to the Masjid-i-Mubarak at Qadian. Maulana Muhammad Ali and many other friends accompanied him. In Gurdaspur, at the suggestion of  Maulana Muhammad Ali, Hazrat Mirza sahib stayed at the house of Mian Nabi Bakhsh, Maulana Muhammad Ali’s father-in-law, for two days. Both Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, who came from Peshawar, and Maulana Muhammad Ali represented Hazrat Mirza sahib in court and eventually won the case.

From January 1903 to January 1905 there was a series of court cases between one Maulvi Karam Din and the Promised Messiah and certain of his companions. In these cases Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was the senior advocate representing Hazrat Mirza sahib, but Maulana Muhammad Ali also appeared with him. These cases were eventually decided in favour of Hazrat Mirza sahib. On 15 January 1903 Hazrat Mirza sahib left Qadian to attend the first case, which was to be heard in Jhelum, and after spending the night in Lahore he arrived in Jhelum on 16 January. During this journey Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Maulana Muhammad Ali accompanied him, and also with them was Shaikh Nur Ahmad as a lawyer. They returned on 18 January.

After that there were several cases in court at Gurdaspur which were prolonged because of the bias of a Hindu magistrate. After a year Hazrat Mirza sahib tried to get the cases transferred but was unsuccessful. In February 1904 an appeal in this connection was lodged in the Chief Court in Lahore where Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Maulana Muhammad Ali appeared but were not successful. From April 1904 so many dates kept on being set for the court hearings that Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din gave up his own practice in Peshawar and came to stay in Gurdaspur. In August 1904 Hazrat Mirza sahib also took a house in Gurdaspur and stayed there with his family because it was very difficult to travel again and again between Qadian and Gurdaspur. Once, in July, it even happened that when Hazrat Mirza sahib and some of his companions were travelling from Qadian to Batala at night, some robbers surrounded their carriage. However, they did not have the courage to attack, and ran away when challenged by Maulana Muhammad Ali and his two companions who were following behind.

During Hazrat Mirza sahib’s stay in Gurdaspur, Maulana Muhammad Ali used to keep on travelling between Qadian and Gurdaspur, as his presence in Qadian was essential due to the publication of the Review of Religions and his other administrative duties. The court cases were largely pursued by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. At last, in October 1904, Hazrat Mirza sahib came back to Qadian. The great services rendered by the Khwaja sahib and the sacrifices made by him during these court cases are unrivalled and unique. He left his flourishing legal practice and his family and home in Peshawar to stay in Gurdaspur and concentrate on these cases day and night. His family suffered financial privations and other troubles and tribulations, one small daughter fell ill and died, but the Khwaja sahib did not leave Gurdaspur. Hazrat Mirza sahib prayed for him much in those days, and on one occasion he told him that he had received the revelation about him, husn-i-bayan (meaning eloquence of expression), so God would endow him with the gift of eloquent speech and articulation. This was exactly what happened. The Khwaja sahib’s oratory was not confined only to the court room, but his religious lectures, whether in English or in Urdu, in India or in Europe, used to hold his audience spellbound. Not only was the content rational and well reasoned, but his delivery was so engaging and attractive that he had complete command over the audience.

During the Karam Din cases, when Hazrat Mirza sahib decided to move with his family to Gurdaspur and fixed a date to travel, it was the rainy season and due to heavy rains Qadian had become like an island as all routes were closed and trains were not running. Shaikh Yaqub Ali had to attend the court case on the due date, so he made his way on foot through the flood water with great difficulty to reach Gurdaspur. Arriving there, he mentioned the hardships of the journey to Maulana Muhammad Ali and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. There were also problems in securing the house which Hazrat Mirza sahib was to occupy. So all of them were worried and it was agreed that a man be sent to Qadian to stop Hazrat Mirza sahib from embarking on this journey. At that point a remark made by Maulana Muhammad Ali, through his insight and faith, was greatly enjoyed by his friends. He said: “You can certainly send someone if you like, explain all the difficulties, but these people {footnote 2} can’t be stopped from their plans because their determination is also a miracle.” And so did it happen. Hazrat Mirza sahib came to Gurdaspur according to his plan and the problem of accommodation was solved as well.

During these court cases in August 1904 the Promised Messiah and his family went to Lahore from Gurdaspur for a few days. Maulana Muhammad Ali, his wife, Maulana Nur-ud-Din, Maulana Abdul Karim and Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan accompanied them. They all stayed at the house of Mian Charagh Din known as ‘Mubarak Manzil’ and the house of Mian Miraj Din, located outside Delhi Gate. During his stay, Hazrat Mirza sahib’s well known lecture ‘Islam and other Religions in this Country’ was delivered at a meeting place behind the shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh and was attended several thousands of people.

On 22 October 1905, Hazrat Mirza sahib left on a journey to Delhi. He later on sent for Maulana Nur-ud-Din. Maulana Muhammad Ali did not accompany Hazrat Mirza sahib on this journey, but stayed behind in Qadian. On 4 November Hazrat Mirza sahib started the return journey and, stopping at Ludhiana and Amritsar, arrived in Qadian on 10 November. What is notable is that for the period of his absence Hazrat Mirza sahib placed Maulana Muhammad Ali in charge of the affairs of the Guest House and its food service which the Promised Messiah always used to keep under his personal supervision. Apart from this, in Maulana Muhammad Ali’s papers there are found many letters and notes, from the time of his stay in Qadian, addressed to him by Hazrat Mirza sahib, showing that on many occasions when Hazrat Mirza sahib had some other engagement such as going to meet the district administrative officials he made Maulana Muhammad Ali as in charge in his absence. On some such occasions Maulana Muhammad Ali sent notes to Hazrat Mirza sahib suggesting other people for the job, but Hazrat Mirza sahib would return the notes with instructions in his own handwriting on the back of the paper reiterating that the Maulana should take charge of the matter.

Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya founded

In 1905, after the Promised Messiah learnt through some Divine revelations that his death was approaching, he wrote certain instructions entitled Al-Wasiyyat (‘The Will’) for his followers, as to the arrangements for the community after his death. This he published on 20 December 1905. In this ‘Will’ he did not appoint any successor, but enjoined on the entire community to work together and make decisions by mutual consultation. However, to enable new members to be admitted to the community, he laid down that such elders of the community on whom forty faithful agree, may take the pledge from the entrants in the Promised Messiah’s name. He also proposed to establish a graveyard at Qadian for his community, which he named ‘Bahishti Maqbara’ (the graveyard of heavenly people).

On 6 January 1906, Hazrat Mirza sahib published an Appendix to his book Al-Wasiyyat, in which he gave in detail all the necessary instructions regarding his Will. For the administrative system after him he laid the foundations of an ‘Anjuman’ (organisation) and appointed that Anjuman as his successor. He framed some rules and regulations himself, and declared the main object of the Anjuman to be the propagation of Islam.

In Rule 13 he wrote:

“As the Anjuman is the successor to the Khalifa appointed by God, this Anjuman must remain absolutely free of any taint of worldliness. All its affairs must be completely above board, and based on fairness.”

He explained this in more detail as follows:

“All members of the Anjuman must belong to the Ahmadiyya Movement, and must be virtuous and honest. And if, in future, it is felt that someone is not virtuous, or that he is not honest, or that he is cunning and tainted with worldly motives, it shall be the duty of the Anjuman to expel him from its ranks forthwith and to appoint another in his place.” (Rule 10, Appendix, Al-Wasiyyat)

With the publication of Al-Wasiyyat and its Appendix, Hazrat Mirza sahib laid down the foundation of this Anjuman and named it Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian, and proposed establishing its branches in other places where the community existed. He appointed fourteen members as trustees of this Anjuman, with Maulana Nur-ud-Din as President and Maulana Muhammad Ali as Secretary. The following are the names of the fourteen members:

   1.      Maulana Nur-ud-Din            —  President
   2.      Maulana Muhammad Ali      —  Secretary
   3.      Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din         —  Legal Advisor
   4.      Maulana Syed Muhammad Ahsan of Amroha
   5.      Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad
   6.      Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan of Malir Kotla
   7.      Seth Abdur Rahman of Madras
   8.      Maulana Ghulam Hasan Khan of Peshawar
   9.      Mir Hamid Shah of Sailkot
10.      Shaikh Rahmatullah of Lahore
11.      Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig of Lahore
12.      Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah of Lahore
13.      Dr. Khalifa Rashid-ud-Din
14.      Dr. Mir Muhammad Ismail

For the remaining two and a half years of his life Hazrat Mirza sahib ran this Anjuman according to the system and rules laid down in Al-Wasiyyat. It so happened that in the winter of 1907, in connection with the extension of the Mubarak Mosque, Mir Nasir Nawab, father-in-law of the Promised Messiah, wanted to impose his own judgment as against that of the Anjuman. On a complaint about this made by the Anjuman, Hazrat Mirza sahib personally came to a meeting of the Anjuman and wrote a note, as reproduced below, which is preserved in Maulana Muhammad Ali’s papers. Its English translation is as follows:

My view is that when the Anjuman reaches a decision in any matter, doing so by majority of opinion, that must be considered as right, and as absolute and binding. I would, however, like to add that in certain religious matters, which are connected with the particular objects of my advent, I should be kept informed. I am sure that this Anjuman would never act against my wishes, but this is written only by way of precaution, in case there is a matter in which God the Most High has some special purpose. This proviso applies only during my life. After that, the decision of the Anjuman in any matter shall be final.

Was-salaam. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 27 October 1907.

 

The image of the original Urdu note is shown below:

Hand-written note by Promised Messiah

It was decided by this document that after Hazrat Mirza sahib’s death the Anjuman would have complete authority. There would be no individual ruling over the Anjuman, and all the administration would be in the hands of the Anjuman. This was a great achievement of his, that he eradicated both the system of putting absolute power in the hands of the religious leader and the tradition of having an inherited spiritual headship.

Some other events

On 28 December 1906, on the occasion of the annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya community, Maulana Muhammad Ali submitted and read out the first annual report on the working of the Anjuman, and presented its annual budget, which amounted to Rs. 30,000 excluding the free kitchen. He made an impassioned speech in which he mentioned the companions of the Holy Prophet and how they sacrificed their lives and money, and said that God had made things easier in our time as there was no need to sacrifice life, but sacrifice of money was still needed. Concluding his speech he advised members of the community to lead a religious life and do for the religion even more than what others do for the materialistic world. He also appealed for funds for constructing the school building.

In 1907, in addition to the other matters, Maulana Muhammad Ali paid special attention to two developments. First, establishing branches of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian in various towns and districts. So through the community’s newspapers and his personal letters he started the work of establishing these branches, which came into existence in many places as a result of his efforts. The second important task was to raise funds for the extension of the Masjid-i-Mubarak and to supervise its construction. For this purpose Maulana Muhammad Ali issued special appeals starting in the months of May and June 1907 to raise funds. By the end of 1907 the construction work was completed under his personal supervision. His own office, as the secretary of the Sadr Anjuman, was on the lower storey of the mosque.

Talim-ul-Islam High School

One of the growing needs of the Ahmadiyya community was a proper building for the Talim-ul-Islam school in Qadian. It was a high school but was housed in mud huts. It was proposed to construct a large boarding house and a building for the school. So a plot of land was purchased from the community’s funds, and appeals were made at the annual gatherings in 1906 and 1907. In January 1908 the executive committee of the Anjuman nominated Maulana Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the building. He took up this campaign with great vigour and started raising funds. Besides appeals at the annual gatherings which he made while presenting the Anjuman’s report and budget, he also launched repeated appeals through both the community newspapers Badr and Al-Hakam, requiring between one-third to a half of the monthly income of each person as a single donation. In this connection he said:

“I am prepared to say that what I have demanded is not much. Perhaps Allah knows that a time will come when even greater demands will be made upon you because spreading religion is not an easy task. But this small sacrifice will prepare you for greater sacrifices.”

In February 1908 he organised a delegation to go on tour to raise funds for the building of the school. Apart from himself this included: Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah, Mian Charagh Din and Mian Miraj Din. On 16 February 1908 Maulana Muhammad Ali went to Lahore in this connection, and then also visited Amritsar and Kapurthala. After that, as his other commitments would not permit him to stay away from Qadian for much longer, he returned and the delegation continued its tour.

Financial Commissioner’s visit to Qadian

In March 1908, when the financial commissioner for the Punjab, Mr. Wilson, came on a tour of Qadian, elaborate arrangements were made for his reception and dinner was provided on behalf of Hazrat Mirza sahib and the Ahmadiyya community. The next day Mr. Wilson met Hazrat Mirza sahib, and a long conversation took place during which Maulana Muhammad Ali and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din acted as interpreters.

Some domestic events

As has been mentioned, about a year after his arrival in Qadian Maulana Muhammad Ali married Fatima Begum, daughter of Mian Nabi Bakhsh of Gurdaspur, the match being arranged by Hazrat Mirza sahib himself. During 1908 Fatima Begum was not keeping good health, so in November 1908 Maulana Muhammad Ali took leave from his work as Secretary of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian and Editor of the Review of Religions and went to Lahore with his wife for her medical treatment, staying with Shaikh Rahmatullah. However, on 20 November 1908 Fatima Begum died. In the December 1908 issue of the Urdu edition of the Review of Religions Maulana Muhammad Ali has mentioned his seven and a half years of married life while announcing the news of the death of his wife. He wrote as follows under the heading About Myself:


“With this page, seven years of the life of the Review and of my editorship are completed. Although every human being encounters some sad and some happy occasions in his life, I have never written anything about my life in this magazine as I consider this organ to be above any mention of personal circumstances. Even now I am hesitant to pen these few lines. However, I believe that over such a long period a rapport is built between an editor and his readers so that they can share his sorrows and happiness, especially where there is a religious bond between them strengthening that rapport.

“On the very day when the November issue was leaving this office, that is, Friday 20 November, my wife died in Lahore at about 4 a.m., at my revered friend Shaikh Rahmatullah’s residence where we were staying for her treatment. We belong to Allah and to Him do we return!

“The deceased Fatima Begum was born on 17 March 1886 in Shakar Gharh in this district and was married to me on 4 April 1901 at Gurdaspur. On 20 November 1908, after three months of severe nausea, she returned to her Maker at the age of 22 years and 8 months in Lahore. She was buried in Maqbara-i Bahishti in Qadian on 21 November.{Footnote 3} During her 7 years and 7 months of married life she gave birth to two children who died at birth, and to a daughter Ruqayya Begum on 26 November 1906 who is left with me in her memory.

“This relationship was of special happiness for me because it was arranged by my leader and master, the Promised Messiah himself, who married me as if I were his own son. It was the result of his prayers that she proved to be such a sharer in my feelings that I myself was surprised. Another reason for my happiness was that when this union was arranged I had put everything together to start my legal practice in Gurdaspur and I had also been accepted as a candidate to take the E.A.C. examination, but when the marriage ceremony took place I was staying in Qadian having given up worldly ambitions. In spite of that, the deceased’s father Munshi Nabi Bakhsh did not object to this, but what is more even my wife never alluded to it nor did she ever express any wish that I should leave Qadian and try to earn worldly wealth for her. In this way she helped me in my migration, and by sharing in my hardship she saved me from many trials and dilemmas.

“Women usually crave for material things but she did not find it difficult to give up any such hopes for the sake of her husband. This is not easy. I know of many instances in which some women who preferred worldly wealth hindered their husbands from carrying out their good intentions. The word of Allah also bears witness to this: ‘Among your wives and children, there are those who are your enemies’ [The Quran 64:14]. I cannot thank Allah enough for providing such a spouse for me who, far from being an opponent of my religious work, proved to be an aid and helper. So if I have done any service to the faith — and only God knows if I have, because He knows the intentions — I consider that my late wife too is a sharer in that work in the sight of God. That is why I have mentioned her death in these pages. She also had a great passion to help the poor and needy, so much so that sometimes she would help them even without my knowledge. When people were asked to make wills [for the Movement], she was one of the first to do so, and made a will for one-third of her possessions.

“During her illness Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih [Maulana Nur-ud-Din] showed such sympathy that I cannot find the words to describe it. Similarly, the revered Khalifa Rashid-ud-Din made such exertions in providing treatment, purely for the sake of God, that there are very few examples of this kind of devotion on the basis of worldly ties. Then in Lahore the practical help provided by my honoured friends Shaikh Rahmatullah, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig, Babu Ghulam Muhammad and Hakim Muhammad Husain Qureshi, was beyond all my expectations. I was taken aback because it is my misfortune that I have never had the chance to do anything for these people. Indeed, this passionate love which my elders and brothers show towards me, in the way of Allah, is living proof of the words: ‘you become brethren by the favour of Allah’ [the Quran 3:103].

“Allah tries His servants with death of their near and dear ones. … No matter how weak I proved in this test, due to my love for my late wife, there is no doubt that those who showed me love, for the sake of Allah, acquitted themselves successfully because in my hour of need they showed me sympathy beyond my expectations. May Allah reward them! However, all are not the same. If someone, despite being my benefactor, has instead of showing sympathy mentioned some past grievance at the time of this death, it was perhaps a lesson for me that it is a mistake to consider any worldly abode as your home.”


Death of the Promised Messiah

On 27 April 1908 the Promised Messiah went to Lahore on his last journey. In his absence from Qadian, he put Maulana Muhammad Ali in charge of the Guest House, which used to be in the Promised Messiah’s personal supervision, and of other matters. In Lahore, Hazrat Mirza sahib stayed first of all at the house of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. Some other friends including Maulana Nur-ud-Din and Maulana Muhammad Ahsan of Amroha also came to Lahore. After some time Hazrat Mirza sahib shifted to the residence of Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah. In Ahmadiyya Buildings the place where the mosque is now situated was then an open ground. By erecting marquees over it and spreading rolls of mats on the ground, it was used for holding Friday prayers and Maulana Nur-ud-Din gave daily talks on the Holy Quran.

On 26 May 1908 Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, breathed his last, and that night his coffin was taken by railway train to Batala and from there to Qadian. The whole of the Ahmadiyya community accepted Maulana Nur-ud-Din as successor to Hazrat Mirza sahib. It was a time of the utmost sorrow for the Ahmadiyya community on the one hand, and on the other at this very time its opponents had raised a storm of abuse and vilification. Thus the community faced a two-fold trial at that time.

During his stay in Lahore the Promised Messiah had composed his last writing, Paigham-i Sulh (Message of Peace). As after his death this was to be read out at a public meeting at University Hall, Lahore, on 21 June 1908, a large number of Ahmadis gathered in Lahore. On this occasion, in obedience to Maulana Nur-ud-Din’s instructions, Maulana Muhammad Ali made a speech which was deeply effective, impassioned and moving. Mentioning Hazrat Mirza sahib he said:

“What a great and glorious objective is facing you. It is as if a gigantic mountain is standing in your way and you have to remove it to clear the way. It is easy to move a mountain but the mission that our Imam has entrusted to us is of even greater importance. It is to spread Islam in the world. Is it a small and easy task? What encourages us is that God Himself has promised that He will make Islam prevail through this community. So there is no reason to panic or lose heart. The holy Hazrat [Mirza sahib] has himself written: ‘I do not know which impossible paths I will have to tread, which thorn-filled wildernesses and deserted jungles I will have to traverse, so if anyone has delicate feet he should take leave of me now.’ Friends! that time has now come and those difficult to cross ravines, thorny jungles and frightful wildernesses are to come before us which we must cross to reach the destination pointed out by our pious Imam and true guide. Earlier we had a man among us who was taking care of our affairs splendidly with great skill. To tell you the truth, we used to sleep without a care while that pure hearted man, the chosen one of God, comforted us like a loving mother and protected us from every difficulty like a shield. We were untroubled and carefree. … That era has now passed. That holy man who carried our loads on his own head, having done his work, has gone to meet his Creator in accordance with the Divine promises. Now you have to shoulder all the burden, and you are the people who have to accomplish that work and bring it to completion. …

“Hazrat [Mirza] sahib’s being was a cloud of mercy and a shade of benevolence sent over us from God. He turned us away from sins and established us upon goodness, he transformed our dead and dry belief in God into a fresh and living faith, and he filled our hearts with reverence and honour for God and His Prophet like solid steel. Our moral condition was unspeakable, but he made us drink such an elixir that we began to enjoy and get pleasure from our prayers and remembrance of God, and our hearts were filled with love for the Holy Quran. Everyone progressed in righteousness according to his power and aptitude. … So we have to learn a lesson from his death. Blessed are those who can set an example of a pure transformation and steadfastness at this time. It is the sign of a believer that even at the time of a calamity he moves forward.”

After this he refuted the objections being made by the opponents at the death of Hazrat Mirza sahib and said:

“In spite of the severest opposition raging, that man sent by God convinced millions of people of his views. He infused his spirit in you. If, filled with this spirit, we do this work the doors of spiritual victories will open for us. After the death of the Holy Prophet, great conquests were made by Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar. This was due to his spirit working in the companions. Likewise, after the Promised Messiah’s death this mission has not come to an end and it is our duty to work for this lofty objective and to try to make Islam triumph over all other religions.” (Al-Hakam, 18 July 1908)

Footnotes

Footnote 1
On the one hand Hazrat Mirza sahib had such complete faith in Maulana Muhammad Ali’s righteousness and God-fearing nature, and on the other the Maulana’s faith and conviction had reached such perfection that in later years when there were outbreaks of the plague epidemic in the areas where the Maulana was living he continued to stay in those places and refused to be inoculated, saying that the Promised Messiah’s command was enough for him. In March 1924 Lahore was struck by a severe epidemic of the plague. Large numbers of people were dying, schools and offices had to be closed down and many people left the city. Maulana Muhammad Ali and his family, accompanied by other friends, moved to tents in an open field in what is now Muslim Town. But every morning he would go to his house in Ahmadiyya Buildings in the centre of the city of Lahore, work there all day and return in the evening. When cases of the plague spread to the Ahmadiyya Buildings area as well, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig and Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah who were also residing in tents tried to persuade him, in vain, either to get inoculated or to stop going to the city. But he refused. Then they asked Maulana Muhammad Ali’s wife to persuade him of this, but he always evaded the issue though he had his family inoculated. One day a rat crawled out from under a bookshelf in his office and died. He simply sprinkled kerosene over it and burnt it, and carried on with his work.

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Footnote 2
By “these people” he meant persons who are sent by God.

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Footnote 3
On her gravestone Maulana Muhammad Ali also inscribed the words: How well did you fulfil the covenant that was between us!

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