Head of the Lahore
Ahmadiyya Movement Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan passes away
service to Islam, Ahmadiyya Movement, and humanity for most of the twentieth
Sketch of life
of a great man and his services
End of the era
of the Companions of the Promised Messiah
(The Light & Islamic Review
: Vol. 73; No. 6; Nov-Dec 1996; p. 3-5)
It is with the deepest of regret that we report the death of Hazrat
Amir Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan, Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement and
President of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, which occurred on Friday 15th
November 1996 in Lahore, Pakistan -- inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi
raji'un ('We belong to Allah and to Him do we return'). He was 96
years of age.
Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan had been Head of the Movement since 1981, and
was previously the senior Vice-President for several years. Although
restricted by illness and infirmity in the last 3 years or so, he continued
to attend to some of his duties to an incredible extent, beyond what
his health really allowed. Till the final days of his life, he remained
abreast of the activities of the Movement, gave valuable advice as well
as spiritual guidance, and received visitors. He continued to perform
the opening and closing of the annual gatherings, delivering a keenly-awaited
address to the audience, even at the very last such function of his
life in December 1995.
A great turning point in his life, and in the history of this Movement,
was his coming to settle in Lahore, at the Centre of the Anjuman, from
his home in Abbottabad in 1974, following the anti-Ahmadiyya riots of
the summer of that year in Pakistan. As a result of this move, he was
able to travel abroad to visit Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama'ats in several
other countries almost every year for the next ten years. These visits
breathed new life into the members of the Movement living in these countries,
and this revival led to the establishment of many new branches and centres.
Among the countries outside Pakistan which Dr. Saeed Ahmad visited where
he will be especially remembered are: U.K., U.S.A., Holland, Canada,
Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname.
Perhaps the most historic achievement for which posterity will remember
Dr. Saeed Ahmad is that he consolidated the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement
in its most critical hour in the period following the declaration of
Ahmadis as non-Muslims in the Constitution of Pakistan in September
1974. He was the standard-bearer and focal-point around whom gathered
those persons who believed in the continued existence of this Movement.
It was a time when our members in Pakistan and outside were severely
shaken. There was doubt and uncertainty everywhere about the survival
of the Movement. Ahmadis were not only facing physical attacks against
their persons and property, but also the more insidious attempts of
so-called 'sympathizers', including non-Ahmadis and former Ahmadis,
who were urging us to drop the name 'Ahmadiyya' so as to be accepted
as Muslim. Dr. Saeed Ahmad was the embodiment of standing firm
and resolute in the face of this most intense attack and pressure from
those who wished to make Ahmadis slip and slide.
By his personal example of fortitude, and by providing a lead and rallying
point for others, Dr. Saeed Ahmad stabilized the Movement. Perhaps
it is to these events that the following revelation of the Promised
"Our pure members are in Lahore. Let them know that doubt (waswasa)
has arisen but the clay is fine. The doubt will be removed but the
clay will remain."
The doubts cast into the hearts by events and by other people about
the future of the Movement were removed, and the fine and unsullied
clay of the Movement remained.
It was not only Dr. Saeed Ahmad's firmness and resolution but also
his moral and spiritual qualities which were an invaluable source of
strength to the Jama'at. His righteousness, high moral standing,
purity of character, devotion to the worship of Allah, and an eminent
spiritual rank of closeness to Allah, were qualities for which he was
We noted in our headline that the death of Dr. Saeed Ahmad brings
to an end the age of the Companions of the Promised Messiah. He was
the last remaining person to have taken the bai'at at the Promised
Messiah's own hand, and could vividly remember the occasions, when he
was eight years old, on which he met and was in the company of the Promised
Messiah. He used to recount those events with much fondness and pride.
But he was not merely a Companion of the Promised Messiah in the physical
sense, of having seen his time, but more importantly in being one of
his true followers.
Dr. Saeed Ahmad was born at the turn of the twentieth century into
a family renowned for its high spiritual and scholarly standing belonging
to the Hazara area of the North-West Frontier of India (now Pakistan).
His father, Maulana Muhammad Yahya, and uncle, Maulana Muhammad Yaqub,
had already joined the Ahmadiyya Movement. His father is mentioned in
the writings of the Promised Messiah. At the age of six, when some people
from his village were sending a postcard to Qadian to take the bai'at
of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Dr. Saeed Ahmad also put his name on the
card for taking the bai'at.
In December 1907 he went to Qadian with his father and stayed there
for some three months. It was during this period, as referred to above,
that he was regularly in the company of the Promised Messiah (who died
in May 1908).
He went to visit Qadian again in 1912, during the period of headship
of Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din, and the following year he obtained admission
in the Ahmadiyya school in Qadian, known as the Taleem-ul-Islam High
School. This stay gave him the opportunity to attend the famous
lectures of the Hazrat Maulana on the Holy Quran. In 1914 when the Hazrat
Maulana passed away and the Split in the Ahmadiyya Movement took place,
Dr. Saeed Ahmad was a witness to many of the crucial events of that
episode in Qadian.
After the Split, he returned to his home and continued his education
in the local city of Abbottabad. As he says in an interview which he
recorded on video tape about four years ago, "after the death of
Hazrat Maulana Nur-ur-Din, Qadian just did not remain that same Qadian
as it was before, and I did not want to live there any more."
For his medical qualification, Dr. Saeed Ahmad entered King Edward's
Medical College, Lahore, from where he obtained his degree in 1925.
He was awarded a medal during the course of his studies, the first time
that a Muslim student had received that medal in the history of the
college. During his stay in Lahore, he attended Hazrat Maulana Muhammad
Ali's lectures on the Quran, and came under the Maulana's spiritual
and moral influence. He became very close to the Maulana and always
remained so. He also became the first president of the Ahmadiyya Youngmen's
After qualifying, Dr. Saeed Ahmad joined the government's health department
and specialized in chest diseases. In 1939 he was appointed the first
superintendent of the government's new tuberculosis sanatorium at Dadar
in the North-West Frontier, and held this post for 25 years. He attained
renown not only for his excellent medical skills but also for his care
and concern for his patients and service to the sick. For his work,
he was awarded the title Khan Bahadar by the British government
of India and the title Sitara-i Khidmat by the government of
While receiving medical education, Dr. Saeed Ahmad also applied himself
to religious studies and attained a highly scholarly knowledge of Islam
and the Ahmadiyya Movement. He knew most of the Holy Quran by heart
and had a good knowledge of the Arabic language. During his years in
employment, he used to teach regular dars on the Holy Quran,
Hadith, and the writings of the Promised Messiah. He also regularly
led prayers and gave Friday khutbahs. He was always a speaker
at the annual Jalsa in Lahore. Due to his beautiful recitation
of the Holy Quran and the heart-felt, humble manner of his prayers,
he was often asked by Maulana Muhammad Ali to lead the prayers at the
After retirement from government service in 1964, he continued his
own medical practice in Abbottabad, treating the poor free of charge.
He bought a plot close to his house on which he built a mosque for the
Jama'at where he continued religious teaching. A residential
summer school was also sometimes held there, at which the leading figures
and scholars of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement gave lectures.
Then came that historical landmark, the summer of 1974, when the fanatical
Islamic parties incited mob attacks against Ahmadis throughout Pakistan
as part of their campaign to force the government to declare Ahmadis
as non-Muslims in the law of the land. A mob attacked Dr. Saeed Ahmad's
property and succeeded in burning down his clinic and some of his house.
Dr. Saeed Ahmad and the other residents were besieged in a part of the
house, with the mob threatening to kill them all unless they renounced
their Ahmadi beliefs. However, as Allah would have it, the mob itself
took fright under a misconception, and the residents were saved.
There then followed his move to Lahore and the great work which we
outlined at the outset.
In this article we have only related the main highlights of the life
and services of Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan. In the near future we intend,
insha-Allah, to devote an issue of The Light to contributions
by some of those numerous people who can speak in more detail about
various aspects of the remarkable, noble and long life of this man of
May Almighty Allah grant him mercy and protection
and admit him to His highest places where dwell His most righteous servants!