100 Years Ago… – The mother of the Promised Messiah

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Last Updated on 11th March 2022

The Review of Religions, March, April & May, 1922

Her name was Charagh Bibi or the Lady of Light. She was really the Lady of Light, for she gave birth to a son who was to fill the whole earth with light. 

It is a strange coincidence that the mother of the Holy Prophet of Arabia, peace be with him and the blessings of God was named Aminah, a prophetically significant word meaning the peaceful which presaged the coming of that great prince of peace, who even in his early life before he was called to the divine office of a prophet was called Al-Ameen or the trustworthy and a haven of peace. Similarly, the name Charagh Bibi foreshadowed the appearance of one who was to fill the whole earth with divine refulgence. 

She came of a noble family of Hoshiarpur, a district contiguous to the Gurdaspur district, wherein is situated Qadian, the birthplace of the holy founder of the Ahmadiyya movement and its centre. She was very generous, open-handed and hospitable to a degree. She had all those qualities which adorn a chaste and virtuous woman of noble rank. She was always serene and cheerful. Hospitality and generous entertainment of guests had become a ruling passion with her. There are people living still who saw with their own eyes the lavish scale in which this hospitality was dispensed. They say that if she was told that there were four guests at the table, she would send food that would suffice for more than double that number. Moreover, she felt much pleased when she learned that some more guests had arrived. 

She was very particular in looking after the needs of the poor and the weak. It was a common practice with her to provide for the funeral ceremonies of all the poor. It was this sympathetic and helping nature that produced a lasting effect on the son. As it was divinely ordained that he was to become the spiritual father of a great community, therefore in the divine scheme of things he was given such a mother who should bring up her son in a way that would befit him for the glorious career that was in store for him. All these virtuous traits came to him with his mother’s milk. 

As he grew up it was found that he preferred retirement and solitude. He did not take any interest in worldly things – rather he stood aloof – therefore it became all the more incumbent upon the illustrious lady, his mother, to act as his shield, for as the family he sprung from enjoyed a high status in life and had moreover high and noble traditions and antecedents, and at the same time his father, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, was busy striving hard to recover at least some portion of the estates lost during the times of Sikh whirligig, therefore it was but only natural that the whole family should regard him in his character of a recluse as one no better than a useless appendage. 

His absorption in his studies and devotion and his utter disregard of everything pertaining to the secular affairs of the family earned for him the nickname of a mullah, a derisive term for a village priest who lives on the crumbs of the parish. Providence having foreseen this contingency had endowed the maternal heart with deep and solicitous care for the tender and delicate young heart whom the worldly-minded had given up for lost. But the mother instinctively apprehending the virtuous and noble disposition was ever ready to sacrifice her all for the sake of her beloved son and therefore she spared no means to look after his comforts. 

During her lifetime, he was not even once put to any inconvenience. This was all the more necessary because he was not given to laying his wants before anybody; he would suffer rather than demean himself by carrying his wants before others, be they his nearest of kin including his father and elder brother. The lady well knew this peculiar noble trait in her son’s character, therefore she took care to provide all his wants without his soliciting for them. It was thus that maternal affection and providential solicitude to a great extent [that] made up for the father’s apparent listlessness and unconcernedness. 

Being brought up under such circumstances it was but only natural that he should respond to his mother’s devotion in an extraordinary way. Yet at the same time his attitude towards his father was of perfect obedience. He had no heart in the worldly business of his father and felt no inclination, yet he applied himself to it simply to please his father. 

He happened to be away from home when his mother died. All the family knew the intensity of love that subsisted between the mother and the son. Miran Bakhsh, a domestic servant, was despatched with the instructions to fetch him and to break the news by degrees lest his heart should break. As soon as he started for home, and had left Batala behind, the servant urged upon the ekka [a small vehicle with two wheels that is pulled by a horse] driver to quicken the pace of the horse. He inquired of the servant the reason of this. He was told that his mother’s condition was rather bad. A little way further, the servant again urged upon the driver to hasten on whereupon he was again asked the reason for this unusual hurry. He said that her condition was rather too bad. Her condition, said the servant, rather gave cause for alarm, for he had left her in a precarious state. He did not know whether they would find her alive on their reaching Qadian. 

On hearing this, he became silent and the servant after they had proceeded a little way up the road again began to impel the driver to use his whip, at which the Promised Messiah[as] suspecting something unusual told him to let him know the whole thing. At this, he said that up to this time he had withheld the news lest the sudden imparting should break his heart, and then he told him the sad news of his mother’s death. 

All that he said on hearing this was the slow recitation of a Moslem’s creeds انا‭ ‬لله‭ ‬و‭ ‬انا‭ ‬اليه‭ ‬راجعون which means; we are God’s and to God we are to return. So resigned was he to the will of God that he did not betray any uneasiness or emotion. He remained calm and collected even at that trying moment when grief unnerves even the stoutest hearts. 

For the purposes of this article, our description would be incomplete if we leave out an incident insignificant in itself though, which helps to throw a good deal of light on the moral grandeur of the Promised Messiah[as] and his complete disengagement from all worldly thoughts. Once Mirza Sultan Ahmad, his firstborn, while quite a baby was playing in the courtyard, while the Promised Messiah[as], busy with his own thoughts and absorbed in divine contemplation was pacing up and down the floor. 

By chance, the baby fell into the hole used as ground mortar for beating the unhusked rice, with the head downward and legs flying in the air. For some time, the child tried to extricate himself from that difficult position, but when he could not succeed, he burst out crying which brought the grandmother running to the scene of the mishap. She gently pulled him out and thinking of the trouble and pain the little one had undergone and the apparent abstraction and forgetfulness displayed by her son, she could not help commenting rather severely on such a state of things. These sharp comments from his mother brought him back to the world of reality but the only answer he had to make was to smile and say that he was utterly oblivious of all that was passing around him. So simple and unaffected were his words that the mother was quite disarmed. 

Here we have a young man who is brought up in great affluence and with a tender care and whose prime of life could not be dissociated from the heat and passion that are incidental to youth. Yet instead of showing any heat or temper, he by his sweet good temper completely mollified the feeling of resentment engendered by his apparent carelessness. In this, he forms a complete contrast to the truculent attitude of Jesus towards his mother which is a standing rebuke to his system. (Al Hakam)

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Review of Religions, March, April & May, 1922)

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