Amtushakoor Tayyaba Ahmed (Umm-e-Taalay), UK
وَ اِذَا سَمِعُوۡا مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَي الرَّسُوۡلِ تَرٰۤي اَعۡيُنَهُمۡ تَفِيۡضُ مِنَ الدَّمۡعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوۡا مِنَ الۡحَقِّ ۚ يَقُوۡلُوۡنَ رَبَّنَاۤ اٰمَنَّا فَاكۡتُبۡنَا مَعَ الشّٰهِدِيۡنَ
“And when they hear what has been revealed to this Messenger, thou seest their eyes overflow with tears, because of the truth which they have recognied. They say, ‘Our Lord, we believe, so write us down among those who bear witness.” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.84)
وه مجھ سے كہہ رہا تها اب مجهے بهی ساتھ لڑنا ہے
بتائيں كون سی تلوار سے كب وار كرنا ہے
سو ميں نے اُس كو سب سے قيمتی شمشير دے دی تھی
اور اُس كے ہاتھ ميں قرآن كی تفسير دے دی تھی
“‘Give me my sword’, he said, ‘and give me my armour; I’m here my master! To lay flesh and bone.’
“In the battle of morals, in a war for peace; To give him the best, I looked for a weapon; The Holy Quran, being the best shield and sword.” (“Odyssey of Our Time”, Persona Poem [abridged version], Asif M Basit, Al Hakam, 17 September 2021, p. 15)
A few days before Taalay was born in Lahore, my mother rang me from Hartlepool and related a dream, telling me the good news of a blessed son. In the dream, she saw a baby in a cradle, hands raised, saying “Assalamo alaikum”. There was a blue card with the words “God” in English and “Allah” in Arabic.
Writing about Syed Taalay Ahmed Shaheed is, in my own humble way, to reflect some of the blessings that are being bestowed on millions of people around the world through their link to Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, the successorship of the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, the ardent devotee of, and whose advent was foretold by, none other than the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, himself.
There will be many who will read about these blessings, pray for the blessed institution of Khilafat, for Taalay himself, his family and the Jamaat as a whole. Many may identify the same or similar blessings being bestowed on themselves and thus bow down in gratitude to Allah the Almighty and praise Him. In the same way, many will, insha-Allah, be inspired to devote themselves in a similar way as is appropriate for them. May Allah accept this hope and prayer. Amin.
Love for the Holy Prophetsa and the Holy Quran
As aforementioned, Taalay was deeply engaged in an online jihad of the pen from the age of 21 onwards. In later years, particularly I, his father and siblings were not even aware of some of this work. What I was aware of over the last few years was that his study, research and learning of religion was deep and secure, by the grace of Allah.
His name meant fortunate, amongst other things and thus it was his good fortune to have Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib, lecturer at Jamia UK and currently national tabligh secretary of Jamaat UK and family become his neighbours (2017-2019). Taalay used this opportunity to share and increase his love of the Holy Prophetsa and thus, his knowledge of the Holy Quran and Islam Ahmadiyyat.
During this period, he studied the Arabic of the Holy Quran with Ikhlaf Sahib so that his pronunciation improved and gained an authentic Arab-style recitation. They also spent hours studying and discussing Tafsir-e-Kabir, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Noah’s Ark, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, Blessings of Khilafat and allegations against the Jamaat and Islam.
As mentioned by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa in his Friday Sermon of 3 September:
“On the way to and from work, he would listen to lessons on the Holy Quran given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh.” Taalay’s love for the Holy Quran meant he used every avenue available to him and it is reported by his respected wife that he had watched all of the Al Tarteel programmes by MTA.
Taalay was martyred at the age of 31 and thus, his online jihad was done from the viewpoint of (and to) an audience of youth. In an email to himself, he kept a record of some contributions he made online around six years ago and I suspect that he would have intended to revise and extend his informal notes over time. This was not to be. Nevertheless, they are informative and interesting. I choose just a handful.
History of Islam I – Introduction: “The Life of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islamsa
“609 AD: Revelation begins
“The revelation of the Quran began from a place of darkness.
“Violence, slavery and the unjust treatment of women were some of the sins rife across the Arabian peninsula. There were no schools and many Arabs were uneducated and illiterate. The rich would often devote their days to drinking parties and gambling. Poor men suffered; poor women suffered more. The status of women was so low that some families practised female infanticide. Men would inherit step mothers as their wives. Polygamy was practised in an unlimited fashion – in fact, some men would take multiple wives from among a group of sisters at any given time.
“Muhammadsa was different. He freed slaves and gave his money to the poor. He took particular care of orphans – he was an orphan himself. His honesty was so famous his people named him ‘The Truthful One’. He did not follow the polytheistic faith common to Arabia and instead believed only in one God. He would travel from his hometown Mecca to the nearby cave Hira to spend days at a time engaged in prayer.
“And it was in the darkness of a cave situated in the darkest of lands at the darkest of times that the revelation of the Quran began.
“When the angel Gabrielas descended upon Muhammadsa for the first time and began teaching him God’s message – the Quran – Muhammadsa reacted with total and utter shock. Bewildered, he returned to his wife Khadijara and anxiously said: ‘I fear that something may happen to me.’
‘Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.’ [Bukhari]
“Khadija’sra response perhaps makes her, a woman, the first person to accept Islam.
“News of Muhammad’ssa strange claim quickly began to spread. When his closest friend, Abu Bakrra, heard the news, he visited the Prophetsa directly. Muhammadsa began to try to explain what had happened, fearing the rumours would cost him his dear friend. Abu Bakrra refused to listen and simply asked again – tell me if it is true, are you a prophet? When Muhammadsa answered positively, Abu Bakrra immediately accepted and noted any extended explanation would have diminished the value of his faith.
“It is worth considering how those who knew Muhammadsa best – his wife and closest friend – both accepted him without question. This is a testament to his noble character. In fact, his earliest companions seem to have been largely those who knew him most intimately. They included his honoured cousin Alira and a slave he had freed and adopted named Zaidra […]”.
On why some prophecies are harder to understand
“[…] However there are some prophecies which are not as straightforward. The well-known examples found in both the Bible and the Quran which I regularly refer to in this regard are those of Abrahamas and Josephas. Abrahamas sees himself slaughtering his son in a dream, which is fulfilled by him slaughtering a lamb. Meanwhile, Josephas interprets a dream of seven thin kine eating seven fat kine to mean seven years of plenty followed by seven of famine.
“The question here arises as to why God speaks in such riddles. Why not make everything straightforward and blunt? I think the answer here is found in returning to my days at university. I would have found it most easy to pass all my exams if the professors constantly spoke like young children. Their language would be simple, technical terms would be dropped and nobody could fail to understand their subjects.
“However, able and enthusiastic students want a little more. We want to be challenged. We want our professors to speak intellectually. In the same way, who could admire a God that authored a holy book written in robotic bullet points, like the instruction manual for building a set of Ikea furniture? Such a scripture lacking any requirement towards critical thinking could only cultivate a nation of mindless zombies. No, we Muslims – and Christians – love God’s poetic rhyme schemes, powerful rhetoric and thought-provoking parables.
So it is that God often speaks through metaphors […]”.
History of Islam II (Battle of Badr)
“[…] So it was that the Meccans embarked in the direction of Medina with a force of 1,000 soldiers. Having effectively declared war, their intentions were clear; to wipe out Islam by killing every living Muslim male and taking the Muslim women captive.
“Faced with complete genocide, the Prophetsa left Medina with a force of 313 Muslims. Ill-equipped and outnumbered three-to-one, they met the Meccans at Badr. Relatives faced one another and Muhammadsa himself must have looked across the battle field and seen his paternal uncle Abbas. Abbas was still a non-Muslim, but like other members of Muhammad’ssa family, he had supported him at Mecca and had suffered under the vicious persecution the Muslims had faced. Now, as a non-Muslim and resident of Mecca he would be forced to battle his own nephew.
“Facing annihilation, the Muslims fought desperately for their faith, their lives and their families. The chiefs and generals of their opponents fell and the Meccans were made to turn their backs. The battle was won but the war had only begun.
“Interestingly, Abbasra was captured and tied with the other prisoners of war. That night, Muhammadsa could not sleep as he heard the groans of Abbasra lying nearby. Seeing this, the Muslims loosened Abbas’ra ropes to ease his discomfort. When the Prophetsa heard his uncle had gone quiet, he said this could not be; it was unjust for his family to receive advantages not offered to the families of other Muslims. Muhammadsa ordered all the prisoners have their bonds loosened as Abbas’ra had been […]”.
History of Islam III (pre-Islamic onwards): Machinations of Hypocrites
“[…] Hashim was a great man among the pre-Islamic Meccan community. He was a talented leader, a generous host and a skilled tradesman who would travel the country from time to time. On one visit to Syria, he stopped en route at the city of Yathrab. There he married a local girl, Salma, and they were blessed with a son, Shaibah.
“After Hashim passed away, his brother Muttalib took on his various roles and duties within Mecca. When Muttalib was informed of Shaibah’s outstanding intelligence, he travelled to Yathrab, where Shaibah was residing with his mother, and took the young boy under his care. On their arrival in Mecca, the people saw Shaibah and, not knowing who he was, assumed Muttalib had purchased a slave. Henceforth, Shaibah became known as Abdul Muttalib, meaning ‘Slave of Muttalib’.
“Abdul Muttalib now faced a number of challenges. He was young and – having lived in Yathrab – somewhat of an outsider. Perhaps it was for this reason that his uncle Nawfal claimed Abdul Muttalib’s inheritance. The young man appealed to the people of Mecca, but they offered no assistance. So he sent word to Yathrab and immediately 80 men from his old home came to his aid and demanded the rights of their kinsman be upheld. Nawfal was forced to back down.
“Abdul Muttalib’s inheritance was safe and his influence in Mecca continued to grow until he was considered perhaps the richest and most authoritative leader within the city. By the end of his life, he had been blessed with dozens of descendants. However it was one young grandson, orphaned by/at the age of six, who was a particular favourite. Muhammadsa came under the custodianship of his grandfather and the two developed an affectionate relationship. The young Muhammadsa would informally sit beside Abdul Muttalib, who would sometimes lovingly pick him up and place him on his shoulders.
“Almost half a century later, the Prophetsa of Islam migrated from Mecca to Yathrab, which now became known as Medina-tur-Rasul (‘The City of the Messenger’) and eventually just ‘Medina’. There, a growing community of Muslims had already accepted Islam and the city welcomed Muhammadsa as their chief.
“And yet, a group formed within the Medinians [Medinites] who, having outwardly embraced Islam, rejected it within and secretly conspired against the Prophetsa. And what sort of Prophet was it against whom they conspired? Was it the man whose advent was foretold in the Bible:
“‘[…] from his right hand went a fiery law for them.’ (Deuteronomy 33:2)
“Muhammadsa had been given a religious law in the Quran which, like a well-placed fire, illuminated its followers. How ironic that the hypocrites, with rays of light shining upon their faces, were left spiritually blind and unable to benefit. For it was the Medinians who were the people from which the Prophet’ssa grandfather had come. The Medinians had been the people who had secured his inheritance and status in Mecca. This grandfather of Medinian heritage had then been the man who cared personally for Muhammadsa when he was left an orphan. And the Medinians were the people who offered Muhammadsa sanctuary and made him the chief of their city. And so nobody can deny that Allah the Almighty had blessed the people of Medina with a historical role in nurturing the fire of Islam. Yet, this minority had embraced hypocrisy and disbelief. So despite being from Medina, despite having played an inadvertent role in the rise of Islam, despite in theory being among the first to accept Islam, were absolutely unable to gain from the teachings of Muhammadsa […]”.
History of Islam IV – Allegation answered – Conquest of Mecca 629/630 AD
“It is worth noting here that the number of Muslims had grown exponentially at this time, so that Muhammadsa was immediately able to raise a force of 10,000. How strange that critics of Islam claim it was spread by the sword when factually during four years of war the number of Muslim men grew from 300 to no more than 3,000 while during just 18 months of peace the numbers of faithful men exploded from 3,000 to 10,000.
“The rapid progress of Islam meant the tables were now turned and Muhammadsa marched upon Mecca – his old tormentors left powerless to resist. Yet, just as vengeance was in his grasp he chose magnanimity. He announced that the Meccans would be treated peacefully if they did not fight, saying: ‘By God, you will have no punishment today and no reproof’. So the great city of Mecca fell with only a dozen or so unfortunate deaths, but otherwise no bloodshed.
“Moreover, Muhammadsa – the Truthful One – kept his word perfectly. To give just one example, Habbar, the Meccan man who had murdered the Prophet’ssa pregnant daughter Zainabra came to him and asked if he could really forgive such a person. Muhammadsa readily agreed and Habbar was not punished. Truly, the Prophetsa proved himself a mercy for mankind.”
Discussion on ban to non-Muslims on use of “Allah”
“[…] In January 2014 Malaysia’s highest court upheld a ban prohibiting all non-Muslim citizens from using the word ‘Allah’, rejecting the appeals of the country’s Catholic church. The ban may have pleased a small group of Muslim activists who celebrated outside the court, but it seemed particularly harsh on over a third of Malaysia’s population, who were left unable to use a word that had formed a key part of their language and the local Christian religion for centuries.
“What was strange about the decision is that ‘Allah’ originates from Arabic, where it is a name for God and is used by Christians and Muslims alike. In fact, historically the term was common, long before the advent of Islam. When Muhammadsa signed the treaty of Hudaibiyah with the non-Muslims of Mecca in 628 AD, the Meccans repeatedly edited the text to remove any Islam-specific terminology. Yet they fully endorsed the document beginning with the words ‘In Your name, O Allah’ – because that had been their practice even before the advent of Islam. [Bukhari] […]”.
The above writings show just a small snapshot of Taalay’s work as an online defender of Islam. As a further example, Taalay himself has provided the following link to discuss the role and compilation of hadith, on the WikiAhmadiyya website, www.wikiahmadiyya.org/ahadith.
By the grace and mercy of Allah, we have been granted the blessing of following the Reformer of the time, the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas and there are countless others who are humbly serving and shall continue to serve as humble servants of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, insha-Allah.
“Their passion, their zeal, as if on fire; And nothing beyond their ardent reach.” (“Odyssey of Our Time”, Persona Poem [abridged version], Al Hakam, 17 September 2021, p. 15)
(Please note: Syed Taalay Ahmed Shaheed’s notes presented above were for his personal use, hence why names were not given in full)
(To be continued …)