Distinct leadership qualities of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad

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Fazal Masood Malik & Farhan Khokhar Canada

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Fear is the emotion that grips the heart of its victim with icy, cold fingers. It was this fear that paralysed thousands in the late winter of 1914. A small community of the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, was lost in despair when the benevolence of Allah turned the tide and Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, the son of the king foretold by ancient scriptures (Al Fazl, 18 February 2016, pp. 17-19) became the shepherd – the leader. Security and peace replaced dread and thus began a monumental chapter in the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat.

Years before his election to the office of Khilafat, the young Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra displayed a remarkable resolve that powerfully attested to his leadership abilities. The fear that numbed the community in the winter of 1914 was the same terror that overtook it following the demise of the Promised Messiahas in 1908.

There, standing by the blessed body of the Promised Messiahas, a young Mahmud Ahmadra proclaimed with every fibre of his being, “Even if the entire Ahmadiyya Jamaat leaves you, I will carry your mission to every corner of the world!” (Sawaneh Fazl-e-Umar, V. 1, pp. 178-179)

This was not a mere youthful emotional proclamation; his entire life became the embodiment of fulfilling this pledge.

In 1914, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, Musleh-e-Maud, was elected as Khalifatul Masih II. The weak elements in the community started to rebel, attempting to weaken the blessed institution of Khilafat. The malice of hostile factions had found a new life.

A few members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, including some intellects, erroneously came to believe that the Promised Messiahas was not a prophet but a mujaddid (reformer). They believed that an administrator should be appointed to continue his work, not a Khalifa. (The Ahmadiyya Movement, Vol. IV – The Split, 1918)

This group became known as the Paighamis (Lahori Ahmadis) due to the fact they went to Lahore aft er the demise of Khalifatul Masih Ira and renounced their pledge to Khilafat. The Paighamis started publishing papers and distributing them to Ahmadi Muslims residing outside of Qadian; they had also taken the organisation’s finances, leaving the Khalifa and his Jamaat with a burdensome debt (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 4, p. 125, 228).

The speed with which they were able to spread their false doctrines indicated that the preparation for such a scheme had begun long before. They claimed that if the young Mahmud Ahmadra was allowed to become the Khalifa, the Jamaat would dissipate and Qadian be lost in no time. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra responded to the accusations swiftly and decisively.

A general call for donations was met with extreme enthusiasm. Articles and advertisements printed all over India gave logical and definitive answers to the questions raised by the Lahori group. For example, the article entitled, Who Can Stop the Work of God? – in which Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra drew the attention of pious Jamaat members back towards their Khalifa – is a true reflection of his exceptional mental abilities, sincere dedication and utmost belief in God.

In addition, many Ahmadi Muslims were sent to every corner of India to ensure the queries were addressed in a timely and proper manner. These efforts bore fruit and within days of the malicious attack on Khilafat, the once turbulent ocean of fear became calm. In light of the difficult situation faced by the Jamaat, while the flames of dissension were being doused with logic and common sense, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra turned to the community and brought people together for consultation at the Majlis-e-Shura in 1914.

This demonstrated another noble quality of leadership where, even in times of turmoil, a true leader works with his followers to move the organisation forward. (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 4, pp. 141-142)

The community of the Promised Messiahas was still fragile and learning to walk on broken ground. Aft er consultations, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra created various nazarats (departments), which were instrumental in organising the monumental work that stood ahead for the community. This structure would act upon the guidance of Khalifatul Masih and implement his wisdom.

As a good leader, he knew these measures were not enough to ensure continuity. Leadership as a skill had to be instilled into the hearts of the members. He recognised the need for women to take an active role in the spiritual and moral upbringing of their children. Out of this immense desire, to see every member of the community succeed, was born the first auxiliary – Lajna Imaillah – a leadership organisation for Ahmadi Muslim women, announced on 25 December 1922. (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 4, p. 303, 566)

With a profound understanding that different age groups and genders had different requirements, Huzoorra formed an establishment of youth called Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya on 31 January 1938. For members aged 40 and above, he formed Ansarullah on 26 July 1940. The purpose of these auxiliary organisations was spiritual training and advancement towards the achievement of the Jamaat’s noble objectives. (Al Fazl, 17 November 1943, pp. 1-8)

His yearning to find ways of protecting the Jamaat in every aspect led him to formally establish the system of Qaza (judiciary) in 1919. The purpose of setting up an internal judicial and adjudication system was to provide the Jamaat with a fair, economical and dignified way for its members to settle internal disputes. (Silsila-e-Ahmadiyya, Vol. 1, pp. 356-357)

As a leader, he had the foresight to mitigate future challenges. Keeping in mind the crisis with which the Jamaat had been confronted following the demise of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, he established an electoral college for the election of the Khalifa.

Education and the financial system

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra viewed education as an essential life skill that permitted a person to participate intelligently in social and economic development. He did not view it as a limited process where children emerged from school with the required life skills, but an ongoing learning process which developed the right attitudes, skills and emotional intelligence. His fervent belief in education is evident from his tireless efforts.

During the life of his esteemed father, he started a magazine called Tash-heezul-Azhaan, meaning “sharpening of mental abilities”. Its purpose was to educate youth in a language that was comfortable for them. In 1913, under the guidance of Khalifatul Masih Ira, he started the Al Fazl newspaper with a view to improve the moral guidance of more mature members of the community and strengthen their understanding of Islam. (Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 8, p. 329)

Recognising the importance of strong leaders, an orderly environment and a focus on basic academic skills, he established a high school for girls (1928, 1951) and a higher learning institute called Talim-ul-Islam College, first in Qadian, then in Rabwah (1944, 1950).

Nusrat Girls School was establish in 1928, then in 1951 (Rabwah) with further expansion in 1962. The Talim-ul-Islam school was first initiated by the Promised Messiahas in 1898. Due to changing requirements of the University of Punjab, it closed down in 1905 and was reopened in Qadian in 1944, then in 1950 in Lahore, aft er the migration to Pakistan, and finally in Rabwah in 1954.

To ensure that the Community founded by the Promised Messiahas flourished in the Indian subcontinent and around the world, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra established two critical financial schemes; Waqf-e-Jadid and Tahrik-e-Jadid.

Political Savviness

One of the qualities of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’sra insightful political awareness was that other world leaders often sought his advice on complex matters. His detailed guidance for the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, his political, moral and financial support for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute and his detailed guidance on the resolutions of Palestine and Jordan are just some examples of his remarkable ability in the political sphere.

The partition of India is a painful chapter in history, riddled with the blood of millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. By the grace of Allah and owing to the exceptional planning of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, thousands of Muslims – Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi – migrated to Pakistan from Qadian with no casualties.

There remained, however, a core group of people in Qadian, including members of Huzoor’s family, whose purpose was to safeguard the blessed town, even if it meant dying for the cause. They numbered 313 and are known as the Darweshan-e-Qadian. (Al Furqan, 1963)

After the establishment of Pakistan, the situation in Kashmir worsened and threatened the freedom of the newly formed nation of Pakistan. At the behest of the Government of Pakistan, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra organised a military force known as the Furqan Battalion. This entirely volunteer-based battalion served with the Pakistan Military at the Jammu border in Pakistan from 1948 to 1950. (Ahmadiyyat – The Renaissance of Islam, p. 329)

Once the situation in Pakistan had stabilised and Ahmadi migrants had started their new lives, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra offered guidance to a multitude of groups on how to build a bright future for Pakistan. These lectures focused on the creation of industrial as well as scientific industries. (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 11, pp. 406-437)

In one of his lectures to the Executive Council of Pakistan, Huzoorra advised not forcing East Pakistan to adopt Urdu, otherwise “they will separate from Pakistan …” (Al Fazl, 14 December 1947, pp. 1-4)

An unbiased study of history clearly reveals that the main issue dividing West and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) was language. This issue caused the division of a country and resulted in bloodshed. (War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh, 1991)

His humble Jamaat, however, was ready to off er any sacrifice deemed essential by the Khalifa. Well aware that the Jamaat needed financial stability and intellectual acumen, he worked tirelessly on both fronts. The Jamaat, in turn, stood behind every decision he made. They walked the path he walked and they cherished the words he spoke. If the measure of success is the prayers of a Khalifa, they ensured that the eyes of Allah were always pleased with them and their obedience to the Khalifa.

The riots of 1953 once again tested the resolve of the community. The state and clergy had joined forces with the aim of annihilating Ahmadi Muslims. With his followers being martyred and their belongings being looted, he successfully navigated the community from grave danger into another era of success. (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, Friday Sermon, 22 March 1985)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra stands out in the pages of history as a great spiritual leader who strove to ensure that a chain of leaders was left behind him. As a khalifa, he guaranteed that the dignity and nobility of the office of Khilafat remained immaculate and honourable. Throughout his 52 years, one does not find a day in which Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya did not stride forward in a manner greater than the day before.

An impressive number of mosques, missions, schools and hospitals form but one small part of his legacy. His love for the Holy Quran and his burning desire to save every human being on the planet led to the translation of the Holy Quran in over 20 languages, a feat almost unimaginable for the Jamaat in 1914, when the flames of hatred were threatening to destroy Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. (Sawaneh Fazl-e-Umar, Vol. 1, pp. 327-58)

The daunting migrating from one country to another is sufficient to make a person worried; but this man of God not only successfully migrated thousands of Muslims to Pakistan, but created an entire new home for them – Rabwah – which served as the headquarters for millions of Ahmadi Muslims around the world.

A desolate land that was desperate for life had waited patiently to welcome the followers of the Promised Messiahas, to offer all it had to the Khalifa we know today as “Musleh-e-Maud”.

O what a portrait of greatness was this man! Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, the Promised Son, a leader with unsurpassed, godly qualities – in his own being, a nation!

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