Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad: The young Editor of Tashheez-ul-Azhan

Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam
Hazrat Mirza Bashirudin Mahmud Ahmad

There was also a sign in the Prophecy of Musleh-e-Maud that “He will grow rapidly in stature”. (Tadhkirah, [2019] p. 178) Being the precise embodiment of this grand prophecy, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra founded an association in 1906 at the tender age of sixteen or seventeen, which was named by the Promised Messiahas as “Tashheez-ul-Azhan”. This association began the publication of a magazine. The young Hazrat Mian Mahmud Ahmad himself pens, elucidating the motivation and backdrop of this association’s inception, stating:

“The Promised Messiahas has repeatedly expressed that a recurrent thought in my heart is the need for an initiative to ensure that the young boys and youth of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya are thoroughly versed in religious matters, and that they stand undaunted and undefeated in written and oral discourse against any adversary, possessing expertise in the theological sciences from every conceivable angle.” (Tashheez-ul-Azhan, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 1906, p. 14)

Commencing on 1 March 1906, the quarterly magazine began its publication under the stewardship of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, serving as the voice of the aforementioned association. It was also bestowed the title Tashheez-ul-Azhan by the Promised Messiahas.

In 1907, the magazine transitioned to a monthly publication. Prompted by the readers’ immediate response to the inaugural issue, there was a clear demand for more frequent releases of this valuable magazine.

The editorial foreword of Tashheez’s first issue outlined the magazine’s purpose and the objectives of the association, emphasising the empowerment of Ahmadi youth through the development of writing and oratory skills, along with excellence in religious scholarship.

The youthful editor, who was then a teenager, wrote:

“Come then, my brothers! Let us gird our loins and strive to the utmost to fulfil the wishes of our master [i.e., the Promised Messiahas]. To realise our master’s aspiration, we propose the establishment of a society under whose auspices a quarterly journal should be issued to hone our writing skills – a concept endorsed by the Promised Messiahas, who himself bestowed upon it the name ‘Risala Tashheez-ul-Azhan’. Through this publication, let us practise our craft so that should any formidable adversary, celebrated for his penmanship, dare to challenge us with the intent of casting aspersions, we shall, by the might of our words, unequivocally vanquish him. This journal shall also include sections dedicated to women, documenting the sermons and counsel the Promised Messiahas imparted to the womenfolk within his household, a practice hitherto unrecorded. Given the importance of reaching out to women as well, it seems fitting that we endeavour to undertake this task too.” (Tashheez-ul-Azhan, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 1906, p. 14)

Tasheez ul Azhan
Front cover of the very first edition of Tashheez-ul-Azhan

Hazrat Sheikh Yaqoob Ali Irfanira, proprietor of the Anwar-e-Ahmadiyya Press in Qadian and manager of this magazine, delineated the magazine’s objectives as follows:

“1: To showcase the luminous countenance of Islam before the world.

“2: To periodically disseminate those counsel and exhortations given by the Promised Messiahas within the household, to the broader Community.

“3: To civilly counter the critiques levelled against Islam, particularly those aimed at the distinguished Ahmadiyya Community, with well-reasoned responses.

“4: To document the biographies of the illustrious figures within Islam.

“5: To elucidate on jurisprudential matters, thereby enlightening those not yet acquainted with Islamic law.”

The reviews and opinions of some other contemporary newspapers and magazines also appeared upon the release of Tashheez-ul-Azhan, which, in the words of Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahma, are as follows:

“The views of our contemporaries:

“First and foremost, I express my profound gratitude to the Almighty God, whose boundless grace and mercy have enabled us to achieve a measure of success in the publication of this journal. We place our trust in His benevolence, hopeful that He will remedy our remaining deficiencies. It is indeed a remarkable favour that the inaugural issue has been published, and at this moment, I am penning the article for the subsequent edition. It is truly a matter for gratitude that the public has received this magazine with esteem. Thus, we summarise the reviews from a selection of newspapers here, to avoid any ingratitude for these blessings.” (Tahsheez-ul-Azhan,  June 1906, Vol. 1, No. 2)

Review of Religions

“Firstly, we briefly present the opinion of the Review of Religions magazine, a publication esteemed for its articles that have stirred considerable interest in Europe and America, thereby affirming the veracity of Islam to such an extent that even detractors are left without a counterargument. Remarkably, its cost is modest, merely two rupees, considering its content and volume. Regarding this journal, Tashheez-ul-Azhan, the following excerpts encapsulate the reviews it has garnered:

“‘The Tashheez-ul-Azhan journal commenced its quarterly publication from Qadian, with its inaugural issue released on 1 March. It stands as a testament to the valour of the youth of this Community. May Almighty God bestow His blessings upon it. The editor of this magazine, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, is the esteemed son of the Promised Messiahas. The first issue contains a 14-page introduction penned by him. While the Community members are certain to peruse this article, I put it forth as a cogent evidence before the detractors of our Community, attesting to its truthfulness.’” (Ibid.)


“I now wish to present to you the perspective of Badr. This weekly newspaper, emanating from Qadian Darul Aman, is offered at a modest annual subscription rate of merely three rupees, notwithstanding the exceptional quality of its articles. It has furnished an impressive review of our magazine, excerpts of which are as follows:

“‘The inaugural edition of Tashheez-ul-Azhan was released on 1 March 1906. The magazine, from start to finish, is captivating and warrants a thorough read. However, its most unique and invaluable segment is found in its final pages – the counsels dispensed by the Promised Messiahas to the women within his household. Such records could only be curated by an editor as esteemed and competent as that of this magazine, a task beyond the reach of others. Even if the magazine contained no other material of substance, these two pages alone render it a treasure worth cherishing. Yet, the remainder of the magazine is replete with articles that are both informative and engaging. Although the publication is quarterly, a monthly issuance would be preferable.’” (Ibid.)


“This newspaper is issued weekly from Moradabad and ranks among India’s most venerable and distinguished publications. The editor’s impartiality is particularly praiseworthy, given the newspaper’s lack of religious ties to the Ahmadiyya Community, lending significant credibility to its viewpoints. The review provided is substantial. Following the discussion of the journal’s objectives and other matters, the esteemed editor’s remarks merit sharing with our readers, which are as follows:

“‘We have received the inaugural edition [of Tashheez-ul-Azhan], comprising seven articles. It is no overstatement to assert that it should be placed second only to the Review of Religions in the hierarchy of Islamic publications. The dissemination of this journal will greatly benefit the Islamic faith. With a volume of 40 pages, its annual subscription cost of merely 12 annas is negligible.’

“The editor, in this critique, also suggests that the magazine ought to dissociate from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s stances – a viewpoint with which we respectfully disagree. God willing, we intend to address this matter in a forthcoming edition.” (Ibid.)

Akhbar Khabardar

“This weekly newspaper, originating from Lahore, has conducted its review with commendable neutrality. However, the final remark eludes our comprehension. Only God knows the editor’s intended meaning by stating:

“‘We hope that within the broad circle of Mirza Sahib’s followers, this magazine will be cherished by all, regardless of the general public’s lack of interest.’

“Is the endeavour to establish the truth of Islam before its adversaries really a task distasteful to Muslims? On the contrary, it is the paramount duty of every Muslim to disseminate the name of the One God throughout the world.”

Al Bayan

“This exceptionally beneficial magazine, published in both Arabic and Urdu, originates from Lucknow. It features a selection of excellent Islamic articles and is issued bi-monthly. Regarding our publication, the review states:

“‘Commencing in March 1906, this magazine [i.e., Tashheez-ul-Azhan] has been issued monthly in Urdu from the Qadian, District Gurdaspur. The objective behind its publication is profoundly significant. Given its auspicious inception, there is a strong expectation of its success in fulfilling its intended purpose. The articles are compelling and written with notable expertise. A distinctive characteristic of this magazine is its publication from the household of a religious leader, with the son of the current Imam serving as its editor.’” (Ibid.)

The foregoing comments offer a glimpse into the noble intentions and remarkable stature of the young editor. It became evident that right from its inaugural issue, Tashheez championed the mission of the Promised Messiahas. Following the establishment of Khilafat within the Jamaat, with Hazrat Hakeem Maulvi Nooruddin assuming the role of Khalifa-tul-Masih, Tashheez lent its steadfast support to the Khalifa. Tashheez consistently demonstrated its loyalty and dedication to Khilafat. The magazine’s youthful editor maintained an unwavering commitment to the esteemed cause and objectives of the Jamaat, offering religious education and guidance to Ahmadi youth and featuring comprehensive research articles that delved into the fundamental aspects of various religions and cultures, marking one of the magazine’s key attributes.

Thus, under the editorship of Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra from its inception in 1906, Tashheez-ul-Azhan embarked on a mission to nurture young talent, exemplified by contributions from notable figures such as Hazrat Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Sialra. The magazine, reflecting the editor’s broad vision, featured a diverse range of content including comparative religious studies, language learning series, and insightful correspondences of the Promised Messiahas. It served as a platform to voice the teachings of the Promised Messiahas and support the cause of Khilafat, addressing objections against Islam with reasoned responses. Additionally, Tashheez dedicated sections to poetry, research on other religions, and biographical accounts, enriching the spiritual and intellectual landscape of its readers. This periodical not only highlighted the young editor’s commitment to religious education and scholarly discourse but also his God-given ability to engage with and inspire members of the Jamaat and beyond.

Despite its exceptional efficiency, Tashheez-ul-Azhan encountered administrative challenges from the outset due to funding shortages. Consequently, appeals for prompt payment of subscription fees and donations were conveyed through personalised letters to readers and subscribers, as well as through advertisements in Tashheez-ul-Azhan that included lists of contributors. Additionally, to facilitate smooth administrative operations, the magazine occasionally featured advertisements from select businesses.

In addition to Hazrat Qazi Zahooruddin Akmalra, the magazine’s roster of contributors included Khadim Hussain Khadim Sahib of Bhera, known for his scholarly articles on Shiite beliefs, and the incisive critiques of Syed Sadiq Hussain Sahib, both of whom significantly aided the Editor.

Despite financial constraints, the magazine consistently maintained its publication schedule without reducing the size or content to ensure its readers received the full value, upholding its commitment to punctuality from its Lahore press. Reflecting on Tashheez-ul-Azhan’s modest beginnings and subsequent significant growth, Hazrat Sheikh Yaqoob Ali Irfanira provides a poignant account in his piece titled “Acquisition of the Art of Editorship”:

“It is often said that poets are born, not made. In the same vein, it is apt to state that individuals like Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Ahmadra are natural poets as well as innate editors. He did not acquire this craft from anyone; instead, the mastery and dominion over the pen have been inherited by him, much like his elder brother, Khan Bahadur Mirza Sultan Ahmad, possesses. At a tender age, around ten or eleven, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Ahmadra founded an association, with myself, the Editor Al Hakim serving as its inaugural secretary. This society, now esteemed for its extensive library and the monthly publication, Tashheez-ul-Azhan, has flourished for seven years, achieving remarkable success. Initially a quarterly publication, it now publishes a monthly circulation exceeding one thousand copies.” (Al Hikam, Khilafat Jubilee Number, 28 December 1939, p. 15)

On the inner title of the issue of March 1914 under the title “Wasal of Hazrat Khalifa-tul-Masih” it is written that:

“1. On Friday, the 13th of March, our Ameer-ul-Momineen, Maulana Nooruddinra, passed away after enduring a prolonged illness for several weeks. May Allah grant him forgiveness and honour his resting place. The following evening, he was laid to rest on the west side, adjacent to the Promised Messiahas.

“2. As his successor, Hazrat Ibn-ul-Mahdi, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, was designated. May Allah support and assist him.”

In 1957, after a period of ceasing publication, the publication of Tashheez-ul-Azhan was revived by Hazrat Maulvi Abu-al-Ata Jalandhrira, who proposed its republication to nurture and educate young Ahmadi boys and girls. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud endorsed this initiative, leading to the magazine’s reissue. However, due to legal constraints, the magazine’s publication has since ceased.

Nonetheless, the archives of Tashheez-ul-Azhan, a magazine, once thriving under the editorship of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, remain an invaluable resource for readers and scholars alike, echoing the profound intellect and wisdom of the Promised Son who – in exact accordance with the Prophecy of Musleh-e-Maud –“grew rapidly in stature” – endowed with remarkable acumen and depth of knowledge.

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