Ahmad Kamal, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya Ghana
The 20th century started with horses and carriages, but ended with trains, cars and air travel. It had a major shift in the way we lived, with changes in politics, ideology, economics, society, culture, science, technology and medicine.
Most innovations were possible only due to a special class of people; those who can be referred to as “geniuses”; The rare likes of Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, whose intelligence, creativity and contribution to society set them apart from the rest of the world.
These were the not the average “smart guys”, but visionaries who sought to decode and change the world.
As a special favour, God Almighty also blessed the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat with its genius in the 20th century; a genius who was the result of his father’s prayers, following 40 days of solitude and prayers in a small city in north-eastern Punjab, India. This genius was for the world and brought with him the holy spirit.
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra was a gift to the Jamaat from God. A man of phenomenal intelligence and memory, with a rare combination of remarkable wit and leadership.
Despite his frail health, the young Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra had a keen mind and an all-embracing nature.
The famous biographer, Walter Issaacson, has written that all great minds have had one thing in common: curiosity. (https://time.com/5027069/what-makes-a-genius/)
This young man had a variety of past times and interests – luckily, Qadian at the time was a hub of local and foreign games and the young Mahmudra did not shy away from anything as he engaged in football, hunting, swimming, horse riding, badminton and despite being physically weak, kabbadi. He never settled for one sport and enjoyed whatever the season suggested. (Sawaneh Fazl-e-Umar, Vol. 1, p. 126)
Intellectually, at the age of 19, the young Sahibzada stood before the Jamaat and delivered his first speech after the passing away of his beloved father – Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. His memory was still vivid in the mind of the Jamaat and now, here stood his son – bearing an extreme resemblance to his father’s style and delivery, which brought many to tears.
Hazrat Maulvi Sher Alira writes regarding this speech:
“… after the speech, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, who had spent his entire life studying the Holy Quran and whose soul was nourished by this very Quran said that the interpretation given by Mian Sahib for many verses were novel even for me.” (Ibid, p. 218)
It is true what the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer wrote:
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit”,but“Genius hits a target no one else can see”.
In his first public speech, Hazrat Mahmudra brought up such distinct points that were unbeknown to many of the time. The Holy Quran states:
لَّا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ
“None shall touch it except those who are purified”. (Surah al-Waqi‘ah, Ch.56: V.80)
Therefore, this could only mean the young Mahmudra was already present at the altar with God’s select few. He states later in his life:
“However, I am aware that God Almighty has not bestowed knowledge of the Holy Quran to anyone on this earth other than myself. God Almighty granted me knowledge of the Holy Quran and to teach the Holy Quran in this era, He has appointed me as the teacher of the entire world.” (Al-Maud, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 17, p. 645)
His novel wisdom of the Holy Quran would be later written in his Tafsir-e-Kabir, a 10-volume, 5,907-page commentary of 59 chapters of the Holy Quran, which would forever bear testimony to his God-given knowledge of the Quran. He showed absolute mastery in the fields of religion, history, philosophy, psychology, geology, linguistics, medicine, astronomy, cosmology and much more. His deep intelligence and God-given knowledge enabled him to write hundreds of books and deliver such spellbound lectures as would keep his listeners occupied for hours, no matter the weather.
Hazrat Sir Zafrulla Khanra writes:
“He possessed great versatility of mind and the range of his intellect was unmatched among his contemporaries. These qualities were strikingly illustrated in his speeches and writings … His speeches were intellectual banquets at which those present were regaled to their great delight and enjoyment. In that guise, he stimulated their intellects, enlivened their faculties, incited them to climb moral and spiritual heights and sent them home greatly enriched …” (Ahmadiyyat – The Renaissance of Islam, p. 234)
Like all great minds, he was driven by a purpose so strong that it could move mountains. His whole life was spent trying to return Islam to its former glory. Even from a very young age, he knew what he had to do. Hence, Sheikh Ghulam Wa‘z Sahibra once decided to spend the entire night in the mosque praying. Upon entering the mosque, he found someone already engrossed in supplications. He had to wait for a very long time for the said individual to raise his head and when he eventually did, he found out it was the young Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra. In surprise, he asked the young Mahmudra what he was fervently praying for to God. Sahibzada Mirza Mahmud Ahmadra replied:
“I have only asked, ‘O Lord! Please revive Islam in front of my very eyes.’” (Al Fazl, 16 February 1965)
Such an extraordinary answer would leave an imprint on any heart – the innocence of a child as he implores his Lord for such a noble desire. There is no doubt this young man was a gift from God and it is for this reason that every 20 February, we gather to reminisce the character of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, his great achievements for Islam and show our gratefulness to Allah for bestowing upon us such a precious gift.
History bears witness to the pledge the young Mahmudra made at his father’s bedside to continue his mission even if everyone else turned away. Referring to his pledge, decades later, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:
“… to this day I feel that was a phase of such alertness and of the deep knowledge of God that every atom of my body was party to that high resolve. I was convinced that the power and strength of the whole world held no significance against my resolve and determination.” (Al Fazl, 12 June 1944)
The prophets of God often must migrate. Thus in 1947, the Jamaat had its headquarters shifted from India to a newly created Pakistan. If the ease of transition were owed to any human agency, a huge part would be to Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra and prayers. He alone had the courage and vision to save the Jamaat from dispersion and devolution during these difficult times.
Other communities crumbled under the stigma of the migration, but not his Jamaat. Due to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s extraordinary combination of penetrating intellect and leadership, despite being in overwhelming circumstances, he kept the administration functioning and assigned various individuals the task of finding an appropriate location for this purpose, which ultimately resulted in the foundation of the new town for the headquarters of the Community.
The Jamaat kept expanding with Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra as its leader. He nurtured the fragile Jamaat into a well-matured tree with its roots firmly in the ground. Various departments were established, auxiliary organisations for various sections of the Jamaat were set up, Majlis-e-Shura, Tahrik-e-Jadid, Waqf-e-Jadid and a diverse network of Ahmadiyya missions all over the world were established.
Under his leadership, this small community in the subcontinent was now defying expectations and its mission houses were set up in the farthest part of the globe. Even the Paighamis, who predicted the downfall of the community, had no choice but to awe at its progress and praise its captain. Their weekly publication, The Light, wrote a tribute upon his death:
“A man of versatile genius and dynamic personality, there was hardly any sphere of contemporary thought and life during the past half-century, from religious scholarship to missionary organisation, even political leadership, on which the deceased did not leave a deep imprint. A whole network of Islamic missions and mosques scattered over the world, the deep penetration of Islamic preaching in Africa, transplanting the long-entrenched Christian Missions, are a standing monument to the imaginative planning, organisational capacity and unﬂagging drive of the deceased.” (The Light, 16 November 1965)
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra was an orator of such outstanding quality that his speeches would make his audience sit with rapt attention for hours on end, under the hot Indian sun or in the December chill of Qadian; his words dripping into their ears and filling them with pleasure at every new phase. He was a gift from God brimming with divine and secular knowledge.
He was the spiritual genius of the 20th century.