The delight of my eyes: Syed Taalay Ahmed Shaheed – Student years


Amtushakoor Tayyaba Ahmed (Umm-e-Taalay – Mother of Taalay)

Taalay aged four
Taalay, aged four | Photo courtesy of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s family

“Our Lord, grant us of our spouses and children the delight of [our] eyes, and make [each of] us a leader of the righteous.” (Surah al-Furqan, Ch.25: V.75)

The verse above teaches us to ask for the delight of our eyes and I am sure, like myself, many Ahmadi mothers have made this request and submission to Allah the Almighty even before they became mothers. 

By the grace and mercy of Allah, in Taalay’s case, he surpassed any expectations or assumptions I had regarding the fulfilment of his waqf pledge, alhamdulillah. In the words of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper:

“He fulfilled the pledge he made with me and did justice to it”. (Al Hakam, 3 September 2021,

Both my husband and I are extremely humbled by Taalay’s martyrdom and we are extremely grateful to Allah the Almighty for the blessing of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya on our wonderful Jamaat, alhamdulillah.

There are two incidents in Taalay’s formative years, when he was a teenager, which I would like to share with readers of Al Hakam as I think they are not only interesting, but also inspiring in a way that can help others to confidently deal with modern-day societal challenges. 

As a child

Taalay at nursery
Syed Taalay Ahmed at nursery | Photo courtesy of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s family

Taalay was an extremely intelligent child from a very young age. He had an excellent memory and as mentioned by beloved Huzooraa in his Friday Sermon of 3 September, Taalay learnt a number of chapters of the Holy Quran from part 30 when he was only three years old. 

In those days there used to be free dinosaur toys that came with breakfast cereal boxes and a new dinosaur toy would be Taalay’s reward once he had learnt a new surah (chapter).

I remember telling my mother which chapters he had learnt and she was surprised and perhaps a little sceptical until she heard him recite them herself.

As Taalay grew older and began going to nursery, and then school, his speech and language skills seemed extraordinary. He loved to talk, play word games and rhymes. I remember a surprising conversation with him when he came back from nursery. 

Taalay at primary school aged 10
Taalay at primary school, aged 10 | Photo courtesy of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s family

We lived in Abu Dhabi at the time and spoke Urdu in our home, although being from the UK, I had taught Taalay English too. However, English could be said to be more of a second language for him at the time. 

One day, he returned home; again, he was around three or four. He retold me what had happened in nursery that day and that his teacher, “Miss Karen” had played a word game with him in which she would say a word and Taalay would have to find another matching word, e.g. if she said “sock”, he would say “shoe”; if she said “leg”, he would say “arm”. 

Taalay recited what seemed to be the whole game word-for-word and I noted that not only had he been very successful at the game with his teacher, he also seemed to remember the whole sequence.

Once, in primary school, Taalay began to also show an incredible ability with numbers. In fact, in later years, I realised the fact that he could complete mathematical calculations in his head without even sometimes knowing how he did this, meaning he did not need to write or learn methods the way most students do – which actually was of detriment by the time he reached A levels as all students need to show their methods by that stage to gain marks! 

Taalay first child on the left second row. Miss Karen in the back row wearing glasses
Taalay, second row, first child on the left. Miss Karen, Taalay’s teacher, in the back row, wearing glasses | Photo courtesy of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s family

English Martyr’s Sixth Form College Head Student

However, it was during his time as a student at English Martyr’s Sixth Form College that he became head student and there is one remarkable incident during his time at college that I have thought about many times and would like to narrate for the benefit of readers, particularly teenage students who may experience similar challenges during their student years. 

Taalay at sixth form
Syed Taalay Ahmed at sixth form | Photo courtesy of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s family

As those of us who do not aspire to achieve the mantle of head student in our school and college years know, becoming head student is no mean feat. It requires policy suggestions, a successful campaign and a high level of confidence and popularity, all of which Taalay was blessed with, by the grace of Allah. The role comes with a range of responsibilities, of course, and it was a few weeks later that Taalay broached the topic of the annual college party, which was a long-standing tradition that required the presence of the head student.

Taalay explained to me that the party would take place in a nightclub and although he did not desire to go there, it was his duty to attend and welcome the other students. He suggested that after he had welcomed everyone, he would return home quickly. 

What happened that evening has always been a source of happiness and amazement to me. 

When Taalay arrived at the nightclub, surprisingly, all the students were standing outside. The owner of the club, although knowing the club had been booked for the night and paid for, had realised that all the students, barring four, were still 17 years old. Therefore, the nightclub (which only allowed people over the age of 18 years in) needed to get some further permissions before the sixth formers were allowed in. 

Whilst everyone was outside of the nightclub, Taalay was able to greet all his friends and year-mates as head boy. Not only this, as was always his way, he light-heartedly entertained them with a few jokes etc., before returning home. It was only after Taalay had left that the rest of the year group was allowed to go into the nightclub!

This incident demonstrates how Allah the Almighty finds ways and means to save his loved ones from harmful company and the more Allah loves someone, the more He protects them, alhamdulillah.

Queen Mary University London

The second incident that I wish to mention happened as Taalay began his biomedical sciences degree at Queen Mary University in London. Making new friends in a new environment provides a support system for students beginning a new independent phase of life. Such friends have an important place, providing company and support in free time and during study hours.

This was also the case for Taalay. 

Having moved from his home and familiar surroundings and friendships in Hartlepool in the North East, he was now in East London, a completely unfamiliar place for him and he was glad when he made a friend (I think he was called Alan). Alan, who was a great support in many ways, however, also wished for Taalay to accompany him on some of the get-togethers and parties that the other students were enjoying. Taalay had politely declined all such invitations. Until one occasion.

I found out what had happened one evening at the end of October 2008. Taalay rang me as he was sitting on the London Underground on the way to Southfields. He explained that as Alan had requested him so many times to accompany him to parties, finally, just to pacify him, he had agreed to go with him to a party for a short while that evening. 

“Guess what, Mama!”, he happily exclaimed. “I remembered this evening that Huzooraa was having a family mulaqat and I felt a sudden desire that I must go. (Some informal meetings for the extended family would take place in Huzoor’saa home at that time.) However, once I began the journey, I remembered that today, I had agreed to go to the party for a short while with Alan. Now I’ll just have to explain to him I forgot!” Taalay sounded very happy and content at this turn of events masha-Allah.

Taalay on the right in the company of Huzoor during his college going days
Syed Taalay Ahmed (right) as a teenager, in the company of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa | Photo courtesy of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s family

So, this is what happened the next time Taalay had an innocent plan to go to a party! His love for Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa prevented him from doing something that was not good for him.

Through the years that followed, these mulaqats (meetings) with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa were the highlight of Taalay’s days. Almost always, after each mulaqat, Taalay would ring his father or I and happily narrate anything Huzooraa had said to him or his family members. 

As Taalay became more and more occupied with MTA work, or other Jamaat related work, or his personal in-depth research into Islam Ahmadiyyat, I learnt that Taalay’s time and attention was more and more precious. Yet after each mulaqat, sometimes, even fairly late at night, the phone would ring and Taalay’s excitement was, by the grace of Allah, irrepressible. 

There is an incident recorded about the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, when he was a youth and he set off to attend an evening gathering of the style of those times. It is likely the gathering would not have been according to the dignity of our beloved Holy Prophetsa, so slumber overtook him and he woke up in the morning to find he had missed the event. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 207, Babu Dhikri Rasulillahisa wa Asbabihi [Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, 2002])

It is surely a source of delight to parents like myself reading this that the blessings bestowed by Allah the Almighty on His Chosen Holy Prophet Muhammad Rasulullahsa are also bestowed to this day on his humble followers, particularly those that have joined the beautiful Jamaat of his Ardent Devotee, the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him. 

May Allah continue to shower such blessings on our son in Heaven and on this wonderful and blessed community, that is Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya. Amin

اَللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬صَلِّ‭ ‬عَلٰى‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬وَعَلَى‭ ‬اٰلِ‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬كَمَا‭ ‬صَلَّيْتَ‭ ‬عَلٰى‭ ‬اِبْرَاهِيْمَ‭ ‬وَعَلٰى‭ ‬اٰلِ‭ ‬اِبْرَاهِيْمَ‭ ‬اِنَّكَ‭ ‬حَمِيْدٌ‭ ‬مَّجِيْدٌ

اَللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬بَارِكْ‭ ‬عَلٰى‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬وَّعَلٰى‭ ‬اٰلِ‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬كَمَا‭ ‬بَارَكْتَ‭ ‬عَلٰى‭ ‬اِبْرَاهِيْمَ‭ ‬وَعَلٰى‭ ‬اٰلِ‭ ‬اِبْرَاهِيْمَ‭ ‬اِنَّكَ‭ ‬حَمِيْدٌ‭ ‬مَجِيْدٌ

“Bless, O Allah, Muhammadsa and the people of Muhammad, as Thou didst bless Abrahamas and the people of Abraham. Thou art indeed the Praiseworthy, the Glorious. 

“Prosper, O Allah, Muhammad and the people of Muhammad, as Thou didst prosper Abraham and the people of Abraham. Thou art indeed the Praiseworthy, the Glorious.”

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  1. Masha Allah Tayyba sahiba you have done a great job by writing this beautiful inspiring article. Syed Taalay Ahmed have become a family member in jamaat’s family. May Allah fill the hearts of our young generation with the same spirit that Syed Taalay sahib had. Ameen

  2. May Allah bless upon Taalay and his children. May Allah make all waqf-e-nau like him. Ameen. Jazak’Allah for sharing such personal feelings with us.

  3. What an inspiring story! I had never met or even heard of Syed Taalay Ahmad sahib until his demise – but now I feel a bond with his beautiful and pious personality and am compelled to read/watch stories about him. I feel the need to learn from his life to pray for him. May Allah elevate his status in heaven and keep special guard over his family!


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