Birthday: February 13, 1835
Spiritual & Religious Leaders
Died At Age: 73
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Born Country: India
Born in: Qadian
Famous as: Founder of Ahmadiyya Sect
Spouse/Ex-: Nusrat Jahan Begum (m. 1884), Hurmat Bibi
father: Mirza Ghulam Murtaza
mother: Chiragh Bibi
children: Amatul Hafeez Begum, Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, Mirza Bashir Ahmad, Mirza Sharif Ahmad, Mubarika Begum
Died on: May 26, 1908
place of death: Lahore, Pakistan
Cause of Death: Dysentery
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an Indian religious leader best known as the founder of the Islamic religious movement, Ahmadiyya. He claimed to have been a mahdi, a reincarnation of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as of Jesus Christ and the Hindu Lord Krishna. Born in Qadian, Punjab, to an affluent Mughal physician, Ahmad received his education in Arabic and Persian. Upon his father’s wishes, he initially worked as a clerk in Sialkot and later engaged in estate affairs. However, during this time, he led a life of contemplation and spent most of time studying religion and praying in mosques. In 1889, Ahmad took a pledge of allegiance from his supporters and formed a group of devoted disciples to who he preached ‘The Ten Conditions of Bai'at’, eventually marking the establishment of the Ahmadiyya movement. Ahmad was also a prolific writer and authored over 90 books on various religions, the most notable one being ‘Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya.’ After his death in 1908, his devotees disputed over his claims of prophethood. Nonetheless, they formed a group of believers and appointed a caliph to lead them.
Childhood & Early Life
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born on 13 February 1835, in Qadian, Gurdaspur, Punjab, to Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, a physician, and his wife Chiragh Bibi. He was born in the Sikh empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He had a twin sibling who did not survive.
As a child, he studied Arabic text and Persian language. He also studied medicine from his father.
From 1864 to 1868, Ahmad served as a clerk in Sialkot. Following that, he returned to his hometown to look after his family’s estate affairs. During this time, he would spend most of time praying and practicing religion.
In 1886, he travelled to Hoshiarpur to practice “chilla-nashini,” an act of spending forty days in seclusion.
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Taking of the Bay'ah
In December 1888, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad publicly announced that his followers must enter into a bay'ah with him as ordained by God. A year later, he issued a pamphlet listing “Ten Conditions of Bai'at” that are required for all those who wish to become an Ahmadi.
On 23 March 1889, Ahmad founded the Ahmadiyya community by taking an oath from 40 followers.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed that he was the “Mahdi” and promised “Messiah” whose advent had been foretold in the Hadith and the Holy Quran. He also claimed that Jesus didn’t die on the cross but departed after a natural death. This claim contradicted the traditional Christian belief of Jesus' crucifixion.
He also argued that Jesus emerged in the 14th century after Moses and therefore, the Mahdi must also appear during the same period after Prophet Muhammad.
Ahmad asserted that Jesus died of old age in Kashmir where he had migrated after surviving the crucifixion. He also claimed that he would not return on Earth.
He rejected the notion of armed Jihad and believed that the conditions for such kind of Jihad did not prevail in this age.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was asked to produce the "heavenly sign" announcing the appearance of the Mahdi. He stated a lunar eclipse would occur on the first night in Ramazan and a solar eclipse would occur in the middle day of Ramazan. He claimed that this prophecy was fulfilled in 1894 and again in 1895, proving that he was indeed the Promised Mahdi and Messiah.
Reaction of Other Religious Preachers
While some religious scholars disbelieved Ahmad, many supported him and compared him to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
Following his claims, a Fatwa declaring him a deceiver was issued. It was signed by about 200 religious scholars from all over India.
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Ahmed Raza Khan, a prominent Muslim scholar, composed opinions of several religious scholars of Mecca and Madina in a book called ‘Hussam ul Harmain.’ In this book, Ahmad was labelled an apostate.
The Revealed Sermon
In 1900, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad delivered an hour-long religious speech in Arabic on the occasion of Eid ul-Adha. The sermon was simultaneously penned down and later became known as the ‘Khutba Ilhamiyya.’
Challenge to Opponents
Ghulam Ahmad challenged the opposing Muslim leaders and scholars to a "spiritual duel". He proposed an idea that would test their identity as a Muslim. In the end, the perfect Muslim would be the one who would receive “glad tidings” from God. He would also receive information regarding future events and hidden matters, and would surpass others in understanding the deeper meanings in the Qur'an.
Challenge to John Alexander Dowie
In 1899, American clergyman John Alexander Dowie claimed to be the predecessor of the second coming of Christ. Ghulam Ahmad later challenged him to a prayer duel. He also stated that the fake one among the two should die before the other.
Dowie declined the challenge, calling Ahmad the "silly Mohammedan Messiah" to which the latter prophesied that Dowie would depart this life with great sorrow during his lifetime. Dowie did die before Ahmad in 1907, after suffering from hallucinations during his last illness.
Family & Personal Life
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad married twice in his lifetime. He first married his paternal cousin Hurmat Bibi, with whom he had two sons Mirza Sultan Ahmad and Mirza Fazal Ahmad.
With his second wife Nusrat Jahan Begum, he had ten kids, out of which five died young. Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad and Mirza Bashir Ahmad were among his surviving children.
Death & Legacy
On 26 May 1908, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad died of dysentery at his physician Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain’s home in Lahore.
Ghulam Ahmad was the first religious leader to propose a post-crucifixion journey for Jesus to India as well as to identify the Roza Bal shrine in Srinagar, Kashmir, as the tomb of Jesus.
Following his death, his supporters formed a group called The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which is currently headed by his fifth caliph, carrying the title of Khalifatul Masih.
In 1914, The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement called for the formation of group as a result of a separation of a number of prominent Ahmadis from the main body after the appointment of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad as the second caliph. The group is controlled by Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam.