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Did Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad die an objectionable death?

by Azhar Goraya

Certain Muslims shamelessly allege that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) died of cholera in a bathroom.

This is a shameful lie that is not based in any trustworthy source. There was nothing objectionable about his death. He died the death of a saint, of natural causes, according to divine revelation, while engaged in prayer and surrounded by his family and followers.

All authentic narrations about the final days, hours and eventual death of the Promised Messiah(as) are from his close family and companions who were eyewitnesses to the event.

His Final Days

The Promised Messiah(as) arrived in Lahore from Qadian on April 29, 1908. He died in Lahore on May 26, 1908.

He undertook this journey so that his wife could see a medical expert about a condition she was suffering from. He stayed first in the home of Khawaja Kamal-ud-Deen and later the home of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussein Shah, both of whom were his followers. He eventually died in the home of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussein Shah surrounded by members of his family.

His final month was spent in writing, lecturing and meeting both his followers and those who wished to learn more about his message.

He had always suffered from migraines and dysentery, but his heavy schedule and added burden of travel eventually took its toll. The decree of Allah was absolute, and he had received many revelations in his final months about his imminent death. On May 20, 1908 he received the revelation:

الرحیل ثمّ الرحیل والموت قریب

Departure, then again departure, and death is near

On May 25th, 1908 after finishing his final book Pegham-e-Sulh [A Message of Peace], he offered the final prayers of the day and then had his dinner. He began to suffer from dysentery, which was not out of the ordinary. He went to his room thereafter, where some members of his family massaged his legs. His bed was moved outside in the courtyard, as was customary in that area. He fell asleep, and shortly thereafter he went to the bathroom again, and then became extremely weak. He awoke his wife. She began to massage his legs, but his condition worsened.

She mentions that he felt the need to go to the washroom again, but was too weak to go to the bathroom, so arrangements were made in the room for him to relieve himself. After finishing using the bathroom, he felt nauseous and vomited. After that he came back to the bed but was so weak that he almost collapsed onto the bed. His wife became alarmed, but he told her that was decreed to happen was finally happening. (Seeratul Mahdi, vol. 1, pg. 10-11)

Hazrat Maulvi Noor-ud-Deen was called, and his son Mahmood as well. Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussein Shah and Dr. Mirza Yaqoob Baig were also called. They prescribed medicine, but his condition worsened. His voice became hoarse, but he continued to repeat the words:

“My Allah, by Beloved Allah”.

Other companions were informed of his condition, and they presented themselves at the house. The night passed in this condition. At around 5 in the morning Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib arrived. He said Salaam to the Promised Messiah(as) who responded with Wa Alaikum Assalam. After the sun rose his bed was moved back into his room. He asked if it was time for prayer. Upon being told that it was, he began to offer the prayer in his bed but fell unconscious. He came to and again tried to offer the prayer, but again fell unconscious. Thereafter, drowsiness overcame him, but he continued to repeat the words:

“Allah, my beloved Allah”.

At around 10:30 am on May 26, 1908 he passed away in his room surrounded by his family and companions. (Adapted from Tareekh-e-Ahmadiyyat, vol. 2, pg. 538-543)

Can this be called a shameful death? Where a person is told repeatedly by Allah that his time is near, thereafter he finishes writing a book in support of Islam, his final moments are spent remembering Allah and offering prayers, and he dies surrounded by his family and companions anxiously praying for him? Nay, this is the death of a pious servant of Allah, a death that only the fortunate are granted.

He did not die “in the Toilet”

The accusation that he died “in a toilet” is completely false. The historical record shows that he went to the bathroom several times: once shortly after the Maghrib and Isha prayers on May 25th, and the other times, perhaps three or four, before 11 pm on the same night. Thereafter, he is not mentioned to have gone to the bathroom for the remaining approximate 12 hours before his death. He died on his bed, and there is no proof that he died in the toilet.

No objection can be made that an arrangement to go the bathroom was made in his room. The Holy Prophet(sa) himself had a pot under his bed for going to the bathroom at night because of the difficulty of going outside during the night:

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عِيسَى، حَدَّثَنَا حَجَّاجٌ، عَنِ ابْنِ جُرَيْجٍ، عَنْ حُكَيْمَةَ بِنْتِ أُمَيْمَةَ بِنْتِ رُقَيْقَةَ، عَنْ أُمِّهَا، أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ: «كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَدَحٌ مِنْ عِيدَانٍ تَحْتَ سَرِيرِهِ، يَبُولُ فِيهِ بِاللَّيْلِ» (سنن ابی داود، کتاب الطھارة، بَابٌ فِي الرَّجُلِ يَبُولُ بِاللَّيْلِ فِي الْإِنَاءِ ثُمَّ يَضَعُهُ عِنْدَهُ، حدیث ۲۴)

The Prophet(sa) had a wooden vessel under his bed in which he would urinate at night. (Sunan Abi Dawud, the Book of Purification, the chapter about the man who urinates into a container at night and then places it close to himself, Hadith #24)

It is also stated that the Holy Prophet(sa) used the bathroom before he died:

حدثنا حميد بن مسعدة البصري حدثنا سليم بن أخضر عن بن عون عن إبراهيم عن الأسود عن عائشة قالت

«كنت مسندا النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى صدري أو قالت: الى حجري فدعا بطست ليبول فيه، ثم بال فمات»

(الشمائل المحمدية، باب ما جاء في وفاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، روایة ۳۶۹)


Hazrat Aisha(ra) relates that at the time of the death of the Prophet(sa), she gave him support with her chest, or she said with her lap. He asked for a container to urinate in. He urinated therein. Thereafter he passed away. (As-Shamail-e-Muhammadiyya, Chapter: what happened at the death of the Messenger of Allah(as), Narration #369)

Only a completely shameless person would try and infer from this that the Holy Prophet(sa), God forbid, died in the toilet. In their desire to malign and attack the Promised Messiah(as), these people also attack the Holy Prophet(sa).

He did not Die of Cholera

The accusation that he died of cholera and not natural causes is also false. He was a life-long sufferer of dysentery, whose attacks would become more severe when he would become heavily engaged in his work.

Cholera is an infectious bacterial ailment that attacks the lower intestine and is highly contagious. Both dysentery and cholera lead to loss of bodily fluids.

Shortly after his death, Sheikh Rahmatullah, Dr. Mirza Yaqoob Baig and a few other companions went to the civil surgeon of Lahore, Dr. Cunningham, to obtain a certificate of death. The cause of death was clearly written as death from dysentery, and not cholera. The certificate was approved from the chief of the medical college, Major Dr. Sutherland.

When his body was loaded onto a train for transport to Qadian, his enemies began to say that he died of this infectious disease to prevent the return of his body to Qadian. The government had strict quarantine measures in place for those who died of cholera to prevent it’s spread.

The station master at first refused to transport the body. Sheikh Rahmatullah duly provided the certificate about the cause of death, after which the body was allowed to be taken to Qadian by train, where it was eventually laid to rest.

Moreover, from the time of his death to his burial, he was surrounded by his followers, friends and family. He was attended to by many doctors. Perhaps thousands were in close contact with his body from the time of his death in Lahore to his eventual burial in Qadian. Not a single person is recorded to have contracted cholera after such contact. This would have been the case if he had died of Cholera, as it is highly contagious.

So anecdotal and logical evidence shows that he did not die from cholera, rather from natural causes. The dysentery he experienced in his final moments was due to excessive mental strain, and not bacterial infection.

Moreover, the Ahadith establish that a person who dies of an abdominal disease dies a martyr:

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ سُمَىٍّ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ الشُّهَدَاءُ خَمْسَةٌ الْمَطْعُونُ، وَالْمَبْطُونُ، وَالْغَرِقُ وَصَاحِبُ الْهَدْمِ، وَالشَّهِيدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ‏”

‏‏ (صحیح البخاری، كتاب الجهاد والسير، باب الشَّهَادَةُ سَبْعٌ سِوَى الْقَتْلِ، حدیث ۲۸۲۹)

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger(sa) said, “Five are regarded as martyrs: They are those who die because of plague, Abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building etc., and the martyrs in Allah’s Cause.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Book of Jihad, Chapter: There are seven martyrs other than killed in Jihad, Hadith # 2829)

Al-hamdolillah, in this sense as well, the Promised Messiah(as) died a martyr in the path of Allah۔

Narration of Sheikh Yaqoob Ali Irfani Sahib in Hayat-e-Nasir about “Death from Cholera”

There is a narration in a book called Hayat-e-Nasir, which supposedly states that the Promised Messiah(as) died of cholera. The narration is subject to different interpretations and can in no way be shown to conclusively prove that the Promised Messiah(as) actually died from cholera.

Hayat-e-Nasir (the life of Nasir) is a biography of the life of Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib, the father-in-law of the Promised Messiah(as). It was written and published by Sheikh Yaqoob Ali Irfani Sahib(ra), famously known as the editor of Al-Hakam Magazine. It was first published in 1927, almost three years after the death of Mir Nasir Nawab, though much of the content in the book is written by Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib himself and is an autobiographal account.

Writing about the death of the Promised Messiah(as), Mir Sahib writes,

حضرت صاحب جس رات کو بیمار ہوے۔ اس رات کو میں اپنے مقام پر جا کر سو چکا تھا۔ جب آپ کو بہت تکلیف ہوئی۔ تو مجھے جگایا گیا تھا۔ جب میں حضرت صاحب کے پاس پہنچا۔ اور آپ کا حال دیکھا۔ تو آپ نے مجھے مخاطب کر کے فرمایا۔ میر صاحب مجھے وبائی ہیضہ ہو گیا ہے۔ (حیات ناصر ۱، صفحہ ۱۴)

“The night Hazrat Sahib became sick, that night I had already gone to sleep in my quarters. When he was greatly afflicted, I was awoken. When I reached Hazrat Sahib, and saw his condition, he saw me and remarked, “Mir Sahib, I have (have I) been afflicted with epidemic cholera.(?) (Hayat-e-Nasir, pg. 14)

It has already been shown that according to the physical evidence as well as the narrations of others who were present with the Promised Messiah(as) at the time, he did not die of cholera. This was also the conclusion of the doctors that attended to him. The question thus remains that if he didn’t die of cholera, why did Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib report him saying so, and why did Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) make such a remark?

Firstly, it is entirely possible, and most likely that Mir Nasir Nawaab Sahib misheard or was mistaken in understanding what was said. He was awoken suddenly in the night and most likely rushed to the room of the Promised Messiah(as). Upon seeing him, the Promised Messiah(as) said something, which he probably moved closer to try and hear. In this entire stressful process, where he was most likely still in the process of waking up, it is possible that he misheard what was actually said. This is likely given that other narrations confirm that the voice of the Promised Messiah(as) had become hoarse during this final illness, and that noone else has reported the same narration, even though there were others in the room with him, including his daughter, the wife of the Promised Messiah(as).

Secondly, even if we accept the words at face value, it is possible that they were stated as a question, and not as a statement of fact. In Urdu, sometimes a simple change in the tonation of the sentence makes it into a question. The same is found in other languages. For example, “You went to the store.” can be changed with a simple change in intonation from a statement to a question: “You went to the store?”. It is thus possible that the Promised Messiah(as) was asking a question and not making a statement, in which case the translation would be “Do I have cholera?”.

In such a case, it would be a simple question, meant to be communicated to the doctors so that they could properly inform him of his condition. The Promised Messiah(as) was himself a practicioner of tradictional Indian medicine, and it is possible that he desired to himself suggest a treatment once a proper diagnosis was made. A good doctor does not reject any possible diagnosis until all of the symptoms have been evaluated.

Moreover, it is entirely possible that if it was a question, that it was stated rhetorically and meant to negate the idea that he had cholera, something that the Promised Messiah(as) perhaps thought that Mir Sahib or others were thinking. In this case the emphasis in the sentence would be on the “I”, with the sentence being, “do I have cholera?”, which in other words could be stated as “Is it possible for me to get cholera? Absolutely not!”.

Even if we accept that the Promised Messiah(as) said the above words as a statement, it doesn’t mean that he actually suffered from cholera. If he actually said these words, it could only be a passing thought that he had or possibility that he entertained, which later events confirmed as not being the case. Moreover, a sick individual cannot be expected to be in full control of neither their physical nor mental powers. The Holy Prophet(sa) during one illness was said to have become forgetful, to the point where he would not remember whether he had done a certain thing or not:

كَانَ يُخَيَّلُ إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ صَنَعَ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يَصْنَعْهُ

(صحیح البخاری، كتاب الجزية والموادعة، باب هَلْ يُعْفَى عَنِ الذِّمِّيِّ إِذَا سَحَرَ، حدیث ۳۱۷۵)

he began to imagine that he had done a thing which in fact he had not done.

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Book of Jizya and Muwada’a, Chapter on If a Dhimmi practises deceit, can he be excused?, Hadith # 3175)

Prophets are human beings, and are thus subject to the consequences of ailing health like any other human being.

It should be remembered that this is a narration of Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib. If the Promised Messiah(as) died, god forbid, an objectionable death, then how could the narrator himself remain so firm on his faith despite being a first-hand witness to the occasion? Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib was a man of principle, and never once practiced hypocrisy. Even after marrying his daughter to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), when he made his claim of being the Messiah and Mahdi, Mir Sahib did not accept him initially because he had doubts about his claim. He did not think for a moment about the fact that his daughter was married to him, rather gave preference to Allah and truthfulness. Mir Sahib, even after relating this narration, never once entertained the idea that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) was false, nor that he died a questionable death, and until his death remained a devoted follower of the Promised Messiah(as).

Same Accusation of an Accursed Death against Jesus

This accusation is in fact further proof of his similarity to Jesus and that of his enemies to the Jews. The Jews accused Jesus of having died an accursed death on the cross, and now the Muslims who have come to resemble them make the same accusation against the messiah sent to them.

قرآن شریف سے ثابت ہوتا ہے کہ بڑی تہمتیں اُن پر دو تھیں۔

ایک یہ کہ اُن کی پیدائش نعوذ باللہ لعنتی ہے یعنی وہ ناجائز طور پر پیدا ہوئے۔

دوسری یہ کہ اُن کی موت بھی لعنتی ہے کیونکہ وہ صلیب کے ذریعہ سے مرے ہیں اور توریت میں لکھا تھا کہ جو ولد الزنا ہو وہ ملعون ہے وہ ہرگز بہشت میں داخل نہیں ہوگا اور اُس کا خدا کی طرف رفع نہیں ہوگا۔ اور ایسا ہی یہ بھی لکھا تھا کہ جو لکڑی پر لٹکایا جائے یعنی جس کی صلیب کے ذریعہ سے موت ہو وہ بھی لعنتی ہے اور اُس کا بھی خدا کی طرف رفع نہیں ہوگا

(روحانی خزائن، جلد  ۱۹، اعجاز احمدی، صفحہ ۱۲۰)

The Promised Messiah(as) writes:

It can be established from the Holy Quran that there were two principal allegations against him:

  1. His birth, God forbid, was accursed; i.e. he was begotten illegitimately.
  2. Secondly, his death too was accursed, God forbid, for he was made to die on the cross.

And it was written in the Torah that he who is born of an adulterous relationship is accursed and that such a person shall never enter Paradise and shall not be raised to God. Similarly, it is also written that the one who is hanged on the wood—i.e. the one who dies on the cross—is also accursed and will not be raised to God. (Ruhani Khazain, vol. 19, Ijaaz-e-Ahmadi, pg. 120. Eng. Trans. Pg. 22)

Similar Death as the Holy Prophet(sa)

In their haste to shamefully defame the Promised Messiah(as), the opponents who make objections to his death do not realize that they in fact open the door to objections on other prophets as well.

The Promised Messiah(as) writes:

اعتراض وہ ہے جو ربانی کتابوں کےموافق اعتراض ہو نہ ایسا اعتراض جس کے نیچے تمام نبی اوررسول آ جائیں ایسے اعتراض کرنا بے ایمانوں اورلعنتیوں کا کام ہے  (روحانی خزائن، جلد ۹، انوار الاسلام، صفحہ ۴۱)

“A legitimate objection is that which is done in line with the divine books; not one which brings all prophets and messengers under it’s shade. To make such an accusation is the work of faithless and cursed individuals.” (Ruhani Khazin, vol. 9, Anwar-ul-Islam, pg. 41)

The Holy Prophet(sa) declared about the Promised Messiah(as) that he would be “buried in the same grave as him” – an indication, amongst others, that his death would be very similar to his own:

عَن عبد الله بن عَمْرو قال: قال رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «يَنْزِلُ عِيسَى بن مَرْيَمَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ فَيَتَزَوَّجُ وَيُولَدُ لَهُ وَيَمْكُثُ خَمْسًا وَأَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً ثُمَّ يَمُوتُ فَيُدْفَنُ مَعِي فِي قَبْرِي فأقوم أَنا وَعِيسَى بن مَرْيَمَ فِي قَبْرٍ وَاحِدٍ بَيْنَ أَبَى بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ» . رَوَاهُ ابْنُ الْجَوْزِيِّ فِي كِتَابِ الْوَفَاءِ (مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح، کتاب الفتن، باب نزول عیسی علیه الصلاة والسلام، حدیث ۵۵۰۸)

The Messenger of Allah(sa) stated:

Isa ibn-e-Maryam will descend to the earth and he will marry and have children. He will remain on the earth for forty-five years, then he will die. Thereafter he will be buried with me in my grave, and Isa and I will be raised from the same grave between Abu Bakar and Umar. Narrated by Ibn-e-Jauzi in the Book of Wafaa. (Mirqaat-ul-Mafateeh Sharah Mishkaat-ul-Masabeeh, the Book of Tribulations, Chapter: The Descend of Isa(as), Hadith # 5508)

The Holy Prophet(sa) suffered greatly in his final moments because of an old ailment (poisoning of the tongue). He experienced fever during his final days. His final moments were extremely difficult. He would be placed in a bathtub and water would be poured upon him to cool down his body. He was not able to offer prayers in the mosque and fainted several times attempting to lift himself to go to the mosque. Arrangements for going to the bathroom were made in his room. He was attended upon by his close family and companions. He had difficulty speaking. In his last moments, he went first to the bathroom and then died in in the lap of Hazrat Aisha(ra), while a miswak was still in his mouth that she had moistened for him. His final words were:

اللَّهُمَّ الرَّفِيقَ الأَعْلَى

(موطأ مالك، کتاب الجنائز، حدیث ۲۷۲۔ ۸۱۷)

O Allah, the highest company.

(Muwatta Imam Malik, the Book of Funerals, Hadith #272/817)

These similarities are not coincidental, rather it is a practical fulfilment of the prophecy of the Holy Prophet(sa).

To thus object to the death of the Promised Messiah(as) means that one must also object to the death of the Holy Prophet(sa).