by Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
Al-Nahl, Spring 1995
The subject of election for first three successors of the Promised Messiah has been discussed in different publications of the Jamaat. Following is a narration of the circumstances and details of three elections for Khilafat in the language of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan from his book “Ahmadiyyat The Renaissance of Islam.”
He (the Promised Messiah) had for a long time been subject to attacks of dysentery. During his stay in Lahore he suffered a mild attack on the night of 16 May (1908). On the night of 25 May (1908) he had another attack of the same complaint which made him feel very weak. Despite the efforts Hazrat Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib, who was an eminent physician, and other doctors, Syed Muhammad Hussain Sahib and Dr. Mirza Yaqub Beg Sahib, his weakness increased progressively and he began to experience difficulty in making himself heard. All that could be distinguished of his efforts at speaking was: `Allah, my beloved Allah.’ Towards morning he inquired whether it was time for the morning service, and when he was told it was, he performed symbolic ablutions (tayammum) and said his prayers while lying in bed. Thereafter, he began to lose consciousness, and when at intervals he regained consciousness he was heard to repeat: `Allah, my beloved Allah.’ After 9 a.m. his breathing became labored and about 10:30 a.m. he took one or two long breaths and his soul departed from his body. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. Under the impact of this grievous bereavement the members of his family set a high example of dignified steadfastness. His wife not only restrained and controlled her own grief but admonished certain women who were inclined to give expression to their grief in an unbecoming manner. She sought to console her children by pointing out to them: `Do not imagine that your father has left you an empty house. He has laid up for you a great treasure of prayers in heaven, which will continue to yield its beneficence to you all the time.’
His promised son, Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, then 19 years of age, standing at the head of the bed on which his holy father’s body rested, gave expression to his high resolve in these words: `If all others should leave you and I should be left alone, yet will I stand against the whole world and shall not heed any opposition or hostility.’
His body was taken the same evening by train to Batala, and from Batala it was conveyed next morning to Qadian. It was not taken into the town but was placed in a bungalow in his garden. In the meantime a large number of the members of the Movement began to converge upon Qadian from all directions. A score of the leading members got together and agreed unanimously that Hazrat Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib should be requested to undertake the heavy responsibility of leading the Community as the First Successor of the Promised Messiah and as Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement. This request was conveyed to Hazrat Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib in a document which bore the signatures of these leading personalities of the Movement who had held a consultation over the matter and was couched in the following terms:
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. We praise Him and call down blessings on His noble Messenger. All Praise belongs to Allah, Lord of worlds, and blessings and peace be upon the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad, the Chosen One, and the Promised Messiah, the Seal of the Aulia.
According to the command of the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, mentioned in his testament, we Ahmadis who signatures are appended below are sincerely convinced that the first of the migrants, Hazrat Haji Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib, who is the most learned and most righteous of us all and is the most sincere and most long-standing friend of our departed leader, and who was declared by him as the best exemplar for us, as is indicated in his verse: How fortunate would it be if everyone of the Community were Nurud-Din.
So would it be if everyone were filled with the light of faith: Should take the covenant of Bai’at in the name of the Ahmad from all members of the Ahmadiyya Community and from all new entrants into the Community. In future every command of Hazrat Maulvi Sahib would have the same authority for us as had the command of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah.
On receipt of this request Hazrat Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib reflected for a while and then intimated that he would give his reply after prayer. He performed his ablutions and made his supplication in nafal prayers. Thereafter he suggested that they should all adjourn to the garden where all those members of the Movement were gathered together who had arrived by that time in Qadian.
In that gathering Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib read out the request and Hazrat Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib made the following response:
I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship save Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.
`Let there be from among you a party whose business it should be to invite to goodness, to enjoin equity, and to forbid evil’ [3:105]. Reflect on my previous life. I have never desired to become the leader. I am well aware of my own condition, and my Lord is even better aware of it. I have not the slightest desire of occupying a place of honour in the world. My only desire is that my Lord and Master may be pleased with me. I supplicate for the fulfillment of this desire; and it is out of this desire that I took up my residence in Qadian and continue and will continue to reside here. I have spent many days considering anxiously what would be our situation after the death of Hazrat Sahib. That is why I have endeavored that Mian Mahmud’s education might be completed. There are three persons out of the close relatives of Hazrat. There is Mian Mahmud Ahmad, who is my brother and my son, and has a special relationship with me. Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib is worthy of respect on account of his relationship with Hazrat Sahib. The third one is Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib. Then out of the members of the Movement there are Syed Muhammad Ashsan Sahib, who is extremely able and is a descendant of the Holy Prophet. He has served the faith in a manner that puts a person like me to shame. In his old age he has written several books in support of Hazrat Sahib. This is a service that is special to him. Then there is Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib who is performing such service as is beyond my imagination. All these people are resident in Qadian. From among people outside there are Syed Hamid Shah and Maulvi Ghulam Hasan, and several others.
This is heavy responsibility and dangerous one. It can be discharged only by one who is divinely commissioned, for such a one is supported with wonderful promises of God which serve as a support against back- breaking hardships. At this time it is necessary that all of us, men and women, should be united. For the maintenance of such unity enter into covenant with any of those I have named, I shall be with you. I am weak and am in indifferent health and do not possess the appropriate temperament. It is not easy to discharge such a heavy responsibility. You may consider it easy, but is very difficult for the one who has to carry the burden. I call God witness that if you elect any of those whom I have named, I shall be ready to make the covenant with him along with all of you.
If you insist upon making the covenant with me then bear in mind that bai’at means to be sold. On one occasion Hazrat Sahib indicated to me that I should put the thought of my home out of my mind. Thereafter my entire honor and all thinking became attached to him and I had never thought of my home. Thus, bai’at is a difficult matter. A person who makes bai’at gives up all his freedom and high flights for the sake of another. That is why God Almighty has called His creatures His servants. The burden of this servitude is difficult to carry for oneself. How can one carry it for others? Keeping in view the difference of temperaments, great courage is needed for the establishment of unity. I have always wondered at the enterprise of Hazrat Sahib. He enjoyed indifferent health and carried a heavy burden of writing in prose and verse and of several other important projects. I am of about the same age as he was, but he enjoyed the daily support of God and my condition is not worth mentioning. This is why God Almighty has said: `You become like brethren by His grace’ (3:104). All this depends upon divine grace. Remember that all good proceeds from unity.
Now, in whichever direction your minds may be inclined you will have to obey my orders. If this is acceptable to you I would be willing to carry this burden willy nilly. A community that has no chief is already dead.
His address was received with great acclamation and all those who were present made the covenant of bai’at at his hand. Thereafter he led the funeral prayers for the Promised Messiah, whose interment in the Heavenly Graveyard was then carried out.
Leading Muslim newspapers and journals paid glowing tributes to the Promised Messiah, drawing attention to his victorious championship of Islam and his high moral, intellectual and spiritual qualities. Even non-Muslim papers made courteous and appreciative references to him. One or two bitterly hostile critics expressed opposition to his doctrines, but on the whole in comparatively restrained language.
There were some who opined hopefully that the Movement he had founded would now disintegrate as he was no longer there to lead and guide it. The unity land speed with which the Community agreed upon the choice of his successor, whose great qualities and capacities were well known, made it clear that the expectations so fondly entertained by his hostile opponents were bound to be disappointed.
The one great reality that emerged now that his physical presence had been removed from the scene of his activities, was that he had possessed an extraordinary and astonishing personality, and that whatever view might be taken of his claim, he certainly was no impostor. His faith in God was deep, firm and unshaken, his trust in God was complete and perfect, and he was a constant recipient of Divine bounties and favours throughout his life. His death was a grievous loss not only for Islam and the Muslims, but for the entire world of religion. He had demonstrated effectively that faith could be a living reality, governing, guiding and enriching human life, and not merely an academic verbal affirmation. His devotion to the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and his love, admiration and appreciation of the limitless ocean of verities comprehended within the Holy Quran could not be exceeded.
Hazrat Haji Hakeem Maulvi Nurud-Din Sahib, the First Successor of the Promised Messiah, was in his own way a unique personality. He was a direct lineal descendant, in the thirty-third generation in the male line, of Hazrat Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. Ten of his immediate ancestors in an unbroken line had, like himself, committed the Holy Quran to memory. He often said that the Quran was his nurture, his dress, his breath and his very life. This was a spiritual reality and not a hyperbole.
He was one of the most eminent physicians of India, and made a rich contribution to the development of the Unani system of medicine as practiced in the country. In diagnosis he had no rival who approached anywhere near him. He did not hesitate to improvise and to experiment and was always justified bay the astonishingly favorable results. He never charged a fee for his medical advice and treated poor and rich with equal attention and sympathetic care. Yet he had a large income from the voluntary gifts that some of his well-to-do patients presented to him. He was most generous towards the poor and the afflicted. His benevolence towards everyone was unbounded. So far as he himself was concerned he attached no value to money, wealth or property. He had perfect trust in God and often said that God Almighty, of His grace, mercy, and bounty, had assured him that he would always provide for him in all circumstances. In his long life many occasions arose in which those who were in touch with him at the moment could not think in what manner the needs with which he was confronted would be provided for, and yet not a single instance out of the hundreds of such occasions did this Divine guarantee remain unfulfilled.
He was not only an eminent physician and a great divine, his intellect ranged over a vary wide expanse. He was interested in a variety of subjects and the range and depth of his scholarship surprised all those who came in contact with him. He was fond of books and had accumulated a very large store of time which included copies of many rare manuscripts which he had procured at great expense. Some idea of his all-embracing interest and scholarship may be gathered from the fact that, though his knowledge of English was elementary, he had read the whole of Shakespeare in Arabic.
He belonged to Bhera in the Shahpur district of the Punjab. In 1876 he was appointed physician-in-attendance upon His Highness the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir. He held this appointment till 1892.
In 1884 he came to know of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad through one of his announcement, and felt a strong urge to visit him. He traveled to Qadian and the moment he saw him he realized that he had been appointed by God for the revival of Islam. He offered to enter into covenant of Bai’at with him, but Hazrat Ahmad told him that he had had no direction from God to bind people to himself through such a covenant. Maulvi Sahib requested that if and when he should receive such a direction, he should give him the chance of being the first one to make the covenant.
The health of Khalifatul-Masih I began to be poorly in the beginning of January 1914, and suffered a serious decline in the middle of February of that year. On 26 February, under the advice of physicians, he was removed to the house of Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib, which was situated in a garden at some distance outside the town.
On the afternoon of 4 March he wrote out his will while he was lying in bed. It was in the following terms:
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. We praise Him and call down blessings on His noble Messenger. This humble one writes in the full possession of his senses. There is no one worthy of worship save Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. My children are young and there is no money in our house. Allah is their Guardian. No provision should be made for them out of any fund for orphans and the needy. A loan might be provided for them which should be repaid by those of my sons who grow up into a position to do so. My books and property should be put in trust for my children. My successor should be righteous, popular, learned and of good conduct. He would exercise forbearance towards the old and new friends of the Promised Messiah. I have been the well-wisher of all of them and so should he be. The public teaching of the Quran and hadees should be continued. Greetings of peace. Nurud-Din 4 March 1914.
After he had finished writing it he handed over the paper to Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib, who was sitting near him, and directed him to read it out to those who were present at the time, which was done, and it was read out a second and third time by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib under the direction of the Khalifatul-Masih.
After the third reading he inquired from Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib whether anything had been left out, on which Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib assured him that everything was correct.
The document was then committed to the custody of Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib.
The end came nine days later on Friday 13 March, shortly after 2 p.m. He had been born in 1841 and was thus six years younger than the Promised Messiah. He died six years after the death of the Promised Messiah and thus at the time of his death his age was the same as was the age of the Promised Messiah at the time of death. The same was the case with Hazrat Abu Bakr, the First Successor of the Holy Prophet. He also died when he arrived at the same age at which the Holy Prophet had died.
On the evening of the same day Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib met the Sahibzada Sahib and suggested that nothing should be determined consequent on the death of the Khalifatul-Masih in a hurry, but that everything should be settled after mutual consultation. The Sahibzada Sahib agreed and said that by the next day most people of note in the Community would have arrived in Qadian, and that a consultation could take place after their arrivals. Mauvli Sahib demurred to this and proposed that as there was a difference of views on certain matters among different sections of the Community, time should be taken for full discussion so that a unanimous decision might be reached. He expressed the view that the Community should reflect upon the situation for four to five months and thereafter should come to a decision after an exchange of views. The Sahibzada Sahib pointed out the impracticability of such a course and finally said that he and those who saw eye to eye with him were prepared to make the covenant of Bai’at at the hands of anyone whom Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib and his group might put forward for the office of Khalifa; but Maulvi Sahib would not agree.
Later the same evening the Sahibzada Sahib summoned sixty leading members of the Community who were present in Qadian for consultation. After some assessment of the situation it was unanimously agreed that before the interment of the Khalifat-Masih his successor, who should command the obedience of the Community, should be elected and should lead the funeral prayers of the deceased Khalifa and should arrange for his burial.
It was also agreed that all of them should continue to pray during the latter part of the night for Divine guidance and should observe fast the next day.
The following day it transpired that a tract which had been drawn up by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib and had been printed before the demise of Khalifatul-Masih I was being widely distributed, among other places, at Batala railway station to the members of the Community who were arriving in large numbers from all directions on their journey to Qadian. The purport of the tract was that the Sadar Anjuman Ahmadiyya was the true successor of the Promised Messiah and that anyone else who might be elected as Khalifa, and there could be several such persons, would have only an honorific position, but would exercise no authority. There was a subtle hint that the Sahibzada Sahib, and those who were in agreement with him on the points of difference that had emerged, did not qualify even for an honorific position under the terms of the will of Khalifatul-Masih I.
By the midday of 14 March more than a thousand members of the Movement had arrived in Qadian from outside. In the afternoon of that day Mirza Bashirud-Din Mahmud Ahmad held a consultation with all members of the family of the Promised Messiah and their close relations on the situation that confronted the Movement at the moment. After some discussion he pointed out to those present that their main concern should be to maintain, by whatever means it might be possible, the unity of the Community. With this object in view he proposed that the one fundamental requirement was that there must be a spiritual head of the Movement. If the dissident group would agree to that, then the question would be who should be elected to the office. For that purpose the view of those members of the Movement who were then present at Qadian should be ascertained and should be accepted. Should the dissident group be not prepared to agree to such a course, a person not identified with either side might be agreed upon and elected. If this should also not be acceptable, anyone of the dissident group whom they might put forward should be elected so that unity might be maintained. On his insistence all those who were present agreed to his proposal.
Immediately thereafter the Sahibzada Sahib received a note from Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib to the effect that the Maulvi Sahib desired to resume their conversation of the previous day. In reply the Sahibzada Sahib sent word to Maulvi Sahib that he would be welcome and he arrived accompanied by some of his friends. At the time Maulvi Syed Muhammad Ahsan Sahib, Khan Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib, and Dr. Khalifa Rashidud-Din Sahib were also present with the Sahibzada Sahib. He repeated his suggestion of the previous day which he had put to Maulvi Sahib that there should be no discussion of the question whether there should or should not be a Khalifa. The only matter on which there could be an exchange of views was who should be elected Khalifa. Maulvi Sahib insisted on his side that nothing should be determined upon at the time, but after a long enough interval, which should enable the members of the Community to reflect deeply on the question that confronted them, a decision might be taken unanimously which could be given effect to. While their discussion was proceeding, the people who had gathered outside became greatly excited and in their impatience demanded that the door should be opened and they should be told what decision lad been reached. At this stage the Sahibzada Sahib suggested that they should go out and try to ascertain the wishes of the people who were now gathered together in Qadian. To this the Maulvi Sahib retorted: `You suggested this because you know who would be their choice.’ The Sahibzada Sahib told him that he was ready to make the covenant of Bai’at at the hands of any one of them whom they might put forward. But Maulvi Sahib persisted in affirming that the Sahibzada Sahib knew the people would insist upon electing him to the office Khalifa. Thus the deadlock continued, and in the end the Sahibzada Sahib intimated that as he considered it essential that there must be Khalifa and Maulvi Sahib and his group were of the view that no Khalifa was needed and there was no possibility of a compromise on this fundamental issue, which was of the nature of a religious obligation, they could do what they liked, but those who were convinced that there must be a spiritual Head of the Movement would now get together and would elect a Khalifa after consultation. That was the end of the conservations.
The Sahibzada Sahib then proceeded to Masjid Noor where he was being awaited by a couple of thousand people. After the Asr Prayer Khan Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib stood up and read out the will that Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih I had written on 4 March and had committed to his custody. He had scarcely finished when from every direction there arose shouts of Mian Sahib, Mian Sahib, Mian Sahib. In the midst of this uproar Hazrat Maulvi Syed Muhammad Ahsan Sahib stood up and announced in a loud voice:
I am person concerning whom the Promised Messiah has said that I was one of the two angels mentioned in the Ahadees who would accompany the Promised Messiah on his descent from heaven. I consider that Sahibzada Bashirud-Din Mahmud Ahmad Sahib is in every respect fitted that he should take the covenant of Bai’at from us I therefore request him to proceed to do so.
Thereupon Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib and Syed Mir Hamid Shah Sahib both stood at the same time, each beseeching the other to let him speak first. Their altercation continued for some minutes and the audience became impatience. At this stage Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfani Sahib stood up and announced: `We cannot afford to waste precious time in these wranglings. I request our master the Sahibzada Sahib to accept our Bai’at.’ Upon this there were shouts of labbaik, labbaik, and it seemed that the whole body of people present was pushing forward towards the Sahibzada Sahib, who continued sitting silent and for some time gave no indication of his attitude. When he found that there was not the slightest doubt that it was the universal wish that he should assume the responsibilities of the exalted office Khalifa, he looked for Hazrat Maulvi Syed Sarwar Shah Sahib and on espying him in the middle of the turmoil called him and said: `Maulvi Sahib this burden has fallen upon me suddenly and unexpectedly and I cannot even recall the formula of Bai’at. Will you kindly instruct me in it.’ Thus he took the Bai’at of those present repeating after the Maulvi Sahib the words of the covenant. At the end of the Bai’at he offered a silent prayer in which everyone joined, and after the prayer he made a brief speech. Thus the troubled, scattered and bewildered Community was, by Divine grace, again united together and Divine mercy and comfort were perceived descending upon all hearts. Everyone appeared to be in the grip of deep emotion.
Immediately thereafter the newly elected Khalifatul-Masih II led the funeral prayers of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih in a vast open space next to the Masjid Nur. When the bier was being carried to the graveyard it was followed by a huge concourse of people of all sects and community, Muslims and non-Muslims, as a token of their respect for and their homage to the memory of a great and gracious personality whose beneficence had recognized no boundaries and limits.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II was made the target of many objections, criticisms and false charges, in answer to which all that he said was:
I would beg to be excused that I am unable to reply to all these allegations except to state that God Almighty is witness, and I make oath in His name, that I have never tried that I should become Khalifa; nor has any such idea ever crossed my mind. Those who have given expression to such an idea concerning me have been morally guilty of my murder and are accountable to God for their calumnies against me.
Within a few days of the demise of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I it came to the knowledge of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II that Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib was preparing to leave Qadian, as he felt that he lacked security in Qadian. The Khalifatul-Masih immediately sent him a message of reassurance that he himself would be responsible for his complete security at Qadian and that he need not contemplate moving from Qadian. He followed up this message with his reassurance in person. But Maulvi Sahib was not persuaded to stay on at Qadian and soon departed for Lahore when the dissident group appointed him their Ameer and where he set up his headquarters. It is worthy of note that his own subsequent exposition of the functions and authority of the Ameer corresponded exactly to the functions and authority of the Khalifa as expounded by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I.
At the time of his election as Khalifatul-Masih II, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashirud-Din Mahmud Ahmad was 25 years of age. In the eyes of a worldly person he was utterly unsuitable for the discharge of great and heavy responsibilities of the exalted office to which he had been called by the almost unanimous voice of the members of the Movement. His health had always been delicate; he had during his younger days suffered from severe granulation in his upper eyelids which for long periods prevented his reading or writing anything. Consequently his attendance at school had been most irregular and he was not able to qualify even as a matriculate.
On the religious side his instruction had been confined to being taught the translation of the Holy Quran and elementary knowledge of ahadees. It is true that he had had the inestimable privilege of having been instructed in these matters by Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih I, who, instead of forcing anything upon, encouraged him to think for himself and thus helped him and guided him to educate himself and to develop his God-given faculties in the most beneficent manner.
At the time when he was elected Khalifatul-Masih, the financial resources of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmaniyya had been reduced to almost nil. Though, with the exception of possibly half a hundred people, all those who were present at Qadian on 14 March 1919 had made the covenant of Bai’at with him, yet it was not known what the reaction of the Community at large would be to the question that Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib had raised in his tract. It was expected that on the whole the reaction of the Community would be favorable to the Khalifa-elect, but the dissident group had announced that they had the support of 95 per cent of the Community. It had yet to be seen how far their claim was justified in fact. Such was the situation in the estimation of a secular person who had no idea of the positive and powerful assets and resources to which the newly elected Khalifa had access and which were wholly of a spiritual character.
In 1953, the orthodox Muslim divines made a tremendous effort to incite the masses to wipe out the Movement by violence. While no great harm was done in Karachi, which was still the seat of government, murder, grievous hurt, arson and large-scale destruction of property were let loose against the members of the Movement. Yet again, the grace and mercy of Allah enabled the Community to weather the storm. The aftermath lingered yet awhile, and bitterness and rancor ranked in some bosoms.
One day in March 1954 a young man managed to take his stand in the first line of worshippers immediately behind him, while he was leading the afternoon service in the principle mosque at Rabwah. In the middle of the service he suddenly advanced upon him from his rear and drove the blade of a long sharp knife into his neck with murderous force. There was profuse bleeding from the injury which the efforts of those who were nearest to him failed to staunch completely. With a wad of cotton cloth pressed closely against his neck he was able to walk across the few yards that separated him from his residence. In his state of agony, characteristically, his first thought was for the safety of his assailant. He directed: `Secure the young man but do no harm. This is an order.’ His direction was loudly announced to the bewildered congregation in the mosque and served to secure his assailant against the least harm. He was, in due course, handed over to the police and was eventually sentenced to a substantial term of imprisonment.
The injury inflicted upon the Khalifatul-Masih was deep and grievous and has a serious effect on his nervous system. The surgeons who attended upon made a diagnosis which they put in reassuring terms. The speed with which the injury was apparently healed also served to reassure everyone; but its after effects persisted and it soon became apparent that he was not able to maintain his activities at the level at which he was accustomed to work. He was 65 years of age, had never been in robust health, had always driven himself hard and had given himself little respite. He was now called upon to pay part of the price. On the other hand, but for the sheer grace and mercy of God, the injury might have proved instantaneously fatal. Indeed, the surgeons were surprised that his life had been spared. The blade of the knife had penetrated into his neck a distance of four inches and its point had stopped right at the jugular vein. The examination of the surgeons and the X-ray impressions failed to reveal any injury to the vein itself. But as the patient, even after the apparently complete healing of the wound, continued to suffer discomfort and unease, he was not satisfied that all was well with him; though the repeat examinations carried out by the surgeons disclosed no cause for the discomfort. They hoped that the passage of time would complete the process of inner healing and the slight strain on the nervous system would gradually be eased and would ultimately be removed altogether, but this prognostication was not completely fulfilled, and the Khalifatul-Masih decided in 1955 to proceed to Europe and seek expert medical and surgical advice.
He was examined very thoroughly by top experts in Zurich, Hambug, and London and such assistance as could be drawn from X-ray impressions, etc., and the unanimous conclusion was that the point of the knife had broken at the jugular vein and was embedded in it. The expert advice was that no attempt should be made to extricate it as the risk to his life involved in any such operation was too serious to be worth taking. It was hoped that the pressure on the vein and the consequent effect on the nervous system might be slowly eased and the patient be able to resume his activities at a reduced tempo. He was adviced to adopt a restful pattern of life and to avoid hard work and long periods of sustained labor. For a person of his temperament and high capacities this was a disappointing prospect. But there was no help for it. He was still able to carry on a comparatively active life, but the pressure on his nervous system, instead of being eased with the passage of time, tended to be intensified progressively.
One of his prophetic titles was Fazle Umar, indicating his spiritual affinity to Hazrat Umar, the Second Successor of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him. The Khalifatul-Masih not only became the Second Successor of the Promised Messiah, the spiritual reflection of the Holy Prophet, but several of the projects undertaken by him, and his achievements in diverse spheres, bore a close resemblance to the achievements of Hazrat Umar; even the almost fatal tragedy to which he was subjected by his assailant was identical with the tragedy that brought the Second Khalifa of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, to a sudden premature end. Hazrat Umar was also attacked in the middle of the Prayer service that he was leading by a non-Muslim who had worked up some grudge against him and who inflicted with a dagger server injuries upon him which proved fatal.
During his visit to Europe in 1955, the Khalifatul-Masih inspected the various missions in Europe and held a conference in London of all the missionaries working in the different European countries, in which he checked up on their activities and progress and gave them directions and furnished them with guidance with regard to their future work.
Having in mind the crisis with which the Movement had been confronted on the demise of Khalifatul-Masih I, he had already established an Electoral College for the election of a Khalifa, when the sacred office should become vacant by the Khalifa’s death. The college was composed of the following, subject to the essential qualification that every elector must be a member of the Movement and should be a supporter of the Khalifat:
The health of Khalifatul-Masih II entered upon a prolonged process of slow but progressive decline and the end came on 8 November 1965. His demise shook the Movement to its foundations. Every member of the Movement was overwhelmed with grief, the depth and intensity of which were beyond measure. The shock was bewildering and baffling. It seemed that the vacuum thus created would be hard, if not impossible, to fill. Everyone, however, realized that the divine will was supreme and no human being was immortal.
The members of the Community converged in large numbers upon Rabwah for the purpose of seeking comfort and consolation for each other’s company and to pay their tribute of love and devotion to the sacred memory of the holy one who had guided the destinies of the Movement for more than half a century and had given freely of his love, sympathy and support to everyone with out discrimination.
The President of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, in conformity with the constitution of the Electoral College convened a meeting of the College on 9 November for the purpose of electing a new Khalifa. The interval between the demise of Khalifatul-Masih II and the meeting of the Electoral College was spent by everyone in humble and earnest supplication to the Divine, that the members of the Electoral College may be rightly guided in their choice of the Successor to Khalifatul-Masih II. The College met in a deeply prayerful mood and Sahibzada Mirza Nasir Ahmad Sahib, eldest son of the departed Khalifatul-Masih, who had been Principal of the Talim-ul-Islam College for 21 years, was elected Khalifatul III by an overwhelming majority of the Electoral College. As soon as the choice of the Electoral College became known it was universally felt as if comfort and consolation were descending upon every heart from heaven.
The funeral prayers over the beloved departed, led by the newly elected Khalifa, and his interment later on the same day were a deeply moving experience for everyone, which was born of conflicting emotions of grief and bereavement on the one hand and steadfast submission to the divine will, and a firm resole to march forward in earnestness, giving of one’s very best on the other. The bonds of brotherhood were felt to be gaining in strength, and the urge towards greater uprightness and righteousness in every sphere appeared to be the prevailing mood.
Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad Sahib, Khalifatul-Masih III, was 56 years of age when he was elected to his exalted office. Under the directions of his revered father he had at an early age committed the whole of the Holy Quran to memory. His education and training had comprised the religious as well as the secular in both of which he attained high proficiency. Although priority had been given to the religious over the secular and to the spiritual over the intellectual, yet neither was neglected. After having completed his course of theological and oriental studies at the level of High Proficiency, he graduated from Government College Lahore and obtained the Bachelor of Arts Degree of the Punjab University. He then proceeded to England for postgraduate studies at Balliol College, Oxford, and in due course obtained the Honors Degree of the University of Oxford, and later became Master of Arts of the University.
On return from England he was appointed a professor in the Theological Seminary at Qadian and later became its Principal. On the establishment, in 1944 of the Talim-ul-Islam College, which was affiliated to the Punjab University, he was appointed its first Principal, which office he filled with distinction for 21 years, and which he relinquished on his election as Khalifatul-Masih III. Under his devoted care and guardianship the Talim-ul-Islam College went steadily forward and established a record of both academic achievement and athletic performance, as one of the foremost educational institutions in the province. For a number of years Sahibzada Mirza Nasir Ahmad Sahib also served as a member of the governing body of the Punjab University in which capacity he rendered valuable service to the cause of higher education in the province.
While for more than twenty years the college had a prior claim on his time and attention, he was ready to serve in whatever capacity he was called upon for a period he served as the President of the Sadar Anjuman Ahmadiyya, which office, though honorary, involved the discharge of heavy responsibilities at the Center of the organizational pattern of the Movement.
He possesses a firm but gentle disposition which is characterized chiefly by shyness and modesty. It has been observed, however, that when the occasion so demands he does not fail to provide dashing leadership.
He was called to his exalted office at a mature age in the face of the most poignant tragedy of his revered father’s death, and by the grace and mercy of God, has proved himself an inexhaustible source of comfort and consolation to all members of the Movement, not only at that critical juncture in the fortunes of the Community but through the series of crises with which the Movement has been faced from time to time during his Khilafat.