After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that recently, a very dear life-devotee, Syed Taalay Ahmed was martyred in Ghana, Africa.
His Holiness(aba) said that on the night between the 23rd and 24th of August, the MTA team which was filming a documentary was travelling when they were attacked by robbers who fired at them, injuring two people, Umar Farooq and Syed Taalay Ahmed. On the way to the hospital, Syed Taalay Ahmed passed away. His Holiness(aba) said that although there may have been previous martyrdoms of workers in MTA International from other parts of the world, but this was the first from the UK. His Holiness(aba) also said that perhaps, this was the first martyrdom from Waqfe Nau UK. His Holiness(aba) also requested prayers for Umar Farooq who was injured during the incident and is still recovering.
His Holiness(aba) said that he was the great grandson of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) and Mir Muhammad Ismail(ra). In this way, he was related to both the Promised Messiah(as) as well as his wife Hazrat Nusrat Jahan Begum Sahiba. He was also the son-in-law of Ghulam Qadir Shaheed.
His Holiness(aba) said that Syed Taalay Ahmed had been active in serving the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK in various capacities, both in Majlis Atfalul Ahmadiyya and Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya. He also served the Community in his local chapter of Hartlepool, UK. He was appointed to the MTA News team full-time in 2016, before which he served The Review of Religions as head of the indexing and tagging department. He had the opportunity of making various documentaries for MTA. He was also the one to initiate the very popular This Week With Huzoor programme which features on MTA.
His Holiness(aba) said that Syed Taalay Ahmed was very passionate about his work and seeing it through, no matter the hardships he may have to face along the way. His main focus was always to ensure that the work was carried out. This was evident from the incident of his martyrdom, as he began his journey at a time when there was increased danger. His Holiness(aba) said that as Syed Taalay Ahmed was setting out for his journey, he was worried about the video files that he had recorded and wanted to ensure that the files would not be corrupted, thus he began working on his laptop while on the journey.
His Holiness(aba) detailed the incidents leading up to the martyrdom of Syed Taalay Ahmed. Robbers had begun firing at the vehicle after which they approached the vehicle and took whatever valuables they had. Syed Taalay Ahmed had been struck in the back and lost a great deal of blood. As the robbery was happening, he quickly hid the laptop and other equipment under the seats so that the robbers would not be able to find it. As they were driving to a nearby clinic, Syed Taalay Ahmed would ask whether His Holiness(aba) had been informed about this incident. From the clinic, it was decided that he would need to be taken to a hospital. Along the way, he said, ‘Tell Huzoor that I love him and tell my family that I love them.’
His Holiness(aba) said that this was a beautiful gem which has left us. This loss has shaken everyone. He understood his oath of life-devotion and fulfilled it to the utmost degree. His Holiness(aba) said that Syed Taalay Ahmed always surprised him, and he would wonder how a youngster who had been raised amidst a worldly environment was able to understand and fulfil his pledge of devotion. His level of love and devotion for Khilafat was such that even some who have deep-rooted knowledge of faith do not possess it. His devotion to Khilafat was such that even in his last moments, he was constantly expressing his love for Khilafat.
His Holiness(aba) said that a few years ago, Syed Taalay Ahmed wrote a poem in which he expressed his love for Khilafat. He started the poem by saying that he loved His Holiness(aba) the most, and he ended by saying that perhaps His Holiness(aba) would never know how much he loved him. His Holiness(aba) said that even before Syed Taalay Ahmed’s last words, he knew – he knew how much Syed Taalay Ahmed loved him when he was filming with his camera, and even when he met him without his camera. He could tell from the sparkle in his eyes and the light on his face, indeed from his every action, His Holiness(aba) was aware of the love that Syed Taalay Ahmed had for him.
His Holiness(aba) said that from among the youth of the Promised Messiah’s(as) family, there was no one who loved Khilafat as much as Syed Taalay Ahmed, in fact there are few elders even who love Khilafat as much as him. He would try to hide his love, but in one way or another, Allah Almighty would make that love manifest. He would be concerned with how he could inform the world about Khilafat, and how he could best serve, even to the point of having to sacrifice his life.
His Holiness(aba) said that at the time of the burial of the Fourth Caliph(rh), as he was standing by the grave before the burial commenced, a young Syed Taalay Ahmed came and stood beside him. At the time, His Holiness(aba) did not know who he was, but now seeing the picture, he realises that even at that time, it was as if he was pledging to always be of service to Khilafat.
His Holiness(aba) said that he himself bears testament to the fact that Syed Taalay Ahmed fulfilled his oath of life-devotion. His Holiness(aba) said that once in a meeting, he told missionaries to offer Tahajjud (pre-dawn voluntary prayers) for at least one hour a day. Even though he was not a missionary, Syed Taalay Ahmed knew he was a life-devotee, and so he too did his best to implement this instruction. At times he would appear tired during the day, as he had woken up early to try and fulfil this instruction of His Holiness(aba) which was not even directly addressed to him. Yet, this was the level to which he fulfilled his oath of life-devotion.
His Holiness(aba) addressed members of the Promised Messiah’s(as) family to learn from the example of Syed Taalay Ahmed, and increase in their devotion. There is no honour in being from the progeny of a revered person, unless one’s own actions are worthy of honour.
HIs Holiness(aba) said that many people have been writing to him about his excellent qualities, which shed even more light on his level of devotion. His Holiness(aba) said that it was only right for him to share some of the sentiments which he has received.
His Holiness(aba) shared the sentiments of Amer Safir, the Editor for The Review of Religions, who said that Syed Taalay Ahmed was head of the indexing and tagging team which worked to organise almost a 100-year’s worth of material from The Review of Religions, which was a great task. Everything that he did revolved around Khilafat. If ever he heard some instruction from His Holiness(aba) for him, his eyes would light up like a child seeing candy. His standard of work was amazing, as there were times when he would be working on two documentaries at the same time.
His Holiness(aba) stated that Abdul Quddoos Arif, Sadr Khuddamul Ahmadiyya UK, said that at a young age Taalay Ahmed had been reading the Five-Volume Commentary of the Holy Qur’an in great detail, leaving notes and highlights throughout, and he completed the entire commentary within a few days. He said that whenever he would praise Taalay Ahmed for any documentary he worked on, his response would always be to ask for prayers, and that it was all due to the grace of Allah Almighty.
His Holiness(aba) said that once someone raised an objection on social media to the title of one of his documentaries, to which he responded. He said that he only defended the title because it had been approved by His Holiness(aba). Had the title been from himself or anyone else, he would have remained silent.
His Holiness(aba) shared the sentiments of his wife Satwat Sahiba, who said that Syed Taalay was very kind, caring and loving. He was always very appreciative and supportive, even when she would be worried due to the martyrdom of her own father. She noticed his love for the Promised Messiah(as) very early on in their relationship. He would relate stories about Khilafat to his son, and would himself weep. Whenever they had a family meeting with His Holiness(aba), he would treat his son for behaving well. His Holiness(aba) said that even seemingly small things indicate the level of a person’s sincerity and devotion. If ever he even sensed that His Holiness(aba) was not pleased with him (His Holiness(aba) commented that he did not recall any instance when that would have been the case) then he would pray profusely in Tahajjud. Whenever he received any gift he would always be grateful. He always trusted in Allah to always fulfil his needs, and in fact, on various occasions, in one way or another, his needs would be fulfilled and God would provide for him in some way. He was very kind, forgiving, and never held any enmity towards anyone.
His Holiness(aba) shared the sentiments of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s father Syed Hashim Akbar. He said that he had seen a dream about his own martyrdom and later learned that his son Syed Taalay Ahmed had seen the same dream about the martyrdom of his father. However he must have prayed that he should be martyred instead of his father. Seeing his excellent qualities, God Almihgty accepted his prayer and bestowed upon him the rank of martyrdom. His soul was devoted to the Holy Prophet(sa), and he lived and breathed for the sake of Khilafat. Syed Taalay Ahmed’s mother Amatul Shakoor said that he was inclined towards religion from a young age. He was very good at his studies and would obtain good grades.
His Holiness(aba) related that Syed Taalay Ahmed’s sister Nudrat Sahiba said that he would often return home late from his work. He would often watch various programmes and documentaries in order to improve his own documentary-making skills. He often studied Ahadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa)) and became quite well-versed. He would often be able to quote Qur’anic verses on a given matter, and he had also studied Arabic and learned Arabic grammar. Nudrat Sahiba also shared two dreams which seem to have been indicative of his martyrdom.
His Holiness(aba) shared the sentiments of Syed Taalay Ahmed’s youngest sister who said that he was an excellent role model and she was able to learn a great deal from him. He told her that on the way to and from work, he would listen to lessons on the Holy Qur’an given by the Fourth Caliph(rh). He taught her that even whilst joking, one should not make fun of any religion.
His Holiness(aba) shared the sentiments of Abid Khan, Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Community who was also Syed Taalay Ahmed’s maternal uncle. He said that Syed Taalay Ahmed possessed a profound love for the Promised Messiah(as), Though he was extremely proud to be from the progeny of the Promised Messiah(as), he never openly shared this fact nor did he ever use it to receive any sort of favourable treatment. Before departing for his trip to Africa which had been according to the instructions of His Holiness(aba), he made a detailed schedule of his daily work. He said that if ever he learned that the instruction of His Holiness(aba) was even slightly different from his own opinion, he would accept it wholeheartedly. He said that Syed Taalay Ahmed made it his mission to make MTA News a strong department within MTA, and through determination and hard work, he was able to achieve this.
His Holiness(aba) said that one aspect which Adam Walker noticed in Syed Taalay Ahmed was that he worked very meticulously and would always think of new ways to convey the message of the Promised Messiah(as). He said that he was always truthful and straightforward in everything he said.
His Holiness(aba) then said that Naseem Bajwa mentioned that whilst he was the missionary in Bradford, he noticed the young Syed Taalay Ahmed to always be obedient, respectful to his elders, responsible, always be busy in the remembrance of God, and passionate about preaching the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat.
His Holiness(aba) then presented the sentiments of Nosherwan Rasheed, a missionary and colleague of Taalay Ahmed. He said that over the last three years, Syed Taalay Ahmed was like a brother to him, he was regular in offering prayers, fasting and giving alms.
His Holiness(aba) said that Syed Taalay Ahmed fulfilled his due in being the spiritual and physical progeny of the Holy Prophet(sa) as well as the Promised Messiah(as). His Holiness(aba) said that thus, it is fitting that Allah Almighty chose the (Islamic) month of Muharram for Syed Taalay Ahmed to be able to present this sacrifice.
His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah Almighty continue to elevate the station of Syed Taalay Ahmed. Surely, he would have been given a place in Paradise near the Holy Prophet(sa). In fact, someone saw a dream that he was running towards the Holy Prophet(sa) who was welcoming him. His Holiness(aba) also prayed that his family may be able to bear this loss with patience. His Holiness(aba) said that after the Friday prayer, he would lead the funeral prayer of Syed Taalay Ahmed.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aa) stated:
Recently, a most beloved child of ours and a life-devotee, respected Syed Taalay Ahmed, son of Syed Hashim Akber, was martyred in Ghana.
اِنَّا للہِ وَاِنَّا اِلَیْہِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
On the night between 23 and 24 August, the MTA team was travelling towards Kumasi after finishing filming in the Northern Region of Ghana. At approximately a quarter past seven, they were attacked by robbers who fired at them and two of the three team members – respected Syed Taalay Ahmed and Umar Farooq – were injured. He was first given medical treatment at a polyclinic and approximately four and a half hours later, whilst they were taking him to a bigger hospital in Tamale, Syed Taalay Ahmed passed away.
Although members of MTA International may have been martyred in other countries, he was the first martyr from here [UK] and I believe that this was the first martyrdom of a waqf-e-nau from the UK.
Syed Taalay Ahmed was the paternal grandson of respected Amatul Latif Begum Sahiba and Syed Mir Muhammad Ahmad Sahib. He was the maternal great-grandson of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra). He was also the paternal great-grandson of Hazrat Dr Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahib(ra). Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahib(ra) was the younger brother of Hazrat Amma Jan [respected wife of the Promised Messiah(as)], Hazrat Nusrat Jahan Begum Sahiba(ra) and in this way, he was a direct descendant of Hazrat Amma Jan(ra) and through Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra), he was directly descended from the Promised Messiah(as) as well as being a descendant of Hazrat Amma Jan(ra) through this chain as well. He was also the son-in-law of Mirza Ghulam Qadir Shaheed. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, he was a musi [part of the scheme of Wasiyyat] and as I have mentioned, he was also a part of the Waqf-e-Nau scheme.
He attained a biomedical sciences degree, and then completed his masters in journalism. In 2013, he dedicated his life [to work for the Jamaat – waqf], and after working in different departments, he was appointed to the Press and Media Department. Previously, Syed Taalay had served the Community at the local level. He served in the tabligh[outreach], ta‘lim [education], isha‘at [publication] and Atfal [children under the age of fifteen] departments for Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya [Ahmadiyya Youth Association] in Hartlepool. In 2016, he was appointed full-time to MTA News. Before that, he served as the head of the Indexing and Tagging department in The Review of Religions.
He produced several documentaries for MTA News and was currently working on an additional three or four documentaries. He was the one who initiated This Week with Huzoor, a weekly programme about my activities; he started it and right to the end, he continued to work enthusiastically on editing it, completing each episode.
This programme has become very popular with viewers of MTA. Aside from serving as the editor of Tahir Magazine, he also served in the isha‘at department of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya. He wrote articles for various Jamaat publications such as The Review of Religions, Tahir Magazine and others. Under the Press & Media Office, he went on many tours with me and on other tours as well.
Respected Taalay possessed an extraordinary passion and desire to not only complete his work, but to do so to the highest standard, which is why he was not afraid of any dangers. It is evident from the incident of his martyrdom that he did not worry even for a moment about the dangers. The only concern he had was that he was able to fulfil the task he had come to do in the most excellent and timely manner. For this reason, he set off at a time when there was a greater potential risk of danger.
The zonal missionary of Tamale, Abu Bakr Ibrahim Sahib, explaining the details of this incident, reports that on 23 August, when the MTA team was about to depart for Salaga, he saw Taalay packing his things and said to him, “You’re checking out of the hotel, but you will have to come back and stay here when you’re back from Salaga.” Taalay replied, “As there is very little time, I must return to Kumasi.”
Maulvi Sahib said to him, “When you return from Salaga, it will be late and it is not suitable to travel at night.” [Taalay] told him, “Fine, we will see,” but also said, “I also have to travel to Sierra Leone and I only have two more days here and there is still a lot of work to do in Kumasi and in Accra. I do have to go, but because you are telling me [to stay], I will think about it.”
In any case, when they returned, he decided to travel on and they set off for Tamale. At 6:45 pm, Taalay said to Umar Farooq Sahib that they should offer their prayers. They all offered the Maghrib and Isha prayers in congregation. He was then concerned lest the files from the recording in Salaga be corrupted, so he began trying to save the files onto the laptop while on the journey. This was the work he was doing during the journey, as he could not bear for any time to be wasted. Likewise, he would always be concerned about the equipment of the Jamaat as it was expensive and he did not want it to get lost or damaged.
Nonetheless, according to the police report, when the MTA vehicle was approaching the Mpaha junction, the robbers started firing at them, which, as I mentioned earlier, resulted in two members of the team getting injured.
The driver says:
“There was another vehicle that had passed in front of us and had indicated that there was danger ahead, but I couldn’t understand them. When the robbers suddenly ambushed us and I saw them in the light of the headlights, I loudly proclaimed the Kalima [the Islamic creed] and at the same time, the robbers began shooting at us. Syed Taalay was sitting at the back of the van and upon hearing the gunshots, he also realised that they were facing an attack by armed robbers.”
Umar Farooq Sahib says:
“During the firing, I was struck in the hip by a bullet but I did not even realise it at the time.” After spraying them with bullets, the robbers fell silent, and they [the MTA team] stayed there for a short while. Then he says, “After some time, the robbers advanced with their torches and took the driver and myself out of the car. We handed over our phones and any money that we had. Then, they laid us down on the road and attacked us.” He says, “They also struck me on the head with a stick which caused it to start bleeding.” Despite this, he says that he was more concerned for Taalay.
He too [Umar Farooq] is currently ill as he was struck by a bullet and also sustained a head injury; may Allah the Almighty grant him good health. Pray for him as well.
Later, after everything had happened, the driver, Abdur Rahman Sahib, says that when the robbers left after looting them, he and Umar Farooq Sahib managed to get themselves up and immediately went towards the car in order to check on Taalay. They found that a bullet had struck him in the back on the right side and had lodged itself there, as a result of which he had already lost a lot of blood in the car. According to the medical report, this is what proved to be fatal.
After this incident, they used a bus that was passing by to reach the Buipe Polyclinic. He received some treatment there, and then it was decided that he should be taken to the Tamale Teaching Hospital. However, while en route, he passed away and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at the hospital.
“Taalay’s head was resting on my leg and he kept asking me, ‘Has Huzoor been told about what has happened? Have we asked him for prayers?’” He says, “This incident had greatly affected us and various concerns and doubts were gripping us with fear.” He says, “As we were taking him to the hospital, Syed Taalay told me that during the shooting, he quickly hid the laptop and other equipment under the back seats, and that they were still there and should be retrieved. He asked us to ensure that the cameras, phone and laptop were all safe, because he wanted to ensure that none of the records went to waste. I informed him that by the grace of Allah the Almighty, all the equipment was safe.”
His only concern was for the property and equipment of the Jamaat and to preserve the Jamaat’s history, which he had worked to capture. [Umar Farooq] says that at around 9:00 or 9:30 pm, his condition started deteriorating, due to which those at the polyclinic decided to immediately move him to the hospital.
As I mentioned before, he passed away while on the way to the hospital in Tamale. The ambulance did not have all the necessary equipment, as is sometimes the case in such countries. It had also initially taken some time to find an ambulance and he was also bleeding a great deal. Eventually, Allah the Almighty’s decree came to pass.
“During this time, as we were travelling with our injuries, Taalay said to me, ‘Tell Huzoor that I love him, and tell my family that I love them.’”
“Whenever he would regain consciousness, he would repeat this over and over again”. He did not say this only once but multiple times. “He also said, ‘You have taken great care of me and helped me in every possible way, for which I am thankful from the bottom of my heart.’ I tried to keep his spirits up, but he was losing strength. His condition deteriorated so much that whenever I asked him a question, instead of speaking, he would give me a thumbs up to indicate that everything was fine, which caused me to worry. Then he began breathing quickly, after which there was a long silence, and I understood that the very thing we had feared had come to pass.”
[Umar Farooq] continues:
“The driver and male nurse were speaking with one another in the local language, from which I gathered that they did not wish to tell us, but that Syed Taalay Ahmed had passed away.”
As I stated, when they reached Tamale, he was pronounced dead by the hospital at 1:49 am. He says, “The people of Tamale were saddened upon this news, because only a short while ago, they had seen him off smiling and in good spirits.”
These were some details regarding his martyrdom.
He was a diamond which has now departed from us. May Allah the Almighty continue to grant the Jamaat such people who are loyal, have a sincere and dedicated relationship with Khilafat, and give precedence to their faith over worldly matters.
This loss is so profound that it has shaken us. This beautiful person understood the spirit of devotion and truly fulfilled the oath he had made.
Seeing him, I was amazed, and am still to this day amazed, at how, despite being a child who grew up in this materialistic environment, he understood the essence of his devotion and not only fulfilled his mission, but fulfilled it to the highest degree.
He used to read stories of the elders not just to learn about history or to simply wonder at their sacrifices, but instead in order to make them a part of his own life.
His understanding of devotion and sincerity to Khilafat was to such a degree that is found in very few people. In fact, I would say that this level is not found even in some who possess deep knowledge of the faith; sometimes, the knowledge of such people comes with the stench of arrogance. In fact, I would even say that this level is not even understood by some of those who think that they understand the rank of Khilafat and the standards of devotion that are required.
He demonstrated his utmost loyalty to Khilafat in such a way that even in his last words, when he was at the brink of death, he was mindful of his love and devotion to the Khalifa of the time. Everyone thinks of their children and family at such a time, but there are very few who would think about their love for Khilafat again and again, even before their children and family, or along with them.
About two or three years ago, he wrote a poem about his relationship and love for Khilafat and gave it to a friend, and told him not to show it to anyone. He began the poem by saying, “I love my Caliph more than the others” and ended it by saying, “I love my Caliph, but he’ll never know”.
O my beloved Taalay! I tell you that even before your final words, I knew that you loved and adored Khilafat. This love was evident from your every deed, your every moment, when you stood before me with a camera in your hand and even when you met me without your camera, whether in a personal meeting or with regard to official work. This love was clear from the sparkle in your eyes and from the unique expression of joy on your face. In short, your every action demonstrated how you always expressed this love for the Khalifa of the time.
I have hardly ever seen this level of love and devotion in anyone else. I was discussing at home that amongst the youth the Promised Messiah’s(as) family, I have not seen this level of devotion being expressed by anyone more than Taalay – Allah the Almighty knows the state of people’s hearts – indeed, it is extremely rare even amongst elders to find this level of devotion. I pray that after this tragedy, Allah the Almighty will grant us more people of this standard.
Taalay’s spirit was such, as he himself described in his poem, that he wished to hide his expressions of love, but he was unable to conceal them. In some form or the other, Allah the Almighty caused his devotion to me to manifest and this is why he was so dear to me.
His ever-present thought was to eagerly await any instruction from the Khalifa of the time so he could immediately act upon it. And he did not simply want to act upon it; rather, he also wanted to avail every opportunity to inform the world of the status of Khilafat. He was waiting for the opportunity to give up his life if needed.
Further, there are very few people who have so much devotion to their work. This immense devotion to his work was not simply because he enjoyed doing it. There are many others who thoroughly enjoy carrying out their work. His enthusiasm for his work stemmed from a passion to want to defend the religion of Islam and the Holy Prophet(sa) and thus, he wanted to spread this message to the world and convey the message of the Promised Messiah(as) to the corners of the earth. This is why he strove to be a helper of Khilafat.
During the burial of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV(rh), when I was standing near the grave and before I [had started to] cover the grave with sand, he was standing to my right side. At the time, I was unaware of who he was, but when I saw the pictures now, I realised who [he was] and on which occasion it was. This 13-year-old child must have pledged at the time that, as he was a waqf-e-nau, he would now become the helping hand of the Khalifa of the time.
Many years later, after completing his education, he fulfilled this pledge and fulfilled it completely and brilliantly. Upon my advice, he studied journalism. By doing this and becoming a shaheed (martyr), he truly demonstrated that he was the helping hand of Khilafat.
O beloved Taalay! I testify that you certainly attained the very highest levels of fulfilling your pledge to devote your life [waqf].
How much he constantly strove to fulfil every word of the Khalifa of the time can be demonstrated through the fact that in some meetings with missionaries, I advised them to offer the Tahajud prayer [pre-dawn optional prayer] for around an hour. Taalay did not, like certain missionaries, question how they could possibly wake up during the short nights of the summer and offer Tahajud prayer for an hour; instead he strove to act upon this guidance.
One of his friends who is a missionary, one day, noticed that he was tired and asked him why. Taalay replied that the Khalifa of the time had advised the missionaries to offer Tahajud for an hour, and he said as he was a life devotee, therefore this instruction was also applicable to him. He said because he had offered Tahajud, he had not been able to sleep fully and this was why he felt tired.
This missionary wrote to me that this made him very ashamed and embarrassed that, whilst he was the one who had been directly addressed, he could not fulfil the guidance of the Khalifa of the time. On the other hand, Taalay, in order to fulfil his pledge as a life-devotee, acted upon this guidance.
This was his elevated status of fulfilling his pledge. He is, therefore, an example for life-devotees to follow. And as a member of the family of the Promised Messiah(as), he is also an example in loyalty and devotion for other members of the family of the Promised Messiah(as). Now it rests on the family members of the Promised Messiah(as) as to what extent they strive to live up to this and do justice to being related to the Promised Messiah(as).
The honour of the family [of the Promised Messiah(as)] or being physically related to them does not give a person status. If anyone respects them, it is not because of any worldly achievements and never will anyone respect them for those; rather, it is in them being servants of the faith and giving precedence to their religion over worldly matters [that will garner them respect]. Otherwise, there are tens of millions of people in the world better off than them financially. Even those who are not better off financially do not consider them to be of a higher rank or status.
Thus, I also say to the members of the family of the Promised Messiah(as) to derive lessons from this departed soul and increase in your levels of devotion and sincerity. Just as this personification of loyalty fulfilled his pledge and gave precedence to his faith over materialistic desires, the members of the family of the Promised Messiah(as) should emulate his example. This is what will confer respect and grant the blessings of Allah the Almighty to them. Otherwise, materialistic gains and worldly desires will not give members of the family of the Promised Messiah(as) even the smallest degree of honour and respect. To be the son or daughter of a revered person is not a source of pride if your actions do not make you worthy of that honour.
As I have said, he was also an extraordinary model for life-devotees [waqif-e-zindagi]. He never complained about his minimal allowance [salary]. He was grateful for whatever he received and made ends meet with it. If he happened to obtain some additional money from somewhere, it would fill him with sentiments of gratitude. He had prayed to Allah the Almighty to prevent him from ever falling into straitened circumstances and Allah the Almighty always answered this prayer.
He fasted regularly and he possessed uncountable virtues. Many who are writing letters of condolences to me are mentioning these numerous qualities, including his relatives and close friends. These are qualities which are astonishing even to me. To an extent, I knew how loyal he was, but his standards of piety and righteousness were very elevated. This is why I deem it appropriate to present to you aspects of his life in the words of others. These are sentiments of his wife, parents, siblings as well as friends, and include various details and incidents.
Amer Safir Sahib, Editor of The Review of Religions, says:
“Taalay was enabled to serve The Review of Religions for four years as head of the Indexing & Tagging Archiving project. This was a huge responsibility that he fulfilled. He prepared an index for 100 years of The Review of Religions, a list of various categories and the different tags for articles. This was a very large-scale project that he worked on with great dedication and determination. There was a team of 11 people who had to carry out a task requiring immense efforts. With the grace of Allah the Almighty, they completed this task and Taalay supervised and led all of this.”
“I witnessed with my own eyes Taalay’s immense qualities. He had brilliant organisational and administrative skills, immense passion and dedication to serve and unflinching loyalty and love with Khilafat.”
Then he says:
“One quality I witnessed of Taalay’s was his ability to take a project from ground zero – from nothing – build it with his own initiative, and with his passion and his drive, make it into something huge and exemplary. He would never wait to be ‘pushed’; he would never wait to be reminded; rather, he would leap forward like a person who was obsessed and utterly devoted for something. He was like those people regarding whom the Promised Messiah(as) said they serve the religion so passionately like one who becomes zealous and utterly devoted in sincerity. Taalay cared not for the world. Whenever he had the opportunity to serve, all that mattered to him was the Jamaat and Khilafat – for him, that was everything.”
Then, he says:
“I can describe all I observed in him in a nutshell by the following: for him, everything revolved around Khilafat. Although he had a personal connection with the Khalifa of the time, whenever I relayed any guidance of yours to him, he would freeze, his eyes would open up and he would listen like a child getting candy. Then he would thank me for conveying your guidance.”
“He would not work on just one, but several documentaries at a time. I would be astonished that how was he able to work on several documentaries at the same time? Many times, we had no idea that he was working on certain documentaries as he wanted to surprise us.
“Taalay also had excellent research abilities. Another quality of Taalay’s is that he always wanted to ensure his family and relatives served and were attached to the Jamaat. Whenever I told him that such-and-such of his family or relatives has served The Review of Religions in this way, he would be delighted.”
Quddus Arif Sahib, Sadr Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya says:
“I knew him from childhood. I witnessed that Taalay had studied the short commentary by Hazrat Malik Ghulam Farid Sahib(ra) as well as the five-volume commentary. In fact, he highlighted various parts in the short commentary and had also studied the five-volume commentary in great detail and had highlighted various verses and added small notes in it.”
I will share some details with regard to him reading the five-volume commentary.
He took a gap year after his BSc. It is after this, or perhaps during a mulaqat in the office that I told him to read the five-volume commentary. I thought he would take many years to complete it, yet within a few months, he returned and told me that he had finished reading it. I was astonished when I heard this at the time.
“He produced documentaries which the youth enjoyed. For example he made a documentary on football in which he kept in view the points of moral and spiritual training.” Then he says, “Each documentary he produced for MTA was better than the last. I remember when Brutality and Injustice, Two Trials in a Time was broadcast, I sent a message to Taalay saying that the documentary was very faith-inspiring. He replied with utmost humility to ‘please pray for us; all of this is the blessings of Allah.’ On Twitter someone objected to the name of the documentary and Taalay replied and when I mentioned this to him, he said that ‘because the Khalifa of the time has approved the name, I defended it. If either Abid or I had named it, I would never have replied, but since the Khalifa of the time has approved it, I must explain and defend it.’”
He further says:
“In the first virtual Atfal Rally, I asked Taalay through the Mohtamim Atfal to relate some of his experiences with you. At first, he did not agree, but when I asked him directly as Sadr Majlis, he agreed. The Atfal really enjoyed the incidents he related. (Taalay then messaged Sadr Majlis stating) ‘I considered myself in need of reform and unable to advise others and relate my experiences. I thought I would relate these when I was reformed or old and near death. In the meantime, I hoped to spend my time quietly hidden away; however, you have managed to extract these accounts from me.’” However, Allah the Almighty was aware that this was the right time for him to share his incidents.
Respected Satwat Sahiba, Talaay’s wife relates:
“He was very loving and affectionate. He was very compassionate and kind both with our children and towards me. He was so caring that he appreciated even the smallest of things. He never complained about food he was given, regardless of how it was. After my father’s martyrdom, I became quite worried and soon after, I was engaged. I was very sad because of the loss of my father. However, Taalay took great care of me and ensured I did not remain sad. After my engagement, I would think, ‘How much Taalay loves the Holy Prophet(sa).’ Although he was an adult, he cried like a child when he discussed the Holy Prophet(sa). He would relate stories to our son Talal about the Holy Prophet(sa) and when doing so, he would cry and sob intensely. He was familiar with a great deal of accounts relating to the Holy Prophet(sa) and had even memorised many of them” – many others have also written that he possessed a deep knowledge of history and of the life of the Holy Prophet(sa).
“He would say to me, ‘Talal goes to a Christian school, so on the way there, I recite Surah Al-Ikhlas so he can repeat it after me.’ He was greatly devoted to Khilafat and had a sense of great honour for defending it.”
There are some things which seem to be trivial, but which actually demonstrate a person’s sincerity.
“He would become so overjoyed whenever he found out that you were happy with him or with our son. He always treated us after any mulaqat or he would give Talal some chocolates, saying to him that he had been a really good boy; or sometimes he would treat us to ice cream. He would express his happiness at small things because he felt that our son had behaved really well or that we had such a good mulaqat.
“Sometimes, he felt that I [Huzoor] was displeased with him about something” – this must have just been something he thought because I do not remember any time where I was displeased with him – “whenever he thought you were upset with him, he would weep immensely in his Tahajud [pre-dawn optional prayer] and beg Allah the Almighty for forgiveness. He would weep and cry so much that it was like a child wailing.
“After producing documentaries, he would have the same concern as he waited in anticipation for a positive response and approval from the Khalifa of the time. When he started This Week… he was elated that he would get the greatest possible opportunities to be in my [Huzoor’s] office and record me.
“A great quality he possessed was that he always gave precedence to his faith over worldly matters. He was completely averse to materialistic things and he never coveted anything worldly. He never harboured greed for material things. He had no desire for worldly pursuits. He would be anxious whenever he was gifted with something expensive. He was happy and entirely content with what he had and he would thank Allah the Almighty profusely for it.
“He would say that in his childhood, he read an incident of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) about how Allah the Almighty assisted him in financial matters. He said, ‘I immediately raised my hands and prayed, “O Allah! Treat me in the same way.”’ He was fully convinced that Allah the Almighty had accepted this prayer of his and that Allah the Almighty would treat him the same as Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddin Sahib(ra). Indeed, this came true.”
She further says:
“I, myself, saw that whenever he would be in need of money, he would instantly receive it from somewhere.” She says, “Recently, after a time-period of 10 years, a loan company phoned him to say that they owed him £1,000. He was overjoyed and said that he could use that to pay his car insurance and also pay towards the necessary maintenance of the car” – and not that he would ask the Jamaat for it.
“I am a witness to the manner in which Allah the Almighty afforded him with His love. He would narrate an incident about this treatment and said, ‘When I was a student in university’”, which is approximately 10 years ago, “‘I was extremely hungry, but I did not have any money left. I offered my prayers and when I had finished, I saw £10 lying under my bed.’ He was surprised and said that Allah the Almighty had given this money to him.
“He had absolute trust in Allah. I would say to him that some people would make financial provisions etc., but he was convinced that Allah the Almighty would provide for him, therefore he did not need to chase after the world and instead, focused on fulfilling his waqf.”
She then says:
“When we lived in our previous rental home and the tenancy agreement came to an end, the council wrote to us saying that due to the council [tax] bill or electricity bill, we had some surplus money, £200 or £300. He immediately said that he would return it to the Jamaat, even though the Jamaat did not ask for it and did not follow up strictly saying that he must return the amount. He said that he wanted to return the amount to the Jamaat and did not wish to be a burden on the Jamaat.
“He would say that if it was possible, he would pay for everything himself; he did not like being a burden upon the Jamaat or request anything from the Jamaat. Even in the last days, his only worry was that as he was taking expensive equipment of the Jamaat to Africa, how would he look after it. He did not worry about himself at all. He was very hospitable. He would always look after his family and my family. He always wore simple clothes.”
His wife says:
“I have a feeling that some people may have misunderstood him, or thought that perhaps he was arrogant or spoke bluntly. However, his confidence was such that he would say things in a loving manner. He did not have the slightest bit of arrogance in him. Taalay was very forgiving and would cover the faults of others. He would never hold a grudge against anyone.”
His father writes:
“All praise belongs to Allah; through His special grace and benevolence, Allah the Almighty has bestowed our son with the rank of martyrdom.”
“Owing to a dream I had seen, I began preparing my wife and Taalay. When I narrated the dream to Taalay, he said, ‘Have you seen a dream whereby you were martyred?’ I was surprised and asked him how he knew, to which he replied that he had also seen a dream in which he saw that I had been martyred.”
“Taalay had the utmost love and reverence as is permitted by Allah the Almighty between a father and a son. I think it was for this reason that perhaps he prayed to be granted the station of martyrdom instead of his father, and since he was worthy enough for Allah the Almighty to bestow upon him the rank of martyrdom, He thus bestowed him with this honour.
“After he was shot, he said to missionary sahib, ‘Whether I survive this or not, I have completed my mission.’”
“From an early age, Allah the Almighty had placed in his heart that although he was born into a certain family, he ought to understand his responsibilities and fulfil them; and that he should know that his life did not belong to him, but in fact belonged to Allah, and that he must live his life by Allah’s command alone. Through his life and death, Taalay proved that he fulfilled this responsibility.”
“He possessed a soul whereby every fibre of his being was engrained with the love of Allah and Allah’s loved ones. From his childhood, he possessed such a heart that upon hearing the name of the Holy Prophet(sa) and the mere mention of him, his innocent lips would quiver and his eyes would be filled with tears. He had a pure soul which was free from any evil.”
He then says:
“He was beautiful inside and out, and if I was to make a comparison, it would be with Prophet Joseph(as) for he also possessed a resolute character. Owing to his love for the Holy Prophet(sa), his soul would wander among the streets of Mecca and Medina of 1,400 years ago. His body was infused with love in its entirety. His livelihood, food and drink and every breath was for the sake of Khalifatul Masih.”
His mother, Amtushakoor Sahiba, writes:
“I am very blessed and very fortunate that Allah the Almighty granted me such an extraordinary child. The 31 years of Taalay’s life that I spent with him was one of the greatest blessings of this world.”
She then mentioned a dream seen by a woman, who saw a child in a cradle whose arms extended outside [the cradle].
“[In the dream] this lady heard the child say, ‘Peace be upon you’. Next to the child was a blue-coloured card which contained the word ‘Allah’ in Arabic, and ‘God’ in English. This lady said that she thought that the colour blue meant a boy.”
This woman saw this dream before Taalay’s birth and related it to his mother and stated that she thought that she would be bestowed with a boy and that wherever the boy would go, he would spread peace and tranquillity.
“I was bestowed a beautiful and handsome child. In 2005, when he was 15 years old, we did Wasiyyat at the same time. He was very mindful of matters related to faith.”
“When he was three years old, he memorised certain chapters of the Qur’an and when I told my mother, she was very surprised.” She further says, “I also remember that when he was three years old, I would share matters of tabligh with him, and he would attentively discuss them with me.
“He was very good in his studies and would pass with good grades. I wanted him to become a doctor, but Allah the Almighty had planned something else. After obtaining a degree in biomedical sciences, Allah the Almighty enabled him to complete a masters in journalism. After his demise, I have come to realise, even more than before, just how much love he had for you”.
She says, “When you instructed him to make documentaries capturing the historical aspects [of the Jamaat] for MTA, you also gave him permission to work independently on these projects and this is something that greatly inspired him.”
“His wife, Satwat told me that he had sent her an email in 2019 which consisted of a list of eight programmes and said that if something happened to him, to pass on this list to the relevant people for its completion.”
His sister, Nudrat says:
“Having lived with Taalay, I saw his dedication to Jamaat work. He would often return home late due to his work. I came to stay with them during my time in university. He would return home sometimes after 10 pm and at times, after midnight. He would eat his dinner and then continue his work. For him, even his days off were not really a holiday until his Jamaat work was complete. He worked with passion and enthusiasm.
“In his spare time, he would watch documentaries and certain videos; I have never seen anyone study and analyse a programme in such depth as if it were a textbook. Upon being asked, he would reply that to be the best at his craft, he had to study lots of different documentaries and videos. He had an extraordinary talent for preparing exceptional documentaries about the history of the Jamaat.
“He had an extensive knowledge of Islam. He was often the first person I went to if I had any in-depth questions about Islamic teachings. He had studied the ahadith carefully. In the answer, he would often present a hadith that most people would not know of and would give its reference. He would reference verses of the Holy Quran on various topics. He was able to talk about any given topic. He could explain concepts and debate so powerfully that you would be left with no option but to accept his point. He also began learning the Arabic language and had a good grasp of Arabic grammar. This is because he desired to understand the Word of Allah first hand. I asked him how he had studied Arabic in such depth and he sent me a comprehensive list of instructions and guided me. There were 26 lessons in the list which contained many points and tips. He used all his intellectual capabilities to attain the nearness of God and to serve the Jamaat.”
“There are two dreams that I know of which Taalay directly discussed with me and which pointed to his martyrdom. The first dream was related to me by Taalay during a discussion about his son, Talal, and that was that Talal had an extreme fear of one of his parents passing away and this was because he knew about the martyrdom of Chacha[Uncle] Qadir. Taalay then became a little serious and lowered his tone.”
She then says, “I do not remember all the details of the dream, but I do know the overall message. Taalay said, ‘I do not claim to be anything like my father-in-law, but I had a dream.’”
In this dream a similar incident took place. In the dream, Taalay was wearing the Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya colours and while holding the flag, he was entering Paradise. Everyone was calling him by his father-in-law’s name saying, “Mirza Ghulam Qadir has come.”
“The second dream which I have an account of is in the form of a message [from Taalay]. I fell ill during my pregnancy and my situation became quite serious. I was admitted to hospital several times and he would regularly phone me and enquire of my health and try to reassure me.
“During this time, he mentioned one of his dreams that indicated that his sisters would live on after his demise. He stated that a few years earlier, he saw a dream wherein he was entering Paradise and his relatives had organised a welcoming party for him. He stated that in his dream, he was shocked upon learning of his demise and was worried lest his younger sisters had passed away before him and so he looked around but could not find them anywhere.”
He stated to his sister that if this dream was true, then she need not worry – even though she had to go into hospital and the doctors had said that it was a very serious situation – but he told her that she should not worry because if this dream of his was true, then she would get better. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, everything returned to normal thereafter.
She further states that she was very proud of his intelligence and that his love for Khilafat was unparalleled.
His younger sister says:
“He was an excellent role model and I had the opportunity to learn many things from him.” She further stated, “When I was 13 or 14 years of age, at home, Taalay once wished to recite one of his most favourite chapters of the Holy Quran and thus, he recited Surah Yusuf in a very beautiful and melodious manner. He would also say that he would often listen to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’s(rh) dars-ul-Quran.” He would listen to the dars whilst travelling to and from the office.
“Once, I shared a joke with him which mentioned Christianity and slightly mocked the faith. Upon this, he stated that they should not mock any faith because in this way, people would also speak against us as well.”
Abid Waheed, who is serving as the central press secretary and is also his maternal uncle, states:
“I had a very special relation with Taalay. We did not just share one relationship, but our bond consisted of many different [kinds of] relationships. I was his maternal uncle, but there was not much of a difference in our age and he was like a younger brother and a friend.” There was only a difference of seven years. “I always felt and witnessed as well that Taalay had immense love for the family of the Promised Messiah(as). If anyone from among the family of the Promised Messiah(as)had done something wrong, he would feel great pain and sadness due to it because it would cause dishonour to the Promised Messiah(as) and the Khalifa of the time.”
He loved his family members, but did not love them blindly; rather, he would be sad and pained and could not tolerate it if one of them had committed an act which would bring disrepute to the name of Promised Messiah(as), his family and the Khalifa of the time.
He further states:
“He would often speak to me on such issues and there would always be a sense of pain in his voice. Although he was very proud to be a member of the Promised Messiah’s(as) family, but he would not go around mentioning this to anyone or try to take advantage of it. Many people did not even know of his relation [with the family of the Promised Messiah(as)].”
“After a few months of working in MTA News, Taalay came to me and said, ‘It seems to me that MTA News is considered a very mediocre section in MTA and people in MTA, either openly or through their attitude towards it, say that MTA News is one of the weakest departments within MTA. However, Taalay took this weakness and made it his mission [to correct it] and very confidently stated that when the various projects would be completed, then, insha-Allah, people would watch MTA News with great interest and would say that the best programmes on MTA were those produced by MTA News. He stated that this was his challenge and that he had accepted it.
“Thereafter, Taalay produced some documentaries and various other programmes. I saw that for the preparation of these documentaries, he would often spend 18 to 19 hours in the day.”
His recent trip to Africa was based on my instruction in which I directed that MTA News should go to Africa and produce a documentary on the Nusrat Jehan Scheme. According to the programme, he was to first travel to Ghana, Sierra Leone and then, the Gambia. Hence, he had gone for this purpose in order to produce a documentary on the Nusrat Jehan Scheme.
“Before travelling to Africa, Taalay very diligently made preparations for everything. He prepared a detailed travel-plan with a full schedule of daily activities so that no time was wasted. He made all the plans very carefully.”
“There would often be a difference of opinion between me and Taalay and often, after a few minutes of debate, I would accept defeat because I knew that until I accepted his argument, he would continue to debate and give his opinion. However, one thing I noticed was that if, during the discussion, I stated that the opinion of the Khalifa of the time was such-and-such, then he would say, ‘If Huzoor’s opinion is even slightly different from mine, then I will openly accept the fact that I am completely wrong.’”
He was preparing a documentary on Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) and his cousin told him:
“Make a really good documentary on Abba Jaan” – the cousin was the great-granddaughter of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) – “because it is not every day that such documentaries are made.”
Upon this, Taalay stated, “I don’t think it will be as good because it is not directly about a Khalifa, but may Allah enable people to like it.” This was his relationship with Khilafat.
Mirza Talha Ahmad has also written:
“He had planned to produce a documentary on Chaudhry Zafrulla Khan Sahib(ra) and for this, he had also assigned me some work. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, he would produce very good documentaries. He had great skill in scriptwriting and storytelling.”
Adam Walker Sahib – I believe it is Adam Walker Sahib – writes:
“I knew Taalay from childhood and later we both worked together in Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya, the Central Press Office and MTA.
“Particularly in relation to MTA work, I noticed that Taalay would always very meticulously assess the work and would delve into the depth of the matters. If ever he had an idea of spreading the message of the Promised Messiah(as) or the instructions and guidance of the Khalifa of the time to other people, he would, without any hesitation, discuss it with me and express his thoughts. He would always be thinking of the different ways of spreading the message online.
“From this, it is evident that he would deeply ponder over your instructions and would strive towards its implementation. He would always give precedence to speaking the truth. Whenever he wished to present a suggestion or express his opinion, he would always do it honestly and with no ambiguity. He would always give honest feedback to those who we worked with.”
Naseem Bajwa Sahib writes:
“I was serving as a missionary in Bradford between 2001 and 2009 and during this time, I would also travel to the Hartlepool Jamaat. I always saw him passionately taking part in the programmes as a tifl. He was a tifl who was punctual, disciplined, intelligent, passionate about increasing his religious knowledge, offered prayers very calmly, obedient, hospitable, respectful towards his elders, possessed great love for Khilafat and would intently listen to the words of the Khalifah.
“He would fulfil his responsibilities in an extremely well manner; he would carefully ponder over matters, occupy himself in the remembrance of Allah, passionately take part in tabligh and would recite the Holy Quran very beautifully. Later, in his youth, his qualities manifested even more.”
One of his cousins, Mubaraka Rehman, states:
“One of Taalay’s qualities, which I always noticed, was his sense of contentment and simplicity as a life-devotee [waqf]. Many times, he would recount the blessings Allah the Almighty had bestowed upon him. I never noticed him having any interest in material things. In fact, if ever any worldly matter was discussed in front of him, he would laugh in his own distinctive way and express his gratitude to Allah the Almighty that He had enabled him to be a life-devotee [waqf] and had so freed him of such matters and that God Himself granted him all his needs. He was a true life-devotee.”
One of his friends and a missionary, Nohsherwan Rashid, states:
“I had the opportunity to serve alongside brother Taalay in MTA News for the past three years. In these three years, Taalay was not only my colleague, but also my teacher and above all, a friend and brother.”
“In the past three years, I saw Taalay regularly fast on Thursdays and be very watchful over his five daily prayers. He would go to the mosque ahead of the prayer time and I also saw that he would pay his chandawell in time.”
There are many accounts and many people have written to me and I have mentioned only a few in view of the time.
He did true justice to being a member of the Holy Prophet(sa) and Promised Messiah’s(as) physical and spiritual progeny. He was from among the progeny of the Holy Prophet(sa) and Allah the Almighty chose him for this sacrifice in the month of Muharram.
As I mentioned earlier, he was a diamond among life-devotees. May Allah the Almighty continue to elevate his rank.
I am hopeful that Allah the Almighty has granted him the nearness of the Holy Prophet(sa). In fact, after his demise, someone saw in a dream that the Holy Prophet(sa) was standing in one place and Taalay went running towards him and embraced him, and the Holy Prophet(sa) also embraced him closely and said, “Welcome, my son!”
How fortunate are those who sacrifice for the sake of their faith and attain such a lofty rank. May Allah the Almighty be the Protector and Helper of his wife and children and grant them patience and strength. May He also grant patience and strength to his parents and siblings and enable his children and siblings to continue his virtuous deeds.
Insha-Allah, after the prayers today, I will lead his funeral prayer. The funeral has arrived.
Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 24 September 2021, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.