CHAPTER 67: THE DEMISE OF HAZRAT MIRZA

Hazrat Mirza’s illness

Because of Hazrat Mirza’s continuous engagement in intellectual labor over many years, he had become afflicted by the neural weakness that is called neurasthenia in medical nomenclature. This ailment manifested itself when he engaged in intellectual exertion.

Accordingly, the symptoms surfaced whenever Hazrat Mirza worked on writing a significant book or preparing an important lecture. The laws of God are absolute — no one is exempt from them, be they prophets or saints, except he who Allah desires. Allah can grant healing to whomever He pleases as a blessing and save that person from the ravages of the natural law, but the natural law does notchange and neither does its impact.

Hazrat Mirza had been appointed by God to serve the cause of religion, and he served God’s religion under His directive. But this did not exempt him from the toll that mental exertion takes on the nerves and muscles. It is a separate matter though that God safely took him through the affliction every time it occurred. 

But the fact that Hazrat Mirza served God’s religion did not exempt him from the application of God’s law. Whether a person exerts himself intellectually for material gains, or for the purpose of serving God,the wear and tear upon the nervous system takes place inexorably. Certainly, God can save a person from the deleterious effects of His law for as long as He wants, and this is His blessing, but God’s law does not change — “and thou wilt find no change in the way of Allah” (33:62).

Hazrat Mirza experienced the symptoms of this ailment in two ways:

  1. Affliction in the upper body: The symptoms were dizziness, weakness, hands and feet turning cold and weakening of his pulse. Musk was very effective in relieving these symptoms and for this reason Hazrat Mirza always kept a vial of musk with him.
  2. Affliction in the lower body: At times there was frequent urination and at other times diarrhea. When Hazrat Mirza had frequency of urination, he would sometimes have to go every ten minutes to pass urine copiously. When diarrhea was triggered, he had watery motions, one after the other, without even eating anything of substance, and these episodes would leave him very weak and enervated. Hazrat Mirza had always eaten sparingly, and towards the end of his life, his meals had become even lighter with an absence of rich and hard to digest food. I am a medical doctor and having observed Hazrat Mirza’s ailment, report these symptoms from observation and not hearsay.1

Fulfillment of the prophecy regarding the two sheets of yellow cloth

As mentioned above, Hazrat Mirza sometimes experienced the effects of the ailment in the upper part of the body, and sometimesin the lower part. This phenomenon was in accordance with a hadith reported in the Sahih Muslim in which the Holy Prophet saw the Promised Messiah in a vision dressed in two yellow sheets. According to the books on the interpretation of visions and dreams, yellowsheets symbolize illnesses. Thus, the two illness- es mentioned above that afflicted the Promised Messiah were the two yellow sheets that were shown to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the spiritual vision.

The fatal illness

Just prior to the Lahore visit, Hazrat Mirza had been very active men- tally. In the last four months, he had written the voluminous book Chashma Marifat — a book full of subtle lessons in wisdom and knowledge. The book was published on May 15, 1908. The mental exertion that this work entailed seriously impacted Hazrat Mirza’s health. He was in his seventies at this time, and because of the advanced age, his ability to recuperate was greatly diminished. After this great mental exertion, Hazrat Mirza came to Lahore and the activities in Lahore further strained him mentally. From morning to evening, there was a line of visitors who had all kinds of questions to ask of him, and Hazrat Mirza kept engaged giving them appropriate answers. He also wanted to present to the public the proper approach towards Hindu- Muslim unity and embarked upon writing the book Paigham-e-Sulh for this purpose. After he finished speaking with the visitors, he would return inside, only to resume writing his book. There was simply no time for his mind to rest.

Ultimately, this exertion of day and night took its toll. Even during his stay in Lahore, Hazrat Mirza had two or three bouts ofthese illnesses but the attacks were relatively mild. However, the attack on May 25, 1908 was very severe and in the end proved fatal. OnMay 25, 1908, Hazrat Mirza spent the entire day writing Paigham-e-Sulh, and in the evening, he went for a carriage ride. Upon returning from the outing, he had an attack of the illness with the digestive system being the target this time. Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was informed and he immediately had appropriate medication prepared and sent to Hazrat Mirza, but the medication proved ineffective. At 11:00

P.M. Hazrat Mirza had a bout of diahrrhea that left him totally debilitated. He then sent for Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Maulana Nur-ud-Din. They administered medication to revive and strengthen Hazrat Mirza and then repaired to their respective abodes in the belief that the ailment had been triggered by mental exertion and a good night’s sleep would make Hazrat Mirza feel much better.

However, later that night between 2:00 and 3:00 A.M. Hazrat Mirza suffered another severe attack of diarrhea after which his pulse became almost imperceptible. Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Maulana Nur- ud-Din were summoned again. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig were also sent for. When Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig arrived, Hazrat Mirza beckoned him to his bedside and said: “I am suffering from severe diarrhea; kindly suggest some medication.” Then Hazrat Mirza added, “In reality, the remedy is in the heavens. Please prescribe some medication and also pray for me.”

Hazrat Mirza’s demise

The medical treatment had started. Since Hazrat Mirza’s condition was precarious, the disciples he had summoned stayed by his bedside. The treat- ment continued through the night but Hazrat Mirza’s pulse remained imperceptible.

Later, Dr. Sutherland, Principal of Medical College, Lahore, who was a very distinguished physician, was also called to attend to Hazrat Mirza, but there is no antidotefor death. Hafiz Fazal Ahmad kept reciting the Quranic chapter Ya Sin by Hazrat Mirza’s bedside. Finally, Hazrat Mirza left this temporal world to meet with Allah, his true love, at 10:15 A.M. on Tuesday, May 26, 1908, corresponding with Rabi-us-Sani 24, 1326 Hijrah.“Surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall return.”

In the final moments of his life, the words on Hazrat Mirza’s lips were, “O my beloved Allah. O my Beloved! O my Beloved! O my beloved Allah.” Hazrat Mirza kept repeating these words very lovingly, and whenthe sound of the call for Morning Prayer fell on his ears, he asked: “Is it morning?” Then despite his extreme infirmity and weakness, he started praying and kept praying until his soul took flight to meet with his Beloved for Whose glorification he had striven so strenuously throughout his life.

The excellent display of patience by Hazrat Mirza’s wife

The excellent example of patience displayed by Hazrat Mirza’s wife at this time was a fitting tribute to the holiness of her husband. During this final illness of Hazrat Mirza, she consistently sat beside his bed, wearing a burqa. She kept supplicating and at times felldown in prostration. The prayer on her lips which she kept repeating was:

O Ever-Living and Self-Subsisting God! O my beloved God! O All- Powerful God! O God, Who can give life to the dead! Help us. O One God without any partner! Forgive my sins. I am a sinner. O my Lord! Give my life also to my husband. What good is my life, he is the one who serves the religion.

Finally when Hazrat Mirza’s condition became extremely critical, she said, “O beloved God! He is leaving us, but do not Thou leave us.” At the time of the demise, she did not wail or lament, but instead chided other women who had started crying by saying: “He was my husband; when I am not crying, who are you to cry?” In essence, she displayed a remarkable example of patience and steadfastness.

The excellent display of patience by his disciples

During this traumatic time, God granted patience not only to members of Hazrat Mirza’s family, but also to his disciples.

There was no crying or wailing, and not even a single phrase of complaint or impatience escaped the lips of anyone. The disciples emulated the same example of fortitude that their master used to display during times of distress and affliction. In this critical time, they steadfastly busied themselves in making funeral and burial arrangements. In fact, Hazrat Mirza’s opponents in Lahore, who came to verify his death, could not believe that Hazrat Mirza had actually passed away because they saw no evidence of hysterical crying or wailing and lamenting.

Funeral and burial

Hazrat Mirza’s body was washed and shrouded by 2:30 P.M. and the funeral prayer, attended by a large gathering, was offered at 3 P.M. After the prayer, there was the ritual last viewing of the face. People in large numbers, both Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi, flocked tothe bier for a last glimpse. Even in death, the same spiritual light emanated from his face that used to light his countenance during life. Around 4 P.M., his disciples, who were present in large numbers, bore his body to the Lahore Railway Station. Reservations to transport the body and the funeral party in the train had already been made. Since it was summertime, the body had been placed in a coffin and surrounded with a large amount of ice to preserve it against the effect of heat.

The depraved actions of certain inveterate enemies

The depravity displayed in Lahore by certain inveterate enemies of Hazrat Mirza was such that it would be difficult to find a more abysmal example. On hearing of Hazrat Mirza’s demise, they created a commotion, and started converging in waves on Dr. SyedMuhammad Husain Shah’s residence, shouting, jeering and raising slogans. Had Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah not requested in writing for a police guard at his house that effectively dispersed the hooligans, it would not at all have been surprising if these ruffianshad burst forcibly into the house and desecrated the body.

When the ruffians could not do anything because of the police guard, they set up camp on the grounds of Islamia College justacross the street, and raised a storm of rowdiness complete with loud curses, abuses and all manners of uncivilized and barbarous behavior. They celebrated the whole day and indulged in shameless actions that are not worth mentioning here. Their clerics and pirs (hereditary religious leaders) stood by them, observing and beaming at the shameless acts of their disciples. They not only did not stoptheir disciples from engaging in degenerate acts that were so clearly against all canons of righteousness, and demeaning to the dignity of Islam, but also secretly encouraged them to indulge in this depraved behavior.

When Hazrat Mirza’s funeral procession set out for the railway station, these ruffians formed their own imitation funeralprocession. They had blackened the face of one of their own and had laid him on a charpai to simulate a dead person. When Hazrat Mirza’s funeral procession emerged, they sallied forth carrying the charpai in a mock procession, and timed their own departure to be just ahead of the actual procession on the road to the railway station. 

The ruffians followed their mock bier pretending to be mourningand chanting: “Oh! Poor Mirza; Oh! Poor Mirza.” It is obvious that at a time of such anguish and sorrow, these mean acts of jest and mockery further accentuated the suffering and grief of Hazrat Mirza’s followers.

But the members of the Ahmadiyya Organization conducted themselves with great forbearance. Had they lost their restraint, bloody rioting would certainly have ensued. Members of the Ahmadiyya Organization were present in large num- bers, and could have dealt with these street scoundrels easily. But the Ahmadis conducted themselves with patience, and were the very essence of Islamic dignity. 

In fact, the vile actions of the opponents led tostrengthening of their faith. Had the Muslim community in general not sunk to abysmal depths of ignorance and vice, as was evident once again from the behavior of those hoodlums, there would not have been the need for a Reformer (mujaddid).

To add to their depraved behavior, these opponents had secretly informed the railway authorities that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had died of cholera. Since cholera is a communicable disease, the rules did not allow the transportation of a deceased person who had died ofa communicable disease by rail. 

The Ahmadis had got wind of the mischief that was afoot. Thereupon, Sheikh Rahmatullah had immediately gone to Dr. Sutherland, the principal of Medical College Lahore, who was one of the doctors called for consultation just before Hazrat Mirza’s demise, and obtained a certificate from him that the cause of death was diarrhea resulting from nervous exhaustion, and not by cholera. 

When the bier reached the railway station, the railway author- ities stopped the party from boarding, andsaid that they had learnt that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had died of cholera, therefore they could not allow his body to be transported by rail unless a medical certificate to the contrary was produced. Sheikh Rahmatullah immediately produced Dr. Sutherland’s certificate. The railway authorities then allowed the coffin to be boarded into a second class compartment in the train that had previously been reserved for the funeral party.

Body taken to Qadian

The train left Lahore at 5:45 P.M., and arrived in Batala at 10 P.M. The railway carriage carrying the funeral party was detached from the train. The coffin stayed overnight in the train. At 2 A.M., the body was removed from the coffin and put on a bier. HazratMirza’s disciples carried the bier on their shoulders to Qadian. The funeral procession reached Qadian at 8 A.M. on May 27, 1908.

Burial

The bier was placed in the garden of the Bahishti Muqbara (Heavenly Graveyard). Prior to the burial, all the members of theAhmadiyya Organization unanimously acknowledged Maulana Nur-ud-Din as their new Amir (leader) and he led the funeral prayer in which the entire membership present participated just before the Asr (late afternoon) prayer.

Many members of the Organization from towns like Sialkot, Wazirabad, Kapurthala, and the like had managed to arrive in Qadian in time to join the funeral prayer. After leading the funeral prayer, Maulana Nur-ud-Din delivered a sermon, and this was followed by the Asr prayer. The bier was then placed in a little cottage that exists in the garden and all those present were given an opportunity for the last viewing. At that time, there wereabout twelve hundred people, both men and women, who were present.

After this, the body was placed in the grave and entrusted to God. Surely weare Allah’s and to Him we shall return. The grave has a covering of top soil and was never cemented. But a tombstone was constructed at the head of the grave on which the epitaph bore the title of Hazrat Mirza’s main office: “Reformer of the Fourteenth Century Hijrah.” The title of “The Promised Messiah” that was given to Hazrat Mirza by God was also included in the epitaph. The full inscription on thetombstone read:

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian; nobleman of Qadian; Promised Messiah, and Reformer of the Fourteenth Century Hijrah. Date of demise: May 26, 1908.2

Hazrat Mirza’s Age

The various objections raised by opponents regarding the demise of Hazrat Mirza have been discussed already at their relevant place in the narration, and therefore it is not necessary to repeat them. However, it is appropriate here to dispel the misgivings thatarose from the objection regarding his age. Hazrat Mirza did not have any documentary evidence about the year of his birth nor did he have any memory about his birth date. 

Thus, all references to age were merely conjectures and estimates. In his books, when Hazrat Mirza had to mention his age, he would estimate it and write it down approximately. In the first volume of this biography, in thechapter that details the matter of his date of birth, it has been shown that his date of birth, according to the almanac, appears to beFebruary 13, 1835, cor- responding with Shawaal 14, 1250 Hijrah.

It follows that, according to the solar calendar, his age at demise was more than seventy-three years i.e., he was in the seventy-fourth year of his life, and according to the lunar calendar, his age was seventy-six years. Many years earlier, Hazrat Mirza had received a revelation: “Your age shall be eighty years, or close to that, or a few yearsgreater than this.”

The opponents claimed that Hazrat Mirza’s age at demise was not in accordance with this revelation. But this objection is not correct because Hazrat Mirza’s age at demise fulfilled the conditions of the revelation. The revelation indicated that his age would be eighty years or close to it (a few years less or more). Hazrat Mirza’s own understanding of the phrase: “a few years less or more,” was stated by him in his book, Nusrat-ul-Haq3 as follows: “From the words of the promise in the revelation, I surmise my age will be between seventy-four and eighty-six years.”

Since Hazrat Mirza was in the seventy-fourth year of his life at the time of his demise by the solar calendar, and seventy-six years old according to the lunar calendar, there is no ground for any objection. Thus, Hazrat Mirza’s own interpretation is the best rebuttal to the opponent’s objection. Since Hazrat Mirza had himself interpreted the revelation, there is little justification for another interpretation, but there is one other interpretation which is so elegant that it is worth mentioning here.

The fact is that there is a latent aspect to prophecies that becomes apparent only in the context of the prevailing circumstanceswhen the prophecy is fulfilled. When the veil is finally lifted and the full import of the prophecy becomes clear, one is amazed at the subtle and minute knowledge of God — knowledge that could never have been fathomed by human intellect.

The words of the revelation are: “Eighty years or close to that.” The generally understood meaning of this is eighty years or a few years less than that. Inmathematics, however, the numbers are divided into sets of tens, and the closest set of tens to eighty is seventy.

Thus, the indication in the revela- tion: “Eighty years or close to that” was to the tens unit nearest to it, which was seventy. Then it was stated: “…or a few years greater than this,” i.e., a few years would be added to seventy. The Arabic word au, generally trans- lated as “or,” has the sense of “rather” here. The meaning of the revelation, therefore, becomes that a few more years will be added to seventy or eighty. HazratMirza’s death at an age which was a few more years than seventy was therefore precisely in accordance with the prophecy.

This revelation was received by Hazrat Mirza during a very early period of his life. No one can say for sure that his life is guaranteed even for the next moment. As for Hazrat Mirza, he often remained ill because of his exacting intellectual labors, and a guarantee to live up to a ripe old age as foretold in the prophecy could only be Divine.Nusrat-ul-Haq, Supplement to Barahin Ahmadiyya (volume 5, page 97).

Footnotes

  1. Since the last two years, I too have been afflicted by the same ailment. So I understand very well how excessive mental exertion leads to weakness and excessive urination. — Author
  2. I have heard that on the orders of Hazrat Mirza’s son, Mian Mahmud Ahmad, the epitaph has been changed many years after the death of Hazrat Mirza. This is indeed sad. Every rational person knows that whatever office Mian Mahmud Ahmad may now wish to ascribe on the epitaph under the influence of his fanatical beliefs, the real office of Hazrat Mirza was the one that he professed with his own pen throughout his life and which was written on hisepitaph in accordance with the unanimous beliefs of the entire Organization i.e., Reformer of the Fourteenth Century Hijrah and the Promised Messiah.

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