The second khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad was the eldest surviving son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and Nusrat Jahan Begum. In 1886, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad prophesied that God would bless him with a Promised Son, who would prove to be a boon for the Community. In 1944, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad claimed to be this Promised Son. A renaissance man and skillful orator, his knowledge base included comparative religious study, philosophy, city planning, agriculture, Quranic exegesis, world history, linguistics, economics, political science, etc.
He was khalifa from 1914-1965. During his khilafat, the Community established missions in 46 countries, translated the Holy Qur’an into 14 languages. He united and expanded the Community despite attempts by a rogue group to splinter the Community and external threats bent on annihilating the Community.
His Birth – A Sign of God (January 12, 1889)
Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) was the second khalifa of the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him). He was a distinguished khalifa because his birth was foretold by a number of previous prophets and saints. Moreover, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) received revelation foretelling a divine sign for the truth of Islam as a result of his 40 days’ prayers at Hoshiarpur, India. God informed him that a pure son would be born to him within a period of nine years. He had already published this prophecy regarding Musleh Mau`ood (the Promised Reformer) on February 20, 1886.
In accordance with this prophecy and within the specified period, the Promised Son was born to Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) on January 12, 1889 at Qadian. He was named Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad. The prophecy about Musleh Mau`ood had also specified some special qualities of the Promised Son. For instance, it was foretold that he would be extremely intelligent and highly learned. His fame will spread to the ends of the earth and nations would be blessed through him.
Education and Early Years
He received his primary education in a school of Qadian and then in the Ta`leemul Islam School when it started in 1898. He could not do well in his studies due to his persistent ill-health. His academic career came to an end in March 1905, when he failed in the Matriculation (Grade 10) examination. About two years before this, in October 1903, he had married Sayyidah Mahmooda Begum Sahiba.
He began learning the translation of the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith from Hadhrat Maulana Hakeem Nooruddin (may Allah be pleased with him). Moreover, he began his independent study of religion, history, literature and various other subjects. He developed into a great scholar and had mastery over many subjects.
Thus, the following prophecy of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) regarding Musleh Mau`ood was clearly fulfilled in his person:
“He will be extremely intelligent and understanding and will be meek of heart and will be filled with secular and spiritual knowledge.”
Beginning of Revelations (1905)
He received his first divine revelation in 1905, when he was only sixteen years old:
“I will place those who follow you above those who disbelieve until the day of Resurrection.”
In 1907, he said that an angel taught him the commentary of Surah Fatihah, the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an. From then onward, he was gifted with an unusual knowledge of the commentary of the Holy Qur’an.
When Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) passed away, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) was only nineteen years old. On this critical occasion, he stood by the body of his deceased father and made the following pledge: “Even if all the people should abandon you, I will stand alone against the whole world, not caring for any opposition or enmity.”
In September 1912, he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. In 1913, he started the publication of the newspaper Al-Fadl.
His Election as Khalifatul Masih II (March 14, 1914)
On March 14, 1914, the day after the death of Khalifatul Masih Ira, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) was unanimously elected as Khalifatul Masih II, when he was only 25 years old. About 2,000 Ahmadis present on that occasion took Bai`at (Initiation) at his hands. There was a small but influential group of opponents within the Community who did not take the Bai`at. At first, they tried their best to put an end to the system of Khilafat. Then, they decided to leave Qadian and moved to Lahore. They were certain that the young Khalifa would not survive without their support, and the system of Khilafat would collapse by itself. Their expectations, however, turned out to be completely wrong. The followers of the young Khalifatul Masih grew rapidly, whereas his opponents were reduced to an insignificant group. The blessings of Khilafat prevailed.
His Khilafat (March 14, 1914 to November 8, 1965)
Under the great leadership of Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him), the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community progressed by leaps and bounds. His 52-year long period of Khilafat was full of unusually great achievements and landmarks that demonstrated divine help.
From the very first day of his Khilafat, he started taking all the necessary steps to organize and unite the Community. Soon the crisis was over and stability prevailed. Then, the young Khalifa began making elaborate plans for the spread of Islam throughout the world. Some highlights of his achievements are given below:
On April 12, 1914, the first Majlis-e-Shoora (consultative committee) of his Khilafat took place, to formulate a worldwide Tabligh Plan. In December 1915, the commentary of the first part of the Holy Qur’an was published.
On January 1, 1919, various Departments (Nazaarats) were set up to streamline the working of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya. On April 15, 1922, the Majlis Shoora was established for the first time, as a permanent advisory body to the Khalifa.
On September 23, 1924, he attended the Wembley Conference in England, where his article ‘Ahmadiyyat – The True Islam’ was readout. On May 20, 1928, he inaugurated Jamia Ahmadiyya, an elite institution for training and producing qualified Muslim missionaries.
On July 25, 1931, he was elected president of the All-India Kashmir Committee and strived hard for the rights of the Kashmiri people. Later on, in June 1948, he sent a battalion of Ahmadi volunteers called Furqaan Force to fight along with the Pakistan Army for liberating Kashmir.
He wrote a large number of books, including 10 volumes of Tafseer-e-Kabeer, the detailed commentary of the Holy Qur’an.
In addition, some of his other achievements are:
Establishment of Foreign Ahmadiyya Missions
Many new Ahmadiyya missions were opened in a number of foreign countries such as: Ceylon and Mauritius (1915), U.S.A (1920), West African countries (1921), Indonesia (1925) and Palestine (1928). Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) himself founded the Fazl Mosque in London, England on October 19, 1924.
Tahrik-e-Jadid (November 23, 1934)
To intensify the missionary work in foreign countries, a new scheme named, Tehrik-e-Jadid, or The New Scheme, was initiated, which was based on observing nineteen principles or demands. Under this scheme, Ahmadis were urged to lead a simple life and to make more sacrifices of their time and money for the cause of Islam. Also, they were advised to earn more and to ensure higher education for their children.
As a result of this innovative scheme, more foreign missions were opened in many other countries such as: East Africa (1934), Japan (1935), Burma (1938), France (1945), Spain (1946), Holland (1947), Switzerland (1948), West Germany (1949) and Denmark (1956). Later on, a number of missions were opened in Sweden, Norway, Fiji and Guyana.
As the community was growing rapidly, it was divided into different age groups to ensure better training of all Jama`at members:
Lajna Imaa’illah: for women above the age of 15- established on December 25, 1922.
Nasiratul Ahmadiyya: for girls of ages 7 to 15 years established in February 1939. Majlis.
Ansarullah: for men above the age of 40-established on July 26, 1940 — Hadhrat Maulvi Sher Ali was the first president. Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya: for the youth of ages 15 to 40-established on December 25, 1938.
Majlis Atfalul Ahmadiyya: for boys for 7 to 15 years of age- established on July 26, 1940.
Claim to be the Promised Reformer (January 28, 1944)
On January 28, 1944, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) claimed that he was the ‘Promised Son’ as mentioned in the prophecy regarding Musleh Mau`ood. In a number of public meetings, he told the community that his claim was based on various divine revelations and dreams. These meetings were held in Hoshiarpur (Feb. 20, 1944), Lahore (March 12, 1944), Ludhiana (March 23, 1944) and Delhi (April 16, 1944).
New Centre at Rabwah (September 20, 1948)
In August 1947, when Pakistan was founded, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) along with the Jama`at members moved from Qadian to Pakistan. Some 313 Ahmadis, called Darveshaan stayed behind to take care of Qadian.
In Pakistan, Huzurra laid the foundation of Jama`at’s new Centre at Rabwah, a waste and barren piece of land, which has wonderfully transformed into a model town with all its religious, educational and social institutions. In addition, there are the headquarters of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at, and the official residence of Khalifatul Masih, called Qasre-Khilafat. It would be of interest to note that the Arabic word Rabwah means ‘an elevated land’ and is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an (23:51) with reference to Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and his mother, Mary (peace be upon her).
On December 28, 1957, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) announced this novel plan to expand missionary work to educate and impart religious training to rural population inside Pakistan.
Murderous Attempt on his Life & Visit to Europe (March 1954)
On March 10, 1954, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) survived an attempt on his life, but he was seriously wounded in his neck. This happened in Masjid Mubarak, Rabwah, at the time of the late afternoon prayer. As soon as he got up to leave after the prayer, an enemy of Ahmadiyyat, who had come to the mosque with an intention to kill him, moved forward and stabbed Huzur in the side of his neck from behind. It was a deep wound but God saved the life of Huzur. Later on, he had to go to Europe on April 5, 1955, for medical treatment.
In Europe, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) remained very busy with the inspection of foreign missions, and the duties of his office, and thus recovered only partially. He came back to Rabwah on Sept. 25, 1955. He was again fully occupied with the heavy duties of his office. In addition, he completed the writing of Tafseer-e-Sagheer, the short commentary of the Holy Qur’an, in 1957.
His Illness and Demise (Nov. 8, 1965)
As a result of his extremely heavy workload and the after-effects of the deep wound in his neck, his health condition gradually worsened over a period of seven years. At last, on November 8, 1965, at nearly 2 a.m., before dawn, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) passed away, at the age of 77.
The following day, his funeral prayer was led by Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), the newly elected Khalifatul Masih III. He was buried in the Heavenly Graveyard beside his mother.
He possessed a unique combination of qualities of leadership, organizational genius, trust in God, courage, depth of knowledge in many fields and personal magnetism. Undoubtedly, his 52-year long khilafat represented a golden period in the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. And in his person, the prophecy regarding Musleh Mau`ood was fulfilled with great perfection.