The fourth khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Tahir Ahmad was the third child of Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad and Syeda Maryam Begum, and a grandson of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. An erudite and scholar, he penned works on religious polemics, philosophy, evolution, poetry, ecumenism, homeopathy, etc. He was khalifa from 1982-2003. During his khilafat, the Community founded its independent humanitarian organization, Humanity First, and launched Muslim Television Ahmadiyya, the only 24-hour Islamic programming television channel. In the 1980s, he united and expanded the Community despite intensified state-sponsored persecution which forced him to personally migrate to England.
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), Khalifatul Masih IV was born in Qadian, India on December 18, 1928. He was the son of Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) from his third wife Hadhrat Sayyidah Umm-e-Tahir Maryam Begum. His maternal grandfather, Hadhrat Dr. Abdus-Sattar Shah, was a devoted companion of the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him). Dr. Shah’s lineage can be traced back to Hadhrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), the fourth Khalifa of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) obtained his high school education in 1944 at Ta`leemul Islam High School, Qadian, and then his higher secondary education from Government College Lahore.
In 1953, he obtained the degree Shahid (Religious Scholar) from Jamia Ahmadiyya, the Ahmadiyya Missionary university, Rabwah. In April 1955, he accompanied his father, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him), who went for a visit to England. He obtained higher education in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University. He returned to Rabwah on October 4, 1957.
Services to the Community
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) served in various position in the community’s organisation, helping to promote missionary activities, education, leading the youth organisation, and even serving as a member of the delegation to represent Ahmadiyyat to the National Assembly of Pakistan.
After the sad demise of Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), Khalifatul Masih III, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) was elected Khalifatul Masih IV on June 10, 1982 in Rabwah, Pakistan and all the participants took Bai`at (Initiation) at his hands.
By the end of July 1982, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) began his visit to Europe for an inspection of the foreign missions and to inaugurate the Basharat Mosque, Pedroabad, Spain.
During this visit, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) opened two new missions in England and established consultative bodies in a number of countries. Besides conducting a large number of question-answer sessions in each country he visited, he addressed 18 press conferences and delivered a public lecture in Zurich, Switzerland.
On September 10, 1982, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) inaugurated the historic Masjid Basharat at Pedroabad, Spain—the first one to be built in that country in the last 500 years. The ceremony was attended by nearly 2,000 Ahmadi Muslim representatives from different countries of the world and about one thousand local citizens. The proceedings of the inauguration were widely displayed by the leading newspapers, radio and television throughout Europe. In this way, the message of Islam reached millions of people in a very effective manner.
On September 30, 1983, during his visit to Australia, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) laid the foundation stone of the first Ahmadiyya Mosque at Sydney, Australia. Moreover, he launched many schemes to promote Ahmadi Muslims to dedicate their lives for the service of the community, and for humanity as a whole. One of these schemes was the Waqf-e-Jadid scheme, which sought to spread Islam across the world. Another scheme of note is the Waqf-e-Nau scheme, under which Ahmadi Muslim families were urged to dedicate their children for the service of the community. They would undergo more focused education in religious matters, before being asked to affirm or decline continued participation in the scheme at 16 years of age.
Migration to England
Despite the two major outbreaks of violence against the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan (1953 and 1974), the Divinely instituted Ahmadiyya movement continued its systematic progress during the periods of second and third Khilafat. In the face of grand new schemes launched by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), the government of Pakistan and its orthodox Islamic clergy mounted another wave of violence, persecution and severe restrictions against the Ahmadi Muslims, which culminated in Ordinance XX on April 26, 1984. These were led by Presiden Zia-ul-Haq. As it became increasingly difficult to safeguard the institution of Khilafat in Pakistan in view of the new restrictions, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) migrated to England on April 29-30, 1984.
Challenge to Prayer Duel
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) challenged President Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan and his supporters to a mubahila (prayer duel). This meant that by offering prayers for God’s judgement, God would inflict His sign of wrath on the liars. Huzur also said that God would do so even if the prayer contest was not formally accepted by General Zia-ul-Haq. As a result of this prayer contest, on August 17, 1988, President Zia-ul-Haq and many of his associates died in a freak aeroplane accident, with the authorities finding no evidence of foul play, and with all parties being shocked at the inexplicable nature of the incident. For Ahmadis, this was a great sign of divine support against those who sought to persecute them. While Ahmadi Muslims will never take up arms against their opponents, sometimes God Himself will demonstrate his anger at those who seek to harm the Community.
Centenary Celebrations & Qadian Conference
The completion of the first century of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was celebrated in almost all the countries of the world. In Pakistan, the Government of Punjab banned a substantial part of these celebrations.
In December 1991, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) undertook the historic trip to Qadian, India to attend the 100th Annual Conference (Jalsa Salana). It was undoubtedly a great historic event because since 1947, this was the first occasion that a Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him), visited Qadian, the first headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Thousands of Ahmadi Muslims from all corners of the world poured into Qadian, and Huzur’s speeches were televised all over the world. Hadhrat Syeda Asifa Begum, wife of Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) and granddaughter of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him), despite her illness, accompanied Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) on his trip to Qadian. She passed away on April 3rd, 1992 in London.
MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya)
On August 21, 1992, previous trial satellite transmissions were organized into the blessed system of Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA).
On October 16, 1992, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) inaugurated the Bai’tul Islam Mosque (Toronto, Canada), then the largest mosque in North America, with the Friday Sermon. It was an unprecedented event — for the first time in the history of Ahmadiyyat and Islam, a Friday sermon was transmitted live to all continents of the world, thus fulfilling the revelation of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) — I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth — in an entirely new way.
On October 14, 1994, another historic event took place. Huzurrh simultaneously inaugurated Baitur Rahman Mosque in Washington D.C and the Jama`at’s first satellite earth station. This station serves the Western Hemisphere by relaying the international transmission from the UK. On April 1, 1996, 24-hour worldwide MTA service was started.
Through MTA, Huzurrh launched various programs of Q&A with English, Arab, French, Bengali guests and more. He broadcasted his sermons, his children’s classes, his medicinal lectures, and much else besides. MTA was truly a revolution in Islamic broadcasting.
In 1993, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) launched an appeal to help the oppressed Bosnian people, raising £79,000 for their aid. In 2000, he made a historic visit to Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world, delivering a lecture and taking questions from leading intellectuals. Also in that year, based on a divine dream he saw, he drew the attention of the community to the problems of unemployment and arrangement of marriages of young children. He was to fulfill this fervent desire of this more fully in launching the Maryam Shaadi Marriage fund to provide financial help to needy parents for the marriages of their daughters.
Nearing the End of His Khilafat
In July 2002, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) addressed the last Annual Conference (63rd Jalsa Salana) of his Khilafat in U.K. In his address on the second day (July 27), Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) presented an account of stunning achievements during his Khilafat.
After his migration to the United Kingdom in 1984, 13,065 new mosques and 985 new missions were established in countries around the world. The up-to-date translations of the Holy Qur’an increased to 56 and translations of selections from the Holy Qur’an increased to more than 100. Since 1984, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in 84 additional countries of the world and thus on the whole, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been established in 175 countries of the world.
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) passed away on April 19th of 2003, a day after a final Friday sermon explaining prophecies of the Holy Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him). Thus departed an exceptionally gifted person blessed with an ocean of secular and Qur`anic knowledge. He had developed exceptional skills in studying scientific research in light of the Holy Qur’an. Under his 21 years of vibrant and dynamic leadership, the community progressed by leaps and bounds. He was accessible to the masses through his extensive world-wide tours, hundreds of question-answer sessions in public and on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya. In addition to his religious and spiritual duties, he served the community as a great homeopathic physician, a prolific writer and a keen sportsman.