In the latter days of the Moghul Empire, when it was undergoing the process of dissolution, the jagir granted to the ancestors of Ahmad [Note 4 (Starts): The shortened name Ahmad is adopted instead of the full name Mirza Ghulam Ahmad for the sake of brevity. This is the name which he adopted in taking bai`a (oath of fealty), though in all his letters and writings he used his full name. In his revelations, both the long and the shortened forms occur; the following reason for this is from his own pen: "As being the manifestation of the Holy Prophet, I was called Ahmad, though my name was Ghulam Ahmad" (Review of Religions, vol. ii, p. 437). Note 4 (Ends)] became an independent state. In the early days of the Sikh rule, when anarchy and oppression were the order of the day and Islam and the Muslims were being persecuted everywhere, Qadian remained for a long time the centre of peace and prosperity. Mirza Gul Muhammad, the great-grandfather of Ahmad, was then the head of the family and, after the manner of the good Oriental chiefs, his purse was open for the learned and his table ministered freely to the poor and to the strangers. He had only eighty-five villages in his possession but, on account of his great love for piety and learning, many of the learned men who could not find shelter elsewhere felt assured of a warm reception at Qadian. After the death of Mirza Gul Muhammad, his son, Mirza Ata Muhammad, became the chief, but he was soon overpowered by the Sikhs, who seized village after village until not a single village, except Qadian, was left in his possession. This place was strongly fortified, but a body of Sikhs, called Ram Garhis, made an entry into the town under false pretences and took possession of the village. Mirza Ata Muhammad and his whole family were made prisoners and deprived of their possessions. Their houses and the mosques were made desolate, and the library was burned to the ground. After inflicting all kinds of torture, the Sikhs ordered the family to leave the village of Qadian. Thus, expelled from their home, they sought shelter in another state, where Ata Muhammad was poisoned by his enemies. In the latter days of Ranjit Singhs ascendancy, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza obtained five villages from the jagir of his ancestors and re-settled at Qadian. Below is reproduced the opening paragraph of Sir Lepel Griffins account of the family, published in the Punjab Chiefs:
"In 1530, the last year of the Emperor Babars reign, Hadi Beg, a Mughal of Samarqand, emigrated to the Punjab and settled in Gurdaspur District. He was a man of some learning, and was appointed Kazi or Magistrate over seventy villages in the neighbourhood of Kadian, which town he is said to have founded, naming it Islampur Kazi, from which Kadian has by a natural change arisen. For several generations the family has held offices of repeatability under the Imperial Government, and it was only when the Sikhs became powerful that it fell into poverty."
The Sikh anarchy was, soon after Ahmads birth, replaced by the peace and security of the British rule, and the Punjab Muslims once more breathed freely. The family naturally welcomed the change, and Mirza Ghulam Murtaza showed his staunch loyalty to the British rule in the Mutiny of 1857. In recognition of his services, he received a handsome pension and was highly esteemed by the officials.
Ahmads own impressions of the
Sikh misrule and the persecution of Muslims were
deep-seated, and he always spoke of the coming of the
British as a blessing and as saving the Punjab Muslims from
slavery and annihilation. It is for this matter-of-fact
statement, which finds frequent expression in his writings,
that he has been criticised by a certain school of
politicians, who, therefore, regard him as favouring an
"Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a clerk in Sialkot about the year 1860 or 1861.* His age was then about 22 to 24 years. We can say as an eye-witness that, even in the prime of youth, he was a very righteous and God-fearing man. After finishing his official work, he spent the whole of his time in the study of religious works. He mingled very little with others".
So deep was the impression made upon Maulvi Zafar Alis father by Ahmads piety and learning that he paid him a visit at Qadian, later in 1877. His impression then, to which, as editor of the Zamindar, he subsequently gave expression was still the same:
"In 1877, we had the honour of passing one night as his [Ahmads] guest. In those days, too, he was so deeply devoted to Divine worship and religious study that he did not talk much even with his guests."
At last, his father recalled him from
Government service, and he was, for a time, again required
to carry on the law-suits relating to his fathers
estate, but the task was extremely repugnant to him. Even
while thus obeying the orders of his father, he devoted a
part of his time to the refutation of Christian attacks on
Islam. The town of Batala, about eleven miles from Qadian,
was an important Christian missionary centre. He frequented
the place in connection with the affairs of the estate, and
it pained him to see how Christian propaganda, unrefuted as
it was, misled ignorant Muslims. The Batala Muslims, when
hard-pressed by Christian missionaries, would come to Qadian
to seek his help, and he sent them back well-armed to meet
"I was told in a vision that the time of my fathers death had drawn nigh. At the time that I saw this vision, I was at Lahore. I made haste to reach Qadian and found him very ill, but I never thought that he would die so soon, for the disease had abated to an appreciable degree. The next day we were all sitting by his bedside when, at noon, he told me to rest for a while, for it was the month of June and the heat was excessive. When I lay down for rest, I received the following revelation: By heaven and by the accident which shall befall after sunset. I was given to understand that this revelation was a kind of condolence from the Almighty, and that the accident which was to befall was no other than the death of my father . . . When I received this revelation foretelling the death of my father, human weakness made me think that, since some of the sources of the income of our family would cease with my fathers death, we might be put in trouble. No sooner had the idea passed into my mind than I received a second revelation saying: Is God not sufficient for His servant? This revelation brought tranquillity and satisfaction to my mind, and went into my heart like a nail of iron. I call the Lord to witness that He wrought the fulfilment of the joyful news contained in this revelation in a wonderful manner . . . My father died that very day after sunset, and it was the first day in my life that I saw such a sign of mercy from God. [Note 5 (Starts): This refers to the consoling revelation which he had received. Note 5 (Ends)] . . . Thus I passed about forty years of my life under my father. His passing away from this life marked the dawn of a new era for me, and I began to receive Divine revelations incessantly. I cannot say what deed of mine drew this grace of God to me, but I feel that my mind had a natural attraction for faithfulness to God which no power in the world could alienate."