Debgaran is the name of the ancient village, which is the birthplace of Doctor Saeed Ahmad, winner of the prestigious Sitara-e-Khidmat (the Star of Meritorious Service award), a well known personality, a renowned physician, and the third president of the Ahmadiyya Movement. Located in the Northwestern frontier of Pakistan—and currently known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—specifically in the district of Mansehra, this village is approximately four or five km west of Mansehra, nestled in the midst of small hills in a beautiful cuplike formation, right in the middle of an open stretch of land. To its east is Mansehra and toward its west is a village by the name of Badra. To the north and to the south are villages by the name of Sheikhabad and Julloo. A little distance away from the town, approximately 2 km away, flows the river Sirran across from which—and referring here to the time before the partition of the Indian Subcontinent into India and Pakistan—there were small, independent states by the name of Parhanna, Phulrah, and others, all of which are now a part of Pakistan.Toward the west is the mountain of Bheengra, which is home to an immense forest of pine trees and the seat of a most salubrious environment.
The original name of Debgaran was Devi Garan, which, through a gradual series of linguistic transformations, finally came to be called Debgaran. In the north of the village is a hill, atop which stands a pillar-like stone formation. And close to it is another rocket-like formation, in existence since time immemorial, and which had come to be known as Khalli Gutti. This rock was considered by Hindus as an especially auspicious entity, and accorded the status of a god by them. On their festivals, in fact, the Hindus would come and worship those stones and seek blessings while gathered around them. And it was perhaps the affiliation with their god-like endowment that this town came to be known as Debgaran. However, curiously enough, Hindus never made this village their home.
To the south of the village is a small stream across which is a hill whereupon are to be found the ruins of a fortress, known by the name of Kotla. This fortress is associated with Sikhs, and memorializes the era in which Sikhs were the rulers in the area.
The majority of the inhabitants of Debgaran belong to the Awan nation, and the individuals are known by their distinct familial names. Hindko is the name of the language spoken by all in the village. Agriculture happens to be the occupation of the majority of the people. The climate is moderate, and conducive to the growth of all kinds of crops. However, since the crops are heavily dependent on rain-water, people typically prefer to grow wheat, corn, as well as some lentils. In some low-lying areas where water reservoirs are to be found, the crop of rice can also be found. While there is no systematic cultivation of fruit orchards, there can be found trees bearing figs, pears, apricots, plums, and peaches. In addition, grapevines can occasionally be spotted as well.
Until the end of the 19th century, there was no systematic establishment of an educational system in the area. People were typically unlettered. This was the time when a pious elder—Hafiz Mohammad Saeed—came to Debgaran and settled down. Through his blessed presence and pious industriousness, this village gained a distinction among all the villages for being a beacon of religious as well as secular education. This pious elder was the paternal grandfather of Doctor Saeed Ahmad.
Ancestors of Doctor Saeed Ahmad
Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s ancestors belonged to the Awan nation whose progenitor is believed to be Hazrat Qutab Shah Baba, who was a venerable religious missionary as well as a strong army general. Several different names have been noted for him in the records of history: In some places, he is referred to as Malik Qutab-ud-Din Husain; in other places as Qutab Shah; and in yet other places as Qutab Salar or Mir Qutab.
The Awan family settled in the district of Hazara is known as the Qutab Shahi Awan. Reliable historical references prove that Qutab Shah was a descendent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s blessed caliph Hazrat Ali’s second wife, Hazrat Khola binte Jaafar Hanafiyyah’s son Hazrat Muhammad Al-Akbar’s son Hazrat Ali bin Muhammad Al-Akbar. It should be noted that all of Hazrat Ali’s descendents were known by the family name Alvi. But in the historical records of the fifth or perhaps sixth century Hijrah, the descendents of Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Fatima came to be known by the family name Sayyed, while those not descended from Hazrat Fatima came to be known by the family name Alvi. (Hazrat Khola binte Jaafar Hanifiyya belonged to the Hanafiyyah tribe and therefore she was known by that title.)
Qutab Shah was Arabian by descent and was the chief of his tribe in Herat as well as the surrounding regions. His descendents were known by the name Awan, and Malik Sher Muhammad Khan Awan—the compiler of the historical record known as Tareekh Al-Awan—has the following remarkable record of the origin of how the title Awan came to be endowed on Qutab Shah and his descendents:
Sultan Mahmood called for the gathering of troops in Hindustan (i.e. the Indian Subcontinent) to counter and quell the gathering storm of unbelief and rebellion in the region. In this connection, Mir Qutab Shah—along with the troops of his tribe—met with Sultan Mahmood, explaining that he was making himself available along with his troops to gain permission and blessings to participate in the jihad. Sultan Mahmood said in response: May the peace of Allah be on you, Qutab Shah. Just as the residents of Medina had provided full support to the Blessed Prophet Mohammad and thereby gained the title of ‘Ansar,’ you and your nation have today come here to offer your support, without any fear of death, and I hereby give the title of ‘Awan’ to you.”
(Tareekh-e-Awan, compiled by Muhabbat Husain, pp. 330-331)
In sum, those among the nation of the Alvi family who assisted Sultan Mahmood in his meritorious battles were given the title of Awan, being the title which was designated for and associated with the descendents of Qutab Shah.
Thus, the Awan family is Arabian by descent, this having been proved and established by historical facts and research. Further testifying to this are their traditions, their physical stature, ways of living, etc. It should be mentioned that merely living in Herat and Ghazni and surrounding regions for centuries does not establish them as being Turkish by descent or Persian by descent or Afghan by descent.
It is established from the family tree of the Awans of the Indian subcontinent, as well as from written and oral traditions, that out of the 11 sons of Qutab Shah was one by the name of Muzammil Ali Kalgan who was the first born child of Bibi Zainab. And Baba Sajawal, buried in Kharkot, is from the descendents of Muzammil Ali Kalgan who is considered by the Awan of Hazara as their progenitor. His mazar (i.e. tomb) has remained a source of attraction for the populace. Later on, when the Tarbela (Water) Dam was being constructed, presenting the concomitant danger of the mazar getting submerged, the mazar was—through the unanimous consent of the Awan nation—relocated to Shaheelia in the district of Mansehra. Thus, from the history of Hazara in general and that of the rural regions in particular, the facts that come to the fore lead us to believe that the Awan people have been living here since ancient times and that it is through the industrious activities of the elders of their community that Islam was propagated in the region.
The future generations which descended from Baba Sajawal got divided into numerous branches and castes. Thus, for example, the children of Baba Sajawal’s son Shad are known as Shadwal. Similarly, among the grandchildren of Baba Sajawal was one Baba Khiyya. The families descended from him are known as Khiyyal. They inhabit villages in the regions of the Mansehra district, especially those of Chanja, Debgaran, Jalloo, Shaheelia, Balhag, Timmarkhola, etc. Doctor Saeed Ahmad belonged to the Khiyyal branch of the Awan.
(The research by the compiler of Tareekh-e-Awan declared it to be the most authentic family tree and it is no different from the one which Doctor Saeed Ahmad himself had inscribed in his diary, and the one which is in possession of the family branch which is settled in the village of Jalloo.)
Hafiz Maulana Mohammad Saeed
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s father, Mullah Khan Baz, lived in a village of the district of Hazara named Murat Mera. He had two brothers named Mohammad Qasim and Mohammad Asim. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was especially renowned for his profound knowledge, his rigorous adherence to the principles of Islam, and for his piety. At the request of the dignitaries of the village of Debgaran, he moved to Debgaran, taking up permanent residence in that village. His brother Mohammad Qasim came to a nearby village named Jalloo and settled there. However, his other brother, Mohammad Asim, remained back in his homeland.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was one of the select disciples of Hazrat Sayyed Ameer Kothay Walay. On account of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s rigorous adherence to the principles of Islam, his exemplary character, and his distinguished knowledge, Hazrat Sayyed Ameer had appointed him as one of his caliphs. Thus, he was one of his four caliphs. In fact, he had instructed his disciples in the village and in the nearby areas that they should go directly to Hafiz Mohammad Saeed with their concerns and requests for prayer instead of undertaking the trouble of traveling the long distance to reach him (i.e. Hazrat Sayyed Ameer) in Kotha.
Among Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s many devotees were dignitaries and chieftains. These included the chieftains of Parhinnah and Phulrah. As an expression of their devotion, the chieftains of Parhinnah had earmarked for him a village in the state. All of the grainary and crops grown in that village were harvested and delivered to him. After his death, his sons—due to their profound self-respect and their wish to avoid erring on the side of taking any advantage in even the slightest way whatsoever—did not pay attention to this tradition, and thus that tradition came to an end. The cordial relationship between the family and those dignitaries and chieftains, however, remained intact as ever. The circle of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s disciples was wide; his disciples were to be found in Kashmir and Kaghan, too, in fact.
Kotha Sharif is situated near the village of Topi in the district of the Frontier province. The sphere of influence of one of its residents, Hazrat Sayyed Ameer Kothay Walay, extended far and wide. He was truly among the wali’ullah (i.e. friends of God), and an eminently lofty individual of the spiritual firmament. Some elders, in fact, considered him as one of the mujaddids (i.e. reformers) of the 13th century Hijrah. His emphasis used to be on strict adherence to the honest means of earning one’s livelihood. And he would learn through spiritual visions if there were any shortcomings on the part of an individual in this regard. He would usually refrain from dining at the residence of civil servants because of the concern that their earnings might be tainted by the practice of unscrupulous means.
In the tradition since time immemorial, he, too, was declared an unbeliever: A verdict of unbelief was passed against him. A facsimile of one of his letters in this regard, in which he addressed the scholars, is available. It sheds light on his beliefs. The children of Hazrat Sayyed Ameer are among the dignitaries of the Frontier province and belong to the Sahibzada family. Sir Abdul Quyyum, the founder of Islamia College, was from his progeny. He was known as the Sir Sayyed of the Frontier province.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed himself was a recipient of divine revelations, among the wali’ullah (i.e. friends of God), a spiritually lofty individual, and a scholar of high attainment. Many extraordinary achievements were associated with him. He would often go to meet his spiritual leader, Hazrat Sayyed Ameer. And the spiritual coloration of his leader in his personality was distinctly apparent. His understanding of the Holy Quran, like his leader’s, was unique and unrivaled. The belief of Hazrat Sayyed Ameer regarding the appearance of the Messiah differed from those commonly held by the populace. He truly understood the meaning latent in the phrase that “your leader will be from among you.” In this regard, in 1292 according to the Hijri calendar, Hazrat Sayyed Ameer had prophesied that the Mahdi had been born. He said:
“Our era has now passed. Now, the era of the Mahdi has begun.”
Upon inquiry from his disciples in this regard, Hazrat Sayyed Ameer remarked, “His language will be Punjabi.” (From Hayat-e-Hasan (i.e. A Good Life), by Abdullah Jaan Niazi, p. 170.)
In the latter half of the 19th century, people were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Messiah because that would have been in accordance with the predictions found in the Hadith. The 14th century Hijrah was about to commence. Taking note of that, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed used to make mention of the matter. And in accordance with the saying that “your leader will be from among you,” he awaited the appearance of the Mahdi, and believed that he would be from within the Muslim nation. It was truly in this regard that the seeds were sown of his family’s acceptance of Ahmadiyyat, well before the arrival of the Mahdi.
One evening, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was performing ablution in preparation for the maghrib (evening) prayer in his village when he saw the moon in the sky. This was the month of Muharram, and it was the new moon. He said to the mosque’s muezzin (i.e. the worshiper who calls other worshippers to prayer), Mullah Safdar: “Today, the 14th century Hijri begins. The time for the appearance of the Mahdi draws near. Perhaps we, too, may live in the times of the Mahdi.”
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed passed away in 1307 Hijrah and thus this wish of his remained unfulfilled. However, one of his scholarly friends from the village of Dheri, which was near the town of Havalian, had mentioned to him that in the province of Punjab, an individual had written a magnificent book titled Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya in support of Islam, and in which the author proved the superiority and truthfulness of Islam as compared to other religions, and also invited the followers of other religions to come and debate the merits with him. On hearing this, he said, “Such an individual is eminently blessed. And a visit should be paid to that individual.”
The Contents of Hazrat Sayyed Ameer’s Statement
Whosoever firmly held the beliefs of Ahle Sunnat, they surely achieved deliverance. And whosoever opposed it, they surely transgressed and were deluded.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful
All praises for Allah Who made us to be among the nation of the Final Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.) And from His Grace, He made us of the Ahle Sunnat and kept us away from Rafziyyat, Shiite, and the rebellious. He safeguarded us from the Mot’zilla, from Ilhad (i.e. irreligiousness, denial of God, atheism, etc.), as well as the fate of those who drift away from religion. We send blessings and peace upon the Great Prophet who was raised for the entire humanity and who was granted the teachings of the Holy Quran. Peace and blessings be on his children and on his sahaba (i.e. Companions) who vanquished—with arrows and swords—the mulhideen and those who brought innovation into religion. After this, of those who invite others to Allah is Sayyed Ameer of the village of Kotha in the district of Yousaf Zai in the region of Peshawar and who Allah blessed with His love and His pleasure. It is our manifest and latent belief—we believe this with our heart and profess it with our tongue—that He is One in his Being and in His Qualities. There is none to be associated with Him. He raises all to life and He makes them enter death. And He has no limits, He is not attended by age or countenance or state or direction or location. Allah has no body. Neither does He have any manifest appearance nor does He have any Fashioner. He is Holy and Sacrosanct and He is above the characteristics of His creation. The qualities of God, like His Being, have been in existence since time immemorial. The qualities of God are eternal and they are free of all faults. God Alone is the Creator of everything, and He grants us our very existence.
And that which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad—the Messenger of Allah—via the Holy Quran is truly just. We believe in it in its entirety and in its comprehensiveness. And the beliefs which the Messenger of God and his Companions had, those are our beliefs; that prophethood came to an end with Prophet Mohammad; and that no prophet will be raised after him, and anyone claiming prophethood thus is an unbeliever.
We believe that the revelations given to prophets ended with the Blessed Prophet. And that prophets are superior to the wali’ullah (i.e. friends of God), and anyone professing beliefs to the contrary is an unbeliever; that prophethood is a blessing which cannot be earned by anyone solely through their efforts; and that schools of religion are the following four: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafai, and Humbali. In our view, Imam Abu Hanifa‘s school of religion is the most excellent one in terms of principles and dispensation. There is consensus on this in that reproaching and insulting the prophets is tantamount to unbelief. Reproaching with harsh words, insultingly criticizing, or condemning the Shaikheen (i.e. Hazrat Abubakar and Hazrat Omar) and other Companions of the Holy Prophet and similarly Imam Abu Hanifa and others. If, however, it is on the basis of some valid grounds, then it is unitarily not tantamount to unbelief: In fact, it would help in correcting erroneous understanding of Islamic jurisprudence.
But if this condemnation is without a solid basis or proof, then it is tantamount to unbelief. There is a difference of opinion about the condemnation or reproaching of shaikheen (i.e. Hazrat Abubakar and Hazrat Omar.) This includes the Ahle Fatwa (i.e. individuals who are authorized to give rulings on Islamic laws) who are of the view that it is unbelief. But according to the Mutakalimeen, specifically their two books—Aqaid e Sharah (i.e. an interpretation of beliefs) and Maulana Ali Al Qari’s Fiqh Akbar (i.e. his book of interpretation of jurisprudence)—it has no basis to be deemed as being tantamount to unbelief.
Slandering of Hazrat Ayesha is collectively and unanimously considered as being tantamount to unbelief. And that sadaqat (i.e. acts of charity) and prayers both reach those who have passed away from this world. Whosoever rejects the validity of these benefits, they are the Mot’zilla.
There is a difference, too, in the opinion about viewing or witnessing God in dreams or visions. According to some, it is permissible and according to others it is not, provided that it takes place without state or direction or location, and that and it is not permissible otherwise. Some say that this is permissible if God‘s glory and greatness are not being called into question in any way. This was said to be correct by Iman Nawavvy, Imam Ghazali, and Abdul Haq Dehlvi, who all said that the consummation of faith and belief in the glory and greatness of God is essential. And that the visitation of graves is a tradition of the Holy Prophet—with the intention to pray for the souls of those who have passed away—as a reminder of our mortality, and (to appease) the sorrows in the heart. The Blessed Prophet used to visit graves. There is a difference in opinion regarding seeking help from those who have passed away. There is also merit in these justifications. And on this I end.
So whosoever attributes anything other than what has been stated above, they then engage in deceit and slander. They deviate and they transgress. Peace be on those who follow the path of righteousness and on those who repudiate innovation in religion. And peace be upon the Unlettered Prophet and on his Companions and on those who are inclined toward knowledge and guidance and its pursuit.
Two Important Incidents from the Life of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Advice to his Children
Two events in the life of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s numerous spiritual and intellectual attainments proved to be the source of paving the way for his children’s acceptance of Ahmadiyyat. Now, it was common among the intellectuals of that time to have a stamp prepared in their name—etched on the embossing nugget on a ring—which they would then use for imprinting their name on letters as well as on other communications. On one occasion, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed said to his son Maulvi Muhammad Yahya: “When you have your embossing stamp prepared, have the following words etched onto it”:
يَـٰيَحْيَىٰ خُذِ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ بِقُوَّةٍۢ ۖ
O John, take hold of the Book with strength (Holy Quran, 19:12)
The other incident is regarding his will. A few days prior to his demise, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed severed his connections with the world and became engrossed in the remembrance of God in preparation for the final journey to the afterlife. His two sons—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—repeatedly insisted that he share with them some words of advice in his will. At their insistence, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed got their pledge that after he had done so, they would not insist anymore, and only on that condition would he share some words of advice with them. He said:
I have prayed profusely in your favor. It is my hope that Allah will not let you go to waste. Hold firmly to the Holy Quran and do not run after those traders. (He was referring to the landed religious clerics of the time.) The appearance of the spiritual imam of the age is about to take place, so when you find him, you should run to him, and never for a moment pay any attention to the insults of those who dwell in this world.
Again, in those sage words of advice for his sons, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was referring to the landed clergy of the time when he used the word “traders”.
Spiritual Status of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed
After Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s demise, his sons selected a tract of land at a distance of a few furlongs from their residence, that tract of land being known by the name Sadhoo. They designated that area for the family’s graveyard. Following Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s burial, his disciples wanted to set up a solidly built mazaar (i.e. shrine) at his gravesite, but his sons disallowed them from doing so, and also did not allow them to set up a tombstone at his grave.
Even in the lifetime of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, people were well aware of the loftiness of his spiritual status. But it was after he had passed away that God established through witnesses further testimony to that loftiness.
Syed Asadullah Shah, a spiritual elder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and who was himself a recipient of divine revelations and visions, once went to the graveyard of Debgaran and, after having prayed for the souls of the departed, remarked on returning that he saw light everywhere. Following that, and during the remainder of his stay in Debgaran, he stayed as a guest of Doctor Saeed Ahmad. Each morning, after the morning prayer, Syed Asadullah Shah would head over to the graveyard and stand for a long time at the side of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s grave: Seven times he would recite Surah Yasin and offer prayers. He remarked, “I saw spiritual light in that grave. I have visited the graves of many spiritually elevated elders but never witnessed or felt that state anywhere else.”
When Syed Asadullah Shah returned to Debgaran after one year, he headed for the graveyard in Sadhoo. On returning, he said, “Today, a strange incident took place: While I was still on the road near the graveyard, I saw in a vision that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was approaching me. Then he embraced me and said, ‘The remaining difference in my status from that of prophets—that gap—has now been closed, thanks to your prayers for me over the past one year.’ And I sensed that it was an expression of his gratitude.”
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s high spiritual status is also attested to by another spiritual elder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. In Abdullah Jaan Niazi’s book Hayat-e-Hasan (i.e. A Good Life), which is the biography of his father Ghulam Hasan Khan Niazi, he wrote, “Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was a practitioner of religious devoutness. He was a resident of Debgaran. One day, he invited my father (Ghulam Hasan Khan Niazi.) whereupon my father and another Ahmadi Muslim friend, Mirza Sultan Ahmad went to Debgaran and also visited the graveyard where they prayed and, pointing in the direction of two graves, he said: ‘These two spiritual elders are in an excellent state.‘ Maulvi Muhammad Yahya said that one of them was the grave of his father and that the other grave was of his uncle.”
It should be noted that, in that graveyard, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya’s uncle was actually not buried. It may be that the author—in his above-mentioned reference—had meant Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s uncle, Maulvi Mohammad Yaqub.
Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub
Where Allah had granted Hafiz Mohammad Saeed with innumerable blessings, He had also blessed him with two most honorable sons. They were obedient to their father, rendered much service to their mother, and were profusely enlivened with the knowledge and practice of both spiritual and worldly skills. They were unrivaled in religiosity, knowledge, and piety. The affection that the two brothers had for each other was so strong as to make them inseparable. It was as if the two were one being and two hearts. So it is obligatory that they both be mentioned with the same breath. Both brothers were a wellspring of bountiful knowledge as well as being individuals of sterling character, indomitable resolution, and stoic work ethic. Their honesty, their righteousness, their keeping of promises, and their refinement of temperament were well established. Nonetheless, the brothers had unique personalities.
The older brother—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya—in addition to being acutely intelligent, wise and stoic, was serious by temperament and a man of few words. On the other hand, the younger brother—Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—was tenderhearted, affable, philanthropic, cheerful, and quick-witted. The older brother was inclined toward measured speech that was leavened by strong supporting arguments for the logic whereas the younger brother’s conversational style was suffused by wit and humor, which would win the hearts of people with the result that all, young and old, naturally gravitated toward conversing with him casually.
Among those who esteemed them highly was an educated and refined Hindu by the name of Bakshi Champat Rai, who wrote about them as follows:
“Debgaran is in reality Deva Garan, and in the Sanskrit language, Deva is the term for an angel and the term Garan means village or small town. It is possible that at one time Deva or angels used to live here. Regardless of whether others have seen angels here or not, I have in my time seen two angels in this village, Debgaran, with my own eyes.”
He was, of course, referring to the two brothers. And it is a fact that those two individuals, despite being inhabitants of this world, were, because of their deeds and their highly refined habits, so easily distinguishable from others and so unique in their qualities, that they appeared to be not of this world but of a different and transcendent one altogether.
Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman himself was raised in his childhood under their eyes and thus had plentiful opportunities to witness the two brothers closely. And in his unpublished autobiography, he wrote as follows:
“I do not have the words with which to paint a physical and spiritual picture of these two individuals who had found God during this very life on the earth. You simply cannot reach the depths of their pure lives. In the eyes of all, they were ordinary people who ate, drank, walked among others, and attended to their daily routines diligently. But they were not of this world. They were unique in their personalities, and such a serene glow of spirituality exuded from their faces as being indescribable. An extraterrestrial light, as it were, emanated from their foreheads. Their gait was measured and infused with humbleness. Their conversation was suffused by mellifluous intonation as if somebody had stirred sweet honey in their speech. They were, each in their own right, an ocean of knowledge whose surface might be placid, yet whose depths were laden with the commotion of priceless pearls, pearls of wisdom too numerous to be counted. They themselves were spiritually alive and, like a live wire, would transmit spiritual life to those who came into contact with them. They were in sum, angels who trod on this earth.”
When Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was about six years old, his father Hafiz Mohammad Saeed took him to meet his spiritual leader, Hazrat Sayyed Ameer Kothay Walay who, in states of spiritual trance, was known to give focused attention to the disciple in his presence. So when Hazrat Sayyed Ameer gave attention to the young boy—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya—he was compelled to spontaneously exclaim in his Pashto language: “He is the possessor of great qualities.”
And Allah fulfilled, word-for-word, the exclamation of that spiritual luminary regarding Maulvi Muhammad Yahya, who proved to be unique and distinguished in the areas of judgment, contemplation, worshipfulness, and meditation.
He was a devoutly worshipful individual, waking up in the nights to worship His Creator. After a 15 years period of constant effort, he memorized the Holy Quran in its entirety. He would perform the tahujjud prayer (i.e. the “night prayer”, a voluntary prayer) diligently, spending hours in the worshipful state of qiyam. And when he went into prostration before God, the entire prayer area would be left drenched by his tears shed while beseeching God. His humble and profound supplications would invoke Allah’s Mercy, with the result that his prayers would be answered and his pleas accepted. Referring to this profound worshipfulness, his son Doctor Saeed Ahmad writes as follows:
“Once when he (Maulvi Muhammad Yahya) became ill, I used to sleep in the same room as he. As soon as half the night had passed, the sounds of my father’s recitation of the Holy Quran, accompanied by his crying, could be heard. And I would feel embarrassed by my weakness and would rise up as well.”
And similar were the worshipful routines practiced by Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub. By temperament, he was a tenderhearted individual, and he, too, would perform profound supplications, beseeching Allah’s mercy. Oftentimes, he would spend time after the morning prayer on the banks of the stream, offering voluntary prayers. On the edge of that stream were tall cliffs. To this day, they stand witness to the prayers of his blessed father, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. In fact, people at large still refer to those tall cliffs as “Namazi Guttay” or “Namazi Pathar” (i.e. prayerful rocks.)
Doctor Mubarak of the village of Sussal, wrote an essay titled “Debgaran ka Muaalij Khandan” (i.e. the Medical Family of Debgaran) which he noted the following:
“The late Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was not only an illustrious hakeem of his time, but also a unique individual who had reached the highest levels of serving humanity. Numerous members of his family—hakeems and medical practitioners—had an extremely close relationship with the state of Umb Darband. The chieftains of Umb Darband and Phulrah relied on this renowned family of hakeems and medical practitioners for its medical needs. They possessed expertise in the Greek medical practices of the previous century as well as allopathic medicine.”
These two spiritual personalities—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—where they were famed for their familial sagacity, righteousness, knowledge and grace, they were also exceptionally skilled medical practitioners as well as being individuals whose prayers were answered by The Divine. Without distinction, the commoners and the dignitaries, sultans and chieftains all were within their sphere of influence, being indebted to the brothers’ spiritual and medicinal services. People would often undertake long journeys to seek their services, and they themselves would travel to take their services to the people themselves. In this regard, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya would be the one most often undertaking such journeys while Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub would stay in Debgaran, overseeing all organizational needs. He also took care of attending to the orphans, taking under his wing all those who were in dire circumstances, all those who were without the means to fend for themselves. Their house was a safe haven where the needy would find peace and help.
The brothers never charged the people of Debgaran or the poor or friends and relatives for the medical services rendered to them. Yet God never left the brothers in a state of financial need. The dignitaries and chieftains and other landed officials of the region would seek their medical services and, in return, compensate them with funds, gifts, and granary. And oftentimes, on other occasions as well, they would continue to send gifts to their quarters.
Doctor Mubarak has written thus:
I have heard Doctor Saeed Ahmad narrate the following incident: Once, the Nawab of Umb, Khan Zaman Khan, fell ill whereupon an English doctor from Lahore, accompanied by Doctor Mirza Yaqub, arrived to attend to his health. On not regaining health soon enough, Khan Zaman Khan insisted that Maulvi Muhammad Yahya himself be summoned to attend to his health. Thereupon, Khan Zaman Khan’s assistant immediately got on a horse and galloped away, arrived in Debgaran, and then on the return journey to Umb, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Khan Zaman Khan’s assistant arrived back on his steed, having completed a long journey. By that time, Khan Zaman Khan had retired to his sleeping chambers, so Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was instructed to rest for the night before attending to his patient. In turn, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya prayed all night long, beseeching His Lord earnestly—the situation at hand being that the latest medical care offered thus far to Khan Zaman Khan had failed—for guidance in this matter and thereby save and maintain the honor of his acumen in medical practice. Allah answered his supplications through a Divine revelation by way of two words: “Murmun” and “Influenza.”
In this way, he was divinely informed of the medical diagnosis as well as of the treatment. At the crack of dawn, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya went out into the surrounding open fields and came across the divinely indicated herb—“Murmun”—growing all around in abundance and profusion. He gathered the herb in the requisite amount, and returned to his quarters. After carefully cleansing the herb, he prepared the medicine. Soon, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya met with Khan Zaman Khan, and the medical treatment was started. Khan Zaman Khan regained health, and rather sheepishly, offered a medical fee which he deemed unworthy of his healer since he (i.e. Khan Zaman Khan) had previously undergone exceptionally expensive medical treatment.
Maulvi Muhammad Yahya himself used to say that he did not have to expend a single paisa and yet Allah rewarded him with thousands. Yet another remarkable event was to unfold shortly thereafter: Maulvi Muhammad Yahya, on returning home after attending to Khan Zaman Khan in Umb, found a letter from his son, Doctor Saeed Ahmad. Expenses for his son’s medical college education evidently required a significant one-time expense, the amount of which was—Allah be praised—equal to the amount of the recent medical compensation from Khan Zaman Khan. Maulvi Muhammad Yahya thanked God for divinely facilitating this matter, because the funds to pay for those expenses had hitherto simply not been available in the house and, had this remarkable turn of events not taken place, the payment for the educational expenses would have necessitated the sale of cattle or granary or even having to part with some of his land.
Doctor Mubarak of the village of Sussal has, in his same unpublished essay titled “Debgaran ka Muaalij Khandan” (i.e. the Medical Family of Debgaran), noted an incident of another severe illness of the same Nawab Sahib. On regaining health, he sent Maulvi Muhammad Yahya a large number of gifts. And Nawab Sahib’s wife also presented him with a large number of gifts. All in all, the material was brought into the village, hauled by three mules. It contained valuable clothes, cash, and other items.
Doctor Mubarak further notes:
In addition to being seasoned medical practitioners down through the generations, this family of Debgaran was also aglow with the light of knowledge. In a decidedly unpublicized and humble way, this family spread the light of knowledge throughout the region in the service of humanity. And this family held the status of being the first school and the training ground in knowledge for many. Thus, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya (aka “Ustaad Barraay Debgaran Waalay” i.e. Senior Teacher in Debgaran) not only kept alive this tradition of his luminary elders, he further enlivened it meritoriously: He provided a household which served as a safe haven for orphans, for the needy, for those without means, and for those down on their luck. In other words, he placed a hand of affection and safeguarding on the heads of all those orphans and needy children who have been bereft of a sheltering home. And thus he took on the responsibility of raising them, instructing them in religion as well as educating them in the practical aspects of morals. In this way, he adorned them with the jewels of religious and worldly education, elevating them from deprivation to self-sufficiency. All this, needless to say, proved indispensable for them to become independent adults. This, then, was an aspect of his life which, in his lovingly unique way, he sustained to the very last breath of his life.
I know on a personal basis countless individuals who, in moving forward through the dark alleys, and in the ups and downs of this borrowed life, took light from the chandelier of this fount of knowledge and wisdom.
These elders were always mindful of improving the social condition of those in the region, often rendering financial services out of their own pocket. They also possessed a refined taste for the promotion of religious and intellectual pursuits. In addition to providing for the residential care of students in the village’s mosque, they had an enclosure built from their own expenses and took care of constructing a solidly-built water-well. In addition, they remained engaged at all times with helping solve issues of people at large through their influence.
Acceptance of Ahmadiyyat
According to the will of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, both of his sons—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—were mentally prepared for and eagerly expecting the manifestation of the Promised Mahdi (i.e. rightly-guided one.) Therefore, soon after becoming aware of the claim of Hazrat Mirza Sahib to be the mujaddid (i.e Reformer) of the 14th century Hijrah, they both, one after the other, became associated with the Ahmadiyya Movement.
Mirza Azam Baig, who was closely related to Hazrat Mirza Sahib, used to come and visit Hafiz Mohammad Saeed on account of his devotion and allegiance to him. Thus, he knew the family well and was especially impressed by the religious propensity, knowledge, and sound judgment of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s two sons. In relating to Hazrat Mirza Sahib the qualities of the two brothers, Mirza Azam Baig also provided him their address. Now it was Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s custom to directly propagate his teachings to individuals of intellectual repute. Thus, he sent a parcel containing some religious literature—namely, two of his books, Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam and Hamamatul Bushra—to the attention of Maulvi Muhammad Yahya. On the cover of that parcel were emblazoned the following words:
يَـٰيَحْيَىٰ خُذِ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ بِقُوَّةٍۢ ۖ
O John, take hold of the Book with strength (Holy Quran, 19:12)
The selection of those words by Hazrat Mirza Sahib—the very same words which Hafiz Mohammad Saeed had directed his older son to get etched on the embossing nugget on his ring—was no ordinary coincidence. Maulvi Muhammad Yahya sensed a deep and hidden connection between these two incidents, and deemed this as a manifest sign of the truthfulness of Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s claims. And it was on reading half the book that his soul was further satisfied in this matter. He immediately sent a written request via mail to Hazrat Mirza Sahib for taking the religious pledge since he could not travel to take the religious pledge in person because he was attending to nursing his mother back to good health. In turn, Hazrat Mirza Sahib accepted his religious pledge. In fact, acknowledging the superiority of serving his mother in those circumstances, he instructed Maulvi Muhammad Yahya to tend to his mother’s health unto satisfication and only thereafter to take up travel. His mother remained ill for an extended period of time. After her death, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya traveled and appeared in the presence of Hazrat Mirza Sahib in 1896, and at that time took the religious pledge at his hands.
The younger brother, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub, remained hesitant initially: He wanted further satisfaction in the matter of Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s claims. When the two brothers traveled to Qadian in 1896, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub could not remain unmoved by the spiritual presence of Hazrat Mirza Sahib during the few days they spent there. Immediately, he began studying the books of Hazrat Mirza Sahib: His heart began melting like the wax on a burning candle, and the matter became clear for him. As a result, he returned to Qadian in 1897, accompanied this time by his son Hakeem Muhammad Ishaq, and took the religious pledge. He remained in Qadian for some time and became an ardent devotee of the Promised Messiah.
Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub had always been a tender-hearted person, and now his prayers became infused by even more humility and passion. In turn, Hazrat Mirza Sahib was most impressed by Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub’s humbleness and tender-heartedness. On one occasion, Hazrat Mirza Sahib embraced him, and said to him: “God will give you that status and honor wherefore nawabs will straighten your sandals for you.” (Note: This—the straightening of someone’s sandals—being a token of immense respect.)
Those words of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, it should be noted, proved true in both metaphorical and figurative ways. Thus, it is related that Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub once traveled to the Indian state of Umb. Nawab Sahib of Umb was among the devotees of his father, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the relationship between Nawab Sahib and the sons of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—had always been an active and eminently cordial one. Now, on this particular visit, and as was his custom, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub had taken off and left his sandals outside the main door of Nawab Sahib’s residence. When the time came for Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub to depart, Nawab Sahib himself accompanied him to the main door to bid him farewell, and with his own hands he straightened Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub’s sandals. On seeing this, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub recalled the words of Hazrat Mirza Sahib and his eyes grew dim. He related the entire matter to Nawab Sahib who, in turn, was deeply moved. He embraced Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub and only then did he bid him farewell.
After taking the religious pledge at the hands of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, the two brothers immersed themselves fervently in the religious propagation work of the Ahmadiyya Movement. As a result, a host of people—those who were already impressed by the piety and religiosity and truthfulness of the brothers—also soon joined the Ahmadiyya Movement. Thus, on the one hand, the spiritual light of the Ahmadiyya Movement began spreading from house to house in the district of Hazara, and on the other hand, opposing groups began to appear on the horizon. As a result, religious obstacles and oppositional barricades began appearing all around. Rivers of oppositional fire came the way of the two brothers, as did fierce tempests, but the steadfastness of the two brothers remained unaffected through it all. In fact, many mortal attempts were made on their lives by opponents who, in their venom and vitriol, never hesitated from inflicting bodily harm on the two brothers.
On one occasion, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub was returning from some travels and, on finding him alone, his unscrupulous opponents viciously attacked him, inflicting severe wounds on his person. He barely escaped with his life, but sustained a deep wound to his forehead. His fellow villagers were ready to launch a punitive attack but Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub stopped them, and in fact did not even register charges at the local police office. He simply said: “I have registered charges in the court of Allah.” The marks of the wound on his forehead stayed with him throughout his life. On one occasion, he remarked: “On the day of judgment, when I am brought face to face with Allah, and when my book of deeds is being sorted through, I will say at that time that this is the wound that I bore for the love of Your Mirza. This is all that I have for a certificate, and nothing else.”
More so even than love for and allegiance to Hazrat Mirza Sahib, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub harbored passionate devotion to him. Despite being eminently kindhearted and mild mannered, he could not bear to hear even a single word said in disrespect against Hazrat Mirza Sahib.
It is noteworthy to relate an event from Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub’s life which exemplifies presence of mind in the face of opposition, resulting in a complete defeat of the opponents. So the Christian missionaries of Mansehra would often engage in religious debates with Ahmadi Muslims. One day, Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman—at that time a seventh grade student in Mansehra High School—told Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub that a new debate between Ahmadi Muslims and Christian priests was going to take place. That debate would take on the subject of the divinity of Christ and kaffara (i.e. atonement, aka the expiation of sins.) Since Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman was a young boy, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub accompanied him that morning to Mansehra. Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman went to school and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub sat down in the open field where the debate was to take place. Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman recounts the events of the debate as follows:
Maulvi Sahab was sitting on the floor, intently and quietly listening to the series of questions and answers in the religious debate taking place. The argumentative debate was at its peak at the time and both sides were participating intensely. There was an immense audience witnessing the spectacle. There came a time when the Christians were bereft of arguments and left speechless. At that time, Priest Alter stood up and said with pointed derision and vehemence: “Look, your Mirza claims to speak with God and he pretends to be the Messiah. But he had claimed that Mohamady Begum would be betrothed to him, yet another man took her in marriage.“
I observed how my usually humble and composed Baji (a reference to Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub), his face turned red with anger and honor on hearing those disparaging words. He was one who used to say in his sweet and mellifluous Hindko language, “Murra Mirza” (i.e. my very own Mirza, that being a reference to Hazrat Mirza Sahib.) He could not bear any disrespect against him. He immediately stood up and walked over to Maulvi Abdur Rauf who was representing the organization from Qadian and said to him, “Abdur Rauf, I will respond to the priest.” Having said that, he turned to the priest and said, “Priest Sahib, neither do we consider Hazrat Mirza Sahib to be divine nor a prophet. We regard him as a religious reformer. You all consider Jesus (peace be upon him) to be the son of God and a God. When a carpenter took away his mother in marriage, why did you people not feel the pangs of honor being sullied?”
On hearing this, the priests began foaming at their mouths with bitterness and futility and helplessness. They started gathering their books and fleeing from the debate. People began asking, who was that person who gave such a resounding response to the Christians? Somebody said, “This was Nikray Ustad of Debgaran.” (i.e. Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub was known by that moniker in those regions.) Now people began milling all around to catch a glimpse of him. They all spontaneously exclaimed that, on that day, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub had saved and upheld the honor of Muslims.
He had, as it were, shot from his quiver an arrow from which the Christian priests could not escape. This, then, was his honor for Islam, for Ahmadiyyat, and for his spiritual teacher. In truth, he was devoted to Hazrat Mirza Sahib utterly and completely. He had realized that in his obedience lay the life-giving stream to nourish the soul and he utterly drenched himself in that very soul-satisfying water. (Reference: Unpublished autobiography of Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman.)
These two spiritual elders—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—made available their services, and indeed their lives, at all times to serve the mission. In order to gather supporting arguments for the truthfulness of the mission, he undertook travels far and wide. He had, from his blessed father, already heard prophecies by Mulla Sahib Kothay Walay About the appearance of the Promised Mahdi (i.e. rightly-guided one). So in order to meet his disciples, he decided to travel to the area, and indeed met some of the elders. And of those meetings, he wrote to Hazrat Mirza Sahib of two such meetings by way of a letter. That letter was published as part of Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s book titled Tuhfa Golarwiyya (pp. 35-36.) in which he wrote:
I have received the personal testimony of these two pious souls by way of my dear friend, Maulvi Hakeem Muhammad Yahya of Debgaran. Maulvi Muhammad Yahya is a staunch believer, a pious soul, and a righteous caliph of Hazrat Kothay Walay. He wrote to me a letter dated January 23, 1900 in which he informed me of how he had listened to the statements of these two pious souls. May Allah shower them with blessings. Amen. And that letter is as follows:
Presenting the following for the perusal of the honorable spiritual leader of our time, submitting the peace and blessings of Allah upon him. I went to the village of Kotha in the Yusaf Zai area of the North-West Frontier Province of India because I had heard that Hazrat Kothay Walay used to say that the birth of the Promised Mahdi had taken place, but he had not manifested yet. And I remained acutely aware of investigating this matter further. So when I went to the village of Kotha this time, I sought out and inquired of Hazrat Kothay Walay’s remaining disciples. All of them said that this was a well-known fact and that Hazrat Kothay Walay used to say so. Two people, however, in particular, certified that they had heard with their own ears what Hazrat Kothay Walay himself had said in this matter.
And at this time, I will verbatim present to you their respective testimony each. (1) The respectable Noor Muhammad—he has committed the Holy Quran to his memory, is a sincere disciple of Hazrat Kothay Walay, and who was a resident of Garhi Ama Zai and presently residing in Kotha—relates that one day he was sitting near Hazrat Kothay Walay, while he was performing ablution in preparation for prayers, when he (i.e. Hazrat Kothay Walay) remarked: ‘We are now in the era of somebody else.’ I didn’t quite understand his meaning, and inquired, ‘How so? Is it that you consider yourself so advanced in age that your era has passed away? There are many people of your age who are enjoying sound health.’ Hazrat Kothay Walay replied: ‘You misunderstand me. I mean something else.’ Then Hazrat Kothay Walay said: ‘The person who is appointed by Allah for the reformation of Islam has been born. Our turn is now over. This is why I said that we are in the era of somebody else.’
“He then added: ‘I am to a certain extent involved in worldly affairs, but this Reformer will have no concern for worldly matters. The magnitude of the problems that will confront him will be so great that no parallel exists in history, but he will not care. Afflictions and turmoil of all kinds will abound, but he will not care. The heavens and the earth will be engulfed in upheavals, but he will not care.’
Then I submitted, ‘Please tell me his name, his distinguishing characteristics, and his place of residence.’ Hazrat Kothay Walay simply replied: ‘I shall not tell.’”
So that is his statement, to which I have neither added and from which nor subtracted a single word. Yes, his narrative was in the Afghani language, and this is its translation. (2) Another person by the name of Gulzar Khan—a resident of the Bada Bair district, and presently lives in a village near Kotha called Topi—had stayed in the service of Hazrat Kothay Walay for an extended period of time. Gulzar Khan stated on oath the following to Maulvi Muhammad Yahya:
“One day Hazrat Kothay Walay was sitting in a public gathering, and appeared to be in an especially happy mood. Presently, Hazrat Kothay Walay remarked: ‘Some of my contemporaries shall witness the Promised Mahdi (i.e. rightly-guided one) with their own eyes (this being an indication that the Mahdi would appear in this very land, which would enable them to see him with their own eyes), and they will listen to his words with their own ears.’”
So that is his statement. I, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya, thereupon informed Gulzar Khan that the prophecy of Hazrat Kothay Walay had, in fact, been fulfilled: The Promised Mahdi had appeared in the land, in the province of Punjab, in accordance with the prophecy. On hearing this, Gulzar Khan began weeping bitterly. He was in poor health, he confided, and would therefore not be able to travel to Punjab to see and meet the Promised Mahdi. This thought was the reason for his distress. Finally, Gulzar Khan requested me to convey his salutations to the Promised Mahdi, and to request him to pray for his soul. I promised him that I would convey his salutations as well as request the Promised Mahdi to pray for him. I am hopeful that the requested prayers will be taken up by the Promised Mahdi.
May the peace of Allah be upon both pious souls who presented their testimony.
Muhammad Yahya, resident of Debgaran
In the year 1896, after taking the religious pledge, it was his constant yearning to spend more and more time in Qadian and partake of the spiritual blessings emanating from the blessed presence of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. Sometimes, when it was the month of Ramadan, he would partake of the blessings of keeping fasts and directly benefiting from his spiritual grace. In turn, when his disciples would seek permission to leave, he would insist that they stay further. In February 1901, when, after a period of staying for two months, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya sought permission of Hazrat Mirza Sahib to leave Qadian in order to attend to land management work, he said: “You have already sown the seeds of the plantation. When will the harvesting take place?” He replied: “In the month of May.” In turn, Hazrat Mirza Sahib remarked: “The month of May is still far.” As a result, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya deferred his departure, and stayed on longer to further partake of the spiritual blessings emanating from the blessed presence of his spiritual leader, Hazrat Mirza Sahib. This phenomenon continued after he had passed away and during the time when Maulana Nur-ud-Din was the spiritual leader in Qadian.
A Special Spiritual Bond with Maulana Nur-ud-Din
Maulvi Muhammad Yahya had an especially strong spiritual connection with Maulana Nur-ud-Din. After Hazrat Mirza Sahib passed away, and Maulana Nur-ud-Din became the president of the organization, this relationship was further strengthened by taking on the color of devotion in addition to spiritual love. Maulana Nur-ud-Din, following his injurious fall during horse-riding, stayed unwell for an extended period of time. During that time of physical infirmness, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya attended to nursing his health for a period of six months, during which he rendered numerous services. One day, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya recited the Arabic verse and said that its recitation followed by seeking Allah Allah through prayer would lead to its acceptance. Maulana Nur-ud-Din replied: Then you must pray for me in that way.
Constant nursing, attention to medications, and prayers lead to Allah granting healing to Maulana Nur-ud-Din. And in this way, the bond of spiritual love between the two was cemented.
Dissension Within the Organization Following the Demise of Maulana Nur-ud-Din in 1914
Following the demise of Maulana Nur-ud-Din, dissension arose within the organization in the matter of successorship, with many members began deeming the self-styled beliefs of Mian Mahmood as righteous. It was at that time that Maulana Muhammad Ali presented the correct beliefs of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, bringing the true claims of Hazrat Sahib to the fore. And a sworn statement of 70 elders of the organization was formulated. Maulvi Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub were among those elders. Thus the two elders were among the first of those members of the Lahore organization who stood firmly on the foundation of correct beliefs.
We the signatories of the following sworn statement certify regarding the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Sahib, that when in 1891 he announced that the death of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) had been proved from the Holy Quran and the Hadith in which his appearance from within the nation of Prophet Muhammad had been mentioned, then at that time, Hazrat Mirza Sahib had not claimed to be a prophet. Yes, certain religious scholars had created doubts in the minds of the populace. And in doing so, those scholars had portrayed him as a claimant of prophethood and thereby an unbeliever. Following that, as Hazrat Mirza Sahib stated clearly on many occasions, anyone claiming that his writings showed that he had claimed to be a prophet was engaging in slander. He considered the Holy Prophet to be the Final Prophet, and deemed anyone claiming to be a prophet after the Holy Prophet to be an infidel and an unbeliever. And some of Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s ilhaam (i.e. revelations) in which the word ‘messenger’ or ‘prophet’ had appeared or the ‘Messiah’ who was prophesied in the Hadith, then the appearance of those words did not allude at all to actual prophethood, but rather metaphorical prophethood which is also known as the status of Muhadith. And that the Seal of the prophets—the Holy Prophet—there can be no prophet after him, neither new nor old.
We also give the sworn testimony that before November 1901, we took the pledge at the hands of the promised Messiah, and Mian Mahmood and his cohorts, what they wrote about Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s claim was that it was initially not about prophethood. But in November 1901, he changed his claim and at that time became a claimant of prophethood, and considered as nullified the 10 to 11 years’ writings. Such a statement, we believe, is utterly wrong and entirely against the facts on the ground. We swear upon the holy name of Our Creator that it had never even entered into our minds that in 1901, Hazrat Mirza Sahib, the Promised Messiah, had made any change whatsoever in his claims. Or that he considered nullified his previous writings which are replete with the categorical denial of prophethood. Nor did we hear any such words from any person, that is, until Mian Mahmood made this announcement.
- Muhammad Ali (Former editor of The Review of Religions magazine, President of the Ahmadiyya Organization in Lahore)
Signed by additional elders of the Ahmadiyya Organization.
- (1) Maulvi Muhammad Ahsan (Amroha)
- (7) Maulvi Muhammad Yahya (Debgaran)
- (8) Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub (Debgaran)
- (70) Abdul Haq (Rawalpindi)
Next, we turn to another landmark event in the life of Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s father.
Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
Maulvi Muhammad Yahya had the good fortune of performing the hajj (i.e. annual pilgrimage to Mecca) in 1933. His nephew, Hakeem Mohammad Ishaak had also gone along with him. In addition, another Ahmadi Muslim by the name of Munshi Mohammad Zaman and a land owner of the village named Haji Abdullah were also his companions in the journey for the hajj. In those days, his son, Doctor Saeed Ahmad, was the assistant surgeon in Mansehra. The medical certificate giving him permission to go on the hajj was signed by him.
Demise of Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub (April 1934)
In 1934, at the age of 74, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub passed away after a brief illness. He was, at that time, under the medical care of his nephew, Doctor Saeed Ahmad. The pneumonia proved to be fatal. In accordance with his wishes, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub was buried in the family graveyard, with his grave being dug at the feet of his father’s grave.
Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was extremely fond of his younger brother. And his brother’s demise tried his patience to the utmost degree, but he never let this personal grief interfere with his passion for the service of strengthening Ahmadiyyat through his services. That burden of the work which the two brothers used to carry, hand-in-hand, he now shouldered by himself. For another 11 years, he stood like a rock, defending its fortress, as it were, from religious opponents.
At the time of Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub’s demise, his two surviving children—Abdur Rahman and Abdul Ghafoor—were very young. Maulvi Muhammad Yahya took on the responsibility for raising them.
Demise of Maulvi Muhammad Yahya (January 30, 1945)
On January 17, 1945, on returning home from a journey, Doctor Saeed Ahmad found his father, Maulvi Muhammad Yahya, in good health and busily engaged in work. However, merely a week had gone by when Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was afflicted by paralysis, an ailment from which he did not recover. And after ailing for a few days, he passed away on January 30, 1945. We belong to Allah and to Him is our return. At that time, Doctor Saeed Ahmad instructed his family to be patient and to handle the situation with fortitude, something which they did with excellence. He himself demonstrated an excellent example of the same. The funeral prayer for Maulvi Muhammad Yahya was led by Doctor Saeed Ahmad himself.
Bibi Fatima Noor (Mother of Doctor Saeed Ahmad)
A survey of Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s ancestors would remain incomplete without the mention of that lady of innumerable qualities under whose nurturing care he grew up. So we will begin by noting that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed had arranged for the marriage of each of his two sons to take place at the same time. The wife of his younger son—Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub—was his familial cousin, and she hailed from the village of Purjan. And the wife of his older son—Maulvi Muhammad Yahya—was Bibi Fatima Noor, the niece of the village leader, Malik Mir Ahmad Khan. Her father’s name was Abdullah. She was quite young at the time of marriage, and there was no system for participation in education in those days. However, through her own interest as well as the influence around her, Bibi Fatima Noor gravitated toward a religious lifestyle. Thus, when her own daughter grew up to be eight years old, and her—that is, her daughter—having studied the Holy Quran by that age, Bibi Fatima Noor herself learned to read the Holy Quran from her daughter.
Bibi Fatima Noor was an eminently pious and devout lady. She was decidedly forbearing, level-headed, patient, generous, and of a pleasant temperament. Her sympathy extended to one and all. She would participate in supporting all dwellers in the village, without distinction, offering her support to them in good times and bad, serving others whenever the need arose. The arbitrary distinctions of castes, clans, and societal status did not hold any meaning in her eyes. In this regard, Doctor Saeed Ahmad once wrote as follows about an event from the life of his blessed mother, Bibi Fatima Noor:
I remember well that a household servant in our town, who people commonly called Musalli, died from the viral malady of chickenpox. My mother, as a gesture of sympathy, went to his family home and spent the night with the family. At that time, I told her that she should not have done so because the person who had died had been suffering from a contagious viral disease. She simply replied, “It was the demand of sympathy that I do so, and that is what I did.”
Many examples of her generosity abounded in the village. It was related, for example, that she would dilute the vegetable lentil soup cooked in her house so that alms seekers could also be served. She was already the mother of Saeed, and additionally, people acknowledged her as the mother of the needy.
When she entered married life, she found all around her a spiritually infused environment. And in the spiritually sublime personage of her father in law, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, she found plentiful opportunities to serve him and to partake of his spiritual blessings. Due to her naturally impressionable temperament, she quickly imbibed from her father in law’s spiritual practices and colored herself in the same spiritual dye. He used to keep the Baiz fasts—the days of fasting which take place on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every month according to the lunar calendar. She began and kept this practice up right up to the very end of her life.
She passed away on January 9, 1929. Leading up to that time, she had traveled to the city of Peshawar to spend some time with her son, Doctor Saeed Ahmad. At that time, her health was poor. Yet, even at the insistence of her doctor son, she did not give up the Baiz fasts. The evening that she passed away, she had been fasting all day long. Soon after Iftar, having completed her fast, her unwellness took a serious turn and, within moments, she left this world to meet her Creator. Her body was brought to Debgaran, and buried right next to the grave of her respected father in law, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
Whenever Sayyed Asadullah Shah went to the graveyard in Debgaran, he would make it a point to offer prayers at the grave of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. He relates that, one day, just as he was about to return from the graveyard, he saw the same light with the same luminosity shining near his grave which he used to see at the site of his (i.e. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s) grave. And this nearby grave was that of the respected Fatima Noor, the mother of Doctor Saeed Ahmad. He was somewhat perplexed by this phenomenon and inquired prayerfully of Allah for enlightenment in this matter because he could not understand how such a spiritually elevated individual as Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, one whose piety and spiritual rigor were well established throughout the region, and then on the other hand an ordinary woman of the household. How could it be—as evidenced by the spiritual luminance that he had witnessed—that she could have the same spiritual stature since it is humanly impossible for a woman to pray continuously. Sayyed Asadullah Shah was thereafter informed through a spiritual revelation that Allah had granted the lady with a reward for her pious worship and that her name had been written in the heavens as Mahtab Bibi. It appears that this honor was given to her especially because of her strict adherence to fasting during the days of Baiz.
Mahtab Bibi—the mother of Doctor Saeed Ahmad—her piety has been nicely captured in the words of Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman as follows. It should be added that his entire childhood as well as a subsequent and significant period of his life was spent in her nurturing and thoughtful care:
In my life, I have had the opportunity to closely witness the lives of three women: The life of the respected Fatima Noor, the mother of Doctor Saeed Ahmad, the life of the respected sister of Doctor Saeed Ahmad, and the life of the respected Ma Bibi. (Bibi Alam Noor was Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman’s mother in law, as well as the mother of the respected Ahmad Sadiq.)
I found these three respected women to have an exceptionally high status of piety and purity. While we have all heard the stories of Hazrat Rabia of Basra, we have witnessed them in the lives of these three above mentioned women. They were certainly at the level of Hazrat Rabia of Basra. Of course, Allah alone knows whose spiritual status is the higher, and whose the lesser. However, what I have just stated is my own estimation. Though they may have been seated in the midst of thousands, their spiritual countenance heralded that they were extraordinary women. (Biography of Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman.)
No matter which criterion one uses to judge Bibi Fatima Noor, she was extraordinary. And judging by the narratives we have heard of her life, following are some of the qualities that manifestly come to the foreground: Resignation to the Will of Allah, humbleness, patience, sympathy, caring, and affection. All those who saw her, saw in her person a woman of substance, a dedicated daughter in law and wife. She was an earnestly devoted and doting mother under whose care not only Noor Jahan Begum and Doctor Saeed Ahmad grew up, but also dozens of needy orphans. (And among those latter was, in fact, Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman.) May Allah elevate her spiritual status. Amen.