I present this biography—entitled Hayat-e-Saeed—with the hope and understanding that you will not judge it by the criteria of literary biographies, because the goal is not, in the least whatsoever, to add to the canons of literature. Rather, what I have ardently sought to capture in this biography are glimpses into a life of striving, of a life which began in earnest when a six year old Saeed left behind the courtyard of his childhood home—embarking on a six miles long journey—so he could set his foot in the precincts of a primary school.
Hayat-e-Saeed, then, seeks to convey the essence of Khan Bahadur Doctor Saeed Ahmad Khan Sahib’s 90 years of ceaseless striving. It covers a span of time which encompass a multifaceted life in which, at a certain juncture, we find him actively engaged in seeking education; at another juncture, we find him skillfully wielding the instruments of medical practice in the service of healing fellow humans; and at yet other junctures we find him spreading smiles across faces, spreading happiness across the countenance of an entire lot of humanity, one which had not so long ago been on the verge of hopelessness. And yes, at yet other junctures, we find him diligently tending to the spiritual needs of souls which had been worn out and weighed down by the inevitable worries, trials, and tribulations of life.
Cast a glance at any period of his life, and it becomes clear as daylight that when a person lives selflessly, operates at a level far above that of personal ambition, lives within the modest confines of humbleness, and then decides to achieve something lofty for humanity—guided by his conviction—then even storms change their apparently inevitable course, seemingly insurmountable cliffs crumble, obstacles begin to recede, and goals draw nearer and nearer still.
Here, it would be appropriate to mention some background to this biography of Doctor Saeed Ahmad. During the years 1994 to 1996, the incharge publications division of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, Mian Fazl-e-Ahmad, along with Chaudhry Mansur Ahmad, the General Secretary. I was consulted by them—in the matter of Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s biography—to collaborate with a professional writer to compile a biography. At that time, I expressed my desire to volunteer to undertake this work myself rather than merely coordinate with someone else. As such, I accepted the full responsibility for the endeavor.
Those were also the years following my mother’s death, a time when I had all but lost the will to participate in the daily tussles of life and, having brought my professional career to a close, I was devoting myself to serving my father, Doctor Saeed Ahmad. It is my great good fortune that among all his children, I had the most opportunities to be close to him and in this way my mind had become a safe repository for many of the details and narratives as related by him. In fact, Doctor Saeed Ahmad himself had tremendous confidence in my memory, especially from the point of view of events and their chronology. He used to say that I had inherited my strong memory from his uncle, my maternal grandfather. A few of my short-format writings had come to his attention, and he had expressed approval of them. In this way, he had confidence in my writing abilities. He was also aware of my intention to compile his biography, and in fact I used to write down many of his verbally narrated events with his permission. He had also given me access to his autobiographical narrative of the events surrounding the crisis of 1974. It was, therefore, the combination of these aforementioned considerations which had led me to take on, without any hesitation, the responsibility of compiling his biography.
After Doctor Saeed Ahmad had passed away, Doctor Asghar Hameed was entrusted with the responsibility of serving as the fourth president of the organization. I, along with Mr. Anwar Ahmad, visited Doctor Asghar Hameed in his office to seek permission to proceed with compiling Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s biography. He not only approved my request, but in addition—also at my request—approved of bringing out a special edition of Paigham-e-Sulh, that of course being the flagship magazine of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore. In this way, a significant corpus of biographical material was gathered, which proved valuable for this biography. Doctor Asghar Hameed also very kindly entrusted to me the freedom in selecting the material for the proposed special edition of Paigham-e-Sulh, which was eventually published in December 1997.
After approximately four years had passed, Doctor Asghar Hameed one day, during a conversation, inquired into the progress of the biography. My answer was admittedly vague, and did not satisfy him, so he added with a degree of earnestness, “Time is slipping away.” That remark did nothing less than jolt me. In addition, Chaudhry Mansur Ahmad continued to regularly bring attention to the need for putting the biographical work’s process on a solid foundation. By the middle of 2001, I put together an initial draft of how the chapters of the biography would be organized, and presented it to Chaudhry Mansur Ahmad. He approved of it and, on my request, he provided me with documents and personal notes in the capacity of the General Secretary of the organization.
The life of the fourth president of the organization, Doctor Asghar Hameed, drew to a close altogether too soon: He passed away on October 13, 2002. Following that, I received guidance under the aegis of the fifth president of the organization, Doctor Abdul Karim Saeed.
It was on setting about and coming to grips with the practicalities and pragmatics of putting together the biographical work that I realized my naivete: Accepting the responsibility for the endeavor of compiling the biography single-handedly had been easy enough, but achieving it, as I began to realize, was going to be nothing short of scaling a steep cliff. I became acutely aware of the extent to which I had underestimated the task, given my limited abilities. And as I began treading on this challenging terrain, my progress was impeded by periods of time when I was unwell, and at other times the exigencies of this world in all their varieties would raise roadblocks in the way of this work. But during all this, I kept my sights on the final goal, and in this way the journey continued, with all its ups and downs. Many years were spent thus, poring over and gathering the jewels of insight, spread out as they were, over the multi-volume memoranda of Doctor Saeed Ahmad, his narratives, and various documents.
And during the above mentioned process of research and compilation, I found myself face-to-face with indescribable realizations and feelings. In my thinking and in my imagination, as well as in my sensibilities, I would find myself in the company of my blessed father all the time, and it felt like I, too, was experiencing his life with him, from the smallest moments of joys to times of great loss. It was, thus, with the certainty of my own senses that I witnessed the flames rising from Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s residence in Abbottabad—Dar-us-Saeed—and the intensity of the explosions taking place at that time. And my ears cannot forget the sky-piercing yelling and abusive chanting of the thugs and ruffians who had descended upon Dar-us-Saeed. Those were, to put it modestly, times which had tried our patience and indeed tested our upper limits, really, given the massive loss of property and imminent threat to our very lives. I could not but sense the intensity of my blessed father’s all too natural grief in those trying conditions. Then, in the city of Lahore—specifically in the Ahmadi Muslim colony of Dar-us-Salam—I remained close to my blessed father, much as did I during his missionary travels to Europe and to America.
During the course of writing this biography, there were times when my face would light up with smiles of pleasure, satisfaction, and joy. Then there were times when tears would flow down my cheeks, washing away, as it were, the very words that I had inscribed to become a part of the biography. Experiencing all these sensations, nonetheless, I regard the compilation and writing of this biography as an act of devotion: To the utmost of my abilities, I have captured all events in an unbiased fashion. Thus, I gave strict preference to Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s own writings over common anecdotal knowledge in order to avoid any kind of embellishment whatsoever. Let it also be known that the mention of the identities of certain individuals has been avoided to spare sensibilities: After all, Allah prefers the overlooking of the faults of others. Despite all the care that I have taken in this regard, if any perceived undue criticism regarding anyone has slipped in, then it would be my wish that the oversight be excused.
The essence of the material presented in Hayat-e-Saeed is drawn from the three unpublished memoirs, written by Dr Saeed Ahmad himself, which comprise the various parts of his life:
- Experience of the Crisis of 1974, which Doctor Saeed Ahmad had written at the insistence of the respected Raja Muhammad Afzal. This particular document has historical importance.
- Hayat-e-Saeed (i.e. Life of Saeed: A Few Moments from my Borrowed Life), this being composed of a few important events prior to 1974.
- The Influence and Establishment of the Ahmadiyya Movement in the Hazara region of Pakistan and the Opposition Thereof, which captures an important chapter of the Ahmadiyya Movement.
(The compilation of the preceding two documents was done by Professor Basheer Ahmad Soz, whose amazing diligence and effort in this regard included the calligraphic typesetting of the documents themselves.)
- Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s numerous memoranda, documents, dictations, and travelogs.
- Certain other documents and publications from which this biography has benefited are as follows:
- Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman’s unpublished autobiography.
- Jaltay Bujhtay Deep (i.e. Flickering Lamps), an autobiography of Bilqees Cheema.
- Kuch Yaadain, Kuch Baatain (i.e. Some Memories, Some Conversations), a compilation of essays by the respected Razia Faruqui.
- Hayat-e-Hasan (i.e. A Good Life), by Abdullah Jaan Niazi
- Aina-e-Sidq-o-Sifa (i.e. The Mirror of Devotion and Duty), by the respected Mirza Masud Baig.
- Tareekh-e-Awanan-e-Hazara (i.e. The History of the Awaans of Hazara), researched and written by Muhabbat Hasan.
- The various magazines, pamphlets, and other documents published by the Ahmadiyya Organization
- Specially commissioned articles for Hayat-e-Saeed.
- The Foreword of Hayat-e-Saeed is from one of Doctor Saeed Ahmad’s own writings.
To state a truism, devotion to the Urdu language has undergone a significant downturn in our present era. With that in mind, the narrative of this biography has been purposefully composed with simplicity of presentation in mind: All Farsi verses of rhyme, as well as Arabic inscriptions, are accompanied by translations. Nonetheless, I am acutely aware that until a time that Hayat-e-Saeed has been translated into English, the majority of the Ahmadiyya Organization’s members won’t be able to benefit from it.
Colonel Muhammad Shaukat relates that, a few days after Doctor Saeed Ahmad had passed away, he saw Doctor Saeed Ahmad astride a horse, dressed in white clothes. Colonel Muhammad Shaukat was told that he (Doctor Saeed Ahmad) is the Qutab (i.e. lodestar.) Allah alone knows the spiritual status of Doctor Saeed Ahmad, but there is no doubt that his life can be likened to the guiding star which a traveler can turn to in order to get their bearings and direction.
I began this work on September 1, 2001 in a room on the second story of our mosque next to Darus Saeed in Abbottabad (Pakistan.) Where the luxuriant greenery and verdure of the Habiba Mountain to the west brought refreshment to the mind, I also couldn’t help but be impressed by recollections of the numerous luminaries of the spiritual firmament whose foreheads had—in prostration—reverentially touched and graced the floor of this very mosque. And then, moving forward in time, the completion of this biography took place in the peaceful and spacious residence of my daughter Nasreen and her husband Waheed, the residence being surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the Canadian city of Calgary where, between July 2011 and July 2014, I completed more than two thirds of this biography.
In addition to providing the needed background details for this biography, the relevant books, numerous articles, and various other documents, its organization, typesetting and publication, I was supported at every stage by all my sisters and brothers as well as other dear ones: What you hold in your hands—this biography, Hayat-e-Saeed—is the result of that collective effort. Yes, the casting of the narrative into words has been my fortunate duty, but I can categorically state that this could not have been achieved had my dear ones not placed their confidence in me, encouraged me, and prayed for me as well as for the accomplishment of this work.
In addition, my lack of familiarity with modern typesetting practices and publication technologies could have posed a stiff challenge were it not for the help of my brothers: This area was tremendously facilitated by my brothers, in particular by my brother Brigadier Muhammad Saeed who took on full responsibility in this area, sacrificing his precious time, sparing neither day nor night. In this way, I feel justified in declaring the presentation of Hayat-e-Saeed as the joint effort of all the children of Doctor Saeed Ahmad. And it is with this in mind that I wish to share the following spiritual vision, one which Doctor Saeed Ahmad himself had seen:
February 16, 1981,
That evening, and sometime after I had woken up from a dream, I witnessed a momentary vision in which, before me in my present bedroom, stood an almirah with its door flung wide open and whose shelves—and this is different from the current state of said almirah—are filled with books. All the books, as I witness them, are immaculately organized and present a sanctified presence altogether. And I sense that this superb work of organization was accomplished by one of my daughters. The scene was an especially pleasing one. In the almirah—I observed—there was nothing else but the books.
It is entirely possible that what I’m about to share may be my wishful thinking, but I cannot help but contemplate that the above-mentioned vision of my blessed father was perhaps a hint toward this work of mine, one of sorting and organizing—the chapters and indeed entire books which span his life—into a unified whole, into a narrative spanning the details of his life, and ultimately into the book you hold in your hands. At any rate, the above-mentioned vision is a source of immense personal satisfaction. And it is my fervent wish that if this biographical work, my humble efforts, be acceptable as worthy to Allah, then may He forgive me my faults and my shortcomings, and to indeed make me of those who are not left bereft of His rewards. Amen.
All praise is due for Allah, the Lord of the heavens and of the Earth. (Holy Quran—36:45)
July 15, 2014
Al-Ramadan 17, 1435
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