Early life of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

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Mīrzā Ghulām Aḥmad (13 February 1835 – 26 May 1908, or 14 Shawal 1250–24 Rabi' al-thani 1326 AH) was a religious figure from India who founded the Ahmadiyya movement.

Birth and childhood (1835–1853)[edit]


Ahmad was born on Friday, 13 February 1835 (14th Sahwal 1250) in Qadian, now India. At that time, the Sikh Empire was under Maharaja Ranjit Singh's rule. Ahmad was, through his ancestors that moved from Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan) of mixed Turkic and Mongolian descent.[1] His direct ancestor that eventually settled in the subcontinent, Mirza Hadi Baig, was a descendant and member of the Mughal Barlas tribe.[2] The Barlas tribe was of Turkic and mixed Mongolian ancestry.[3] His birth as a twin has been seen as the fulfillment of a prophecy regarding the Mahdi by Ibn Arabi, a Muslim saint. Ahmad had four siblings, including a twin sister (Jannat, who later died). Three years before his birth, Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Shah Ismail Shaheed were killed. Ahmad was born during the era of Christian influence in India, which was supported by the British Raj.[4]

Education and sports[edit]

Ahmad was considered a diligent student, whose studies included medicine. He received his basic education between the age of six and eighteen from teachers belonging to different Islamic sects, including:

First vision[edit]

Main article: Muhammad

As a student, Ahmad had a vision of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a dream. He later wrote about this experience, which was recounted in the History of Ahmadiyyat.[6]

Early married life (1850–1854)[edit]

Ahmad was married to his paternal cousin, Hurmat Bibi. They had two sons:

  • Mirza Sultan Ahmad (1853–1931)
  • Mirza Fazal Ahmad (1855–1904)

Unlike his elder brother, his marriage was conducted according to Sharia. Following his marriage, Ahmad concentrated on his studies and remained in solitude.

Preparation for religious service[edit]

Ahmad wished to perform religious service. At age 16 he read Christian books, concentrating on their allegations about Muhammad (which he estimated at about 3,000). At this time, the London Missionary Society commanded its workers: "We had a belief that happiness of coming of a redeemer should spread among the people with the start of Christian government so that a powerful and progressive movement should come in the favour of Christianity."[7]

Quran study[edit]

Main article: Quran

Ahmad began studying and meditating on the Quran; he read books by Islamic scholars, wanting to demonstrate the truth of the Quran and Islam to their opponents. He also read books from other religions, such as Hinduism and Christianity. His extreme dedication made him ill. His hair turned white at an early age, and he suffered from headaches and diabetes.[8]


Ahmad's friends were young orphans, whom he taught and with whom he ate. During this period, he also fasted.[9]

Legal matters (1854–1863)[edit]

In Ahmad's youth the British defeated the Sikhs, ending the Sikh Empire. The Punjab become part of the British Raj, and the estates of the local nobility were seized by the British. Qadian was also seized by the British, with little compensation. Mirza Ghulam Murtaza loved Qadian because it was the birthplace of his ancestors. He spent Rs. 70,000 on litigation in British courts to win back the estate back, but won only one case. Ahmad and his elder brother assisted their father, Ahmad for 17 years. He was less enthusiastic about the legal battles than his father and brother.

Case preparation[edit]

Ahmad diligently prepared the casework travelling to Amritsar, Batala, Gurdaspur, Lahore and Dilhozi.[10] He tried to win the cases honestly; his father once had a quarrel with others over a patch of woods, sending Ahmad to Gurdaspur with two witnesses. He told his companions that his father should give the land to the people living on it, who trusted him. In court, when Ahmad made his statement the magistrate decided in favour of the people. When they returned to Qadian, Ahmad's father became angry at the result and denied him food (although his mother provided it). Ahmad moved to Batala, returning to Qadian when he fell ill.[11]


Ahmad's son, Mirza Sultan Ahmad, said that being a Mughal meant being poor. A man from Qadian, Kinya Lal Siraf, turned to Ahmad for help with an injustice. He travelled to court on horseback with two companions, sharing his food with the poor. Ahmad observed salat, and remembered Allah.[12]

Sialkot and dawah (1864–1867)[edit]

His father worried about Ahmad's future because of his religious fervour, sending him to a job in Gurdaspur. Ahmad disliked it, returning after one day. He was then sent to a better post in Jammu, which he held for a short time. In 1864 Ahmad obtained a position in Sialkot, seeing the misfortunes of its people.

In Sialkot, Ahmad lived with about 15 other people when the roof of the house collapsed and he was saved. One day during a thunderstorm, lightning entered his room. He was uninjured, but lightning struck a person in a Sikh temple.[13]

Government job[edit]

Ahmad did his job according to Sharia, emulating the prophet Joseph. His superintendent, Sehij Ram (an opponent of Islam and Muhammad), taunted Ahmad about his religion for four years. The Hindu was transferred to Amritsar as a commissioner, and Ahmad related his death in one of his books.[14]

Return to Qadian[edit]

Due to his father's poor health, Ahmad left his job in Sialkot. His mother died after an illness on 18 April 1867, and was buried in the family plot.[15]

After Sialkot (1867–1871)[edit]

Ahmad worked for his father after returning from Sialkot, declining an educational position in Kapoorthala. He appealed to his father to remember Allah and to turn from worldly affairs.


Maulvi Muhammad Hussein of Batala, who became a key opponent, was a former colleague. Around 1868 Ahmad was brought by a man as a representative of the Hanafis to debate with the Ahl-e-Hadith and was a cause of embarrassment and outrage after he affirmed the motion presented by the opposing party even before the actual debate had begun.[16] Ahmad also successfully debated Christians,[citation needed] and helped Munishi Nabi return a scholar from Christianity to Islam.[17]


  1. ^ Adil Hussain Khan. "From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia" Indiana University Press, 6 Apr. 2015 p 21
  2. ^ Adil Hussain Khan. "From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia" Indiana University Press, 6 Apr. 2015 p 21
  3. ^ Adil Hussain Khan. "From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia" Indiana University Press, 6 Apr. 2015 p 21
  4. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 1 (in Urdu). Gurdaspur, India: Nazarat Nashro Ishaat Qadian-143516. 2007. pp. 48–654. 
  5. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, p. 55.
  6. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, p. 57.
  7. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, p. 63.
  8. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 65–66.
  9. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, p. 67.
  10. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 65–71.
  11. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 72–73.
  12. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 76–77.
  13. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 81–82.
  14. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 83–84.
  15. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 101–103.
  16. ^ A.R. Dard, (2008), Life of Ahmad Surrey: Islam International, p.54-5
  17. ^ History of Ahmadiyyat 2007, pp. 111–115.


  • History of Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 1 (in Urdu). Gurdaspur, India: Nazarat Nashro Ishaat Qadian-143516. 2007. 
  • S. R. Valentine, Islam & the Ahmadi Jama'at: History, Belief, Practice, Hurst & Co, London, New York, 2008, passim.