Mirza Ghulam Murtaza
Mirza Ghulam Murtaza
Aqsa Mosque, Qadian, built by Ghulam Murtaza. His grave is adjacent to the mosque.
|Burial place||Qadian, India|
|Occupation||Rais, physician, military personnel|
Mirza Ghulam Murtaza
|Years of service||between 1818 and 1849|
Mirza Ghulam Murtaza (Urdu: مرزا غلام مرتضى) (c.1791 – June 1876) was an Indian nobleman, physician, military officer, and father of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement. He belonged to a family of landed aristocracy within the Mughal Empire that lost its estate to the Sikhs during the 18th century, and only a fraction of which – including Qadian, the family’s ancestral seat – he was able to regain from them. He was mentioned in some detail by Sir Lepel Griffin in The Panjab Chiefs, a survey of the Punjab’s aristocracy. Ghulam Murtaza was married to Chiragh Bibi and had three surviving children.
Chief of Qadian
Mirza Ghulam Murtaza was the son of Mirza Atta Muhammad, the chieftain (Raʾīs) of the fortified village of Qadian. His predecessors had originally exercised authority over a large semi-independent territory of some sixty square miles comprising over seventy villages neighbouring Qadian and had quasi-familial ties with the Mughal emperors. Atta Muhammad was entitled to a seat at the Durbars (courts) of the Mughal emperor. His grandfather, Mirza Faiz Muhammad was conferred the title of Azādud Daulah (Strong Arm of the Government) by the emperor Farrukhsiyar and the rank of Haft Hazārī enabling him to keep a regular force of 7,000 soldiers.
With the insurgency of the Ramgharia Sikhs, however, during the 18th century, the decline of the Mughals, and lacking any practical support from Delhi, the family saw a steady loss of its estate until, by the time of Atta Muhammad’s death, Qadian, the last remaining stronghold, had also come under the control of the Sikhs and merged within the Sikh Empire. The family was expelled and lived in a nearby village for sixteen years until, in 1818, Ghulam Murtaza was allowed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to return to Qadian in exchange for military support. This he did by joining, alongside his brothers, Ranjit Singh's army and engaging in campaigns in several places. In 1834–5, a further five villages out of his ancestral estate were returned to him by Ranjit Singh. During the Anglo-Sikh wars, the family remained loyal to the Sikhs. The wars ended, however, with a British victory resulting in the dissolution of the Sikh Empire and bringing the Punjab under British control in 1849. During the last days of the Sikh rule an abortive effort was made by some Sikhs to kill Ghulam Murtaza and his brother Mirza Ghulam Muhyuddin in Basrawan, near Qadian, where the two had been confined by them, but they were eventually rescued by their younger brother Mirza Ghulam Haidar.
During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 Ghulam Murtaza actively supported the British and provided military assistance to their forces. Subsequently, he spent much of his time and fortune trying to regain his properties through litigation in the Colonial courts but to no avail. The British accepted his claim over Qadian and some neighboring hamlets, but refused to recognise his ownership of the five villages returned to him by Ranjit Singh and did nothing about the rest of his ancestral estate. Various British generals commended, through letters, the role of Ghulam Murtaza and his brother in helping put down the rebellion and the British Government granted him an annual pension of 700 rupees.
Ghulam Murtaza fought in several places including Kashmir, Peshawar and Multan.. Ranjit Singh annexed Kashmir in 1819 following the Battle of Shopian and his forces took Peshawar in 1823 at the Battle of Nowshera, though Ghulam Murtaza's role in these battles is unclear. In the reign of Sher Singh, he was in the army command structure. In 1841, with a general he was sent to Mandi and the Kullu Valley. In 1843, he was the commander of an infantry regiment which was sent to Peshawar. He also fought in Hazara in 1848 and was successful in putting down a rebellion. He also sent his men under his brother's command and quickly gained a good reputation as an able chief and commander. The Sikh Empire came to an end following the Second Anglo-Sikh War and the British annexation of Punjab in 1849. During the 1857 rebellion, Ghulam Murtaza and his brother supported the British by supplying horses and enlisting fifty Sowars (mounted troopers) in the British forces at their own expense.
Family and personal life
Mirza Ghulam Murtaza’s ancestors shared tribal affiliation with the Mughal rulers of the Indian subcontinent. He had four brothers: Mirza Ghulam Muhammad; Mirza Ghulam Mustafa; Mirza Ghulam Muhyuddin; and Mirza Ghulam Haidar. He was married to Chiragh Bibi, the sister of Mirza Jami'at Baig of Aima, a village in Hoshiarpur. They had six or seven children (exact count unsure) several of whom died in infancy. The names of the surviving children were: Murad Begum (daughter); Mirza Ghulam Qadir (son); and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (son). Ghulam Ahmad was born a twin with a sister named Jannat who died a few days after birth.
Ghulam Murtaza was also a notable physician, having studied medicine at Baghbanpura and Delhi, but accepted no payment for his medical treatments. He once declined an offer of an award comprising the rents of two villages by the chief of Batala in return for his medical services on the grounds that the two villages once belonged to his ancestral estate and could not be accepted in this way. He was also a poet using as his nom de plume (takhallus) the name Tahsin. In his last days he built the Aqsa mosque which was oversized at the time and directed in his will that he be buried in a corner of its precincts where his grave can still be found today.
- Khan 2015, pp. 22–23.
- Sir Lepel H. Griffin (1865), The Panjab Chiefs, Online: apnaorg.com. pp.381-2
- Dard 2008, pp. 33.
- Adamson 1989, p. 14.
- Khan 2015, p. 22.
- Adamson 1989, p. 13.
- Dard 2008, p. 9.
- Dard 2008, pp. 13–14.
- Adamson 1989, p. 15.
- Dard 2008, p. 15.
- Dard 2008, pp. 17–20.
- Dard 2008, p. 23.
- Friedmann 2003, p. 2.
- Dard 2008, pp. 13–16.
- Dard 2008, pp. 17–18.
- Dard 2008, p. 20.
- Adamson 1989, p. 18.
- Dard 2008, pp. 22.
- Dard 2008, pp. 22–24.
- Adamson, Iain (1989). Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. Elite International Publications. ISBN 1-85372-294-4.
- Dard, A.R. (2008). Life of Ahmad: Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement (PDF). Tilford: Islam International. ISBN 1-85372-977-9.
- Friedmann, Yohanan (2003). Prophecy Continuous: Aspects of Ahmadi Religious Thought and Its Medieval Background. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-566252-0.
- Khan, Adil Hussain (2015). From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-01529-7.