Mirza Ghulam Murtaza
|Mirza Ghulam Murtaza|
Aqsa Mosque, Qadian, built by Ghulam Murtaza and adjacent to his grave.
|Occupation||Rais, physician, military personnel|
|Mirza Ghulam Murtaza|
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, a Punjabi chieftain over the fortified hamlet of Qadian. His predecessors had originally exercised authority over a large semi-independent territory comprising over seventy villages neighbouring Qadian and had quasi-familial ties with the Mughal Emperors. With the insurgency of the Ramgharia Sikhs 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 with 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 return for military support. In around 1834-5, a further five villages out of his ancestral estate were returned to him. In 1849, when the Punjab first encountered the British, Ghulam Murtaza remained loyal to the Sikhs. However, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he 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.
Ghulam Murtaza fought in several places including the frontier of Kashmir. 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. In 1849, he remained loyal to the Sikh Empire. However, during the 1857 rebellion, he supported the British by supplying horses and enlisting many Sowars (horse-soldiers) in the British forces.
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 Haider. He was married to Chiragh Bibi, the sister of Mirza Jamiat 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 is also said to have been 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.