Mirza Tahir Ahmad
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Mirza Tahir Ahmad (Urdu: مرزا طاہر احمد) (18 December 1928 – 19 April 2003) was the fourth caliph (Arabic: خليفة المسيح الرابع, khalīfatul masīh al-rābi) and the head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He was elected as the fourth successor of the founder of the community Mirza Ghulam Ahmad on 10 June 1982, the day after the death of his predecessor, Mirza Nasir Ahmad.
|Mirza Tahir Ahmad|
|Caliph of the Messiah|
Masih IV in 2000 in the UK
|Reign||10 June 1982 – 19 April 2003|
|Predecessor||Mirza Nasir Ahmad|
|Successor||Mirza Masroor Ahmad|
|Born||18 December 1928|
Qadian, Punjab, British India
|Died||19 April 2003 (aged 74)|
|Spouse||Asifa Begum (m. 1957–1992)|
|Father||Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad|
Following the Ordinance XX that was promulgated by the government of Pakistan in 1984, which prohibited Ahmadi Muslims from any public expression of the Islamic faith, Tahir Ahmad left Pakistan and migrated to London, England, provisionally moving the headquarters of the community to the Fazl Mosque in London. He is noted particularly for his question and answer sessions which he held regularly with people from around the world and for his Quranic discourses. Under his leadership, there was an acceleration in the number of Quran translations produced by the Community; and during his caliphate, the Community experienced structural and financial growth on an international level, including the launch of the first Muslim satellite television network, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya in 1994 through which he could communicate televised messages to the Community globally and have his sermons and other public engagements transmitted throughout the world through this medium.
Tahir Ahmad also authored many books including, Some Distinctive Features of Islam; Christianity: a Journey From Facts to Fiction; Murder in the name of Allah, and his magnum opus Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth. He initiated various funds for humanitarian causes such as the Maryam Shaadi Fund, used to assist deserving parents in marrying off their daughters, the Sayyidna Bilal Fund, for the welfare and upkeep of the families of martyrs who have been killed in the cause of the Community and the Yatama Fund to provide financial assistance to orphans especially in Africa, India and Bangladesh. In 1994, he also initiated the international charity organization Humanity First.
Mirza Tahir Ahmad was born in Qadian, Punjab on 18 December 1928 to Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad and Syeda Maryam Begum. He obtained his early schooling in Qadian and joined the Government College, Lahore in 1944, a few months after the death of his mother, Syeda Maryam Begum. After graduating with distinction from Jamia Ahmadiyya (Theological Academy) in Rabwah, he continued his education and obtained his honours degree in Arabic from the University of Punjab, Lahore.
In 1955 he visited England for the first time with his father, who advised him to remain there to improve his knowledge of the English language and become familiar with European social habits. He studied for two and a half years at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University, but returned to Pakistan in December 1957 without having graduated. During his stay in London Tahir Ahmad visited different parts of the United Kingdom including Ireland, Scotland, Wales and also some parts of Western Europe.
Upon his return in 1957, Tahir Ahmad married Asifa Begum and was appointed the vice president of the newly established Waqf-e-Jadid Foundation, whose main task was to educate community members who lived in rural areas of Pakistan. He also started treating poor people with homeopathy.
During the Pakistani parliamentary investigations regarding the status of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a delegation of five members, including Tahir Ahmad, was sent to plead the community's case. Shortly after, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was declared non-Muslim by the Pakistani National Assembly, which remains the constitutional and legal position of Pakistan as of 2014[update].
The Majlis Intikhab Khilafat (Electoral College), convened at Mubarik Mosque in Rabwah, Pakistan, elected Mirza Tahir Ahmad as the fourth successor to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and head of the community on 10 June 1982.
Ordinance XX and migration to LondonEdit
Ordinance XX, the anti-Ahmadiyya legislation passed by General Zia ul Haq's government on 26 April 1984, compelled Tahir Ahmad to leave Pakistan immediately. On 26 April he summoned an emergency conference of the Majlis e Shura (Consultative Body) at 10 pm. This session included key members of the Caliph's advisory council and high office bearers of the Community. After the emergency session of the Consultative Body it was suggested that the Community members should not deliver the Adhan. The following day it was suggested that Tahir Ahmad should not deliver the Friday Sermon as that would entail a violation of the Ordinance in some form or another and that perhaps this was the plan in having passed the ordinance on the Thursday before the Jumu'ah. However he did not initially accept this until he found it to be the unanimous advice of the local presidents of the Community who had made their way to the centre the following day. The Jum'uah service was led by Muhammad Bashir Shad in the presence of the Caliph. By then he had decided to migrate from Pakistan temporarily. He privately made efforts for this purpose by setting up a private committee for the operation consisting of Mirza Mubarik Ahmad, Dr. Mirza Munawwar Ahmad, Brigadier Wakihul Zaman Khan, Masood Ahmad of Jhelum (responsible for facilitating the booking of flights), Chaudhrey Hamid Nasrullah Khan (Ameer Jamaat of Lahore) was instructed to arrange for cars and drivers, Chaudhrey Ahmad Mukhtar (Ameer Jamaat of Karachi) was instructed to arrange for the Caliph's short stay in Karachi and departure from the airport. The Caliph departed along with his wife, 2 daughters and 17 others on the morning of 29 April on a KLM flight to London via Amsterdam. He reached London on 30 April, eventually moving the headquarters of the community to London during his years of exile.
Return to IndiaEdit
In 1991 Mirza Tahir Ahmad returned, as caliph, to Qadian, India, from where the movement originated, in order to attend the 100th annual gathering of the community being held there. This was the first time an Ahmadiyya caliph had returned to Qadian since the partition of India in 1947, when the community relocated from India to Pakistan.
Muslim Television AhmadiyyaEdit
As Khalifatul Masih Mirza Tahir Ahmad established the Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (commonly referred to as MTA). This satellite-based channel broadcast its first show on 21 August 1992 from London. It started with a weekly one-hour program, transmitting Ahmad's Friday sermon.
Today, MTA broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is watched by millions of people on five continents, and consists of three channels. Every Friday, broadcasts still include Khalifatul Masih's Friday sermon, simultaneously televised into six languages. Important events of the Community are also televised in most major languages around the world.
In 1993 Mirza Tahir Ahmad started an international initiation ceremony to be held every year at the annual gatherings of Ahmadis in which new converts join the community by pledging their allegiance to the Khalifa. The International Bai'at ceremony was broadcast live across the world. He often claimed that this was the historical fulfillment of the Pentecost that was destined to occur at the time of the Second Coming.
Marriage, children, and familyEdit
Mirza Tahir Ahmad married Asifa Begum in 1957. They had 4 daughters, Shaukat Jehan, Faiza, Yasmin Rehman Mona, Atiatul Mujib Tooba and one daughter who died in infancy. He had no sons but later he took on the upbringing and educational training of a boy, Bashir. Asifa Begum died from pancreatic cancer on 3 April 1992.
Mirza Tahir Ahmad died in London on 19 April 2003 from heart failure. The newly elected Caliph Mirza Masroor Ahmad, as the Khalifatul Masih V, led the funeral prayer on 23 April 2003, attended by over 40,000 people from around the world. The fifth caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is his nephew, the son of one of his sisters.
Writings, speeches and Q&A sessionsEdit
Question and Answer SessionsEdit
Mirza Tahir Ahmad regularly held question and answer sessions both with Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis from around the world. Since his migration to England, separate sessions were held in Urdu and English and in addition to these, since the launch of the satellite TV channel MTA in 1994, separate sessions were held – through translators – with Arabic, French and Bengali speakers. Towards the end of his life these question and answers were held almost on a daily basis. Sessions in Urdu called Majālis-e-Irfan were usually held on Fridays.
Tahir Ahmad delivered annual in-depth commentaries on the Quran during the month of Ramadan. He incorporated lengthy discussions of previous commentators as well as the founder of Ahmadiyya and the Ahmadiyya Caliphs that came before him. In addition, he discussed the lexicon of the Quran and refuted many Orientalist ideas about the historicity of the Quran, Islam and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. His commentaries differed significantly from those offered by many of the classical Quranic commentators, placing emphasis on the logical and rational approach to the Quran. For example, he did not believe it was essential to rely heavily on Asbab al-nuzul (Circumstances of the Revelation) in order to understand the implications of the Quranic verses, presenting strong arguments instead that the Quran offered its own context. He delivered seven discourses on Asbab al-nuzul. Tahir Ahmad also presented interpretations of the Quranic narrative, using contemporary scientific, archaeological and historical research to support the Quranic accounts of the Prophets' against the Biblical versions and on the nature of miracles in the light of natural and supernatural phenomena. He also argued that the Divine attributes of God are inter-related and not presented randomly but with specific relevance to the subject under discussion. His discourses were delivered in English, however, in 1993 switched to Urdu as it was the first language of his translators. The last of these discourses was delivered in 2001.
Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and TruthEdit
Ahmad wrote a book title Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, which was a further development on a talk he gave in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1987. It covered many topics relating to the present-day world. In this book he argued a rebuttal to the theories of biologist Richard Dawkins. He also argued that Socrates was a prophet of the ancient Greeks, and that several other prominent figures from history were at the level of prophethood due to their accomplishments and their influence.
- Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth – Examines the relationships between science, philosophy and religion
- Sawaney Fazl - E - Omer - Official Biography of Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
- An Elementary Study of Islam
- Gulf Crisis and The New World Order
- Christianity - A Journey from Facts to Fiction – Examines and discusses a variety of current Christian beliefs through logic and reason
- Murder in the Name of Allah
- Zahaqal Baatil (
- Reality of punishment of apostasy in Islam (Urdu)
- Some Distinctive Features of Islam
Islam's Response to Contemporary Issues was originally a lecture given at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London on the 24 February 1990 attended by 800 distinguished guests including Edward Mortimer who presided over the session and Hugo Summerson, Member of Parliament. It has been compiled into book form.
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