Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Promised Messiah & Mahdi
The founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, alayhe salam. His father's name was Mirza Ghulam Murtaza and his mother’s name was Chiragh Bibi (lady of the lamp). His grandfather was Mirza Ata Muhammad (d.1814), and his great grand father was Mirza Gul Muhammad (d.1800).
Hadhrat Ahmad (AS) belonged to the Birlas branch of the respectable Mughal family. The surname of this family is Mirza that is why all members of this family use Mirza as their surname. Mirza Hadi Beg was the forefather of this family who migrated to India in 1530 from his hometown Samarqand with two hundred others during the reign of Mughal King Zaheer al-Din Babur. They settled along the Beyas river in the Indian province of Punjab. Mirza Hadi Beg was appointed Qazi (judge) with jurisdiction over seventy villages around Qadian. He founded a village called Islampur, later the name changed to Islampur Qazi Majhi, which over time was shortened to Qazi Majhi, then only Qazian, finally changed into Qadian.
Qadian is situated about 112 km north east of Lahore, in district Gurdaspur, in the Indian province of Punjab. In this holy town was born Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (AS), the holy founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. He spent most of his life in this town.
The family of the Promised Messiah (AS) was given high official posts in the Mughal administration. When the central Mughal government in India lost its grip, the family was able to make itself independent and ruled over 95 km of territory around Qadian. However, during the Sikh rule, the family lost territorial rights, and much of the territory was taken over by the Sikhs.
The situation was so bad at one time that the family had to take shelter for sixteen years in the state of Kapurthala. The family settled subsequently in Qadian during the reign of Maharajah Ranjeet Singh. (1780-1839). Under the British rule, they were granted the property rights in Qadian and the suburbs.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, peace be on him, was born on Friday February 13th, 1835 at dawn in Qadian. He was born after a twin sister Janat who died a few days later. A tutor was assigned in 1842 for his early education. He learnt the Holy Quran and a few elementary Persian books from this tutor. Later on he was coached in Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Philosophy, and Logic by two other tutors.
When he was seventeen years of age, his father who was an experienced Hakim (doctor) gave him lessons in natural medicine. This instruction gave him elementary knowledge of Persian and Arabic languages. This was the extent of his basic education. No tutor provided him formal education in religious subjects, however he gained some knowledge on his own by reading religious books. Reading and pondering over the teachings of the Holy Quran was his favorite hobby early on from his childhood.
Hadhrat Ahmad’s childhood was carefree and righteous. Despite the fact that he was born in a well-off family, he always avoided spending time in useless sports. No doubt he did take part in useful and productive sports, for instance he had learnt swimming, & horseback riding at an early age. His simple, fine habits made an impression on everyone. When he was a child, a revered personage Maulvi Ghulam Rasool admiringly remarked:
“ If anyone deserves to be a prophet in this age, this lad indeed should be one”. (Hayate Tayyeba, page 14)
In 1852 he was married to the daughter of his maternal uncle, Hurmat Bibi. This was his first marriage, from this union he was blessed with two sons. His first son Hadhrat Mirza Sultan Ahmad (1853-1931) was a high ranking official in the British administration. He entered into Baiat (covenant of allegiance) at the hand of the Second Caliph. The second son Mirza Fazal Ahmad passed away in 1904 at the age of forty-nine.
Although he was married, he spent most of his time in solitude, meditation, and devotional prayers. His father wanted him to find an occupation, but this was not to Hadhrat Ahmad’s taste. His father lovingly called him a Maseetar, one who enjoys spending time in Divine worship in the mosque. However, being a loyal son, and in order to see his father happy, he would attend court cases in connection with their family estate.
In 1864 he went to Sialkot and started the job of a Reader in a law-court where he stayed for four years. As the job was contrary to his disposition, he would spend most of his time in the study of the Holy Quran, prayers, study of religious books or engaged himself in debates with Christian missionaries of the city.
In 1868 he resigned from his civil service job after receiving instructions from his father and returned to Qadian. Unfortunately his mother passed away before he could reach Qadian, but he bore the loss with strength.