Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's Obituary in The Times
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Khan.
The death occurred at Lahore on May 26 of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Khan, who was widely known throughout India as the founder of the Ahmadiyah schism in the Moslem world, by which he announced himself not only the Mahdi, but also the Messiah of his generation.
The Mirza, who had attained his 70th year, was the jagirdar, or owner, of the village of Quadian, in the Gurdaspur district, and was of Mogul descent, his family having migrated to the Punjab from Samarkand in the reign of Baber. He was formerly in the Government service, but resigned some years ago to devote himself to vigorous canvassing of his claims. The Rev. Dr. Griswold, of Lahore, carefully studied the Ahmadiyah movement, and embodied his researches in a book in which he spoke of the Mirza as "venerable in appearance, magnetic in personality, and active in intellect." Maintaining a printing press and a book depôt, this teacher of strange doctrines wrote many theological works, and conducted two newspapers, one in Urdu and the other in English, in advocacy of his creed. He asserted that Jesus, though crucified in Palestine, did not die there, but travelled East, and eventually died in the city of Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Adopting the doctrine of repeated manifestations of the Messiah, he taught that, while Jesus was the Messiah of Moses, he himself was the Messiah of Mahomed, and claimed to have been sent by God to bring back the true faith, corrupted alike by Jews, Christians, and Moslems. He professed to have foretold many events and to have wrought even more wonderful works than Jesus. This teaching was regarded as heretical and blasphemous by orthodox Mahomedans, but the followers of the Mirza included not only the unlettered, but also many men of high standing and good education.
The Mirza's claim to have some 70,000 or 80,000 disciples was undoubtedly much exaggerated, and though the last census returns as to the number of adult male adherents were probably below the actual figures, Dr. Griswold's estimate, made soon after the publication of official figures, of a total following of 10,000 cannot be regarded as illiberal. The Indian ferment of the last two or three years, however, has been religious and social as well as political, and under these favourable conditions the Quadian sect is likely to have made considerable advance. Should it decay and disappear now that its prophet has passed away, it will be mourned neither by the Moslem community as a whole nor by the Government. Though the Mirza was emphatic and sincere in his professions of the compatibility of his propaganda with complete loyalty to the British raj, such eccentric cults in India have in them possibilities both of sectarian strife and bloodshed and of political disaffection. That the movement has been entirely peaceful and law-abiding may be placed to the credit of its founder, who has been well described by Dr. Griswold as self-deceived rather than insincere. At the time of his death he was arranging for the establishment in Lahore of a society to promote harmony and good-will between Hindus and Mahomedans.