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Auto(biography) Section > Biographies > Hafiz Sher Muhammad -- A Great Champion of Islam -- by Choudry Masud Akhtar

Hafiz Sher Muhammad -- A Great Champion of Islam:
by Choudhry Masud Akhtar
(originally published in 1990; minor revisions by Zahid Aziz, June 2005)

The little town of Khushab nestles in the foothills of the Salt Range in Punjab, Pakistan. A pious agriculturist from an Awan family of Sunni Muslims living in this town was worried for lack of a male progeny. Besides agriculture, his family was seriously engaged in imparting religious instructions to the Muslims residing in that area. They were staunchly Mawahid (believers in One God) and had built their own first mosque of Ahl-i Hadith in Khushab. His father and father-in-law had completed their religious education at the Deoband Dar-ul-Uloom and were highly respected in their area for their learning and piety. Although he had two daughters, but without a male progeny this important work could not be continued in the next generation. So like Hazrat Zakaria he prayed for a son and promised Allah that if He were to grant him a son, he would devote his sibling to the service of the faith. Allah accepted his prayer and Hafiz Sher Mohammad was born in response to this prayer and compact with Allah.

Hafiz sahib’s father fulfilled his covenant with Allah. He took particular care to pass the family heritage of religious learning to his only son. When he was four years old, he was required to learn and recite the Holy Quran. Recognizing that the child had a very sharp memory, he was given in the charge of a teacher to make him a Hafiz (one who memorizes the whole of Quran). Instructions in other matters pertaining to Islam were daily conducted at their own mosque by his father and grandparents.

Young boy Sher Mohammad on his way to and from his class of memorizing the Quran noticed that a shop­keeper, who was an Ahmadi, was always busy in reading some book or other. Inquisitiveness one day made him ask what books were these which he kept studying all the time. The shopkeeper told him that these were the writings of the Promised Messiah and the Promised Mahdi. After a few years when Sher Mohammad was about twelve years old, he asked the same shopkeeper to lend him some books. He refused to lend the books but agreed to allow him to read the books in one part of his shop. Maulana Sher Mohammad used to tell his friends that at age twelve after reading some books of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad he was convinced that Hazrat Isa (Jesus) was dead according to the teachings of the Quran and the belief that he has risen alive to heavens is not supported by the Quran. He discussed this matter with his father and after some time with his grandfathers and was able to convince them with the arguments advanced by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement about the death of Jesus.

When he was fifteen or sixteen years old, he appeared in the Maulvi Fazal examination of the Punjab University which was an examination in Arabic language and literature. After Maulvi Fazal, he was sent to Lahore where he completed the Dars-i Nizami at a Dar-ul-Uloom in Ichhra, Lahore. Dars-i Nizami is considered to be the highest course of study in religion and religious philosophy and qualifies a person to teach post graduate students in these areas. He was offered a job as Khateeb and Imam in charge of a mosque at Mozang, Lahore. This mosque was of Sunni Muslims of Barelvi school of belief. Hafiz sahib having been brought up in an Ahl-i Hadith family could not fit in with the Barelvi practices and resigned after a week and returned to his home town Khushab.

Now having proper educational background, he once again started reading books of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and ultimately was convinced that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement was a true claimant of being the Promised Messiah and the Promised Mahdi and Mujaddid of the 14th century hijra. But he still had his reservations about employing the term nabi and nubuwwat by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. The Ahmadi shopkeeper who belonged to the Qadiani (now Rabwah) group of Ahmadis invited Maulana Sher Mohammad in December 1938 to accompany him to their Annual Jalsa at Qadian. He agreed. Hafiz sahib used to narrate his encounter with the scholars of Qadiani Jamaat, saying that everyone who came to talk to him would start with the issue of the death of Jesus. He told them time and again that he believed according to the Quran and Hadith Isa was dead and he was seeking a solution to their riddle of nubuwwat. Not satisfied by their explanations, Maulana Sher Mohammad told his friend, the shopkeeper, that he will not join their Jamaat till some one gives him a satisfactory explanation for the word nabi and the doctrine of nubuwwat followed by them.

On his way back from Qadian, Hafiz sahib was waiting for a connecting train at the Lahore railway station when he met a petty landlord of his area whom he knew to be a Lahori Ahmadi and who was waiting for the same train with his family. On his enquiry as to what he was doing there, Hafiz sahib told him the story of his visit to Qadian. That gentleman invited Hafiz sahib to seek explanation of his queries from Maulana Muhammad Ali. Both postponed their journeys home and went to see Maulana Muhammad Ali at Muslim Town, Lahore. On Hafiz sahib’s enquiry, Maulana Muhammad Ali advanced reasons for the continuation of the wahy-i-wilayat, the type of revelation received by saints in Islam, giving points of difference between it and wahy-i-nubuwwat, the revelation exclusive to prophets which is closed after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. On the point of the use of the word nabi, Maulana Muhammad Ali informed him that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement always prefixed a qualifying word or term to the word nabi and as a matter of principle a qualifying word or term changes the meaning of the term to which it is prefixed. Thus the words majazi nabi, lughwi nabi, zilli nabi, buruzi nabi etc. do not mean prophethood but something other than prophet or prophethood. Sufis have coined these terms to indicate wilayat (sainthood) and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement has used these terms in the very meanings in which other Sufis used these. In a few minutes the whole matter became crystal clear to Hafiz sahib. None asked Hafiz sahib to join the Lahore Jamaat and he returned to Ahmadiyya Buildings guest house. During the night he lay awake thinking about the logic and rationale of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s explanation and by the morning he had made his decision. That day he took pledge at the hands of Maulana Muhammad Ali and joined the Lahore Jamaat of the Ahmadiyya Movement. He returned to Khushab and announced it to his family members and friends.

After a few months he returned to Lahore to join a class for preparation of missionaries for the propagation of Islam. His other classmates in this course were the late Maulana Shaikh Muhammad Tufail, Captain Abdul Wajid Khan and Mr. Sepoy of South Africa who later became Imam of a mosque at Durban, South Africa. Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din and Maulana Ahmad Yar Khan were teachers of this missionary class. After completion of the course, Hafiz sahib returned to his home town Khushab but was soon summoned to Lahore by Maulana Muhammad Ali and sent as a missionary in a village (Chak 84) in District Sargodha. He worked there for many years. In this village Hafiz Sher Mohammad had debates with the missionaries of the Qadian section which necessitated a complete mastery of the writings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. Hafiz Sher Mohammad in due course of time came to be recognized as an authority on the writings and beliefs of the Founder of the Movement.

He was transferred to Lyallpur in 1949 as missionary in charge of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Lyallpur where he worked till 1953. During the 1950’s, he was editor of a monthly magazine Ruh-i-Islam which was published by some members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement from an office in the Mall Road, Lahore. Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi was the Chief Editor. The team of these two great research scholars of Islam presented to their readers articles of very high standards and their magazine became very popular amongst the scholarly class of Muslims in Pakistan. Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, who was an authority on comparative religions, and Hafiz Sher Mohammad, who was an authority on inter sectarian differences of the Muslim Umma produced, and published materials of very high educational value for scholarly as well as common Muslims.

After the closure of Ruh-i-Islam in the late fifties, Maulana Sher Mohammad returned to Lyallpur as missionary in charge where he, amongst other matters, engaged in debates with Rabwah Jamaat scholars and Sunni Maulvis. He came to be recognized as a brilliant debater commanding great respect and admiration even from his adversaries. He knew what was relevant to the issue under debate and also had knowledge and references of all material for and against certain point at issue. This necessitated locating, buying and storing thousands of books and magazines in various languages which he did by spending money out of his own pocket. He had thousands of books in his library which he had stored in his house in Khushab and carried with him many books of day-to-day use wherever he lived. A large number of his books were confiscated by the Pakistan Customs in 1985 when these were being brought back from South Africa where Hafiz sahib had appeared as an expert witness in the case Ismail Peck versus the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa. The judgement and the evidence tendered by Hafiz Sher Mohammad has been published in book form under the title The Ahmadiyya Case.

In the 1960’s when Idara Talim-ul-Quran (an institute for the teaching and study of the Quran) was established by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, Maulana Sher Mohammad was appointed a professor in that institute. This institute was later closed due to lack of funds and Hafiz sahib returned to Lyallpur as missionary.

In the 1970’s Hafiz sahib was given charge of the Fiji mission where he replaced his one-time teacher Maulana Ahmad Yar Khan. Hafiz sahib’s services will be remembered in Fiji till the Ahmadiyya Mosque at 12 Bau Street, Suva exists. Through his strenuous efforts, the land was transferred in the Anjuman’s name and he raised funds world over for the building. He used to speak on Radio Fiji on various Islamic topics, delivered Dars-i-Quran in various parts of the country and started publication of the periodical Paigham-i-Haqq, wherein scholarly articles on Islam were published both in English and Urdu. During his stay in Fiji, he also published his book La Nabi Ba‘di (‘No Prophet after Me’) in Urdu. Various chapters from this book have since been rendered into English by Dr. Zahid Aziz and Ch. Masud Akhtar. During his stay in Fiji, Hafiz sahib was called upon to appear as an expert witness in the Supreme Court of Cape Town, South Africa, in 1984 and 1985, to represent the Ahmadiyya viewpoint of Islam, as mentioned above. As a result of his evidence the court declared that Ahmadis are Muslims and have a right to have and enjoy all the rights which other Muslims in South Africa enjoy.

Ill-health made him relinquish charge of Fiji Mission after the 1985 South Africa case. However, in 1986 he visited Fiji as a delegate to the Ahmadiyya Convention.

In spite of ill-health, Hafiz Sahib again returned to South Africa in 1987 for appearing as an expert witness in the case Sheikh Muhammad Jasiem versus Sheikh Nazim Muhammad and MJC. He stayed there for about ten months working day and night for that case. He was in such poor health that originally Hazrat Ameer [Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan] had refused to send him. He had an enlarged heart, had already suffered a number of heart attacks and at that time was not fit for travel. In spite of that he arrived in South Africa. At the time of his arrival, he was still running a high fever.

In 1987, in his absence, he was elected Vice-President of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, an office which he held till his death. During 1989-90, he had been in and out of the hospital but his health kept failing. Ultimately Allah chose for him the paradise of the next world and released him from the suffering of his frail body. He breathed his last on October 12, 1990, surrounded by his wife and family in his home town Khushab. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji‘un!

Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad was not only a religious scholar but had deep interest in Urdu, Arabic and Persian literature. He was a very widely read person. He was very hospitable. He lived like a Sufi, shunning worldly gains and comforts and living on bare necessities. He did not believe in having double standards in life, therefore, was a very frank and outspoken.

Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad was a great admirer of the Promised Messiah and Maulana Muhammad Ali. It was his love for the Promised Messiah which gave him strength to work day and night for ten months in South Africa not caring in the least for his poor health. Vindication of the Promised Messiah’s honour was his passion and by the grace of Allah he was successful in achieving his object. Twice he got judgements from the Supreme Court of Cape Town, South Africa, declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a righteous Muslim.

May Allah bless the soul of Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad with eternal peace. Ameen.

This page was printed from the 'Official Website of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at-e-Islam Lahore (Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam)'
located at
http://aaiil.org or http://www.aaiil.org

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