Hadhrat Maulana Hakim Nooruddin Sahib (Khalifatul Masih I) was a colossal personality – a talented author, eminent scholar, extraordinary virtuous and a theologian par excellence. Being very well versed in Medicine, he was Royal Physician to the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir for many years. He was born in the village of Bhera in Punjab in 1841. In pursuit of knowledge, he travelled far and wide enjoying the privilege of a four year stay in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
His services in the cause of Islam are unparallel in the annals of Ahmadiyyat. The Promised Messiah has eulogised him in a Persian couplet which is a beautiful testimony in acknowledgement of his dedication and stature.
“How nice it would be if everyone from my followers were Nooruddin. This is possible only when one’s heart is illuminated by the light of truth and firm belief.”
In Qadian, his only pursuit was religious instruction. His foremost concern was to ameliorate the conditions of the poor. Inspite of his limited means of income, generosity pervaded his conduct. He exercised modesty, kindliness, patience and self denial which earned him the affection of all around him. He never ventured out of Qadian or wrote anything without the approval of the Promised Messiah.
Under divine commandment the Promised Messiah initiated the Baiat on 23rd March, 1889 and the very first person who swore the pledge of allegiance was Maulana Hakeem Nooruddin. His devotion and dedication to the Promised Messiah was complete and total.
In 1893, he came to Lahore on some personal errand and decided to pay one- day visit to Qadian which is not far from there. That one day changed the course of his entire life. Back in Bhera he was constructing a vast clinic but on the suggestion of the Promised Messiah, took up permanent residence in Qadian never pondering to return to his ancestral home again, so deep was his devotion and obedience to his preceptor.
The following episode is both interesting and faith provoking. In 1905, the Promised Messiah proceeded to Delhi where his father-in-law, Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib was lying ill. From Delhi, Huzoor sent a telegram to Hazrat Maulana Hakeem Nooruddin Sahib in Qadian to reach Delhi urgently. So great was the Maulana’s perception of obedience and loyalty that he set out for Delhi that very instant from his clinic without any money for railway fare and other expenses. Said he to a friend,
“I deem it a sin to delay a single moment. This is a call from my Master. I put my trust in God to take care of my necessities.”
It so happened that at Batala railway station whence he had to embark the train for Delhi, a well-to-do patient of his came across him. He not only arranged his railway ticked to Delhi, he also made a present of substantial cash.
Hadhrat Maulana Hakeem Nooruddin (Khalifatul Masih I) was a pure and simple man, tolerant, frank and straightforward and truthful. He had excellent qualities of administration and statesmanship. He had a singular faith in God. His trust in Him was noteworthy and very remarkable. The following two illustrations give a glimpse of this aspect.
Once, during his stay at Medina he had no food to eat at night. While he was going to Masjid Nabwi for prayers, a policeman hailed him and took him to his officer who wanted to meet him. The officer had a plateful of sweets with him. These were very delicious and peculiar Indian sweets prepared with the help of an acquaintance, he said, “I thought I would share them with someone from India”. And in this miraculous way, Hazrat Maulana had a nutritious fill.
Quraishi Ameer Muhammad Sahib of Bhera relates:
“I was in the presence of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih when the postman brought a VP parcel for Rs. 16, containing some books. He exclaimed that these were his favourite books fondly ordered sometime back but he had no money to pay for them now. “God has so much compassion for me that I am sure He will send down His beneficence at this moment.” Presently, a Hindu brought his sick child. The Maulana examined him and wrote a prescription. The fellow placed before him a Guinea (worth Rs. 15 then) plus one rupee in gratitude and left.
Hadhrat Maulana at once prostrated in thanksgiving. “I was confident my Lord my Friend will never forsake me. May be the man would not give anything at all since as a rule I do not ask for anything or he would present only one guinea. But my Allah say to it that His humble servant’s needs are met in full.”
After the demise of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Maulana Hakeem Nooruddin (ra) was unanimously acclaimed as his successor on 27th May 1908. He guided the community in this capacity till his death on Friday March 13, 1914.
Some of his outstanding achievements are briefly described here.
He laid the foundation for the institution of Khilafat. He successfully thwarted the designs of a group of power hungry, intriguing and jealous persons albeit a small minority.
English translation of the Holy Quran.
First foreign mission was established in London.
Extensions were carried out to Masjid Aqsa and Talimul Islam High School and Boarding house buildings.
Noor Hospital and Masjid Noor were inaugurated.
A number of publications were started to broaden the propagation activities of the Jamaat. Among them, the “Al Fazal”, and “Noor” from Qadian, “Al Haque” from Delhi and “Paigham-e-Sulha” from Lahore.
The news of his death was carried by papers throughout India and commentaries lauding this illustrious dignitary were written. Notable among them are, “The Zamindar”, and “Paisa” Lahore, “Tabeeb” and “Hamdard” Delhi, “Al Hilal” Calcutta, “Madina” Bijnour, “Wakeel” and “Wattan” Amritsar and “Institute Gazette” of Aligarh.
Maulana Zafar Ali, editor Daily Zamindar wrote:
“Maulana Hakeem Nooruddin Sahib who was a great and erudite scholar passed away on 13th march after a long illness. His demise is a great loss and has created a void in Muslim community. It is said that a genius is born after one hundred years. The departed soul undoubtedly belonged to this grand roll of honour.”
Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal was highly impressed by his erudition and religious proficiency. In 1909 he sent him a list of theological queries to obtain their correct interpretation. He also requested him to issue an Edict (fatwa) concerning the divorce matter of his own wife. The edict was duly acted upon by Dr. Iqbal.
As a befitting epilogue, I quote an excerpt from the Promised Messiah’s book “Fatah-i-Islam” There cannot be more glorious compliment since they come from the Holy Prophet’s vicegerent.
“I must ardently make mention of a brother in faith whose name, so behoving owing to his superb qualities is Nooruddin – The light of the Religion. I envy his zeal and his sacrifices in the cause of Islam. Seeing this enthusiasm, I am overawed by the Glory of the Lord how he exalts the humble beings whom he chooses.”
Every aspect of his life appears to have been governed and coloured by his love for and devotion to God. May each and every member of the community follow the path shown by him. He was a perfect example of a true Ahmadi. May Allah shower His choicest blessings on him.