Amtus Shakoor Tayyaba Ahmed Sahiba
From a Mother’s Perspective
My mother, Sajida Hameed was fortunate to have grown up in the family of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him). This was due to her father’s marriage to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’sra daughter, after her own mother Qanita passed away due to illness. She particularly used to mention how blessed and fortunate she had been to receive prayers in two moments of her life by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra and also by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadra, who later became the 4th Caliph of the Promised Messiahas, when she was a college student.
Just a few days before Syed Taalay Ahmed was born, she rang me from the UK to tell me of her dream that I would have a baby boy whose hands she had seen raised up from a cradle and who clearly said the words, ‘Assalam Alaikum’. She also saw the words Allah in Arabic and God written in English on a blue card. Thus it was my mother brought me the good news of my son just before he was born, MashaAllah.
It has taken me some time to be able to write this as this article has a special significance for me personally. I hope and pray that by sharing a very personal and true story, readers will InshaAllah be inspired to build a closer relationship with Allah the Almighty and the teachings He sent to us to make us better people.
Taalay’s own story began in Lahore, Pakistan in the year of 1989, when, shortly after the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at’s centenary in March, I, a newly married young woman, found out I was expecting a child. It had not been long since the Waqf-e-Nau scheme had been launched by our beloved Hazrat Khalifatul- Masih IVra, and so my husband and I wrote to him requesting that our baby could be accepted into this blessed scheme.
Alhumdolilah, Allah was Kind, Loving and Merciful and on February 9th 1990, a day that does not seem so long ago to me, Taalay was born. It was a Friday; the day that spring was celebrated in Lahore by the flying of kites. Taalay was a beautiful baby and loved by his whole family including his paternal grand-parents, Syed Muhammad Ahmad (son of Dr Mir Muhammad Ismail sahib) and Amtul Latif Begum (daughter of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad). Taalay’s grandmother looked after Taalay and me wonderfully.
First interaction with Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IVra
The first interaction I remember of this young Waqf-e-Nau child with the Khalifa of the time was in the spring of 1990, when I visited my parents in Hartlepool, in the North-East of England. Huzoorra would visit our home as my parents were busy in many Tabligh activities at the time. There were often gatherings of women and men and they would ask questions to Huzoorra.
Although I do not remember exactly the reason for Huzoor’sra visit on this occasion, I do remember Taalay was just a few months old, sleeping in his pram in our dining room. Huzoorra was discussing which of my mother’s children was most intelligent — Huzoorra suggested one name and my mother another. Eventually, Huzoorra accepted her opinion over his own but pointed to the little baby in the pushchair saying, ‘But he will be even more intelligent than him!’
One of the qualities of Taalay from a very young age was his keen interest in matters relating to faith and religion. Indeed, when he was three years old, he began learning small chapters from the Holy Quran and I remember my mother was surprised at how much he had learnt. He was also able to converse on many topics that most three-year-olds would not, such as the topic of Tabligh. Although I am sure my conversations were made in an age-appropriatee manner, it was his keen interest and concentration on the subject that surprised me.
Another quality that I remember keenly is his kind heart and concern for others when he was quite small. I remember when he was two or three years old I would tell him to tidy up his toys and be sometimes annoyed at the mess, as is the case with most children that age, he would make.
One day, however, I was to learn an important lesson from him. By accident I had hoovered up one of his toys and had let out a surprised shriek when the toy cracked as it was gobbled up. Taalay came running into the room, asking me if I was okay, and showed no concern for the toy. Instead, all his concern was to find out that I was alright. I felt embarrassed that every day I would tell him off about his toys and that day, when I had broken his toy whilst cleaning, he only had concern for me.
Moving to the Middle East and beyond
Once Taalay entered our lives, worldly and spiritual blessings arrived with him. Only three weeks after his birth, his father moved to Abu Dhabi for work and we joined him a few months later. Taalay was only around 2 years and nine months when we enrolled him into nursery part time. His first task, therefore, was to learn English, as we spoke Urdu with him at home. Within a few months he had gained a large vocabulary and could make long rhyming patterns with his teacher.
My mother passed away when Taalay was nearly 5 years old and we migrated to Hartlepool from our home in Abu Dhabi to be close to my father and to be closer to our beloved Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IVra.
Favourite childhood stories.
Taalay remembered his early childhood years and has recorded in personal correspondence that when he was only about three, I would sometimes tell him bedtime stories that were incidents of the life of our dear beloved Master the Holy Prophetsa. Taalay’s enlightened mind absorbed the stories as if he could see the incidents happening before him and so the Holy Prophetsa became his greatest hero.
However, when he was a little older — perhaps when he was five or six — on the way to school one day he was discussing the life of the Holy Prophetsa with me, when he suddenly realised that the Holy Prophetsa was no longer in this world. He became worried and scared, before carefully asking, is Huzoor (meaning Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IVra) still alive? Upon hearing that he was, he felt relief and happiness that at least one of his heroes was still alive.
Looking back, it is apparent that the deep love of the Holy Prophetsa bestowed by Allah the Almighty on Taalay developed, by Allah’s Blessing, into a love for Khilafat at a very young age.
Deep interest in Early Islamic History
It was around this age that one of the incidents from the times of the Holy Prophetsa became a favourite of Taalay’s — that of Hazrat Bilalra. In pre-Islamic times, it was commonplace to keep slaves who had no rights or freedoms and had no choice but to serve their masters as they were told to.
When Hazrat Bilal, of African descent, and other slaves like him heard the teaching of equality in Islam, that all people — men and women, rich and poor, old and young, Arab and non-Arab — had the same basic human rights, he was moved. His heart had believed this all along and now a teaching had been sent from God Almighty to this wonderful, peaceful, kind and wise man, Hazrat Muhammadsa. There was no other equal in nobility and character to him. Hazrat Bilalra, of course could not help but accept this true teaching and he became a Muslim.
Not long after, his cruel master Ummayya heard the news that his slave had accepted the man he considered an imposter. He demanded that Bilalra renounced his beliefs and accept Umayya’s false idols.
When Bilalra refused, the punishments began. Bilalra was dragged around the hot dusty Meccan streets by young vagabonds, his body scratched and sore, only to be brought back injured and thirsty to his master so that large boulders could be placed on his chest to burn his back in the molten sands of Arabia. However, no matter how Umayya tried to get his slave to worship idols, Bilal, gasping for breath, would only utter the words, “Ahad! Ahad!” (meaning Allah is One, Allah is One)
Once, as some injury was being inflicted upon Bilalra, Hazrat Abu Bakrra passed by and offered to pay Umayya for the slave, Bilalra. Umayya asked for a price, which was paid by Hazrat Abu Bakrra, who added that he would have happily paid ten times more.
Taalay heard this incident many times and as a young four or five year old, when I would ask what the response from our dear Hazrat Bilalra was when being coerced to worship idols, Taalay would respond passionately with the words, ‘Ahad!’ ‘Ahad!’.
Taalay’s Truth Serum
After beginning the Qaedah Yassarnal Quran (Arabic learning lessons) seriously at about three years, Taalay began reading the Holy Quran when he was about four and a half. He completed his first reading of the Holy Quran a day before his seventh birthday. I can remember that when he would read the Holy Quran, afterwards he would tell me what was on his mind and also reveal if he had done any childish action that he knew he wasn’t supposed to. I would tease him, “Taalay, the Holy Quran is a truth serum for you!”
A special incident aged 10 years
As we had moved to Hartlepool in the UK in 1995, we were able to spend time close to my father, late Dr Hameed A Khan, with whom Taalay had a strong bond. This was demonstrated by an incident a few weeks before my father’s demise, when he was quite unwell. He called Taalay by his side in his armchair and told him he would recite Surah Yusuf, which contains the incidents relating to the life of Hazrat Yusufas in particular. I remember the scene, Taalay, a young boy of 10 years, listening intently as my father recited the surah with translation and perhaps some commentary, all the while with tears trickling down my father’s face.
Although I remember this incident distinctly, its impact I realised many years later. On one occasion in 2017, when Taalay’s sister was visiting his marital home in London, he gathered his family members together and then very emotionally proceeded to recite Surah Yusuf beautifully with translation and commentary, a special gift perhaps for his family during her visit.
When Taalay was 13 years old, I sent him to Pakistan for about two and a half months so that he could spend time in Rabwah, learn about this special place, and learn some Urdu too. His father gave him some diaries to write facts in about the elders from the family of the Promised Messiahas, so that he could learn the history and importance of belonging to this family. Taalay did write a few facts but also wrote a daily diary, which was extremely entertaining and enjoyable, about the interesting incidents and friendships he made whilst in Pakistan. Although it is difficult to explain just how witty and funny Taalay could be, an uncle has told us that one day Taalay exclaimed that when he grew up he would open a Pizza Hut restaurant in Rabwah! His uncle remarked gently that as he was a Waqf-e-Nau, would this be appropriate? Upon this Taalay responded — yes! It will be a Pizza Hut Langar khana!
Young Waqfe Nau
Growing up, Taalay enjoyed his Jama’at related activities such as Ijtemas or sports fixtures and participated regularly, often winning prizes. He was particularly successful gaining prizes in categories such as English speech. His enthusiasm was obvious to all. Once I was given feedback by an observer that he had never seemed so happy as he was at the National Waqfe Nau Ijtema!
Blessings of Islam Ahmadiyyat on a young man
There are two outstanding incidents from Taalay’s teenage years that remind us that it is only the blessings and protection of Allah that can one keep away from bad influences. For this it is of course necessary to pray – and keeping a close connection to Hazrat Khalifatul-Masihaa is also hugely beneficial, MashAllah.
The first incident is related to Taalay’s election as Head Boy at English Martyrs’ Sixth Form College. One of the main duties of being Head Boy was welcoming students to the annual party held for his class. That year the party had been organised at the local nightclub in the early evening. Although we did not permit Taalay to go to such places, he explained to me that as head boy it was his duty to go for a short while to welcome his class, after which he would return home and avoid the rest of the function.
What happened made my heart leap with gratitude to Allah the Almighty. Taalay arrived to welcome his class only to find the whole class waiting outside the nightclub. Even though the booking had been made for sixth formers, there was a rule that anyone under the age of 18 years could not enter the nightclub. As it happened only 4 of the students there were over 18 and so the whole class waited whilst further legal permissions were sought.
Taalay took full advantage of this time, saying hello to all his classmates and sharing witty comments and jokes with them whilst they waited. After half an hour or 40 minutes Taalay’s duty had been completed and he was able to return home Alhamdulillah, having been saved from even setting foot in the nightclub. It was only after he had left that the other students were allowed in! Allah the Almighty had protected him from a poor environment.
The second incident relates to the start of Taalay’s first year at university. He had gone quite far away to Queen Mary University London and was happy to have made a friend there named Alan. They were on the same course and were able to help each other with organising their studies. However, Alan would also attend parties and often requested Taalay to join him, requests which he would politely decline.
It was one evening in late October that Taalay rang me whilst travelling on the tube. He explained that to pacify Alan (just this once) he had finally agreed to go with him to attend a social gathering, at least for a short while. However, a little while earlier it occurred to him that today was a day when Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaa would meet some extended family informally at his home, and so he had impulsively jumped on the tube and set off towards Masjid Fazl in Southfields. It was only once he was on his way that he remembered Alan’s invitation. He would make apologies later, he chuckled happily. Thus it was that when Taalay had planned to attend a University party, his love for Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaa prevented him. Alhamdulillah.
Care for parents as a young Waqfe Zindagi
As a young adult, Taalay cared deeply about us and would have concern that we should not be overburdened with costs, and similar worries, in any way. Once serving as a life devotee, he would always take care about expenses because he did not wish to waste any money that belonged to the Jama’at. One small example is that he would always keep the heating on low in his flat in London. He was very content with all material things that Allah blessed him with and quite simple in his overall outlook.
His concern for his parents was such that he would worry that his father was having to pay more than needed for bills. So one day, at his insistence, we rang our energy company and another insurance company, perhaps car insurance. I think we saved £1100 that year due to these phone calls — advice given to us by a caring son. Alhamdulillah.
Doting Husband and Dad…
As a brief example of Taalay’s attitude of consideration to his wife I shall mention a conversation we had a few weeks before his martyrdom. Someone was discussing a couple where the husband decided on all the furniture and decoration in the family home. Taalay was somewhat startled to hear this, commenting that he did not interfere with his wife’s furniture and room setting choices as she was the one who spent much of the time at home so it should be more according to her comfort and taste than his own.
As a young father Taalay showed a great deal of attention and love towards his son Talal and daughter Zainab, often phoning or messaging us with the latest news of their developments. For example, I could hear the happiness in his voice when on one occasion, (mentioned in Untold Narrations – by Syed Taalay Ahmed Shaheed (mta.tv), Huzooraa picked up Talal, when he was I think only two or three years old, took him into his office and gifted him with chocolates. When Talal showed good manners and behaviour in any such family meeting with Huzooraa, Taalay would be delighted and he would ring us to tell us happily what had happened, MashaAllah.
He would be pleased at any good habit of his children, such as when Talal first learnt Surah Fatiha or when he made progress in reading at school. Although Zainab was so young when he was martyred, she had a strong bond with her father, and he would mention this to me.
Taalay himself was a naturally gifted student by the Grace of Allah and gained 5 A stars and 7 As at GCSE in an average state school. Due to his academic abilities, I had encouraged him to become a doctor. However, as it was later to become apparent, Allah the Almighty had a perfect plan and Taalay very fortunately spent most of his adult years in London near to Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaa, who guided, inspired and trained Taalay both morally and spiritually so that he became a dedicated and loyal life devotee Alhamdolillah. May Allah Bless Huzooraa bountifully, as only He can, Ameen.
Thus, Taalay was instrumental in encouraging all his siblings academically. His younger brother Adil, recollects how Taalay coached him for several hours one night before his GCSE History exam, a subject he was struggling with. Much to the surprise of his teacher, Adil gained an A grade result. He encouraged both his sisters in their University applications, redrafting personal statements with a flair few could match. Taalay and my daughter in law also welcomed his sister into their home whilst she studied for her degree at London University, an exceptional sacrifice for a young couple to make. Most encouraging with religious learning efforts, Taalay sent his youngest brother a gift of £30 when he completed his first reading of the Holy Quran. Having a good understanding of age appropriate reading interests, during lockdown he sent his nine year old brother, ‘Horrible Histories’ and ‘Horrible Science’ book sets. May Allah continue to shower Taalay and his family with manifold blessings Ameen.
The Miracle of Four Days without a Shepherd2
In his Friday Sermon of 3rd September 2021, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (May Allah be his Helper) graciously described much of Taalay’s work as a Waqf-e-Zindagi (life devotee). There is one documentary that, from start to finish, seemed to me like a miracle.
My recollection begins on the date of May 27th 2018, on our way home from Nasir Mosque in Hartlepool from our local Khilafat Day meeting. Taalay rang us, and excitedly detailed how Abid Khan sahib, Director MTA news, had mentioned his draft documentary to Huzooraa. Upon this, Huzooraa asked for it to be played and then not only watched the whole documentary but also suggested the final title including the word, ‘Shepherd’. It struck me as a huge and unique honour for Taalay that Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaa, watched his documentary about Khilafat on the day marked annually as Khilafat Day. Later, upon viewing the programme, I found it amazingly inspirational. It recorded this historical event with expertise, covered the subject matter in depth and expressed the emotions of the Jama’at at that time with great insight and maturity, MashaAllah.
The Moon of the Prophets
Taalay’s last MTA documentary, The Moon of The Prophets – MTA Documentary Special , was as yet unpublished at the time of his martyrdom. It was about the blessed middle son of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, a true devotee of Khilafat. He was blessed by Allah the Almighty to write a wonderful biography about the Holy Prophetsa, The Life and Character of the Seal of the Prophets, and he spent his life in the service of Islam Ahmadiyyat. The message was that if we have a familial relationship to the Promised Messiahas or even if we are not physically related, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad was a shining role model in obedience and devotion to Khilafat e Ahmadiyya and any one of us would do well to follow him in this, by the Grace of Allah.
To Allah we belong and to Him we return…
Taalay was 31 and a half years old at the time of his martyrdom. In his last few months, I noticed especially how much wisdom, knowledge, kindness and forgiveness he had gained and I was looking forward to sharing whatever life Allah granted us with this special son.
On the night of his martyrdom, I dreamt that I was in my mother’s home (her name was Sajida Mubashira — meaning one who prostrates and gives good news) and she was holding a baby of a few months old who leapt into my arms, making me so happy. However, no sooner had the baby come to me than it turned and returned to my mother as I continued with some kitchen jobs.
By the Will of Allah the Almighty it was thus that my late mother, who had informed me many years earlier of Taalay’s arrival, was letting me know that it was time for him to return to his Lord, Allah.
انا للّٰہ و انا الیہ راجعون
The dedication of Taalay as a young life devotee by the Grace of Allah has been recorded in greater detail in the blessed Friday sermon of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaa on the day of Taalay’s funeral3. Undeniably there is no better way with which to end, as I began, than with the words of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaa, who was so gracious and kind in his Friday Sermon 3rd September 2022,
‘He was a diamond which has now departed from us. May Allah the Almighty continue to grant the Jamaat such people who are loyal, have a sincere and dedicated relationship with Khilafat, and give precedence to their faith over worldly matters.’ Ameen
1. Virtual mulaqat with Midlands Khuddam 5.9.21 (45.25 mins)
2. (Four Days Without A Shepherd [MTA Documentary Special] – YouTube
3. (Syed Taalay Ahmed : A man true to his commitment (alislam.org)