MGA died abruptly and suddenly on the evening of May 25th, Ahmadi’s lie and claim that he died the following morning at 10am. Nevertheless, MGA died on the property of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain on Brandereth Road, Lahore, British India, Islamia College, which was opposite to Ahmadiyya Buildings, across Brandreth Road (at the future location of Ahmadiyya buildings). MGA left Qadian for Lahore on 27th April 1908 and arrived in Lahore on the 29th. Initially, he was staying at the house of Khwaja Kamaluddin (also on the property of Dr. Hussain), however, after just a few days, MGA moved to a different house of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain, this happened most likely because the women didn’t get along with each other. For holding congregational prayers, the arrangement at that time was that these were held at the open space on which the present Lahori Ahmadiyya Mosque is now situated. A marquee was installed there and thick cotton carpets with white sheets over them were spread on the ground. At the same open ground in the centre of the Ahmadiyya Buildings, where now stands the Ahmadiyya Mosque, Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din used to deliver Dars-i Quran every evening. As was his practice, he would start his exposition right from the beginning of the Quran and continue it till its end. Ever since the MGA came to Lahore, the Muslim’s of Lahore had set up their camp in the lawns of Islamia College, which was opposite to Ahmadiyya Buildings, across Brandreth Road. It being summer time, MGA used to go out in a horse-drawn carriage for outing in the evening with his wife. However, after touring the city of Lahore in the evening, as soon as MGA got home, his final illness began. He died a few short hours later. You can read his death story from Ahmadi sources here.
After MGA died
In 1908 (after MGA died), at considerable cost, Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah completed the expansion of Masjid-i Nur. He also purchased a plot of land on which he built a house in Qadian, which he later gave to the Promised Messiah’s family as a gift. In 1910, he purchased land in the Ahmadiyya Buildings compound, Lahore and got the Mosque built on it. Further, he paid the cost of building a gallery attached to the Mosque for the ladies on land which was donated by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah regularly sent one third of his monthly income to Qadian until 1914, and thereafter to AAII Lahore. Muslim Town was founded in 1915. In 1914, when Maulana Muhammad Ali migrated from Qadian, he lived for a few months in a room on the first floor of Dr Sahib’s home. This was the same room in which the Promised Messiah had stayed during his last visit to Lahore in May 1908 and in which he breathed his last. The Shah sahib built a house adjacent to the Mosque for the residence of the Head of the Community and Maulana Muhammad Ali moved into it and brought his family to live with him. He resided in that home for twenty years until he moved to his own home, which he built in Muslim Town. Thereafter, the next Head,Maulana Sadr-ud-Din resided in that house until he passed away in 1981. The Shah sahib transferred ownership of the house to AAII Lahore as a gift in 1921.
The housing area wherein MGA died
The Author of Tareekh Ahmadiyyat has given a lay out plan in his book. I have marked it as under:-Green circle= ahmadiya building.
Blue circle= Kh. Kamaluddin,s house.
Between two houses is a small gali linked with a bridge from upper portion. Arrow showing Road leading to Railway station. Opposite to both house is Islamia College ground.
Who is Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain?
Coming to the fold of Ahmadiyyat
Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was born in 1878 in Lakki Marwat in District Bannu, North West Frontier Province of India (now Pakistan), where his father, Khan Bahadur Syed Alim Shah, was posted as Assistant Settlement Officer in the Civil Service of the British Government in India. The family actually hailed from the village Kala Chichi in Tehsil (Sub-district) Shakargarh, District Gurdaspur in Punjab Province. Having passed his early years in Lakki Marwat, he could understand Pushto, the lingua franca of that area. He went to school in Scotch Mission High School, Sialkot where, amongst others, Allama Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal was his classmate with whom he had a very friendly relationship which lasted for a whole lifetime. After completion of his education at Sialkot he joined Medical College at Lahore and obtained his L.M.S Degree in 1899. Unfortunately, his father passed away the same day on which the result of the Medical Degree Examination was announced. After graduation, he was employed in the Department of Health Services of the Government of Punjab.
In 1901-02, when Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was posted in Gurdaspur on special duty for the treatment of plague patients, Syed Amir Shah, a cousin of his, who was an Assistant Tehsildar and already an Ahmadi, took him to Qadian to see the Promised Messiah. The Shah sahib, as Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was commonly known amongst his colleagues, friends and family members, narrates the events of his taking bai‘at at the hands of the Promised Messiah in these words:
“Before my visit to Qadian for the first time I was thinking of it as a gaddi (spiritual court), like the gaddies of other pirs, but when I arrived there I had a problem in recognizing Hazrat Sahib as he was sitting amidst other people, so I had to enquire as to who amongst them was the Promised Messiah. This unassuming behaviour of the Promised Messiah registered a deep impression on my mind. A person amongst the gathering asked the Promised Messiah to request his followers to grow beards as most of his followers were clean-shaven. In reply, Hazrat Mirza sahib said that he was more concerned about the hearts of the people, and once those are reformed the beards will automatically follow. After returning from Qadian, I kept thinking that such a person cannot be an imposter and I decided that I should join his Jama‘at (community of followers). So I again went to Qadian and took bai‘at (pledge of allegiance) at the hands of the Promised Messiah.”
Some time later after that the Shah sahib was permanently posted at Lahore. In those days, he, along with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Dr Mirza Yaqub Beg and Shaikh Rahmatullah, used to go to Qadian every weekend to spend time in the company of the Promised Messiah.
The Shah sahib was a devout and pious Muslim and a sincere devotee of the Promised Messiah. From the day he joined Ahmadiyyat he used to give 1/3rd of his income to the Ahmadiyya causes and spent money generously in the cause of religion and other good causes. As a regard of his sincere devotion and sacrifices in the cause of Islam, the Promised Messiah held him in great esteem, and whenever he visited him, the Promised Messiah would stand up in respect to receive him. When the Sadr Ahmadiyya Anjuman was formed in 1905, the Promised Messiah nominated him as a member of its Central Committee, which was the supreme executive body to manage the affairs of the Movement. He held this position until the split in the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1914. Thereafter, he became one of the five founding members of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore.
A renowned but God-fearing physician of his time
Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was a renowned physician of his time. Doctors in the employment of Government were allowed to carry on their private practice after their duty hours and during weekends. During the remaining lifetime of Promised Messiah, both Dr Mirza Yaqub Beg and the Shah sahib used to visit Qadian every weekend at a great monetary sacrifice just to be in the company of Promised Messiah. Even then Allah amply rewarded them and both of them had a lucrative private practice earning them thousands of rupees, a large sum in those days. How renowned a physician the Shah sahib was, is evident from the fact that Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal, in his letters to Bilgrami (a well-known poet), invited him to come to Lahore so that he could take him to Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah for treatment. As a physician, the Shah sahib did not insist upon receiving fees from his patients. Whatever someone chose to pay would be quietly put in his pocket. Many of his patients were poor, and he would see them without any fees and also give them money from his own pocket to purchase medicines and food. He was a saintly person, never hungry for money; instead, he used to spend generously for multifarious humanitarian causes.
A compassionate person
Dr Muhammad Husain Shah was a very compassionate human being who cared not only about the needs of others but also helped them in the matters of their welfare. When he purchased a big chunk of land on Ferozepur Road, which he later developed and named Muslim Town, he built his house on it and also built homes for his near needy relatives who could not afford to build a house for themselves. He built a house for his dispenser, Shukar Deen, and for his other personal servants. He also built a house for Pandit Qadir Baksh, a Brahmin convert to Islam. He transferred the ownership of these buildings in their names. He not only brought them to live near him but also paid for their education, arranged and bore the expenses for their marriages and even purchased agricultural lands for them in Khanpur District and Bhopal. Amongst others, the parents of Begum Zeenat Fida Husain and Colonel Amjad Husain, father of Syed Mushahid Husain and Syed Mutahir Husain, are examples of such beneficiaries. This was not limited to his near relatives. He helped many other Muslim students, without any distinction of being an Ahmadi or not, in obtaining higher education. The late Hameed Nizami, who after independence became the Publisher-Editor of Pakistan’s well-known daily newspaper Nawa-i-Waqt, was an example of one such beneficiary. Mr. Nizami was treated like a family member and he kept this relationship with the Shah sahib’s offspring until his death.
Dr Muhammad Husain Shah was also a big supporter and benefactor of the Anjuman Hamayat-i Islam and was a member of its Board of Directors for a long time. This Anjuman was created for the promotion of education of Muslims of the Punjab Province, and established and ran the Islamia College, Lahore and many other high schools for Muslim boys and girls.
In 1918, the Government approached the Central Anjuman (AAIIL) with the offer that it was willing to release some revolutionary Muslim youths who were detained for their enthusiastic anti-Government activities provided the Anjuman agreed to reform them and channel their energies towards the propagation of Islam work. As a result of this move, Muhammad Iqbal Shadai and Syed Mustafa Kamil were handed over to the AAII, Lahore. The Shah sahib took Iqbal Shadai into his personal care and he lived in his house in Ahmadiyya Buildings for a couple of years. Thereafter, in 1920, when the Hijrat Movement started, he migrated from India and after obtaining a doctorate degree from a European University became well known in the Muslim world as Dr Iqbal Shadai. Dr Shadai held the Shah sahib in high respect and always remembered him respectfully as one remembers his own father.
Murree Hills was the summer capital of the Government of Punjab. In those days, non-government civilians were not allowed to visit Murree. When the Shah sahib first came to Murree in the summer of 1924 he learnt about the poverty of the common man residing in villages and gali jats surrounding Muree. These people were living in a constant state of starvation, and tuberculosis (TB) was rampant in the area. Most of the land, being hilly or with thick forests, was not cultivatable, hence these people had no proper means of income. The population of the area was predominantly Muslim. Tthe Shah sahib not only rendered them free medical treatment but also paid for the cost of medicines in addition to giving them money for nutritious food to help them recover. He was so moved by the miserable economic conditions of those people that he hosted a meeting of land owners of the area along with the officials of the Agriculture Department, the Revenue Department and the Department of Cooperative Societies and urged upon them the need of advancing money to these poor landowners to purchase seedlings and plant fruit trees on the slopes of their land to bring them some income. Many of the fruit gardens of that area are the remnants of the Shah sahib’s efforts in that regard.
Furthermore, many of the Shah sahib’s patients were suffering from TB. During the summer months he used to send them to an infirmary in Simla. Many of them would return to him in Murree complaining that the doctors in Simla, the majority of whom were Hindus, did not pay proper attention to the treatment of Muslim patients till payment of gratification. Since many patients in the area surrounding Murree too were also suffering from TB, therefore the Shah sahib felt the need to building a clinic in that area. He talked to government officials as well as landlords of the area but to no avail. Ultimately, he decided to go it alone. In 1928, he purchased 25 acres of land in Samli near Murree to build a clinic. When the transfer documents for the land were yet to be signed, his son, B.H. Syed, who was a final year medical student, advised him to rethink the decision. B.H. Syed (who later became Colonel Dr B.H. Syed and retired as Director of Health Services, Government of West Pakistan) asked his father to consider that since he was about to retire from service in two years and he, B.H. Syed, was still in medical school, where the money will come from to finance such an expensive project. He went on to say that people establish non-profit corporations or trusts for such undertakings and his father was planning to go into this project alone and finally he pleaded that his father rethink rationally as there was still time to walk out of the deal. In reply, Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah said, “My son, I too have a ‘trust,’ a very reliable ‘trust.’ When the son enquired as to which and where was that trust, the Shah sahib responded: “Muhammad Husain has a trust with Allah, and whenever I decide to undertake a project for the betterment of mankind I just do it with my best intention, then Allah Himself provides the means because betterment of mankind is Allah’s own job which He takes care of.” So the deed was signed. A clinic was established with the Shah sahib’s own income from his medical practice and after independence it was handed over to the Government of Pakistan by the Shah sahib’s descendents and today it is the largest hospital in Pakistan where more than 350 beds are available for the treatment of TB patients. The Shah sahib was right. Allah is taking care of it.
He excelled in hospitality
Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was a very hospitable person. During his last visit to Lahore in 1908, the Promised Messiah, along with his family, was staying in the Shah sahib’s house in Ahmadiyya Buildings. A large number of people were coming to visit him and everyone was served food and refreshments. During this period the Shah sahib’s wife kept busy the whole day in getting food prepared for guests and visitors so much so that the Promised Messiah said: “Our stay has caused much inconvenience to our daughter” (referring to the Shah sahib’s wife).
After the split in the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1914, when the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (AAIIL) was formed, Maulana Muhammad Ali was staying in a room in the house of the Shah sahib until a house was built for him adjacent to the Ahmadiyya Buildings Mosque. Maulana Muhammad Ali moved into this house and brought his family there.
Maulana Abdul Haque Vidyarthi, along with his family, was living in another room on the ground floor of the Shah sahib’s house. Another room on the ground floor was being used as the Anjuman’s office as there was no office building yet. Another large room on the ground floor was being used as guest house where beds for 25-30 persons were provided and the Shah sahib had detailed a personal servant whose duty it was to look after the needs of guests. The food for guests was supplied and prepared from the Shah sahib’s home.
In the beginning there used to be 50-60 persons for Maghrib prayer who all dined together in the Mosque afterwards. This food too was prepared in the Shah sahib’s home, after which Isha prayers were offered and then people would disperse to their homes. Later, food would be prepared in turn in the homes of Maulana Muhammad Ali, Dr Mirza Yaqub Beg and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din.
Even when Dr Muhammad Husain Shah had moved to his new home in Muslim Town, there still used to be 40-50 persons joining him in partaking food at dinner time. Taking dinner in the company of his friends, family members and his other relatives or even those whom he was helping financially or otherwise had become second nature with him. This was a real sense of community based on the teachings of Islam.
The Shah sahib’s great passion for tableegh
Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah had a deep passion for tabligh (propagation) of Islam. While visiting a patient, if some religious matter was asked by the patient or his family, the Shah sahib used to spend hours disseminating the true teachings of Islam, quite forgetting that he still had to visit and see other patients. During his service he used to preach Islam to his European bosses and he was much respected by them for his high moral character and knowledge in the field of religion. Many of his near relatives became members of the Jama‘at as a result of his propagation work.
When the decision was taken in 1910 during Maulana Nur-ud-Din’s time to open a mission in England, Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah offered his services for the mission and got approval for an extended period of leave from his job in spite of the fact that his family and close relatives were opposed to the idea. However, on other grounds, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was allowed to go to England where he established a mission in London in 1912, which was shortly afterwards, in the summer of 1913, moved to Woking.
When Dr Ambedekar, a political leader of the Untouchables (low caste Hindus), announced that due to the inhuman treatment of the untouchables at the hands of Hindus, the untouchables had no option but to embrace other religions where they may be treated more humanly, Christian missionaries gained a lot of converts. the Shah sahib got a month’s leave from his job and, taking Maulana Sadr-ud-Din along, went to Bombay for propagation of Islam amongst the untouchables.
Some pagan tribes in the Punjab Province, who were descendents of the original population of India and who had taken refuge in thick forests at the time of the arrival of the Aryans in India, were living in various districts of the Punjab after these forests had been cleared for the making of irrigation canals during British Rule. They were called Sansi and were not allowed to live in settled areas. Many of them lived in Montgomery District (now Sahiwal District). The Shah sahib initiated an Islamic propagation mission in that area and simultaneously he took up the matter with the District and Provincial Administration for recognition of their fundamental human rights, especially their right to live in settled areas rather than moving around as nomads. His efforts bore fruit and a large number of them converted to Islam. Maulvi Shafqat Rasul, who was later a missionary of AAIIL in Fiji, was a son of the headman of this tribe who had embraced Islam.
His services for the cause of Ahmadiyyat
Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah regularly sent one third of his monthly income to Qadian until 1914, and thereafter to AAII Lahore. In addition to that, he generously donated funds on appeals for various projects of the Anjuman:
- In 1908, at considerable cost, he completed the expansion of Masjid-i Nur. He also purchased a plot of land on which he built a house in Qadian, which he later gave to the Promised Messiah’s family as a gift.
- In 1910, he purchased land in the Ahmadiyya Buildings compound, Lahore and got the Mosque built on it. Further, he paid the cost of building a gallery attached to the Mosque for the ladies on land which was donated by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din.
- In 1914, when Maulana Muhammad Ali migrated from Qadian, he lived for a few months in a room on the first floor of Dr Sahib’s home. This was the same room in which the Promised Messiah had stayed during his last visit to Lahore in May 1908 and in which he breathed his last. The Shah sahib built a house adjacent to the Mosque for the residence of the Head of the Community and Maulana Muhammad Ali moved into it and brought his family to live with him. He resided in that home for twenty years until he moved to his own home, which he built in Muslim Town. Thereafter, the next Head,Maulana Sadr-ud-Din resided in that house until he passed away in 1981. The Shah sahib transferred ownership of the house to AAII Lahore as a gift in 1921.
- In 1914, the AAII Lahore was founded and the Shah sahib was made its Financial Secretary. There were not many members at that stage and it meant starting from scratch. Expenses for all the projects of the Anjuman at that time were mostly borne through the financial sacrifices of the Shah sahib, Dr Mirza Yaqub Beg and Shaikh Rahmatullah.
- The Shah sahib obtained a large parcel of land for abadkari (making cultivable) in Khanpur District in Bahawalpur State. When, after clearing the forest, it was made cultivable, the State granted rights of permanent ownership. At that stage the Shah sahib not only got share of ownership for his near relatives but also created a Waqf (Trust) of 25 acres in favour of AAII Lahore, wherefrom the income was received annually by the Central Anjuman.
- When the Shah sahib purchased quite a large section of land by the Canal Bank on Ferozepur Road, Lahore to be developed into a Muslim town, he reserved 10 acres in it to be called Ahmadiyya Basti, wherein land was offered to the members of the Jama‘at at a nominal price. Only Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maulana Abdul Haque Vidyarthi, Maulvi Murtaza Khan, Master Faqirullah, Deputy Muhammad Sadiq and Ch. Rahmat Khan Bahadur built their homes there, while many others sold out the land at a higher price.
- The Shah sahib also built amosque in Muslim Town, which was known as Masjid-e-Aisha, in memory of his mother. He also built a well for water supply, wudu etc., and a house for the muezzin, and also created a waqf (trust) of an acre of land in favour of the AAII Lahore wherein the Anjuman later built the Idara Taleem-ul-Quran School for Missionary Training.
- The Shah sahib donated a house and three acres of land to the AAII Lahore in Samli Sanatorium as a gift which the Central Anjuman, after independence, gave as a gift to the Government for expansion of the sanatorium.
- In 1938, the Shah sahib transferred the ownership of his two houses in Ahmadiyya Buildings to the AAII Lahore as a gift. On one of these the Anjuman later built the Promised Messiah Memorial Hall while the other was being used by Maulana Ahmad Yar as his residence.
- The Shah sahib made a waqf (trust) of one and a quarter acres of land in favour of the Anjuman in the Shah Jamal area, Lahore in the name of his wife, Daulat Bibi. This lot was later sold for 48 thousand Rupees and the money was used in the construction of the Promised Messiah Memorial Hall.
- The Shah sahib donated sizeable amounts towards the construction of the building of the Muslim High School in Ahmadiyya Buildings, the construction of the Berlin Mosque, and for the purchase of 1000 acres of agricultural land in Chak No. 6 near Okara (most of this land was taken away by the Government under Land Reforms in 1966). His wife had donated her 40-tola golden bangles towards the construction of the minarets of the Berlin Mosque.
- In 1937, the Shah sahib obtained 15000 acres of land in Bhopal State under the Abadkari Scheme. Out of this he got 1000 acres for himself and his near relatives and 500 acres for AAII Lahore. This required clearing of forest trees. Some work was started on it but neither the Anjuman nor the Shah sahib’s descendents pursued it after his death in 1939. This land was taken over by the Government of India in 1961.
From the above it is evident that Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was one of the main donors of the Anjuman. Allah gave him much money and he spent it in the way of Allah quite generously, never saving for the future. Out of his large income he used to give a few hundred Rupees to his mother for household expenses. After the passing away of his mother he gave this money to his wife and after her passing away, to his daughter. He never asked them for accounts when they told him that the money was finished; instead he would give them more. The rest of the money he used to give to Pandit Qadir Baksh, who served as his banker. Pandit sahib used to spend money according to the instruction of the Shah sahib and when he ran out he would inform the Shah sahib who would give him more. The Shah sahib had so much trust in Pandit Qadir Baksh that he never asked for accounts from him. The Shah sahib did not keep more than five rupees in his own pocket.
A few days before his death on an Eid occasion, when all his family members and near relatives had assembled for celebrating Eid, the Shah sahib addressed them in these words:
“When someone passes away he leaves wealth and property for his descendents, but I am leaving another form of wealth for you and that is our brotherhood which the Promised Messiah made for us.”
He went on to say:
“You may have noticed that whenever I felt sick the members of the Ahmadiyya brotherhood came from far and near to enquire about my health. This religious brotherhood is far superior to other kinds of brotherhood. Such sincere, loving and caring brotherhood you will not find elsewhere. Keep this brotherhood intact. This is a very useful thing.”
The Shah sahib himself was an embodiment of the tradition of this brotherhood. He would always walk an extra mile to fulfil the calls of this brotherhood. Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan recalled an instance to illustrate this character of the Shah sahib, and thus he wrote:
“I was posted at Peshawar in July of 1929. While treating a rabies patient, her sputum fell in my eyes. It necessitated that I receive preventive inoculation. Such preventive injections were administered at Murree. I sent a telegram to the Shah sahib and left for Murree. When I arrived at the Murree bus stop I was surprised to see that the Shah sahib, along with some family members, was waiting for me there. His house was at a distance of about three to four miles from the bus stop. It was located on a hilltop and the whole distance had to be walked up the slope. I was the age of his children and could not believe that he would be so caring as to undertake all the trouble of coming personally to receive me. This left a deep impression of his high moral character on my mind. I stayed in his home for fourteen days and had a chance to see in person the Shah sahib’s virtuous family life, his high moral character, his observances of religious duties, his hospitality and his emotions of brotherhood and sympathy. In fact, the Shah sahib was a very great human being and his pious life was a model for others. Those fourteen days which I passed in the company of that pious person, I will never forget in my life. This is a great and invaluable experience of my life.”
His interest in other movements for the betterment and rights of Muslims
The Shah sahib used to take an interest in the political and social movements of Muslims in India. He was a supporter of the Freedom Movement. When the movement for using locally produced goods was launched by Gandhi, the Shah sahib became its quiet advocate by wearing locally manufactured clothes and also having his family do the same. He was actively engaged in the Anjuman-i Hamayat-i Islam and was one of its major donors. His view about the Freedom Movement was that Ahmadis had to be sympathetic to it but should not actively participate in it. Our job was propagation of Islam, and we should let other Muslims actively participate in politics.
After 1930, when the Muslim League emerged as an active political party, all of the Shah sahib’s sympathies were with that party. The Shah sahib financed Mr. Hameed Nizami and Colonel Amjad Husain Syed (who were students in those days) for publishing a two-page daily newspaper entitled Hurriyat. In this newspaper, and through Mr. Hameed Nizami and Colonel Amjad Husain Syed, the Shah sahib the disseminated the Muslim League political viewpoint.
Return to Allah
The Shah sahib had been suffering from high blood pressure for some years. On 26 April, 1939, during Tahajjud prayers when the Shah sahib was in the state of prostration, he became unconscious. When he did not rise from prostration after a long time, his wife checked on him, and finding him unconscious, sent for Dr Basharat Ahmad who was living in Muslim Town. He tried his best but the Shah sahib did not regain consciousness and ultimately at quarter past eight on the same evening he breathed his last. Inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi raji’on (“We belong to Allah and to Him do we return.”)
The next day a very large number of people, both Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis, joined in his funeral prayer, which was led by Maulana Muhammad Ali.
Webmaster’s Note: The compiler of the above biography, Masud Akhtar Choudry, lived in Muslim Town for many years in his younger days, and has sometimes recounted his personal memories of Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah. This article is taken from the HOPE bulletin of the California branch of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore, April 2008, with some editing by this webmaster.
At this link, see the obituary of Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah in The Light, English weekly of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, April 1939.
Tribute by Maulana Muhammad Ali
At the passing away of Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah, Maulana Muhammad Ali issued a message to the Lahore Ahmadiyya community in its Urdu organ Paigham Sulh, and in his Friday khutba while mentioning the unique personality of the Shah sahib and the services he rendered to the religion he said that, notwithstanding his previous financial sacrifices, the Shah sahib had just now donated property worth 52 thousand Rupees to the Jubilee fund and after that he agreed to give 200 Rupees per month permanently to support the Dutch mission. Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote:
“This high rank of excellence was in fact in fulfilment of the trust that the Promised Messiah had reposed in the late Shah sahib. When the Promised Messiah was informed by Allah of his own approaching death he made an Anjuman as his successor, and while selecting fourteen members for it he picked four from Lahore. These four were: the late Shaikh Rahmatullah, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Dr Mirza Yaqub Baig and the Shah sahib. The excellence and sincerity with which these four carried out the task entrusted to them by Hazrat Mirza sahib seems to be indicated in this Divine revelation: ‘In Lahore are our virtuous members’. These four friends had such passion to serve the Divine religion that they would travel from Lahore to attend every meeting of the Anjuman in Qadian and were always in the forefront in providing financial help. … I held the position of Secretary of the Anjuman. The advice of these four revered friends was a source of strength for me, and their sincerity made a deep impression on me.
This was how, at the beginning of 1906, there began that friendship between the five of us which developed to the stage that we five became, as it were, one mind and heart. Now four of these friends, one by one, have gone to meet their Lord, and even though I see all around me true, sincere and faithful friends in our Jama‘at but after the departure of these four I feel somewhat alone. But ‘Allah is my Friend in this world and the hereafter’.
These four friends have set such a unique example of faithfulness, and of constancy and sincerity in the service of the religion, that it has few parallels today. The Messiah sent by God identified certain virtuous men to carry on his mission after him, and after Maulana Nur-ud-Din these four were the most prominent in this regard who bore the burden of work in practice. They discharged the trust placed upon them by the Promised Messiah so faithfully that they ever kept on making progress in the way of Allah.”
(Paigham Sulh, 4 May 1939, p. 3)
Respected by Allama Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal
In the book Makatib Iqbal Banam Garami (‘Letters of Iqbal addressed to Maulana Garami’), published by the Iqbal Academy, Lahore (1st edition 1969, 2nd edition 1981), there is a letter by Iqbal, dated 4 January 1920, in which he recommends that this Maulana come to Lahore to get medical treatment from Dr Muhammad Husain. The compiler of the book has added a note to inform readers about Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah, which is as follows:
“Dr. Muhammad Husain was a renowned physician of Lahore. He was originally from Shakar Garh and was a friend of Iqbal. He was his class fellow till matriculation. He died on 26 April 1939 due to a stroke (Mujahid-i Kabir, 1962, p. 236). Colonel Dr. Bashir Husain, retired Director, Health Services, West Pakistan, is his son. He was a very wealthy and generous man, and gave thousands of Rupees for the propagation of Islam. He built the Samli Sanatorium and then handed it over to the government. Whenever Dr. Muhammad Husain Shah paid a visit to Iqbal, the Allama would stand up to greet him, and show him the same respect when seeing him off. The love and sincerity between them can be gauged from this.” (p. 159)
Here is the image of the extract from the original book:
Muslim Town was founded in 1915 by Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain (1878-1939), son of Syed Alim Shah. He was a graduate of Lahore Medical School) and the Chief Chemical Examiner of Punjab as well as a renowned physician and philanthropist. During the early 20th century, Model Town was an exclusive Hindu locality of Lahore. Muslims could not buy property in that neighbourhood and in response to this prejudice, Hussain bought plots of agricultural land along the Lahore Canal. He then hired professionals to plan a residential neighbourhood, that was initially named Islamabad. However, on the suggestion of his friend Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Dr. Hussain decided to rename the locality as “Muslim Town”, to emphasize its Muslim character in response to the exclusivity of Model Town as a non Muslim locality.
Dr. Hussain, initially built a house for himself on 40 kanals of this land at #7 Muslim Town and donated plots of varied sizes ranging from 10 marlas to 12 kanals to his numerous relatives, friends, family retainers and household help. Some of his famous friends and early settlers included the renowned artist Ustad Allah Baksh, Abdul Majeed Salik (writer), Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr, Maulana Muhammad Ali (translator of the Quran), the Faruqi family and the renowned Faqir family. Dr Muhammad Hussain constructed a mosque in Muslim Town (Aisha Masjid), in memory of his late mother. He also allocated land for a graveyard for his descendants in Shah Jamal and another graveyard in Muslim Town for the benefit of general public. The Shah Jamal graveyard is under the exclusive custodianship of his great grand daughter. Dr. Muhammad Hussain’s agricultural land around surrounding Muslim Town was later acquired by the Lahore Development Authority as part of Shah Jamal, Gulberg and New Muslim Town schemes.
Dr Syed Muhammad Hussain was known for his medical acumen. Thus Nawab of Bahawalpur brought his sister to be treated by him and Dr Hussain successfully cured her jaundice. Nawab Sahib insisted on giving a fee of 16000 rupees but Dr Hussain resisted explaining that he had cured the patient from an ordinary ailment and the fee was too high for that purpose. When Nawab Sahib insisted, Dr Hussain requested that this money be used for the education of children in the Islamic Bahawalpur State. This gesture impressed the Nawab further and on his return to Bahawalpur he allotted 200 squares of land in the name of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain (original papers of this allotment are in the custody of his great grand daughter). Dr Hussain stuck to his resolve and this land exclusively allotted for his benefit was distributed by him among any family member/cousins/nephews who decided to migrate to Khanpur and reclaim the land. His elder son Syed Altaf Hussain was also among these immigrants and he received a share only in proportion to other relatives and according to the amount of effort and time spent in reclamation of land and not as Dr Hussain’s descendant. While Dr Hussain’s younger son Dr Bashir Hussain Syed I G Prisons/Director General Health West Pakistan did not even claim an acre of his father’s allotted land and Dr Hussain’s daughter, Safia Begum, inherited land in Khanpur only through her husband and father in law (Syed Ahmed Hussain, one of the migrants to Khanpur was the younger brother of Dr. Hussain). Dr Hussain’s professional integrity, religiosity and non worldly contentment can be gauged from the fact that he was also allotted 15000 acres of land in Bhopal, but Dr Hussain never claimed this land despite having full ownership and allotment letters. The existence of this land was only revealed by Dr Syed Muhammad Hussain’s son Dr. B H Syed to his nephew Syed Asad Hussain after the closure of allotments of evacuee property explaining that it was Dr Hussain’s wish that any allotted property should not be claimed by his immediate descendants.
When Dr Hussain’s nephew syed Nazir Hussian contacted tuberculosis, Syed Muhammad Hussain left no stone unturned to get best available medical care for him. However, he realized that most tuberculosis sanatoriums were being run by Hindu philanthropists there was apparent reluctance towards admission of Muslim patients. Dr Muhammad Hussain decided to build a Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Samli, Murree Hills Pakistan that was inaugurated by Lord & Lady Linlithgow, Viceroy of India. This is the largest T B Sanatorium in Pakistan.
Dr. Muhammed Hussain’s daughter, Safia Begum started an English School for Muslim Children in her 12 kanal house in Muslim Town and hired Mrs. Lewis, an English Lady as its Principal. She became the Headmistress in 1930s imparting modern education to the young until the time when the school had to be closed around partition in 1947. There is a Safia Street and a Safia Park housing estate within Muslim Town named after her memory. She built “Syed Imtiaz Hussain Ward” in memory of her son Syed Imtiaz Hussain in Syed Muhammad Hussain T B Sanatorium Samli. Herdaughter in law Begum Sarawat Imtiaz was the first ever female in West Pakistan to take the oath as Lambardar in 1959. This was cited as a milestone for women empowerment in Pakistan and the Muslim World. Presently her daughter Begum Arshia Azhar is Lambardar of said village i.e. Chak 43/12L, Chichawatni, District Sahiwal.
Dr Hussain’s grandsons Syed Khalid Hussain and Syed Asad Hussain donated land and Syed Asad Hussain a great philanthropist in the footsteps of his esteemed grandfather constructed Syed Altaf Hussain Eye Hospital on this land in Khanpur, Rahim Yar Khan District (a rare example of two philanthropic hospitals in name of a father and son). Brigadier Akram Syed was the son of Syed Bashir Hussain the younger son of Dr Muhammad Hussain. Some of the famous early settlers in Muslim Town, besides the Syed family, included : Abdus Salam Khursheed (writer), Sabiha Khanum, Santosh Kumar, Nayyar Sultana Darpan, Agha Taalash, Allauddin, Malika Pukhraj, Akmal, Hasan Lateef, Saifuddin Saif, Ibraheem Nafees, Tanvir Naqvi, Riaz Ahmed and M Suleman (Film industry) and many more.
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