Death finds us all but rarely does life find one zestfully in love with the Divine who makes a lasting difference. My grandfather was that resplendent treasure. His name was Dr. Basharat Munir Mirza and he made the impossible possible! A real renaissance man whose expertise revolutionized nuclear physics, politics, theology, human beings, organizations and beyond! Zealously yet quietly serving God and others, he asked for nothing except his Lord, to Whom he belonged, and to Whom he returned last Jumu’ah Friday, (Feb. 8.)
It would be impossible to mention every impossibility my grandfather conquered. To give you only a crumb’s taste of his life here are a highlighted few: he was beckoned to the United States in 1961 to join Ohio State University as an associate professor in physics. Here he conducted pioneering research at Brookhaven National Lab for eleven years. Being ever-inclined to serving the fast-growing spiritual movement of the latter-day Messiah, the first thing he did was expand the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) by establishing a new chapter in Athens, Ohio. This chapter began an unassuming newsletter which would later evolve to enlighten millions of Ahmadi Muslims across the globe as the Ahmadiyya Gazette. In 1963, he single-handedly founded America’s first Muslim Printing Press called the Fazl-i-Umar Press. It has been instrumental in printing and mailing various Ahmadiyya Muslim publications for almost five decades. Through this novel asset the oldest Muslim publication in America, The Muslim Sunrise, was revived after its transient death, and became America’s longest running Muslim periodical. Together, Missionary Abdul Rahman Bengalee and my grandfather were chosen as Editors in 1964. Under the guidance of the holy 3rd Successor of the Awaited Messiah, my grandfather originated the Fazl-i-Umar Research Institute a year later in the same town. This unique institute produced its own monthly research periodical entitled “Particles and Nuclei” whose illustrious circle of contributors included the world renowned Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam. All Ahmadiyya Muslim printings and publications henceforth were funded entirely by the Fazl-i-Umar Research Institute and mailed out personally by my grandfather until his demise. In 1972, he resigned from his tenure as an esteemed Professor at Ohio State University to focus solely on winning God’s pleasure through His service and that of His creatures.
In 1990, he started a food pantry and ran a soup kitchen for the town of Chauncey. In 1991, he helped the Athens County Adult Education program that was about to be eliminated but miraculously kept it running. At that time, he received an honorific letter from the Ohio House of Representatives commending him as a “remarkable individual, combining civic concern and commitment with selfless initiative to become a dynamic leader.” Noting his services in terms of giving of his time, energy, and resources, the letter said, “We commend you for your dedicated service to the community and salute you as one of Ohio’s finest citizens.” In 1994, he and his wife moved to Chauncey transforming the Old Chauncey High School into their residence. Here he turned his attention to helping the people of Chauncey. In 2007, he was elected to the town council for a four-year term. In 2008 and again in 2009, he was elected as the President of the town council for one-year terms, for two consecutive years. On March 9, 2009, he became the Mayor of Chauncey when the sitting mayor resigned becoming the first Ahmadī to become a mayor of a U.S. town. In the March 4, 2009 publication of The Athens Messenger, a citizen recognized my grandfather’s services for the town and referred to him as one of the “Champions of Chauncey.”
In his letter to the editor the citizen emphatically wrote: “Dr. Mirza, the president of Village Council, has donated his time as well as his money many times over the years to help out the village. Even before his elected position he bought spreaders for the village dump truck to help keep the streets and roads, clean and safe. He has paid for blacktop out of his own pocket to fill and repair potholes in the village. He has ran a food bank and helped with the homeless, among other things, all with very little or no thanks or recognition.” He also built what is now known as Food World in Athens, Ohio on Route 50 W. He diligently served as President of the Athens Chapter for many decades and was a Moosi which means he donated at least 1/10 of his earnings and assets to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
We feed off the intense devotion that was his inspiring life. He humbly yet passionately proclaimed, “It is not possible for a sinner like me to offer enough thanks to Allah for His bounties. He has showered this humble one with so much Grace and Mercy that they are beyond counting. I had resigned from my teaching job at Ohio University in 1972 and since 1972 I never had a job, nor did I look for one. I have spent all this time serving the Jama’at (Religious Community). Allah has been very kind and generous to me and I have never suffered. When anyone asks me about my job, my answer always has been: ‘I work for Allah and He pays me very well.’ In the end, I request prayers for me. May Allah make it possible for me to serve the Jama’at till my last breath” (Al Nahl Vol. 23 No. 2 pp. 12). We all stand witness to how God granted his supplications.
All this from a single man of materially humble origins but of a spiritually rich hailing! He was the son of Hazrat Master Mirza Nazir Hussain and grandson of Hazrat Hakeem Muhammad Hussian aka “Marham Isa” (with whom God is well pleased) two prominent disciples of his holiness the Promised Messiah and Divine Guide Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (on whom be peace). It’s no wonder the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) received the Divine revelation “Mubarak Manzil” or “fortress of blessings” about the inhabitants of a house in Lahore belonging to the Miyan family.
His funeral prayers will be read at Baitur Rahman or “House of the Most Gracious Divine”, the national Headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA, on Friday, (Feb. 15) after the Friday Jumu’ah Service. He will be laid to rest at the Lakeview Memorial Cemetery in Sykesville, MD.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Humanity First. Please visit to share a favorite memory of Doc. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, two sons, two daughters, thirteen grandchildren, and three great- grandchildren.
He truly personified this Quranic prayer which captures the essence of his faithful life; “Surely my worship, my sacrifice, my whole life and even my death are all for the Divine One, the Nourishing Lord of all things” (Ch. The Blessings 6:163). Living up to the meaning of his Arabic name given by the holy Promised Reformer (with whom God is pleased), Basharat Munir Mirza was precisely a bearer of glad tidings and a guiding light. O God, our Beloved, embrace him with loving closeness to Yourself and Your Immaculate Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and grant us the heavenly power to follow the illuminating footsteps of this radiating leader and exemplary servant of yours, Amen.