100 Years Ago… – Nayyar’s Travelogue – Qadian to London

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Al Fazl, 20 September 1919

16 July [1919]: Among the three Indian students going to the UK, two Hindus belong to the family of Diwan Tek Chand Sahib, Deputy Commissioner of Multan. One is the son of Diwan Sahib and the second is his brother, and their names are Shyam and Ram respectively.

The third gentleman, Abdul Hameed, belongs to Sialkot. All three of them ask various questions about Ahmadiyyat, listen to the replies and express admiration. They are happy to be with us in their journey to London. They are studying our literature with keen interest. All three are unprejudiced and noble gentlemen. May Allah the Almighty illumine their bosoms with the light of Islam Ahmadiyyat. Amin.

A military official happens to be our travel companion as well. A series of continuous discussions about the Ahmadiyya Jamaat took place with him. However, he belongs to that group of people who say that they consider Mirza Sahib to be a pious person but still believe that this holy man was (God forbid) a false claimant. In my experience, this group is farthest away from reformation.

Anyhow, as the journey of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat’s tabligh moved onwards, the Mail Train continued to travel through the pleasant atmospheric region at high speeds.

17 July 1919: The train has a dining car as well. Respected Chaudhry Sahib deemed it important to teach me the first lesson of dining like the English. Hence, I have learned that lesson for the ship well in advance and practiced a little with a knife and fork. Having an experienced companion with you is a blessing from the countless blessings of God.

Passing through several tunnels and over many bridges, our train entered the Isle of Bombay and stopped at one of the finest railway stations of India, Victoria Terminus.

Ahmadiyya missionary to Bombay [now Mumbai] Maulvi Hakim Khalil Ahmad Sahib, Secretary Anjuman Ahmadiyya Hyderabad Deccan Mir Basharat Ahmad Sahib, Secretary Anjuman Ahmadiyya Bombay Chaudhry Sardar Ali Sahib, members of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat Bombay Muhammad of Malabar, Seith Hassan Ali Sahib, Syed Muhammad Hussain Sahib and Safdar Hussain Sahib were present at the railway station to welcome us. These noblemen found it appropriate to put garlands around the necks of Mahmud’s servants and draw the attention of passengers disembarking the train and onlookers at the station towards the bearers of Islam’s glad tidings, headed to London. May Allah grant them the best of rewards!

We took a ride and reached the Ahmadiyya Association [building] and thanked God that Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra had appointed an Ahmadi missionary in the “Gateway to Europe” and consequently saved us from the troubles of searching for hotels. I am thankful to Allah the Almighty that Bombay Jamaat is progressing in its sincerity and the appointment of a missionary in Bombay along with the missionary house is yielding beneficial outcomes.

18 July 1919: Today, Chaudhry Sahib led the Friday prayer and voiced that phrase in the sermon which is the basis of all the efforts of Ahmadi missionaries and the foundation stone for the edifice of future works i.e. “We are certain in the conversion of the English to Islam”. We met Nawab Syed Rizvi Sahib and he acted with love and compassion. He drove us to Apollo Bander [Wellington Pier (Mumbai)] and the shop of Seith Ismail Adam Sahib. Along the entire way, a discussion was held on the dissention within the Ahmadiyya Jamaat bythose who had not performed Bai‘at [the Paighamis].

This evening, a dinner was arranged at the house of Seith Abdullah Yusuf Bhai, father-in-law of Khan Sahib Seith Ahmad, brother of Hazrat Seith Abdullah Ilahudin Sahib.

Seith Sahib treated us very amiably and laid continuous emphasis to publish an English Gujrati newspaper in Bombay for the progress of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. We pray that God Almighty grant Seith Abdullah Yusuf and Seith Ahmad Bhai the strength to accept the truth. Amin.

19 July 1919: After purchasing the ticket and getting medically examined, we boarded the ship. The sincere members of Jamaat Bombay left their routine works to bid us farewell. They reached the pier, put garlands around our necks and bore all the expenses of our journey.

Victoria Terminus, Mumbai | University of Houston, Wiki Commons

I have witnessed Bombay Jamaat for the third time and by the grace of God, it is blessed in every way and progressing by the day; chairs have taken the place of floor mats in the lecture halls; literature of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is placed in mirrored bookshelves; there is an electric fan and light. Allahumma zid fa zid [O Allah, increase them in what You have granted them].

There are some special instructions for journeys via ships. The content of these [instructions] will be provided to travellers via the office of Nazarat Talif-o-Ishaat [central publications and propagations directorate] as I will write a detailed report to [this office] which shall benefit upcoming missionaries, Insha-allah.

The name of our ship is SS China. It weighs 7,932 tonnes. This ship was taken by the government and utilised as a hospital ship. Now, it has been handed over to the company again. The ship is equipped with the facility of receiving wireless electrical messages. The viceroy’s daughter is aboard the ship as well.

A storm was experienced in the ocean an hour after the ship left the port and I began to suffer from dizziness and sickness.

Chaudhry Sahib is okay. Having an experienced companion is, again, one of the blessings from the very many blessings of God. Chaudhry Sahib brought me up on the deck from below and there I viewed the sight of the Arabian Peninsula and mountain ranges, resting on a chair. There are long lines of chairs on the deck. Like me, various sick people with their heads drawn are watching the acrobatic display of the ocean. The colour of the ocean’s water was blue at first, but leaving the shore, it has turned black. Beautiful greens are observed beneath where the foam emerges as a result of force, deposited by the waves. 

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