100 Years Ago… – Tabligh in the UK

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Al Fazl, 21 January 1919 

As readers will have gathered from my previous report, I submitted a request for my passport to travel to Africa, however that was rejected. [Mufti Sahibra wrote in an earlier report that he was struggling to acquire the relevant documents to travel to Africa, after being instructed to travel to Africa by the markaz.] 

Upon the advice of Qazi Abdullah Sahib, I went to the passport office and submitted a request again, however, it was of no avail. The secretary of the India office wrote in his letter dated 4 November [1918], “In this regard, the chief of naval staff is very strict; he does not permit travelling by sea unless it is imperative. There is a shortage of ships as most ships are currently being used for the war. However, as the war is nearing its end, it seems that the conditions may, Insha-Allah, improve within the next few months and travelling to Africa shouldn’t be a problem.”

Two letters from the secretary of the India office were sent to Daftar Taraqqi-e-Islam for presenting to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih, may Allah be with him and help him with divine support. 

Due to the postponement of this journey, I travelled to Torquay. This town is situated in the south-west of England, approximately 200 miles from London. I set off at 10am from London and got to Torquay at around 2:30pm. It was a direct train. This area is lush green and the air here is pure. It is said that compared to London, the cold is not so bitter here. Thus far, I have noticed nothing different other than the fact that the sun stays out of the clouds far longer than it does in London. 

I have acquired two furnished rooms from an Englishman’s home. Other tenants also reside here. The gentleman, along with his sister and daughter, cook the food, feed us and clean the rooms. They are very hospitable. The meat I consume comes from a Jewish butcher in Plymouth via post. Due to the cold, the meat stays in good condition for many days. I eat my food in my room. The fireplace is always lit in my room. (28 December 1918) 

 

Tabligh in the town hall

On 8 November, there was a gathering of dignitaries in the Torquay town hall. One of the board members delivered a lecture on how towns are formed and how they can be managed. On such a subject, at first I saw no opportunity for me to speak, but my heart did not accept that whilst being present there, the gathering should be bereft of the remembrance of Allah. 

After the lecture, I stood up, and my remarks have been published in newspapers. I said: 

“What the speaker said about the formation and management of towns is very beneficial. I belong to a village and that village is progressing day by day in accordance with prophecies of a prophet of God. The name of that village is Qadian. It is strange how the first three letters of the second syllable in the word Torquay are similar to the first three letters of Qadian [when spelt ‘Quadian’, which it sometimes was]. It was said to Hazrat Ahmadas, Prophet of Allah, in the revelations vouchsafed to him that Qadian would grow exceptionally. With regard to such a place, what advice would the respected speaker give?”

In this manner, I had the opportunity to perform tabligh. What answer was the speaker to give? He replied, “The case of villages is different. We reside in a town.” 

The report of this speech was given in the newspapers the Torquay Times and the Torquay Directory on 15 November [1918]. Both newspaper cuttings have been sent to Master Abdur Rahim Nayyar Sahib so that they may be given to the appropriate English magazine or journal. 

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Speech in Spiritualist church

On the evening of 5 November, an event was held in this church and I too participated. The organiser of the event said that if I wished to speak, then 5-10 minutes could be allocated for me. I responded affirmatively. 

Thus, in a brief speech, I spoke on the need of revelation and proofs in support of the door to divine communication still being open. It had a positive impact on the audience. After the speech, I had the chance to speak to some ladies about Islam Ahmadiyyat in detail. Two of those ladies visited the house where I stayed and I had the chance to preach to them. Very happily, they took the Bai‘at form with them to ponder over it. May Allah bless their decision and may He bring them towards Islam. Amin. 

The local newspaper, the Torquay Directory, published a report on this brief speech on 12 November [1918] with the heading [translated from Urdu] Address of an Eastern Scholar.

 

Newspaper cuttings

I usually purchase those newspapers that include mention of the Jamaat or about us and send the cuttings of articles to friends. Regrettably, within the given budget, this is not possible anymore and I have had to discontinue this. However, should anyone desire for me to continue sharing such newspaper articles, they should send some money and I shall carry on sending such newspapers with their help. The funds can be sent via postal order. 

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India’s part in the war

The secretary of state for India said, in a speech at Cambridge University, “During the war, 1,161,800 people recruited the army in India, and yesterday, 1,215,600 recruits set off for the war via ship. Nobody can say that India has not played a part in gaining victory for this war. Now, India shall be considered part of the British Government.”

This is all correct, but the larger part of India’s contribution is that a prophet of Allah belonging to India not only foretold this war, but he prayed for the British monarchy’s victory. 

 

Thirty-six new Ahmadis

I have received a letter from the secretary at Gold Coast [now known as Ghana], Africa – where I have been posted as a missionary but have not been able to go due to not receiving my passport. In the letter, he has sent a list of 36 new Ahmadis. May Allah grant them perseverance, taqwa and strength. Amin. The list is being sent along with this report to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih, may Allah assist and help him. (It has been conveyed – Editor.)

 

Fulfilment of another prophecy

I wrote an article on Turkey’s recent attempt of conciliation and it was published in the Torbay News newspaper, the title of which was [translated from Urdu] Another Prophecy Fulfilled. In this article, I showed that one of the major errors made by Turkey in terms of the war was that they termed it a religious Jihad, hence their defeat. 

The Imam of the time and Prophet of God, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdias has already explained in many of his writings that now, Jihad is not permissible, and prophesied:

اب چھوڑ دو جہاد كا اے دوستو خیال

دیں كے لئے حرام ہے اب جنگ اور قتال

“Dismiss the thought of Jihad, dear friends;

War and bloodshed are forbidden in the name of religion”

اب آگیا مسیح جو دیں كا امام ہے

دیں كى تمام جنگوں كا اب اختتام ہے

“The Messiah has come, who is the Imam of faith;

It is now the end of all religious warfare”

 یہ حكم سن كے بھى جو لڑائى كو جائے گا

وہ كافروں سے سخت ہزیمت اُٹھائے گا

“Having heard this, those who set off for bloodshed,

shall face humiliation at the hands of disbelievers”

اِک معجزہ كے طور سے یہ پیشگوئی ہے

كافى ہے سوچنے كو اگر اہل كوئى ہے

“This prophecy is as a miracle;

It is enough for one to reflect, provided one is worthy”

The newspaper cutting of this article has also been sent to Master Abdur Rahim Nayyar Sahib. 

The same cutting was sent to the prime minister of Great Britain, along with a letter of congratulations upon our victory. He acknowledged receipt of this letter on 12 November 1918 in a letter written to me. A copy of this letter has also been sent to Qadian. 

 

Memorial for martyrs of war

A memorial service was held in a popular place of central London for the fallen soldiers of the war, where a platform full of flowers was put up. Those people who lost dear ones and friends bring bouquets in memory of their loved ones with notes attached to the bouquets with names of the love ones and some words in their praise. 

After a while, to make space for more flowers, all old flowers and papers are removed. It has been announced that all papers will be stored safely and after some time, they will be preserved permanently. 

As a large number of Ahmadis took part in this war, and a number of them lost their lives, I thought it appropriate to place a bouquet in memory of the martyrs there. Therefore, along with the bouquet, a big piece of paper was placed with the following words [translated from Urdu, originally in English]:

لَا اِلٰهَ اِلَّا اللّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ

[There is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.]

“In memory of our dear Ahmadi brothers, who sacrificed their lives in the days of war for the beneficent British government, because it was the instruction of their spiritual leader, Hazrat Nabiyullah [prophet of Allah] Ahmad Qadianias, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, to always remain loyal and obedient to their government and to serve and help the British Government. Hazrat Nabiyullah foretold this war well before its time and prayed for the British monarchy that it may hail victorious. These soldiers served in France, Egypt, Dardanelles, Syria, Iraq, Arabia etc. May God’s mercy descend upon those who fell and those who lost their lives as a result of their injuries. O Benevolent God, grant them paradise. Amin.

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq and Qazi Abdullah – Ahmadi preachers. 4 Star Street, Paddington, London. November 1918.

اِنَّا لِلهِ وَاِنَّا اِلَیْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return].”

This is the [English from the Urdu] translation of the note that was written and placed there. Thousands of people travel to central London to see this memorial and read these notes. 

 

Influenza

According to the revelation of God that a disease would spread in Europe, influenza is killing thousands of people. In some households, there have been three or four deaths as a result of this. It is getting more and more difficult to seek medical attention from doctors. Aside from Europe, we have received news of it spreading its ghastliness in America, Africa and many other places. A friend from Nigeria wrote that the disease has claimed two thousand lives. May Allah save everyone out of His grace, benevolence and mercy and may He cause everyone to come to the right path, accept the prophet of the time and be saved from His wrath. Amin. 

Swine fever

A doctor has published his views that the disease started as a result of consuming pork, and due to it being contagious, it has spread. Its actual name is swine fever, which results from eating pork. During the war, swine meat was not sold as fresh as it was before the war, and after it had gone bad, it would be included in foods and influenza bacteria would spread in that meat. That is how, he suggests, the disease started. 

 

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Torquay Town Hall, 1922 |Postcard from 1922 | Wiki Commons
 

The studio lecture

In a previous report [published in Al Fazl on 24 December 1918] I wrote that Khawaja Kamaluddin Sahib was scheduled to deliver a lecture in Scarsdale [or Scarborough] Studios on 25 October [1918], but due to being ill, he was not able to attend. Accepting the request of the organisers of the event, I delivered a lecture in his place. The topic of his lecture was Treading Humbly in the Sight of God. I changed the topic to An Example of Treading Humbly in the Sight of God – Hazrat Ahmad Nabiyullah’s Life and Teachings

The chairlady of the event sent me a letter following my lecture, a part of which is as follows:

“I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for the lecture that you delivered in the studio despite the short notice. Your lecture was incredibly interesting for me. We, the residents of London, have very little acquaintance with this major prophet, Ahmad. Whatever you said with respect to him and the Ahmadiyya movement, of which you are an Imam in London, was very inspiring and insightful. I feel as though we owe you a great debt for having opened a door for us to an Eastern religion and explaining the teachings of Islam. On behalf of myself and all my associates, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I hope that you will deliver another lecture on the same subject in the next session. Yours sincerely, Mrs Alice Hall Simpson. 3 November 1918.” 

Tabligh to prince of Japan

Friends will have read in the newspapers that Prince Higashifushimi Yorihito of Japan arrived in England as a guest of our king, George V. He was shown great courtesy and regard in this country. On this occasion, I wrote him a letter on a green tabligh form in which I, on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, congratulated him on his successful visit and victory in the war. Along with the words “Ahmadiyya Jamaat”, I explained that the founder of the Jamaat, Hazrat Nabiyullah Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi was a resident of Qadian.

In response to my letter, the secretary to the prince, Mr Mikodira wrote on 20 November 1918, “His Royal Highness has instructed me to inform you that he is entirely grateful to you and the entire Ahmadiyya Jamaat and highly appreciates your kind words.”

The letter along with the response has been sent to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih…

 

Return from Torquay

With the thought that Torquay would not be as cold as other places, I set off for Torquay. As of yet, I have not found the cold any different to that of London. For this reason, I have returned to London. My intention is to try and spend summer in London. If the cold becomes unbearable, then I shall shift to Ventnor or some other place for a few months, or if my passport is approved for travelling to Africa, then I will have to travel there for a few months. In all cases, my postal address will remain the same, and the mail sent here will, Insha-Allah, reach me wherever I am.  

Celebrations

I was in Torquay the day the war ended. There were scenes of jubilation in the entire town. Soldiers would march the streets, beating their drums and singing songs. The flags of Great Britain, the USA and other ally nations decorated houses and doors. Small children jumped around and danced in the streets with little flags in their hands whilst singing songs. Church bells were ringing from all corners in joy and celebration for the war having come to an end. I have heard that the same was the case in London.  

Article in a London newspaper

Two or three days after the war ended, I returned to London. I wrote an article for a London-based newspaper Marylebone Record, which the editor published under the heading An Eastern Prophet. The article said [translated from Urdu]:

“Eventually, Great Britain and its allies proved victorious after the biggest and longest war in the history of the world. Around seven years prior to this war, a prophet of God, Hazrat Ahmad of Qadian, India foretold these events as well as the collapse of the Tsar. Further, he prayed for the victory of the British monarchy. That prophecy has been fulfilled today. As an Ahmadi and as an Indian, I congratulate Great Britain and its allies. India performed its role in a befitting manner also… 

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq. 4 Star Street, London.”

The newspaper cutting of this article has also been sent to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. 

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