Ahmadiyya headquarters, Chicago 4448 Wabash Avenue, 1922
In 1919, under the instruction of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra was told to set course to America to establish the Ahmadiyya Jamaat within the country and begin the propagation of Islam to the Western audience.
After arriving, in 1920, The Philadelphia Press wrote with regard to Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib’s arrival:
“While many religious sects in the United States are spending many thousands of dollars and sending hundreds of philosophers and teachers to the wilds of Tibet, the far reaches of Arabia and Hindustan and to the unexplored regions of Africa and China, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, after travelling thousands of miles, alone and friendless, hopes to begin his crusade to convert Americans to the doctrines taught by the prophet Ahmad, of whom he is the principal disciple.” (The Philadelphia Press, 19 February 1920)
In the 1920s, New York had already proclaimed itself as “the city that never sleeps”. In every nook and corner, there was a special kind of buzz in the atmosphere. In April when Hazrat Mufti Sahibra was released from the American detention centre, knowing the reputation New York had built for itself, he decided to start the propagation of Islam from there.
The Review of Religions in July 1920 published extracts found in The Public Ledger, a Philadelphia paper:
“‘My intention,’ [Mufti Sahib] said today at the Gloucester immigration station, ‘is to start my work in New York and then extend it to other cities. There are no converts to the Ahmadia movement here and I know no one in this country. I come as a missionary with belief in the work before me.’”
Then, in October 1920, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra relocated and moved the headquarters to Chicago, Illinois, which from its central position in the country and other reasons was found more convenient for the purpose of the missionary work than New York. (The Review of Religions, October 1920)
Soon after, in the same year, Hazrat Mufti Sadiqra moved the American headquarters of the Ahmadiyya movement to Highland Park, Detroit. (Islam in the African-American Experience)
Hazrat Mufti Sahibra was spreading the message of Islam by means of weekly lectures, distribution of literature and interviews and articles in the press. Regarding the first year in America, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra writes in The Moslem Sunrise, 1921:
“During the past 12 months, I have delivered about 50 public lectures in the cities of New York, Chicago, Detroit, Dowagiac, Michigan City, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, etc. All of these Lectures were previously announced in the daily papers.”
Though Mufti Sahibra was a missionary in America, he did not limit himself to the then 48 states of the US. In 1921, Mufti Sahib received letters of thanks from the King of Belgium and the President of Brazil for sending them important and valuable literature and for congratulating them on New Year’s Day. (The Review of Religions, 1921)
In 1922, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra, again, moved the Ahmadiyya headquarters to the south side of Chicago at 4448 Wabash Avenue. This is a very historic date in the history of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA as the new location was established as the first Ahmadiyya mosque which served as the mission house and the official office of The Moslem Sunrise magazine (Islam in the African-American Experience). The money for this project was donated by Ahmadis in India.
Mufti Sahib gives a brief report about this in The Moslem Sunrise, 1922:
“Alhamdolillah! God be praised, that the mosque is now complete with its dome outside and arch and necessary furnishings inside. A picture of the mosque is given on page 120 of this magazine. We are thankful to our Ahmadi brothers in India for the prompt remittance of their share of donation to the mosque and to the brothers here who have helped and are still helping towards our expenses of the mosque and the house. Since the last magazine was published, I have delivered many lectures in different churches and halls in the city of Chicago in addition to our regular meetings now held in the mosque.”