100 Years Ago… – A day in Qadian: A visitor describes his experience in Qadian


Below is a picturesque description of Qadian by a visitor and his experience of meeting Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra

The Review of Religions (English), March 1921

The small peaceful town of Qadian lies some 11 miles north east of Batala. It has risen from a small village and owes its prosperity to the head of the Ahmadia movement. 

The road to Qadian is always crowded with pilgrims who come to pay their homage from all parts of the globe. 

They gladly undergo the discomforts of the journey and one hardly finds any travellers growing weary or complaining of the bad condition of the road. 

To an ordinary visitor the road is not pleasing, much less the jolting tum-tum, but a pilgrim makes his way through mountains of dust with great pleasure. 

What Jerusalem is to a Christian or Benares to a Hindu, that or more is Qadian to an Ahmadi. It is the stronghold of Ahmadism, the seat of Arabic learning, and the second birth place of Muhammadan philosophy. 

As we passed through its streets everybody greeted us with Assalumo Alaikum (peace be with you). They took us in their plain and clean houses lit up with their beaming eyes and filled with their merry laughter. 

As I went from one house to another, I met the same sort of people dressed in plain white clothes with their faces radiant with joy. The way in which they treat strangers impressed me so much that a single visit to Qadian has again revived in me those mid-day dreams of old ages when people used to meet as brothers. I have found the realizition of my dreams in an out-of-the-way town like Qadian that seems to me to be full of the most kind-hearted people. 

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Cut off from the world outside, they have a small world of their own in which they live as happily as their forefathers in the palmy days of old.

Its people cannot boast of any great monuments nor of some old relics of architecture, but they feel more proud of their simple mosques in which rings the voice of their leader. 

Under the star-lit sky, the whole town sleeps in a slumber of peace. While in the distance, the never-ceasing murmur of the cities can be heard. 

Its snow white domes and minarets bathed in the moon light present a contrast to our disfigured houses and temples black will the soot and clothed in the mist that hangs over the cities.

The cry of the muezzin from the minaret pierced into my forgetful mind and a voice rang inside that there is one greater mission of life than to eat, sleep and be merry – to pray to the Almighty. 

Through the efforts of a friend of mine, I secured an interview with His Holiness, the head of the movement, [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra]. 

I always feel a great craving for the society of those who hold in their hands the destinies of their fellow creatures, whose single breath can lead them (the people) on to action. We have great kings, statesmen, generals and prophets who can mould their subjects to any shape they like. But a great religious and social reformer is nearer to God than any of the other workers. Before uplifting their subjects from misery, and degradation, the kings and generals have to wade through a sea of blood. They believe in putting mankind before their steel and powder in order to relive their people of distress. 

But a social and religious reformer dreads a single drop of blood as much as a child dreads the fire. He stands against the fiery blast of the people with great fortitude and even at times has to go through great torture for the sake of truth. 

So you can imagine my great pleasure in exchanging some words with such a high priest of truth and piety. 

Seated on a small piece of carpet, dressed in a neat and simple dress with his head bent and eyes half closed, I saw the present leader of the movement [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra]. After the mutual greetings, he lifted up his majestic head and I saw the half pleasant and prophet-like face. There was a sympathetic thrill in his voice and the words gushed out like pure water from the fountain of his soul. 

He was meek like a lamb, innocent as a babe but more wise than an old man of eighty. His very words brought peace with them and they healed the wounds of irreligiousness like an ointment. 

One cannot but appreciate the current of discipline and organization that runs through the whole system. 

No doubt the credit is due to the leader who calmly organises all the enterprizes [sic] taken into hand by the movement. 

Qadian is a very busy place, even more busy than some of the most thickly populated and industrial towns of India. 

From early in the morning up till late in the night, the people are busy in saying their prayers and chanting hymns in His praise. 

After every meal, they thank Him for every loaf of bread given to them. 

The Ahmadia theological Madrassa is crowded with the young scholars who lead pure and simple lives and feast only upon the divine philosophy.

The Qadatn [sic] High School is situated some three quarters of a mile from the town. It is lodged in a very imposing building with extensive lawns and well kept play-grounds. 

The young scholars have nature all round them and they enjoy the full advantage of the pure air and sunshine, the two great gifts of God.

Attached to the school is an equally fine building with two white towers that can be seen even from a great distance. 

I cannot but appreciate the spirit shown by the leader and the community in the use of the school to boys belonging to other religions as well. 

The school at present has some 700 students on roll and the science department is quite up to date. 

I didn’t expect to find such a flourishing institution in an ordinary town like Qadian and my surprise was even greater when I actually saw the buildings and the working school. 

The community must be congratulated on possessing such a great educational institute that is second to none in the province. 

The small and most tidy little hospital is a boon to the people and its doors are always open to the helpless patients representing all religions and nationalities. 

The Minaratul Masih or the Tower of the Promised Messiah is of no little interest to the visitor. It stands like a white mast, over the floor of the great mosque and can be seen through the dust on the road to Qadian. It is beautifully built and highly polished with plaster and commands the whole view of the town. 

Leaving aside the places of interest worth a visit an ordinary visitor is always impressed with the high order of society that he meets. There in Qadian, the ideal Herbert Spencer, the great poet, has been realized – that of plain living and high thinking. 

I for one can never forget the hospitality shown to me by the heads of different departments and they are always pleased to help a stranger who wants to have an insight into their faith and work. 

The help which the community is rendering to the poor is by no means small. Its langer khanas are always full of poor people who are fed and clothed so that they may pray to God with a contented and pure heart.

The work which the community is doing is very useful and beneficial and the next generation shall look upon their leaders with gratitude and love.

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Review of Religions [English], March 1921)

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