100 Years Ago… – A present to the Prince of Wales: What others think about it


The Review of Religions [English], June, July & August, 1922

Below we produce two distinct notices of the above [“What others think about the present to the Prince of Wales”], the one from the “Civil and Military Gazette,” Lahore, an Anglo-Indian and therefore necessarily a Christian paper, which in its turn reproduces it from the “Times of India,” Bombay, another Anglo-Indian Christian paper, while the other notice from “The Zulfiqar” of Lahore, an Indian edited Urdu paper, holding divergent religious views against the Ahmadiyya faith. A translation of the latter also we reproduce here in extenso. Writes the “Civil and Military Gazette,” Lahore:

“Though no specific mention of the fact is made in the book, we gather that it was written by the present head of the [Ahmadiyya] Community, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, (it is plainly stated both at the beginning and the end of the book. – Editor, The Review of Religions), and he is to be congratulated upon a very clear exposition of the tenets and dogmas of his followers. 

“The Ahmadiyyah Community still embrace Islam and accept the Quran implicitly. It would appear that they also accept a certain portion of the scriptures upon which Christianity is based. Where they differ from the orthodox acceptance of either, is in the fact that they do not agree that the second coming of the Messiah is still to be awaited, but believe that it has already taken place in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, Gurdaspur, in the Punjab, who died in Lahore on May 26th, 1908, and of whom the present head of the community is the second successor.

“A specially printed and bound copy of this book was presented to His Royal Highness during his recent visit which he was graciously pleased to accept. The first portion deals with the growth of the movement many years ago showing how loyalty to the House of Windsor, has ever been the part of the teachings. The central part of the book is a very clever interpretation of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, which will well repay anyone to read, whatever his beliefs and however much he may disagree with the interpretation. It is all directed to show that the Ahmadiyyah Community is the only community which has found the true religion and it must be admitted that a great deal of learning and literary skill has been employed in working out the arguments. 

“Finally comes an appeal to the Prince of Wales and all his subjects to embrace the Ahmadiyyah beliefs, thus showing that apart from its intention of welcoming His Royal Highness, it is intended in a wider sense as a missionary effort. Whether it succeeds or not cannot detract from the value and interest of the book to those who are interested in religion and particularly in the myriad religions of India and the British Empire. We would, however, remind the missionaries of this community that religious tolerance reigns throughout the British Empire, for at times we see peeping through the lore and learning of this book a hint of the opposite, of the bigotry, which has been known to proclaim openly that nought but eternal damnation can be the lot of the man who fails to agree with the views being propounded.” 

(We are glad to note that even professed Christians have begun to denounce the Christian doctrine of eternal damnation, vide Mark 3, [1]:39, and Jude 7. It is a happy augury for the future peace of the world that the British Empire has outgrown the old intolerant and bigoted narrow mindedness which could see no truth outside its own fold and which condemned the unbelievers to eternal perdition. Such a view of salvation has never been countenanced by the Holy Quran and we are glad to assure the Christian reviewer that it was the Promised Messiah[as] who in the capacity of a religious reformer openly disavowed belief in such a degrading article of faith. Our view is eternal progression, and if we believe in the doctrine of suffering that is all for the purpose of enabling the sufferer to purge himself of the foreign matters that retard progress and that when whole and convalescent the sufferer is to continue his onward march again. That is our doctrine of hell and if we claim the possession of truth which we invite the people to accept it is not in the sense that other systems are altogether devoid of truth. What we believe and preach is that we have the whole truth; others may possess partial truths that were suited for different times and climes. But they have had their day and now they have outgrown their usefulness. if that is bigotry and intolerance, we can’t help it. – Editor, The Review of Religions)

Says “The Zulfiqar” of Lahore: 

“Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, second successor of the Mirza Sahib of Qadian, presented on the 27th February [1922], through the Punjab Government, a copy of the book – A Present to the Prince of Wales – which His Royal Highness accepted with due honour and respect, a portion of which he skipped through at that very time. We are told that while he was travelling between Lahore and Sialkot, he found time to go through the whole book very carefully, and we have it from reliable sources that at times the prince’s face beamed with delight. This information that His Royal Highness has cared to read the whole book from end to end coupled with the fact that he was much pleased with this reading filled us with the curiosity to read it for ourselves. As the Mirza Sahib had promised us a copy of the book at the Government House on the 25th February, we, by way of the news, made a mention of it in a previous issue of our paper; therefore, we were all the more gratified to learn from the Editor, Al Fazl, that the Urdu Edition was in the press and that shortly we will be in possession of a copy of the same. We are very much indebted therefore to Syed Zeinulabideen, Assistant Nazir Talifo-Ishaat, who supplied us with a copy of the same under a registered cover. 

“For the purpose of reviewing the publication, while perusing it, we were very careful to note as to which points must have very much struck and delighted the prince, so much so that his whole face presented a blooming rose. As we went through the book, we found ourselves in the same position. We cannot help extending, then, our due meed of praise to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad Sahib, even at the risk of being declared a heretic at the hands of some heresy manufacturers. It would be a great injustice if we cannot fairly appraise the worth of a book, a greater portion of which is devoted to the expounding and vindicating of the truth of Islam. It is a masterpiece which the Non-Ahmadee can only envy. 

“As a journalist, it is our duty to lay aside the glasses of prejudice and we make bold to say that its perusal filled us with extreme unction. The learned author has scrupulously followed in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet of Arabia, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the message of Islam he has delivered with great fearlessness and candour to the heir to the British throne. If any sectarian on account of personal jealousy, malice, or narrow-minded bigotry finds it in his heart to cavil at this or that portion of the book, or some political agitator paints it in a different colour, we think such a one as a great liar and a scoundrel. We did not come across any expression that could be construed into flattery. It is true, that a portion of the book deals with a brief notice of the life of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the founder of the movement) but that is only a straightforward account of the life of peace and consistent loyalty that he led, and it is obvious that God never likes the peace-breakers and disturbers of general peace and order. May He consign such a people to utter oblivion! If there is in this book an expression of this loyalty, surely it is no flattery; it is only a statement of fact. 

“The book, moreover, deals with a brief account of the inception of the movement, its founder and his first two successors, whose photos have also been given. It is all based on facts. In short, it is a brief compendium of the history of Ahmadiyya movement; while the major portion of the book deals with the teaching of Islam and the invitation to Islam extended to the prince and his august father. We are told that 32208 Ahmadees contributed one anna per head to pay out the printing as well as other charges and to present it in a beautifully designed silver casket to the prince on the occasion of his visiting Lahore. […] 

“In short, the book is worth perusing, the printing and get up is all good. Glazed and high quality paper is used. […]  

“In the end, we cannot help remarking that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has rendered such a good service to the advancement and success of his movement that it well becomes Mussalmans of every shade of opinion to envy and emulate rather than be jealous of and poke fun at him. His is the unique position to serve as a model for other Moslems.”

(The reader can well realise the intensity of public opposition one has to encounter if one has something in his heart to say in favour of this divine movement. We know that has been the fate of all divine movements, therefore we cannot at all be downcast and down-hearted on this score. Our trust is in God. We cannot help admiring the moral courage shown by the editor, therefore our heartfelt and sincere thanks are due to him. – Editor, The Review of Religions)

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Review of Religions, June, July & August, 1922)

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