100 Years Ago… – Advice by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud: Key to success in tabligh


Al Fazl, 29 January 1924

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The local Jamaat members [of Qadian] came forward and devoted two days to tabligh [preaching] on the appeal of Nazir Dawat-o-Tabligh. The number of total devotees reached 43. Before sending them for tabligh, Nazir Sahib arranged their sitting with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra] on 23 January [1924] after Maghrib prayer. Huzoor[ra] gave them the following piece of advice:

“In my last Friday Sermon, I made an appeal that the people of our Jamaat should pay special attention to preaching. To achieve this objective in compliance with my sermon, this request was forwarded [to Ahmadis] by the office of Dawat-o-Tabligh. The names of those who have sacrificed their time and devoted themselves to preaching two days a month had been read out before me.

“In my view, giving time for two days in a month may be useful for [tabligh in] a nearby village but it is not enough for far-off places. Moreover, a two-day [tabligh] tour can be useful for a village where people have already heard a lot about Ahmadiyyat. However, preaching for a few hours or a day in villages where the people have not heard anything [about Islam Ahmadiyyat] will not be of much benefit. Certainly, a period of two days might be useful for an ephemeral need or a short-term plan.

15-day yearly devotion scheme for tabligh

“However, the attainment of full advantage is only possible through the scheme I had presented previously that every Ahmadi should devote 15 days a year to tabligh. If it takes one day for a person to go to a place in a district and a day to return, then they can stay there for 13 days, and during this period, they can extensively convey [the message of Ahmadiyyat] in their respective village. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, it can produce great results. If 30 to 40 people are spread over 30 to 40 nearby villages for 15 days, such a great impact can be created that many people will find it difficult to resist. This is my opinion about the [15-day yearly devotion] scheme.

“Now, I will shed some light on the work of preachers who have presented themselves for tabligh. As far as I am concerned, so many instructions have already been given for preaching that, except in special situations, it is no more than a ritual to give a speech before the missionaries. However, I am not standing here to perform a ritual, but to draw your attention to a certain shortcoming that is found in preachers.

“In all the works of the world, [people] are mainly driven by two kinds of interests: One is that a person begins to enjoy their work, and the other is that they are focused on its results.

Reason for the downfall of religions

“Some people are of the opinion that every work should be done for the sake of it. This is a very good opinion, but sometimes it has a very grave effect. In my view, this very reason was not only behind the downfall of Islam but all other religions as well that the work carried out for faith was only done for personal pleasure and delight, and its consequences were ignored. For this reason, clerics, pundits, and priests led to the destruction of their respective religions because they did it for their own satisfaction. They focused on hurting their opponent. Moreover, they put forth every effort to humiliate each other at every given opportunity. The result of this approach may be that the audience will become happy and the people will start cheering, but unfortunately, the opponent will never attain guidance. Rather, it will give rise to stubbornness and enmity in them.

How to achieve success in tabligh?

“To achieve success in preaching, the primary focus of the missionary should be on the guidance of the opponent. If this is not taken into account, even though one wins a debate or a discussion, it will not be a true victory at all.

A simple example

“For instance, the Christians say that their religion teaches that if someone slaps them on one cheek, they should turn the other cheek as well. Now, if a debate is being held with a Christian and the debater slaps him, and when he objects, the debater mocks, ‘Is this not your teaching?’

“At that very moment, if the audience is merely engaged in listening to the debate without seriousness and sobriety, they will remark, ‘What a great argument it is.’ However, the Christian with whom the debate is being carried out to guide him towards Islam will never become a Muslim, as his entire focus will not be on the argument but on the slap. The Christian will only be thinking about the pain he is going through and the humiliation that is inflicted on him.

“Thus, some arguments are more powerful and effective for others, but they are not effective at all for those who are intended to be guided. On the other hand, sometimes a very trivial argument becomes effective for a particular person.

Focus on guiding people

“Hence, every missionary of ours who goes out to preach should keep in mind that their aim should be to guide people and not just to debate them. To achieve this goal, if in a given situation it is better for you to speak gently, say only a few words, or keep silent, then this approach is a thousand degrees better than to keep talking, speaking too much, or shouting loudly, which only satisfies the audience but is not at all helpful in guiding the opponent.

“When such passion, enthusiasm, and ambition will arise in you that our work is to guide others and bring them on the right path, then even your trivial arguments shall prove very beneficial and effective for them.

“For example, ‘What is mesmerism?’ It is simply to focus on an idea and induce a [trance-like state] in another person. Through this technique, the practitioner creates a small idea within himself, for example, that the other person has fallen asleep, and then he starts focusing on it with his mind. As a result, the said person eventually falls asleep. In the same way, if the practitioner focuses on numbing the other person’s body, their body becomes numb or if he focuses his mind on relieving someone from fever, their fever subsides. It is not even a true idea and, in some cases, it is the complete opposite of what the other person is feeling. In fact, it is an artificial and temporary idea that is created for a trivial need, but even this [insignificant idea] is accepted, and when someone focuses on it, it creates a change in others. Now, just imagine what kind of results can be produced if a true idea is created in one’s heart, [and then induced in someone else].

“The Promised Messiahas used to narrate the story of an old man who sat in a mosque, thinking that people would call him righteous and pious. But no matter how much spiritual exercise he did, it had no effect on anyone. Rather, people used to call him a deceiver and a hypocrite. Time passed and seven years went by. Finally, this person thought that he had tried to deceive God for such a long period of time, but it was of no benefit. He then committed to winning the pleasure of God, and with this idea in mind, he performed ablution and offered salat. He prayed, ‘O God, I worship you with a sincere heart.’ This act caused such a change in him that when he came out of the mosque after the prayer, people started saying that he was a noble elder and a very pious person. It was as if the day he changed his intention, on the same day God turned the hearts of the people [towards him].

“Thus, for success in preaching, it is necessary to create a sincere feeling in one’s heart and soul that may help the people attain guidance.

Success of Prophets

“Behold! Prophets do not succeed through arguments. The Promised Messiahas never fixated his energy on debating all and sundry. Rather, sincerity of heart makes the prophets successful. In the Holy Quran, God Almighty says about the Holy Prophetsa:

لَعَلَّکَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفۡسَکَ اَلَّا يَکُوۡنُوۡا مُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ

[‘Haply thou wilt grieve thyself to death because they believe not.’ (Surah ash-Shu‘ara, Ch.26: V.4)]

“That is, Prophet Muhammadsa was so much passionate for the people to become believers that he was going to harm himself. One can imagine how much pain was present in his heart [for the non-believers].

Key to success

“The key to success in preaching is that a person sincerely feels the pain within himself to [guide] others and is fully committed to persuading them. When one reaches out to others in this manner, they guide many to accept, even some very difficult matters. Consequently, it has been witnessed that the individuals who follow this way help guide more people to accept Islam Ahmadiyyat as compared to those scholars whose discourses people rave about.

“Thus, when our missionary will have a strong pain for others within their heart as to why people do not accept the truth and go astray, then all their efforts [of tabligh will be successful …].”

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 29 January 1924 issue of Al Fazl)

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