100 Years Ago… – Ahmadiyya Jamaat’s address to Sir E Maclagan

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The Review of Religions (English), December 1919

On Wednesday afternoon (December 17) a deputation of the Ahmadiyya community presented an address of welcome to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor at Government House, Lahore. Sir Edward Maclagan was accompanied by the Additional Secretary to Government (Shaikh Asghar Ali, CBE), and his Private Secretary (Lieutenant-Colonel E C Bayley, C I E).

The deputation represented all interests of the Ahmadiyya Community. The address was read by Chaudhry Zafar Ullah Khan, Barrister-at-Law, and presented by Sardar Imam Bakhsh Khan, Tummandar, Dera Ghazi Khan. After His Honour had replied, Maulvi Sher Ali presented to His Honour some books of the sect, which were accepted with thanks.

The following was the address:

“We, the representatives of the Ahmadiyya community, beg to approach Your Honour on behalf of our Holy Leader and our Community to offer to Your Honour and Lady Maclagan a most cordial and loyal welcome to the Punjab.

“This is the first occasion on which the members of the Ahmadiya Community are presenting an address to the Head of the Province and therefore, we are all the more glad, to avail ourselves of the occasion to personally express to Your Honour the deep feelings of loyalty which animate the heart of every member of the Community. We assure Your Honour that in according this welcome we are actuated by more than a sense of duty. We feel the same pleasure which one feels at the coming of an esteemed and valued friend; for Your Honour come, as the representative of His Imperial Majesty the King-Emperor, towards whom an active love and obedience was repeatedly and emphatically enjoined upon us by the Holy Founder of the Movement.

“While according to Your Honour a cordial welcome, we realise the responsibility which this greeting involves. A sincere welcome to a visitor implies sympathy with the object of his visit. Our welcome, therefore, necessarily signifies that we undertake and bind ourselves to meet any call for cooperation or service which Your Honour might think fit to make in, the discharge of the duties of your exalted office.

“Sir, as to future difficulties and coming events nobody can make a prediction save God and we do not know what turn events will take during Your Honour’s tenure of office; but trusting in God’s Grace, we assure Your Honour that Your Honour will on all occasions find the Ahmadiyya Community to be the most loyal and faithful subjects of His Imperial Majesty, for such loyalty is one of the conditions of initiation into our Movement. The Holy Founder of the Movement repeatedly exhorted his followers to remain steadfast in their loyalty to the Government. Out of some 80 books written by him there is hardly any which does not contain an exhortation to this effect. Faithful to the teachings of their master, his first successor in his time and his second successor, the present Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, have ever kept this injunction prominently in view in all their instructions to their follower. We, therefore, make bold to assure Your Honour that Your Honour’s Government can at all times place the fullest reliance upon the loyal and active co-operation of the Ahmadiyya Community and we have no doubt that with God’s help the Community will ever prove themselves deserving of such confidence.

“Sir, we are indeed weak both numerically and economically, and in these respects we stand no comparison with other communities of the Province. But Your Honour will find us ever ready to do what a sincere and grateful heart is capable of doing, and God helping, Your Honour will find our Community next to none in their efforts to combat external and internal disorder, and to further the peace and prosperity of the Province. We hope that whenever there is an occasion for service Your Honour will, like your worthy predecessor, be pleased to afford our Community an opportunity of discharging the responsibilities which attach to them as citizens and as loyal subjects of the King Emperor.

“We have already stated that we are weak both in respect of numbers and worldly possessions; we also beg leave to add that having joined a Movement which is yet new, being, not more than 30 years old, the people from whom we came naturally regard us with feelings of bitter resentment; that with the exception of the learned and liberal few. The people generally entertain many erroneous views with regard to us; that like every new Movement in its inception, ours is for the time being the object of popular hatred and resentment and that many a place our poorer brethren are being subjected to bitter persecution, a fact to which Your Honour’s worthy predecessor bore testimony in one of his letters to the Head of our Community which admitted that the tenets and aims of the Community have not un-frequently been misrepresented in the past.

A purely religious movement

“Sir, these misunderstandings are not confined to the people alone, for sometimes even the authorities labour under them. We, therefore, beg leave to assure Your Honour that our Movement, is a purely religious Movement and that our Community concerns itself with politics only when their duty to preserve the peace so demands or when they are able by such means to do some humble service to the Government or to their fellow countrymen.

“In conformity with the principles laid down by the Holy Founder, the Movement is not only thoroughly loyal to the British Government but even in matters of internal politics it follows methods which are eminently peaceful, disapproving many even of those methods which are held by others to be constitutional and legal. Our Movement, for instance, disapproves of the hartal [strikes] and other political agitations from religious considerations. We beg to submit that the Community has already given practical proof of its attitude under the most trying circumstance; and at considerable loss to itself.

“Sir, although this is only an address of welcome, yet as things are moving rapidly and we do not know whether we shall soon have another opportunity of expressing our views before Your Honour, we beg leave to avail ourselves of this opportunity to express a hope that in carrying out the reforms which are now under consideration, due regard will be paid to the interests of our Community. In view of the hostile attitude of the masses towards our Community and of the fact that our members are scattered through all the districts of the Punjab we cannot hope, for some time to come, to represent our interests in the enlarged Councils through the ordinary electorates. We, therefore, hope that the Punjab Government while exercising the powers which have been reserved to it to remedy such deficiencies will always keep in view the interests of the Ahmadiyya Community.

The British victory

“Our address happening to come so immediately after the celebration of the Victory which Great Britain has achieved over Germany, we cannot help referring herein to that memorable event. We are thankful to God for granting victory to Great Britain over such a formidable enemy. It is a victory achieved for civilisation and humanity. We pray that it may lead to highly beneficial results and that the British Government may stand firm on principles of rectitude and justice in the days of peace just as it stood as their champion during the trying days of the War.

“We are thankful to God that in the critical days when the British Government was hemmed in on all sides by its enemies and subsequently when as a sequel to the War there were troubles both in the country and on the frontier, He enabled us to serve the Government to an extent which was out of all proportion to our power and resources. And for the future, having regard to the rapid and steady progress which the Movement is making, not only in the Punjab and other parts of India, but also in England, Egypt, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Russian Turkestan, Persia, Afghanistan, Mauritius, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, etc., etc., and trusting in the promises which the Lord of Heaven and Earth made to the Holy Founder of the Movement, we hope to be able to render even greater and yet greater services to the British Government in its efforts to promote the cause of peace and civilization.

The Turkish question

“The address already presented to Your Honour by other sections of the Musalman Community draws Your Honour’s attention to two things, viz., the problem of the future of Turkey and the question of Mahomedan education.

“With regard to the latter question we beg leave to say that we are in full accord with the views expressed in the address. As regards the settlement of the Turkish question we hold a view different from that expressed in the address and this difference we feel it necessary to make clear. We are at one in the request that while dealing with the Turks consideration should be paid to the feelings of the Mussalman world, but we wish to point out that religiously speaking we do not admit owing any allegiance to the Sultan. We hold that only a, successor of the Promised Messiah is entitled to be the Spiritual Head of the Mussalmans, and as for our temporal Sovereign we recognise only the Power under whose rule we live.

“Thus our Khalifa is the Second Successor of the Promised Messiah and our Sultan is His Imperial Majesty King George V. Our sympathy with the Turks is based on the fact that they share with us the name of Islam and the fall of their Empire will be a blow to the visible power and prestige of Islam.

“In the end we beg to repeat our sincere welcome to Your Honour and Lady Maclagan on behalf of our Holy Leader and the Ahmadiyya Community, and beg to assure Your Honour that you will ever find our Community ready and eager to serve the Government and the country. They will ever cheerfully respond to any call that may come from Your Honour or Your Honour’s Government.

“We conclude our address with the prayer that Allah may vouchsafe to you power to discharge the arduous and important duties of your exalted office and that in all things He may enable you to tread the path of justice and rectitude and that His grace may ever attend you as your constant guide and helper. Amen.

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