100 Years Ago… – Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s impact on African culture

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Last Updated on 26th August 2022

Al Fazl, 17 August 1922

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra
Africa

Weekly lectures

Every Sunday, I deliver lectures on different aspects of the truth of the mission of the Promised Messiahas at the Ahmadiyya Hall. Topics such as The Signs of the Day of JudgmentAnti-ChristGog-Magog and Dabatul Arz, have been dealt with. Moreover, I have delivered lectures on The Signs and Miracles of the Promised Messiahas as well as The Brief History of the Promised Messiah’s Life. Among the audience, there is a fair sprinkling of educated non-Ahmadi gentlemen. The lectures are proving to be a source of knowledge and much spiritual edification to the faithful. 

Ahmadiyyat has reached every household

The outdoor lectures are delivered twice a week and big audiences listen to them with great attention. By the grace of Allah, I say with the openness of my heart that the message of Ahmadiyyat has reached every single household in Lagos. Ahmadiyyat has become the general topic of conversation among men and women. Some scholars ask questions through the medium of certain people after the lectures. The educated class stop others from opposing the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in their respective constituencies.

Lessons of the Holy Quran for women

Regular dars of the Holy Quran for ladies is held thrice a week. I deliver dars once a week and imam Qasim Ajose addresses them twice a week. As it is a big city, it is difficult for the women to gather every day of the week. 

Dars of the book, Bulugh al-Maram is being delivered and the chapter of Zakat has already been completed. The Holy Quran has also been taught till the first half of the second part. Moreover, the Yoruba Quran classes are regularly held in different parts of the city under the supervision of imam Qasim Ajose, alfa Joshua, alfa MB Lual and imam Luan.  

New mosques – Laying the first bamboo

At Epetado, we have withdrawn from a mosque without any confrontation with our opponents, and instead of it, we have built a new mosque which will also serve as a madrasa [school]. At the opening ceremony, this humble one laid the foundation of the mosque and placed the first bamboo after a proper speech and prayers. This is a bamboo mosque with corrugated tin sheets as the roof. For our congregational purposes and other social gatherings, it is quite small. However, we trust God Who in due time will give our brethren plenty of space. We have also built two mosques in two other places. The small jamaats of those regions perform prayers over there. A noble-hearted Christian gentleman has been generous enough to allot land to our people for the construction of a mosque. 

If Muslims rise again, it will be through Ahmadiyyat

A special platform granted by Allah the Almighty, i.e. the press is being utilised in the furtherance of the divine message. A small pamphlet –What is the Ahmadiyya Movement? – was published and distributed. Moreover, The Address to the Prince of Wales was also reprinted and extensively circulated. There are many misconceptions about the Muslims here and their pitiable condition is the same everywhere. The diplomatic Christians take advantage of their ignorance on the one hand and on the other spread mistrust in the government about them. Therefore, it was necessary to circulate this address so that the good may not be veiled under the bad.

Apart from the local press, two famous newspapers of standing and weight are publishing appreciatory articles about the movement. Among the Christian editors, this belief is gaining ground that if ever Muslims are to rise again, it will be through and in the form of Ahmadiyyat. 

The West Africa, a well-known magazine in London, has published an excellent article about the Jamaat on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Individual tabligh

The elders of the Jamaat are visited at their homes to renew their faith and the chiefs of the city come to meet us. The series of discussions about Ahmadiyyat is being carried out on a regular basis. Some educated Christians are under tabligh. Alas! Many well-educated children of Muslims have converted to Christianity. A famous barrister once remarked to our brother that his grandmother was a Muslim, while another, a merchant, said that his father was a Muslim. They say, 

“Your sermon is correct and teaching is good, but where can we go and place ourselves? The alfas [maulvis] have misguided us about the teachings of the Holy Quran by telling us stories. Now as you have come, we will decide.”

Saltpond

Brother Maulvi Fazl Rahman is meeting Gold Coast Jamaat and is engaged in the tabligh tour. He faces great difficulties during preaching and some of the words he writes in various letters are as follows:

“I had to travel eight miles on foot and on reaching the destination, I did not get anything to eat. Thus, I had to sleep on an empty stomach by putting my trust in Allah.

“The difficulty of [not finding] interpreters is great and the journeys are painful. I am experiencing more than what I read in your [Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyar’s] writings.

“As soon as I sat in the Steam Launch [boat], I felt sick and started feeling nauseous. I go to Firsena in the morning. I have a cold and a fever. I am writing this letter in that state of illness.

“The people here are so oblivious, they don’t even know who is George V.”

Please pray for the health and success of this brother. He is as far from me as Bombay [now Mumbai] is from Mauritius. Nigeria and Gold Coast are two separate countries with separate governments. The authorities of Gold Coast also cause a lot of trouble.

Results of tabligh

Apart from countless souls who benefited from the speeches of the missionaries and felt a change in their hearts, the result of our meagre efforts is that 19 people have converted to Ahmadiyyat during the days of this report and five people have converted to Islam through Fazl Rahman Sahib.

Great hope in Allah the Almighty

Currently, we are facing a lot of difficulties and problems. A large part of the Jamaat is illiterate. They are not regular in contributing to the cause of God. The expenses here are three times more compared to London and everyone tries to trick you and charge more when they see a non-native person. Thus, on the one hand, we are facing the prejudiced government officials of Gold Coast, hidden mischiefs of priests, extreme expenditures, difficulty in procuring food provisions, etc., and on the other, the diplomatic Black Englishmen of Nigeria do not want that the foundations of Ahmadiyyat be established over here. In their view, a strongly established Ahmadiyya Jamaat will hinder their onslaughts on the innocent Muslims and harm their growing profitable trade carried out through ignorant Muslims. Some officials also do not want that the Muslims become enlightened. However, we are greatly hopeful from Allah the Almighty, and according to the words of Mr Martin, general secretary of Lagos Jamaat, we have great hope in God that insha-Allah, “Nigeria will not only bear its own expenses but the expenses of the England [mission] as well.”

We are quite hopeful that the government will soon allot a piece of land to us for a school. His honour, lieutenant governor has given us his word. It is estimated that the construction of the school will cost five thousand pounds. We strongly hope that by the grace of Allah the Almighty, the entire country will convert to Ahmadiyyat.

Prayer request

Owing to the opposition of certain people, the case of Jami‘ masjid [central mosque] has been filed in the High Court of Nigeria and its hearing is due in October [1922], so the friends are requested to pray in this regard.

Honourary missionaries

Imam Muhammad Ismail Sheta is engaged in tabligh in the areas of French Dahomey. He writes, “I go far away from the coast into the interior of the country where in addition to the trade, I engage in the work of spreading the message of Islam.” 

Mrs Mary Martin writes, “I am busy preaching Islam Ahmadiyyat.” 

Similarly, brother Nooruddin in Port Harcourt, brother Saeed Nooruddin in Abeokuta and Mr Abdur Rahim Smith are busy doing God’s work in Oshogbo. It is far more difficult to bring Muslims into the fold of true Islam than to convert disbelievers to Islam. 

Impact of Ahmadiyya Jamaat on the culture of Africa

If you see a young man riding a bicycle wearing a high-quality roman cap, or a woman wearing an English dress with a headscarf, then you should know that they are Ahmadis. Before my arrival, Muslim women would not often properly cover themselves, and wearing a long gown was considered part of Christianity, but by the grace of Allah, the good example of Ahmadi women has had such an impact that […] even the non-Ahmadi women have started to wear shirts and some wear gowns. Moreover, they cover their heads. However, a lot needs to be done and the dress code of Ahmadi women is very important. The capabilities of African women are far more than that of men.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu published in the 17 August 1922 issue of Al Fazl, with assistance from the translation published in The Review of Religions, October and November 1922)

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