100 Years Ago… – ‘Alhamdulillah, I am the first among my entire family to accept the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah’


Al Fazl, 1 January 1923

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)
Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyar 1

Return from the court of Emir Kano

On my return, the Emir [of Kano] walked ahead of us and shook hands at the first entrance to bid me farewell. Here, I said a few words and urged the king to look after his subjects and do justice. I said that seeking education was the duty of all Muslims and the king should arrange for the education of his people. A minister interpreted my words and the Emir listened to them with a smile on his face and replied, “Yes, yes.” After the king left us, the minister accompanied me to the car. Just as there was a party of admirers with the Emir, a group of admirers came along with us towards the last two entrances. There was also a lady among them. The minister said something in her ear and she left. Reaching the car, I dismissed the minister, and with a heart full of praise to Allah and expressing gratefulness for the honour I received as a servant of the Promised Messiahas on that day, I got in the car. As before, the royal official riders were in front of us and the private secretary sat with me in the car. Then, I reached the government school.

Government school visit

While visiting the school, the Superintendent of Education of Kano could not come due to illness, but the Deputy Director of Education of the Southern Province was present. I had a discussion with the teachers and I also [asked] something of the students from all seven grades and listened to their replies. The school is under the supervision of an old-fashioned teacher whose only job is to come and sit in it. Only English, Maliki jurisprudence, Arabic and elementary arithmetic are taught in this school. The students are not at all familiar with geography. The medium of instruction is the Hausa language, which is written using the English alphabet and courses are also being developed in this language. People are not paying attention to education at all. Only the simple reading of the Holy Quran and the teaching of Arabic in private schools is considered sufficient. There is a great opportunity for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat to take up the work of education in these countries. If a college similar to the Madrasa-e-Ahmadiyya is opened in Kano, God willing, the Hausa people will not only be adorned with the pearls of education, but this country will also become close to the Jamaat. Eventually, the disbelievers will convert to Islam. I advised the students to obey the government and become good Muslims.

My stay in Kano and achievements

I stayed in Kano from 22 to 29 August [1922]. I carried out individual tabligh [preaching] on a daily basis and delivered public speeches. People, especially the Christian friends, asked a lot of questions. The local priest came to visit and asked many questions. At one point, he said:

“I am still a teenager. As compared to you, I lack experience and knowledge.”

Another learned and respected Christian came to visit and after the conversation, he said:

“If a person has to accept a religion, they should accept Islam.”

I met Muslim merchants who came from Tripoli, Europe, Syria, and Morocco, as well as some other Arab people, and preached to them. I received a sheep, wheat, honey and rice as royal gifts from the Emir and the minister also presented two small sheep as a gift.

Six disbelievers converted to Islam and the Ahmadiyya Jamaat was established [in Kano, Nigeria]. At the time I am writing this report, the total number of women and men is about 80 members. The rest of the people are now giving special attention to Islam by the grace of Allah. Two pieces of land have been approved by the government for the proposed Talim-ul-Islam School in Kano. The construction of the school will begin at the start of the new year, insha-Allah. It is estimated that the Jamaat will spend five hundred pounds on it.

Return from Kano

The day of the return from Kano was a very busy day. The Honourable Resident, (who, by the grace of God, is now one of my European friends, with whom I have a friendly acquaintance), wrote to me, before leaving, asking me to visit the School of Industries and Handicrafts and the Survey School. A government car was sent for me for this visit. I would have really regretted it if I had come back from Kano without visiting these schools. The two schools are a source of honour and pride for the government because the first school preserves the local industry and handicrafts by decorating them in European colours and prepares the Hausa youth for a very useful field of life. The latter, i.e., Survey School, was a source of great joy for me. Mr Murphy Surveyor showed me his work and informed me about the significant achievements of his government, which the British are doing in the country of the Hausa people. Loosely dressed and work-shy Hausa boys were making such neat, accurate and admirable maps and working on the English and Arabic typewriters and printing presses that you will not find them any lesser than the English youths. Mr Murphy showed me the work of the local Hausa record keepers and cartographers, and he himself praised it.

Those who teach at the school know Arabic. The Surveyor General himself, acting as an interpreter, helped me talk to a teacher on the topic of jihad. Then I was shown a boarding school where students are taught English and Arabic. After visiting these two schools, I headed back home after seeing off the trusted official of the Emir from Kano who had come to bid me farewell. Then I reached the station. There, an Arab on behalf of Sharif Najafa, who is a prominent merchant of Kano, was present to see me off. Mostly, Yoruba and Hausa friends were present at the station. We boarded the train in a hurry and many people could not even shake hands. However, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, I returned successfully from Kano and the train reached Zaria at 8pm. Members of the newly established jamaat were present at the station. Isha prayer was offered at the station and friends were happy to hear the accounts of Kano.

I prayed for the perseverance of these people and reached Kaduna at two o’clock at night. There, Brother Mahmud Anwar was on the platform to receive me following the instructions of the telegram sent by the new convert station master of Kano. We said salaam to each other and an expression of happiness appeared on the face of this sincere friend. Yusuf Jackson, the telegraph man, also came. The luggage was unloaded and a conversation started between the two friends. Both took bai‘at [of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra] at the hand of this humble one. Since the Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary of the North Provinces are on a visit, it was deemed appropriate to leave on the morning train. Consequently, I left Kaduna at 10:30am.

Mena junction

On the evening of 25 August [1922], I reached Mena. This place is a railway junction and the centre of a very important Christian mission. The headquarters of the Sudan American Mission is here. Many American white preacher men and women live here. My friend Mahmud Anwar had requested another station master named Mr Holder to arrange my stay at his house. Mr Holder came with me on the train. Brother Muhammad Omar, a resident of Sokoto, who is a lineman, was also on this train. Consequently, Allah the Almighty Himself made great arrangements for my stay.

Mr Holder was very hospitable. He and his friend Mr Beliz studied the books, A Present to the Prince of Wales and [The Philosophy of theTeachings of Islam. A lot of Christians came and asked questions. The station magistrate’s department and court are located on a hill. I had to meet him because, without that, it is not possible to talk to native people. Thus, I met him and explained my reason for coming. A telegram was sent to the District Officer, which was answered the next day, and in the meantime, I got sick. Consequently, I could not do much work. At night, I was restless and continuously prayed. Allah granted me comfort and then I did some work in Mena on 31 August [1922].

Dawn Gola Dima

The native town of Mena is under the rule of Emir Beda. The official position of the ruler of the town is known as Dawn Gola Dima. It means local ruler or numberdar [village chief] After receiving the official permission, I met the aforementioned chief. Imam and the elders of the town were sitting on the floor according to the custom of the north. There were chairs for Dawn Sahib and me. In the reception room, there was also a horse owned by Dawn Sahib, which attracted the owner’s attention by spilling foul-smelling water from its body and he thus ordered to tie it outside of the room. The court of Gola Dima opened and the Ahmadiyya preacher gave a speech. It was requested to ask questions after the speech. An Ahmadi imam was nominated for the questions and important issues related to Ahmadiyya Jamaat were discussed by the imam with solid explanations. This conversation had a good effect on the audience.

Some prominent people [accept Ahmadiyyat]

On the same evening, a Haji Sahib who has been to Mecca eight times and performed Hajj, whose name is Haji Muhammad bin Sulaiman, came and requested to [join the Ahmadiyya Community]. Haji Sahib is very close to Emir Beda and God willing, the message of Ahmadiyyat will reach the royal court of the Emir through him. That same night, Prince Abdullah, the uncle of Emir Sokoto, came with his two friends and our conversation continued for a long time. Prince Abdullah was very impressed. While leaving, I asked them to pray at night. Thus, they prayed at night and came to pledge allegiance the next morning. A teacher also came with them and both of them said that they had received glad tidings that, “This person’s teaching was true.” Consequently, Sulaiman of Kano (teacher) and Prince Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr bin Muhammad Amirul Momineen Dawn Fodio pledged allegiance. I sent the book, Khutba Ilhamiyah [The Revealed Sermon] and gifts of rice to Emir Sokoto. May Allah guide Sulaiman Sokoto.

Prince Abdullah proudly said:

Alhamdulillah, I am the first among my entire family to accept the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah.”


I left Mena on 1 September [1922]. Friends came with me to accompany me to the station. Prince Abdullah was also present at the station, along with other youths who work there and are close to Ahmadiyyat. When the train reached Zangaro, people of the Jamaat, estimated to be around 20, were there waiting for my arrival. But as I was unwell, I apologised and promised to send another missionary to them.

At Zangaro, a train from Lagos crossed the northbound train. A young man came with a letter and African oranges and said he was carrying a special letter to Kano. I was anxious, but when the letter was opened, it was from a chief who is close to Ahmadiyyat. He had requested that I pray as he was in some difficulty. Considering prayer to be the only cure, he sent his special assistant to me. Allah the Almighty surely accepts the prayers by means of the Holy Messiahas.

Return to Lagos

Due to illness, weakness and financial constraints, all plans had to be cut short and seeing the big cities along the way, such as Ilorin, Rabadan, Oshogbo and Ibukota, made me feel sad, but whatever God does is best. On the evening of 2 September [1922], I arrived in Lagos. The secretaries reported that, by the grace of God, everything was going well. The speeches were being delivered on a regular basis. The inauguration of the school was scheduled on 11 September [1922].

While testifying in a case, the Resident of Colony said:

“The only way to reform and enlighten the Muslims is the Ahmadiyya Jamaat.”

Chief Imam Mahmud, who was Amir in my absence, looked after the administration of the Jamaat very well, alhamdulillah.

Brief news from Lagos

Talim-ul-Islam School Lagos was wonderfully inaugurated on 11 September [1922]. Six hundred students have been admitted to the school. People [join the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community] on a daily basis. Seeing the progress of the Jamaat, the wicked people have started a series of opposition and stones were pelted at our preachers last Friday night. They injured people with knives, bicycles were broken and some were stabbed. A case has been filed in court and four top barristers have been appointed. The accused appeared in court. Thus far, they have appeared three times in court. There will be no peace until they are punished. First hearing of the Mosque case was held last Thursday and the second will be tomorrow [on 11 October 1922].

We have received great news from the Benin region. A thousand men, including chiefs, have joined the Jamaat. But unfortunately, I am sick and weak and cannot go there at present. Friends, pray for me that may Allah showers His mercy because I have a lot of work and my health is weak.

Abdur Rahim Nayyar, 10 October 1922.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 1 January 1923 issue of Al Fazl)

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