100 Years Ago… – American Newspapers’ reports on arrival of Mufti Sadiq

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Al Fazl, 26 April 1920

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra

One of the benefits that became manifest after being stranded on the shore for a few days, before I officially entered the country is that without any effort on my part and without spending a dime, my portraits and accounts of the Jamaat have been published in the most prominent and famous newspapers over here.

These papers are printed in their millions. By 14 March 1920, 14 articles have been published in various newspapers and four times, my photographs have been printed. There are some details in these articles that are present in almost all of them. Thus, I shall briefly translate them as a whole:

“The American ship [SS] Haverford arrived in Philadelphia on the evening of 15 February [1920]. There were many Chinese people on board, who were dropped off at Halifax and from there, the ship came here. The ocean was mostly windy and stormy. There were some army captains and other officers as well, but the most notable passenger of this ship is Mr Mufti Muhammad Sadiq. He is a preacher of a reformed sect of Islam called Ahmadiyya and he has come to this country alone to convert America to Islam. He has great faith in the truth of his beliefs. The centre of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is Qadian, which is located in district Gurdaspur of the province of Punjab, India … The name of the present Imam of Ahmadiyya is Mahmud.

“Prophet Ahmad claimed that he was the Promised Messiah and the Mahdi. He made many prophecies that were fulfilled. One of them was about the last war and the destruction [of the] Russian Tsar, which was published many years before the start of the war. The people of this sect do not believe in jihad. They believe that the truth of a religion should be proven with the help of reasonable arguments and signs. There are about 600,000 Ahmadis in India and other countries.

“Mr Sadiq has been working for the Ahmadiyya Mission in London for the past three years and converted a large number of English men and women to Islam. He wears a green turban on his head and a brown suit. The style of his coat is not English, but rather a unique kind of his own. He speaks very fluent English in a scholarly tone. His general knowledge is extensive and he knows seven languages. He has received numerous diplomas and degrees from London’s colleges and academic societies. Initially, he plans to establish his headquarters in New York and then he will give lectures across the country. Philadelphia will be included in the circle of these lectures.

“A strange thing about their beliefs is that they do not believe Jesus Christ to be alive and his [physical] ascension towards the heavens. They believe that he died, not on the cross, but was taken down from the cross in a state of unconsciousness and then went to Kashmir after recovering from his wounds. At that time, Jews used to live there. There, he died a natural death. His grave is still in the city of Srinagar, which is confirmed by the traditions and history of the country of Kashmir.

“Mr Sadiq was barred from entering the country by immigration inspectors because he did not have certain documents and for being a preacher of a religion that allows polygamy. However, he did not accept the inspectors’ decision and appealed to the secretary of state. He has been placed at the immigration station pending an appeal.”

These were common details. Now, I will present those phrases as a sample that some newspapers have written separately:

1. Philadelphia Record, dated 22 February 1920:

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib has been stopped because he came from a country where a person cannot come to work in this country according to the law of interior. However, preachers, professors and doctors are allowed. The departmental officers in the Washington will now decide whether Mufti Muhammad Sadiq can be included in the exemption.” (Washington is the capital of this country, where the president and his secretary reside.)

2. Public Record, dated 10 February 1920:

“Authorities have sent a telegram to Hindustan, enquiring if Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib has one or more wives. After the reply comes from there, it will be decided if he can work here [or not]. Being stopped like this is annoying for him. However, in and around his house, he has made a lot of friends and everyone praises him for being an intellectual and good-natured man.”

3. North American newspaper, dated 7 March 1920:

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib, an Ahmadi preacher, whose picture is being published here is stuck thus far. The last letter of his name is ‘Q’ and not ‘G’ as some newspapers have written. Also, he is not a Hindu. Indeed, he is a Muslim who belongs to India. In India, Muslims are not called Hindus. ‘Sadiq’ means righteous. There is nothing wrong with his passport, but he does not have a written certificate from his missionary body, which is required in this country. He claims that he does not work on his own, but rather the organisation of his Jamaat pays all his expenses. After working in London for almost three years, he has handed over that work to two other missionaries. Their names are Mr Sayal and Mr Nayyar. He has a wife and four children. They live in India.”

4. Bulletin, dated 19 February 1920:

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, a missionary of a reformed Islam called Ahmadiyya, has travelled thousands of miles all alone to reach the shores of America with the aim of converting this country to Islam. Having a beautiful face and wearing a green turban and a long coat, he intends to promulgate Ahmadiyyat in this country and then return to India via Arabia. He is a member of a committee of translators of the significant translation of the Holy Quran, which is being published in India.”

5. Evening Bulletin, 17 February 1920:

“This Muhammad wants our country to become a follower of the new Muhammadan sect.”

6. Public Ledger, 17 February 1920:

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq is the most prominent of [SS] Haverford passengers, who converts the disbelievers to Islam. His church [sect] is a reformed church. His appearance and dress show that he is a learned man. He did not bring a sword, rather he brought arguments. According to their religion, the door to revelation is always open and obedience to the government is the duty of every person.”

7. Newspaper, The Press, dated 19 February 1920:

“The handsome chief missionary of Ahmadis, Sadiq has been stopped by the authorities but he is hopeful that he will convert America to Islam. His photo is published in this newspaper. The obstacles here did not put Sadiq in despair. In fact, he is full of faith and belief. Prophet Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, competed with Dowie, the American claimant of prophethood, in prayer [duel]. After that, Dowie died with humiliation and his legacy perished. Mr Sadiq speaks scholarly English and is an experienced and courageous person. His words are very precise and serious. The movement of his hands emphasises the meaning of his words. Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya sect, was a Muslim, a follower of the Holy Quran, a true admirer of Muhammad and a reviver and reformer of Islam.”

At present, my address for correspondence will be:

C/O Mr Rosanthall, 65 W 116 Street, New York (US America)

There is a separate address for telegrams. It has been sent to the office of Ishaat. The stamp on the letter from India to America costs two and a half annas [a unit of currency formerly used in the subcontinent, equal to 1/16 of a rupee] and the postcard stamp costs one anna. Thus far, I have not been allowed to enter the country and I request prayers from members of the Jamaat.

Muhammad Sadiq

America, 17 March 1920

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