100 Years Ago… – Eid in London and lantern slide lectures

    Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)
    Photo by David W. Meyer on Unsplash


    On Sunday, 4 May [1924], Eid-ul-Fitr prayer was held here [in London]. For the prayer, we have a smooth rectangular patch of grass amidst the trees in our orchard [beside the mosque]. Iranian carpets were spread over it. Despite being fewer in number, the dedicated members of London Jamaat gathered here [on the day of Eid] to pray before their God after observing 16-hour day fasts for [an entire month]. A significant number of guests were also present. 

    The weather in this country is quite unpredictable; although the sun was shining in the morning, it started raining by the time of the prayer. Consequently, the Eid prayer was performed under a light drizzle. A sermon was delivered after the prayer, outlining the teachings of Islam and highlighting the attributes of Ahmadiyya Jamaat. Then, following a silent prayer, friends embraced each other.

    Latest announcements

    In addition to Eid invitations, this time we published announcements in 46 newspapers across London and its suburbs that the Eid prayer would be offered at the Ahmadiyya Mosque [in London]. Moreover, at East Putney Station, we placed an information board in a prominent location displaying essential tabligh matter and directions [to the mosque] from the station. We also plan to publish more announcements in various newspapers to dispel a common misconception. It is often misunderstood or deliberately propagated that the Putney [Ahmadiyya Mission] is a branch of Woking.  

    Magic lantern lectures

    After the luncheon and tea, I [Hazrat Abdur Rahim Nayyarra] delivered a speech at 5 pm using a magic lantern [i.e., an early type of image projector]. By showing 46 images, I conveyed to the audience my journey to West Africa, the teachings of Islam Ahmadiyyat, the life of the Promised Messiahas, the comparative analysis of [Pandit] Lekhram and [John Alexander] Dowie, the tomb of Jesus in Kashmir, and more, all within the given time constraints.

    Some individuals, inclined to Baha’i faith, were also present. They were given English translations of the Promised Messiah’sas books, claims, and teachings.

    Following this lecture, [Barrister] Aftab Ahmad Iqbal, son of Dr [Sir Muhammad] Iqbal, delivered an excellent speech on Ahmadiyya Jamaat’s services to Islam. Drawing from his personal experience, he spoke about the education system in Qadian, its impact, and the fulfilment of the Promised Messiah’sas prophecies. What I found most delightful about this speech was that, on one side, the portrait of the Promised Messiahas was visible on the screen, and on the other side, BCL student Malik Mahmood Kamal Janjua of Oxon, BA Hons and Barrister-at-Law, was reading these words of the Promised Messiah:  

    “I saw [in a vision] that I was standing on a pulpit in the city of London and was setting forth the truth of Islam in the English language, in a very well-reasoned address.” [Tadhkirah [English], p. 239]

    اللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬صَلِّ‭ ‬عَلٰي‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬عَلٰي‭ ‬عَبْدِكَ‭ ‬الْمَسِيْحِ‭ ‬الْمَوْعُوْدِ

    [“O Allah! Peace and blessings be upon Muhammad, and peace be on your Your servant, the Promised Messiah.”]

    Governor Nigeria’s lecture

    Sir Hugh Clifford, a capable and wise Governor of Nigeria, delivered a lecture in London using a magic lantern. The topic of his speech was “Future Prospects for the Development of Nigeria and the Gold Coast.” The distinguished speaker discussed all the measures the government had undertaken so far, which had contributed to the prosperity of the country, and outlined the future prospects. While mentioning the enforcement of sharia punishments by the Muslim rulers of Northern Nigeria, he remarked, “Barbaric punishments, as prescribed in the Quran, [God forbid], have been abolished.” Right after his speech, I first pointed out the reforms and progress Nigeria had made during Sir Hugh Clifford’s tenure, noting that I was a firsthand witness to those developments. I then drew attention to the teachings of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat and stated: 

    “It is in the interest of the [British] Empire that high-ranking officials should choose their words very wisely. This is the second occasion on which Sir Hugh Clifford has used the term ‘barbaric.’ I hope that it will not happen a third time. I categorically object to the use of these words. It is our responsibility to understand what the Quran says and what it means.” The Governor then stood up and expressed his regret, stating that he had no intention of offending anyone.


    The work of a missionary here is both difficult and easy. It is difficult because the results are not immediate, and sometimes the outcome is unknown, which can be very disheartening for a sensitive person. It is easy in the sense that wherever he goes, or wherever he sits, he has the opportunity to convey the truth. For instance, when the ticket collector checked my ticket, I handed him a tract, saying, “Just as your ticket allows people to enter, this tract guides one to the house of God’s pleasure.” 

    Hence, such opportunities present themselves every now and then.  This week, I bid farewell to an Indian friend who was here on a trip. At the railway station, I got the chance to carry out tabligh to various travellers, including two Scottish Christians, one Brazilian Jew, and two English Jews. I had conversations with the passengers while the train stopped at the station, and after it left, I had discussions with their friends. By the sheer grace of Allah the Almighty, I was blessed with a great opportunity to spread the message of Islam.

    (Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 17 June 1924 issue of Al Fazl)

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