100 Years Ago… – ‘Female education should be made compulsory’: Annual meeting of Majlis-e-Shura Qadian


The Review of Religions [English], January, February & March 1923

Hazrat Rahim Bakhsh [Maulana Abdur Rahim Dardra]
Old Qadian

As usual, this year [1923] too, the Khalifatul Masih II[ra], Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, invited the Ahmadiyya anjumans to send their delegates to Qadian, for the discussion of certain important matters, and a large number of representatives of the Ahmadiyya anjumans of Bengal, Behar, Madras, Bombay [now Mumbai], UP and the Punjab assembled at Qadian for this purpose during the Easter holidays. The proceedings began on 31 March [1922] when the Khalifatul Masih[ra], the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community, delivered his opening address and then three sub-committees were formed in order to suggest a practical scheme of work with regard to the three different sets of questions before the meeting.

The sub-committees began their work after noon and finished it by 9pm. The following day, the secretaries to His Holiness, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, read their reports of the work done by the different departments and the representatives were given an opportunity to criticise the work done during the year, so that if there be any defect either in the work done by the secretaries or in the method adopted by them, it may be brought to the notice of the Leader.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, M.A.

This being done, the reports of the sub-committees were laid before the meeting. The first report that came before the conference was by the president of the sub-committee formed for propaganda [tabligh] work, Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib[ra] MA, son of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[as], the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and it was read by Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan Sahib[ra] BA, LLB, Bar-at-Law, himself a member of the sub-committee owing to the former’s illness. Besides many important matters on which the sub-committee had submitted a scheme of work, there was one with regard to the proselytising propaganda set up in UP by the Arya Smajists among the Malkana Rajputs. There was a difference of opinion in the sub-committee; some were of the opinion that the time had arrived when the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community should make it obligatory for all members of the community to preach Islam and take part in the propaganda, while others said that as men were forthcoming for the work without any such order from the Leader, there was no need to adopt the above-mentioned course.

The matter being discussed threadbare in the conference the Leader declared that he was also with the majority and that he too considered that at present only an appeal should be made so that those who could afford to preach Islam at their own expense at least for three months should come forward. The Leader, after hearing the opinions of the representatives, also decided that now they should begin the preaching of Islam among the Hindus so that this nation too may very soon receive the light of Islam.

Next came the report of the sub-committees on education. Among the important suggestions made by the sub-committee, there was one that laid out a course of education that should be completed by each and every Ahmadi lady in the ensuing year. After consultation, the Leader of the Ahmadiyya Community, agreeing with the minority, decided that in the ensuing year each Ahmadi lady should at least receive full instructions in the Holy Kalima of Islam and the Islamic prayers. Besides this, agreeing with the majority, he ruled that female education should be made compulsory for the Community and wherever there did not already exist Ahmadiyya schools for girls, new Ahmadiyya schools might be started and where the starting of the school was not practicable, Ahmadi girls should be educated in the Government Girls’ Schools up to the 3rd standard of the primary schools compulsorily and that after this stage had been reached choice might be given to the individuals to pursue any course that they thought best to follow according to their particular circumstances and that where there were no Government Girls’ Schools, girls should be educated at home. For women, it was also decided that after the pattern of لجنہ اماء اللہ (‘Ladies’ Society of the Servants of God’, that has been started under the patronage of the Leader of Ahmadiyya Community for the education and instruction of women at Qadian), Ahmadiyya Ladies’ clubs [associations] should at present be started at Lahore, Ferozepur, Ludhiana, Delhi, Sialkot and Nowshera Cantt. The duty of these clubs would be to teach women to make use of the education they have received so far, encourage them to invite lectures on necessary branches of learning, from experts and last but not least to have such social [interaction] with the widows, orphans and the poor as may drive away from their minds their feelings of inferiority and helplessness.

Then came the report of the sub-committee on finance. Among other matters on which the committee reported, there was the question of collecting funds to meet the expenses of the propaganda and putting a stop to the apostasy movement. The Leader of the Ahmadiyya Community after listening to the opinions of the representatives on the report of the sub-committee and agreeing with the majority, decided that 50,000 rupees should be collected from among those members of the community who could subscribe at least 100 rupees, and that a general appeal for funds should not be made at present. As soon as this decision of the Leader was made known to the representatives, they announced their own subscriptions and 10,500 rupees were promised then and there. The members of the Ahmadiyya Community at Qadian had, under the above principle, already paid 4,000 rupees. So, the collected funds came to 15,000 rupees and for the remaining sum, appeals will be made to other members of the community who were not present at that moment. Though Ahmadiyya ladies had already advanced their subscriptions towards the Berlin Mosque funds, those of them who had come to attend the proceedings of the committee and were present there behind the purdah, contributed their quota to this fund also.

The proceedings were concluded with prayer.

Rahim Bakhsh,

Private Secretary to His Holiness the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community.

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Review of Religions [English], January, February and March 1923)

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