The Review of Religions [English], November & December 1923
His Holiness, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra], [then] head of the Ahmadiyya Community delivered a public lecture on the afternoon of 14 November 1923 at the Bradlaugh Hall of Lahore before a large and representative gathering of the people of that city. Khan Bahadur Sheikh Abdul Qadir BA (Bar-at-Law) of Lahore was in the Chair. His Holiness dealt with the causes of the present estrangement between the different communities inhabiting India and made a number of practical suggestions as to how the causes of friction could be eliminated and the various communities be induced to live in peace with each other. A brief summary of this lecture has been sent to us by the Nazir Talif-o-Isha‘at Qadian for publication in The Review of Religions, and this we insert below. – Editor (1923)
The learned speaker started by saying that the recent Hindu-Muslim unity had proved unstable as it had come into being during a period of temporary excitement and was based on foundations, which were soon undermined by subsequent events. The main causes of an understanding between the two communities were the speedy attainment of the Swaraj and a satisfactory settlement of the Khilafat question. The latter was brought about by dramatic and unexpected events, namely the Turkish victories in Asia Minor and the establishment of a republic at Angora. The hopes of a speedy Swaraj gradually ended in disappointment and the result was a reaction in both the Hindu and Muslim communities in which each community began to take stock of the sacrifices it had made for the common cause and of the ground which it had lost in the race for progress as compared with the other community. Suspicion was engendered in the mind of each community and each believed that it had not been fairly dealt with by the sister community.
An inherent cause of this rupture existed from the very beginning in the fact that a section of each community used the apparent unity for the achievement of selfish objects. The Congress failed to exercise a unifying influence as its own constitution had been fatally tampered with and while representative forms were retained it had really become subservient to the will of Mr Gandhi. But as the attachment and devotion felt by the nation for Mr Gandhi was a purely personal one and there was no body to step into the place which he was occupying his imprisonment left the central organisation of the country in a paralysed condition. All efforts which have since been made towards unity have proved futile as they were purely artificial and public enthusiasm could not be enlisted in their support.
In the meantime, the Sangathan and the Shuddhi movement happening to synchronise as they did with this disruption of relations between the two communities gave further umbrage to the Muslims who began to suspect that the Hindu Community was organising itself on a wide scale with the object of crushing the Muslims. Neither of these movements taken by itself during normal times could justly be described as offensive but in this instance, there were certain peculiar features which justly gave alarm in the minds of the Muslim Community.
The speaker said that he had no objection to Shuddhi if it was meant merely to indicate that the Hindu Community were desirous of propagating their various forms of religion in making converts to them, but the means which were employed for the achievement of this object were at once immoral and mischievous and created extreme exasperation in the minds of the Muslims. The speaker then gave various authentic instances of the false and mischievous propaganda which was in several instances resorted to by the Shuddhi preachers. He then put forward various practical suggestions which if adopted, according to him, would remove the principal causes of friction at present working between the various communities dwelling in India. It was pointed out that any scheme of unity which was put forward must include all the communities of the country and the government being vitally interested in such matters must not be left out of it. The following were the principal points suggested:
The Muslims must organise themselves and put the community on a basis of social, commercial, economic and industrial independence. There could be no real unity between two communities, one of whom was entirely dependent upon the other. It must not be imagined that steps taken towards organising and strengthening the Muslim Community would tend towards a disturbance between the communities. It is an accepted principle that strength and equality are indispensable guarantees of peace and no nation deliberately abandons the means of self-defence and progress merely because it is at peace with other nations. The economic, commercial and industrial works of the Muslim Community in India were then pointed out and means of improvement were suggested.
The speaker insisted that the Muslims must pay more attention to the propaganda [tabligh] of their faith, as a living organism which ceases to grow is sure to fall into decay.
Thirdly, they must adopt means to protect and educate backward sections of the community, as their present neglected condition meant the loss of so much community.
In religious matters, it was suggested that all communities must accept and revere the founders of the great religions of the world not merely out of courtesy but because the universal providence compels us to accept the principle that as He has provided means of material sustenance in all ages for all sections of humanity, He must equally have provided the means of spiritual sustenance through His prophets in all ages and all countries. If this could not be done, all communities must at least agree that references to founders of religions should always be made in respectful terms and words and expressions which are likely to give offence to the followers of any particular religion should be carefully eschewed.
In religious controversies, each community should avoid disparaging remarks about other religions and should confine itself to putting forward the excellence of its own. But if this was found impracticable and comparative criticism could not be avoided then it should be confined to doctrines and beliefs which the followers of each religion profess and believe and should not be directed against such doctrines as are disowned by them.
Again, no community should endeavour to compel another community to adopt the practices which are considered obligatory or desirable in their own religion. For instance, the Hindus should not insist upon the Muslims giving up the eating of beef nor should the Muslims insist upon the Hindus doing anything which the Muslims consider desirable according to their own religion but which the Hindus would find inconvenient.
In political matters, each community should gladly accede to the other their proportionate rights and by all means insist upon obtaining their own legitimate dues.
The meeting concluded with a remark from the president in which he complimented the learned and revered speaker and expressed his entire consent to the suggestions which had been made by him.
The meeting lasted for over two hours.
(Transcribed and edited by Al Hakam from the original, published in The Review of Religions [English], November and December 1923)
Need for missionaries in Africa
Al Fazl, 16 November 1923
Below is a letter sent recently by an Ahmadi brother from a place in Africa to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra]. From this letter, it becomes evident how God is guiding people towards Islam despite the lack of any apparent means. In the given circumstances, if a dedicated missionary reaches this place [in Africa] and devotes his life to the service of Faith and starts teaching Islam among these people, then, God willing, in a very short time, a large number of people will come under the flag of Islam and attain satisfaction of heart. The person who sent this letter is a government employee in Africa, and though he possesses a great zeal for tabligh [preaching] in his heart, there are many hurdles in his path. It is for this very reason that there is a pressing need for devoted [Ahmadi] missionaries to go to Africa with the sole intention of preaching. However, they can certainly do some private business to fulfil their needs. – The Editor, Al Fazl (1923)
“In spite of the fact that the enemies of Islam have been trying to destroy this Faith, the powerful divine providence and the angels of Allah the Almighty are instilling the spirit of Islam in the hearts of countless people without any visible means. From all quarters, I hear that Africans are getting circumcised, i.e., they are converting to Islam. This [circumcision] is the sign of being a Muslim here. A few months ago, two men converted to Islam in this region. Now, only five days have passed since two more individuals received circumcision. Another two gentlemen will be circumcised tomorrow, insha-Allah.
“I really admire and respect those who instil in them [Africans] the love of Islam. I also offer some monetary sacrifice, but there is no proper missionary for them.
“Surely, angels are always at work. At a distance of around a hundred kos [one kos is equal to approximately two miles] from here, there is a native chief who has also received circumcision. Beholding him, all the people of the village under him are getting circumcised, [i.e., converting to Islam]. These people do not want to hear anything about the Hindu religion. They consider the practice of burning the dead and worshipping stone images as gods extremely bad and wrong.
“This humble one wants to preach Islam to all of them [i.e., natives of this place] along with those who have come to settle here. I am keen to go to the cities and convey the message of Islam.
“However, the Indian Muslim brothers as well as the Arabs and the Hindus are creating problems for me by employing all kinds of vile schemes. Those who had become Christians are converting to Islam. A priest had made nearly thirty Christians in seven years with a desperate effort, but only three of them remained steadfast after his departure.”
(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 16 November 1923 issue of Al Fazl)