100 Years Ago… – Importance of tabligh in the UK and methods to achieve success

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Al Fazl, 28 July 1921

Hazrat Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Sayalra MA, (1887-1960)

The tabligh [preaching] of Islam in the UK is a very important and beneficial matter. It is the duty of every Muslim to spread the message of Islam all over the world. Allah the Almighty says:

بَلِّغۡ‭ ‬مَاۤ‭ ‬اُنۡزِلَ‭ ‬اِلَيۡكَ

“Convey to the people what has been revealed to thee from thy Lord.” 

The English are also part of the various nations of the world. Hence, they also have a right to be conveyed the message of Islam. Moreover, the superiority that this nation has today is manifest to all. The people of Europe are prevailing in the world today, but the English people are dominant over all the nations of Europe. 

Thus, as a nation whose purpose of coming into existence and a Jamaat whose primary reason for establishment is to spread Islam in all parts and corners of the world, it is incumbent upon us to give special attention to these people. 

The Promised Messiahas, who came to revive Islam in this age, prayed a lot for them [the English] and paid considerable attention towards them. Naturally, he should have paid more attention to the Hindus because they were the near ones and the dwellers of the country. It is probably for this reason that in his book, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, mostly Hindus were addressed. However, most of the books that followed [Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya] discuss Christianity.

Moreover, I observe that the very first foreign mission of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat was also the London Mission. There is certainly divine providence behind this as well. 

I admit that this mission was established by a stroke of fortune. I was present in this country and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra] ordered me to start work. Otherwise, had there been a proposal to set up a mission in London after deliberation in Qadian, most people would have opposed this suggestion, probably due to difficulties and vast expenses, and the work would have been postponed. However, the situation was such that work started over here without any special proposal. Thereafter, since it was impossible to abandon this work, a permanent mission was established by the grace of God Almighty.

Allah the Almighty creates appropriate means when He wants to take work from a community of believers. Regarding the Battle of Badr, it is written that the group of disbelievers was three times larger than the group of Muslims, but Allah the Almighty made such an arrangement that most of that group was veiled behind a mountain. Muslims thought that disbelievers were few in number. On the other hand, disbelievers thought that there were only a few Muslims. In this way, the battle began. 

God has said:

لِّيَقۡضِيَ‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬اَمۡرًا‭ ‬كَانَ‭ ‬مَفۡعُوۡلًا

“[The encounter was brought about] that Allah might accomplish the thing that was decreed.” 

In the verses of the Holy Quran that mention the Battle of Badr, it is written that Allah the Almighty Himself made such an arrangement that the weak group of disbelievers escaped from the hands of the Muslims but God made them attack the stronger group [of disbelievers] so that such a severe blow be inflicted on disbelievers that their backs and morale be shattered.

Just as London’s tabligh work is important, it is equally difficult as well. Converting the British to Islam is not a trivial matter. It requires extraordinary effort and patience.

I have made this preamble because there are some people who do not consider it financially viable to set up a mission in the UK. The second reason behind this is that I wish to present a new proposal to our nation for this work and it will cost more in the beginning. It could have made people even more nervous [had I not given a preliminary explanation]. Though it is against the high standards of the momineen [believers] of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, I still have cautiously submitted [all the above].

Settling Ahmadis in the UK for indirect tabligh

I do not currently remember exactly, but probably at the annual Jalsa of 1917 or 1918, I expressed this [suggestion] before the Jamaat that in order to carry out tabligh in London, it was very necessary to have a group of Indian Ahmadis relocate [to the UK] who should be engaged in their business and trade and make a living out of those jobs. Their task should not be to preach directly, and their expenses should also not depend on donations for tabligh or chanda

Since then, I have mentioned this view to friends in private conversations. Such discussions made me realise that the Jamaat is ready for this task on its own and most people are feeling the same as I have felt. Apart from other friends, Sheikh Ahmadullah Sahib met me after the said Jalsa. Moreover, once, I happened to go to Gujranwala and learned that Bhai Azizuddin Sahib was ready for this work, so much so that he was ready to sell his house to go to England.

Now, these two friends are here in London and run their own businesses. Although they have not made huge mercantile profits so far, still their own expenses are being met. However, the presence of these two friends is helping me a great deal in tabligh. Ahmadi students also help me, but most students cannot help as much as these two friends do.

Maulvi Mubarak Ali Sahib has gone to Southsea and I am alone here in London. There was a lot of work for a lone man and it was difficult to do without the help of the said friends. Likewise, Karam Din is also making a living and preaching to Indian sailors in his own way. Hence, three friends have come here following [my suggestion] and all three are easily surviving.

Now, the proposal is to expand this further and such people come here who can stay in the UK for a while or make it their home. A large number of those young people are needed who have studied in Qadian for eight years or more, whether they have got this much education in high school or in Madrassa Ahmadiyya, or even if they have studied in the Madrassa for a few years and then for some years in the school. There is no issue if people volunteer [for this work]. Those people who have received private education will reside and work in different cities in the UK and will usually be assigned to places where there are already some English Muslims. Together with these people, these friends will do the work of tabligh. In this way, wherever there will be such friends, a centre of tabligh will be established.

Practical example of Islamic life in the UK

One of the objectives of this work is to show the English people a practical example of Islamic life. People in Europe are often not of a religious bent and also look down on Islam. When they are told about Islam, their answer is often that, “You are right, but why are Muslims in such a bad state?” 

I had a lecture last night at a dignitaries’ club here. The first question after the lecture was, “If what you are saying is true, then why is the condition of Muslims so bad?”

If we reply that Muslims have given up the practice [of Islam], then the objection is that it proves that Islam is a religion that cannot be practised. [They say] “If the people of the East cannot act on it, how can we act on it?” If the example of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is presented, they make excuses by expressing non-acquaintance.

Thus, a living example of Ahmadiyyat needs to be shown in this country. In addition, many ways of tabligh will be opened for the missionaries through these people. For the details, talk to nazir talif-o-ishaat [director of compilation and publication], Qadian.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu in the 28 July 1921 issue of Al Fazl)

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