100 Years Ago… – Inauguration of new mission house in London, views of famous newspapers and letter of an attendee

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Last Updated on 3rd April 2021

Al Fazl, 28 March 1921

Hazrat Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Sayalra (1887-1960)

The highlight of this report (5 to 16 February [1920]) is the inaugural jalsa of our new maqam-e-tabligh [mission house] which was successful in every way, by the grace of God Almighty. This jalsa was to be held on 6 February [1920], as has been mentioned in previous [reports]. 

Its preparations began around two weeks prior to the event and people interested in Islam and its activities were invited from London [in particular] and [other places of] England as well. Famous Indian, Hindu and Muslim friends of England were also invited.

Around 70 to 80 guests attended [the jalsa], including representatives of some well-known newspapers, secretaries and presidents of some societies, Prof Leon, who is an old and experienced Muslim, Sir TW Arnold, who is the author of the famous book, The Preaching of Islam and has a special interest in Islamic activities and a new convert Ahmadi Muslim, Mr Khalid Sheldrake. Apart from all these friends, the participation of the Chief Oluwa of Lagos is particularly noteworthy. 

Since this jalsa was also a farewell for Brother Nayyar Sahib, the chief addressed him in his speech and said: 

“You may lead the way and I will help you there [in Africa] to the fullest possible extent.” 

In addition, letters of apologies were received from Prof Brown of Cambridge, whose research and works have slowed the pace of the Bábi Faith in Europe and America and Lord Farooq Headley, for not being able to come due to their busy schedule.

Speech of the chairperson

Prof Haroun Mustafa Leon [also known as Abdullah Quilliam], who was the chairperson, said in his speech:

“Although I am not a member of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, but there is no denying the fact that it is very hard to find a parallel of the planning and organised manner with which the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is currently working, in Islamic countries. I have been well acquainted with this Jamaat for a long time now, and I consider the founder of this Jamaat to be a special friend of God and a servant of Islam.”

Speech of the Ahmadiyya missionary

After [the statement of the chairperson], I said in my speech that Islam is the true religion of mankind. The path to harmony, peace and contentment opens through Islam. Consequently, Islam is the representative of all other religions and fulfills their purposes. In the same way, Prophet Muhammadsa is the representative of all other prophets and the one who fulfills their purposes and objectives in the world. 

In this age, Prophet Ahmadas is the living example of Islam and the hujjat [conclusive argument] against the disbelievers was fulfilled through him. Its practical representation can be seen in the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the problems of India, Britain and all other nations of the world will be solved today with the help of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat through Islamic principles, as the differences and problems of the Arabs were settled through the idea of Islamic brotherhood.

Thereafter, I talked about the organised system of the Jamaat and how the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is working under one Khalifa like the Companionsra [of the Holy Prophetsa].

Speech of Maulvi Nayyar Sahib

After [my speech], Nayyar Sahib delivered his farewell speech and thanked all the friends who treated him kindly during his stay in London. He said: 

“It was a pleasure for me to come to this country. For me, living here has also been a source of happiness because by the grace of God Almighty, I had a great opportunity to carry out tabligh. With this, I say goodbye to this country and my friends here, so that I can spread the word of Allah in other countries as well.”

Thereafter, Brother Khalid Sheldrake delivered a speech. After him, Brother Muhammad Abdul L’Awel Augusto Chino Oluwa delivered a welcome speech for Maulvi Abdul Rahim Sahib on behalf of the Muslims of Lagos and then the jalsa was concluded with a silent prayer.

Recently discovered photo of Chief Oluwa of Lagos, Nigeria with Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra at Melrose Road, London

A great number of high gentries were also present in the jalsa. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, all of them left with positive impressions. Some of them told me that their views on Islam had changed completely and also promised to study further [about Islam].

Views of newspaper

Accounts of this jalsa were published in the famous newspapers of London in the following way.

The newspaper, Wandsworth, under the headline “A mosque in Putney,” wrote:

“On Sunday, an inaugural gathering for a mosque was held at No. 63 Melrose Road. Indian, Persian, Nigerian and European Muslims participated in it and all of them were wearing their national costumes. The site and the house, which are now being used for the objectives of Islam, have been purchased by the Ahmadiyya Movement. Their headquarters is located in Qadian, India. There is an acre of land with the house in which the mosque will be built. In addition to other people at the gathering on Sunday, the following persons were also present:

“Sir TW Arnold author of the famous book, The Preaching of Islam; Chief Oluwa of Lagos; Prof Leon; Khalid Sheldrake; Maulvi Fateh Muhammad Sayal; Maulvi Abdul Rahim Nayyar and Maulvi Mubarak Ali, secretary of London Jamaat.”

 In its issue 7 February [1921], The Times of London said:

“Yesterday, imams, missionaries and members of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat of London invited people to the opening ceremony of a house. This relatively large house, located in a small orchard, has been recently bought by the Ahmadiyya Movement. It is hoped that a mosque will soon be built in the orchard. Mr Abdul Rahim Nayyar, who is about to leave for West Africa on an Islamic mission, made a farewell speech. Maulvi Fateh Muhammad Sayal, Prof Leon and Oluwa of Lagos were present [in the gathering].”

The Daily Graphic newspaper, in its 7 February [1921] issue, under “Islam in the suburbs of London,” wrote:

“Yesterday, on Sunday, the people of Africa and India were present in their typical clothes at the inaugural gathering of a new Islamic mission [house]. Around 50 to 60 English men and women were also present. The London Jamaat has bought a house and a large piece of land for the tabligh of Islam. They intend to soon build an Islamic worship place over here, in which they will offer prayers as per Islamic practice. One of the most famous followers of Islam in this country is Lord Headley. Maulvi Fateh Muhammad Sayal, one of the speakers of yesterday, said, ‘The unity between India and England can only be established with the help of the Ahmadiyya Movement.’”

The Morning Post, under the heading “Religion of Islam in England”, said:

“Yesterday, a gathering was held at No. 63 Melrose Road on the occasion of the inauguration of Ahmadiyya Islamic [mission house]. The Ahmadiyya Movement was founded about 40 years ago in Qadian, Punjab, India. Ahmad of Qadian, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, claimed to be the Messiah and the reformer. It is suggested that the foundation of a mosque be laid on the land adjacent to the house.

“After the welcome address for guests, Prof Haroun Mustafa said in his speech, ‘Islam was first preached in England about 40 years ago. It commenced from Liverpool. There is no concept of family priests in Islam. Only certain men are elected [by God] for this work. However, every person is responsible for his or her own salvation.’ Maulvi Muhammad Sayal said that he stood up to call people to Islam and Ahmadiyyat. He believes that Islam is the essence of all religions and Ahmadiyyat is the essence of Islam.” 

In addition, The Daily Mirror, an illustrated newspaper, has published photographs.

By the grace of Allah the Almighty, owing to the mention of our new mission house in the said jalsa and in the newspapers, it has become famous all over London and England. All praise belongs to Allah Who made it all possible!

A letter

In this jalsa, non-Ahmadi Indian Muslims were also present. One of them, a graduate of University of London, after he returned from the jalsa, wrote the following letter:

“Dear brother! Before I write about other things, I would like to say that I was very impressed with your lecture last night. This is not the first time I have had the privilege of listening to your lecture. I attend almost all the lectures held at Hyde Park but unfortunately, I have never had such an opportunity before to meet you [as I did at the jalsa].

“Brother, you are my guide. You are the guiding star for me. I confess to you without hesitation that although I am a Muslim by birth, I do not consider myself a true Muslim due to my long exile. The constant suffering and frustrations that have befallen me in my life have shattered my faith. However, now, I sincerely ask forgiveness from my Creator and I hope that Allah may accept my supplication.

“Would you please give me a chance to meet you this week because I want to talk to you on various subjects? Please schedule this meeting around Salat timings. I will bring Muhammad Khan (BK Singh) with me. He is very eager to meet you.

“Yours obediently, S […] Majeed

“P.S. I think we should establish centres in England, Scotland and Africa for tabligh. There should be at least five or six centres in London.”

Members of the Jamaat are requested to pray that may Allah the Almighty make this new markaz of Islam the centre of victory of Islam in the West. 

Apart from our usual lectures, Maulvi Mubarak Ali Sahib gave a lecture on Women’s Education at a women’s society in London. Another lecture on The Problems of India and Their Solutions was held in Folkestone, in which it was expressed that the cure for India’s problems is Islam, which will lead to the establishment of one religion, one nation and one language.

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

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