100 Years Ago… – Lectures at Hyde Park, Rabindranath Tagore, Mufti Sadiq’s work in Detroit, good news from Africa and Ahmadiyyat in Arabia

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The Review of Religions (English), July 1921

London mission

Mr. Mubarak Ali, BA BT, one of our workers in England, says in one of his reports:

“Thank God our lectures at Hyde Park are producing some effect. Christian missionaries see this and hence they are taking a very hostile attitude. In last night’s discussion, thank God, all the audience, except two bigots, were with me. They supported me in my view that Jesus was a prophet and not God. After the lecture, one old educated gentleman followed me and saw me in the way. We had a long talk on Islam. He seems to agree with all our principles. He has promised to see us at Putney.” 

Besides lectures at Hyde Park our brethren deliver weekly lectures at the mosque in Putney, and at their former head quarters in the Star Street. About one of these lectures, Mr. Mubarak Ali writes that he read out from The Review of Religions for January an article on “Did Jesus rise to Heaven?” A lively discussion followed and a learned English lady who claimed to believe in Christianity admitted that she did not believe either in the ascension of Jesus or in the doctrines of Trinity and Atonement. 

Mr. FM Sayal MA was to sail for India on the 15th of July [1921]. In his letter, dated the 6th of June [1921], he announces the conversion to Islam of Mr. Abdullah Benjamin, an Israelite, and the initiation into the Ahmadiyya movement of Dr. Yoosaf Sulaiman, a native of Natal. 

Interview with Sir R Tagore

On 10 April [1921], Messrs Sayal, Osman, Banerjee and Mubarak Ali saw the poet-philosopher, Sir R Tagore, who had recently returned from America. He received them very kindly and gave them about an hour though many big people were waiting to see him. 

He spoke about his scheme of an International University at Bolepur, Bengal, and invited the members of Ahmadiyya Community to found a chair in his university. Mr. Sayal replied that the Ahmadees would welcome such an opportunity. He added that the advancement of Asia must begin from India, which owing to its weakness due to religious differences had become the first victim of the downfall of Asia and had directly or indirectly led to the downfall of other Asiatic countries. Strength of India lay in the unity of her people and religion was the only basis for such unity; and among religions Islam alone could supply the common platform on which all the children of Asia could stand. 

The poet-philosopher saw the force of this argument and said that his business would be to bring the best representatives of all religions together and to let them decide for themselves. Mr. Sayal said that the best way to sink the differences was not to ask the people to forget the differences but to give them a common inspiring ideal the pursuit of which should divert attention from the differences altogether. 

The poet admitted this also, and then took leave of our brethren with great regret, for many other people were waiting outside for interview. 

Rabindranath Tagore

Our American mission

In his report dated the 4th May 1921, Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq says that since the last report one gentleman and six ladies have accepted Islam. 

Besides the above, 9 Muslim gentlemen living in America have joined the Ahmadiyya movement. 

Christian Ministers have become alarmed at our Brother’s visit to America. The following quotations from the Sioux City Journal of 5 April 5 1921, will be read with interest:

“Consternation is ripe in the ranks of Sioux City Ministers with the coming to the city of Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, a native of India and the first Muhammadan Missionary to be admitted to the United States. 

“Christian Ministers are incensed over Dr. Sadiq’s attacks on the work of the Christian missionaries in India and the far east. Various ways of getting Dr. Sadiq out of the city were suggested by the pastors of the churches. Some of the Ministers suggested warning their congregations at the Sunday services of the presence of this man and what he was preaching. That the Ministerial Association protest against the presence of the Mohammedan Missionary and the doctrines which he is advocating, was the sentiment expressed by some of the pastors.” 

Dr. Sadiq is now attracting a good deal of attention in the United States and reports of his work continue to appear in the press. We can find place only for two. 

The Daily Argues Leader, Sioux Falls, SD, says in its issue of 19 April [1921]:

“Muhammadanism will gain some converts in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, if Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, Moslem Missionary from India who is in the city, has his way. He is here to open a campaign for additions to the Islam faith he represents. 

“Mr. Sadiq finds most people sympathetic to his purpose, although he encountered some opposition in Sioux City. […] He plans meetings here in the interest of his faith.” 

Another paper describes our brother in the following words:

“Dr. Sadiq is a little man with a gentle disposition and a brilliant mind. He speaks English fluently and can speak six other languages. He has followed missionary work for more than 20 years. He is 50 years old. When lecturing or on the street he wears a green turban and a bright green flowing robe. He is always attired in the native clothes of India.” 

The Eid-ul-Fitr day in America

The Detroit New of 5 June 1921 says:

“Moslems of Detroit will observe Tuesday as the day of Idul-Fitr which is one of the most solemn festivals of Muhammadanism. A parade from 74 Victor Avenue to the Moslem Mosque at 242, Victor Avenue, led by Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, Moslem Sheikh, will be part of the picturesque ceremonies at the festival opening. The line of march will be on Victor and Woodward Avenues and John R Street in the vicinity of the newly dedicated mosque, constructed by Muhammad Karoub, wealthy Highland Park real estate man. 

“At 5 am, Tuesday services will be held in the completed part of the new mosque. A feast will follow the services. The feast is to be provided by Mr. Karoub the builder of the mosque. […] The Moslem devouts contribute money for charitable work on the festival day. 

“Mufti Muhammad Sadiq came to Detroit several months ago to organise in the local Muslim community a congregation of the Ahmadiyya movement, which has as its leader the Prophet Ahmad[as] of Qadian, hailed as the promised Messiah, Mahdi and holy reformer. The present head of the movement is Hazrat Mahmud[ra]. The Mufti comes from India as a Missionary. 

“Syrian-Arabians constitute in Detroit the principal bulk of the Muhammadan population, and have several Sheiks. Detroit is said to have the largest Moslem community in the United States, and when the new mosque is completed, it will be the only Moslem temple on the North-American continent.” 

Our mission in West Africa: Happy news

We have already published the very welcome message from our missionary in West Africa that 4,000 Fanti Muslims have joined the Ahmadiyya movement. On the 6th of June [1921], he sent another telegram announcing that 10,000 more persons had joined the movement. God be thanked. 

The African Messenger publishes a long interview which the editor of the paper had with our missionary. In the interview, Mr. Nayyar explained to the editor the principles underlying the Ahmadiyya movement and the object of his mission to West Africa. Speaking of the British government our brother said, “As an experienced man who has had the opportunity of seeing the rule of French, Italian, German and other foreign governments, I can say the British rule is the best, in spite of the mistakes often made by individuals, it is the most constitutional and the most advanced. America with all her boasted progress and advancement has not been able to protect the coloured inhabitants of their very soil from the outrages committed upon them by other sections of Americans, but you cannot find such instances in England.”

The West Africa Mail and Trade Gazette publishes the following news in its issue of 26 February 1921:

“Among the passengers by the SS Abinsi which arrived in port from Liverpool on Saturday the 19th [February 1921] instant was a Muslim missionary, Moulvi Abd-ur-Rabim Nayyar by name, connected with the Ahmadiyya Mission which has its headquarters at Quadian in India. 

“A wireless having been received on the 18th by Mr. Hadir-ud-Deen from the Moulvie saluting the Muslims of Sierra Leone the information was circulated among the Alimamis (Imams) and arrangements were forthwith made for the reception of the distinguished visitor. Accordingly on the arrival of the ship a party composed of representatives of the several Muslim communities in Freetown met the missionary on board and after greeting him escorted him on shore and from government wharf motored with him to Foulah Town where, by arrangement, the Alimamis with their leading men and others were already assembled for the reception. At the Mosque the Moulvie was warmly greeted by the Alimamis after which Alfa Muhammad Alghali, JP, on behalf of the Alimamis and the Muslims of Sierra Leone, in a neat speech welcomed the venerable Moulvie to these shores and prayed Allah to preserve his health and strength during his stay in West Africa. The Moulvie made an appropriate reply thanking the Muslim brethren for the cordial reception accorded him and explaining to them that the object of his mission is to advance the cause of Islam and the Muslims in West Africa. He was subsequently conducted to his lodgings. 

“On Sunday the 20th instant the Moulvie addressed three meetings, viz., 8 o’clock am, at the Mosque at Fourah Bay, 12 noon at the Islamia schoolroom (Magazine Cut.) 7 pm at the Amaraia Schoolroom. This last meeting was specially arranged for the Christians. Unfortunately, the short time in which the meeting was got up did not admit of the arrangement being widely known among Christians of the educated class. Happily, however, a few were present at the meeting, chief among whom being Professor O Faduma, Messrs EE Parker, IJ Baxter, JD Gooding, DE Carney and others. 

“The subject of the address was Judaism, Christianity and Islam; their points of difference and agreement and the truth of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad[sa]

“The Moulvie dealt very ably with the subject quoting abundantly passages from the Old and New Testaments in support of his arguments in favour of Islam and he appeared to have struck oil. He concluded by inviting questions and discussion. 

“Professor Faduma then rose and made a brief but pithy and tactful speech but he raised no question. A few other Christian gentlemen essayed one or two points only to readily abandon them when cornered by the erudite Moulvie. 

“On the whole the meeting which is the first of its kind between Muslims and Christians in Sierra Leone was most successful and the address was very very instructive and interesting to both elements. If the address failed to incline the hearts of the intelligent Christians who were privileged to hear it towards Islam, it at least, undoubtedly changed the erroneous view they had hitherto held concerning that grand Faith. 

“The Moulvie is travelling on the Coast with the object of selecting stations for his Mission. He had booked his passage direct to Saltpond but that town not being one of the ports of call for the Abinsi he had to break his voyage in Free-town to await the arrival of the Burutu on which he continued his journey on Monday the 21st instant. 

“The Ahmadiyyah Mission has stations in London, Chicago, Mauritius, Ceylon, etc.” 

Our mission in Arabia

We are glad to announce that now an Ahmadiyya mission has been established even on the sacred soil of Arabia and already 78 persons have joined our movement. The gentleman who has gone to Arabia with the object of propagating Ahmadiyya doctrines among the Arabs is a learned Syed of Hyderabad, Mir Muhammad Saeed by name. We wish him every success. 

Another missionary, a young man of noble family named Mumtaz Ali Khan is on his way to Hedjaz. He is one of a band of young men who have offered to devote their lives to the service of Islam and who will work as honorary missionaries of the Ahmadiyya movement. 

This year about 15 Ahmadees have gone on pilgrimage to Mecca. Ch. Fateh Muhammad Sayal MA, our London missionary, is also among the pilgrims. He is accompanied by another Ahmadi young man named Shamshad Ali Khan MA. The latter had gone to England for the Indian Civil Service Examination and God be thanked that he is coming back successful. He is the first Ahmadi member of the Indian Civil Service. 

The Indian press on our American mission

The following note has appeared in The Pioneer and many other English papers in India, under the heading “Islam in America”:

“There seems to be now a regular Islamic propaganda in the United States. Reports of progress are published from time to time in Islamic journals in India whence the propaganda is at least partly supported. Since the last report, six new ladies and one gentleman in America have accepted Islam. The missionary named Mufti Muhammad Sadiq reports that he has delivered 15 lectures on Islam during the last three months in different towns of the United States of America and published 18 articles in different journals. He says that there are two main difficulties in the way of Islam in the States: (1) The Balkan and Greek Christians have well-supported missions in the States for creating prejudice against Islam in Turkey. Agents stump the country, lecturing against Islam and distributing literature. The chief motive is political but everything is purposely dyed in the dye of religion; (2) Christian missionaries try to raise money in the States for sending missions to Islamic countries. They consider it necessary for their financial success to raise a prejudice against Islam.”

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original article in The Review of Religions [English], July 1921)

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