100 Years Ago… – Meeting the Emir of Kano: “His Majesty salutes you”

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)
Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyar 1

Meeting the Resident [British government official] of Kano

On the morning of 23 August [1922], I went to meet the Resident of Kano, [Nigeria]. When he received the card, he immediately asked me to come inside. He met me with great respect, warmth and love. As before my arrival, Mr Lieutenant Governor had already written to him about me and also sent some literature, therefore only a casual acquaintance was needed. He was already well-informed. Honourable Mr EJ Arnett developed a warm and friendly relationship in the very first meeting. We had a long conversation. On the telephone, he arranged my meeting with the Emir of Kano and the visit to the Government School. (I had to postpone my earlier tour because the road was not navigable due to Katsina’s heavy rains.) Mr Arnett told me that he had translated the teachings of the Jamaat into the Hausa language and presented them to the Emir. He liked the teaching but wanted to hear from me about the Death of Prophet Jesusas and Jihad in person.

Mr Arnett then enquired as to what the need was for sending money to Qadian and it was quite possible that one day some kind of foreign domination would be established over his people. I replied that Allah had already prevented that from happening as religion and government had been separated. Roman Catholic Christians are under the Pope. Money is sent to Rome but they have nothing to do with the government. India is still under the British Empire and sensible Indians do not want to separate India from the United Nations Democracy of the Great British Empire.

I explained the answer to this question with many other arguments as well, but one must observe how the authorities keep an eye on even the most insignificant things.

Second speech

On the evening of 23 August [1922], a large number of people gathered and I presented the comparative analysis of Christianity and Islam. The Hausa people started chanting slogans of “Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” [Peace be upon him]. The Hausa interpreter, Mu‘alim Dawood, is a very intelligent person and has a very loud voice. 

After the speech, a Christian boy began to ask questions that his father, who is a priest in Kano, had helped him memorise. All the questions were answered. The audience, who were witnessing Christians being competed for the first time, were overjoyed. I foresaw that this boy would surely question whether Jesus was the son of God. Thus, I kept calling him “my child” and “my son”. When he came to the question that was implanted in his mind, the interpreter on my signal read these passages from the Hausa Bible: John 10:34, Psalms 82:6, Jeremiah 31:9 and Exodus 4:22, etc. Subsequently, the words “my child” and “my son” were explained to the questioner. It is the blessing of Allah that the purpose I had in mind was fulfilled.

Meeting the Emir of Kano

There are some moments in a man’s life that are very happy and blessed. I never had such an opportunity before that I got on 24 August [1922]. I met the chiefs of the Gold Coast. I met the king of Ibukota and preached to the former king of Lagos. I shook hands with the king of Iran in the royal palace. I preached to the Emir of Zaria in his palace. However, the joy and happiness that I felt after meeting the king of Kano was unparalleled. 

On the evening of 23 August [1922], before my speech, the official rider brought an urgent letter to me, which, according to the rider, was not allowed to be given to anyone else. I took the letter and read it. The text [of the letter] was as follows:

“Sir, I respectfully inform you that the Honorable Emir of Kano will meet you at 8 o’clock in the morning at his royal residence in the city of Kano. Since the city is far from the new town [Sabon Gari], the Honourable Emir’s car will come to pick you up at your house. After the meeting, I am arranging your visit to the Government School. 

Yours truly, 

I am your most obedient servant, District Officer.”

Departure to Kano

At 7:30 in the morning, the car arrived at my residence as promised. I took the required books and the interpreter with me and left with them in the car. At about half a mile from the gate of the city, the head officer of Emir’s special cavalry came in full Hausa uniform and seeing him, the driver stopped the car. He dismounted from his horse and got down on his knees, and in this manner, he conveyed the Emir’s greetings to me. Then he mounted and rode ahead of the car as the leader of the vanguard. The buildings of the entire city are made of mud and clay. The city is surrounded by a huge, solid wall. The resident said that the population of the city and suburbs under the Emir is two million. As we entered the city gates, we were greeted by the Emir’s police, wearing red turbans with green, red, and white striped robes, and carrying old-fashioned swords. The car arrived at the entrance of the royal palace and the people were chanting “zaaki”. The servants of the Emir raised a slogan in the Hausa language, which means “Welcome”. Then, I got off the car.

Royal palace

Now, I was at the first entrance of the royal palace and the private secretary along with his assistants were standing in front of me, saying welcoming words in the Hausa language. Before me were clay walls, mud arches, and royal officials in loose clothing. However, it seemed that it was the residence of a king. The private secretary along with his assistants led the way and after going a good distance, another entrance came and people shouted, “Waziri agashe ka!” i.e., “The Prime Minister greets you!” The ministers of the Emir and their assistants were present at this entrance. After the formal greetings and inquiries about the well-being, they proceeded further and brought me to the first floor of the royal palace. It was clear from the admiration and respect of the people and a kind of awe and glory that we were in close proximity to a king. Suddenly a slogan was raised. This slogan was raised by the special assistants of the Emir’s palace. Consequently, a poor Punjabi mother’s son was standing in front of the elderly king of Kano. The honourable Emir personally came to the entrance to welcome me. The kind of reception I was given is only reserved for the Governor of Nigeria. A silver royal sceptre was in Emir’s hand. His dress had silver threadwork. On his head was a crown decorated with bright silver. Before the words of “as-salamu ‘alaykum”, royal assistants said, “Siriki agashe ka!” The spokesman translated it as follows:

“His Majesty salutes you!”

The Emir of Kano entered the palace ahead of us after the formal salutations, handshakes, and greetings. The people sitting on the ground also greeted us. The ministers walked with me. The people of the court were singing songs of the greatness of the host and the guest in eastern style.

Special court

We entered the special royal court, which was a circular room with a cement floor. A special carpet was laid for me. There was a special chair on the carpet. Emir came to the throne. The ministers sat on the carpet, the courtiers were standing at a distance, and my spokesman and secretary stood behind me. Then, I presented the gifts, i.e., the book, Khutba Ilhamiyah [the Revealed Sermon] and Panipat rice with Surah Ikhlas and اليس‭ ‬الله‭ ‬بكاف‭ ‬عبده written on them. The honourable Emir happily accepted the gifts. He put the rice grains in his pocket and handed over the book to his minister.

Tabligh in the royal palace

I then mentioned the purpose of my visit and presented the teachings and works of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. I showed the photographs of the Promised Messiahas and his Khulafa from the book, A Present to the Prince of Wales. Then, I showed the pictures of the Promised Messiahas and Dowie, and presented the newspapers and books of the Jamaat and mentioned the claim of the Promised Messiahas. I explained in detail the death of Prophet Jesusas, signs of Mahdi, Gog Magog, Dabatul Arz, etc. The ministers, the imam, clerics of the court and especially the Prime Minister, asked a lot of questions. I replied in Arabic and it was interpreted into the Hausa language. I was surprised at how I continued to talk continuously in Arabic for almost half an hour and that too in front of scholars in the royal court. Hausa scholars are in no way inferior to Indians in their scholarly standing. However, they are not as corrupt as the Indian clerics. It was the sheer grace of Allah the Almighty, and Zakaria, my interpreter, was very surprised. Hence, the conversation continued for two hours in the Emir’s court and finally, I stood up and addressed the Emir, the ministers, the imam, and the people of the court and conveyed the true message of Islam Ahmadiyyat. I announced that the Promised Khalifa, the Rightful Mahdi-e-Maud, and the Promised Messiah, appeared in the personage of Hazrat Syedna Ahmadas, and that everyone should believe in him and be blessed. [I said]:

وَمَا‭ ‬عَلَيۡنَاۤ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬الۡبَلٰغ

“And on us lies only the delivery of the Message.” […]

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 1 January 1923 issue of Al Fazl)

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