100 Years Ago… – Nayyar’s experiences in Africa and Sadiq’s letter from America

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Last Updated on 12th November 2021

Al Fazl, 20 & 24 October 1921

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)

A king seeks blessings from the Promised Messiah’sas garments

I received an invitation from Prince Suraqa Egberonighi via telegram, so I went to Abeokuta. The town is bigger than Lagos and has a population of 551,490. It has electricity and excellent roads. The state of Abeokuta, whose ruling nation is Egba, is the capital city. The Muslim population here is over 15,000. 

I gave two public lectures there and gave the message of Islam to the Christian governor of the state, who came to the palace in his royal robe and crown. I informed him about the second appearance of the Messiah, read out prophecies of the Holy Prophetsa from the Bible and requested him to pay more attention to Muslims. 

The said chief is open-minded, has visited Europe and speaks fluent English. All praise belongs to Allah that His Royal Highness, King Alake Ademola II, was positively influenced by my preaching. He sent me a wonderful turkey as a gift. He called the person in-charge of the residence and had a meeting with me at his residential place and honoured me with a photograph with him. 

The most pleasing thing is that after hearing the revelation of the Promised Messiahas that [kings] would seek blessings from his clothes, the said king immediately requested, “I seek blessings from [the Promised Messiah’sas] clothes. Please provide me with it.”

The whole town is ready for Ahmadiyyat

The opponents in Abeokuta had spread various rumours before I reached there. They tried to instil doubts in the public about me. However, after listening to two speeches and hearing the message of the Promised Messiah’sas arrival, an affectionate enthusiasm spread across the city. 

Some hajis [Muslims who have performed Hajj] came and shared their divine dreams. Haji Hassan said, “Four days ago, I saw [in a dream that] you are giving a sermon here.” 

Haji Muhammad Bawamas said, “On my return from Hajj-e-Baitullah [pilgrimage to the House of Allah, the Ka‘bah], I saw [in a dream that] a jamaat was engaged in the dars [religious sermon] of the Holy Quran and I was told that this was the jamaat of the Mahdi.”

The Muslim member of the ruling family said, “Last night, I saw [in a dream that] you were teaching us.”

An honorable alpha (maulvi) shared a divine vision that, “I saw [in a dream that] a white man came and said, ‘I am the Mahdi.’”

Owing to all the said divine visions, a large group of people, in fact, the whole town, is ready to accept the truth [Ahmadiyyat]. They are ready to accept the message of the Promised Messiahas. I only considered the bai‘at of the chief of the Muslims, Prince Alpha Ali Egberonighi, who is the paternal uncle of the ruler and the brother of the former ruler. Finding him inclined towards truth and ready to accept Ahmadiyyat after comprehensive preaching, and observing his frail, old age, I took his bai‘at [on behalf of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih]. I was told that it should be considered as the bai‘at of the entire city, that is 15,000 people had entered the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. However, I still consider it as the bai‘at of only one very important person. Expressing the blessings of Allah before the entire city formally takes bai‘at, I cautiously say that 15,000 people are ready [to enter the Ahmadiyya Jamaat], insha-Allah.

Work in Nigeria

All praise be to my living God and peace and blessings be upon my beloved Prophet Muhammadsa Al-Mustafa and on his reflection, Ahmadas of Qadian, for accepting the trivial services of this weak one. The city that I found in a state of discomfort when I first came here and observed the relationship between the ruler and the subject to be unpleasant, now I see it in peace when I am about to leave it after four months. 

Where there were around 100 Ahmadis at first and at the time when I reached here, only 30 regular members [of the Jamaat] remained, after a meager effort of three months, by the grace of Allah the Almighty alone, I am leaving behind a sincere jamaat of 10,000 people. Where there was only one Ahmadiyya mosque or place of worship at a rented place, there are now 10 beautifully decorated Ahmadiyya mosques. Where the name “Muhammadan” was an insult, now “Ahmadi Muslim” is a respected name. Where people were hateful towards Ahmadiyyat, now not only are they close, but it is quite possible that another group of 39,000 people may soon join the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. 

This is only the situation in Lagos. By the grace of Allah, established jamaats have also been formed in Abeokuta and Port Harcourt.

Mission in Dahomey

A mission has been set up in the French colony of Dahomey. Honourable Brother Ismail Sheta Sahib is doing preaching work there along with trade. His first report has been sent to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. Regular dars of the Holy Quran and lectures are held there. Efforts are being made to civilise ignorant Muslims and convert savage idolaters to Islam. 

As the language there is also Yoruba, preaching is easy. Brother Ismail writes that, “A party of educated youth is only waiting for the elder’s group to make a decision, so that the intensity of opposition may come down to the fullest possible extent.” 

Several copies of the Arabic magazine “Ahmad Al-Masih Al-Maud”, English magazines and [The Philosophy of the] Teachings of Islam in French, have been sent there. By the grace of Allah, it is hoped that the Muslims who are fighting against each other will, insha-Allah, drink the cup of unity and submit themselves to one Imam.

A newspaper’s view

Out of half a dozen newspapers and magazines in Lagos, there is only one credible and proper newspaper, and it is The African Messenger. The said newspaper, in its issue of 4 August 1921, under the heading “The annual conference of Ahmadiyya Jamaat will be held in Lagos next December”, gave the following note:

“It is a moment of sadness for the Muslims that Maulvi AR Nayyar is about to leave Lagos for the Gold Coast soon, so that he may fulfil his promise of return which he made with the Muslims there. As there is no other missionary in Lagos, his absence will be very much felt in days to come.

“Maulvi Sahib is an excellent example of Islamic simplicity and within his short stay, he has received tributes from various sections of the local Muslims. During his stay in Lagos, Maulvi Sahib remained very busy. He was sometimes seen sitting on a mat with the Muslim elders of the city, and sometimes he was seen addressing Muslims and Christians in English from a high pulpit. During his proposed tour, Maulvi hopes to travel not only to the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, but also to Liberia and the Gambia if possible, and to return to Lagos for the West African Ahmadiyya Conference later this year.

“We congratulate Maulvi Sahib on the success of his mission and say goodbye.”

Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya’s sincerity and hundred-pound chanda

I thank Allah the Almighty very much that the Nigeria Jamaat is very sincere. They do not hesitate to spend in the way of God. Their local expenses are so much that they have not yet been able to pay attention towards the markaz [centre of Ahmadiyyat, Qadian]. However, at my request, the following old members of the Jamaat have sent a sum of 51 pounds and two shillings for the lamps of Minaratul-Masih [The White Minaret] to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih: 

1. Mr Muhammad Yaqub (President of majlis-e-muntazim): £7 

2. Mr Qasim Ajose (Imam of the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Bangjosi St): £7 

3. Mr Gabriel Martin (Secretary General): £7 

4. Mr Mashhood Demala (trader): £7 

5. Mr Ashmo Ibrahim (clerk): £7 

6. Mr Badruddin Qabi Sukun (Assistant Secretary): £7 

7. Mr Pologen (Vice President): £3 and 10 shillings 

8. Mr Shodande (clerk): £3 and 10 shillings 

9. Mr Egbaji (clerk): £2 and 2 shillings

Total amount: £51 and 2 shillings

This amount was collected after one of my Friday sermons and this is the sermon of the time when the number of sincere members of the Jamaat was only 30 and all the said contributors were the old Ahmadi members. 

As the completion of Minaratul-Masih will be a source of the downpour of sheer blessings, so my eager heart yearned for the completion of the light of Minaratul-Masih before December. The Messiah of God had appealed to present 400 rupees for the clock [of the minaret] and 100 rupees for its lamps, but instead of 500 rupees, today his humble Nigerian servants present 766 rupees and 14 annas [a unit of currency formerly used in the subcontinent, equal to 1/16 of a rupee] for only lamps. If the lamps can be purchased in 500 rupees, then the remaining amount will be deposited in the contribution for the clock [of the minaret], for which the Nigeria Jamaat will present another reasonable amount, insha-Allah.

In addition to the said donation, the newly formed jamaat has contributed 50 pounds to the expenses of the missionary.

Structure of the Jamaat

By the grace of Allah, the Jamaat is being brought under an administrative structure. Before I came here, the three majalis [local administrative bodies] that I had established, i.e. Majlis MuntazimMajlis Kubra and Majlis Peshwayan-e-Mazahib, have now started working on a regular basis. Although I am writing this letter from Saltpond, but the latest mail received from Nigeria has this good news that the work is well underway. Speeches are held regularly, dars are being delivered, meetings of Majlis Nazim and Majlis Kubra are taking place and funds are being raised. 

The tarbiyat [moral training] of the newly formed jamaat is being carried out as per the instructions of this humble one. There is great passion among the men and women. Members of the Jamaat offered Eid-ul-Adha prayer with impressive glory. For the first time in the history of Lagos, women wore purdah-daar [veiling or covering] clothes and went in large numbers to offer prayer. Everyone is convinced of the truth of Ahmadiyyat because of the said extraordinary change, alhamdulillah, thumma alhamdulillah.

Departure from Lagos

At the time of my departure from Lagos, I had a surge of emotions in my heart and observing the sincerity of the new and old members of the Jamaat, I continuously prayed for them and kept recalling the beneficence of my beloved Messiah and his followers. 

A great multitude of people was spread left to right for this stranger from the city to the seashore. Everyone wanted a handshake. The women wanted to go to the port to bid me farewell, but I took leave of them from the mosque. May Allah be with them. Insha-Allah, the said women will efficiently train the next generation for Ahmadiyyat. The boats continued to bring people on board the ship until 10 pm and I left that city after a stay of four months with great happiness, delight and being grateful to Allah the Almighty, alhamdulillah, thumma alhamdulillah.

Miscellaneous

I am currently touring the shores of the Gold Coast. The jamaat here is very widespread. There are four to five thousand Ahmadis in an area of several hundred miles. Their number is two to three in some villages, around 10 in some areas and more in other regions. I tour with the help of a car, but there are many places where motor vehicles cannot go, so I will go there on foot, insha-Allah

I will write the accounts and details of this tour in the next letter, insha-Allah. I returned from the interior of the country on the evening of 8 August [1921]. I am leaving again tomorrow. I am writing this letter at night, so friends should not wait for my replies. However, it will be very kind of my friends if they will keep writing letters to this humble traveller to inform him about the situation of his homeland and dear friends. Rest assured, I remember everyone and pray for all of you.

Seeker of prayers, Abdur Rahim Nayyar, Saltpond. 29 August 1921.

Abeokuta, 1929

Sadiq’s letter

Al Fazl, 24 October 1921

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra (1872-1957)

Dear Brothers, assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

It has come to my attention through some letters from India that it has been suggested for this humble one to return to India and be replaced by another person. 

If God wills, my intention is to tour across this whole country once and sow the seed of tabligh

As there is no regular delivery of mail and no opportunity to write a letter while travelling, so if friends do not receive replies to their letters, I should be considered pardoned. 

The magazine, The Moslem Sunrise, will be regularly printed here and will continue to reach the subscribers from this country [America], provided that a sufficient amount of money reaches us in the form of financial assistance and subscription. The postal address for correspondence will remain the same and wherever I will go, the letters will continue to reach me.

Muhammad Sadiq, 27 La Bella Ave, Highland Park, Mich., USA.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original in the 20 and 24 October 1921 issue of Al Fazl)

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