100 Years Ago… – News from London, America, West Africa, Mauritius and Ceylon

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The Review of Religions (English), August 1921

Our London Mission

Our London letter dated 13 June 1921 says that the ld-ul-Fitr festival which was celebrated at the mosque in Putney, London, was attended by more than 50 persons. Some Hindu and Christian gentlemen were also present, the former even taking part in the prayer. 

The assembly was photographed after the prayers and sermon were over and accounts of the celebration have appeared in some of the London papers. The same day at 4pm Yamni Bey [previous written in Al Hakam as Yümi Bey], son of the Turkish Consul at London, accompanied by Professor and Madam Leone came to see our missionaries and had a long conversation with them. 

In the course of the conversation, Yamni Bey remarked that if they had not yet accepted Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, it was because they did not know much about him, otherwise all Muslims were expecting a Mahdi and that if Hazrat Mirza Sahib was really the Promised Mahdi, no Muslim ought to have any hesitation to accept him. He was presented with some books which he gratefully accepted and promised to study them carefully and give them to his elder brother also to read. 

Mr Sayal delivered a lecture at Welcome Mission Hall, East London, on, “Islam is a religion of peace and goodwill.” The lecture which lasted for one hour was followed by a discussion. The audience were favourably impressed and promised to invite him again to deliver another lecture the same Hall. 

Our Missionaries report that Indian gentlemen living in England, both Hindus and Mussalmans, now seem to be favourably inclined to the Ahmadiyya movement. Among others, they recently saw the well-known journalist Saint Nihal Singh, the pride of the Punjab. They found him to be greatly interested in Islam and the Ahmadiyya movement. Among other valuable suggestions which he gave to our brethren he suggested that it was high time that the Promised Messiah’s Message of Peace should be widely circulated in India.

Our brethren, in their latest report, mention the conversion to Islam of a lady who is acting as a District Nurse in that part of London where our brethren are living nowadays. 

Mr. Sayal who is now at Mecca is expected at Qadian in September. Maulavi Rahim Bakhsh, MA BT, is about to proceed to London to take the place of Mr. Sayal. 

Our American mission

Dr. Sadiq has begun to publish from America a quarterly Magazine, called The Moslem Sunrise. The first number is already out and contains among other articles a brief report of work for Islam in America during the last year, also short articles on polygamy and virgin birth, comments on certain verses of the Holy Quran, a page from sayings of the Holy Prophet and extracts from the writings of the Promised Messiah. It also contains a very beautiful translation in English verse of an Urdu poem of His Holiness, the Khalifatul Masih II[ra], addressed to the younger generation of the Ahmadiyya Community which we reproduce elsewhere in this number. 

It is the duty of all true lovers of Islam to help the Muslim missionary by subscribing to The Moslem Sunrise or making donations to The Moslem Sunrise fund. Annual subscription is 1 dollar (England 5 shillings, India Rs. 5). Single Copy 25c. 

Our West African Mission

A Lagos gentleman has favoured us with a brief account of our missionary’s work at Lagos in Nigeria since his landing. It runs thus:

The Maulavi AR Nayyar, BPhil, etc., arrived in Lagos per SS Akabo on Friday 8 April 1921 and was given a good reception by the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the leaders of the Orthodox Muslims of Lagos. 

In the second week of his arrival, arrangements for a series of lectures were made for him by the local branch of the movement and the first of his most interesting lectures – Essence of Loyalty to the British Empire and Islam – was delivered at Shitta Mosque amid a great conclave of enthusiastic hearers. 

Unexpected interest in the new Maulavi is being taken by the Orthodox Muslims who were at one time bitter opponents of the Ahmadia movement and much toleration on the part of the former is being shown with the result that 1) over a score of Muslims have already joined the movement within his brief stay in Lagos, (2) the Maulavi is trying a hand in the settlement of the ever-recurring crisis which has been in existence for a few years now among the orthodox Muslims. 

Open air lectures had been going on every Saturday evening, attended by about a thousand of people—including Europeans, in front of the Ahmadia Hall (Lagos) until interrupted by the sacred month of Ramazan during which time the Maulavi is engaged almost every night in preaching at different quarters of the island. Already, the Maulavi has preached at Balogun Square, Campos Square, Enu Owa, Ita Omo (i.e., in front of Idunganran Palace, the Residence of His Royal Highness Prince Esugbayi Eleko of Lagos) and many other populous parts of the town. The local public in general seems to take great interest in the preaching and from three to five thousand hearers are in each instance attracted. So record-breaking was the magnitude of the crowd at times that it was hard to maintain vocal order for hours together. 

Nevertheless, sufficient time for healthy criticism is always reserved by the Maulavi, and when the voice “My Christian Brothers first!” is raised by the preacher, our local critics no doubt always have enough of it.

The Imam of the local branch, a learned and fluent speaker of the vernacular, is always the interpreter. Among the most interesting and intellectual criticisms offered the Maulavi, are those raised by the superintendent of the Brotherhood (Unitarian) Christian Church at Enu Owa and a certain clergyman of the African Church at Campos Square. It is hoped that the Saturday lectures in front of the Ahmadia Hall may be resumed at the end of the Ramazan. 

Quran, Hadis, and Arabic classes are being conducted at the Ahmadia Hall by the Maulavi thrice a week and many students have put in already. 

One of the greatest needs of the moment is more Muslim missionaries. The 4000 souls already converted to the fold within the Maulavi’s brief stay on the Gold Coast are yet to be educationally developed and are pressing that the Maulavi should come back to the Gold Coast whilst the little but important band at Lagos could not leave him. After all said and done, the venerable Maulavi cannot be present at these two places at the same time, to say nothing of Sierra Leone, etc. 

Through the instrumentality of a Lagos member of the movement and some other Muslims a new branch of the Ahmadia movement has now been started at Port Harcourt (Nigeria). 

(PS – The above is a brief account of the Ahmadia Mission News in Lagos from the date of the Maulavi’s arrival to 31 May [1921]. After that period great changes have taken place in the movement. About 10,000 new converts were made on 7 June [1921]; i.e., the Quran (Shakiti) Section of Muslim Community have completely declared their faith in the Ahmadia movement and re-organisation is now going on. The Id-ul-Fitr Prayer was celebrated at a field on the Ekeyi Plain on 8 June 1921.)

Preparation of interested members in lecturing is going on in the Hall and already a few ardent students have succeeded in giving well attended public lectures. 

The African Messenger, 16 June 1921, publishes the following report:

“For the first time in the history of the Ahmadiyya movement in Lagos, the Lagos Hall became too small to contain the rapidly growing numbers of converts. Maulawi AR Nayyar, BPhil., FSP, whose arrival at Lagos was mentioned in this journal some time ago has been most strenuous in his mission work, with the result that over 10,000 Muslims have been converted to the Ahmadiyya movement, since his arrival. The Quran division of Muslims usually known as Shakiti completely declared their faith in the Ahmadiyya movement on the 7th instant. 

“Led by Imam Dabiri, the Ahmadiyya people started their prayer at 10:30 am at a field which lies within a few yards of the military barracks on the Ikoyi Plain. After prayer, an interesting address in English, interpreted into Yoruba by Mr. KP Ajose was delivered by Maulawi Nayyar. This great teacher is to be wished every success in his work among local Muslims and it is to be hoped he would succeed someday to bring about a settlement of the difference between the two opposing factions of Muhammadans.” 

Mauritius

An Ahmadi gentleman from Mauritius, named Elahi Bakhsh, paid a visit to Qadian in July last. As Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra] had gone to Kashmir to recruit his health, Mr. Elahi Bakhsh has gone there to pay his respects to and benefit by the company of the Holy Head of the Ahmadiyya movement. He reports that the Ahmadis of Mauritius whose number is 500 or more are all very jealous adherents of the movement, ready to sacrifice their all for the sake of Islam. As an evidence of this, he referred to the fact that in the mosque case, they spent thousands of rupees. At present they are paying all the expenses of the two missionaries and their families now working in the Island. One of the two Mauritius students, named Zain-ul-Abideen, has, we are glad to note, attained great proficiency in Arabic, Urdu, Theology and other Muslim studies and is now preparing himself for missionary work. He also knows English and French. The other student, named Ghulam Hussain, has passed the FSc Examination of the Punjab University and has applied to the British Universities for admission as a Medical Student. 

Ceylon

Shaikh Abdul Rahman BA, of Talim-ul-Islam High School, Qadian, has gone on a trip to Ceylon during the annual vacation. It is hoped that his visit to that land will be productive of good to the Ahmadiyya Community there.

We are glad to note that our brethren in Ceylon are regularly publishing The Message [magazine] both in English and Tamil and we strongly appeal to our brethren to help the Ceylon Ahmadiyya Community by subscribing to their organ. The annual subscription is 3-8 rupees for India and 6 shillings for foreign countries.

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

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