100 Years Ago… – Progress of Ahmadiyyat in Nigeria and London, 1921

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Last Updated on 5th September 2021

Al Fazl, 25 August 1921

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra

The situation of Lagos has changed

When I reached Nigeria from the Gold Coast on 8 April [1921], the authorities were sceptical of my arrival and the situation of the city was very bad. Three-quarters of the population was angry with the government over the misunderstanding of some officials. Due to the population being immersed in politics, the people were neglectful of religion. The reason for all this dissatisfaction was the quarrel over the imamate of the city’s jaami‘ masjid. The present imam is not liked by most of the population but the government was supporting him due to the misrepresentations of some short-sighted native government officials. 

I started a series of sermons and at the same time quietly examined and analysed the entire situation and after beseeching prayers, I met some officials and also met with the city’s chiefs. By the grace of God, I succeeded in creating mutual goodwill between the government and the local populace. Today, three months later, everyone is saying that there is peace and complete tranquillity in the city, and a large part of the population has felt that this change has come about with the arrival of the “white alpha” [Maulvi Abdur Rahim Sahib Nayyar, missionary of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat].

Ahmadiyyat is well-established

The city of Lagos is the capital and the door to Nigeria. In the entire country, which is three-quarters of India, the rays of light will reach from Lagos, insha-Allah. This is the first town of this country in which the markaz [centre] of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat has been established. 

The poor new converts have faced all sorts of hardships here. Mr Augusto’s school was closed by the efforts of opponents, and attempts were made to evict [Ahmadis] from the mosque. The attempts to incite the government against Ahmadiyyat were made unsuccessful. A special prayer was offered at the Kalan Mosque that Ahmadis be destroyed. Instead, the chief of opponents died and there was such a rift among the opponents that it is now impossible to mend it. 

Hence, if the suffering of the majority of Muslims ended, it was eventually due to the endeavours of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat and after the arrival of the Ahmadi missionary. The [Nigeria] Jamaat that was called a society of just a few young people, now it has a population of over 10,000, and according to the Christian newspaper, The Pioneer of Nigeria, is now firmly established in Lagos. This Christian newspaper, The Pioneer of Nigeria, states:

“The Ahmadiyya movement has, at last, by absorbing Shakitis or Koranic section of Mohammedan Community of Lagos family, established itself in the town.”

The effect of Ahmadiyyat

Regular dars [religious sermon] is held four times a week for men and women in the central Ahmadiyya mosque, which is under discussion for expansion and Yoruba classes for men and women, in which [Arabic wording of] Salat and translation of [Arabic] prayers is taught, are being carried out in the previous Ahmadiyya mosque. The missionaries of the Jamaat are preaching about the appearance of the Messiah and Mahdi throughout the city and urging the Muslims to become true Muslims. 

The effect of all this is that the bad innovations are disappearing from the Muslims of the city. The Christians and idolaters are coming closer [to Islam] and someone is converting to Islam every day. The opponents are regretful, the friends are happy and the humble Nayyar prays for everyone on his master’s footsteps and is ready to do every kind of good to them.

The sincerity of Nigeria Jamaat

All the new and old members of Ahmadiyya Jamaat are making progress in love and sincerity. The words of Qadian, Ahmad[as] and Mahmud[ra] are on their tongues. The ladies are preaching in their sphere and the old people are preaching in their circles. Some youngsters deliver exceptional speeches. The seed of the love of Hazrat Jari-ullah fi hulul-il-Anbiya [The champion of Allah in the mantle of prophets], the embodiment of [the prophecy]:

مُبَشِّرًۢا‭ ‬بِرَسُوۡلٍ‭ ‬يَّاۡتِيۡ‭ ‬مِنۡۢ‭ ‬بَعۡدِي‭ ‬اسۡمُهٗۤ‭ ‬اَحۡمَدُ

the light manifested in Qadian, the reflection of Muhammadsa of Arabia, the second Adam and the heavenly bridegroom, has been sown in the hearts of the Nigerian community so firmly that no enemy of Mahmud[ra] can uproot it, insha-Allah.

The sincerity with which the youngsters Mashwande, Masood, Ajome and Zakaria delivered their speeches and the love with which Imam Dabri takes the names of Qadian and Mahdias, is a state that only the people with loving hearts can feel. The translation of Hazrat Maulvi Ghulam Rasul Sahib Rajeki’s mystic poetry gives special delight to men and women.

Tabligh to Christians

From July [1921] onwards, an English lecture is given to Christians on Saturday evenings and another English lecture is given to young people of the Jamaat on Sunday evenings. Every Wednesday, an outdoor meeting with speeches in English and Yoruba is held. The Friday sermon is delivered in English and Yoruba at the central mosque. If Sunday morning sessions and the dars [religious sermon] of the Holy Quran are included, then the total number of weekly speeches adds up to eight. One of these Saturday lectures is specially for the Christian educated class. Moreover, printed announcements have been published as well.

The first lecture of this series took place on 3 July [1921]. The Nigeria Jamaat had made good arrangements with gas lights and chairs. The words, “Lecture Tonight” were written in gas-lit letters on the door of the hall. There is a lot of talk in the city about this lecture. Hopefully, more Christians will come to other lectures, insha-Allah.

Thoughts of Christians

I have been informed that some members of the educated Christian community are ready to convert to Islam. However, they are just waiting for the Ahmadiyya mission to be more firmly established. A respected leading barrister and an expert doctor have both assured me that they are Muslims. The time is not far when they will join Ahmadiyyat.

Two old ladies

A respected non-Ahmadi old lady performed bai‘at today and a 120-year-old idol worshiper woman has converted to Islam the day before yesterday. The latter is especially famous for her stubbornness and high status and the Muslim community of the city is very happy. She showed me her temple. It is adorned with a lot of idols. All these idols have been brought here by the idolatrous women of the city. This old woman has been named Rabia and she hopes that all the ladies under her influence will convert to Islam. I will send a large parcel of these African idols to Hazrat Mahmud so that the conqueror of disbelief will break the idols with his own hands and be called the idol-breaker Mahmud.

Tabligh to Prince of Lagos

I went to the palace of His Royal Highness, Prince Eleko, the current successor of the Docemo dynasty and descendant of the former rulers of Lagos and very close to this humble one, and preached to him and his chiefs. I will write the details of this account in a separate letter, insha-Allah. This king will seek blessings from the garments of God’s Promised Messiahasinsha-Allah.

Miscellaneous

Aziz Ismail Sheita preaches in Guleed (گوليڈ) and Yortonodo preaches in the French territory. Mr Adde in Port Marcotte (ماركوٹ), Mr Nooruddin in Bonnie (بونی), and Mr Hamid in Abeokuta, are engaged in their efforts [of tabligh]. In Lagos, an English lady who is under tabligh and is the wife of a senior officer, told me:

“Mr Nayyar is on the tongue of everyone in Lagos”; alhamdulillah, thumma alhamdulillah!

Al Fazl, 1 September 1921

Hazrat Maulvi Mubarak Ali BA BT was born in the village of Digdair in the Bogra district of Bengal. 

He completed his education up to BA from the renowned Presidency College, Calcutta. Meanwhile, a copy of The Review of Religions reached him through a friend. After reading it, he began his search for the true Islam. Eventually, he came to Qadian and took bai‘at at the hand of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira in 1909. In 1911, he was appointed as the headmaster of Chittagong Muslim High School. He came to Qadian in December 1913. 

In early 1915, he became a member of the Board of English Translation established by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. He became a member of the first Anjuman Ahmadiyya established in the province of Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal combined). In the last days of 1919, he received instructions from the second Khalifa to go to Nigeria.

Following the instructions of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, he reached London by ship from Bombay [now Mumbai] in January 1920. At that time, people had to go to Nigeria via England and had to wait for several days or weeks for a ship. 

On 18 September 1921, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra instructed him to work with the missionary in-charge of England and in February 1921, Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahim Nayyarra left for Nigeria. 

In 1922, Huzoorra instructed him to go to Berlin. Where he stayed until 1924. He was the first Ahmadi missionary in the land of Germany.

He returned to his homeland in 1924 with the permission and guidance of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. Hence, he spent the period from 1920 to 1924 spreading the message of Ahmadiyyat in Europe. On his return, he had the opportunity to serve in the Department of Education again. 

After the partition of the Indian subcontinent from 1947 to 1949, he served as the amir of East Pakistan. He passed away on 1 November 1969 in his hometown of Bogra.

Hazrat Maulvi Mubarak Ali BA BT

The preaching work is going on by the grace of Allah the Almighty and two educated English gentlemen are being preached for some time now. Both of them will soon join the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, insha-Allah

The series of lectures are being regularly delivered at Hyde Park and the mosque. Azizuddin Sahib and I gave numerous lectures. Mr Augusto also gave a lecture. He is also helping me in my preaching work. Malik Muhammad Hussain Sahib gave a lecture in Paris and he also distributed Ahmadiyya literature there. He says people there are generally interested in learning about Islamic teachings. He is now trying to learn French so that he can preach in French. Malik Sahib returned to London from Paris on 3 August [1921] and is helping me with my work. The friends are requested to pray for him too.

Mr Ali Mohammad Sahib, son of Mr Seith Abdullah Aladdin Sahib, is also with me in London now and is preparing for matriculation in London.

[From, Maulvi Mubarak Ali Sahibra, BA BT. 4 August 1921]

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original in the 29 August and 1 September 1921 issue of Al Fazl)

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