100 Years Ago… – Response to misinformation and prejudice against Islam, 1921

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A Waraich, Al Hakam

Title page of the issue in which the reference given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra appears

A cutting from the 8 October 1921 issue of Plain English magazine was presented in the previous issue of Al Hakam, which was mentioned by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, with respect to the opposition of Islam Ahmadiyyat in foreign countries. Below is the complete transcript of the said article:

Islam in Hyde Park

“To the Editor of Plain English

“Sir, – As your paper appears to be one not afraid to speak the truth, will you allow me to use your letter column to air what seems to me an openly encouraged abuse and menace to Christian morality, and a disgrace to any Christian government under which it is permitted. 

“I allude to the fact that the prophets [missionaries] of Islam and Ahmad are allowed to preach in the Hyde Park forum (alongside Christian speakers), and lead astray any members of the community who are feather-brained enough to listen to them. I have heard statements made from this pulpit denying the supreme divinity of Christ; representing Christianity as the cause of the dark ages in Europe, which according to these people were lightened by Greek learning. A statement which most Christians would dispute, and which, in any case, is no credit to the Muslim who has consistently done his best to crush the Greeks from the earliest times. Not only since the coming of Mohammed but before, the Greeks were for ages harried by the coloured peoples, in the Assyrian and Persian invasions. 

“If there is a similarity between some of the finest Greek teachings and those of Christ, the Greeks are a western race, and the kudos is due to the West, not Mohammed and the East, which more than any other causes were the reason of Europe’s dark ages – in that she had to fight war after war against coloured oppression and invasions. All throughout Spain and Middle Europe the iron heel of these gentle Moslems was set on our necks and only shaken off by the sword and the Red Cross, even France and western Germany and Britain being sometimes threatened. Europe had no time to devote herself to the gentle arts, which only could be and were kept alive in the monasteries, in times when every active man in the outside world had perforce to be a soldier to guard his race and religion from the coloured soilure. And these people are allowed to come here preaching a religion false for the west, whatever it may be for the east, a religion which encourages polygamy and other evils contrary to Christ’s teaching, and foreign to the western rule ‘that woman should be equal with man and have one man for her own, not share him with others.’ 

“I say, sir, this is a disgrace to the country and government that permits it (presumably to keep the Indian races contented). There seems to be a class of foolish women and even men in this country for whom a coloured skin has a mysterious (and to an Australasian and one who has seen Eastern cities) an unaccountable glamour. These are just the type of people to be led away by this false teaching now being given out in the customary mealy-mouthed Oriental manner. A teaching, not of Christ, but of hell, as far as we are concerned. 

“It is a true saying that ‘East is East and West is West, etc.’ When the two mix on earth there is never anything but evil results, as past history has proved, and is being proved now. What are our Christian divines doing that they do not take this matter up with those responsible for permitting it? It is an offence and an insult to every Christian and white man who passes, to say nothing of women! As one who knows what the Eastern teaching means, I request you, sir, to allow me the medium of your paper for straight words on this subject. 

“Yours sincerely, Eustace BFS Collin. 1 Park Road, Regents Park. September 30th, 1921.”

Responding to the above article on 26 November 1921, in a later issue of the same magazine, Plain English, an Ahmadi not only provided factual information to readers but also presented the true teaching of Islam that there is no compulsion in religion. The transcript of the said response is as follows:

Islam in Hyde Park

“To the Editor of Plain English

“Sir, – I have read with interest a letter published in your columns of October 8th, [1921], from Eustace BFS Collin concerning our [Ahmadiyya] movement, and would be glad if you would afford me the space to reply to same. 

“It is plain that your correspondent bears no love for Islam, indeed his misplaced indignation is clearly shown by the tone of his letter. It is also plain that he knows little or nothing about our religion or its history.

“Why should the people listening to us be ‘feather-brained?’ At any rate, they learn what Islam stands for. Again, we should be pleased to meet some of that class of person ‘for whom a coloured skin has a mysterious and an unaccountable glamour.’ 

“Yes, we deny the divinity of Christ, but then we do not stand alone in that respect. At the same time that we were celebrating our Feast of Sacrifice this year, a learned Christian cleric was also denying that very doctrine from the pulpit in St. Paul’s. 

“As regards your correspondent’s remarks on the Moslem warfare in Europe, I can only ask him to read a good volume of the history of the times. 

“His suggestion that the government ‘permits our lectures to keep the Indian races contented,’ is ludicrous in the extreme. As if our little meeting in Hyde Park once or twice a week could have any effect on India! 

“He should read the Holy Koran before pronouncing our teaching to be ‘of Hell.’ In that book he would read that ‘there is no compulsion in religion, surely the right way has been made manifest from error.’ 

“To conclude, we are here to explain Islam, which (and Mr. Collin’s letter is but another proof) has been so grossly misrepresented all through the ages; we make no attempts at personal proselytising, but should anyone feel sincerely convinced that Islam is the true religion, we are, of course, glad to receive him. 

“Yours very truly, Omar Ali. Ahmadia Mosque, 63 Melrose Road, Southfields, SW 18.”

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