100 Years Ago… – Spreading Ahmadiyyat in Gold Coast (Ghana) and journey to Nigeria

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Last Updated on 25th March 2022

Al Fazl, 20 March 1922

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)
The distance from Ghana to Nigeria amounts to 969 miles

The administrative structure of Gold Coast Jamaat

The following administrative structure has been formed in the Gold Coast Jamaat, (may God Almighty bless it and may it prosper):

Saltpond Markaz [Center]: Library, reading room, Ahmadiyya Madrasa [school], general supervision and protection, Darul tabligh rights and superintendent mission, Mr Gabriel Arthur.

Local Tabligh: Ismail Konsi (he took bai‘at at the annual convention) is the Nambardar and the missionary of Saltpond is Muhammad Yahya.

In-charge Darul Tabligh: Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq, the head missionary of Gold Coast who helps other missionaries, i.e. Daud, Yaqub, Yusuf, Musa, Adam, Hassan and Isa.

General Management and Finance: Mehdi is the chief and the secretary, Mr Binyamin Kelson.

To facilitate the management, the Gold Coast Jamaat has been divided into four circles:

1. Accrafol Circle: This includes the formally established Ahmadiyya Anjumans of Accrafol, Mando, Abbasa, Eshiem, Dassi Kuma, Bedun, Essien, Quanta, Ebora, Adukrom, Ibukota and Mankiram.

2. Saraha Circle: This includes the formally established Ahmadiyya Anjumans of Saraha, Swedru, Abuakwa, Kumkaraam, Korncikaram, Nedalbhes, Abdum, Rasheem, Afransi and Techiman.

3. Senya Circle: This includes two formally established Anjumans of Senya Beraku and Patan.

4. Secondi Circle: This includes the jamaats of Abduni and Prampram.

The latter two circles joined the Ahmadiyya Jamaat during my recent [tabligh] tour.

Saltpond to Accra

The journey by sea gives me a lot of pain and the moment I see the sea I get nausea. I left for Nigeria on the coastal ship “Sir George” to attend the “Ahmadiyya Conference”. 

A boat takes you from the shore to the ship, and it has to pass through high tides of water. The waves of the sea not only upset the boat like a stubborn horse but also play with the passenger with a splash of salty white water. 

The crew, immediately seeing the green turban, lower the ladder of the ship and carried the half-dead Nayyar on board. Captain Johnson (a noble Englishman), Mr Ben Warden (an engineer in Saltpond, who introduced himself by mentioning the book [The Philosophy of the] Teachings of Islam, that Captain Turner had given him (and which was given to the Captain by this humble one), other English travellers and chief officers began to show hospitality. 

Mr Johnson got kheer [rice pudding] cooked [for me]. He sat down with me and helped me eat and thus I regained complete consciousness. Then I conveyed the message of the Promised Messiahas to the honourable host. As soon as the ship started moving at night, my health deteriorated again. After spending two days expressing regret on the way, I reached the capital of the Gold Coast on 9 December [1921].

Engagements in Accra

I stayed in Accra from 9 to 14 December [1921]. On the question of reopening the Accra Mosque, which is now under consideration of the Gold Coast government by my efforts, I met with Muslim leaders and the authorities. I am grateful to God that my efforts were fruitful and the mosque will open soon, insha-Allah

I met the deputy inspector general of Police, the inspector general of police, the director of the department of education, the district commissioner and other civil officials who treated me with special respect this time. I was surprised how each of the said people remembered my name correctly, and unlike in England, they did not call me Mr Nagar or Mr Nazar, but in fact‭, ‬called me Reverend Nayyar very clearly. I thank Allah the Almighty that the misunderstandings with the authorities have been resolved. However, feeling the pain I have suffered from the said hands, I would say:

پتھر‭ ‬پڑیں‭ ‬صنم‭ ‬تِرے‭ ‬ایسے‭ ‬پیار‭ ‬پر‭ ‬

جب‭ ‬مر‭ ‬گئے‭ ‬تو‭ ‬آئے‭ ‬ہمارے‭ ‬مزار‭ ‬پر

“May stones befall on this kind of love of yours, as you [did not come to me while I was alive and] visited my shrine after I passed away.”

In Accra, Indian friends were as loving as ever and halwapuri, pakoras, milk, etc., were served that made [me] recall India in Africa.

Imam Fota converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat

What makes me especially happy in Accra is that I invited the Muslim chiefs to a tea party and presented the teachings of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat and the claims of the Holy Messiahas. I read out the sayings of the Promised Messiahas from Khutba Ilhamiyah [The Revealed Sermon] and Al-Istifta (An Enquiry). After hearing that, Imam Ahmad Fota, a native of Senegal and a teacher of the order of Tijaniyyah and a scholar of Islamic law, exclaimed in front of all the people:

“I sincerely believe in these sayings [of the Promised Messiahas].” 

All praise belongs to Allah Who made it all possible. I am very happy with the conversion of the said scholar. May Allah give him perseverance. Amin summa Amin.

One to 1000

During my stay in Accra, by the grace of God Almighty, a Syrian apostate who had become a Christian due to his unfamiliarity with religion converted to Islam and became a sincere Muslim. Moreover, the main chief came to meet me after a great search. The said chief is the head of the third circle, [i.e. Senya Circle]. Coincidently, he had come to Accra as well. He expressed his sincerity and since I had instructed him to conduct the census of the respective jamaat, he said that the number of the constituency number three is about 1000. Until then, I had counted only Isa as one person, but he increased from one to 1000, and by the grace of God, the number of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat Gold Coast is now between five and six thousand.

Discourse with His Excellency, the Governor

Before boarding the ship on 14 December [1921], I met with the Honourable Colonel Secretary and His Excellency Brigadier General FG [Sir Frederick Gordon] Guggisberg, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Gold Coast, and presented him the gift of [The Philosophy of the] Teachings of Islam and [The] Review of Religions. The Governor introduced me to Lady Guggisberg and said: “Muslim Missioner”. During the conversation, he said to me, “Do you want to convert me?” I said, “Yes sir, I do.”

Ship Alpine

From the seashore to the ship, the Saltpond endeavour was experienced again on a less difficult scale. Thereafter, I boarded the same ship that brought me to Africa from England ten months ago. The purser of the ship gave me the best room, but I was destined to get in trouble and [my destiny] was not changed by a first-class status room, a three passengers’ room for one man, and the instructions to the stewardess for special care (for which I thank the officers of the ship). 

Glory be to God, there was no turbulence in the sea, the ship was one of the best ships, and the accommodation was one of the best accommodations, but I was still sick. Only Allah the Almighty could understand that secret and I believed that it was some divine providence. I light-heartedly compared my state to labour pains and said to myself that after setting foot on land, I would again forget about all of that and prepare for a new journey. 

Be that as it may, I boarded the ship and left for Nigeria. Since one of my companions was also the governor of Nigeria, I called the private secretary to the governor and conveyed to him some wise words. 

After 17 weeks, I returned to the capital of Nigeria on 15 December [1921]. The chief imam and the friends with their cars were present to welcome me. All praise belongs to Allah Who made it all possible.

From, Abdur Rahim Nayyar

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu in the 20 March 1922 issue of Al Fazl)

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