100 Years Ago… – Success of the Ahmadiyya Muslim missionaries in West Africa through preaching tours


Al Fazl, 22 January 1923

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)

Criminal court’s decision

After a two-week-long hearing of the criminal case filed by the Ahmadiyya Jamaat against 15 persons under sections 70, 206 and 335 of the Penal Code of Nigeria for “criminal gathering”, “interference in religion” and “severe assault”, the special magistrate convicted eight people with imprisonment and a fine. The perpetrators of the crime were sentenced to three months in prison with hard labour and a fine of £177 each. Of the rest, two persons were sentenced to two months in prison with hard labour, and three to one month’s imprisonment. Two people were jailed for two weeks and fined a pound each. One of these convicts is a haji [a person who has been to Mecca as a pilgrim and performed Hajj]. He is the only haji in the land of Nigeria who is behind bars. We are very grateful to God that the judgement has had such a great impact on the city that there is now complete peace and order.

Case hearing

Lawsuits are never a pleasant sight for any missionary, that too in a country where Muslims are perceived as uncivilised in the eyes of every civilised person. This is not a question of Ahmadi or non-Ahmadi, it is a contest between civilisation and ignorance.

Honourable Mr Ajisa and two other barristers were prosecuting the case on behalf of Ahmadiyya Jamaat. In the opening speech, Honourable Mr Ajisa mentioned the edificatory impact of Ahmadiyya Jamaat and its beneficial teaching. He called the stone throwers the enemies of peace and civilisation. While referring to the Jamaat, he drew the attention of the court to the following:

“Ahmadiyya Jamaat has a special reputation for its good works. The law should protect them.”

In the closing speech of the hearing, Barrister Taylor addressed the court in a powerful speech and said:

“The question is whether Ahmadiyya Jamaat has the privilege of preaching like other sects of the state or not, and how long will anti-peace people stop them from promulgating their religion.”

During the hearing, an Ahmadi witness took the barrister of the accused to task and said:

“We believe in the Messiahas of Nazareth, but you Christians do not recognise him. The is a difference between the Jesusas mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Christ of the Gospels.”

For the first time, Christian barristers personally witnessed members of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, its missionaries and educated people. Some of them were surprised and said: “Are you really Muslims?”

As a result of this case, the message of Ahmadiyyat was conveyed in court, the glory of the Jamaat was witnessed by the public, and consequently, its awe has been established in the entire country of Nigeria, alhamdulillah.

Jami‘ Masjid [central mosque] case

The case filed against the chief imam by the opponents regarding Jami‘ Masjid [central mosque] of Ahmadiyya Jamaat has not yet been decided. The judge is ill. However, there have been two interesting hearings, in which there have been absurd and baseless speeches by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The summary of their speech was that the Ahmadiyya Jamaat held the following beliefs:

1. Women possess souls.

2. Jesusas of Nazareth is dead.

3. Islam should be spread by peaceful means.

4. One should pray with arms folded on the chest.

5. Women should also get an education.

6. During qa‘dah [in salat], one should place the right foot erected [i.e., vertically with the toe facing the Qibla] and the other foot upside down [i.e., horizontally on the ground].

They said that on the contrary, their clients believed:

1. Women have no soul.

2. Jesusas of Nazareth is in heaven [physically].

3. The use of the sword is necessary for the propagation of religion.

4. One should pray with open arms on the sides [i.e. without folding them on the chest].

5. Women should not at all get an education.

In the above speech, the judge said:

“Barrister! Are you serious about raising these points?”

On receiving an affirmative answer, the judge adjourned the hearing and drew the attention of the plaintiffs’ lawyers to a prior decision of the court. In the second hearing, the lawyers changed their approach and tried to prove the Ahmadiyya Jamaat as kafir [disbeliever] by quoting from the book of the Christian church. The judge ordered them to sit down and said, “I will not waste any more time.” The case hasn’t progressed since then. Friends, please pray that this trial ends.

Talim-ul-Islam School

The average daily attendance at Madrasa Talim-ul-Islam Lagos is currently 450, but its space is very small. The initial schools here, like the British schools are divided into an ABC school, the first primary, the second primary, and the first standard to the fifth standard. That is, the middle school in India is a primary school here. At present, education is up to the fifth standard at Talim-ul-Islam School. Insha-Allah, we intend to start higher grades very soon, i.e., the sixth and seventh standards. The government has allotted us a large plot of land and we will soon get another one, insha-Allah. Our jamaat intends to establish both primary and secondary schools here. May Allah bless their good intentions. Amin and amin again.

Tabligh delegations

In addition to the individual and collective tabligh [preaching] efforts in the city and dars of the Holy Quran and Hadith, a tabligh delegation has returned from a visit to the North and has been instrumental in making public speeches and spreading the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat to the people in Kano and Zaria to the fullest possible extent.

The second tabligh delegation is engaged in preaching in the border area near Dahomey, and also in the capital of Dahomey. We have received the first report from the town of Badagry. A missionary was sent to them at the request of the jamaat there. They have reported that a series of speeches continued throughout the week and had a great impact.

The third delegation has returned from the Benin region today. They inform me that the chiefs and the people are waiting to see me and thousands of people are ready to convert to Islam Ahmadiyyat.

Maulvi Fazlur Rehman Hakeem Sahib is on his visit to Gold Coast. He has visited the villages of Tomtom, Sarafa, Adarni and Anibu and has delivered tablighi lectures there. Now, he is visiting the Saraha constituency.

Results of tabligh

During the days covered by the report, eight pagans converted to Islam and took bai‘at [of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra] at the hands of Fazlur Rehman Sahib. May Allah grant them perseverance. One of them is a resident of Salt Pond and the rest are inland residents.

In Lagos, despite opposition, the number of jamaats is growing every week. Alhamdulillah, 21 new converts pledged allegiance last Sunday. The newspapers, Pioneer of Nigeria and African Messenger have written very encouraging and well-thought-out articles on the Jamaat.

Request for prayer

Due to my poor health, I have been advised by the doctor not to do much work. However, I do as much work as possible. I request that members of the Jamaat please remember me in their prayers.

Abdur Rahim Nayyar,
22 November 1922.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu, published in the 22 January 1923 issue of Al Fazl)

Attribution: Image depicting Judge gavel and law books in court background with copy space by artist Jernej Furman used pursuant to Creative Commons 2.0 licence without modification between 3 March 2023 and 10 March 2023. https://www.flickr.com/photos/91261194@N06/52018680857/in/photostream/

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