100 Years Ago… – Tabligh in America by Mufti Sadiq and Siddiqatun Nisa Rahatullah (Mrs EM Garber)


The Review of Religions (English), May 1921, pp. 190-99

Our Brother at Michigan City, America

The Michigan City News says in its issue of 8 March 1921: 

“The Syrian Mohammedans in Michigan City will hold a banquet on Wednesday evening at the Vreeland hotel in honor of their missionary in this country, Doctor Mufti Mohammad Sadiq of India, the first Moslem preacher in America sent by the great Moslem movement called ‘Ahmadia’ after the name of its founder, the prophet ‘Ahmed.’ 

“Islam is the final religion and Koran the final book. There can be no new religion or new book after Mohammed, but the inspired reformers appear after him as exponents and interpreters and preachers of Islam. Mohammedans do not worship Mohammed, but believe him a man and a messenger of God, Allah is the Arabic for God and not the name of any man or idol. Drinking wine was prohibited by the master prophet Mohammed 1300 years ago. Moslem countries used to have no saloons and no gambling houses before they were introduced by the Western people. Islam gives equal rights to women. Jesus Christ is believed by all Mohammedans as a holy man and prophet of Allah; but he did not die the cursed death on the cross. His tomb has been found in Kashmir, India, says Dr Sadiq, [and] members of the Ahmadia movement are 600,000 in India. 

“The Mohammedans will make the best citizen in the United States as they are enjoined by their faith to obey peacefully the laws of the government under which they happen to live. Dr Sadiq is a guest of Mr Neffen Sam, 808 Tennessee Street, and will remain here a few days trying to make the Americans understand what the religion of Islam really is. 

“Dr Mufti Mohammed Sadiq will deliver an address to the public and particularly to the Mohammedans of this city tomorrow evening in the assembly hall in the superior court building. All citizens are cordially invited to attend this meeting and hear this eminent man.” […]

Dr Sadiq in the American Press

From the newspapers coming from America, it appears that even in the free country of the United States of America all people are not so liberal minded as we thought they were and that even among them there are Christian gentlemen and ladies who are as intolerant and as bigoted as any Christian that ever breathed. In order to illustrate this, we need quote only one letter from the Free Press Detroit which it gives under the heading “Voice of the People.” 

Mufti Sahib Newspaper
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) 13 February 1921

One Anise Atiyeh writing to the aforesaid paper, says: 

“A foreigner from India who has recently arrived in this city has repeatedly and publicly accused the Christian ministers [priests] of unfairness religious intolerance, and narrow-mindedness simply because they don’t turn over their churches to him for the purpose of preaching a religion which not only believes in slavery and polygamy, but is diametrically opposed to the Christian religion, and in my judgment is subversive of the very foundations of American society. 

“Not only the ministers were subjected to his attacks but the very Christ whom those ministers preach … Muhammad is claimed to be far superior to Christ.” 

“Now all this is being done in a pre-eminently Christian community and not only he has his photograph published as an advertisement to attract deluded Christians to flock and hear him and be converted, but his criticisms of Christianity and its founder are given prominence by being published by the daily papers.”

The reader may see how the writer of the above letter is burning with rage on account of the preachings of our missionary to America. He cannot bear the sight of Christians flocking to hear him [Mufti Sahib] and he fears that those who are so fond of listening to his [Mufti Sahib] lectures will be converted. It pains him to see the photographs of our brother and his criticisms of Christianity given prominence in the daily press of that country and if it had been in his power, the kindliest thing he could have done to our brother would have been to turn him out of the country. 

His argument for intolerance to Islam is that it teaches polygamy. Polygamy it does sanction, as does the Bible also, and the day does not appear to be very far when Christendom will see the necessity of permitting polygamy as the only remedy for many evils. 

Slavery, as practised by Christians right down to our own times is unknown to Islam. Those who attacked the Muslims and fought with them were indeed taken captives by the Muslims, in accordance with the custom prevailing in Arabia, but they had the orders of the Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God upon him, to treat them as their brethren and their emancipation was declared to be a deed which made one entitled to paradise. Besides, the captives themselves could purchase their freedom by making a certain payment to their masters. 

Mufti Sahib Newspaper 2

Can the writer of the aforesaid letter quote even a single word of Jesus in favour of slaves? Why does not the gentleman who is so enraged at the preachings of our missionary advocate the exclusion of the Bible from the schools, the churches, and the country because the Bible permits both polygamy and slavery? 

He is angry with our brother because he [Mufti Sahib] says the Christian ministers are narrow-minded. He wants to defend the ministers but instead of defending, he only pleads guilty of betraying his own intolerance and bigotry. 

In connection by with our brother’s reference to the narrow-mindedness of the Christian ministers, the following quotation from one of our brother’s letters in the Free Press will be interesting. Our Brother [Mufti Sahib] says:

“I had asked the Christian ministers if any of them was so broad-minded as our Holy Prophet Muhammad[sa], who had given his mosque to the Christians for holding their Sunday service. In reply, I have received an all-round refusal, excepting one Unitarian Club; but as the Unitarians, like myself, already believe in Jesus as a man-prophet and reject the doctrines of the divinity of Jesus and trinity, they are considered by the orthodox and other churches as non-Christians.

“Rev Pearson kindly suggests that I should hire a hall. I thank the reverend gentleman, though his advice makes me no wiser … One pastor says that I am in conflict with Christianity and therefore no church door should be opened to me. Well, I love Jesus and I believe as well as the reverend pastor. At least, I am not an enemy of Christ. But suppose I am. Then don’t you [Christians] preach ‘Love your enemies.’ Yes, you do. But you do not practise what you teach. You could not and you do not. I knew this well. But I wanted to get it out of your mouths, and I have got it. Therefore now I say – don’t worry.” 

Our brother had no desire to make use of the Christian churches. His object was only to bring home to the Christian ministers and others the noble-mindedness of the Holy Prophet[sa] and their own narrow-mindedness and to show that they did not practise what they taught from their pulpits. 

The Christian ministers are convicted out of their own mouths and being unable to make any reply to the criticisms of the Ahmadi missionary they want to conceal their defeat by showing anger and rage at his criticisms. True, indeed, is the Persian saying which says, “When a person is discomfited in debate, he resorts to quarrelling and fighting.”

Beautiful Islam

A paper written and read by Madam Siddiqatun Nisa (Mrs EM Garber) at the weekly meeting of the Ahmadia movement in Chicago on 21 November 1921:

Truth in its radiant beauty so clear, 

Has presented a living life so dear, 

Through the claims and teachings of Ahmad[as], the seer, 

To the one who hath a listening ear. 

O blessed prophet of the latter day, 

In humble posture how often didst thou pray! 

That thy true light might illumine without delay, 

The world’s corruption sinking in decay. 

Thy words are filled with strength and power; 

They blossom forth as doth the flower; 

They nourish our souls as the gentle shower, 

Droppeth her kisses from Allah’s tower. 

In far away India this master hath been found, 

Born in a little unpretentious town, 

But by the blessed Allah he hath been crowned, 

And the name of Ahmad is peeling forth in sound! 

The beauty of his teachings shall soothe the weary heart 

As a stream of life from it doth start 

Into thy life t’will bring the joy of the lark, 

Freeing thee forever from worldly shark. 

Islam’s beauty the master doth reveal 

Which to the many hath been a book concealed, 

But today in the desert is growing a new field, 

Which to the faithful sweetest fruit will yield. 

Islam’s strength and eternal patience 

Is being known throughout each and every nation, 

For Allah hath established a wireless station; 

And the true and faithful one shall receive his allotted ration.

In the study of Holy Quran I [Madam Siddiqatun Nisa] found a beauty in Islam surpassing any beauty I had ever known. Not as it is manifested by some of its people who have lost much of its beauty owing to their mingling with Christian worldly ambitious people but in my silent hours of study and thought this book revealed its true meaning to me. 

The beauty in Allah’s strength, the freedom of spirit, the breaking of the bends of ignorance and delusions of the imaginations. The power to stand alone with Allah’s truth, fortified against all petty notions the world would heap upon us. The beauty in a pure unbroken love which manifests its self in the hearts of the faithful. These are but a few of the beauties of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught through his inspired word. 

Today we have with us right in our midst a blessed teacher Professor Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, who has come to awaken our hearts to the true meaning of Islam and the beauties contained therein and I have found in him the true spirit of Islam and the quality of beauty expressing its self through him. His patience, his tolerance, his kindness and his humble devotion to his master Ahmad[as], his love and reverence for the great Arabian Master Prophet Muhammad[sa] and his submission to the One and only Allah the Creator and his desire to bring others to this truth are some of the beauties of his nature. 

Day and night he labors to spread this truth, which shall break all the chains of bondage, uniting us in one perfect whole – keeping our minds balanced as we ascend step after step to that Divine Throne where bliss shall be eternal and wisdom our guide throughout the infinite time.  

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

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