100 Years Ago… – Tabligh in Benton Harbor, new converts and misconceptions of Christians about Islam


Al Fazl, 8 June 1922

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra (1872-1957)
Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq
Photo taken at Westminster. Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra, who served in the UK as a missionary before going to America, can be seen standing in the back row

Eye treatment

This humble one is currently undergoing treatment for trachoma by a well-known eye specialist. His name is Dr Bonain and he lives in Niles, [Michigan]. I have to visit him two days a week. He removes the white lumps [from the eyes caused by infection] and applies the medicine. Moreover, he gives me some medicine for the rest of the days that I can apply myself. On the days that I do not have to go to the doctor, I go to nearby cities to preach. In this way, the Islamic tawhid [concept of Oneness of God] and the good news of the coming of the Promised Messiahas has been conveyed in many Christian cities. 

Dr Bonain is very famous for the treatment of eyes. People from all over the country come to him and sometimes, even the people of Europe come for the treatment. He is a man of good character and lives a very simple life. He has an average daily income of 200 dollars (800 rupees). He treats the poor for free and also helps needy patients. I have mentioned my work and mission to him. I have presented him some books for studying. I also got a prescription from him for the treatment of trachoma and sent it to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra] so that the friends who are in need can try it.

Muslims do not worship Prophet Muhammadsa 

In my spare time, I stayed in Benton Harbor [Michigan] for a few days. The city is famous for being on the shores of a lake. A lecture was held there in a hall and around 300 people attended it. It had a positive impact on all of them. Most people expressed surprise that they had always believed that Muslims worshipped Muhammad[sa] and did not believe in God. I said, “Surely, the Muslims deny the god of the Trinity, but they worship only One God.” Many people took address cards and sought more information [about our mission].

Priest Tyler

I walked past a church aftyer which I entered it for a few minutes. A priest was preaching that Muslims worshipped Muhammad[sa]. I told him after his lecture that that was completely false. He was very surprised to hear that. This is the level of knowledge of the clergy in this country.

Another allegation against Islam

Let alone the common people of this country, even the well-educated people have misconceptions about Islam. There is a daily newspaper in this city [Benton Harbor] in which the editor had mentioned meteors in his special editorial and in order to show his wisdom (or ignorance), he had also written, “A meteor once fell in Arabia. It was picked up by the Muslims and placed in the Ka‘bah and is being worshipped. Even now, if a piece of meteor falls somewhere in Eastern countries, the Muslims pick it up and put it in a sacred place and worship it.” I read that article and immediately went to the editor’s office and informed him of his mistake. He thanked me a lot and enquired about other teachings of Islam, my mission and the state of India. The conversation went on for a long time and he admitted that he would take [his statement] back. However, when the newspaper was published in the evening, I saw that the editor had published a long article about my coming to this country, converting 200 Christians to Islam, The Moslem Sunrise magazine and giving lectures in this city, but had conveniently left out admitting his mistake. It is hard for worldly editors to admit their mistakes.


A sect of Christians called Israel is also present in this city [Benton Harbor]. They have very few members. There will be around a thousand in total. Everyone is an American, but they call themselves Israel. Their prominent beliefs are as follows:

1. No true Christian dies. Everyone continues to live in the same body. Those who died were weak Christians.

2. Shaving body hairs is a sin. Everyone has long hair like the Sikhs.

3. All kinds of meat are forbidden. Like Brahmins, they live only on vegetables.

4. Accumulating money is a sin. Everyone must live together in one house and eat and drink together. The income is deposited in the treasury of their association. The association caters to everyone’s needs.

I talked for two hours with a group of theirs and the message of the coming of the Promised Messiahas was conveyed to them. After enquiring about their mission and preaching to them, an 80-year-old white-bearded man who looked like one of them met me outside their place. He said that he too was part of Israel, but the association embezzled a lot of money from him. When he objected, he was expelled from the party and now his case was in court.

New converts

In the last two weeks, 23 Christians have converted to Islam in different cities [of America]. Some people became Muslims after meeting me and some of them converted after exchanging letters. Their names are as follows:

1. Mrs Kar of Grand Rapids (Naeema) 

2. Mr Kar Junior of Grand Rapids (Saleem) 

3. Mrs Stuckney of Grand Rapids (Safia)

4. Mr George Shaw of Chicago (Ajeeb)

5. Mr James Lizme of Chicago (Azeez)

6. Mrs A Mand Eliza of Chicago (Azeema)

7. Mrs Mary Joseph of Chicago (Saeedah)

8. Mr Fanny Roberts of Chicago (Ahmad Yar)

9. Mr Willis Yokum of Chicago (Muhammad Yar)

10. Mr May Theor […] of Chicago (Azeemullah)

11. Mr Andrew Digger of Chicago (Rahimullah)

12. Mr Charles Watson of Chicago (Karimullah)

13. Mr Nathanial Johnson of Chicago (Sheikh Ahmad Din)

14. Mr Robert Graham of Chicago (Badruddin)

15. Mr James Sodep of Chicago (Mahmududdin)

16. Mr Dale Sims of Chicago (Sadiquddin)

17. Mr D McClanahan of Chicago (Siddiquddin)

18. Mr James Emmanuel of Chicago (Karimuddin)

19. Mr Carl Aldridge of Chicago (Rahimullah)

20. Mr Roy Brown of Chicago (Bashiruddin)

21. Mr Henry Day Phil of Chicago (Muhammad Din)

22. Mr Charles Wolf of Chicago (Karam Din)

23. Mr Frank Wassingen of Chicago (Fazl Din)

Friends are requested to pray that may Allah the Almighty grant all of them perseverance and further development. Moreover, pray for my health and well-being so that I can carry out my work with full vigour.

A new convert

Recently, an esteemed woman named Lady Jane Hooper, who is a lecturer herself and also held my lectures in her hall several times in Detroit, converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat with full sincerity of heart. She is 70 years old but in good health. She has written to me that, “Now, I will convey the message of Ahmadas, the Prophet of God, to the people in my lectures.”

Dignitaires’ questions for Khalifatul Masih

Some of the dignitaries of this country have written a few questions on important national, religious and cultural issues and intend to send them to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih [IIra] to seek a solution to those complex issues from an Islamic point of view, and his answers will then be presented to the American public. These questions and the names of the questioners will be presented in one of the coming issues.

Tabligh to significant people

I wrote a congratulatory letter to the new pope on his appointment and preached to him. On behalf of the American Jamaat, a letter of congratulations was written to Princess Mary on her marriage. A letter was sent to Mr Montague for sympathising with him on his resignation, and another letter was written to Viscount Peel on accepting the office of Secretaryship [of the State for India]. A letter was written to the distinguished Dr Lorenz who was conveyed the message of Islam. He is from Germany and has devoted his time to curing the ailing in this country with his special treatment through surgical instruments. Congratulatory letters were written to King [Fuad] of Egypt and his prime minister, Sarwat Pasha, on behalf of members of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. A letter was sent to General Smuts for successfully suppressing the rebellion in South Africa. When Crown Prince Ibrahim of Egypt came to America for a visit, he was conveyed the message of Ahmadas, the Prophet of God. In all the aforesaid letters, the prophecies of the Promised Messiahas were mentioned as well.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu published in 8 June 1922 issue of Al Fazl)

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