100 Years Ago… – Tabligh in Portsmouth and visits of Ahmadi missionaries

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Al Fazl, 28 February 1921

Portsmouth

The largest naval base of the British Navy is in the city of Portsmouth located on the south coast of England. A part of this city is called Southsea. This city has a special association with Islam. Its symbol of distinction is a star and crescent. This symbol can be seen engraved on every public building in the city. There is a crescent mark on the flags. You will find the same symbol on electricity poles, trams, pottery and uniforms of police and such other servicemen. 

There is a Turkish cemetery just outside this city. Two Turkish officers and a few soldiers are buried in it. The graves have stone inscriptions with verses of the Holy Quran engraved on them. The cemetery is taken care of by the government.

The ship called [HMS] Victory is docked at the port of this city. It was the flagship of the famous Admiral of England, Lord Nelson, which was used by him at the Battle of Trafalgar. 

This city is home to more than a dozen members of that Jamaat of momineen (believers) who have accepted the Promised Messiahas of God. Thus, the Ahmadiyya Jamaat has a special association with this city as well.

My first and second arrival

The Ahmadi missionaries regularly come here [Portsmouth] from London for the tarbiyat and education of the Jamaat. Initially, Sister Salma Croxford accepted Ahmadiyyat in the time of Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Sahib. Then, Muhammad Yunus Evans, Fatima Nifold and Khadija Nifold joined the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. 

Qazi Sahib and Mufti Sahib kept coming here on regular basis and gave lectures in various local societies. Chaudhry Sahib also visited twice during that period. 

I first came here last August during the summer holidays and reaped the benefits and rewards. Currently, I am here for the second time to meet [everyone] once more as I am about to leave [England]. 

[It should be noted that Hazrat Abdur Rahim Nayyarra had already arrived on the shores of Africa by this date, but such reports would reach Qadian and get published with some delay.]

During both of my visits, by the grace of God, I frequently came across noble natured people who were looking for the right path and seeking the truth. I am hopeful that our Jamaat will make great progress in this piece of land, insha-Allah!

First arrival and works

During my first visit, I worked in September and taught Salat to members of the Jamaat on an individual basis. I educated them about the exhortations and prohibitions in Islam and endeavoured to acquaint them with specific issues of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat and formally formed their Anjuman Ahmadiyya as well. 

I gathered the [Portsmouth] Jamaat on three different occasions and delivered sermons. Our young, enthusiastic and sincere friend, Abdullah Bottomley, along with his wife, Hameedah Bottomley, and their son, Bashir Bottomley, is currently residing there owing to a government job. They are very keen to learn religion. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, I had the great opportunity to teach and educate them about a lot of matters. 

In addition to tarbiyat and education of the Jamaat, I hired a horse-drawn carriage available on the seaside resort and made three speeches using it as a stage. They were listened to very attentively. 

A new society by the name of Brotherhood has been formed in this city (and members of this organisation are women). At their invitation, the message of Islam was conveyed to a large gathering of more than 2,000 men in the vast hall of the Wesleyan church. The audience greeted this servant of the Messiah with great enthusiasm and love. Among those in attendance were dignitaries, members of parliament and members of the church. 

Then, I gave a Harvest Thanksgiving Service sermon at the request of the Independent Spiritualist Church, which was highly appreciated by the audience and so they requested me to come again for another speech.

During my first visit, apart from bringing many people closer to the Jamaat, I had the opportunity to persuade a wise, intelligent and noble natured friend, Mr James Turner, to join the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. I named him Abdur Rahim.

Second arrival and works

The reason behind my second visit to Portsmouth, as I have mentioned above, was to meet once more with my friends [before leaving England]. On the other hand, the Independent Spiritualist Church requested me to give a sermon. Hence, I delivered a sermon in their church on Sunday, 30 January [1921]. 

The church was packed to the brim; inspired by the afternoon sermon, the church officials requested me to speak again in the evening. Consequently, I delivered another sermon in the evening. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the name and words of this humble servant of Ahmadiyyat were so blessed that apart from keeping the door of the church open and men and women standing up to the door, many people had to go back due to lack of spaceAll praise is due only to Allah!

In addition to this speech and meeting, I worked towards the tarbiyat and education of friends as much as I could in this short period of time. On my way back, friends came to the station to bid farewell and expressed their sincere [feelings of affection] towards this humble, lowly servant of the Promised Messiahas with tears in their eyes. May Allah be their protector, helper and supporter. Amin!

Friends in London

I have delivered one last speech in Hyde Park and [once more] conveyed the message to the English people that they should convert to Islam, repent and reform themselves and believe in the chosen one of God, who appeared during their reign.

I am grateful to Allah the Almighty that as I leave London, I find my daughters, sons, sisters and brothers in front of me and observe them expressing the same kindness as my real loved ones would have done.

Alhamdulillah, my inner self is ready to gracefully move towards the Lord of the worlds if the angel of death comes to take my life right now. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, I have seen God’s Promised Messiahas catching the white birds and have successfully played my part in the work of conveying the message of truth to English men and women. I praise Allah the Almighty for this blessing and thank my master and chief, the rightful Khalifa, Mahmudra, and send peace on the Promised Messiah and his master, the Holy Prophetsa

اَللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬صَلِّ‭ ‬عَلَي‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬وَعَلَي‭ ‬عَبْدِكَ‭ ‬الْمَسِيْحِ‭ ‬المَوْعُوْد

[O Allah, bless Muhammad and Your servant, the Promised Messiah.]

Request for prayers

Dear friends! Please pray for me as I am headed to a new country to make a fresh start and I am also very likely to face a lot of difficulties.

I will board [a ship] from Liverpool on 9 February [1921], insha-Allah!

Wassalam

Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyar

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu in the 28 February 1921 issue of Al Fazl)

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