100 Years Ago… – Tabligh of Islam in West Africa, a chief converts to Islam and donations of Lagos Jamaat

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Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahim Nayyarra (1883-1948)

Lectures at the Ahmadiyya Hall and their impact

The last lecture of the series of lectures, (which was initiated for Christians), was held on 30 July [1921] at the Ahmadiyya Hall. Its topic was The Three Stages of Spiritual Progress. It was the fifth lecture of the series. Earlier, four detailed lectures were delivered in English on the following topics: 

1. The Holy Prophetsa in the Bible 

2. Jesus, Son of Mary, Did Not Die on the Cross 

3. The Second Coming of the Messiah 

4. The Way to Salvation from Sin

There was an extraordinary turnout in all these lectures and their impact by the grace of Allah the Almighty was as follows: 

1. The weak and non-religious Muslims, who were previously turning towards Christianity, became stronger in their faith, as one of them told me, “But for you, we would have become Christians.” 

2. The knowledge of new and old members of the Jamaat has increased and even students of schools are overwhelming the Christians of their circles by presenting verses of the Bible. Everyone has written down in their notebooks the summary and references presented in the said lecture and previous speeches. 

3. An elderly educated Christian woman told me, “Many Christians are ready to convert to Islam. They are only waiting for an established system by you, so that they may not face problems in social relations.”

The effect of the dars of the Holy Quran

The dars [sermon] of the Holy Quran for men and women and the Yoruba classes for teaching Salat and the translation of prayers have, by the grace of God, instilled a new spirit and fervour in the Jamaat. The people want me to help them go through the complete translation of the Holy Quran and also to help purify [the ideas] of Ahmadi sermonisers from the old stories and tales. 

On returning to Lagos, insha-Allah, I would like to pay close attention to this matter. People are getting used to contemplating on the Word [the Holy Quran] of God. Women in particular have been affected positively and are rapidly reforming themselves.

Nikah

There is divine providence in every work of Allah the Almighty and there is a distinctive significance in every single one of His actions. Since it was [His] intention to teach the new Jamaat about the practices on the occasion of marriage and death, so coincidently, a week before my departure, there came an occasion of a marriage ceremony of the girls of new Ahmadis. 

As the father of the girls is an influential person of the Jamaat and is an English scholar, whose name is also Durr-e-Sameen [precious pearl], he requested the chief imam that, “Our white alpha [i.e. Maulvi Abdur Rahim Sahib Nayyarra] should announce the nikah of my girls.” 

I considered this opportunity as a blessing and announced their nikah at the magnificent Ahmadiyya Mosque in the neighbourhood. The girls’ Christian relatives (as there are some Christians, some idolators and some Muslims in every family) were also present. 

The [nikah] sermon, by the grace of God, had such a positive effect that the present Christians are now determined to convert to Islam. They will soon join the Jamaat, insha-Allah.

Funeral of Ahmadi mufassir

It is an occasion of sorrow that the mufassir-e-Quran bil-Quran [who did commentary of the Holy Quran with the help of other verses of the Holy Quran] of our new [Lagos] Jamaat, i.e. the elder who used to present the translation of the Holy Quran to the people in the month of Ramadan, has passed away.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّآ‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]

I have stated the words “bil-Quran” because the new [Lagos] Jamaat was disgusted with the stories of Tafsir Al-Jalalain and other similar commentaries and did not touch any other book except for the Holy Quran. It is for this reason that these people were called Ahl-e-Quran, or Shakiti.

Friends are requested to offer the funeral of the late Alpha Abdul Qadir in absentia. He sincerely took bai‘at of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih at my hand. Regardless of the fact that heavy tears fell from the sky [on the day of his funeral], it was attended by a large number of Muslims of the city, which especially included the upper class as well. 

I led the funeral prayer and for the first time in Lagos, the funeral was performed with the Ahmadiyya simplicity.

“I have nothing to do with comfort”

I had to stay in Lagos for four months, during which I never got spare time except for two days of high fever and I only had partial time off for 12 days in these days. During the rest of the time, I was completely occupied for which I thank Allah the Almighty very much, because I am his [the Promised Messiah’sas] servant who aptly said, “I have nothing to do with comfort,” when Sadiq asked him, “Hazrat, may I wave the [hand] fan for you.”

Eventually, the day of rest will come and on that day, I will get plenty of rest, insha-Allah. Now is the time to work and spread the message of Islam and the name of one God at all times, every hour and every moment with all the strength of my body, mind and spirit. My doctor, John, thinks I am crazy about religion and he gets angry every day when he sees people sitting outside. 

Hence, I had to pass a very busy life in the capital, Nigeria, and often spent more than eight hours in speeches. I thank God very much for that opportunity, alhamdulillah, thumma alhamdulillah!

An invitation from Abeokuta

Four days before my departure, the following telegram came from a town [Abeokuta] which is located in the interior of Africa and is the capital of Igbo nation:

“Respectfully request your divine service urgently and oblige. Suraqa Egberonighi Abeokuta, Ansarudin.”

Since this telegram was from the brother (paternal first cousin) of the ruler and there was an invitation from a society called Ansaruddin, I immediately accepted it.

The next day, I, along with Brother Ajose (interpreter) and Aziz Mashhood Demala, went to the said town. [On our way] many sincere friends went with us, station after station. May Allah reward them. Some people even accompanied us to Abeokuta. I will write all the details about that in another letter, insha-Allah. For the time being, I only submit that: 

1. We comprehensively preached to the chief ruler, His Royal Highness Akele Dimala II and His Highness Ashtile Ede Dimala

2. I gave two lectures 

3. Prince Ali Egberonighi, the chief of 15,000 Muslims, took bai‘at of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih at my hand, alhamdulillah.

Nigeria to Gold Coast

I will write about the journey to Abeokuta and the departure from Lagos in the next letter, insha-Allah. Mail is being sent on a regular basis, but time is very short. 

As for now, I only submit that I have established the following [local chapters] and left all the administration in their hands, and I have now come back [to Saltpond] to look after the 4,000 Fante [new converts]: 

1. Majlis Nazim which has 25 members 

2. Majlis Akabir which has 21 members 

3. Majlis Maulvis which has 12 members

After 8 April [1921], staying in Nigeria for four months, I came to the Gold Coast [Ghana] on 8 August [1921] and started working. I am writing this letter from Saltpond and I am very happy with the work in Nigeria.

My postal address

Friends should keep sending their letters to the Nigerian address, which is, “P.O. Box 341 Lagos, Nigeria”, because I cannot say how long I will have to stay here and where I will have to travel in the future.

Pray for me

I need prayers. I am weak. My “boat” is encountering strong opposing winds. There are many needs. A lot of missionaries are required and the expenses are immense. Nayyar the traveller needs your prayers.

Lagos Jamaat’s chanda

Some members of the old [Lagos] Jamaat have donated 51 pounds and 2 shillings for the lamps of Minarat-ul-Masih [the white minaret of Qadian] and the newly formed [Lagos] Jamaat has presented 50 pounds of chanda for the spread of Islam.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original in the 3 October 1921 issue of Al Fazl)

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