100 Years Ago… – The annual Ahmadiyya gathering at Qadian

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The Review of Religions (English), January & February 1920

The annual meeting of the Ahmadiyya community was held at Qadian on the 26, 27, 28 and 29 December 1919. Ever since the inauguration of this annual meeting, the number of Ahmadis gathering at Qadian on this occasion had been rapidly rising which showed that the Ahmadiyya community was growing both in numbers and enthusiasm. There were many drawbacks this year and it was feared that there might be some falling off in the numbers of men assembling at Qadian.

In the first place, all the roads to Qadian were blocked by the Indian National Congress and the All-India Moslem League, which were being held at Amritsar, the junction of all the railway lines by which visitors to Qadian have to travel. The danger did not lie in the Congress or the League itself; for, however attractive they were this year for other communities, they had little attraction for the Ahmadiyya community. So the mere fact that the Congress and the League were holding their meetings at Amritsar where all the roads to Qadian converge could be no hindrance to our friends taking part in the annual gathering of the Ahmadis, and they could be depended upon not to delay their visit to Qadian even for an hour on account of the Congress or the League. Their love for Qadian was too strong to permit them to do so.

The hindrance lay in the fact that the Congress and the League had attracted huge crowds of men from all parts of the province and the traffic on all the railway lines to Qadian had become so abnormally heavy that it was feared that it would prevent many of our friends from attending the Qadian meeting.

Secondly, it began to rain only three or four days before the meeting and it was feared that December rains would prevent our friends from setting out on their journey to Qadian. They had to come mostly from the villages and the difficulties of a journey in the country by kachcha [unpaved] roads in a cold, rainy season can easily be imagined.

Thirdly, Qadian is not a railway station. It is a village lying at a distance of 11 miles from the Batala railway station and the road leading to it is kachcha and badly broken on account of heavy traffic. The Batala-Qadian road is the most frequented, and at the same time the most neglected road in the Gurdaspur district. Being already full of ruts and pits, it became muddy and slippery to boot on account of the rain. Hence it was justly apprehended that the condition of the road to Qadian might deter many an Ahmadi from attending the annual Jalsa.

Fourthly, in addition to the above difficulties, the visitors to Qadian had this time to face another difficulty which they had never experienced before, and which greatly aggravated the trouble due to the rain. It is always difficult to provide an adequate number of conveyances for the large crowds that flock to Qadian every year on the occasion of the Jalsa, and consequently by far a large majority of the pilgrims travel the distance from Batala to Qadian and back on foot, and only a small minority, consisting of women, children, old men and some of the wellto-do persons not habituated to travelling on foot come by ekkas [a two-wheeled one horse-drawn cart] and other conveyances.

This year the need for conveyances was the greater on account of the rain and the muddy condition of the road. But by a strange irony of fate, though the need was greater this year, they were not, for some reasons, available at Batala for some days and the visitors coming on those days had to make their way to Qadian through mud and water.

Under these circumstances it was feared that the annual gathering at Qadian would not this year be so large as in the previous years, but to our pleasant surprise, the gathering turned out to be larger than even that of the previous year. Great as the difficulties were, they failed to subdue the zeal and enthusiasm of the Ahmadiyya community, and their devotion proved too strong for such obstacles. No other community is so sincerely devoted to their cause and no other people are fired with such enthusiasm as the Ahmadiyya community. They came surging to Qadian in spite of all obstacles and gave an unmistakable proof of their devotion and sincerity.

It is highly gratifying to note that every year members of the community assemble at Qadian not only in ever increasing numbers but also with ever-growing zeal and enthusiasm. To become true Muslims themselves and to convey the message of Islam to others by all means in their power is their governing desire. That desire has made them attached to their leader; for, while on the one hand his wise words and magnetic influence serve to purify their hearts and give them an impetus to follow the teachings of Islam as illustrated in the life of the Promised Messiah[as]; his inspiring words and noble lead, on the other hand, stimulate them to greater and greater exertions in the cause of Islam.

The proceedings began on the 26th. The first sitting was presided over by Seith Abdullah Allah Din of Sikandrabad, and the audience were addressed by Maulvi Ghulam Rasul of Rajeki, his subject being “Nature of Prophecy.” The second sitting took place after the Jum’a service and was presided over by Chaudhry Nasrullah Khan, Vakil [lawyer] of Sialkot. The second speaker was Maulvi Hafiz Roshan Ali who delivered a learned discourse on the Truth of the Promised Messiah[as].

Similarly, there were two sittings on the second day. During the first sitting which was presided over by Khan Zulfiqar Ali Khan of Rampur, Maulvi Abdur Rahman, Maulvi Fazil, (ex-student of Azhar University) delivered a lecture on the prophethood of the Promised Messiah[as], and during the second sitting, the audience had the privilege of listening to words of wisdom from the sacred lips of His Holiness Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad[ra], son and second successor of the Promised Messiah[as] and head of the Ahmadiyya community.

The first sitting on the third day, which was presided over by Maulvi Abul Hashim Khan Chaudhry, M. A., of Bengal, was occupied with reports from the different secretaries to Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih, and from General Secretary, Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Qadian. Secretary for propagation announced that in the year under report, 1763 new men were registered as members of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and that this number mostly consisted of men who had sent written applications for admission into the movement, there being many others whom Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih admitted into the movement at Qadian and whose names could not be registered.

The secretary for education reported that about 40 Primary Schools and 5 Middle Schools were being conducted in various parts of the Punjab for the education of Ahmadi children. The additional secretary to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih, among other things, mentioned the services which the Ahmadiyya community had rendered to the government during the year under report. The secretary for finance announced that the income during the last financial year (October 1918 to September 1919) had been 20,175 rupees, 4 annas and 5 paisas while the total expenditure during the same period had been 191,500 rupees, 6 annas 8 paisas rupees.

In the second sitting, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih delivered another speech on the subject of taqdir [fate]. He explained what was the true significance of taqdir and how a belief in it was essential for one’s spiritual progress. The address remaining incomplete, he continued his speech on the following day, the 29th of December. The second sitting on the 29 December was presided over by Khan Sahib Farzand Ali of Ferozepur. Qazi Abdullah BA BT spoke on the work of the Ahmadiyya Movement in England and Hakim Khalil Ahmad delivered a highly impressive speech on the work of the Promised Messiah, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him! The proceedings were brought to a close by a speech from the chair. The president also read to the audience our brother Mufti Muhammad Sadiq’s message from England. Before dispersing, the meeting offered their united prayer to God for the success of the Ahmadiyya propaganda [promulgation].

Ahmadi ladies held a separate meeting in the Masjid Aqsa and they were addressed by Hazrat KhalifatulMasih II[ra], Hafiz Roshan Ali, Hakim Khalil Ahmad, Qazi Amir Husain, Hafiz Ghulam Rasul of Wazirabad and Maulvi Ghulam Rasul of Rajeki. The addresses to the ladies were specially adapted to their requirements and we are glad to note that Ahmadi ladies do not lag behind Ahmadi gentlemen in their devotion to the holy cause of Islam.

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