100 Years Ago… – Alexander Russell Webb’s love for Ahmadiyyat and news from Ceylon, Malabar, India and UK

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Al Hakam, 14 June 1920

The first Ahmadi belonging to America is Mr Alexander Russell Webb. Mr Russell has travelled to India and even came to Lahore. However, he was unable to visit Qadian owing to certain people, which he later regretted. He conveyed the message of Ahmadiyyat in America and some people paid attention to his words.

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Alexander Russell Webb

After his return from Hindustan, Mr Russell Webb wrote a letter to Mufti Sahib on 9 March 1902 from Orford, America. This letter was in response to a letter from the Mufti Sahib, which he wrote to Mr Webb from India on 22 February 1902.

Mr Russell opened his letter in the following way:

“My dear brother, Assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

“I just received your letter dated 22 February 1902 and I was very happy to read it. I am relieved to hear that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is sincerely interested in my efforts to spread the wonderful truths of Islam here. Since my work is difficult and sometimes frustrating, I am happy to hear that Hazrat Mirza Sahib and you are praying for me. When I went to India, I was sure that our Muslim brothers would help me to their full extent. I did not imagine for a moment that anyone who is called a Muslim would oppose me and halt my efforts. I had already told them clearly that many Christians would oppose me and level allegations to frustrate my success and carry out all kinds of opposition. I had advised them not to listen to these … Christians and try to discern their motives. However, as soon as the news of the opposition of the Christians here reached India, the unfaithful Muslims over there turned against me and tried to hurt me in every way possible. They forgot all the promises they had made to me and sought only a statement to break their confessions. Now I understand why they did that. The fact is that their religious knowledge is only superficial. Truthfulness and light is not found in them. Moreover, faithfulness towards the Holy Prophetsa is not present in their hearts.”

Then he writes, “It is good that they no longer have a relationship with me.”

Then Mr Russell mentions the Muslims [of America] and says that we should write to them because the Muslims over there feel very happy to write to the Muslims of India. Finally, he states:

“I miss my dear brother Hassan Ali very much. I remember the time I spent in his wonderful company. He tried to do good according to his understanding but like me, he also made a mistake. I am pleased to hear that he had the audience of Hazrat Mirza Sahib before he passed away. He helped me when I was in India and I regret why he and I did not go to Qadian at that time.”

He was the first person who became an Ahmadi in America and after his return from India, he was very sad that he did not go to Qadian. Mr Webb preached Ahmadiyyat to the people there and sent some addresses to Qadian. Hazrat Mufti Sahib corresponded with one of them. That person replied from New York on 8 March 1903. His name is Anderson. The way he expressed his thoughts in his letter are as follows:

“I received your letter dated 28 January 1903 and now I write the answer. I often get magazines of The Review of Religions through Mr Webb which are published from Qadian. I am sincerely interested in some of its articles because they are written on genuine issues. I think that a person whose nature is keen on seeking the truth, these [articles] would be very valuable to them. I myself want to buy it and hope to send its subscription price in this month.

“I got many benefits in Ahmadiyyat and I agree with you that it is destined for Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to unite the different sects of Islam. Moreover, through the study of The Review of Religions and from other sources, I have come to the conclusion that this holy man is in fact the Mahdi, or at least the forerunner of the Mahdi.”

In the end, he writes:

“I see an emerging unity in all sects of Islam and the glory of our extraordinary religion will shine once again as it did in the early years, i.e. from the seventh to the eleventh century. I now conclude this letter and hope that I will receive a lot of news from you about this Jamaat. I am your true friend, Anderson.”

The way in which the American observers identified the Messiah is clear from these letters. They realised through their foresightedness that he was the only person through whom Islam would now progress.

So, O people of India! Behold, the people of other nations and countries … have seen and recognised this little seedling that was planted in the earth. Through him, Islam will now rise. Come and clear your minds now so that we can move towards our real goal together.

We cannot imagine how much passion these people possessed and how much they would have prayed for America.

In 1920, Hazrat Mufti Sahib reached America to revive the dead hearts. From this, one can easily find out the pace of advancement of this nation, which is still despised by the nations of the world.

In 1903, while it did not have the power to send its missionaries to America, at that time, the work was going on through correspondence.

Plans to convert Americans to Islam through letters were under consideration. Not much time has passed since the same missionary who worked through correspondence undertook the world’s biggest journey and got there. Praise be to Allah who made it all possible.

Tabligh of Ahmadiyyat in a Ceylon prison

Ceylon’s alleged murder case has not yet been decided. The Ceylon’s recent letter reveals that Mr Lai, secretary of the Anjuman Ahmadiyya Ceylon, is strongly carrying out tabligh in prison. He is conveying the message of Ahmadas of Qadian and the words of tawhid [Unity God] to all the prisoners around him.

They all listen to this message with keen interest. The message of the Messiah has been conveyed to the prison staff as well. This clearly shows the inner state of this Ahmadi that the fire of tabligh is burning in his heart. All the people should pray for this Yusuf-e-Sani [referring to Prophet Yusufas who was also imprisoned in the way of God] that he may soon be released from this prison. Amin!

Subsequent news reports indicate that thus far, the trial is going in our favour. Every member of the Jamaat should continue to pray. Members of Ceylon Jamaat are engaged in work with great perseverance. No cessation occurred in their works. Their passion did not deteriorate. In fact, they are very active in the field of tabligh.

Mail from Malabar

Recently, Malabar mail has brought us a lot of news. Our readers are well acquainted with the name of Din Hamid Sahib. He works as a special correspondent for Al Hakam in Malabar. He likes Al Hakam very much and keeps working hard for its publishing progress. May Allah reward him. (Sheikh Mahmood Ahmad)

[Din Hamid Sahib states] “Respected and reverend Sheikh Sahib, Assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Kodaly and opposition

“Nowadays, Kodaly Jamaat has to suffer a lot at the hands of its opponents. I have written about this before. Recently, it happened that Mr Fakhruddin had gone to Irrikur to sell Bitumen. Through the conspiracy of a sailor there, non-Ahmadis gathered around Fakhruddin Sahib for mischief-making. Then, the voice of ‘Qadia,’ ‘Qadia Kafir’ [disbeliever from Qadian] started to come from every corner. Suddenly, people attacked this lone, naïve Ahmadi. Fakhruddin Sahib ran for his life. Thereafter, the people started throwing stones at this oppressed one … The poor soul had to jump into a river out of fear. From there, thanks to God, he took refuge at his own place.

“In the same way, the opposition in Kodaly and its surroundings is increasing by the day. Since the time when Fakhruddin Sahib’s uncle, Abdur Rahman Sahib has done Bai‘at through Maulana Maulvi Abdur Rahim Sahib, opposition has not stopped. They are suffering greatly. Opposition groups say that they hurt Abdur Rahman for bringing him back towards them. It has become very difficult for Ahmadis to pass through the markets of Kanjrur. As soon as people see Ahmadis, they start mocking. That is why Ahmadis come here secretly at night. Unable to cope with the situation, an application was prepared and sent to the Joint Magistrate, Tellicherry [now Thalassery] and DSP North Malabar to draw the attention of the authorities. The police have been ordered to investigate the matter. Due to some interruptions, the police have not gone to Kanjrur so far. Insha-Allah, this matter will be resolved within two to three days …

Inauguration ceremony of Ahmadiyya Mosque Pangari

“Through the blessings of God, the construction of Ahmadiyya Mosque, Pangari, has been completed in a month. Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Sahib went to Pangari on 6 May. Coincidentally, Mr Ahmed Kai Sahib came there from Calicut. It was decided to celebrate the opening ceremony of the mosque on Friday, 12 April 1920. According to the resolution, the Jamaats from Kannur and other cities were also invited …”

Note: Although a great admirer of Ahmadiyyat and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, evidential proof is yet to be found of Alexander Russell Webb formally being part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat.

Al Fazl, 14 June 1920

Postal address of Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq

Respected Mufti Sahib has started tabligh work by renting a part of a house in the central and reputable area of New York City for lectures and office. His address is as follows:

“Mufti Mohammad Sadiq Ahmadi Missioner 245 W 72 Street, New York City (USA)”

The stamp on the letter from India to America costs two and a half annas [a unit of currency formerly used in the subcontinent, equal to 1/16 of a rupee] and the postcard stamp costs one anna.

Request for prayer

Currently residing in Qadian, Mr Sagar Chand (Barrister-at-Law) writes:

“I have a friend in the UK, Mr Smith Cliff. He has been blessed with a son by God through the prayers of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. He is close to becoming an Ahmadi Muslim. All Ahmadi brothers are requested to pray with all their hearts that he may become a complete Ahmadi as he will greatly serve our Jamaat in the UK. Presently, he provides us assistance in the tabligh of Islam in every way possible.”

[Mr Sagar Chand Sahib] writes about himself:

“My aim is to go to the UK in the near future and initiate publishing of a monthly Ahmadi magazine from London. Pray immensely for its success and also that I get a passport and a seat on the ship to soon depart for the UK. At present, I intend to stay in Qadian for three to four weeks, insha-Allah.”

Announcement by Mir Sahib

One of our dear friends sent a letter from Delhi and placed a one rupee note in it. He wrote:

“These days are blessed, so pray for me.”

This act inspired me to call the Jamaat’s attention that if the prosperous members of the Jamaat send at least one rupee or more in Ramadan like the aforesaid brother for the motivation of prayers, they shall not experience a slight decrease in their wealth and there will be an increase in funds for the needy. A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.

[Mir] Nasir Nawab, Qadian

(Translated by Al Hakam)

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