A century of faith and progress in Ghana: Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Ghana celebrates 100 years at its 91st Jalsa Salana

Ghana Flag
jorono| Pixabay

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas stated that he is the same Messiah and Mahdi that Allah the Almighty and the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa had promised would come in the Latter Days, and thereby laid the foundation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1889. He did this in Qadian, a small town in India, where few people were acquainted with him.

He also made a magnificent prophecy that his message would spread all over the world, and people from all walks of life would accept him, and more than that, they would do anything for him.

Fast forward 135 years, and now tens of thousands of people in Ghana, a country on the coast of West Africa, are commemorating a century of Ahmadiyyat in Ghana in the form of an annual convention (Jalsa Salana), the 91st convention of its kind in Ghana, where over 40,000 people are expected to congregate only because it was the desire of their founder, Promised Messiahas, that they do so for their spiritual and moral upliftment. How did that happen?

How Ahmadiyyat came to Ghana

A trained and devoted Christian clergyman, Benjamin Sam, converted to Islam in 1885. Using his influence, he converted most of his Methodist followers to Islam. In 1917, after his passing, he was succeeded by one of his faithful converts – Opanyin Adoagyir Appah, who later became known as Chief Mahdi Appah when he became an Ahmadi Muslim.

In 1920, Yusuf Nyarko Sahib, a Fanti Muslim, dreamt that “white” men were leading his community of Muslims in prayer. This dream was mostly dismissed because, at that time, Fanti Muslims believed that every ‘Whiteman’ was a Christian.

It was indeed divine intervention that a Nigerian Muslim, Abdur Rahman Pedro from Saltpond, confirmed the existence of a Qadian-based “white” Muslim sect with a branch office in London. It was then resolved to apply for an Ahmadi missionary from Qadian, India. (Khilafat Centenary Jubilee Souvenir Ghana 2008, pp. 27)

The Ghanaian Muslims, at the behest of Chief Mahdi Appah Sahib, therefore took the unique initiative to contact Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra in Qadian through The Review of Religions. In 1921, Huzoorra sent Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra to Ghana, thereby sowing the seed of Ahmadiyyat for the first time in the country.

It is indeed a sign of the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas that Ahmadiyyat reached here through a dream, and the fervour of locals to learn about the Jamaat.

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyarra spent only a year in Ghana, but before he left for Nigeria, he made sure that the message of Ahmadiyyat reached the Ashanti Region. When he first arrived in Kumasi (the capital of the Ashanti region), he held a meeting with about thirty Muslims and some chiefs and appointed the first Ahmadi imam of Kumasi. (Ibid. pp. 27-28)

From Ashanti, Ahmadiyyat reached the Upper West Region in 1929, and the spread of Ahmadiyyat in the north may rightly be attributed to Alhaj Mualim Salih, a renowned Arabic scholar, who was converted together with his family and his two students at Saltpond in 1932 by Alhaj Maulvi Nazeer Ahmad Ali.

In spite of the persecution he later faced in the north, he was able to spread the message of Ahmadiyyat to the whole of the then Northern Territories of Ghana. (Ibid. pp. 146)

Education and health in Ghana: The role of Ahmadiyyat

When Maulvi Hakeem Sahib succeeded Maulana Nayyarra, he soon realised that the rapid expansion of the Movement depended not only on preaching but also on the production of a cadre of an educated class.

To this end, Maulvi Hakeem opened secular schools at Ekrawfo, Saltpond and Assin Kwaminatta and urged Ahmadi Muslim parents to send their children to these schools. Maulvi Hakeem also arranged further education at Achimota College in Accra for some talented Ahmadi young elementary school leavers to train as teachers.

Islamic education continued to expand and in 1950, the first Ahmadiyya Secondary School was opened by Maulvi N. A. Mubashir in Kumasi. Under the Ameership of Maulvi A. Wahab Adam, the real revolution in Islamic education occurred in Ghana. Many more primary and secondary schools were opened to cater not only to Muslim children but also to other children, irrespective of their religion.

The Nusrat Jehan Leap Forward Scheme was initiated by Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifat-ul-Masih IIIrh in 1970. The scheme saw the opening of six secondary schools throughout Ghana. These schools at Asokore, Fomena, Salaga, Essarkyir, Potsin and Wa, continued to be fully financed and managed by the Mission until the government took over control in the 1980s.

The Wa School was turned into a Teacher Training College, the first ever and only Muslim Teacher Training College in Ghana. These schools have produced many important personalities holding important positions in Ghana.

Again, under the Nusrat Jehan Scheme of 1970, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission established hospitals, mostly in rural areas, to cater for the health needs of the rural people. Ahmadiyya hospitals were thus established in Asokore, Kokofu, Techiman, Swedru, Kaleo in Upper West, Daboase and lately, Mim in Brong Ahafo. (Ibid.)

A homoeopathic clinic, the first ever to be established by a religious organisation in Ghana, was opened by Ameer Maulvi A. Wahab Adam at Boadi, near U.S.T., Kumasi, in 1994. The fame of these hospitals and clinics, transcends the borders of Ghana, drawing patients from Cote D’Ivoire, Togo and other neighbouring countries.

The early jalsas

In 1922, Maulana Hakeem Fazlur Rehman started a series of meetings at regular intervals in the big Jamaats to maintain constant contact with the members of the Jamaat. This was apart from the frequent tours he conducted all over the area.

In addition to training and preaching purposes, in these jalsas, important issues related to the development of Ahmadiyyat in Ghana were discussed and donations were collected for the Saltpond Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission House, the construction of mosques and schools and other training and preaching programmes. (History of Jalsa Salana Ghana [Unpublished], History Dept. AMJ Ghana, pp. 18-19)

The first three-day Jalsa in Ghana

On 2-4 August 1923, the first actual Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana was organised in Essiam. Consideration was given to important matters such as the acquisition of funds from members for the mission’s motor vehicle purchase. A plot of land was purchased in Essiam in the name of the Ahmadiyya Community on October 4, 1923, for a mission house and an Ahmadiyya school. (Al Fazl Qadian, 20 November 1923)

The Jalsa continues

By the grace of God and the efforts of the Jamaat, Jalsa Salana in Ghana continued to be held every year with almost no breaks. There were many memorable jalsas held over the years, with great contributions from the Jamaat.

In 1937, the 13th Jalsa Salana Ghana was held on 17-19 February in Saltpond, with over 3,000 people attending. The flag of Ahmadiyyat was waving across the jalsa gah in many places, and the words

اسمعوا صوت السّماء جاء المسيح جاء المسيح

[Hearken the voice of the heavens! The Messiah has come! The Messiah has come!] was translated into the local language. The African Morning Post published a report on this jalsa as well. (Al Fazl Qadian 9 April 1937, p. 7)

The Messiah has come: the 1939 earthquake in Ghana

Saeed Entsie Anderson, though unlettered, was a fearless preacher who would always go about announcing that the Messiah had come and all must repent.

In 1939, a non-Ahmadi Muslim came and asked for his sister’s hand in marriage. Saeed Sahib insisted that the man convert to Ahmadiyyat before the marriage was contracted. The non-Ahmadi man agreed and converted to Ahmadiyyat and the marriage was contracted.

Adam Kobina Kum, a non-Ahmadi imam in the area, was not happy when he heard of the conversion. He was an Arabic scholar and went out openly to preach that the Mahdi had not come and that the Ahmadis were misleading the public.

Saeed Sahib challenged the scholar and invited him to come to Saltpond to meet Maulana Nazeer Ahmad Mubashir (the then Ameer of Ghana Jamaat) on the issue but the imam refused.

Saeed Sahib went to Saltpond anyway to inform Maulana Mubashir about the attitude of the young Arabic scholar. Maulana Mubashir quickly went to where Saeed Entsie Anderson and the Arabic scholar lived and convened a meeting to challenge the scholar.

When challenged, he refused to talk. Maulana Mubashir nevertheless told him about the signs of the advent of the Promised Messiah. After the speech, Maulana Sahib went back to his headquarters at Saltpond.

The following day, the Imam organised his people, singing through the streets and waving white handkerchiefs, claiming victory, saying that if the Mahdi had indeed appeared, his appearance should have been accompanied by an earthquake.

The debate concerning the advent of Imam Mahdi caught up in the Central Region between the non-Ahmadi and Ahmadi Muslims, so Maulana Mubashir convened meetings at various places.

At the first and second meetings, Maulana M. A. Mubashir declared that according to prophecies, earthquakes had occurred in many parts of the world as a sign of the coming of Mahdi and declared that the time had come for an earthquake to occur in Ghana to announce the advent of the Mahdi.

On the night before the meeting at Medina Petuduasi, a massive earthquake rocked southern Ghana. Maulana Mubashir had already arrived at Medina Petuduasi with Alhaj M.A. Ishaque for the meeting when, during the night, the earthquake occurred.

Thus, the people of southern Ghana witnessed the sign of the appearance of the Mahdi. Pamphlets in both English and Arabic were sent out about the sign. (For details about the earthquake, please see here: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003EAEJA….14097A/abstract)

During the earthquake, all the people, including the non-Ahmadis at Ekumfi Immuna, went and took shelter in the Ahmadiyya mosque, while others converged at Saeed Anderson’s house and asked him to pray for them.

After this incident, many people accepted Ahmadiyyat. The non-Ahmadi Imam also became an Ahmadi and hence became the local Ahmadi Imam. (Khilafat Centenary Jubilee Souvenir Ghana 2008, pp. 59-60)

Historic tour of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh to Ghana

In April 1970, Ghana was blessed with the first visit of a Khalifa when Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh came here on a one-week tour. Huzoorrh travelled to different parts of the country and spoke to thousands of Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis.

On 20 April 1970, The Daily Graphic reported that Huzoorrh would “meet representatives of the Movement to discuss how best the headquarters could assist in contributing more effectively towards the spiritual and social advancement of the country.” (Africa Speaks, p. 32)

Special message from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh

The 60th Jalsa Salana Ghana took place from 8-10 January 1987. Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh sent a special message for the occasion. In the message, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh, expressed joy for the 60th Jalsa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana and prayed for its success in advancing Islam’s cause.

He emphasised the significance of such gatherings for spiritual growth and outreach efforts. Urging continuous action in spreading Ahmadiyyat with courage and reliance on Allah’s help, he encouraged attendees to embody the role of preaching and concluded with prayers for success and divine approval, envisioning a spiritual revolution in Islam across the continent.

A Khalifa attends a Jalsa Salana in Africa for the first time

In 1988, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana was once again blessed with the presence of Khilafat. When the 61st Jalsa Salana began on 11 February in the presence of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, it marked the first time in the history of the Jamaat that a Khalifa attended a Jalsa on the African continent.

During his tour, among many other blessed directives, Huzoorrh also drew the attention of the Jamaat towards keeping the names of the early missionaries alive by naming various buildings or institutes after them. Even now, many buildings, some in schools and hospitals, are named after the early missionaries.

Comments by Head of State, Jerry John Rawlings at Jalsa Salana in 1990

In 1990, the Head of State, Jerry John Rawlings, visited the 63rd Jalsa Salana in Ghana. On Thursday 22 March 1990, stated:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is gratifying to note that since the first Ahmadi Muslim Missionary set foot on our soil on 1 March, 1921 [research suggests Maulvi Nayyarra reached Ghana a day earlier on 28 February 1921], the Mission has made tremendous progress. It has by word and deed made a significant impact on the people of this country.

“By its progressive and dynamic policies, the Mission has made an appreciable contribution to our national development in education, health and agriculture. […]

“It is very sad to sometimes hear some Muslims grumble that Ahmadis are given too much preference when it comes to jobs and positions. The answer is very simple, and has nothing to do with any religious preferences. It is a matter of qualification and experience, nothing more and nothing less.

“It should be noted with satisfaction that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission has pursued a policy of tolerance and peaceful co-existence with all other faiths. The Ahmadiyya Mission was the first religious body to advocate the establishment of a Council of Religions in Ghana, which has now been set up.” (Khilafat Centenary Jubilee Souvenir Ghana 2008, pp. 142-143)

Comments by President John Agyekum Kufuor at Jalsa Salana Ghana 2001-2002

The President at the 72nd Jalsa Salana Ghana 2001 said:

“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana deserves commendation for its achievements. Even more important, the Mission must be praised for carrying out its preaching activities in a peaceful manner.” (Khilafat Centenary Jubilee Souvenir Ghana 2008, p. 140)

The next year, in 2002, he again attended a session and stated:

“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission has, since its introduction to the country in 1921, preached peace, tolerance and peaceful co-existence with all other religions and groups of people. It has also been a partner of the government in many social development projects.

“Its schools that have produced some of the finest citizens of this country and its hospitals and clinics that continue to bring medical care to the doorsteps of the rural folk eloquently testify to this.

“For all these, the Government is very grateful. It is to be expected that other religious communities will emulate this shining example of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission.” (Khilafat Centenary Jubilee Souvenir Ghana 2008, p. 141)

A historic Khilafat Centenary Jalsa in 2008

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa arrived in Ghana on 15 April 2008 as part of the very first Jalsa Salana celebrating a century of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, marking yet another unique milestone for the Jamaat in Ghana.

Huzooraa met President John Agyekum Kufuor the next day on 16 April 2008. During the meeting, President Kufuor spoke of how Ghana was developing in all fields and clearly acknowledged that this development was a direct result of Huzoor’s prayers.

Citing one example, President Kufuor recalled how, upon their previous meeting in 2004, Huzooraa had expressed a belief that oil would be found in Ghana. President Kufuor said that these prayers had been accepted; in 2007, oil of a very high standard had been discovered in the country. Hearing this news, Huzooraa commented that he hoped that Ghana could utilise this oil in good ways so that it would continue to develop as a country for the betterment of its people. (The Khilafat Centenary Tour of West Africa, p. 7)

The historic Jalsa Salana was held on 17-19 April 2008, and it marked the first time the Ghana Jalsa was held at ‘Bagh-e-Ahmad’, a 400-acre land bought by the Jamaat in 2008. (Khutbat-e-Masroor, Vol. 6, p. 183)

In his address on the first day, Huzooraa stated:

“I have great expectations of Ghana. It is my prayer, that may you always march forward. Perhaps these aspirations are because I spent part of my life here.” (The Khilafat Centenary Tour of West Africa, p. 12)

On 21 April 2008, Huzooraa attended a reception, held in his honour at the Central Mission. The event was also attended by His Excellency, Alhaj Aliu Mahama the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.

The evening concluded with a brief address by Huzooraa in which he thanked His Excellency for having been a long and loyal friend of the Jamaat.

He said, “I remember almost five years ago, His Excellency visited the United Kingdom and was anxious to meet with me and so we met at the Fazl Mosque in London. Normally, non-Ahmadi Muslims never like to offer prayers behind Ahmadis, but the Vice President did offer prayers in our mosque. I hope that, as he has done in the past, he continues to show such kindness that we cherish a great deal.” (Ibid., pp. 29-30)

Although it is very difficult to mention all the events and milestones that have shaped the growth of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana, a humble effort has been made to include the principal events that are worthy of mention.

This year, the Ghana Jamaat marks a new milestone; the 91st Jalsa Salana is also a commemoration of 100 years of the Jamaat in Ghana. May the future bring greater achievements for the Jamaat in Ghana and the world as a whole. Amin.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here