Ata-ul-Haye Nasir, Al Hakam
We, Ahmadi Muslims, are fortunate to have the blessed institution of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, which is continuing the mission of the Promised Messiahas and spreading the light of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa throughout the world. During the past 115 years of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, we have witnessed its enormous blessings. Under the auspices of this divine leadership, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya has reached new heights of progress.
During the blessed era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, we continue to witness these blessings, and one cannot gather the countless blessings in a single article. Therefore, I shall limit myself to one aspect of those countless blessings, and that is The Weekly Al Hakam itself, which has now completed its five years, alhamdulillah.
Al Hakam was the first-ever periodical of the Jamaat, initiated during the time of the Promised Messiahas in 1897 and published in Urdu at that time. It was re-launched on 23 March 2018, from London, in the English language, by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
Early history of Al Hakam
Before mentioning the progress of The Weekly Al Hakam during the blessed era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, a brief history of Al Hakam is presented below:
Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Sahib Irfanira, a companion of the Promised Messiahas who possessed vast journalistic experience, desired to launch Jamaat’s own newspaper. In 1897, he wrote to the Promised Messiahas and expressed his desire regarding this. In response, Huzooras said:
“We have no experience in this. [We] need a newspaper, but our Jamaat is an impoverished Jamaat. It cannot bear the financial burden. If you can issue it based on your experience, you may do so. May Allah bless this [endeavour].” (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 1, p. 641)
The first issue of Al Hakam was published on 8 October 1897 and up until the end of the year, it was printed at Riaz-e-Hind Press in Amritsar, where it was based. It was at the beginning of 1898 that it started to be published in Qadian. With a few breaks here and there, Al Hakam was successfully published until July 1943. In the second phase of its publication, it was edited by Sheikh Mahmud Ahmad Irfani Sahib, son of Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira.
In his editorial in the very first issue of Al Hakam (8 October 1897), explaining the objectives of this periodical, Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira wrote:
“Al Hakam comes to the stage of journalism to fulfil its duty, declaring تَوَکَّلتُ عَلَی اللہِ [‘In Allah We Trust’]. […] The current state of journalism in India does not need my remarks to describe it, but if appropriate, we will write articles to discuss the factors leading to its current state. For now, we only need to introduce Al Hakam.
“Since divine knowledge and divine law are the fountainheads of true civilisation and reform, Al Hakam has taken upon itself the heavy burden of their propagation, in order to fulfil its mission and to spread the truth and peace in the world. The method that is closest to human nature, as suggested by sound reasoning and experience, is Islam. Therefore, Al Hakam will be a true servant of Islam. The Merciful God Himself has, by His tradition and promise, appointed Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian, peace be upon him, as the manifestation of the living blessings and hidden treasures of Islam in this era of spiritual famine; the propagation and preaching of his mission will be the primary objective of Al Hakam. I would never have launched Al Hakam, especially in the dire state of the native press. It is beyond my understanding how a very powerful inspiration led me to launch it. Our opponents are raising such allegations against us that they have the potential to leave other Muslims and the government in doubt about us. To reply to such allegations; there is no better way than Al Hakam. The policy of Al Hakam shall always remain versatile, so we pledge friendship with all circles and take upon us the task of promoting peace and harmony and eliminating the very root of prejudice, stubbornness, intolerance and treachery. […] Finally, we hope that our readers will take Al Hakam to be their representative, will encourage it, and will not deprive it of their valuable suggestions. We have committed to being at peace with everyone, as our very mission is nothing but peace and harmony. We hope that Al Hakam will never disappoint our readers.” (Al Hakam, 8 October 1897, pp. 2-3)
Recalling the early days of Al Hakam, Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira states:
“In August 1897, Henry Martyn Clark brought about a lawsuit against the Promised Messiahas. I recorded the minutes of this court case under the title Doosri Jang-e-Muqaddas [literally, the second holy war; named after Jang-e-Muqaddas, which was an account of the debate between the Promised Messiahas and the Christian clergy held in Amritsar]. I strongly felt the need for a newspaper to express the viewpoint of the Jamaat and also to refute the allegations of a political and religious nature that were brought about against the Jamaat.
“So, Al Hakam was launched in October 1897. The government was against the press in those days and the present Press Act was about to be passed, but in these unfavourable circumstances, I launched the paper from Amritsar, purely relying on Allah.
“At the end of 1897, a relaunch of the Paisa Akhbar was being considered and I had accepted the offer of Munshi Mahbub Alam to be on the editorial staff. I was of the opinion that the headquarters of Al Hakam should be moved [from Amritsar] to Lahore, and based on this, I agreed to join the Paisa Akhbar [Meaning, he joined the Paisa Akhbar in Lahore, to avail the opportunity to also publish Al Hakam more conveniently from Lahore]. However, when I attended the Jalsa Salana Qadian in December 1897, a resolution was moved for the establishment of a madrasah [school], for which I offered my services; thus, destiny brought me to settle in Qadian.
“At the launch of Al Hakam, discouraging factors like the decline in interest in religion and the rise in opposition to Ahmadiyyat were brought to my attention, asserting that Al Hakam would result in failure. […]
“The editor of Al Hakam [referring to himself] came to Qadian in January 1898, sacrificing, for the sake of Qadian, the newfound ties with the Paisa Akhbar and other prospective benefits associated with Lahore; by the grace of Allah, I feel I have been prosperous. […] It was a great challenge to access a press in Qadian; there was no press, no designers and no copywriters, and none of these wanted to come and settle in Qadian. However, the editor continued to handle these challenges.” (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 1, pp. 641-642)
Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira was gifted with the wonderful skill of shorthand writing. Whether the Promised Messiahas spoke during his walks or to the evening audience, Sheikh Sahibra would immediately note down every word and publish it in Al Hakam.
Through Al Hakam, the fresh revelations of the Promised Messiahas also got published. Events taking place in Qadian started to get coverage and articles written not only by scholars but also by the Promised Messiahas himself were published. Members of the Jamaat were thus able to enlighten themselves with Huzoor’sas spiritual provisions.
Al Hakam served this unique cause singlehandedly up to 1901, making it an extraordinary example. Then the newspaper Al Badr [later Badr] joined in sharing this sacred responsibility.
Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra states that the Promised Messiahas used to say:
“These newspapers, Al Hakam and Badr, are my two ‘arms’. They immediately publish the revelations to [other] countries and become witnesses.” (Zikr-e-Habib, p. 151)
Regarding the publication of revelations and divine visions of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira states:
“It is among the many blessings of Allah the Almighty on me that I published those revealed glad tidings, after hearing them directly from Hazrat [the Promised Messiahas] in Al Hakam generally and some in Maktubat-e-Ahmadiyya. For this, all praise belongs to Allah.” (Hayat-e-Ahmad, Vol. 5, Part 1, pp. 205-206)
On 17 September 1902, Al Hakam (Urdu) published a letter of Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra, in which he appreciated Al Hakam’s services in spreading the Promised Messiah’sas message.
In that letter, Hazrat Mufti Sahibra said that many great tasks were being accomplished through this useful paper, including showing the world miracles and wonders by publishing the revelations of the Promised Messiahas and by conveying his pure sayings to people living in distant lands. (“Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq’s letter on the brilliance of Al Hakam”, Al Hakam, 19 March 2021, Issue 157, pp. 34-35)
While publishing this letter in Al Hakam, its editor, Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira added an editorial note:
“We have received, and continue to receive, so many letters on various occasions about Al Hakam, that if we compile all of them, they could, without any exaggeration, form a large book. But we rarely publish these [letters] because, firstly, they should not appear as self-appreciation and secondly, the services that are appreciated in those [letters] are not due to any personal characteristic or striving of the editor of Al Hakam. In fact, it was and is the sheer grace of God that He accepted service from his humble servant and granted me the opportunity to render such services. So, Allah the Almighty alone is worthy of all kinds of praise. […]
“So, we are publishing this letter only as a means of mentioning God’s grace and bounties and also so that perhaps, by realising the need for Al Hakam, our community [Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya] ponders upon those practical suggestions that are necessary for its [Al Hakam’s] steadfastness and strength. As Mufti Sahib always had a special love and connection with Al Hakam, which is because it is the trustee of the pearls and sayings of the sadiq [truthful one] of God – the Promised Messiahas – for this reason, due to his passion, he has, from time to time, sent his letters of thankfulness about Al Hakam.
“After reading this letter of gratitude from Mufti Sahib, I recalled an old letter of Mufti Sahib, when Al Hakam’s pace was rather slow, i.e. [when it was published] every 15 days and only spanned eight pages of text. In that letter, Mufti Sahib mentioned a dream he saw regarding Al Hakam, which was published in Al Hakam of 27 March 1898. For the interest of readers, it becomes necessary for it to be mentioned here. Mufti Sahib writes that a few days ago, he had a dream that Al Hakam was on his table, as if a postman or someone had placed it there. It had a green page. When he picked it up and opened it, it happened to be a huge newspaper on a long and wide page, just like The Civil and Military Gazette and it was published in a very neat and beautiful Urdu font. This dream, by the grace of God, has been fulfilled to an extent. If Allah the Almighty wills, it will be fulfilled in its literal meaning as well.” (Ibid.)
While mentioning the claims and teachings of the Promised Messiahas, The Madras Weekly Mail wrote:
“Ghulam Ahmad[as] keeps up a printing press and a book depot. He publishes two rather wide-awake papers, Al Hakam in Urdu, and The Review of Religions, in English.” (The Madras Weekly Mail, 22 October 1903, p. 18)
In an editorial of Al Hakam, published on 14 August 1918, Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira wrote that during the time of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, Al Hakam experienced financial difficulties due to some issues related to the printing press, and had to incur financial losses:
“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira was conscious of the need for Al Hakam to such an extent that he made me pledge not to have it closed down, not on one single occasion but three times. In his last speech [at Jalsa Salana Qadian on 27 December 1913], he appealed for 6,000 rupees for Al Hakam [Khitabat-e-Nur, p. 565] and in his final illness, he entrusted Al Hakam to Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad[ra]. In this manner, he practically passed my hand into the hand of Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad[ra].
“The Anjuman was present, and its renowned workers were at hand, yet Huzoorra entrusted the responsibility of Al Hakam’s continuation and endurance to Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad[ra], and pledged to offer 1000 rupees from his own earnings. However, Divine will had it otherwise. His time to depart was nearing. For this reason, having committed Al Hakam to the trust of [Hazat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra], he returned to the threshold of the Most High.
“At that juncture, the continuation of Al Hakam was crucial. In the midst of the disorder, that arose at the demise of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, Al Hakam, by the grace of God, was at the forefront in the capacity of a successful and experienced soldier. However, various ignorant and shortsighted people assumed that Al Hakam was responsible for this happening; hence, Divine decree postponed its publication, to let it be clear that it is solely the Hand of God that acts in support of Khilafat. Around two years later, Al Hakam was reinstated once again and this is now its new era.
“It is the collective responsibility of every sincere Ahmadi to preserve this memorial of the blessed era of the Promised Messiahas. This is the newspaper that the Promised Messiahas declared to be his ‘arm’. This is the newspaper that succeeded as a great sign in all that the Promised Messiahas presented. Thereafter, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira made an appeal in relation to its establishment and sustenance. In the final days of his life, he entrusted its responsibility to his successor, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra].” (“100 Years Ago… – Al Hakam and its Helpers”, Al Hakam, 17 August 2018, Issue 22, p. 4)
On 27 December 1919, during his address at the Jalsa Salana Qadian, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:
“In regards to Al Hakam, I would say that it is still continuing its efforts like a glimmering lamp [chiragh]. Its steadfastness is also very commendable. I am well aware of its financial situation, and I even know that sometimes its management has to face a hand-to-mouth situation, however, they have never given up despite these circumstances.” (Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 4, p. 476)
During his Jalsa Salana address on 27 December 1920, Huzoorra called the attention of members of the Jamaat towards subscribing to the Al Hakam newspaper, and then said:
“It has been a characteristic of Al Hakam […] that it preserves the history of the Jamaat, and strives to instil a [new] spirit within the Jamaat. In this field, even Al Fazl or any other periodical could not compete with it.” (Islah-e-Nafs, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 5, p. 415)
In 1934, when Al Hakam resumed publication after a break, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:
“Al Hakam is the first ever newspaper of the Jamaat and the service it has rendered, as well as Badr in the last years of the Promised Messiahas, can never again be accomplished by any newspaper, even in exchange for millions of rupees.
“I declare that whether Al Hakam survives in its present form or not, its name will forever endure. No significant work on the Jamaat can be considered complete without its mention, as it carries the history of the Jamaat.
“[…] It is my heartfelt desire that Al Hakam – the name which suggests the reverence given to the Promised Messiahas by members of the Jamaat since the beginning – remains in its physical form also.” (Al Hakam, 14 January 1934, p. 3)
Relaunch of Al Hakam during the blessed era of Khilafat-e-Khamisa
Now let’s take a glimpse into the progress of The Weekly Al Hakam during the blessed era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
On 23 March 2018, during his Friday Sermon, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa announced the relaunch of Al Hakam:
“Today, there is also an announcement and a source of good news in that the Al Hakam newspaper that was once published in Qadian will now be published from here. In 1934 it began printing again but stopped soon after. Today, on the Promised Messiah Day it will be launched from here [UK] in the English language. This newspaper was the first newspaper published in the time of the Promised Messiahas. It will be printed in a small quantity, however, immediately after this Friday Sermon it will be available on the internet at www.alhakam.org.
“Similarly, there will be an app called ‘Al Hakam’ for mobile phones and tablets, from which one will be able to easily download the newspaper and read it. The app will be available for familiar mobile devices such as Apple and Android after this sermon. The first edition is a special feature for the Promised Messiah Day and in the future, a new edition will be uploaded every Friday. Also, there will be a few printed copies available. Nevertheless, people will be able to benefit from this.
“After this launch, may God Almighty enable it to continue incessantly. Since this newspaper will be in English, the English-speaking members should derive maximum benefit from this.” (Al Hakam, 20 April 2018, Issue 5, p. 11)
After leading the Jumuah prayer, Huzooraa graciously launched The Weekly Al Hakam online. Huzooraa launched the website and app through the web, and the website www.alhakam.org immediately went live around the globe. Huzooraa scrolled through the homepage and stated the words, “Allah mubarak karey” (May Allah shower His blessings).
A special message from Huzooraa
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa graced this historic occasion with the following special message for the readers of Al Hakam, in which he said:
“Alhamdulillah, after a long period, Al Hakam newspaper is being launched online.
“Al Hakam bears great significance in that it was the first newspaper of the Jamaat, established during the life of the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him. Then, after a long interval, it was re-established in 1934, during the time of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, Allah be pleased with him, by Irfani Sahib. Now, Allah the Almighty has granted the opportunity to Asif Mahmood Basit Sahib to launch it once again, on the internet.
“May Allah enable this newspaper to be published regularly and may Allah accept the desire of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, Allah be pleased with him, which he expressed in 1934 upon its relaunch:
“‘Its name will forever endure. Not even the most important of Jamaat tasks can be achieved without mentioning it because it bears the history of the Jamaat. … It is my heartfelt desire that Al Hakam, the name which suggests the reverence given to the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, by members of the Jamaat, remains in its physical form also.’ [Al Hakam, 14 January 1934, p. 3]
“Now that it is being relaunched with the effort of our youth, may Allah enable this newspaper to remain forever and may it continue unimpeded so that we never see its termination.
“May Allah always help those who work for this newspaper and may Allah the Almighty also enable its readers to derive true benefit from it. Now that it is to be published in English, I hope, and it is my prayer, that it will prove to be a beneficial organ of the Jamaat for the English readership, insha-Allah Ta‘ala.” (“Message From Huzoor”, Al Hakam, 23 March 2018, Issue 1, p. 3)
Five years of The Weekly Al Hakam
By the grace of Allah, Al Hakam continues to flourish in light of the divine guidance, prayers and support from our beloved Imamaa.
The aim of Al Hakam has been to amplify the message of the Promised Messiahas throughout the world. By printing the words of Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa, publishing academic articles and research, showcasing the great legacy of Islam, presenting the true teachings of religion and showing to the world how Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya continues to spread the dawn of a new era, Al Hakam is honoured to contribute to the purpose of the Promised Messiahas.
Al Hakam publishes the official English translation of Hazrat Amirul Momineen’saa Friday Sermon every week, as well as exclusive interviews with him. It covers Huzoor’saa tours and makes the updates available to its readers. Moreover, Al Hakam publishes summaries soon after Huzooraa has delivered an address at Jalsa Salana, a special reception, a mosque opening, or any other event as ‘From the Markaz’. ‘Answers to Everyday Issues’ is another feature wherein answers to questions given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa on various occasions in his written correspondence and during MTA International programmes are officially published. There has also been a special emphasis on preserving the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Al Hakam with regular feature articles such as ‘100 Years Ago’, ‘This Week in History’, ‘From the Archives’, ‘Pioneer Missionaries’, and ‘Coming from every distant track’.
Al Hakam regularly receives questions on an array of topics, particularly in relation to the beliefs of Ahmadiyyat, and thus, Al Hakam initiated a new column called “Islam Today”, in which all such questions are answered that are general and beneficial to a large audience.
In addition to the above, Al Hakam publishes news from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat around the world, book reviews, special editorials commenting on contemporary affairs from the Islamic viewpoint and articles on the various aspects of the theology of Islam and Ahmadiyyat.
Al Hakam’s articles are on an array of topics, both religious and secular. It publishes special issues on certain occasions, which include articles on various topics such as the blessed life of the Holy Prophetsa, blessings of the Holy Quran, Khulafa-e-Rashideen, history of Islam, blessed life of the Promised Messiahas, the prophecy of Musleh-e-Maud, Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, history of Ahmadiyyat, companions of the Holy Prophetsa and the Promised Messiahas, the holy month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, and Hajj.
During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, on 27 March 2020, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa delivered a special message for the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. While advising the members as to how they could spend their time during quarantine, Huzooraa said:
“They can read an extract from Malfuzat [sayings and discourses of the Promised Messiahas], the books of the Jamaat, other writings of the Promised Messiahas, Al Fazl, Al Hakam or from any other periodicals of the Jamaat and deliver the Friday sermon.” (Al Hakam, 24 April 2020, Issue 110, p. 19)
Since this is an established fact that the works of the divine communities never pause, the world witnessed a new avenue opening for the Jamaat in the shape of virtual mulaqats with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, through which members of the Jamaat from around the world had the opportunity to meet with their beloved Imamaa, and get guidance from him on an array of topics. Al Hakam has had the privilege of publishing comprehensive summaries of these virtual meetings for the benefit of its readers.
In March 2022, Al Hakam commenced its podcast titled “The Al Hakam Inspire”, which explores inspiring research and ideas with guests from various fields of science, medicine, history, politics, and religion. Where applicable, inspiration and ideas from Islam and religion are discussed.
On various occasions during its five years, Al Hakam has been mentioned by Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa with great love and affection. On one hand, it is a source of great honour for the newspaper, on the other hand, it also urges this organ of the Jamaat to put in even more effort.
On 7 August 2021, during his second-day address at Jalsa Salana UK, Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa spoke about the blessings of Allah showered upon the Jamaat during the previous year. In regards to Al Hakam, Huzooraa said:
“There is Al Hakam. It is published weekly. Through social media, it is being reached and read quite widely and young English people are benefitting quite considerably from it. They are also doing good work and they have good intellectual articles and articles of historical nature.” (Al Hakam, 13 August 2021, Issue 178, p. 17)
On 6 August 2022, during his second-day address at the Jalsa Salana UK, while mentioning the Jamaat’s progress, Huzooraa said that Al Hakam is published in English and, by the grace of Allah, the readership is growing and its podcast – Al Hakam Inspire is getting viewership from outside the Jamaat as well.
The words of our beloved Imam prove to be very helpful for the Al Hakam team and encourage them to make even greater efforts to serve the cause of Islam Ahmadiyyat.
In short, Al Hakam is continuing to flourish by the grace of Allah and with the help of the guidance and prayers of Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa. Alhamdulillah.
We wish to request that our readers remember the whole team of Al Hakam in their prayers so that Allah the Almighty may enable us to serve the cause of Islam Ahmadiyyat with sincerity, steadfastness, and diligence. May we all become the Sultan-e-Naseer of Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa.
The Weekly Al Hakam is available in print as well. We request everyone that if they wish to receive a copy at their home, please contact: email@example.com.