Charles Francis Sievwright’s meeting with the Promised Messiah – Part I

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Last Updated on 4th June 2021

A series looking at the high standard of morals of the Promised Messiahas and his Khulafa when receiving visitors in Qadian

Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam

Before accepting Islam, Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Haqq Sahib’s name was Charles Francis Sievwright. He adopted Muhammad Abdul Haqq as his Muslim name after his conversion to Islam. 

He was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1862 to a Catholic family. Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Haqq’s grandfather was sent from Scotland as an assistant aboriginal protector to protect Australia’s ancient and indigenous population.

Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Haqq converted to Islam when he was in Australia in 1896. After accepting Islam, he had the opportunity to travel to different Islamic countries. During his travels, he arrived in India and visited Qadian where he met Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. 

His arrival in Qadian is recorded in the third volume of Malfuzat under the title “Answers to the questions of an Australian new Muslim convert”. He was present in Qadian on 22 October 1903 and stayed for two days. 

In 1906, while living in New Zealand, he accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat. He later moved to the United States, where he passed away in Los Angeles. 

In Tarikh Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Australia (1903-1965), on page 21, Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Haqq’s conversion to Islam and his visit to India, as a representative of the British and Indian Empire League, is mentioned. It is also written that he spent time in the province of North Queensland and wrote a novel that remained unpublished during his lifetime. 

Memories of Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Haqq’sra visit to Qadian and his meeting with the Promised Messiahas are given in The Moslem Sunrise, October 1922:

“This meeting with Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian in the year 1903 was a wonderful proof of the truths of Islam […] On the 22nd October 1903, I was at Qadian and received the hospitality of the entire community […] Nothing astonished me more, among all the extraordinary incidents during my missionary travels than the finding of myself in that sacred place and face to face with its Messiah.” (The Moslem Sunrise, 1922, p. 144)

The Badr newspaper reported that a European, along with Hazrat Mian Mirajuddinra, reached Qadian from Lahore in the afternoon. Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Haqq also delivered a lecture in Lahore, after which some Ahmadis told him about Qadian and the Promised Messiahas. He then left for Qadian via Batala, where he was warmly received by the Ahmadis in Qadian. He offered Maghrib prayer in congregation in Qadian. He was in European attire and wore a black Turkish hat.  

After the Maghrib prayer, Hazrat Mian Mirajuddinra introduced him to the Promised Messiahas and informed Huzooras that he had come from Australia and that he had converted to Islam seven years ago. He added that from Australia, he went to London and from there, he expressed to the ambassador of Rome his intention to get acquainted with Islam. The ambassador of Rome advised him to go to Cairo, Egypt; however, later, he was advised by someone else to make his way to Bombay.

During his voyage to India, he saw a vision in which he was told to make his way to the mountains towards Kabul and Kashmir. Then, from there, he eventually made his way to Lahore where he heard about the Promised Messiahas

After arriving in Qadian, he was fortunate to also meet and have a conversation with Huzooras. Khawaja Kamaluddin served as the interpreter during this conversation. 

Muhammad Abdul Haqq Sahib: Whichever place I have visited, I have been in contact with Muslims who either spoke English and could speak to me in person, or we would express our views through an interpreter. To some extent, I benefitted from the experiences of others, and I was always eager to learn about the experiences and views of Muslims from foreign lands.

One need not be a linguist to have a spiritual connection with another; through a spiritual connection, humans can quickly benefit from each other. 

The Promised Messiahas: According to the way of Islam, spirituality is [developed] through praying and tawajjuh [a master’s focused spiritual attention on his disciple]. However, it takes time to benefit from it because the effect is not felt until one’s relationship is strong, and a heartfelt connection is established. Praying and tawajjuh is the way to guidance. Nothing can be gained from superficial words. 

Muhammad Abdul Haqq Sahib: I am naturally inclined towards spiritual union. This is what I yearn for and desire to fully experience it. Ever since I entered Qadian, I have felt that my heart is at peace and every person I have met so far [in Qadian] seems as if he were an old acquaintance of mine.  

The Promised Messiahas: It is God’s law of nature that every soul requires a body and when its body is ready, the soul is blown into it automatically. It is important for you to gradually become familiar with the verities that God Almighty has revealed unto me. 

There are many errors in the beliefs spread among the general Muslims and these errors have come from the association of Christians. However, now, God Almighty desires to show the pure and illuminated face of Islam to the world. Purification of doctrine is necessary for spiritual progress; the purer the doctrine, the more progress there will be. 

Prayer and tawajjuh are needed in this matter because some people are veiled [from the truth] due to negligence and some people are hindered [from the truth] due to prejudice and some because they have no positive connection with the truthful. However, without God’s support, these veils cannot be removed. 

Therefore, tawajjuh and prayer are needed to remove these veils. Ever since the practice of the coming of prophets [to the world] has been established, it has been this way that superficial statements avail nought. People always benefit from tawajjuh and prayer. You see, there was a time when the Holy Prophetsa was alone, but people were drawn to true piety. Although there are now millions of clerics and preachers, since there is no honesty in them, nor spirituality, there is also no [power] to influence others.  

The evil inclinations inside a person does not simply vanish from superficial words. That is why the company of the righteous and their attention is required. To reap the blessings, it is very important for one to be in harmony with their disposition and to understand the true beliefs that God has explained to them. Once you realise that there are certain differences in the beliefs of ordinary Muslims and us, then your power (to influence) will increase and you will benefit from the spirituality you seek.    

Muhammad Abdul Haqq Sahib: I have always been in search of spiritual unity and love with a person and this why wherever I have travelled thus far, I have learned lessons from natural phenomena by way of seeking a good omen. In the same way, today, I see that my coming and the birth of the new moon are linked (the moon of Sha‘ban was sighted on that day). Since the moon grows to fullness and perfection in the initial half of the phases, so too, will I increase [in faith] and reach perfection (provided one remains in Qadian permanently). I never even imagined that I would be here today on the appearance of the new moon. If I had acted on some of the letters I received from some people in Calcutta, I would have been somewhere else. However, after coming here, I have come to know that those who I had been in search of are here. I had heard about you in Rangoon [modern-day Yangon] and had seen some of your writings, but I did not know of your whereabouts, nor did I expect to be here so soon. 

The Promised MessiahasHearing this, [my] intuition testifies that you will agree to our terms and, God-willing, will also be able to accept our influence. However, remember, man is successful in attaining grace through two ways: by spending his time in [a prophet’s] company and by continuously listening to his words, and if any doubt arises with regard to the speech or writing [of the prophet] then he should not conceal it. He should rather disclose it candidly, so that [the doubt] may be remedied there and then and so that the needle which is pierced in his heart can be plucked out and he may benefit from his spiritual attention. 

One point [to remember] is that he should be patient in the [prophet’s] company and should listen to everything attentively. He should not conceal any doubts, for doubts have a potentially fatal effect, which penetrates deeply and becomes the means of one’s destruction. Many are ruined by this. 

The second thing to remember is that when a new path is paved [by God] in Heaven, then someone is appointed [by God]. And since his purpose is to expose the faults of every sect, all people become his enemies and seek to inflict pain and suffering in every possible way. So, when one enters this Jamaat, he then also has to endure all these afflictions. Dangerous attacks by enemies are also made againt him. Every friend and foe becomes an enemy. And the hopes he had in anyone else are shattered. One is made to enter a very difficult path of despair and frustration. All the hopes of respect, honour, prestige and rank one associates with others are shattered at once. This is the old way of the world. It is important to be prepared to tolerate these frustrations and disappointments. A person who possesses a brave heart can face all this; otherwise, it has been observed that people enter this field with enthusiasm, but when all these burdens fall upon them, they then finally bow before the world. Their hearts cannot bear the loss which is afflicted by the world and its people. Therefore, their final fate is worse than their previous condition. 

Hence, it is important to bear the taunts and curses of the world. If a person is prepared to enter the Jamaat and bear these disappointments in every way, he will soon find the truth and whatever he must give up in the beginning, Allah will eventually bestow upon him. A seed that is destined to bear fruit and become a big tree must be buried under the soil for the first few days before it can become a tree. Therefore, patience is necessary to enable one to lower himself so that divine power may then raise him and so that he may then grow. Previously, Mr Webb inclined towards me in the same manner, but later on, could not remain firm. Now, he acknowledges all these things. 

Muhammad Abdul Haqq Sahib: I know Mr Webb through correspondence and I have known him since the time he came to India; I am well acquainted with his experiences. I consider the very conditions that you have mentioned for entering your Jamaat as the conditions for Islam. Anyone, who becomes a Muslim, must make these conditions his goal. Most Muslims have already informed me of the harm that may befall me from meeting you, yet despite knowing this, I have [still] come here.

Click here for Part II

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