Coming from every distant track: A delegation from the United Presbyterian Church, USA, visits Qadian


A series looking at the high standard of morals of the Promised Messiahas, his Khulafa and the hospitality of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community when receiving visitors

Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam
Qadian old
Old scene of Qadian

The holy land of Qadian witnessed a faith-inspiring sight and another fulfilment of the prophecy “They shall come from every distant track” on 13 October 1969.

It was a surprise and a joyous occasion for the natives of Qadian when, after travelling from America, a delegation of 26 people from the United Presbyterian Church in the United States arrived to visit the holy land of Qadian.

When these guests, who had travelled thousands of miles, set foot in the hamlet of the Messiah and received the privilege of visiting the land he once walked on, the then 88-year-old prophecy of the beloved of God, the Promised Messiah, was once again fulfilled. 

In 1947, when the partition of the Indian sub-continent happened, the markaz of the Jamaat was shifted to Lahore and then to Rabwah after the migration from Qadian. However, Qadian, which holds the honour of being the birthplace and burial place of the Promised Messiahas, shall forever be the birthplace of Islam Ahmadiyyat and a sacred and respected land for all Ahmadi Muslims.

Rabwah old
Old scene of Rabwah

The aforementioned delegation consisted of 19 women and 7 men and they reached Qadian at 3:15 am.

Before their arrival, the principal of Baring Union Church College, Batala, Dr Ram Singh Sahib, informed the Jamaat’s administration in Qadian about a month prior that a delegation of 30-32 members from the Presbyterian Church was set to come to India. They said that the members of the delegation were also scheduled to visit Qadian for some time after coming to Batala. 

Thus, adequate arrangements were made to fulfil the wishes of the distinguished guests. Two days before the arrival of the delegation, the aforementioned doctor informed the Jamaat that the delegation would reach Batala on 13 October. Since the delegation members were to return to Delhi by plane from Amritsar on the same day at night, they could only stay in Qadian for two hours. Therefore, a programme was prepared by the Jamaat to make maximum use of this short time. 

The members of the delegation were retired and religiously minded people with a deep interest in religion. The delegation arrived in Qadian where they were warmly welcomed with slogans of ‘Ahlan wa Sahlan wa Marhaban’.

After this warm welcome, Sahibzada Mirza Waseem Ahmad, Nazir Da‘wat-o-Tabligh, members of the Jamaat, who were well-versed in English, introduced them to the Jamaat and gave them some basic information whilst answering some questions they had. All the members of the delegation, after visiting Masjid Mubarak, Masjid Al Aqsa, Darul Masih and Bahishti Maqbarah, went to the guest house, where refreshments were arranged under a pleasant canopy.

A short meeting was held there, which began with the recitation from the Holy Quran, in which Maulvi Javed Iqbal Sahib recited the last ruku‘ of Surah al-Kahf. The English translation of the same part of the Quran was read out by Malik Salahuddin Sahib MA. 

During the proceedings of the meeting, Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahman Sahib Fazil and Sahibzada Mirza Waseem Ahmad Sahib, and the distinguished guests’ party leader, James D Nesbitt, were seated together. After the English translation was read, at the direction of Sahibzada Mirza Waseem Ahmad Sahib, Sheikh Abdul Hameed Sahib BA, then Secretary Jaidad, read out the welcome address on behalf of Sahibzada Sahib. 

Every member of the delegation listened to this address with full attention and enthusiasm. Several members also took notes. Some had small tape recorders on which they recorded the proceedings of the meeting. Members of the delegation then wished to see the photo of the founder of the Jamaat, which they were later shown.

According to the weather of Punjab, the guests were treated to cold drinks. At the end of the address, Mr James, the delegation leader, made a short speech on behalf of the delegation. He said that they were residents of different states of America and came to visit India for two months on behalf of the Church. He said they were inspecting the Christian missions and the work of their missionaries in these places. In doing so, they also considered the study of the centres of other religions of the country and their religious efforts. Accordingly, they had planned to visit Qadian. He expressed his joy for the hospitality received and said that he and the delegation would all carefully study the literature given by the Jamaat. 

Since Dr Ram Singh himself could not come to Qadian on this occasion, Mr Low, professor of Baring College, Batala, represented him and thanked the Ahmadiyya Jamaat for their warm hospitality and meeting.

After the meeting, the guests were told that various pieces of literature about the Jamaat were available in the adjacent room and that they were welcome to make their selections. There were serialised English literature books on the tables. Another table was decorated with a display of the translation of the Holy Quran and other Islamic literature published by the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in foreign countries. From this display, the publishing efforts of the Jamaat could be estimated to some extent.

The members eagerly went through all the literature of the Jamaat and chose the books and pamphlets of their choice. Mr James D Nesbitt was also given various pieces of literature along with the English translation of the Holy Quran presented by Sahibzada Mirza Waseem Ahmad Sahib. The collection presented to the guest included the following books and pamphlets: Why Islam is dear to me, The Messiah in Kashmir, Jesus in India, Our Teaching, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, Four Questions by Mr Sirajuddin, a Christian, and their Answers, and various more.  

On this occasion, a group photo of the American guests was also taken. All members of the delegation were very impressed by the welcome and hospitality, and the methods and means by which the Jamaat was propagating Islam. After expressing their appreciation, the guests left as per their programme.

The summary of the address read before the distinguished guests was that the arrival of this delegation in Qadian was a living sign of the truthfulness of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. Though Qadian possessed no importance and attraction in the worldly sense; however, from the spiritual point of view, it is extremely blessed for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. The founder of Ahmadiyya Jamaat was born in this town. From here, he started the work of propagation and revival of the religion of Islam. According to the grace of God and His promises, the Jamaat has spread to the ends of the world. As the founder of the Jamaat was informed by God, “I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the Earth.”

In the address, the guests were told that the condition and appearance of Qadian at that time were very different from 22 years ago. Before the partition of the country a very large proportion of the population belonged to the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. However, due to the change in the situation, Ahmadi Muslims were now living in only one neighbourhood, which was occupied by 313 noble souls at the time of the country’s partition. Now, the speaker said, by the grace of the Almighty, there were, in Qadian, a thousand people, consisting of men, women and children. It was said that the then type of situation, about Qadian, was also related to a great prophecy of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. A part of his prophecy was fulfilled when most of the population of Qadian migrated. It was said that the second part of the prophecy about Qadian would also be fulfilled. In this intervening period, the Ahmadi Muslim residents of Qadian were offering a model of a special religious sacrifice. 

Before the arrival of the delegation, the Jamaat was informed that the visiting guests desired to learn about the specific points on which the Ahmadiyya Jamaat differed from other Islamic sects. Therefore, these issues were briefly highlighted in the address. It was also reported, in the address, that people sacrificed their lives for religion. In this regard, the martyrdoms of Hazrat Sahibzada Syed Abdul Latifra and Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahman in Afghanistan were mentioned.

In the light of Quranic teaching, it was also clarified that the Ahmadiyya Jamaat considered Prophet Jesusas as God’s chosen Prophet and beloved servant whom God saved from the cursed death of the cross with His special grace and mercy. He then migrated from Jerusalem and travelled to Kashmir, where he died of natural causes. 

While explaining the brief structure of the Jamaat’s Nizam, it was said that the Jamaat was doing the work of propagating and publishing true Islam in the whole world under the guidance of the Khalifatul Masih. In the address, after briefly highlighting the Ahmadiyya Jamaat’s global preaching efforts, and the growth and development of the Jamaat, special mention was made of the sincerity and services of the Ahmadiyya Governor General of The Gambia, Sir FM Singhate. And on the same occasion, the warning of the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh, and the great revolution that took place in the world were also briefly mentioned and it was said that during his trip to Europe in 1967, Huzoorrh addressed the people of Europe and warned them that within 25-30 years, a great revolution was to take place. If people make peace with God and stop their bad deeds and corruption on the earth, then the coming disaster would be avoided. After this revolution, Islam would achieve extraordinary growth and prosperity.

F M Singateh (Governor General of The Gambia) meeting Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh at a reception in the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, April 1970

(For the preparation of the above piece, the 16 October 1969 issue of Badr was extensively consulted.)

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