Coming from every distant track: Howard Arnold Walter MA, Secretary YMCA Lahore, meets Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II in Qadian


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

In the first week of January 1916, Mr Walter, Secretary of the Christian Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Lahore, India came to Qadian to research the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. Mr Hume, Educational Secretary, Young Men’s Christian Association, Lahore, and Mr Lux, Vice Principal Foreman Christian College Lahore also accompanied him. 

Since the arrival of these three distinguished European guests in Qadian was a journey of tourism and research, therefore, as a sign of hospitality, the guests were accommodated in the excellent and comfortable house of Akhtar Ali Sahib in one of the modern styled buildings outside Qadian. The arrangements for the stay of these guests and their meeting with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra were entrusted to Hazrat Bhai Abdul Rehmanra Qadiani. 

All these guests met with Huzoorra twice and inquired about religious matters which Huzoorra answered in great detail. Their questions were mostly about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat and the Holy Quran’s authenticity and its being a divinely revealed book from God. 

On the front page of Al Fazl, 4 January 1916, it has been recorded that these guests visited other places in Qadian and intended to write a book about the Jamaat. 

The distinguished guests expressed great happiness after meeting Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and hearing his answers. Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra and Qazi Abdul Haq Sahib served as translators during the meeting. 

The detailed conversation of these guests with Huzoorra was recorded in Al Fazl 15 January 1916:

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra]: We are very pleased to have you here. Did you face any difficulty on your journey?

Mr Walter: We are glad to see you. The road was [in] bad [condition]; however, we are thankful for the comfort we have received here […] 

“[…] I have read some books by Mirza Sahib. They have made me very interested in finding out about him. I have read that, from his very childhood, he used to remain secluded and was always engaged in worship. I have come here to explore these things well. As you are his son, so, I thought you would be very much aware of such matters. Please kindly tell me about him.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra]: I was born at that time when Hazrat Mirza Sahib had published his first book Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, that is why I’m not personally aware of his early life. Yes, [however], there are many people in our Jamaat who have been in his company from the beginning. Such people are still present in our Jamaat and they know [about the early life of the Promised Messiahas] personally. So, if I ever have such a need, I ask such people […] If you ask me about Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s beliefs, religion and mission, I am ready to explain in great detail.”

Mr Walter: Who are the people who were in the company of Hazrat Mirza Sahib in his early life?

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra]: Munshi Arora Khan Sahib, Sheikh Hamid Ali Sahib are present here [in Qadian] and there are many more. (Alluding to Sheikh Yaqub Ali Sahib) He knows many incidents [of the Promised Messiahas] and he is writing a biography of Hazrat Mirza Sahib.


Mr Walter: (Addressing Sheikh Yaqub Ali Sahib) What sources do you have for writing the biography of Mirza Sahib on the basis of which you are recording the circumstances of his early life?

Sheikh Sahib [Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Irfanira]: Old writings of Hazrat Mirza Sahib and his old letters. I also inquired about some things from Mirza Sahib’s son, Mirza Sultan Ahmad Sahib, and his old friend Lala Bhim Seen Sahib’s son, Kanwar Seen Sahib (who is now the principal of Law College Lahore). As I’ve been living here for about twenty years, that’s why I have been collecting all such writings [to write his biography] and am writing by asking oral narrators [who can tell me about Hazrat Ahmadas]. Also, Hazrat Sahib had a midwife whom I have also asked and then have written some details [about his life].”

This series of conversations continued for some time. Mr Walter had the opportunity to ask Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra a series of questions such as: 

“Can you tell me how Mirza Sahib came to know that the tomb of Jesus Christ was in Kashmir and [how he discovered that] this is where he passed away?”, “How do you use that which is written in a Gospel as an argument? Do you believe in its authenticity?”, “If you believe the Bible, you will have to discard some incidents [mentioned in it] that are against [what has been mentioned in] the Quran. Because the Bible mentions something else about those [incidents]”, “Do you consider the Quran to be subject to higher curriculum (high critique) like other books such as Shakespeare or some other way?”, “Do you believe that the present Quran is the same as that which was revealed to Muhammad [peace be upon him] or not?”, “What is your opinion on the Quran that Dr Mangana has produced? And what is your response to his objections?”, “We believe that Jesus died on the cross and we are ready to prove it. Will you accept that and not concern yourself with the [views of other] people? 

If any of your men come to Lahore, I will tell them because all my research is in Lahore”, “In my opinion, the research that you have published so far on the tomb of Christ and his death is by no means enough to verify what you want to prove. And, if you desire that people pay heed to your [belief], you need to think and reflect more.” (Al Fazl, 15 January 1916)

It is reported that after this, Mr Walter left the discussion of the death and burial of Jesus Christ there and turned his attention to various other questions:

“Do you desire to have a relationship with other Muslims and get rid of the differences between them and you or not?, “What is your view of the Last Day and resurrection?”, “Do you think Islam will ever become the religion of the whole world?, “Those who die without accepting Mirza Sahib, what do you think of their position [in the Hereafter]?”, “What do you think is the difference between non-Ahmadi Muslims, Christians and Jews?”, “Will non-Ahmadi Muslims be saved [from the Hereafter] or not?”, “Is there a place between heaven and hell?”, “Will all people, eventually, be ejected out of hell?”, “How will boundaries in heaven and hell be allotted, that this [section] is for so and so, and this [section] is for so and so?”, “For who is heaven and for who is hell? Will those who did not swear allegiance to you also be forgiven?” (Al Fazl, 15 January 1916)

Below is the final question and answer given by Huzoorra, recorded by Al Fazl’s correspondent:

Mr Walter: Will all individuals, excluding Ahmadis, enter hell? Ahmadis are very few [in number].

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra]: According to you, only 13 individuals [12 disciples and the 13th being Jesusas] attained salvation when the Messiahas came. If at that time, no one could attain salvation except 13 [individuals]; then at this time, if, apart from hundreds of thousands, no one attains salvation, then what is wrong with that?” (Al Fazl, 15 January 1916)

After this conversation, Mr Walter left, expressing his gratitude towards Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra.

It is narrated that during the same journey of Qadian, Mr Walter also met Hazrat Munshi Arora Khanratehsildar of Kapurthala, who was an old companion of Hazrat Ahmadas and an elder. He asked Hazrat Munshi Arora Khanra which argument influenced him the most in regard to the authenticity of Hazrat Ahmad’sas claim. Hazrat Munshi Arora Khanra replied that he was not a well-educated man; however, what impressed him the most was the person and character of Hazrat Ahmadas, whom, he said, he had never seen anyone else more truthful and honest and more faithful to God than he. He added that not a single person could say, after seeing Hazrat Ahmadas, that he was a liar. After saying this, Hazrat Munshi Arora Khanra, in remembrance of the Promised Messiahas, started to shed tears. Mr Walter, witnessing this love and devotion, was astonished. (Ashab-e-Ahmad, Vol. 4, pp. 64-65)

After his visit to Qadian, Mr Walter published a book, The Ahmadiyya Movement, in which he wrote: 

“My visit to Qadian, in January, 1916, although it took place more than eight years after the death of Ahmad, showed me a community where there existed abundant enthusiasm and zeal for religion, of a vigorous, positive kind unusual in Islam in India at the present time.” (The Ahmadiyya Movement, p. 139)

Similarly, Mr Lucas, a participant in this journey, and a person who observed Qadian and benefited from the words of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, went to Sri Lanka and delivered a speech in which he said, “The ongoing war between Christianity and Islam will not be decided in any major city. Rather, it will be in a small village called Qadian.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. p. 358)

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