Coming from every distant track: Nobel laureate Dr Arthur H Compton meets Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud

Ata-ul-Haye Nasir, Al Hakam
American educationists with Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, 24 December 1949

On 24 December 1949, a tea party was held at the Talim-ul-Islam College Lahore, in honour of a delegation of some American educationists, led by the noble laureate Dr Arthur H Compton, the then Chancellor of Washington University. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, also graced this event with his presence. This event was organised by the Fazl-e-Umar Research Institute and Talim-ul-Islam College, Lahore. (Al Fazl, 31 December 1949, p. 7)

The Civil and Military Gazette published a group photo of this event and reported under the heading “US Educationists Entertained”:

“A Tea Party in honour of Dr. Arthur H. Compton, (second from right) Chancellor of Washington University, and his delegation of leading U.S. educationists, was given at the Talimul Islam College, Lahore, on Saturday last. In the centre is [Hazrat] Khalifa Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood[ra].” (The Civil and Military Gazette, 28 December 1949, p. 5)

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The Civil and Military Gazette, 28 December 1949

Various local dignitaries were also present, including educationists of West Punjab, University professors, principals and teachers of the local colleges, members of the American Consulate, and editors of various periodicals. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Nasir Ahmadrh, Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra, Sufi Matiur Rahman Sahib Bengali, Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad Sahib, and Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Sahib also attended the event. (Al Fazl, 31 December 1949, p. 7)

Dr Arthur Holly Compton

Dr Arthur Holly Compton (1892-1962) was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for his 1923 discovery of the Compton Effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation.

Speech by Mr Charles Spurgeon Johnson

During this event, various speeches were delivered. Mr Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1893-1956) also delivered a speech. He was an American sociologist and college administrator who advocated for racial equality and the advancement of civil rights for African Americans and all ethnic minorities. He served as the first African-American president of Fisk University.

During his speech, he proudly mentioned that African-Americans are gradually integrating with white Americans. He expressed his hope that this fact would help the African-Americans become ‘non-African’, which would eventually eradicate the problem of racial hate and discrimination will get solved. (Ibid., 1 January 1950, p. 6)

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Charles Spurgeon Johnson | Britannica

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’sra speech and response to Mr Johnson’s speech

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra delivered a speech in English. While addressing Mr Johnson, Huzoorra said that he was surprised upon listening to his ideology, and said that in view of the Muslims, the African nations are themselves very respectable and honourable. It is not a matter of pride for them to gradually render themselves obsolete by considering themselves inferior to the Western nations. The African people can retain their respect and greatness — which they have attained through Islam — without harming their identity.

Huzoorra continued by saying that Islam is the religion which has emphasised equality among mankind. The Holy Prophetsa has not only taught about equality but showed an example by acting upon it in true essence. Hence, we see that in the early era, some people from the African nations also accepted Islam, one among them was Hazrat Bilalra as well. He offered great sacrifices for the cause of Islam and endured such hardships from the opponents, which makes one astonished upon learning about them. His exemplary sacrifices always became a cause of envy for the other Companionsra. The Holy Prophetsa had great love for him and would care for him a lot.

After this, Huzoorra narrated various incidents depicting Hazrat Bilal’sra great sacrifices and the love and compassion which was shown for him by the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. Huzoorra stated that the same Hazrat Bilalra who was once an African slave, became a recipient of great respect and honour after joining Islam, and his greatness was acknowledged by not only the Companionsra but all the coming generations as well.

Huzoorra said that it was a result of the criterion of equality and greatness established by Islam that the African origin of Hazrat Bilalra could not cause any hurdle in his religious and worldly progress. Rather, through him, the honour and dignity of the African nations increased in the eyes of the Muslims more than ever before.

Huzoorra continued by saying that according to the Divine Decree, the first migration of the Muslims was also to a country which was a country of Africans due to being located in Africa, and was known as Habsha (Abyssinia). The king of that country treated Muslims justly, and the Muslims continued to live there in peace for 10 years. In response, the Muslims also treated them with kindness in the future and retained good relations. During the times of conquests by the Muslims, when a great part of Northern Africa and Europe came under their empire, they did not look upon the small government of Habsha with any bad intentions. However, how did the major Christian nations treat the Habsha which was a Christian country? Italy, which is itself a Christian country, invaded Habsha and occupied it after carrying out huge oppression.

Huzoorra further said that in this era as well, when Allah the Almighty has created means for the propagation of Islam through Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya by raising the Promised Messiahas. We witness today that Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya has the opportunity to spread the message of Islam to Africans. Our multiple tablighi missions are established in America as well – the homeland of our respected guest, Dr Johnson. Through these missions, many African Americans have accepted Islam. Moreover, a youngster from among them, whose Islamic name is Rasheed Ahmad, has devoted his life to the service of Islam. He is currently in Pakistan to attain a religious education and resides in Rabwah, the current headquarters of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya.

Huzoorra then spoke about the propagation of Islam in Africa through the Ahmadi missionaries and said that we are inviting them towards Islam and informing them about the Islamic teachings of equality. In addition to quenching their spiritual thirst, we are making utmost efforts for their worldly progress and betterment as well. Thus, many of our schools are established there, and now, arrangements are being made to establish a college there. All of these efforts made by us may seem very insignificant to the world, however, whatever we are doing for the betterment of the Africans according to our capacity, is very important from the aspect that we are helping them by making sacrifices and compromising our needs. No doubt, America is spending on them, however, as if only one Dollar from the tens of millions of Dollars. In comparison, we are sharing with them our ordinary incomes. Why should we not make sacrifices for them, while they had rendered great services for our Master, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa? We can never forget them, and will never leave any stone unturned in serving them and making them aware of the Islamic teaching of equity. (Al Fazl, 1 January 1950, p. 6)

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