‘Great is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Messiah’: Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V visits historic city of Zion, USA

Faran Rabbani, USA Correspondent
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The day has finally dawned on Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA which thousands had been anxiously waiting. The land of America has been blessed again with the auspicious arrival of our beloved Imam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper.  

Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa arrived in Zion, Illinois, USA on 26 September 2022 – the weather was cold but the spiritual atmosphere created an electrifying warmth for all the believers who were eager to lay their eyes upon their beloved master. 

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Huzooraa arrived at the new Zion mosque – Masjid Fath-e-Azeem – where he was welcomed by over 1100 Ahmadi men, women and children that had gathered from several states across the country, along with international guests from eight different countries; Pakistan, UK, Palestine, Canada, India, Philippines, Guyana, and Bangladesh. 

The American Ahmadis came from near and distant places alike. Apart from the local Zion Jamaat, there was a heavy presence from the neighbouring Jamaats of Chicago, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Minnesota and Iowa. Similarly, a significant number of members travelled from Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles on the East Coast. Some from Dallas, and Austin in the south, along with Tennessee. Detroit, Baltimore, Virginia, New Jersey and New York were also represented. 

On 27 September, the day began with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa leading the Fajr prayer, and later in the afternoon, Huzooraa came to the mosque and inspected the Zion Mosque Exhibition.

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From there, Huzooraa proceeded to unveil the official plaque of the mosque and then led everyone in silent prayer.

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This was followed by the bricklaying ceremony for the minaret of the mosque that is yet to be constructed.

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As soon as the brick ceremony ended, Huzooraa proceeded inside and inspected the rest of the mosque. 

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Mulaqats (private audiences) of Ahmadis with Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa also began later in the day. 

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Earlier today, on Friday 30 September, Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa delivered his Friday Sermon from the Fath-e-Azeem Mosque.

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The significance and background of Zion

On a warm summer day in June 2014, I set foot in Zion City, a suburb of Chicago in Illinois. This was my first official posting as a missionary in the USA. When I entered the city, I saw the signboard that read:

“Welcome to the City of Zion, Historic Past Dynamic Future”

I wondered, “Do the people of this city even know what transpired here so many years ago?”

Do they know its history?”

The year was 1901 when Dr John Alexander Dowie – a claimant of prophethood and the spiritual return of Prophet Elijah – laid the foundations of his theocratic historical city called Zion. He had thousands of followers who lives in Zion and soon after establishing this city, Dowie positioned himself as the arch nemesis of Islam in this age and vowed to overtake all religions but particularly laid animosity towards Islam.

Learning of Alexander Dowie and his claims, on the opposite side of the hemisphere, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, who claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, publicly called Dowie out in 1902 and challenged him to a duel to the death: A duel not of swords, but of prayers, to demonstrate who God was siding with and to challenge the evil Dowie was spewing towards Islam, its Holy Foundersa and Muslims.

But let’s take a step back. To understand the magnitude of the events that transpired in this city, one has to learn about the city of Zion first. Alexander Dowie had uniquely established the city of Zion. Most of the streets and roads were named after biblical personalities and places. All the major streets of this city converged at a massive roundabout, in the heart of which stood Dowie’s mega church. With thousands of followers living in his city, a city that was considered as personal property of Dowie, worth millions of dollars even back then, Dowie was most surely a force to reckon with. 

Zion City

On the other hand, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah, was a man from humble beginnings and lived in an extremely remote village in India, but with a steadily growing community by his side, he was looked upon as the stalwart and the rising star of Islam.

The world press at the time gave immense coverage to this spectacular spiritual battle of the two claimants. At least 160 different newspapers mentioned this prayer duel. The details of this prayer duel are captured in Hazrat Ahmad’s book Haqiqatul Wahi – The Philosophy of Divine Revelation – under the chapter titled, A Great Victory. Dowie used severe and harsh words against the Promised Messiahas and promised he could destroy Hazrat Ahmadas without any effort.

On 20 February 1907, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas received the following revelation from Allah:

“I shall manifest a fresh Sign in which there shall be a great victory. It shall be a Sign for the whole world”. (Haqiqatul Wahi – The Philosophy of Divine Revelation, p. 641)

Soon afterwards, the news reached Qadian, India that Dowie had perished. 

“Great is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Messiah” was the headline in the Sunday Herald of Boston on the morning of 23 June 1907, marking the conclusion of this prayer duel that ended with the defeat and death of Dowie. 

In 2014, I went to a local cafe for a cup of coffee with the local chapter president of our community in Zion when I noticed that one of the espresso drinks was named after Dowie. When I asked the cafe owner, a sixty-year-old lady, born and raised in Zion, about Dowie, she had no idea about him. But when I told her about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the community of Hazrat Ahmadas, she recognised Ahmadis immediately as having the mosque with the message of “Love for all, hatred for none”. 

I have previously been posted as a missionary in Zion for three and a half years, and to my astonishment, I did not meet a single person who remembered the name of Dowie or claimed to be his follower. But the followers of the Promised Messiahas, a hundred years out, have firmly established their roots in this city. 

Today, as I write these words, sitting inside the brand-new mosque, named Masjid Fath-e-Azeem (A Great Victory) built by the followers of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas in Zion City under the leadership of his fifth successor, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa,a shiver goes down my spine. 

I am reminded of the sign at the entrance of this city, “Historic Past, Dynamic Future”. The city of Zion absolutely had a historic past, but its future with the opening of the Masjid Fath-e-Azeem is most definitely going to be dynamic, marking a “Great Victory” for Islam Ahmadiyyat in the truest sense of the word. 

From here the mighty name of Allah — the One — will be proclaimed five times a day, every day calling people towards peace and salvation and the fifth successor of Hazrat Ahmadas is there to mark this grand victory.

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