Hazrat Ahmad’s keen interest in reading newspapers and journals

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
Promised Messiah

In our issue of 22 July 2022, the headline story – Holding science, discovery and research dear to our hearts – mentioned an accredited and historic medical journal, The Lancet

It will be surprising to many of our readers to know that the Promised Messiahas referenced and quoted The Lancet in his writings over 100 years ago. He made mention of its April 1881 issue in his book Arya Dharam

Today, as we are surrounded by knowledge and endless newspapers,  periodicals and journals, it may, at first, seem irrelevant to mention Hazrat Ahmadas quoted from a medical journal; however, to quote and know about a journal founded and published in England from a remote village of India shows the Promised Messiah’sas devotion for acquiring knowledge and having the deep insight to what was being published in his era around the world – even if it was secular writings. 

Having spent most of his time reading the Holy Quran and other religious scriptures, we know the Promised Messiahas was fond of reading and acquiring knowledge. It is narrated that as a child, he would often spend his time in his father’s library. 

Hazrat Abdur Rahim Dardra writes in his book Life of Ahmad, “That which distinguished Ahmadas from other students and other members of his family was, however, that he was fond of study. He was so fond of his father’s library that many a time his father had to remonstrate with him, fearing that he might injure his health.” (Life of Ahmad, p. 37)

The Promised Messiah’sas reading lists were not limited to comparative religion, he would study secular books too – even medicine. He said:

“[…] I studied some books on medicine with my father, who was an expert physician. By this time, I had become so fond of reading that I gave little attention to anything else. My father repeatedly admonished me to reduce the study of books, for he was afraid that too much devotion to them might affect my health and he was also anxious that laying aside books I should begin to take an interest in his affairs and should share his responsibilities.” (Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 13, [footnote], pp. 181 – 182)

Mirza Sultan Ahmad Sahib, the son of the Promised Messiahas, narrated, “There were three books which our father would read very often: The Holy Quran, Masnawi Rumi and Dala’ilul Khairat. He would take notes of these and would read the Holy Quran very frequently.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, narration 190)

Further, reinforcing this narration, Hazrat Abdur Rahim Dardra writes: “Ahmadas devoted most of his time to study and the books that he studied most were the Holy Quran, BukhariMathnavi Rumi and Dala’ilul Khairat. He had always a pile of books around him when he was at home, and he went out for walks to the north or the east side of Qadian.” (Life of Ahmad, p. 57)

Being the Messiah & Mahdi about whom it was prophesied that he will break the cross, naturally, Hazrat Ahmad’s study of Christianity was thorough and detailed. In fact, he once said, “I have read hundreds of books by Christian clergymen.” (Haqiqatul Wahi [English], p. 634)

Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Sahib Irfanira, an eminent companion and the first editor of Al Hakam narrated that the Promised Messiahas was accustomed to reading newspapers and before being commissioned by Allah, Hazrat Ahmadas would read and subscribe to various newspapers, such as Safir-e-HindNur AfshanBaradar-e-HindWazir-e-HindManshur-e-MuhammadiAftab PunjabRiaz-e-HindIshaat-us-Sunnah. He would also write articles for some of these newspapers. 

Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira said that when Hazrat Ahmadas was commissioned by God, newspapers in different languages started coming to Qadian. Hazrat Ahmadas would have those newspapers translated and read to him whilst he listened carefully; and if there was any article in the newspapers against Islam, he would write and prepare a reply and publish it. 

With regards to Akhbar-e-Aam, it had the good fortune of being among the papers Huzooras enjoyed reading. The Promised Messiahas would buy it every day and keep it with him until he had finished reading it. And sometimes he would write and send an article to be published in Akhbar-e-Aam. Hazrat Ahmadas liked Akhbar-e-Aam’s impartiality and neutral policy. (Sirat Hazrat Masih-e-Maud, Hazrat Shaikh Yaqub Ali, p. 71)

Hazrat Ahmad’sas son, Mirza Sultan Ahmad Sahib, narrates:

“Our father would order and read Rajab Ali’s newspaper, Safeer-e-Amritsar, Agni Hotri’s magazine, Hindu Bandu and the newspaper, Manshur-e-Muhammadi. He would at times send an article to the latter newspaper”. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, narration 210)

He also narrated:

“It was the custom of our father that he would sit all day in solitude reading and would be surrounded by books.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, narration 193)

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra, the first missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat sent to America, writes: 

“One day, as I was leaving my room with the Holy Quran [in my hand] to listen to Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddin Sahib’s dars [religious sermon], the Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, called me and said, ‘My eyes are in pain, you should read out the newspaper to me today.’ Every day, Huzooras used to order and read the newspaper Akhbar-e-Aam.” (Zikr-e-Habib, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra, p. 68)

Hazrat Amatul Haye Sahibara – the daughter of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira and wife of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra – whilst mentioning Hazrat Ahmad’sas method of reading newspapers, narrated that he “used to read newspapers and send in [his] articles to them. Akhbar-e-Aam was the newspaper that the Promised Messiah liked to read. His method was to read the whole newspaper from the beginning to the end, and if there was anything [written] against Islam, he would write an answer to it.” (Sirat Hazrat Masih-e-Maud, Hazrat Amatul Haye Sahiba, p. 15)

Once, alluding to the newspapers that wrote against the perfect teachings of Islam, the Promised Messiahas said: 

“If the periodicals, newspapers and books that have been published against Islam in the present century were gathered in one place, a heap of them would stack to a height of many miles. In fact, I can say without exaggeration that this tall heap would surpass the height of the highest mountains on earth. If they were laid down in a line, they would form a line that spanned many miles.” (Malfuzat [English], Volume 3, p. 273)

With regards to Hazrat Ahmad’s own writings (which he said was the “wealth” he was distributing), Hazrat Maulvi Sher Alira narrated that Lala Milavamal related to him the following:

“Once Mirza Sahib, meaning the Promised Messiahas, showed me a small box in which a manuscript for one of his books was placed and he said to me, ‘This is all of my wealth and what I own’”. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, narration 124) It is narrated that the manuscript was of Barahin-e- Ahmadiyya.

In 1886, the Promised Messiahas, under divine command, spent 40 nights in seclusion, in which he prayed for a mighty sign in the favour of Islam. During these days, the Promised Messiahas was fully devoted to prayer. Hazrat Abdullah Sanaurira, who was accompanying him on this journey, narrates that a garden had been located in which there was a small, solitary mosque. There, the Promised Messiahas would go and lead the Friday prayer. Hazrat Abdur Rahim Dardra narrates, “He [Hazrat Ahmad] also attended to his letters and read newspapers.” (Life of Ahmad, p. 142) 

The Promised Messiah would often share what he would read in the newspaper during the day. On one occasion, Hazrat Ahmadas said:

“I have seen in a newspaper that the Sultan of Turkey has given a strict order that the Hijaz Railway must be completed within a year. Glory be to Allah! What a wonderful sight it would be and how refreshing it would be for the Faith when long lines of trains would be seen running instead of the long lines of camels, exactly in accordance with the prophecy.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 10, p. 230)

The Promised Messiah’s study of newspapers and various subjects, particularly – but not exclusively – pertaining to Islam, was vast. Like an ocean, it knew no bounds. The Promised Messiahas was always aware of what newspapers published regarding Islam, and various other things. With regard to the solar and lunar eclipses that fulfilled a mighty prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa in favour of the Messiah and Mahdi, the Promised Messiahas said:

“Take note that this event was reported even by the English newspapers like the Civil and Military [Gazette] and The Pioneer, etc., that no event of this form has ever occurred before.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 10, p. 236)

In 1902 and 1903, when Hazrat Ahmadas invited Dr John Alexander Dowie, the false prophet of America, to a mubahala (prayer duel), well-known newspapers published this news. Hazrat Ahmadas listed 32 well-known and established newspapers that published the news. After listing the 32 newspapers, he wrote, “These are the newspapers that have reached me. It seems from this multitude [of reports] that it must have been reported in hundreds of newspapers.” (Haqiqatul Wahi [English], p. 634)

Huzoor’sas devotion to the truth and challenging false and corrupt notions found in world religions was a daily task. He was engaged in this Jihad of the pen, as is evident from his writings. Huzooras, concerning Dr John Alexander Dowie’s newspaper, writes: 

“I subscribed to his newspaper Leaves of Healing and was constantly aware of his foul and abusive language.” (Haqiqatul Wahi [English], p. 634) Such was Huzoor’sas devotion and commitment. 

The newspapers, magazines, articles and books Hazrat Ahmadas would make mention of in his writings were not only published in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Arab world, Europe and America. They were not only in the well-known and prevalent languages of the world but also in some local and relatively lesser-known languages. For example, in his book Noah’s Ark, the Promised Messiahas made mention of the Al Manar, a famous Arabic magazine published for the Arab world from Egypt. 

Huzoor’sas study of various newspapers and magazines shows how, even though he was a resident of a remote village in India – Qadian –  he was aware of the pace of the times. What an amazing and faith-inspiring experience this must be. Imagine, for a second, the journey these papers undertook. These newspapers and magazines would reach India after a long sea voyage since Qadian was not located near any known port. Bundles of newspapers and magazines would be loaded on railway vehicles, and then again, after a long journey, they would reach a big city like Lahore, Delhi, etc and then make their way to Qadian. After having read something in the papers, when necessary, the Promised Messiahas would make mention of them or, wherever needed, reply to a certain allegation made against Islam. 

It is surprising that from such a vast collection of newspapers, the Promised Messiahas, when referencing a point mentioned in a newspaper, would not simply say something was mentioned in so and so paper; he would refer to the particular article, its page, column, and line. No doubt, this was only possible with divine support.

At first glance, it may seem redundant to mention which newspapers Huzooras read; however, it carries an enormous lesson. The Promised Messiahas was busy, day and night, in the propagation of Islam. The task he was assigned by Allah was no small matter. With such a demanding mission, the Promised Messiahas remained on top of the latest news and what newspapers and magazines mentioned regarding various matters.

Another example of this can be found, when, in May 1908, the Promised Messiahas said there existed a sense of urgency in the hearts of people for a reformer. Hazrat Ahmadas said that certain circumstances are crying out for the need for a reformer and said this was mentioned in a newspaper. He said:

“Just in today’s Paisa Akhbar, there was an article by an Englishman. In one of his lectures somewhere, he said that the present era is crying out for unity among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Jews.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 10, p. 566)

Through studying Hazrat Ahmad’s life and various narrations and records about him, we know he spent his entire life devoted to Islam and perusing reading and studying to defend Islam. Wherever he read any allegation against Islam, he would write to refute the allegation and paint the reality. Thus, it can be said that his love for reading stemmed from his deep devoutness to Islam and the Holy Prophetsa, as is evident from the magnificent books he authored and the spiritual treasures he distributed to worthy recipients and the desirous. 

Along with his personal deep study, reflecting and reading, he was given direct divine insights and knowledge by Allah. Through this, he presented a defence of Islam which is unparalleled, to this day.

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  1. Alhamdulillah a very nice and detailed article illustrating a very important aspect of the life of the Promised Messiah (as)


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