Pioneer Missionaries – Maulana Attaullah Kaleem: 54 years of service across five continents


A series looking at pioneer missionaries and devotees of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat who gave precedence to faith over the world.

Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam
Attaullah Kaleem

Attaullah Kaleem Sahib, was born on 25 September 1922 in Amritsar. He studied at Madrasa Ahmadiyya and Jamia Ahmadiyya. On 3 June 1949, he passed the exams for Maulvi Fazil and then served briefly in the Furqan Force. He completed his BA from Punjab University. He was first sent to Ghana and remained in service for the next 50 years.

On 23 January 2000, at his request for retirement, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh directed the relevant office to acknowledge Attaullah Kaleem Sahib’s extensive years of service. Given his declining health, which hindered his ability to perform full duties, his request for leave was duly granted.

He passed away on 7 January 2001, in Lahore, after more than 50 years of service

When the final draft of his biography “Surguzasht-e-Kaleem” was presented to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, Huzooraa graciously wrote back to the compiler (Habibullah Sadiq Bajwah Sahib):

“The incidents of his tablighitarbiyati, and administrative activities are such that they are exemplary for a preacher.”

Countries of service

From 1951 to 1955, he lived in Ghana as a missionary. He served in Wakalat Tabsheer, Rabwah, from 1955 until 1959, and then went back to Ghana where he served until 1970. Following that, he served as Amir and Missionary In-Charge of Ghana.

From 1965 to 1970, he was also assigned as the in-charge of the West Africa Zone. In 1970, he was appointed as the first secretary of Hadiqatul Mubashareen in Markaz. In 1972, he was again assigned the duty of Amir and Missionary In-Charge of Ghana, and in 1975, when he returned to Markaz, he was appointed as the Secretary of Majlis Nusrat Jehan. On 31 August 1977, he took charge as Amir and Missionary In-Charge of America, serving until December 1983.

In 1984, he was appointed as the Vice Principal of Jamia Ahmadiyya and served as the acting Principal from August 1985 to December 1985. In 1986, on the instruction of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, he visited and stayed for some time as the central representative in Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad. He served in Germany from August 1987 as the Missionary In-Charge, till September 1998. In August 1999, he was sent to Kababir, Haifa, as Amir and Missionary In-Charge of Palestine, where he remained till 22 February 2000.

Diverse services

During his stay in Ghana, Attaullah Kaleem Sahib not only wrote many letters about Islam and Ahmadiyya in national newspapers and magazines but also pioneered the publication of the monthly magazine, Guidance, serving as its editor. He also authored numerous religious pamphlets. During his time in America, he established and published the fortnightly Al Noor and the monthly Ahmadiyya Gazette from San Francisco, in addition to contributing articles to other local and national newspapers. Many of his tracts and articles have been published multiple times, with some translated into other languages. In Germany, he furthered his publishing efforts by launching the monthly magazine Akhbar-e-Ahmadiyya. Additionally, during his stays in various countries, he actively participated in radio and television programs, spreading the message of Islam in universities and colleges. He also seized opportunities to address gatherings of various nationalities in Germany and present religious books to numerous heads of countries.

During his time in Ghana, Attaullah Kaleem Sahib’s articles and letters were published in 72 national newspapers. In addition to writing numerous articles in Urdu and English, he also prepared and printed various forms of literature such as tracts, translations, and pamphlets. Furthermore, his interviews and speeches were frequently broadcast on various radio and television channels in Ghana, America, and Germany.

In 1963, while serving in Ghana, a picture of him was published in the country’s leading newspaper, showing him sitting with the President of Ghana. Despite being ill, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra invited his father and showed him his son’s photograph, saying: “Look how much respect Allah Almighty has given to our Kaleem!”

During his tour to West Africa in 1970, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh gave him the turban that he himself had worn. Additionally, in his Friday sermon upon returning to Rabwah, Huzoorrh mentioned his name and also acknowledged the services of his first wife, Nasima Begum Sahiba.

A co-worker in Africa, while mentioning Attaullah Kaleem Sahib, said that he had the opportunity to work as a teacher in Africa and then later they were together in California. He expressed that he always found Attaullah Kaleem Sahib to be exceptionally kind, compassionate, and friendly. He lived a simple life, wearing clean and modest attire, and spoke in a loud and clear tone. He was a very sincere, obedient, and God-fearing individual.

While stationed in California, he initiated the publication of the magazine Al-Noor with the primary aim of conveying the sermons of the Khalifatul Masih. Initially distributed solely to Ahmadis in the western region of America, it later expanded its circulation nationwide following directives from the Markaz. Recognising the growing demand for English translations of the sermons, he also undertook the publication of the Ahmadiyya Gazette. Despite not being proficient in typing, he painstakingly pressed each letter with a single finger to prepare the articles. Subsequently, he embarked on lengthy bus and rail journeys to deliver the draft to the most cost-effective typesetter. Upon completion, he would go back to retrieve the set essays, often arriving late at night, where he meticulously arranged the pages. This routine continued as he managed other printing endeavours at the press.

Attaullah Kaleem Sahib did not have a car or a driver’s licence. Often, after the publication of the magazine, he would return to the mission house carrying the boxes by himself. The co-worker mentioned that if he had not enquired from him, he would not have known that he used to carry such weight and travel such long distances. He often had to handle the delivery of the magazines himself, affixing the labels and postage, and taking them to the post office to mail them.

He was highly proficient in English and authored numerous outstanding articles. On one occasion, a friend came across one of his articles and expressed disbelief, questioning whether it was truly written by Kaleem Sahib as he was impressed by the exceptional quality.

There was no trace of arrogance in him. Once, a Ghanaian minister asked him about his father. He humbly responded that his father was the muezzin of a mosque and used to sweep its floors. Upon hearing this, the minister stood up, embraced him, and remarked that a nation with humble individuals like him would undoubtedly progress.

He was well aware of the responsibilities of Waqf. When he was initially sent to Africa, his twin sons were only seven days old. Despite his wife expressing natural concerns before his departure, he assured her by saying, “I am going, entrusting each one of you to God.”

(The details presented in this article are based on “Surguzasht-e-Kaleem” [2007], the Urdu biography of Maulana Attaullah Kaleem, compiled by Habibullah Sadiq Bajwah.)

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