Pioneer Missionaries: Part 12 – Venturing Westward: Humble beginnings as missionaries set foot in Europe


Click here for Part 11

Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam

The message of Ahmadiyyat has continued to spread in both the East and the West since the time of its Founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas. After his passing, under the supervision of Khilafat, missionaries were sent to various regions and areas of the world. These righteous individuals, guided by the Khalifatul Masih and supported by his prayers, guidance, and training, entered entirely new regions and atmospheres. These missionaries laid the solid foundations that established the Jamaat’s missions around the world. To illustrate, let’s consider the early days of Europe as an example.

On 26 October 1946, Al Fazl published a report, under the the heading Entry of Ahmadi Mujahideen into the Land of Switzerland, authored by Mr Nasir Ahmad Sheikh, who was the then In-charge of Ahmadiyya Mission Switzerland:

“In the beautiful city of Zurich, Switzerland, the call of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the Greatest) echoed.”

He further writes:

“Having set foot on Swiss soil on Sunday, 13 October [1946], at one o’clock in the afternoon, the three of us (Chaudhry Abdul Latif Sahib, Maulvi Ghulam Ahmad Bashir Sahib, and my humble self, Nasir Ahmad) arrived in the city of Zurich, Switzerland. Before disembarking the train carriage, we prayed to Almighty God, asking Him to grant us success through His special decree and might, and to assist us at every step of the way, so that we may fulfil this profoundly noble responsibility with utmost devotion that has been placed upon our humble shoulders owing to the great obligation of waqf. As we stepped onto Swiss soil, silent prayer was carried out, and the initial words of the message of truth were voiced on this new land. We besought God to bless our words and to make our preaching method a means of attracting good-natured individuals. After checking our luggage, we proceeded to a hotel where arrangements had been made for the first three days.

“There was a distance of a few hundred yards between the railway station and our hotel. However, during this short journey, a considerable number of individuals began to gather around us. They were surprised by our turbans and traditional attire. They probably saw such clothing for the first time. People were looking at each other in awe, pondering over the origins and identities of these newcomers. A few even shared quiet chortles.

“As we stepped into the main city, we encountered a curious and sceptical public. Their amazement will likely wane with time. But for now, there are many obvious reasons for their curiosity. It will take some time for us to master the language and address the intricacies of communication.

“We have brought with us two types of tracts in the German language that have been printed to serve our purpose. These tracts cover matters such as the reasons for our arrival in Europe, Islam’s truthfulness, the arrival of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the announcement of Jesus’as tomb, and other related issues.

“We are currently not distributing these tracts because, until we are capable of answering the detailed questions posed in the German language and providing comprehensive explanations during conversations, distributing these tracts will not yield significant benefits. We hope that, insha-Allah, we will soon be able to do so by the grace of Allah the Almighty.”

Meeting with a Bank Director

“Here, in Zurich, an introduction had already been made with Mr Arni, a director of a major bank, who is a close associate of a friend of Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. We went to meet him the next day. He was very friendly. Initially, we requested that he help us find accommodation, as that was our immediate need. In other words, in this relatively important country of Europe, where people from all over the world, and especially those distressed by the war in Europe, come for recreation, our expenses are quite high. Things here are far more expensive than in London. The cost of a cup of tea is approximately eight pence, and accordingly, hotel and other boarding house rents are high. Mr Arni informed us that finding accommodation in Zurich is quite difficult, but he will still make an effort.”

The significance of Zurich

“We also visited the office of Thomas Cook and obtained some information from there, as well as concluded some essential matters. On 15 October [1946], we went to the office of the British Consul General and registered our names. After that, we walked around the city, familiarising ourselves with the conditions. It is a truly beautiful city. While Bern is the capital of Switzerland, Zurich’s importance and central status exceed those of Bern. It is also the largest city in the country, with a population of only 358000 people. A river flows through it, and there is a vast lake within the city. Some of the population resides in the mountains, but the majority is on the plains. The climate here is colder than England nowadays, and in winter, heavy snowfall and severe colds are quite common.”

The first adhan and Friday prayer

“As I write these lines, we have just returned from the city after offering the Friday prayer. In search of an open place, we ventured far outside the city, ascending into the mountains. When we could not find a suitable spot, we looked towards the forests, and, after nearly an hour of searching, found a high point amidst thick woodlands, beneath a cluster of beautiful trees. There we called the adhan. It was the first adhan in such a manner for the Friday prayer. Following that, we prayed to Allah for the opportunity to construct a mosque in this area. This Friday prayer will forever remain in our memory; it is a testament to our initial and humble state. We hold hope in our Lord that He will accept our feeble supplications and grant us the ability to spread His glorious Message […]

“These events are a clear testimony to the truthfulness of Hazrat Amirul Momineen[ra]. The three servants of the Master have performed Friday prayers in three different countries consecutively: two weeks ago in England, last Friday in France, and today in Switzerland. Does this not serve as evidence for the propagation of the name of the Promised Messiahas?”

A request for prayers

“In conclusion, with utmost humility, I earnestly request the beloved members of the Jamaat to pray that Allah Almighty, through His grace, distances every difficulty from us and grants us success in truly serving His religion. May He be our guide at every step and bless our voices and methods of propagation.” (Al Fazl, 26 October 1946)

As detailed in the aforementioned account, readers are well aware that these pioneering missionaries faced various challenges upon arriving in new territories. For instance, as these missionaries mentioned above, Haji Ahmed Khan Ayaz Sahib narrates that when he left Hungary and arrived in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, on 22 April 1936, after three days, he resided in a hotel because he couldn’t find suitable rented accommodation. Eventually, he succeeded in obtaining a room in a new settlement, which was seven miles away from Warsaw. (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 7, p. 293)

Bear in mind that these challenges could not deter these missionaries from their path. For instance, when the same Haji Ahmed Khan Ayaz Sahib was sent as a missionary in 1936, the result of a continuous year of hard work became evident to everyone. In an article in the newspaper Pastimaplo, published on 18 April 1937, just a year after his arrival in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, a female columnist provided a detailed introduction to Ayaz Sahib and stated that only a year had passed since his arrival in Budapest. During this time, he had spoken to representatives of various newspapers and had made astonishing progress in learning their language. He had achieved such high levels of success that more than a hundred Hungarians had embraced Islam by the time. (Al Fazl, 15 November 2001)

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