Pioneer Missionaries: Part 16 – Resilient missionaries’ journey to Iran and Bukhara


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
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AXP Photography | Unsplash

In July 1924, when Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra departed from Qadian on his historic and epoch-making journey to Europe, it marked a memorable and most important milestone in the history of Ahmadiyyat’s tabligh efforts in both the East and the West. This is because, on the same day, Huzoorra also dispatched three missionaries from Qadian. Among them, Hazrat Syed Shahzada Abdul Majeed Khanra was designated for the propagation of Islam in Iran, while the missionary delegation for the Russian region of Bukhara comprised Zahur Hussain Sahib and Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib.

Bukhara was a region of particular importance due to its location on the Silk Road. This region, which was once a well-known name between Russia and Iran, is now the fifth largest city in the country of Uzbekistan, which gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is the capital of its Bukhara province. The region of Bukhara has remained an important centre of Iranian culture in the neighbourhood of Bolshevik Russia in the books of history, and the architecture and antiquities of this city are a sample of Iranian history and art.

In short, the missionary delegation sent to the region of Bukhara, which was considered to be the gateway to Soviet Russia, arrived in the Iranian city of Mashhad on 16 October 1924. Here, Zahur Hussain Sahib fell ill with typhoid and was admitted to the hospital, but Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib, who had also travelled to Bukhara in 1921, left for Bukhara on 6 November 1924, and did missionary work for some time.

Muhammad Amin Sahib’s mission to Iran and meeting with General Jan Muhammad Khan

During his years of service, Muhammad Amin Sahib was once again sent to Iran, specifically Bukhara. Regarding this period, Al Fazl published a report in the issue dated 17 August 1926. At the beginning of this report, the editor wrote in his introductory note:

“The Ahmadiyya Community is well aware of the selfless and heroic dedication of Khan Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib of Bukhara to the propagation of Ahmadiyyat. He has not only travelled to difficult and remote places without regard for danger or relying on external equipment, but he has also been imprisoned several times and endured the hardships of incarceration. However, by the grace of God, he continued to demonstrate courage and bravery during perilous times, remaining undaunted by any formidable power. Recently, he wrote in a private letter about his experience of attending the court of a highly respectable and prominent member of the Kingdom of Iran. This further illuminates his heroic methods.” (Al Fazl, 17 August 1926, p. 3) For the interest of our readers, some related excerpts from this letter are provided below in his own words.

Muhammad Amin Sahib, recounting his journey, describes his encounter:

“During my temporary stay in Mashhad, the Ahmadiyya movement gained considerable fame. Scholars, educated individuals, officials, journalists, shopkeepers, merchants, and people of all professions became acquainted with the claims of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. Observing this, while some earnest and discerning individuals opted to peruse the literature of the movement and engage in personal conversations with me, there were also some bigoted and narrow-minded individuals who adopted an antagonistic attitude. They began endeavouring to expel this humble missionary from the country by various means.” (Ibid.)

He further states:

“I thought it appropriate that I should also meet the supreme ruler here, Amir-ul-Askar, East General Jan Muhammad Khan Sahib, who is also the governor of the province of Khorasan and Sistan […]. Due to the current revolution, a military system of government is in place throughout Iran. The entire country is currently in the throes of a political revolution, and the commander of the entire armed forces is General Jan Muhammad Sahib. He is the same general who recently won a significant victory over the Turkmen, which had a major impact on the current revolution. Since he is also the governor of the province, I tried to meet him, and he scheduled a time for me […].

“I went to meet the general at the appointed time for the meeting. By chance, on the same day, in honour of his victory over the Turkmen, gifts, and medals also arrived from Tehran for him in great pomp and glory on several vehicles from the current ruling Shah of Iran. On the occasion of which, there was army personnel’s immense presence inside and outside his palace.

“Military officers adorned with their gold medals, wearing khakiuniforms, were standing on the porch of the palace waiting for the governor to come out so that a salute parade could be given to him and then a photo could be taken with military and civil officers. Since the time for the meeting was also fixed at the same time, I had to be present. I passed through the general army and the military bands, but when I reached the military officers, some officials tried to stop me. Because the Russians took away all my clothes and belongings at the border, and I had no clothes other than the clothes I was wearing. And the overcoat I was wearing had become a little too old due to several years of use. Which I had tied with a rope from the waist due to the cold. I was wearing Punjabi shoes without socks, which I had repaired in several places. Seeing my condition, some military officers stopped me. However, since I had the handwritten letter from the general, some senior officers allowed me to go further after reviewing it.

“Some Indian friends had asked me to wear borrowed clothes and shoes for the meeting. However, my heart and mind did not agree to this because if I can be honoured in the presence of my master, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II[ra] in these clothes, and if I can be present in the court of God Almighty, Who is our ultimate Master, in these torn old and worn-out clothes, why is it objectionable if I get an audience in the court of these worldly rulers in these clothes? […]

“[During the meeting] I gave a brief account of the situation of the Ahmadiyya movement, the claims of the Promised Messiahas, the central situation, external missions, newspapers, the mosque in London, the mosque in Chicago, and all the services done in the cause of Islam. I also told the story of my brother, Moulvi Zahoor Hussain Sahib, going to Russia.

“While mentioning other things, I also mentioned that my parents are originally Afghan Yusufzai, but now my real homeland is Qadian, and not only me but also many Afghans have migrated to Qadian due to the oppression in Afghanistan.

“A copy of the book Da’watul Amir [Invitation to Ahmadiyyat] in Persian was presented as a gift. Accepting it, he said: ‘I shall definitely read it, but since my schedule is very tight, I will be able to finish it in two to three months.’

“I also drew attention to the poor and destitute who perished in the winter due to the scourge of cold and hunger. I suggested that a charity shelter house should be launched for such people. He liked this suggestion and promised that, ‘Insha-Allah I will not only ensure that the charity house is established and run properly, but I will also make arrangements to improve the lives of such people in the future.’

“In the end, I thanked them very much and returned.” (Ibid.)

Maulana Zahoor Hussain Sahib’s arrival in Qadian

The newspaper, Al Fazl, published the following news on its first page on 29 October 1926, under the heading “Maulana Zahur Hussain Sahib arrives in Darul Aman”:

“The news will be a source of great joy for our dear readers that the mujahid in the way of Allah, Maulana Zahur Hussain Sahib, arrived safely in [Qadian] Darul Aman on the morning of 25 October. He departed for the propagation journey to Bukhara with our dear brother Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib on 12 July 1924. Maulana Zahur Hussain Sahib fell ill upon reaching Mashhad, and there was also a fear of both of them being arrested. Therefore, Brother Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib proceeded to Bukhara first. He was also arrested on the way, but somehow he reached Bukhara. From there, he brought Haji Ali Quli Khan Sahib with him, who stayed in Darul Aman for several months before returning to his homeland. Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib was then sent out again with him. Currently, the missionary brother is once again out of contact, and various rumours are circulating about him.

“One of Muhammad Amin Khan Sahib’s tasks during his second visit was to locate Maulana Zahur Hussain Sahib. Maulana Zahur Hussain Sahib had departed Mashhad alone for Bukhara. Upon crossing the border, he boarded a train, which took him to Bukhara. However, upon arrival, he was arrested by the police, who erroneously suspected him of being a spy.

“He was incarcerated in the jails of Tashkent and Ashgabat before being transported to Moscow. The investigation yielded no results. However, the Bolshevik authorities failed to comprehend that someone would undertake such a long and arduous journey solely for the sake of religion, with no involvement in politics. These tyrants subjected him to severe physical torture, binding him with ropes and throwing him into dark cells at night, where they beat him. Nevertheless, our respected and valiant brother endured it with God’s grace, never losing sight of his original purpose of spreading the message of faith. Consequently, 40 individuals from various regions, particularly Turkestan, pledged allegiance to the Ahmadiyya community and vowed to propagate its message of truth to others. May Allah Almighty reward our steadfast brother abundantly. These are the chosen individuals who comprehend the true essence of Ahmadiyyat and, through the blessings of Khilafat, achieve their objective.

“May Allah reward them abundantly and shower them with gratitude from me and all Muslims.” (Al Fazl, 29 October 1926, pp. 1-2)

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