Coming from every distant track: PE Richards, Principal of Islamia College Lahore, meets Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud

Ata-ul-Haye Nasir, Al Hakam
rsz islamia college lahore 1
Islamia College, Lahore | Khalid Mahmood, Wiki Commons

On 15 February 1920, the acting principal of Islamia College Lahore, Professor PE Richards, had the opportunity to meet with Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud, Mirza Bashir-ud-Deen Mahmood Ahmadra.

The meeting took place at the Ahmadiyya Hostel in Lahore. Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra served as the interpreter.

Introduction to Professor PE Richards

Professor PE Richards was born in 1875 and started his career as a journalist in Exeter, England. During that period of his life, he became interested in comparative religion and desired to become a preacher.

He contrived to go to Jesus College, Oxford, and after graduating, he joined Manchester College with the intention of becoming a Unitarian Minister. Until 1911, when he came to India, he had pulpits at Halifax and Walsall.

He came to Lahore in 1911 and served as a professor of English at Dyal Singh College. Then, in 1915, he accepted a similar post at the Islamia College, and during the absence of Mr Henry Martin MA – the principal of the Islamia College – he served as the acting principal from early February 1920 until his death on 4 June 1920. (The Civil and Military Gazette, 6 June 1920, p. 4)

The Civil and Military Gazette, 6 June 1920

Discussion between Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and Mr PE Richards

Mr Richards: What will be the topic of your speech today? [Referring to Huzoor’sra lecture which was scheduled to be delivered at the Bradlaugh Hall, Lahore.]

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra: I intend to narrate whether it is the teachings of Islam or Christianity that could establish peace in the world. In this regard, there are two aspects, firstly, to present a comparison between the teachings of Islam and Christianity, and secondly, to narrate those Islamic principles that can establish peace. We proclaim, and we can prove it as well, that Islam has emerged in this world to establish peace and to teach those principles that could establish peace. In my view, [in regards to the establishment of peace], there are some good principles in Christianity as well, however, Islam has presented the teachings at a greater level.

Mr Richards: I am very pleased to hear that you acknowledge that there are some good principles in Christianity as well.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra: In fact, it is our belief that not only in Christianity but in all religions, there were and are certain features. This was the fact that made them flourish and sustain in the world, otherwise, they would have never sustained. In fact, there is a consensus among most religions on various matters, and the disagreement is found in a few principles. The major disagreement between Islam and Christianity is that we claim that Islam has presented superior teachings to Christianity, hence, it does not mean that we deny the correct teachings of Christianity as well.

Hazrat Musleh e Maud 1
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra

Mr Richards: In our view, all religions are required to strive in unison for peace.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra: This is correct, and it is apparent from our Holy Quran that the major religions of the world will remain until the Day of Judgement. Regardless of what limit is considered for the Day of Reckoning, all religions will surely remain until then. In such circumstances, the peace of the world can only be established if the followers of all religions strive together. However, along with this, we also say that there are two aspects to peace. The first aspect of peace is the one that is attained by mankind through their mutual relations, and the second aspect of peace can be achieved by creating a connection with God Almighty. Now, the peace that can be achieved through the mutual relations of mankind requires everyone to create a mutual consensus and to put their efforts in unison. However, the second aspect of peace, which is peace of heart, cannot be achieved until mankind fosters a connection with God Almighty, and it is Islam through which a connection with God Almighty can be established. Hence, this peace of heart cannot be attained by anyone other than those who are true followers of Islam.

Mr Richards: Until when will you stay here [in Lahore]?

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra: I might be staying here till Friday.

Mr Richards: The students of your Jamaat who are in college here, are very respectful and obedient.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra: Our teaching for everyone who joins our Jamaat is that wherever they might be, they are required to build such a relationship with everyone they have to work with, which may foster a peaceful atmosphere and no kind of evil be created. Moreover, we particularly teach the children and youth about respect and obedience and specially advise them to respect their teachers.

Mr Richards: The students of your Jamaat have not only shown a good example in the recent events of unrest, but rather, they have always behaved like this.

After this, Mr Richards shook hands with Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and the meeting concluded. (Al Fazl, 23 February 1920, p. 2)

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