Asif M Basit, Ahmadiyya Archive & Research Centre
As the Monsoon style rainfall hammered the rooftops and streets of Great Britain on 8 September 2022, the sad news came in that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had passed away.
Her Majesty is being grieved by millions around the world, especially by the bereaved Great British nation. But we all have our own ways of grieving. As Ahmadi Muslims, we tend to look at the positive side of things.
So, as we remember the beloved Queen of England, we remember things that we ought to be thankful to her for.
Queen Elizabeth II carried the legacy of Queen Empress Victoria who had remained a benevolent Empress of India by bringing to the land religious freedom – a privilege previously unknown to the native population for many centuries. This benevolence had earned her a huge deal of prayers from Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian, who had been sent by Allah the Almighty to rejuvenate not only Islam, but all other religions of the world. Under the rule of such a government and such a monarch, he was free to speak, write, and publicise his message through every medium available.
More than a century later, the fifth successor of Hazrat Ahmadas, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, was to echo the same words of gratitude to Queen Elizabeth II – paying tribute to the legacy of religious freedom that the latter had continued to provide in the United Kingdom throughout her reign.
The Promised Messiahas wrote extensively to express his gratitude for Queen Victoria and which can be summarised, in his own words, as follows:
“A great portion of the beneficence of the Empress of India is that during her reign […] every person has gained a large opportunity for spiritual advancement.” (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, A Gift for the Queen, Islam International Publications Ltd UK, 2012, p. 16)
The above cited work was produced by Hazrat Ahmadas as part of the Jubilee celebrations of the Empress in 1897.
When Queen Victoria passed away in January 1901, the Ahmadiyya press paid tribute to her by publishing her biography and by reminding the readers of how benevolent her reign had been.
A memorial service was arranged at the residence of Hazrat Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib on Friday, 25 January in Malir Kotla where the great services of the Empress were remembered and prayers were offered for her. After two other addresses, Hazrat Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib delivered an address where he referred to the gratitude that Hazrat Ahmadas had all along expressed for the great Queen.
An incident that he specially pointed out was:
“A title invested on the British monarch is Defender of Faith for being the head of the Church of England. […]
“But in the reign of Queen Victoria, religious tolerance and impartiality progressed to such a point that a Jewish person was given the position of Secretary of State. This shows how unbiased the Queen was.” (Al Hakam, Qadian, 24 February 1901, Vol 5, No7)
Half a century later, Queen Elizabeth II was to sit on the throne and in her reign, the world saw not only persons of Jewish faith but also Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs appointed as Secretaries of State or as other important officials in the state machinery. This was not only a proof of her religious tolerance, but of ethnic diversity too – rather an advocate of both.
Going back to Qadian, funds were raised for a memorial of Queen Victoria. The largest contribution coming in from Hazrat Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan, a total of five-hundred rupees was raised to buy books for Talim al-Islam School. (Al Hakam, Qadian, 10 March 1901, Vol. 5, No. 9)
In line with the tradition of his master, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, the fifth successor of Hazrat Ahmadas, instructed that charity walks be organised by British Ahmadi Muslims to raise funds for the many humanitarian causes that Her Majesty was patron of. These funds were donated to such bodies on various occasions in 2012 and 2022 – a gesture of trust and respect for Her Majesty’s charitable undertakings. (https://charitywalkforpeace.org/the-queens-platinum-jubilee-thanksgiving-dinner)
In February 1901, when the British-Indian government’s plan to build a memorial for Queen Victoria was mentioned in his audience, Hazrat Ahmadas stated:
“In my opinion, it should be a great college or hospital.”
It is not mere coincidence but a faith-inspiring incidence to see that the fifth successor of Hazrat Ahmadas would donate very generously towards the charitable causes in health and education setup and overseen by Queen Elizabeth – the successor of Queen Victoria.
We conclude with the words of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, that he wrote in his message on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012:
“May God the Almighty also guide the progeny of Her Majesty to become established on the Truth and to guiding others towards it. May the attributes of justice and freedom continue to remain the guiding principles of the British Monarchy.” (Letter of Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, www.khalifatulmasih.org)