Romaan Basit, Ahmadiyya Archive & Research Centre
The divisive Balfour Declaration was signed in 1917, in which Britain pledged to establish a national homeland for Jewish people in Palestine. At the time, it was a predominantly Arab Muslim land with very small pockets of Christians and Jews.
What gave Britain this control over Palestine? After the First World War, the country was officially made part of the British Mandate. And where better to establish a homeland for the grief-stricken Jews, who had faced severe oppression in the war, than the freshly acquired land!
The plan was set. The Declaration was a catalyst for the Zionist regime, which was spearheaded by Theodor Herzl. It gained serious momentum and the aim was clear and simple: to establish a land that the Jews could finally call home – in Palestine. Jews began to enter the land in large numbers, with most Muslims at the time welcoming them with open arms, unaware of the threat Zionism would go on to pose. After all, the Jewish numbers at the time were minuscule, comprising less than 10 per cent of the total population. (“The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem – CEIRPP, DPR study, part II: 1947-1977”, www.un.org)
Caliph travels to the Holy Land of Palestine
There was, however, a Muslim Caliph who instantly recognised the imminent threat and warned the Muslims from the very outset.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra was the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Just seven years after the Balfour Declaration, he travelled to the Holy Land in 1924 to witness for himself the state of affairs. Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Haifa were visited, and he made it a point to meet Muslims, influential figures, policymakers and politicians. Sir Gilbert Clayton was among the esteemed people:
“The Governor of Palestine is given the official title of High Commissioner. The actual High Commissioner happened to be on a tour of England and Sir Gilbert Clayton was stepping in for him. I met with him and discussed matters pertaining to Palestine for up to an hour.” (Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 8, pp. 448)
Sir Gilbert Clayton enjoyed this encounter so much that he even insisted on a second sitting:
“Despite the fact that we had reached the end of our trip and were leaving soon, [Sir Gilbert] insisted we have lunch with him the next day at 1:30 pm. Hence, we had another conversation for up to 90 minutes on the same topic.” (Ibid.)
Jews set on taking over their native land
The advice given by the Second Caliph was imbued with wisdom and foresight, even proving to be revelatory. He warned Muslims that “the Jewish people are set on taking over their native land” (Ibid. p. 447), as they deemed it to be rightfully theirs.
He feared that a time would come in the near future when Jews would become superior in the land, and to avoid this, he provided a simple solution to the Muslims: stop selling the land!
The brewing danger was unpacked by the Second Caliph in 1924. At the time, Muslims saw the influx of affluent Jews as an opportunity to build wealth. For this reason, many were pleased with the decision to allow them to enter and, in fact, began to sell their land to them in large amounts:
“There is a large percentage of affluent Jews and they have sacrificed a huge amount of wealth in order to buy land in Palestine. They bring the poorer Jews to settle on their land and allow them to work on it for a wage.” (Ibid., p. 446)
Job opportunities and businesses created in the sole interest of Jewish immigrants
An increasing number of Jews were in this way becoming landowners, who would then further job opportunities on this freshly bought “Jewish” land. This way, more and more Jews began to settle in the land and the 10 per cent began to grow.
Sadly, the advice to refrain from selling Muslim land fell on deaf ears. Had the Muslims not given their land away so readily, the situation would be different today.
Furthermore, on the land that was being purchased by the Jews, businesses and trading companies were being established. All these establishments were dedicated to the interests of Jewish immigrants, making it clear that in the near future, Arabs would become economically dependent on Jews. This is exactly what was feared and exactly what was warned.
Hazrat Sir Zafrulla Khanra echoes the same advice
The advice to retain the land was also echoed by Hazrat Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra, the first foreign minister of Pakistan. He proposed in 1934, while on a trip to England, that a law should be established in Palestine “to prohibit by law the transfer of the Arab farmland to non-Arab buyers.” (Tehdis-e-Nemat, p. 509)
As a precedent, he presented the Punjab Transfer of Lands Act, which already existed in the Punjab province of India. This proposal, however, did not see the light of day.
In this way, Jews continued to populate Palestine until eventually the Jewish State of Israel was established in 1948. This was the very aim of the Balfour Declaration and also of the Zionist regime. Had the advice of the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community been listened to, which was given 14 years prior to the establishment of this state, circumstances today would be different.
His advice wasn’t empty and hollow; he had seen and witnessed the situation himself.
This said, once the Jewish State of Israel was established, he emphasised time and again on Muslim Unity. He told the world that this was and will always be the only solution to the plight of Palestine. More can be read about the viable advice and solutions presented by the Caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community regarding the Palestinian crisis in the following Al Hakam article: “Israel-Palestine conflict and the Ahmadiyya Khilafat: A brief look at seven decades of the most viable advice”, Al Hakam, 21 May 2021, Issue 166, pp. 8-10.