Tributes to Maulana Muhammad Ali
Passing Away of Maulvi Muhammad Ali (“Speak Well of your Dead”)
by Sheikh Yaqub Ali, Editor ‘Al-Hakam’
The Light & Islamic Review (US), September/October 1992 Issue (Vol. 69, No. 5, pp. 4–6)
Editor’s Note: Maulana Muhammad Ali died on 13 October 1951. Issues of our journals which cover the month of October usually contain some articles devoted to the memory of this great servant of Islam and the Ahmadiyya Movement. Below we present some contributions which appeared in the special issue of this Movement’s famous Urdu organ, ‘Paigham Sulh’, produced at the time of the Maulana’s death, dated 26 December 1951.
Editor’s Note: Sheikh Yaqub Ali was a leading Qadiani writer and journalist, who started the journal ‘Al-Hakam’ in 1897 which chronicled the activities, speeches and statements of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement.
Respected Maulvi Muhammad Ali, President of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore, died in Karachi on 13 October 1951. Inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi rajiun. I personally felt such a shock at the news of the death of the Maulana as if a dear brother of mine had died. This feeling is not something imaginary, but a real fact. For years we grew up under the care of one spiritual father, and reached adulthood. After the death of the Promised Messiah [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian], we stayed united around one hand during the first khilafat. At the beginning of the second khilafat, the respected Maulvi sahib separated from us on the grounds of some differences. This is not the time to discuss the nature of those differences. He has now passed away, and we too are travelling on the same road which leads to death. His affair is now with Allah. Bearing in mind the command of the Holy Prophet quoted above, I will mention his good qualities.
Sometimes people use a difference of opinion as the basis for hostility and animosity. This is not worthy of a true believer. A true believer never deviates from doing justice even to one with whom there is animosity, because departure from justice is a sin. I have observed and studied the Maulvi sahib very closely since the year 1897. We worked together. He entered the Ahmadiyya Movement with sincerity and true belief. He devoted his life to the service of the Movement, and earned the approval and praise of the Promised Messiah. No one can deny what the Promised Messiah said and wrote about the Maulvi sahib, and it is because of these sacred words that I have always held feelings of respect for the deceased. Although I frequently wrote in refutation of some of his views, and wrote much, Allah knows that there was no spite or malice, and I never forgot his services. Even though we were, so to speak, at war with him, nonetheless whenever I went to Lahore I would meet all the honoured brethren. We would meet like brothers. Certainly we would debate the differences, but when we would take leave, feelings of love and fraternity would rise up in our hearts, and we could detect the effects of our old connections.
Due to his academic excellence, respected Maulvi Muhammad Ali held a position of distinction throughout his years of study, always attaining the highest marks. And it is also a fact that, even while a student, he was virtuous and righteous. For this reason, he was held in high regard by his teachers and fellow-students. I made his acquaintance when he was appointed to the Islamia College, Lahore, but the real connection began when he joined this Movement. Maulvi Muhammad Ali was born in a village called Murar, in the state of Kapurthala, in an honourable and righteous family of land-owners. His father, Hafiz Fateh Din, was a hafiz of the Holy Quran. Another man belonging to this family, Maulvi Muhammad sahib, was a fellow-student of mine in Ludhiana in the school of Maulvi Muhammad Farooq. Eventually, he joined Maulana Nur-ud-Din in Jammu, and once visited Qadian.
So the Maulvi sahib was born in a noble family, and after having attained the highest accomplishment in his education, when he stepped into a worldly career, and looked at the hopes and the promise based on his period of education, he would have risen high in the world had he continued along this path, and reached a distinguished official position. But Allah had willed otherwise for him. He entered the Movement, and the Promised Messiah wished him to serve it. This young man agreed, and he agreed with a truthful heart. Discarding all the hopes and aspirations, for the service of the Movement in obedience to his master he vowed to serve Islam with the pen. And he performed this service till the day of his death. His services, by means of scholarship and by means of the pen, are vast. If Allah please, I shall write in detail about his work.
To have differences with him is a separate matter. It does not mean that I or anyone else should find fault with his work, now that he is no longer in the world. The service he rendered to the Movement in Qadian till 1914 is magnificent, and it is an example to young men to employ their talents with such determination, zeal and sincerity.
At the beginning of the second khilafat, he had differences, and went to Lahore, taking a group with him, and started work. Till the end, he remained active in the work, and continued the writing of books which he had earlier begun.
There is no doubt that his writings acquired fame in different countries of the world and in different languages. He gained all this from the Promised Messiah. Our differences with him are at an end. In the Promised Messiah, we were sons of the same father, and now at his death we grieve as we do at the death of a relation.
There were differences among the Companions of the Holy Prophet as well, even leading to war. But the Quran says:
“We shall remove whatever of rancour is in their breasts” (The Holy Quran, 15:47).
At the end they had clean hearts. May Allah produce the same cleanliness and purity in our hearts. The Maulvi sahib completed the natural span of his life and died. It would have been better if he had lived a while longer, but this was the time of death in the knowledge of Allah. We too shall pass away, and other generations will come and pass away. And in the history of the Movement, there shall remain the mention of the achievements of the respected Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib.
I express my sympathies to his family with sincerity. I share in their grief. Although I had differences with him, there was love for him in my heart.
(Taken from Al-Hakam, Karachi, 14 November 1951)