Apostasy and how to Combat it?

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

The Light (Pakistan), 16th May 1923 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 10, pp. 2–3)

This article was originally written in Urdu by Maulvi Muhammad Ali, M.A., President, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam Lahore.  We have rendered it into English for the readers of The Light. — Editor The Light.

It is said that about 275 missionaries are working at present in the affected area. If these men work unitedly and with a common object in view, the results are expected to be splendid. Not only the Muslims can be saved from the attacks of the idolaters, but a large number of Hindus too can be attracted towards Islam through the spread of true Islamic teachings in that territory. If one missionary works, say in two thousand, even then the present number of workers is enough to manage 500,000 people. But the whole thing depends upon the right way of working and a strong organisation.

I deem it advisable to state here for the information of my Muslim brethren the method of work which the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam Lahore has adopted after full consultation and experience.

Firstly: We have to define and determine our object. Anyone who has thought over the subject for a while must have seen that our countrymen have turned to Malkanas and Gujars for winning them over from Islam simply because they found them ignorant of the religion. Our countrymen, together with the whole world, are conscious of the fact that the principles of Islam have got such a wonderful attraction that no one who has once fully grasped them will ever think of going back to disbelief. As a matter of fact, these people are told

“you are in reality Hindus, and therefore you should come back to your own caste.”

In these circumstances the workers there must have only one object, viz., to preach only the fundamental principles of Islam. I understand that the majority of Muslims concur on the point that all sects in Islam are one on principles and the differences are only minor. Thus, those who are ignorant of the very principles of Islam should be first of all taught only the broad principles of the religion. There is no occasion for the preaching of minor differences in that part of the country and nor are the people educated enough to realise them. One who goes to the affected area, presents the so-called seventy-three sects of Islam, and claims salvation only for his own, is in reality doing a great harm to the cause of Islam, though by mistake he may think that he is doing a service. There are so many millions of other Muslims to take part in the sectarian controversy as to which sect will go to Heaven and which to Hell. If we want to take the advantage of the ignorance of these people who, in the opinion of our enemies are at the gateway of apostasy, we should naturally adopt the same methods as are resorted to by the Arya Samajists or their co-workers to attain their political aspirations. It was for this reason that we instructed our missionaries on the very first day we deputed them to enlighten the people only on the basic principles of Islam.

Secondly: It should be borne in mind that temporary work for a short time will be of little use. No doubt we want some work for a short time, as well, but that is for defence only. Our real object, however, must be to make these people such staunch Muslims that Hindus should never again think of winning them over from Islam. Nay, rather, they should begin to absorb in themselves those of their tribes who have not yet embraced Islam. Therefore, I think we should work in them at least for ten years, and even after that period they should not be left entirely to themselves.

The method of work which we have chalked out for our missionaries is this: Every missionary has got a circle of six or seven villages, with a headquarters where we have opened a school. Thus, he is in a position not to reform only the present generation but also the future generation, which will be brought up in the Islamic atmosphere. At present our Society is spending about 300 rupees on the salaries of the teachers of such schools and the scope of work will be extended in future according to the funds which the Society may get for this purpose. Besides the salaries of the teachers, we have to pay for books and the miscellaneous expenses as well.

Thirdly: These schools will be ordinarily up to the fifth primary and their only advantage is that the future generation will be imbued with the pure Islamic spirit. But a nation cannot live unless it has got a class of Ulama [clerics], theologians, who should make progress in religious research, especially in the present time when we have to preach Islam on the lines of comparative study of religion. To achieve this end, we impart religious education to the promising and intelligent students from the affected area so that after receiving education they may be able not only to defend Islam against its hostile critics but should also do the propaganda work. At present we have got three students and as the funds increase, we have to extend this work as well. The Holy Quran also lays down that every tribe of Muslims should have some people who may acquire religious education in order to guide other Muslims. It says:

وَ مَا کَانَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ لِیَنۡفِرُوۡا کَآفَّۃً ؕ فَلَوۡ لَا نَفَرَ مِنۡ کُلِّ فِرۡقَۃٍ مِّنۡہُمۡ طَآئِفَۃٌ لِّیَتَفَقَّہُوۡا فِی الدِّیۡنِ وَ لِیُنۡذِرُوۡا قَوۡمَہُمۡ اِذَا رَجَعُوۡۤا اِلَیۡہِمۡ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَحۡذَرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۲﴾٪

“And the believers should not go forth all together. Why, then, does not a company from every party from among them go forth that they may apply themselves to obtain understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people, when they come back to them, that they may be cautious?” (The Holy Quran, 9:122).

Fourthly: In the present circumstances it is essential that some missionaries may be reserved for combating the activities of the Samajic propagandist. We have therefore reserved for the work two of our best men who have successfully carried on the propaganda against the Arya Samaj; one is posted in the territory of the Gujars, while the other in that of the Malkanas.

Fifthly: It is also incumbent to meet the present situation to produce religious literature in Hindi to be disseminated in this territory for the propagation of Islam. The Society therefore has undertaken the issuing and free distribution of small tracts on various doctrines.

The representatives of other societies are requested to intimate to us the number of the tracts they require for distribution so that the same may be printed according to requirements.

Sixthly: The Society has also opened a dispensary which is, of course, for the benefit of the public.