Our Berlin Letter

by Fazal Karim (F. K.) Khan Durrani

The Light (Pakistan), 1st March 1925 Issue (Vol. 4, No. 5, p. 1)

We had a very successful lecture at Potsdam [near Berlin, Germany] dur­ing the mail week, at which Maulvi Sadr-ud-Din, the Muslim missionary, rather surpassed himself. He spoke in German, and twice: once for his principal lecture, and the second time to reply to some objections. The Maulvi [religious scholar] can talk in German fairly well, but to meet the requirements of daily intercourse is one thing, and to address a learned congregation on a profound subject like that of Islam is another. Courage, the force of conviction that was in him, or a sheer spirit of bravado, call it what you will, but it did one’s heart good to see him there standing, the usual engaging smile on his face and the sweep of the hand as he explained the beauties of Islam to the audience numbering about sixty ladies and gentlemen.

The lecture had been arranged by a gentleman, Herr Schwaner by name. He used to be a clergyman, but being a man of rather advanced views, and seeing that his own convictions were at variance with the teachings of the Church, he had to resign the ministry, and he organised a separate congregation of his own, of earnest men and women who, like him, could not see their way to agree to the teachings of the Church.

He invited Maulvi Sahib to have what we may call a dialogue with him and members of his congregation. Any previous preparation on the part of Maulvi Sahib was therefore out of the question.

The congregation assembled at 6 p.m. in a hall at Potsdam, and it was then decided that instead of a dialogue, they would rather have a lecture.

The meeting was opened by Herr Schwaner, after whom Maulvi Sadr-ud-Din Sahib spoke for about an hour, during which he touched upon the salient features of Islam. After him, the discussion became general.

An old man (there were many white beards there) with snow-white hair, a judge by profession, spoke with great force, and said, among other things, that Jesus was the son of God. Maulvi Sahib’s reply was so thorough and crushing, rationally as well as from the Bible, that the poor old judge felt quite squashed.  Other speakers followed.

What they had heard and learnt of Islam that night was quite new to them, and they were unanimous in applauding the spirit of it. As to the doctrine of the sonship of Jesus, it was an exploded idea; nobody believed in it and it was silly to dig up old graves, for old graves yielded nothing but rotten bones.

The meeting lasted up to eleven o’clock. As the meeting broke up, I offered some literature which I had carried along with me for the purpose and it was taken by almost everyone with great avidity.

A new community has been opened out to us, and we expect that by the grace of Allah it will lead to some good.