How the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore was founded in 1914

The Light (UK), May 2016 Issue (pp. 5–8)

Maulana Muhammad Ali, writing in 1949, summing up his life’s work in the booklet Jamaat-i Qadian aur har ayk musalmaan kay liay lamha fikariyya (‘Time of reflection for the Qadiani Jamaat and for every Muslim’), begins as follows:

“In 1914 we separated from Qadian and laid the foundations of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam in Lahore. The reason for this was only that we considered the creed of the khalifa [caliph] of Qadian, that all non-Ahmadis are kafir [non-Muslims] and outside the pale of Islam, to be wrong. This belief was also contrary to the clear and open teachings and practice of the Founder of the Movement [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian], and it was also against the express teachings of the Quran and Hadith.

“In the last days of the illness of Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din this issue had become such a topic of division in the Jamaat, that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, having called a separate meeting in the Jamia mosque of Qadian during the annual gathering in December 1913, declared that even if a sword were placed on each side of his neck, he would still not refrain from calling non-Ahmadis as kafir.

“When the news of this reached Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din, the head of the Jamaat [Movement] at the time, he instructed me, while I was reading out to him the notes of the English translation of the Holy Quran, to write a paper on the issue of disbelief and Islam, and he let me know that its basic principle should be that the great leaders of the religion of Islam held that if there were found ninety-nine grounds for declaring a man to be an unbeliever, and one ground on which to include him in the fold of Islam, even then he would not be called kafir but would be called a Muslim. On another occasion, he said directly to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad in a gathering:

‘There are many people who have not understood the issue of disbelief and Islam, even our Mian [i.e., Mirza Mahmud Ahmad] has not understood it.’

“Accordingly, after this I wrote the leaflet and read it out to Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din. Later it was also published.

“After his death, I made efforts to persuade Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to reach an agreement, so that a split in the Jamaat could be prevented. However, he did not accept any of my proposals. One of my proposals was that both sides should present their arguments before a gathering of the leading men of the Jamaat, and whichever side is considered to be right by the majority, its view should be adopted as the belief of the Jamaat, and the community should remain as one. But Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was insistent, in regard to our belief that all those who profess the Kalima [pronouncement of faith] are Muslims, whatever sect they may belong to, that although we could hold this belief within our hearts but we would not be allowed to express it openly. This was impossible for us to accept. Therefore, we few men refused to accept him as khalifa and to enter into his baiat [pledge]. We decided among ourselves that we would continue the work of the propagation of Islam even if, due to prevailing circumstances, we have to leave Qadian to do this work. We had not as yet created a separate Jamaat, and for more than one month after our difference I remained in Qadian in the hope that some solution may be found enabling us to work together. Eventually, seeing the circumstances deteriorate from bad to worse, I left Qadian and went to Lahore around 20th April [1914]. Here, on 2nd May, the foundations of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore were laid.

“We remained resolute on our purpose and laid these new foundations for the propagation of Islam in May 1914 in Lahore. By that time, the mass of members of the Movement had entered into the discipleship of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad in the form of blind obedience to the spiritual leader. Only those remained separate who realised the grave significance of declaring other Muslims as kafir, and they were few. This can be gauged from the fact that when we created the new Anjuman its budget for the first year was only Rs. 7000 whereas before this the budget of the whole Jamaat was Rs. 200,000. We were also bereft of everything, and there was no office nor building. But Allah placed blessings in this work, a brief sketch of which is given below.” (pp. 1–3)

After presenting the brief sketch of work mentioned above, Maulana Muhammad Ali puts the following question to all Muslims:

“Now I invite every Muslim brother in general, and members of the Qadiani Jamaat in particular, to consider whether such great work of the propagation of Islam and the production of so much literature for this work was possible without the help of God, when the Jamaat doing it was so small, possessing no resources, and the work was so magnificent.” (p. 5)

Later in this booklet, Maulana Muhammad Ali describes how he joined the Movement originally:

“All I can say about myself is that if Almighty God had not guided me towards this work, I would, like my fellow-students, have become at best a successful lawyer or judge. But the man who directed me to this work, then set me on this path, and guided me aright is the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. At a time when I had gone into a worldly path, he not only pulled me out of the mire of this world but also created within me a light of faith that has stayed with me throughout this struggle. I declare it openly that if the Imam and Mujaddid [Reformer] of this age had not guided me, I was not capable of doing this work. I received a spark of the light which filled his breast.

“The nineteenth century of the Christian era had drawn to a close. In exactly the year 1900, when I was on my way to Gurdaspur [India] to start my law practice, with all arrangements completed, the premises rented, and my belongings and books moved there, my Guide took me by the hand and said: You have other work to do, I want to start an English periodical for the propagation of Islam to the West, you will edit it. What great fortune that, on hearing this voice, I did not hesitate for a moment as to whether I should start this work or the work for which I had prepared myself.

“This periodical was issued on 1 January 1902 under the title Review of Religions. In 1909, I began the English translation of the Holy Quran. When I look back today, after half a century, I fall before God in gratitude that He gave me such long respite and enabled me to do so much work.

“In reality, this is not my work. It is the work of the one who took my hand and set me on this road. And not only myself, but whoever went to him he put a spark of the fire of the love of God in the heart of that disciple. Just like me, the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din too, by sitting at the feet of the Imam of the age, was blessed with opening the first Islamic mission to Europe at Woking, shedding such light on the teachings of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad that the entire attitude of Europeans towards Islam changed. Not only this, but that Mujaddid also produced thousands of people whose hearts ached with the urge to spread Islam, and who gave their lives and wealth to spread the Divine faith in the world.

“To those people who harbour ill-feeling against the honoured Mujaddid, or who fail to give him the respect and love due to such a servant of the faith, I say: Has there ever been in the world a liar and imposter who filled the hearts of his followers with such an urge for the propagation of Islam, and to whom Almighty Allah gave so much help as to continue fulfilling his dreams and aspirations long after his death?

“In the beginning [before joining the Movement] we did not have the longing that Islam should spread in the world. It was the yearning of the Imam of the age who set us on this work, and set us on it so firmly that the longing which was in his heart was disseminated to thousands of other hearts. He expressed this yearning in his first book after his claim [to be Promised Messiah], Izala Auham, in the following words, at a time when in this land fatwas [religious edicts] of being a kafir were being issued against him from every direction:

‘I would advise that, instead of these preachers, writings of an excellent and high standard should be sent into these countries. If my people help me heart and soul I wish to prepare a commentary of the Quran which should be sent to them after it has been rendered into the English language. I cannot refrain from stating clearly that this is my work, and that definitely no one else can do it as I can, or as he can who is an offshoot of mine and thus is included in me.’ (Izala Auham, p. 773)

“Whatever work of the propagation of Islam we have done up to today, whether it is little or much, it is all the outcome of his inner urge which Allah had strengthened with the power of His own Will. And Allah caused the foundations of the propagation of Islam in English-speaking countries to be laid by the hands of a man who himself was a complete stranger to the English language.”

Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote a lengthy account of the events of his first meeting with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his joining the Ahmadiyya Movement, which was published in a special issue of Paigham Sulh in 1933. In it, he said:

“After passing my B.A. examination in 1894 … I became a professor of mathematics in Islamia College and it was then that I met my dear friend Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din who was also doing his M.A. and was a professor at Islamia College. The Khwaja sahib had already taken the pledge, though I had not. …

“About two years or so after I had befriended Khwaja sahib, he asked me to accompany him to Qadian and meet Hazrat Mirza sahib. So in March 1897, I went to Qadian with him (some other friends were also with us). Our stay of only a few days unfolded a new spiritual world before our eyes. Although the writings of Hazrat Mirza sahib showed his fervour and passion for the advancement of Islam… but what we discovered in his company was that he had absolutely no other interest or occupation, day or night. After the fajr prayer he would sit and talk about the propagation of Islam. A little later when he would go for a walk, all the way the topic would be the same. On his return, while sitting and eating with his friends, the same thing would be under discussion; and similarly when he would sit in the mosque after the maghrib prayer till the isha prayer. The discussions would be about how no other religion can stand against the truth of Islam, how Islam can be propagated in the West, the need to meet the challenge of the Arya Samaj in India, how to create a connection with God, how to derive enjoyment from prayers, and the necessity to make the Holy Quran our guide. In short, this was the only pastime, which is not found in any worldly gatherings. … I stayed there probably for seven or eight days, and in the end through Khwaja sahib I myself expressed the desire to take the pledge of this holy man and entered into his baiat [pledge]. (Paigham Sulh, 7 November 1933, p. 8.)

In a Friday khutba [sermon], Maulana Muhammad Ali declared:

“From the powerful inner sentiments of the Promised Messiah, different people who sat in his company absorbed different aspects. My dead heart was raised to life by his passion for the propagation of Islam. It is one of the rays of the light emanating from his heart that has left an impression on my heart and infused a fervent desire in me to try to spread the Quran in the world.” (Friday Khutba, 16 August 1946. Paigham Sulh, 28 August 1946.)

In a speech on 25 December 1950 at the Lahore Ahmadiyya annual gathering, the last such gathering of his life, the Maulana said:

“It is more than fifty years today that the Imam of the Age selected me and my late friend Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. It was proverbially like dust being chosen by an alchemist. Just as other persons benefitted from his Divine revealed teaching, so did the two of us. My friend left to meet his Maker in 1932, and I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the favours of Allah the Most High upon me in allowing me to serve His religion till now.” (Paigham Sulh, 14 February 1951, pp. 8–9.)

In a speech the next day [26 December 1950], he said:

“I was convinced of the truth of the Promised Messiah from 1891 when I first heard of his claim. I took the baiat (pledge) in 1897, and this was the baiat that made me visit Qadian, if not once a week, then at least once every two weeks. I used to spend the summer vacations in his company. From 1900 till his death I lived with him. He had entrusted all the administrative affairs to me. I lived in a room in his house. There must be very few people who attained as much company and fellowship of the Imam of the Age as I did.” (Paigham Sulh, 28 February 1951, p. 8.)

The following is just one of the opinions that Hazrat Mirza sahib expressed and published about Maulana Muhammad Ali:

“Among the most sincere friends in our community is Maulvi Muhammad Ali, M.A., who, besides his other qualifications, has also just now passed his law examination. For the past few months, at much loss to his own work, he has been staying with me in Qadian to perform a service to religion by translating some of my writings into English. …

“During this period in which he has been with me, I have been observing him, both openly and discreetly, to assess his moral character, observance of religion and goodness of behaviour. So, thanks be to God, that I have found him to be a most excellent man as regards religion and good behaviour in all ways. He is unassuming, modest, of a righteous nature, and pious. He is to be envied for many qualities. … It is obvious that such promising young men possessing these qualities, who are able and honourable, cannot be found by searching.” (Announcement dated 9 August 1899; Majmua Ishtiharat, 1986 edition, v. 3, pp. 137–138, number 206.)