The Ahmadiyya Movement Day
by Muhammad Manzur Ilahi (Joint Secretary, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore)
The Young Islam, 1st October 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 9, Supplement pp. 1–2)
The Ahmadiyya Movement, Lahore and Mr Sheldrake:
An article by Mr Khalid Sheldrake has been published in some Indian papers. The Patna Times in its issue of the 23rd September captions it “Why the Ahmadis Attack Me.” A careful perusal of the article fails to show any single allegation against the Movement that the writer may have lodged, rightly or wrongly.
Of course, Mr Sheldrake complains that he has been ‘styled as their convert,’ but then he has not mentioned where and by whom it has been asserted; on the other hand he vaguely puts it as ‘by papers in India.’
Again, Mr Sheldrake has referred to his connections with the Woking Mosque. We do not know much about the differences between him and the Mosque. Though it is true that the Woking Mission owes its birth to the activities of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Lahore, yet the public knows it that it is being run by an independent trust for some years past.
In any case it seems neither prudent nor fair to involve a whole Movement on the basis of personal grievances. The whole article contains no other sentence which betrays Mr Sheldrake’s mind more clearly as to the object of writing this article than the following:
“The Ahmadiyya Movement in England runs the Woking and the Southfields Mosques and my own organisation, the Western Islamic Association … is the only organisation in Great Britain not controlled by the Ahmadiyya Movement.”
After refuting the allegations which he says have been made against him as to his being an employee of the Government or of the C.I.D., Mr Sheldrake appeals to Muslims of India for funds for restarting his journal, The Minaret, and for other activities.
Mr Sheldrake is a British Muslim and he has come out to India to collect funds for his organization. No one could have any grievance against him on this account. He is welcome, and a telegram of welcome was in fact wired to him from the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore on his first landing in this country.
We are only pained to find that Mr Sheldrake should have thought it necessary to resort to propaganda of reviling others to make his appeal effective. We assure him that though much mud-slinging against their rivals is resorted to by the lower section of this country, yet the sober and saner educated circles do not at all like these methods. It is indeed a matter of great regret that Mr Sheldrake should have been fed by such perverted mentality. No one would be more pleased than ourselves if associations for the dissemination of the true teachings of Islam were started and controlled by Muslims of the West themselves, for that is the only aim for which this Movement stands. The Muslims of India and the East however expect that Westerners accepting Islam would give some example of the civilized and tolerant ways adopted in the West for starting such organizations.
Mr Sheldrake has been constantly in correspondence with us for the last ten years and he knows full well the significance of this Movement as the following extracts from his letters will bear it out. It is to be regretted greatly that a man who was ready to cooperate on friendly terms with the Movement and who, as he himself acknowledged receiving immense help from its literature, should have been misled to behave otherwise.
“With regard to your own Movement and organization I have nothing but unstinted praise to bestow upon it. You have awakened the Muslims to a sense of responsibility, and the translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Mohd. [Muhammad] Ali has been of the greatest possible service. This is why I think your Anjuman has done yeomen service in producing works in English.
I have talked with many Turks, Persians and Egyptians and listened as to their great men and leaders of thought. Judging from the veneration of these men for their master minds I think you are quite justified in holding Mirza Ghulam Ahmed as a similar teacher and in basing your school on his teachings.” — Letter dated 26th May 1926
In another letter, dated the 24th February 1931, Mr Sheldrake writes:
“While on the question of Ceylon I wish to tell you that I have made it quite clear to the officers of our branch society that I am your very good friend and that whilst I am unable to associate myself any longer with the Woking Mission, yet I remain on the best of terms with the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam of Lahore.”
Again, he wrote:
“As you know, my attitude towards you and the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam is that of complete friendliness.” — Letter dated 26th June 1929
“I feel personally that a properly organized Islamic Mission controlled by your Anjuman from Lahore—could accomplish wonders. I would work shoulder to shoulder with men whom you would send.” — [Letter] dated 2nd October 1929
“As I told you, I could cooperate with any mission run by your Anjuman with your own Advisory Committee in Lahore.” — [Letter] dated 11th December 1929
Not only did Mr Sheldrake offer his cooperation with the Ahmadiyya Movement, Lahore, as quoted above, but he has been receiving help from the Anjuman in the form of literature, as his own testimony shows. In a letter dated the 2nd October 1929, he says:
“Here I come to the question of literature. You cannot imagine how you have helped us. We have no funds for publication and I can assure you that your booklets have been of immense service.”
It may be seen that a man who has been for so long on friendly terms with the Movement and who has acknowledged to have derived help from it should now have nothing to say about it but abuse. Mr Sheldrake of England and Mr Sheldrake of India indeed appear to be two different personalities from the reading of his above quotations. It would indeed be interesting to know the cause of this change.
Mr M. I. Kajee writes:
“Some time ago several of my friends and I initiated a movement out here with the object of forming a society on non-sectarian lines for the propagation of Islam in this sub-continent.
We encountered great difficulties in our object. The bigoted mullahs particularly, and a half-caste Arab named Abdul-Hamid Baghdadi, who happened to be here from India and who claimed to be a descendant of our beloved Prophet through Sheikh Abdul Kadir of Baghdad, raised a storm among the uneducated and denounced us all as Qadianis because he said we believed the late Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib to be a Prophet.
We regret that through lack of support the society has not been able to do anything so far. The formidable opposition that we have encountered has made all our attempts so far abortive.
The society is named the African Muslim Society, and I remember receiving a letter from your Anjuman after its inception in which you gave us all encouragement, even to the extent of inviting us to affiliate with your institution.
Only about thirty members have so far been enrolled, and since all of us are engaged in various occupations no one finds time to do something for the furtherance of the society’s objects.
Our first object was, still is, and shall be, to present Islam to the natives of this country. And with this view we have attempted to have a translation made of that small tract called The Muslim Prayer in the Zulu language by a Zulu convert to Islam named Rashid Tahier King. The book with all its defects is in the press and we hope to be able to bring out the first edition soon for free distribution among the Zulu people.
There is a very wide field for the propagation of our faith among the teeming millions of the Bantu race, but unless we have a preacher of their own race, who must first be thoroughly well-versed in his knowledge of Islam through Arabic sources, and who must at the same time possess a sound knowledge of English and of his own language, I do not think we shall be able to make much progress in our aims.
I have on two or three occasions intimated to my colleagues that Mr King be sent over to India for a period of three or four years and be trained there under Maulana Muhammad Ali. This suggestion has found favour with some although others are averse to it fearing that it would be a sectarian move in as much as the object of the Ahmadiyya Movement is concerned. Anyhow, personally I feel that much good will come out if Mr King, his wife and two children were invited by your Anjuman to Lahore, where they all may be trained for missionary work. The man is intelligent; so are his wife and the lads. He may be of great assistance to you and your Anjuman for the training of Muslim lads in the Zulu language, thus in future to be in the happy position of supplying its own needs at home for translating small booklets in Zulu.
The cost of sending these people out to India will be about £75, and if your Anjuman could undertake to look after them and bear the expenses of training and provide them with shelter and food during their stay in India, I think I will be able to raise the money required for their passage to India and guarantee the Government adequate security for their return passage to this country in the event of their becoming a public charge in India, without which passports will not be granted.
I hope that your Anjuman will manifest sufficient interest in this direction, for I think that the field for the propagation of Islam out here among the Black people is as important as that of the re-conquest of Spain.
Pir Shamshuddin, one of your agents who was out here about four years ago and to whom I am personally well-known, will bear me out on this point.
In the month of October 1932, I was in your city when I toured India on my way from Mecca, through Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Iraq, but unfortunately during my sojourn in Lahore where I was the guest of my late friend Khawaja Kamaluddin, who was then on his deathbed, I was unable to meet the Maulana who was then away on holiday on the hill stations.
It is my intention, if God pleases, to visit India soon on medical advice, for I am suffering from angina pectoris, a very painful heart disease, and it is thought that a change there may do me some good. If this eventuates then. I shall, Insha Allah, not fail to visit your city.
In 1931 when on my way to the Holy City, I think I wrote you from on board the vessel Caffaro, by which I voyaged. It was about the sectarian nature of the Ahmadiyya Movement, but I do not remember having received any answer, although I gave therein my address in Mecca.
Awaiting your early reply and thanking you in anticipation.”
Reply by the Editor, The Young Islam:
The Ahmadiyya Movement is no sectarian schism in Islam. It is a movement for the regeneration of Islam in its original purity and simplicity. The Movement appears to be a separate body because the members have taken on themselves the function of propagation of Islam to the exclusion of all other activities while the majority of Muslims are inattentive to this need.
The Movement was started by the late Mirza Ghulam Ahmad under direct Divine Commandment. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claims to be a Divinely inspired person in common with so many other Muslim saints appearing from time to time, and disclaims prophethood in the strongest possible terms.