The Great Reformer (Vol. 2) [‘Mujaddid-e-Azam’]
Biography of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
by Dr. Basharat Ahmad
Translated by Akram Ahmad
Chapter 42: The Journey to Lahore, and the ‘Lahore Lecture’
The Lahore branch of the Ahmadiyya Organization had been repeatedly requesting Hazrat Mirza to visit Lahore to fulfill the obligation of the propagation of Islam in their city. Hazrat Mirza had accepted their invitation.
At the time, Hazrat Mirza was residing with his family in Gurdaspur where he had moved to conveniently pursue the litigation with Maulvi Karam-ud-Din. At the court hearing of August 18, 1904, the next date for hearing was fixed for September 5, 1904, and Hazrat Mirza felt that the interim period was long enough to make the promised visit to Lahore.
The Ahmadiyya Organization in Lahore was informed accordingly, and Hazrat Mirza along with his family, arrived in Lahore by train on August 20, 1904. Accompanying him were Maulana Nur-ud-Din, Maulvi Abdul Karim, Maulvi Muhammad Ali, and Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan. One of the scheduled stops of the train on the way was at Amritsar where Hazrat Mirza was greeted on the railway station by a large multitude comprising of members of the Ahmadiyya organization and other gentry desirous of seeing and meeting him.
When the train arrived in Lahore, the platform of the railway station was jam packed – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Englishmen, people from all walks of life were present at the station. The residence of Miraj-ud-Din Umar, located outside the Delhi Gate, was selected for lodging Hazrat Mirza. Since this residence was not large enough to accommodate all the guests, Mian Chiragh-ud-Din’s house, Mubarak Manzil, was also utilized.
Sermons on a Variety of Subjects:
The following day which was August 21, 1904, Hazrat Mirza made a public appearance at the time of the Zuhr (afternoon) prayer and after offering the prayer in congregation, was prevailed upon by the congregants to stay longer. Accordingly, Hazrat Mirza took his seat on a chair. Mian Feroze-ud-Din stepped forward and paid his respects. Hazrat Mirza then addressed the audience and gave them some advice, which was truly insightful and full of wisdom. His talk was published in newspapers, and can be viewed in archived newspapers of the time.
There was a continuous stream of visitors who came to meet Hazrat Mirza looking for spiritual truths, and Hazrat Mirza’s didactic discourses to them proceeded almost non-stop. Many people took the pledge and joined his organization. On August 28, 1904, Hazrat Mirza delivered a speech at 7 A.M. before an audience of about fifteen hundred people. The speech discussed the subjects of penitence, faith, and the philosophy of tribulations that beset man. The audience gleaned soul-enrapturing insights from his profound speech.
Maulana Nur-ud-Din led the Friday congregational prayer on September 2, 1904. He delivered a highly refined and illuminating sermon on the chapter of the Holy Quran titled Al-Kauthar (Ch:108 – The Abundance of Good). Following the Friday congregation, Hazrat Mirza delivered another speech at the insistence of the audience. This speech served to enhance the knowledge and strengthen the faith of the listeners.
The Lahore Lecture:
On September 3, 1904, Hazrat Mirza’s now famous lecture titled, “Islam and the Other Religions of This Country,” was read out to the public in Lahore. Posters announcing this lecture had been affixed throughout the city of Lahore many days before the event, and adherents of all religions and members of all communities were invited to attend. Those responsible for publicizing the lecture included Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Maulvi Muhammad Ali, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah, Mian Miraj-ud-Din Umar, and others.
The lecture was scheduled for 6:30 A.M. in the theatre behind the mausoleum of the saint Data Gunj Baksh. On the appointed day, a sea of humanity gathered at the venue to listen to the lecture despite the best efforts of the opposing clerics who had set up stations on the way to the theater, and kept exhorting the passing Muslims at the top of their voices not to attend the lecture.
Interestingly, one cleric climbed a tree — a species known locally as taali — and started announcing at the top of his voice from his perched position that no Muslim should attend the lecture as the mere act of attending the lecture would automatically annul the attendee’s marriage. Afterwards, this cleric came to be known popularly in Lahore as maulvi taali. However, such an irresistible attraction prevailed among the populace that a stream of humanity kept moving towards the venue like the inexorable march of a river towards the sea. People from all creeds and communities — Hindu, Arya, Sikh, Brahmo Samaj, Dev Samaj and Muslims were present in large numbers in the audience. Only the Christian community was thinly represented. The security arrangements were excellent. Otherwise, in this sea of humanity, there was a real danger of people getting crushed or suffocating to death.
Hazrat Mirza’s written lecture was read out to the audience by Maulvi Abdul Karim. His declamation held a certain majestic quality about it — the magnificent voice and the eloquence combined to create a magical effect.
The lecture itself was divided into two parts. The first part reviewed Islam and the other religions of India. It was, as usual, well-reasoned and highly rational. The lecture began with the observation that a weak or non-existent belief in God was the main reason why humanity had strayed from the path of righteousness, and become embroiled in sin — the paramount need therefore was to restore belief in God. Next, Hazrat Mirza presented Islam as the only living religion in which signs of the Living God were constantly being manifested.
The lecture is available in published form and is worth reading. In the second part of the lecture, Hazrat Mirza presented his claims, along with supporting arguments. The entire lecture was very effective. But the audience insisted that they wanted to hear Hazrat Mirza in person as well. In deference to this, Hazrat Mirza stood up and started addressing the audience, but a large section of the audience had started chatting and the noise level drowned out Hazrat Mirza’s voice. Observing this, Maulvi Abdul Karim rose and began reciting the Holy Quran, selecting for his recitation the last section from the chapter titled Al-Hashr (Ch:59, The Banishment). As usual, Maulvi Abdul Karim’s voice was so beautiful and mellifluous that the audience was enchanted and a pin drop silence ensued. Immediately following that, Hazrat Mirza resumed his address. First, he thanked the audience for listening to the lecture attentively and with a cool mind. He then urged them to ponder over the contents of the lecture, and requested the adherents of all creeds not to let their religious differences deteriorate into mutual animosity and cause for harm to each other. God’s disposition, he said, was magnanimous; He did not hurl stones even on those who may curse him profusely. Similarly, a true adherent of a religion cannot possibly be narrow-minded. A narrow-minded person, regardless of whether he was a Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, vilifies other revered religious personalities. He added:
“I do not stop you from expressing the differences between religions.
“By all means you may discuss the differences in good faith, but it should not be tinged with prejudice and malice.”
The public of Lahore was very favorably impressed by the lecture, and this caused great anguish to Hazrat Mirza’s opposing clerics and to the enemies of Islam. Hazrat Mirza returned to Gurdaspur on September 4, 1904.