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The Great Mujahid: Life Story of Maulana Muhammad Ali

Part 3: Life at Lahore,
From April 1914 to October 1951.

4b. From 1924 to 1937 (2nd of 2 sections)
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Part 3
Life at Lahore
April 1914 to October 1951

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4b. From 1924 to 1937

(Second of two sections)

Purchase of land in Okara

In 1930 an important addition was made to the properties of the Anjuman by purchasing forty one ‘squares’ (1025 acres) of canal-irrigated land near Okara. Maulana Muhammad Ali was always considering ways to improve the Anjuman’s financial position and create permanent sources of income. It was due to his personal efforts and relations with government officials that the Anjuman was able to acquire such valuable land. A few years later land was also purchased in the Sindh and Karachi. History bears witness that these lands were a source of the greatest financial strength for the Anjuman. In the annual gathering of December 1930 Maulana Muhammad Ali appealed for funds to meet the expenses of these lands and asked every member to contribute ten days’ income. He had lists of names of members prepared and assigned contributions to the names. The members contributed the amounts assigned to them and thus was this task accomplished.

Maulana Aziz Bakhsh

It has been mentioned that Maulana Aziz Bakhsh and Maulana Muhammad Ali went to school together and till 1897 they lived together in Lahore. Afterwards Maulana Muhammad Ali went to Qadian and Maulana Aziz Bakhsh joined government service and went to Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang and Amritsar in the course of his employment. In 1930 Maulana Aziz Bakhsh retired and took a half of his pension fund as a lump sum with the intention of developing his land in his ancestral village of Murar and settling there. However, when Maulana Muhammad Ali drew his attention to doing religious work he agreed without hesitation and came to settle in Ahmadiyya Buildings, Lahore. From then on he worked in various capacities in the Anjuman and had the distinction of regularly leading the five daily congregational prayers in the Ahmadiya Buildings mosque.

Founding of the Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust

Up to the end of 1929, the affairs of the Woking Muslim Mission had been under the control of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore. After that the mission began to operate as an independent Trust. A summary of these circumstances was published by Maulana Muhammad Ali in the issue of Paigham Sulh for 27 January 1931 under the title Woking Mission aur Anjuman kay Ta‘allaqat (‘The relationship between the Woking Mission and the Anjuman’), some extracts from which are given below:

“At the end of 1929 the connection between the Woking Mission and the Anjuman was severed. The view of the Khwaja [Kamal-ud-Din] sahib was that the mission should be managed by an independent committee having no connection with the Anjuman but the Anjuman believed that some connection must be maintained because the Anjuman, acting as a body, had made such great financial sacrifices for the mission which no other organisation could possibly have done. For more or less ten years the affairs of the mission were in the hands of the Anjuman, and although during this period there had been differences of opinion on some matters between the Khwaja sahib and the Anjuman it did not harm the work in any way. Finally, in December 1928, to settle the differences the Khwaja sahib gave it in writing to the Anjuman that in future he would abide by all the decisions of the Anjuman. For these reasons the Anjuman did not want to sever its link with the mission, though it agreed that other people interested in the propagation of Islam can be included in the administration of the mission. When the affairs of the mission were in the hands of the Anjuman, the Khwaja sahib toured Africa and collected about Rs. 40,000, with which he set up a separate Literary Trust. In April 1929, he thought of amalgamating the Woking Muslim Mission and the Literary Trust, creating a body having eight trustees from the Anjuman and four non-Ahmadi trustees. He believed that by including non-Ahmadis the prospects of continued monetary help from various Muslim states in India would be better. I supported this proposal but it had to be approved by the General Council of the Anjuman. In October the General Council decided not to approve it, but after some discussion it imposed the condition that the eight Ahmadi trustees would be appointed by the Anjuman and regarded as its representatives, and the rest of the proposal would be accepted as it was. The Khwaja sahib did not agree with this. During the annual gathering of 1929 the matter was again put forward twice. The first time the General Council insisted that they would abide by the Khwaja sahib’s writing of December 1928 according to which the mission was to be handed back to the Anjuman. But on further urging by the Khwaja sahib, and after reading his statement published in the Madina newspaper, it was decided that the Khwaja sahib would be given freedom to proceed as he wishes. The decision was as follows:
‘The Khwaja sahib has not accepted this Council’s decision of 28 October 1929, and has declared that if his own proposals are not accepted he will arrange to run the mission on his own responsibility, and the Council cannot accept his proposals. As this will lead to further disagreements, therefore to put an end to all such disputes this Council allows the Khwaja sahib to manage the affairs of the mission as he thinks fit.’
On this the Khwaja sahib amalgamated the Mission and the Literary Trust and appointed some trustees including some Ahmadis among them but they were not representatives of the Anjuman.”

This did not mean that relations between the Woking Mission and the Anjuman were severed. Even after this, the Anjuman continued to supply the Woking Muslim Mission with missionaries to run the work of the mission, and the literature published by the Anjuman kept on being distributed from the mission. Also, at times of financial difficulty for the mission the Anjuman raised funds for it through special appeals. As will be seen later, the mission was again brought under the charge of the Anjuman in 1948.

Death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

On 28 December 1932 Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din died at Lahore. The Khwaja sahib was born in 1870. He passed his law examination in 1897 and practised as a lawyer in Peshawar till 1903. He had already taken the bai‘at at the hand of the Promised Messiah in 1893, and had met Maulana Muhammad Ali while serving in Islamia College, Lahore. It has been mentioned before that the Khwaja sahib represented Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in several of his court cases, so much so that on one occasion he gave up his flourishing practice and left his family in circumstances of much hardship in Peshawar to go and serve the Promised Messiah. It was due to the spiritual nurture he received from Hazrat Mirza sahib that he was charged with the passion and zeal to propagate Islam in Europe. In 1903 he came to live in Lahore where Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Shaikh Rahmatullah also resided. These four servants of the Promised Messiah were among the fourteen members of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Qadian. From 1904 to 1911 the Khwaja sahib toured various cities in India giving lectures whose fame spread all over the country. According to a revelation of the Promised Messiah God had blessed him with husn-i bayan or eloquence. His lectures used to be so captivating that the audience, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, would be entranced. In 1912 he went to England for the first time for the propagation of Islam where he founded the Woking Muslim Mission in 1913 and issued the magazine originally entitled Islamic Review and Muslim India. Till 1924 he toured different parts of Africa, Europe and India and performed the pilgrimage to Makka twice, first in 1915 and the second time along with Lord Headley in 1923.

Since 1928 he had not been keeping good health, and after four years of illness he died in Lahore in 1932. To do full justice to his services and achievements requires a book itself. He was, in fact, the founder of the propagation of Islam in England. Through him many native inhabitants of Britain accepted Islam including dignitaries such as Lord Headley, Sir Abdullah Archibald Hamilton, Sir Umar Hubert Rankin and Mr. Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall etc.

In his Friday khutba on 30 December 1932 speaking of the Khwaja sahib’s death, Maulana Muhammad Ali dwelt in detail on his magnificent services and the tremendous strength of his faith. Regarding his personal connection and friendship with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din he said:

“Those men whose names shine in heaven do not lose their radiance when they are buried under the earth. My personal connection with him went back a long way. I met him for the first time in 1894 when both of us were teaching at Islamia College, though he had taken his B.A. examination a year before me. He was the cause of my taking the bai‘at, though I had known about Hazrat Mirza sahib previously and had loved him since that time and also used to affirm his claim. Right from the beginning when I read his book Izala Auham I became convinced of the truth of the Promised Messiah. Both my brother Maulvi Aziz Bakhsh and I are witness to it because both of us were fellow students and shared the same thinking. The third witness was our revered father. However, it was this honoured friend of mine, of whom I am speaking now, who led me to take the bai‘at of Hazrat Mirza sahib. He had already taken the bai‘at and in 1897 it was he who took me to Qadian where I entered into the bai‘at. I wish to declare the fact that the bai‘at brought a great inner transformation in me. No doubt I used to say my prayers regularly from childhood, and due to my father I was much under the influence of religion, but when I took the bai‘at of the Promised Messiah I noticed a tremendous change within me from what I was like before. The Khwaja sahib was my guide in this respect. Had I remained as I was before, I would not have had the opportunity to serve the faith and would have been deprived of the light I received. So I think that my honoured friend played a major part in my receiving the spiritual good that I was blessed with. This happened in 1897. Since then we became even closer and by the grace of God this relationship was maintained till the end.”

(Paigham Sulh, 27 January 1933)

Conversion of Mr. Gauba to Islam

On 1 March 1933 the eldest son of a prominent Hindu aristocrat Lala Harkishen Lal Gauba accepted Islam along with his wife at the hand of Maulana Muhammad Ali and he was given the Islamic name Khalid Latif Gauba. This ceremony, held at Ahmadiyya Buildings, was also attended by the leading non-Ahmadi Muslim figures of Lahore including Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Nawab Mamdot, Malik Feroz Khan Noon and Maulana Syed Mumtaz Ali. In those days Baron Umar was also in Lahore during his tour of India. On this occasion a group photograph was taken showing Mr. Khalid Latif Gauba and Baron Umar with senior members of the Jama‘at.

Opening of the Fiji Islands Muslim Mission

In April 1934 at the request of the Muslim inhabitants of these Islands the Anjuman opened a Muslim Mission in Fiji and Mirza Muzaffar Baig Sati was sent there. In these Islands both the Hindua Arya Samaj and the Christian missionaries were vigorously active and the Muslims were facing defeat and degradation in the religious arena. After the arrival of Mirza Muzaffar Baig Sati there was an entire transformation within a short time and everywhere both the Arya Samaj and the Christian missionaries began to be vanquished and defeated. Besides this, the Mirza sahib’s efforts led to the formation of a very strong and active branch of this Jama‘at and the educated Muslims of Fiji welcomed this Movement. The books written by Maulana Muhammad Ali spread there abundantly and were translated into the local languages.

Opposition to the Ahmadiyya Community in its homeland

Due to the influence of the narrow-minded and bigoted Mullas, some Muslims were always opposed to the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at, and in particular there was much prejudice against it among the general Muslim public of the Punjab. Nonetheless the educated, reasonable and moderate people in the Punjab as well as in India as a whole viewed this Jama‘at very favourably because of the services to the cause of Islam rendered by Maulana Muhammad Ali and the Jama‘at. Maulana Muhammad Ali also had personal friendly relations with some high government officers, public figures and intellectuals among the Muslims of the Punjab, and these good relations never changed. These people often attended the meetings and special functions of the Anjuman and made financial donations for various projects. From time to time Maulana Muhammad Ali also participated in meetings of the Anjuman Himayat-i Islam and the Anjuman Islamia, delivering speeches in which he put forward to the general Muslim community the goal of the propagation of Islam. Besides Maulana Muhammad Ali, other leading figures of the Jama‘at such as Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig and Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah were also greatly respected by the enlightened sections of the Muslim community for their high moral qualities and services to Islam.

In the beginning of 1932 some Mullahs along with some political and semi-religious political leaders started a campaign against the Ahmadiyya Movement. This campaign gained strength and a storm of abuse, false allegations and declarations of being kafir was raised against the Ahmadis. The malicious Ahrar political party came into being, and the strategy began to be employed of gaining popularity among the Muslim masses by opposing the Ahmadiyya Movement and denouncing Ahmadis as kafir. Most of the Lahore Muslim press also jumped on this bandwagon. Syed Habib, editor of Siyasat, wrote a long series of articles against Hazrat Mirza sahib and the Ahmadiyya Movement.{footnote 1}

To counteract this hostile propaganda Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote many pamphlets in Lahore and Dalhousie during 1932 and 1933, in which he clarified the beliefs of the Jama‘at in detail for the benefit of the general Muslim public and drew their attention towards its works. However, where the motive is to win political popularity and the means used are to incite the religious passions of the uninformed public, no one listens to reason or uses their sense. Thus this storm of opposition continued and later on fizzled out in its own time. Its instigators, who strutted and swaggered arrogantly on the political and religious stage in the Punjab, met with extinction by themselves but they could do no harm to the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at whose work continued to progress. There is no doubt that if Mirza Mahmud Ahmad and his community had let the Promised Messiah remain at his real and true status and not exaggerated his position, this wave of opposition would never have gained any strength and Ahmadiyyat would have made progress by leaps and bounds. However, it was Divinely ordained that a resemblance between the Israelite Messiah and the Promised Muslim Messiah be fulfilled in this respect also that just as the extreme followers of Jesus raised him from the position of prophet to the status of the Son of God, so did the extreme followers of the Promised Messiah raise him from the position of mujaddid to the status of a prophet. It is obvious that both the groups went astray.

Death of Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig

On 11 February 1936 Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig died. He was born in 1872, and when he was just twenty years old and a student of the Medical College, Lahore, he took the bai‘at of the Promised Messiah in 1892. He and his younger brother Ayub Baig were the first among young people to take the bai‘at and they were deeply loved by the Promised Messiah because of their devoutness and religious virtues. When the Promised Messiah established the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian in 1906 he appointed Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig as one of its members. From 1897 he was in government service, first in Lahore and then elsewhere. In 1914 or 1915 when he was teaching in the Medical College, Lahore, he received orders transferring him away from Lahore to a very prestigious post. He resigned his job to remain in Lahore for the sake of the Anjuman and went into private medical practice. The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam was created in a state of the utmost lack of means and the Doctor sahib was its first General Secretary. The offices of the Anjuman were in the beginning located in his property. Not only due to his medical skills but also because of his uprightness, saintliness, integrity, philanthropy and service of humanity he was a highly respected and distinguished public figure. The general non-Ahmadi Muslim associations, societies and bodies considered it a matter of honour and pride to have him as their member. Having been the first General Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam he later became its Vice-President. He was always in the forefront in participating in the work of the Jama‘at, making the greatest financial sacrifices for the Anjuman. In 1920 when Maulana Muhammad Ali appealed to raise Rs. 100,000 for the Anjuman, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig donated those of his properties in which the Anjuman’s offices were housed.

In Lahore, in addition to the work of the propagation of Islam, he took upon himself the duty of serving the elders of the Jama‘at. Prior to this, he had served and treated the Promised Messiah devotedly during his final illness in Ahmadiyya Buildings, and that Divine elect breathed his last in his hands. When Maulana Nur-ud-Din, during his period of leadership of the Movement, had a fall while riding his horse Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig kept on going to Qadian again and again to treat him, and when his final illness became prolonged he stayed in Qadian looking after him day and night. Likewise when Maulvi Abdul Karim, during the life of the Promised Messiah, developed a carbuncle, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig took leave from his job and came to stay in Qadian for his treatment. This devotion made a deep impression on the Promised Messiah. His sympathy and attention was, however, not only for great men but his kindness extended to the most ordinary and the poorest of people and patients, belonging to every creed, race and community.

His death was an incalculable loss to the Jama‘at and a great shock to everyone. On that occasion Maulana Muhammad Ali paying tribute to his qualities and services said in his Friday khutba:

“Our connection went back a very long way. In the Anjuman of Qadian these five of us had a unique closeness. Three of us have already passed away: Shaikh Rahmatullah sahib, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din sahib and Dr. Mirza sahib have faithfully completed their obligations. There remain two who are waiting,{footnote 2} and Allah will deal with them as He wills…

When the foundations of the Anjuman in Lahore were laid, there was no building, no office, and no missionary. The sacrifices that the Doctor sahib made in those days, it is entirely beyond my power to describe them; only Allah knows them. Then, in those circumstances, when he was being transferred from Lahore in the course of his employment he resigned from his job, fulfilling his pledge of giving priority to religion over worldly gain. The promise he had given at the hand of the man sent by God, he abided by that at the time of need. He dedicated himself to the service of the faith. He donated his valuable property for the offices of the Anjuman, and till today the offices are in that building.”

Appeal to make Wills

Among the major plans that Maulana Muhammad Ali put before the Jama‘at to carry into action, one was the making of wills which he initiated at the annual gathering of 1936. He said that while we had embraced the Promised Messiah’s Al-Wasiyyat in the ideological sense, we had paid little attention to putting it into practice. One objective of Al-Wasiyyat was that just as we spend some of our money in the service of the faith during our lifetime, similarly after our death some of our property and money should go to the same cause. The Promised Messiah’s exhortation for making wills was not for the purpose of getting a plot in the Bahishti Maqbara of Qadian. To think in that way would be just to take his words literally. God’s paradise is very extensive, and the Promised Messiah instructed in Al-Wasiyyat that to inherit that Garden one must continue the striving to serve the faith even after death. Maulana Muhammad Ali further said that the Holy Quran has made it obligatory for everyone leaving behind any money or property to make a bequest, and what is meant is a bequest for charitable and religious endowments, and not for near and dear ones. According to the Shariah a maximum of one-third of one’s wealth can be willed for such purposes. The Promised Messiah instructed that at least one tenth should be willed, and he expressed his desire that the funds so collected should be spent on the propagation of Islam and spreading translations of the Holy Quran in different languages of the world.

From 1936 onwards the campaign to urge the making of wills continued every year and members of the Jama‘at took part in it. On the occasion of the silver jubilee of the Anjuman a large part of the jubilee fund was raised by this means.

Some other events

On 10 February 1937 a deputation of the Ulama of Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt, then touring India, was invited to Ahmadiyya Buildings by Maulana Muhammad Ali. He discussed with them in detail the claims of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the death of Jesus, the teaching that a Muslim cannot be dubbed as a kafir, the concept of jihad etc., and answered their objections. He also explained in full the work being done by the Anjuman and presented to them some of the literature published. In March 1937, the Mufti of Islam of Poland also came to see Maulana Muhammad Ali.

Payment of royalty, 1924–1937

It has been mentioned before that Maulana Muhammad Ali, for five years after his migration from Qadian and the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, in 1914, had taken no stipend or salary from the Anjuman nor any share of the sale price of his books. It was from July 1919 that it was decided by the Anjuman to pay him royalty on his books. Further events that took place in this connection until 1937 are as follows.

In May 1925 Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, considering the rate of the royalty to be inadequate, presented the following proposal to the Anjuman about royalty and copyright:

No. 115, dated 16 May 1925. The Khwaja sahib has made the following submission, arguing that the rate of royalty paid to Hazrat Amir (Head of the community) is far from adequate and should be increased. It is presented for the consideration of the meeting:

To Mr. Secretary,
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

While going through the accounts of the Holy Quran I have discovered that Hazrat Amir is paid, as author’s royalty, one-sixth of the sale price of the Holy Quran and other books written by him. I cannot understand on what basis this sum was approved. If I were to take royalty for my own writings I would not be satisfied even with one-third, despite the fact that my scholarship bears no comparison with that of Hazrat Amir. Also considering that the Anjuman is making such large profits on his books, I believe that he should be paid at least one-third, and the loss he has suffered throughout this period should be compensated at least for the last two years. Kindly place this proposal on the agenda as soon as possible for the approval of the Management Committee. I also suggest that when this matter is submitted to the Management Committee, Hazrat Amir should not express any opinion and the Committee should be presided over by the Vice-President.

(Signed) Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din    7 May 1925.

Decision: From 1st October 1924 royalty on all books by Hazrat Amir should be paid at one-quarter, that is 25%.

(Secretary, Muhammad Husain Shah).

Consequently, this decision was put into practice. Later on, at the occasion of the annual gathering in 1928, Maulana Ghulam Hasan of Peshawar put the proposal to the General Council of the Anjuman, on 25 December, that Maulana Muhammad Ali should be paid an appointed sum periodically as salary and the paying of royalty be discontinued. But it was unanimously decided that the previous arrangement of paying royalty should continue. Then in 1937 Maulana Ghulam Hasan wrote a long letter full of objections which he insisted on presenting before the General Council. It was mentioned in the letter that for Maulana Muhammad Ali to take royalty on the English translation of the Holy Quran was unethical. At the meeting of the General Council held on 30 October 1937 his following statement was presented:

“The English translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali, which he did on payment as a paid employee of the Anjuman, has been made his property by the irregular action of a few persons, which was not justified in any way. … For the Maulana to accept royalty is contrary to morality.”

Upon this the decision taken was as follows:

“The previous decisions of the Management Committee and the 1928 decision of the General Council according to Resolution No. 130, dated 25 December 1928, which was passed unanimously in Maulana Ghulam Hasan’s presence, that the arrangement of paying royalty should be maintained, were put before the General Council. It is clear from these decisions that the Management Committee of the Anjuman placed this matter on the agenda in a regular way and used its valid authority to decide about the royalty and the General Council unanimously accepted the decision as being right. So Maulvi Ghulam Hasan’s objection that this was done by a few persons who had no authority is not correct. Irrespective of the previous decisions, this meeting of the General Council has again considered the matter and after detailed discussion reached the unanimous conclusion that the previous decisions were right and that the Maulvi sahib’s attack on the integrity of Hazrat Amir is regrettable.”

It seems appropriate to include here some extracts from a letter by Maulana Muhammad Ali which he wrote to Maulana Ghulam Hasan in answer to his objections, because they clarify his own views about the royalty. This letter was published in Paigham Sulh dated 13 April 1940 when Maulvi Ghulam Hasan had gone to Qadian and taken the pledge there and Maulana Muhammad Ali was writing a series of articles in this connection. Maulana Muhammad Ali writes:

“If the objection is regarding my receiving royalty then I am proud that for my sustenance I am not robbing people by taking their money in the form of gifts and offerings. I earn by my own work to provide for my family. Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din earned his living by practising medicine and I earn it by writing. My mentor and master the Promised Messiah used to write as well, and an ignorant group is still complaining that he took thousands of Rupees for the printing of Barahin Ahmadiyya and used it himself. If another group is destined to object to my right to royalty then it is not my fault.

What is royalty? It is remuneration for my labour which provides my livelihood. The community would have had to provide it one way or another. I never asked for it myself. I worked for five years without taking any pay from the Anjuman. There was no royalty at that time. Then the Anjuman itself made this proposal. After ten or eleven years when you or one or two other people raised objections to it the General Council of the Anjuman approved it not once but three times and the last time on your objection unanimously declared it to be right and the objection to be wrong.”

Then he writes about the English translation of the Holy Quran:

“Your view that I was paid by the Qadian Anjuman to do this work is also not correct because:

Firstly, I cleared this matter at the very time when I left Qadian and the people in Qadian also took legal advice of their own about this matter.

Secondly, in Qadian I worked on it only for four years, from 1910 to February 1914. After that I worked on it from 1914 to 1917, about another four years, when I was not receiving any pay from them.

Thirdly, when the translation was completed, before printing it I sent a registered letter to the Qadian people asking them, if they so wished, to share in the cost of printing and thus receive a return for the money they had spent in the first four years and take a number of copies according to their share. However, as I am the author they would not be entitled to make any changes in the work. But they rejected the offer and themselves discarded any moral entitlement they may have had.

Fourthly, the first edition of the translation of the Holy Quran was sold out in four years, and for the first two years, when much more than a half of the total copies were sold, I did not take any royalty on the sale. Even if half of the translation work was done by receiving salary when I worked for the Qadian Anjuman, I did not get any royalty on a half of the copies sold. All those proceeds, and much more, went to the Lahore Anjuman’s funds, so even that objection does not stand that for a part of the time when I was translating I received remuneration.

Fifthly, from 1919 till 1925 the Anjuman paid royalty at a different rate for the translation of the Holy Quran from the rate for other books, being one sixth for the former and one fourth for the latter.”

In this same article, which he wrote addressing Maulana Ghulam Hasan Khan, he included some extracts from a letter by Maulana Ghulam Hasan Khan which he had written him in September 1930. In this letter, after considering the above facts, Maulana Ghulam Hasan Khan had written:

“I had only mentioned the English translation of the Holy Quran to the Mirza sahib [Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig], not any other book. I had also pointed out that I was not raising it as an objection myself but only wanted clarification of the objection raised by some other people. I have never had any objection to your right to royalty on books written by you. … I could only see an objection about one thing, and that is the English translation of the Holy Quran. The explanation you have now offered and the events that you have described show that your position in this matter also is somewhat reasonable. I was not aware of these events and there may also be many others who do not know about them.”

The readers can judge how, after having written such a letter in 1930, it can be right to repeat the same criticism later.

In any case, as has been mentioned, Maulana Ghulam Hasan Khan assumed silence after the General Council’s repeated unanimous decisions. However, some other people took up the same objections. It is regrettable that, despite the Anjuman’s clear decisions, this straight forward matter was used as an easy means to attack Maulana Muhammad Ali through underhand propaganda and constant rumour. It was presented as if Maulana Muhammad Ali had wrongfully appropriated money from the Anjuman. The whole issue was clear and simple. Maulana Muhammad Ali did not agree to accept any salary or stipend from the Anjuman but as an author who was giving his writings to the Anjuman for publication and sale he received a certain share of the sale proceeds according to the law of the country. This was also entirely unobjectionable ethically, morally or in religious terms. Nor did the Anjuman suffer any loss by this arrangement; in fact it made large profits. However, no reply can satisfy those who criticise just for the sake of raising objections. So in 1939 this issue was raised in another form, it being claimed that the Anjuman was making huge financial losses because of the Book Depot. This will be mentioned at a later stage.

Some internal conflicts

Till 1930 the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at was working with great unity and harmony, but after that grievances began to arise in the minds of some people on small matters and these kept on surfacing from time to time.

For example, in 1929 when the Anjuman decided to close the Isha‘at-i-Islam College due to increased expenses and shortage of funds, some people blamed Maulana Muhammad Ali for it and became highly displeased, so much so that one person stopped coming to the mosque and praying behind him. During that same time Shaikh Ghulam Muhammad, a member of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at, made several announcements, levelling certain charges against Maulana Muhammad Ali and some other people. All this had an influence on some members of the Jama‘at, one of whom was Maulana Ghulam Hasan Khan who openly aired his views from time to time. As stated above, some of his writings were presented before the General Council which unanimously declared him to be in error and asked him to refrain from raising those objections, after which he assumed silence but some others took up his views.

As regards Shaikh Ghulam Muhammad’s writings and notices, the General Council according to Resolution No. 220, dated 25 April 1931, made the following decision:

“Shaikh Ghulam Muhammad’s writings and notices were reviewed. On that basis, in the opinion of this meeting, Shaikh Ghulam Muhammad is no longer a member of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman and is removed from his membership of the General Council. Having deliberated upon the accusations he has levelled in his writings and notices against the Anjuman, its President and other workers, the General Council has arrived at the conclusion that some of the accusations are clear fabrications, with facts having been misstated, while others are based on exaggeration. The aim of all this propaganda is to create misunderstandings and doubts to weaken the Jama‘at.”

Regarding the accusations levelled by some other persons against Maulana Muhammad Ali, the Management Committee of the Anjuman issued the following statement dated 22 December 1933:

“Leaving aside those people who, because of some unfortunate mental disturbance, are excusable and not answerable for their actions, some other people due to selfish motives have started a propaganda to bring the Anjuman into disrepute by levelling false accusations against Maulana Muhammad Ali. Those who have for a long time been involved in the Anjuman’s affairs and have had dealings with Maulana Muhammad Ali himself are aware of the reasons behind these allegations. We, the members of the Anjuman, announce that all these accusations are entirely groundless and Maulana Muhammad Ali is personally absolutely clear of them by far. His selflessness, integrity and dedication are unparalleled. Such accusations were also levelled in 1931 and were satisfactorily replied to at that time.”

(Paigham Sulh, 3 January 1934)

On this occasion this matter was also put before the Anjuman’s General Council and an announcement about it appeared in Paigham Sulh on 7 January 1934 as follows:

An Important Announcement: Refutation of a false report.

Hazrat Amir [Maulana Muhammad Ali] announced in the meeting of the General Council which was held during the annual gathering that as propaganda was being carried out against him which is not only affecting him personally but damaging the whole community, so until he is completely cleared by a full enquiry he resigns from the Presidency of the Anjuman and nominates Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig, the Vice-President, as President. Accordingly, the General Council under the Presidency of Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig examined all aspects of these matters thoroughly, and after a full investigation reached the conclusion that the propaganda against Hazrat Amir is entirely baseless and false and is contradicted by facts, and the General Council has full confidence in him. …

After the Council’s decision Hazrat Amir has withdrawn his resignation. This announcement is being made because some gossip-mongers are spreading the rumour that Hazrat Amir has severed his ties with the Anjuman. This is a false and slanderous accusation. Forty members were present in this Council.”

However, as has been mentioned before, some people were not sincere and their personal grudges kept on coming to the surface in one form or another. The easiest means that these people had for spreading rumour and misgivings was the issue of royalty. This matter came up again and again before the Anjuman and on every occasion the Anjuman decided that it was the right and proper way and was not causing any loss to the Anjuman, but the gossip-mongers did not stop.

On the one hand this man of God was completely absorbed by his concern for spreading Islam in the world, disseminating the Holy Quran and making this Jama‘at progress, while on the other hand from among Muslims themselves a storm of opposition was raging against this Jama‘at. In view of this, the damage that was being done by these internal disputes and false rumours was a source of great distress and pain to Maulana Muhammad Ali. A glimpse of his feelings can be seen in one of his letters he wrote from Dalhousie which was published in the Paigham Sulh on 23 September 1933. This was a letter in a series entitled ‘Letters to the brethren of the Jama‘at’. The feelings that are expressed in this letter still serve as a beacon of light to the Jama‘at. He wrote:

Need to work with total harmony

Internal conflicts or personal disputes must not make us negligent in our efforts to promote the cause of the religion of God. This slackness in reality creeps in when a man loses the sense of importance of service for the Divine cause. Though he may make a hundred excuses to console his heart, the fact is that by giving  undue priority to his personal disputes and views he makes them the object of worship, and his own wishes become a barrier preventing him from serving the religion.

We would not have separated from Qadian if it had not been resolved to establish a prophethood after the Khatam-un-nabiyyin and declare some 400 million Muslims as being kafir. Our demand was that we should be given freedom of opinion on the issue of takfir so that we could put forward our views before the entire Jama‘at but this was rejected on the grounds that no one was to express views contrary to khalifa’s views. After the Split from there, we followed the same objectives that the Promised Messiah had put before us; in fact, we redoubled our efforts when we began this work in Lahore. A few scattered individuals united under one banner to lay a new foundation for the whole work and built such a magnificent building that its high minarets are visible today in the most distant countries. Our small Jama‘at, which in terms of size is of no account, appears as a great nation in terms of its work.

After this, he advises his comrades as follows:

If our friends cannot dispel their personal grievances, they should at least keep them in proportion. … Just consider how hard it was tried first of all from Qadian to wipe out our small Jama‘at. … To avoid conflict we left behind an established organization and a running operation and laid a new foundation of this work in Lahore. Then look at your Muslim brothers and you see that they are not expending one-tenth of the energy refuting Christianity and the Arya Samaj that they are spending on destroying the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at … then look beyond this, as to how the world is bent upon effacing Islam itself. Realize how essential it is that in the face of so many forces bent on our destruction we work in complete unity.

On the other hand, look at the magnificent work that has been done and the lofty building that has been raised, and who has laid the basis for that work. The real mission is that of defending and propagating the faith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him, whose foundation has been laid by the Promised Messiah sent by Allah. … Till today hundreds of worthy men have spent their lives on constructing this building. Millions, nay tens of millions, of Rupees have been spent on it. There are many prominent men of this Jama‘at each of whom has spent hundreds of thousands of Rupees on it, and those people are countless who sacrificed their daily bread, deprived their wives and children of essentials, or sold their possessions to spend on this construction. As to the earnest pleas before the Almighty that have come from the hearts, supplicating for the progress of the Divine faith, if there was any record of them, and God definitely has one, it would raise the loudest clamour in the silence of the night. The tears that have been shed with this urge during prayers, if they were to be collected, they would fill a river. Should a building raised with such hard labour be destroyed in pursuance of a few personal desires?

Hands luminous with Divine light laid the foundation, builders possessing the highest skills and ability carried out the construction, and honest, sincere labourers working purely for Allah’s pleasure helped to build it. So today when this minaret has reached such towering heights that its light is reaching thousands of miles, who would be more foolish than one who, instead of continuing to build it, tries to demolish it merely because of some minor complaint and disagreement with his brother. I say demolish because although he may not realise it but in fact his neglect of his real work or his separation or his dispute is tantamount to him demolishing this building. “Dispute not one with another lest you get weak-hearted and your power depart” [Holy Quran, 8:46]. Internal disputes always destroy the strength of a nation. You are the people who constructed this building, whose power and energy was used to build it, whose money created this organization. Will you destroy it with your own hands? “Be not like the mad woman who unravels her yarn, disintegrating it into pieces, after she has spun it strongly” [Holy Quran, 16:92].

Remember well that this magnificent edifice, whose foundations were laid by one sent by God Himself, and for whose construction an entire community has been toiling whole-heartedly with its manpower, strength and money for the last 45 years, is not something insignificant that you can destroy today and rebuild tomorrow. So if you are going to do anything, then devote your energy and power to strengthen it, so that when the time comes to meet your Lord you will be happy with Him and He with you. Just as we all came together to start this work, only seeking God’s pleasure, let us remain together to complete it purely for His pleasure. All this has of course been achieved by the grace of Allah, but remember that it was your energy and your money that was spent on it, so do not destroy your own creation by your own hands.”

Relations with the Qadian Jama‘at, 1924 to 1937

During this entire period, much continued to be written by both sides about the issues under dispute, and a large part of the columns of Al-Fazl of Qadian and Paigham Sulh of Lahore was devoted to discussion of these questions. It has been made clear that the disagreement between the two Jama‘ats was caused by the doctrine of takfir advanced by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, that anyone who does not believe in Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s claims is an unbeliever (kafir) excluded from the fold of Islam. Then Mirza Mahmud Ahmad attributed a claim of prophethood to the Promised Messiah and tried to prove that he was the ‘Ahmad’ spoken of in the Holy Quran, 61:6. All these inventions had been refuted by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his various writings numerous times, and other senior figures in the Lahore Jama‘at had also clarified these issues. But the Qadian Jama‘at by this time had become so steeped in blind, unquestioning obedience to its leader that it was impossible to bring about its reform and correction.

Maulana Muhammad Ali was always very concerned that a part of the time and attention of his Jama‘at was being expended in these arguments, to the detriment of the work of the propagation of Islam. So, as mentioned earlier, he addressed Mirza Mahmud Ahmad again and again, in his khutbas and by open letters to him published in Paigham Sulh, inviting and challenging him to a decisive and final written debate between the heads of the two groups which would be published and circulated in the two Jama‘ats to inform every member of the arguments of both sides. Then every person could judge for himself which Jama‘at he wished to belong to, and after that there would be no further writings by both sides on these issues, each  Jama‘at concentrating solely on the work of the propagation of Islam. However, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad always evaded a written debate under one pretext or another.

In 1926 when Maulana Muhammad Ali was in Dalhousie, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad also happened to go there and the two of them met for the first time since the Split in 1914. In September the Maulana invited Mirza Mahmud Ahmad and his companions to a meal, and Mirza Mahmud Ahmad reciprocated by inviting the Maulana and some of his friends to a meal. During their talks Mirza Mahmud Ahmad agreed to Maulana Muhammad Ali’s suggestion that in the writings of one side against the other personal attacks and offensive language should be avoided. At that time the two Qadiani organs Al-Fazl and Al-Faruq were full of such attacks. Accordingly, Maulana Muhammad Ali also sent an instruction in writing to the editor of Paigham Sulh to be cautious as to what he published. For a time both sides observed this pact. However, in 1928 there arose a storm of opposition and personal allegations from the Qadian Jama‘at which began with an article in Al-Fazl levelling certain charges against Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Yaqub Khan. These were published in Al-Fazl with the preposterous claim that these accusations were being levied by a member of the Lahore Jama‘at itself. In response to this article of Al-Fazl, the members of the Management Committee of the Lahore Jama‘at issued a statement from which an extract is given below:

The purpose of these slanderous accusations is to impugn the honesty and integrity of Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali. We think it sufficient to announce that, after knowing him personally and working with him for several years, we testify that Hazrat Amir follows such a high standard of righteousness, in the most minute detail, that it is a unique example for Muslims in this age. To say that the Hazrat Maulana derives illicit benefit from the funds of this Anjuman for himself is a dastardly attack. The fact is that he has not only been serving this Anjuman with great hard work and energy for many years without receiving any remuneration but, on the contrary, his valuable writings, which have brought acclaim to Islam in the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, are the best source of the Anjuman’s income. The Anjuman is indebted to him in that, in return for a reasonable royalty, he gave the Anjuman the right to publish his writings, from which the Anjuman derives thousands of Rupees every year.

The third matter in which it has been sought to gravely mislead the public is the charge that the Hazrat Maulana disregards the Anjuman as if it does not exist, and although the Anjuman exists in name it is only a tool in his hands. We declare that this accusation also is entirely groundless. The Hazrat Maulana has a high regard for difference of opinion, and all the business of the Anjuman is decided by majority of opinion, and many a time decisions have gone against his views.

(Paigham Sulh, 8 September 1928)

In accordance with the directions of the General Council of the Anjuman, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Yaqub Khan had a legal notice served on the editor of Al-Fazl and instituted law suits. Ultimately, in July 1928, a settlement was agreed under which the editor of Al-Fazl published an apology and the cases were withdrawn.

After that, articles kept on appearing in the newspapers of both sides from time to time on various aspects of the disputed issues and certain other affairs. Maulana Muhammad Ali and the Lahore Jama‘at tried several times to find ways of ending these controversies. In April 1935 some prominent members of the Lahore Jama‘at appealed to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to have a decisive debate between the heads of the two groups in the presence of a selected audience, which should then be published along with the comments of the audience, and after that all disputations should end. But the Qadian Jama‘at did not agree to it. Maulana Muhammad Ali himself tried many times to arrange a decisive discussion in one format or another and put forward many proposals. One was to select three moderators from each side. Another was that the written submissions in the debate between the heads of the two groups should be published together in one place. Then in December 1936 another proposal was put before Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, that there was no need for the two heads to come together in one location for discussion. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad should write his submission and send it to Maulana Muhammad Ali who would send him back a written reply of the same length within seven days. These two submissions should be published both in Paigham Sulh and in Al-Fazl. There would be six such submissions on each side, the first one being on the issue of takfir (whether a Muslim who does not accept Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad still remains a Muslim) and then on the question of prophethood (whether Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be a prophet). Mirza Mahmud Ahmad always rejected these suggestions saying that he was not willing to discuss the question of declaring other Muslims as unbelievers, and that the question of prophethood should be discussed.

In 1936 Maulana Muhammad Ali again and again drew the attention of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to the fact that the real difference between the two Jama‘ats arose on the issue of takfir, and stemmed from Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s well-known article ‘A Muslim is one who believes in all those appointed by Allah’. During Maulana Nur-ud-Din’s illness the issue of takfir was the topic of controversy, and upon his death the pamphlet issued by Maulana Muhammad Ali stated the reason for the disagreement to be this very question. All the writings from our side in that period close to the Split state this as the reason for not taking the bai‘at at Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s hand, that he had invented the doctrine of dubbing all other Muslims as kafirs. This belief of his was expressed by him a little later in his book A’inah-i Sadaqat in the following words:

“…all those so-called Muslims who have not entered into his [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s] bai‘at formally, wherever they may be, are Kafirs and outside the pale of Islam, even though they may not have heard the name of the Promised Messiah.” (p. 35){footnote 3}

So the main reason for the Split was the issue of takfir and it was in support of this doctrine that a claim to prophethood was attributed to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. But not one person from the Qadian Jama‘at dared to come forward for debate.

On 1st January 1937 in his Friday khutba Maulana Muhammad Ali, while mentioning the jihad for the propagation of Islam, noted that there were certain activities that seem harmless but the devil brings them to the fore and diverts people’s attention to them in order to hinder the work of the propagation of Islam. In this context he mentioned that the Qadian Jama‘at had turned its attention to the field of politics and other worldly activities, and added that the knowledge that the Promised Messiah brought was not ordinary. That knowledge is what this Movement is based upon. The source of that knowledge was not something in this world but it came from God Himself. Our real work is to broadcast that knowledge and to propagate Islam according to it. Maulana Muhammad Ali expressed regret that the Qadian Jama‘at was devoting more attention to other affairs and moving away from the real objective of this Movement which was to spread the word of God in the world. After the publication of this khutba, abusive articles against Maulana Muhammad Ali were published from Qadian, and among other criticism it was also written in Al-Fazl:

“As to what the Maulvi Sahib is so proud of, neither the Promised Messiah nor Hazrat Khalifa-tul-Masih (Maulana Nur-ud-Din) translated the Quran.… So how can he, by merely publishing the translation of the Quran, claim that he and his community are the sole standard bearers of the propagation and the defence of Islam. … If Rodwell, being a Christian, can translate the Quran into English and publish it, then what is so special about the Maulvi sahib’s achievement.”
(Extract from Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s Friday khutba)

As some members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya community were also raising a similar objection regarding the work of the translation of the Holy Quran, an extract is quoted below from the article which Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote in answer to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad which was published in Paigham Sulh dated 27 February 1937:

“Remember that Rodwell’s translation was already in existence when the Promised Messiah expressed his longing in the following words:
‘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 no one else can do it as well as I or he who is an offshoot of mine and thus is included in me.’
This was the work of the Promised Messiah’s offshoot or branch, to fulfil this wish of his.”

Then, mentioning in detail the diversion of attention of the Qadian Jama‘at towards other goals, he writes:

“They ought to remember that they have strayed very far from the right path that the Promised Messiah had set us upon. What was the Promised Messiah’s real mission? He wrote:
‘There could be no any greater tribulation than that … Islam is under attack from all sides. At this critical juncture a man has been raised by God who wants to make known the beauty of Islam to the whole world and open ways for it to reach the Western countries but his community is refraining from helping him’ (Izala Auham, p. 769).

‘As far as is possible for me I should spread this knowledge in Asian and European countries through my writings. … I would advise that, instead of these missionaries, writings of an excellent and high standard should be sent into these countries.’  (Izala Auham, pp. 771–773).

The words of the last line are written in bold letters like this in the original book.”

(Paigham Sulh, 27 February 1937)

In short, this was the aim always stressed by Maulana Muhammad Ali, and it was only because of this faith and firm belief of his that he kept the attention of the Lahore Jama‘at ever focussed on this real mission. While the Qadian Jama‘at went in a different direction, it is regrettable that there were some members of the Lahore Jama‘at who had not imbibed that same zeal and fervour from the benefit of the company of the Promised Messiah as had Maulana Muhammad Ali, and they tried to divert the attention of the Lahore Jama‘at to activities which did not lead to the fulfilment of its real objective. Even so, it was as a result of the strong personality and spiritual power of Maulana Muhammad Ali that during his life the Jama‘at as a whole kept only one purpose before it.

In 1937, certain circumstances arose in the Qadian Jama‘at which led to one of their senior figures Shaikh Abdur Rahman Misri and some other persons separating themselves from the Qadian Jama‘at as a result of allegations surrounding some aspects of the life of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad. One of the people who separated, Fakhr-ud-Din Multani, was even stabbed to death by a fanatic follower of the Qadiani khalifa. After this, anonymous letters containing death threats were sent to Maulana Muhammad Ali, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Dr. Basharat Ahmad. During this period, from June to September 1937, Maulana Muhammad Ali addressed the Qadian Jama‘at through articles in Paigham Sulh, the substance of his message being that we should all be concerned about the attacks on the Holy Prophet Muhammad and Islam by other religions, and create an urge within our hearts to dispel that criticism.


(To return to the referring text for any footnote, click on the footnote number.)

[1]. A comprehensive reply to those articles was written in Paigham Sulh by Maulana Dost Muhammad under the title A’inah Ahmadiyyat, and this was subsequently published in book form at the end of 1932.

[2]. Meaning Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Maulana Muhammad Ali himself.

[3]. The words quoted here are taken from the Qadianis’ own English translation of A’inah-i Sadaqat, published under the title The Truth about the Split, page 55 of the 3rd edition, 1965.

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