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The Great Mujahid: Life Story of Maulana Muhammad Ali

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


6a. From 1939 to June 1947: Publication of A Manual of Hadith, Living Thoughts and The New World Order
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Part 3
Life at Lahore
April 1914 to October 1951

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6a. From 1939 to June 1947

(First of three sections)

Publication of A Manual of Hadith, Living Thoughts and The New World Order.
Three campaigns for Quran publication

The eight years 1939 to 1947 are the period during which Maulana Muhammad Ali, besides other writings, made some extremely valuable additions to Islamic literature in English by writing the books The New World Order, A Manual of Hadith and Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad. He also started three very important campaigns: Translations of the Quran, Propagation of the Quran through missionary centres, and the proposal to establish an Idara Talim-ul-Quran (Institute for the study and teaching of the Quran). Through these campaigns he showed the Jama‘at the path by following which it could succeed in attaining its real objective. To make these campaigns successful he not only appealed to the Jama‘at again and again for donations and raised funds but he also went to Hyderabad Deccan twice and paid a visit to Bombay, raising a large amount of money from non-Ahmadi Muslims as well. He kept striving for these campaigns continuously. His zeal and fervour for the Quran can be gauged by reading his writings and khutbas of that period which are full of a particularly strong passion.

During this period, due to the Second World War, direct communications between the Anjuman and some foreign countries and missions were interrupted but the work of the propagation of Islam continued despite this, and as soon as the war ended new ventures were initiated. During this period the Anjuman’s financial problems were reduced and its budget continued to make progress as usual. Also in these years Maulana Muhammad Ali used all possible ways to conclusively convey the argument to the Qadian Jama‘at and its head. In this period two more of the greatest stalwarts of this Jama‘at, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Dr. Basharat Ahmad, passed away. The details of all these events are given below.

Writings from 1939 to 1947

These eight years included six years of the Second World War. During this period Maulana Muhammad Ali in his khutbas and writings very often drew the attention of the Jama‘at towards the fact that as this terrible war was the conflict between Gog and Magog, which testified to the truth of Islam, the only solution for these problems of the world was to be found in Islamic teachings and therefore it was a heavy responsibility of our Jama‘at to present Islam on an even larger scale to the Western nations. In this connection he first wrote two pamphlets: Islam and the Present War in both Urdu and English in 1940. Then in December 1942 a booklet Niya Nizam ‘alam was published, in which it was argued that Islam is the only system that can establish lasting peace and security in the world. It was absolutely essential to present this treatise in English. When Maulana Muhammad Ali rendered it into English he expanded it to greater detail and produced it in the form of a new book The New World Order, which was published in February 1944. It especially addresses the Western nations, and offers the Islamic solution to their spiritual, economic, social and political ailments. It consists of four chapters:

  1. Foundations of the New World Order
  2. The Economic Problem
  3. Home and Social Problems
  4. The State.

Summaries of the teachings of Islam on these subjects are given in appendixes. This book proved so popular that in 1945 a special plan was undertaken to publish it on a wide scale all over the world. It was also translated into several languages of Europe and Asia. Its first translation was in Arabic, into which Syed Tasaddaq Husain Qadari of Baghdad had it rendered. Such was the demand for it that all the twenty-five thousand copies of the first edition were sold in the first month, and a second printing was needed straightaway. This Arabic translation was widely distributed in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco etc. and newspapers in all these countries wrote glowing reviews of the book, going so far as to recommend it as a text book for the Arab youth. These reviews and opinions of some renowned persons about this book were printed in Paigham Sulh from time to time. Another edition has been published in Beirut. In addition to German, Dutch, Turkish, French, Italian and various languages of India, it was also translated into the Siamese and Indonesian languages.

Around the time of the publication of the above book, another essential and valuable addition to Islamic literature in English was made when Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote the book A Manual of Hadith. This contains about 690 selected sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad on all aspects of life (out of which 523 are from Sahih al-Bukhari), given in the original Arabic text along with English translation and explanatory notes. There are some distinctive features that have greatly enhanced its usefulness. One is that at the beginning of each chapter he has quoted verses of the Holy Quran which deal with the subject-matter in hand, enabling the reader to realise that all the principles of Islam are set forth in the Quran and that the Hadith is the explanation of these principles as given by the Holy Prophet by his words and his practice. Then after quoting the verses of the Quran, he has summarised in a note the teachings contained in these verses and how that guidance is further elaborated in the Hadith reports that have been compiled in that particular chapter. There are altogether 31 chapters: for example, Faith, Divine Revelation, Knowledge, Purification, Ablution, Prayer, Mosque, Charity, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Jihad, Marriage, Divorce, Trade, Agriculture, Wills and Bequests, Inheritance, Regulations relating to Food and Drink, Dress and Adornment, and Morals and Manners. This book was printed beautifully as well. Its first edition, consisting of two thousand copies, was exhausted in two years. This book too became very popular among English-reading people all over the world. In May 1948 its Urdu translation was published under the title of Ahadith-ul-‘Amal.

In the summer of 1945, when Maulana Muhammad Ali was in Dalhousie, the famous publishing firm of the United Kingdom, Cassell and Company, approached him through the Imam of the Woking Mosque to write a book on the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad for their series of books entitled ‘Living Thoughts’ covering in brief the lives of famous teachers and thinkers in world history. The Maulana started to write this book while still in Dalhousie and sent the complete typescript to England at the beginning of 1946. This book was printed in 1947 but due to problems in binding its publication in Britain was delayed till March 1948. During this period the manuscript was read in detail by the publishers and it was liked so much that the company director Sir Newman Flower wrote to the Imam of the Woking Mosque saying that he had read the book from beginning to end and while he found the whole book to be excellent, the first chapter in particular which gives the life of the Holy Prophet in brief was “a masterly piece of work”.

In this chapter, in addition to summarising the life of the Holy Prophet, the criticism levelled against him regarding the plurality of his marriages and the wars fought by him is also refuted. The rest of the book gives a summary of the teachings of the Holy Quran on various points. Though it is brief, still it is in a sense a comprehensive book on the life of the Holy Prophet and the teachings of the Quran, throwing light on all aspects of human life from the viewpoint of the Holy Quran and the practical life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

In the summer of 1946 Maulana Muhammad Ali translated this book into Urdu himself in Dalhousie, which after some delay was published in the beginning of 1948. He named the Urdu translation not as ‘The Living Thoughts’ (Zinda Afkar) but as ‘The Living Teaching’ (Zinda Ta‘lim). Several editions of this book under the title Zinda Nabi Ki Zinda Ta‘lim have been published in Urdu.

When the English version of this book reached various countries, it was translated and published in the local languages. Foreign newspapers, especially English newspapers, wrote many glowing reviews of this book, some of which were printed in Paigham Sulh dated 23 March 1949.

Besides the important books mentioned above, he produced many other writings during these eight years. In 1939 The Muslim Prayer Book was published. In 1944 he revised his booklet Al-Muslih al-Mau‘ud (‘The Promised Reformer’), which he had written in 1914. Now he published it again after revision and adding a new preface because in January and February 1944 Mirza Mahmud Ahmad had announced his claim to be the Promised Reformer on the basis of a dream. In 1946 History of the Prophets was published, and another short book Prayers of the Holy Quran written during that period was published in 1948, its Urdu translation, Ad‘iyat-ul-Quran, coming out later.

During these eight years he wrote many pamphlets, most of these being about the Qadian Jama‘at, as will be mentioned later. In this period Maulana Muhammad Ali conclusively established the argument over the leader of the Qadian Jama‘at in particular. He wrote and published the following pamphlets for distribution in the Qadian Jama‘at in this connection:

  1. Ahbab Qadian say appeal (‘An appeal to Qadiani friends’).
  2. Maulvi Ghulam Hasan Sahib say ayk mukhlisana gazarash (‘Sincere Request to Maulvi Ghulam Hasan’).
  3. Qadiani Yaum Tabligh (‘Qadiani Day of Preaching’).
  4. Qadiani ahbab kay leeay ayk qabal-i ghaur mawazina (‘A comparison to ponder for Qadiani friends’).
  5. Khalifa Qadian ka 1914 say pehlay mazhab (‘Beliefs of Khalifa of Qadian before 1914’).
  6. Qadian aur Lahore kay jalson main donon fariqon kay rahnamaon key taqreeron key zaroorat (‘Need for the Heads of the two parties to make speeches at both the annual gatherings at Qadian and Lahore’).
  7. Ahmadiyya Jama‘at Lahore aur Qadiani Jama‘at ka ikhtilaf (‘Difference of belief between the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at and the Qadiani Jama‘at’).
  8. Mian Mahmud Ahmad Sahib ko half uthanay kay leeay muqabilay ki da‘wat (‘Mirza Mahmud Ahmad called to compete in making a sworn statement’).
  9. Mian Mahmud Ahmad Sahib ki da‘wat-i mubahila (‘The call by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to a Mubahila’).
  10. Mian Mahmud Ahmad Sahib kay naam khuli chithi (‘Open letter to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’).
  11. Hazrat Nabi Karim ka maqam (‘Status of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’).
  12. Faisla ka sahih tareeq (‘Right way to make judgment’).
  13. Silsila Ahmadiyya kay do fareeq (‘Two Sections of the Ahmadiyya Movement’).

Besides these, the other booklets he wrote are the following:

  1. Maujuda waqt main hamara faraz (‘Our duty at the present time’), 1940.
  2. Takfir of Fellow Muslims (English), 1944.
  3. Wafat-i Masih, Nuzul-i Masih (‘The death of Jesus and his descent’), 1947.
  4. Islam ki musibat-i ‘azma, iskay wujuh aur iska i‘laj (‘The great tribulation faced by Islam, its causes and remedy’), 1947.

In 1948 the third, revised edition of the English translation of the Holy Quran without Arabic text was published.

Founding of the Holland Mission

In the beginning of 1939 Mirza Wali Ahmad Baig went to Holland and established a mission there. Maulana Muhammad Ali had issued an appeal for funds to meet the expenses of the mission. Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah took it on himself to meet these expenses. In September 1939, however, the Second World War broke out and Holland having been occupied by the Nazis, not only was this mission closed but Mirza Wali Ahmad Baig was interned by the Germans and remained a prisoner of war till the end of the war. In 1948-49 there was a move to re-open this mission, which will be covered later.

The German translation of the Holy Quran and the Berlin Mosque

The German translation of the Quran has been mentioned before. Its printing was completed in Berlin in June 1939 and after binding it was published in August. However, the Second World War broke out shortly afterwards on 3rd September, and due to the bombardment of Berlin during the war the entire stock of this translation was destroyed except for a few copies.

Before the start of the war, Dr. Muhammad Abdullah, the missionary in Berlin, had returned to Lahore via Copenhagen (Denmark), entrusting the management of the Mission to the hands of the German converts. Till the end of the war, the Anjuman was out of communication with Berlin. First Germany occupied most of Europe but gradually she began to be defeated. British and American air forces carried out intense bombing of Berlin, destroying most of this city. In August 1945 the first news came through Reuters news agency that the Berlin mosque was safe. On receiving this news Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote the following in Paigham Sulh:

“Berlin has been destroyed. Fire from the skies rained down upon it day and night. Thousands of tons of bombs were dropped on it. In the end a nation bent on revenge entered it and reduced the buildings of the city to rubble. But a correspondent of Reuter from this ruined city informs us today that the mosque is still standing.

A poor Jama‘at built a house of God in this city. The Jama‘at did not do it for purposes of show and display. … This Jama‘at donated its money towards building the House of God and prayed humbly: ‘Our Lord, accept it from us’. …

I remember that scene when there was a handful of women present at the annual gathering and the appeal came from our missionary in Berlin that there were no funds left to erect the minarets. I appealed to the small group of women and Allah opened their hearts so much so that many thousands of Rupees were raised by a few women of a small Jama‘at. So today I congratulate my Jama‘at, that Allah the Most High has shown the manifest sign that He has accepted their sacrifice … and today He has shown the world that whatever He wishes to protect, He can keep it safe even in the raging fire.”

(Paigham Sulh, 22 August 1945)

Death of Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah

On 26 April 1939 there occurred the death of Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah. He had fallen ill a few days earlier, and on 26 April he had a fatal stroke which he did not survive. The Doctor sahib has been mentioned earlier from time to time. He was a member of the original Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Qadian, appointed by the Promised Messiah. It was in his house at Ahmadiyya Buildings, Lahore, that the Promised Messiah passed the last few days of his life and breathed his last. He was not only a God-fearing and righteous Ahmadi, but was a great philanthropist and spender in the way of Allah. With his death a pillar of the Jama‘at was lost. Just at the time when he suffered the stroke, Maulana Muhammad Ali while praying in the small hours of the morning heard a voice saying again and again: “Carry him on your shoulders towards Allah”. Maulana Muhammad Ali’s thoughts turned to his older brother Maulana Aziz Bakhsh who was ill at that time, but soon he received the news of the Shah sahib’s illness. At this great loss, Maulana Muhammad Ali issued a message to the Jama‘at in Paigham Sulh, and in his Friday khutba while mentioning the unique personality of the Shah sahib and the services he rendered to the religion he said that, notwithstanding his previous financial sacrifices, the Shah sahib had just now donated property worth 52 thousand Rupees to the Jubilee fund and after that he agreed to give 200 Rupees per month permanently to support the Dutch mission. Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote:

“This high rank of excellence was in fact in fulfilment of the trust that the Promised Messiah had reposed in the late Shah sahib … When the Promised Messiah was informed by Allah of his own approaching death he made an Anjuman as his successor, and while selecting fourteen members for it he picked four from Lahore. These four were: the late Shaikh Rahmatullah, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig and the Shah sahib. The excellence and sincerity with which these four carried out the task entrusted to them by Hazrat Mirza sahib seems to be indicated in this Divine revelation: ‘In Lahore are our virtuous members’. These four friends had such passion to serve the Divine religion that they would travel from Lahore to attend every meeting of the Anjuman in Qadian and were always in the forefront in providing financial help. …  I held the position of Secretary of the Anjuman. The advice of these four revered friends was a source of strength for me, and their sincerity made a deep impression on me.

This was how, at the beginning of 1906, there began that friendship between the five of us which developed to the stage that we five became, as it were, one mind and heart. Now four of these friends, one by one, have gone to meet their Lord, and even though I see all round me true, sincere and faithful friends in our Jama‘at but after the departure of these four I feel somewhat alone. But ‘Allah is my Friend in this world and the hereafter’… 

These four friends have set such a unique example of faithfulness, and of constancy and sincerity in the service of the religion, that it has few parallels today. The Messiah sent by God identified certain virtuous men to carry on his mission after him, and after Maulana Nur-ud-Din these four were the most prominent in this regard who bore the burden of work in practice. They discharged the trust placed upon them by the Promised Messiah so faithfully that they ever kept on making progress in the way of Allah.”

Other events of 1939

From 4 June till 1st October 1939, Maulana Muhammad Ali stayed in Dalhousie as usual. The series of articles he used to write from Dalhousie, in the form of letters to the members of the Jama‘at, were that year published from August to October under the title: ‘Who are we and what are our duties’. In these articles he kept reminding the Jama‘at of its real position and work. He stressed that each one of us must always feel that firstly he has been prepared for a battle, and secondly that our jihad is the jihad with the Holy Quran as his weapon and each one of us is a soldier in this field. You must do your worldly work but the thought must always dominate your minds as to which means you can use to spread the message of truth to others and what service you can render to the Holy Quran. Among the means for doing this work stressed by him in these letters, the first and foremost is prayer. Falling before God to pray for the victory of the religion is a distinctive feature of our Jama‘at. He specially stressed the importance of the tahajjud prayer. The second means is sacrifice, which is a constant, collective jihad through your property and possessions.

From October till the annual gathering of December 1939 Maulana Muhammad Ali continuously toured the outside branches of the Jama‘at, visiting in addition to other cities Delhi and Quetta. A particular purpose he had in view in these visits was to organise the monthly subscriptions, so that every member should pay his dues according to the rate fixed by the Anjuman. He kept stressing this point in his Friday khutbas also during this entire period.

Events of 1940

After his illness in 1938 Maulana Muhammad Ali did not remain in good health. Following the annual gathering of December 1939 he fell ill again. During January 1940 he suffered from influenza and was unable to lead the Friday and the Eid prayers. Throughout February he was bed ridden. However, even during these periods of illness he did not give up his writing work and the management of the affairs of the Jama‘at. The increasingly hot weather at the end of the month of May again caused him to get high temperature, so on 2nd June he went to Dalhousie, returning to Lahore on 30 September.

During all this time, while on the one hand he wrote numerous articles comprehensively refuting the wrong beliefs of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, on the other he also expressed again and again his overwhelming zeal and fervour for the service of the Holy Quran in his khutbas and writings. In his Friday khutba on 11 October 1940, while dealing with the topic of the importance of making the Holy Quran an integral part of one’s life, he pointed out the negligence shown by the general Muslim community to the Quran, that in their religious institutions subjects like Philosophy, Hadith and Logic are taught but no teaching of the meanings of the Holy Quran (dars) is given. He referred to the revolution brought about by the Promised Messiah in this respect, that he infused love of the Holy Quran into the hearts of his followers. Then he laid stress on the importance of instituting teaching of the Holy Quran (dars) in the Jama‘at as a special characteristic of the Jama‘at, and said:

“Read the Quran by yourself and ponder and reflect over it. Study of the Holy Quran should become an essential part of every Ahmadi’s life. Teach your children to read the Holy Quran, along with meaning and significance; not much at a time, but a little, perhaps only a few verses, but make it a regular part of your life. … I cannot say which of you God will enable to understand the Holy Quran in such a way that he can thereby benefit the world. Develop such an urge in your hearts which creates a link between you and the Holy Prophet. This is his urge as portrayed in the words: ‘Maybe you will kill yourself with grief, sorrowing after them, if they believe not in this announcement’ [The Holy Quran, 18:6]. Whoever will create such a zeal within himself will establish a connection for himself with the Holy Prophet. Both a transformation will take place within him and he will be a cause of producing a transformation in the world. …

Allah the Most High does not let go to waste anyone’s labour on the Holy Quran. I am an ordinary person; it is merely that a man who had spiritual power created a zeal and passion within my heart and as a result Allah enabled me to do some service to the Holy Quran. When I look at myself, I think, O Allah, how could a weak and worthless person like me do service of the Holy Quran? Yet Allah bestowed upon me so much blessing for the sake of His Holy Word. Today the man who would have set up his legal practice after passing his law examinations, or who would have passed the competitive civil service examination and at most become a judge of the High Court, then retiring into obscurity, he has by the grace of Allah been granted such a position of honour due to service of the Quran that even opponents are forced to acknowledge it.

There was a time when the renowned English convert to Islam Mr. Pickthall came here [to India]. He had been told so much against us [Ahmadis] that he could not even bear to mention our name in any gathering. He stayed in Hyderabad Deccan for a long time. When he was leaving somehow he came across my book The Religion of Islam, and before his death he wrote such a glowing review of it which a book could hardly have ever received. He wrote: ‘Probably no man living has done longer or more valuable service for the cause of Islamic revival than Maulana Muhammad Ali of Lahore.’

I am not mentioning this to claim that it is my achievement or an honour conferred upon me. This is the achievement of my Master, and an acknowledgment of his services to Islam, because whatever knowledge there is in the book The Religion of Islam I acquired it from him and because of him.

I have come across a writing by an American author W. J. Milburn who has recently written a book on religions. To gather information about Islam he communicated with Muslim scholars from different Islamic countries. Ultimately he wrote to me and I sent him the English Translation of the Holy Quran, The Religion of Islam and Islam the Religion of Humanity. In his book he has copied almost the whole of the last-mentioned pamphlet and included many excerpts from The Religion of Islam. Along with that he writes:

‘Perhaps no Muslim, living or dead, has done more than Maulana Muhammad Ali to lead people to see the good side of Islam. With these books no student of world religions would find any excuse for failing to learn about Islam.’

It is all due to the grace of Allah, the blessing of the Holy Quran, and the spirit infused by the Promised Messiah and benefit of his companionship. ‘The beauty of my companion has produced this effect in me, otherwise I  am but dust.’

When I fall before God during the nightly prayers, my supplication to Him is that He bestow upon each and every member of our Jama‘at love for the Holy Quran, passion for its service and propagation, and its understanding.

These days there is much clamour about organization, it being said that the Jama‘at should be well organised and large as this is the way to uphold the reputation of the Movement. But if the honour of the Jama‘at is to be maintained it would only be through the service and the propagation of the Quran. There is no doubt that organization is commendable but it is not the real means of the honour of this Movement.”

To certain persons in the Jama‘at who, due to some grievance with him personally or with the Anjuman, would become withdrawn and uncooperative, he always emphasised that they must realise the importance of the work of upholding the glory of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet, and not forget the greatness of this work on account of personal reasons. He says:

“If someone, seeing a fault in me, says that he does not care about the Anjuman, why does it happen? It is when we ignore the greatness of the magnificent work for which we have come together and made our pledge. Such people really sacrifice the glory of Islam and the Holy Prophet for the sake of their personal desires, because on account of personal grievances and the most minor wishes of their own they are prepared to cut their ties with the Jama‘at whose only aim is to establish the glory of God and His Prophet.”

(Friday khutba, 8 March 1940)

Similarly in another khutba on 3 May 1940 he said:

“Some matters seem trivial but in fact are very serious due to their consequences and are like a trial. The test of your faith is when you are hurt by a brother of yours but it does not make you lose faith in the cause. Some people claim to love God and His religion but when they are hurt in the least by a brother they give up service of God and the Divine religion. Their claim to love God and His religion is worthless. Those who are offended by me or by the Anjuman or by another prominent member of the Anjuman, should they be saying: we care not about this work, we will not take part in it, we will not say our prayers behind such and such a man, we will not come to the mosque? No, instead of this, our feelings should be as has been expressed by the Promised Messiah in the following couplet [addressing Allah] :

Whether You forsake me in anger or show Yourself to me as a sign of pleasure,
Whether You punish me or let me be, I can never stop clinging to You.

Having accepted that man and having started the service of Islam because of accepting him, then unless the passion he had within him also rules in our hearts how can we carry on his mission successfully? What a great contrast between this noble and virtuous zeal, on the one hand, and on the other giving up the service of Islam by becoming offended on petty matters? There are also cases where a person, because of discontentment with a brother, has gone to Qadian and taken the pledge there.”

(Paigham Sulh, 8 May 1940)

In another Friday khutba dated 5 April 1940, he pointed out that the greatest mistake of the Qadiani Jama‘at was to become so obsessed with forming and organizing the Jama‘at that they neglected the propagation of Islam. He said:

“Some people tell me that this Jama‘at is small and will not survive after me. I consider myself powerless and unworthy of being accorded such a status, and God knows it best. The desire repeatedly comes in my heart that people who are more worthy should arise from the Jama‘at and bear this responsibility. Along with that, I also firmly believe that, no matter what happens, if there is even one person in this Jama‘at who truly loves God and has an overpowering urge to propagate the name of God, then this Jama‘at will remain alive.

No doubt you must expand, organise and strengthen the Jama‘at, but for God’s sake don’t make organization an object of worship. If instead of relying on God you place your reliance on the Jama‘at and its strength, then you can never succeed in spreading the name of God. Rectify the weaknesses of the Jama‘at, but let not that task hinder the work of propagation.”

From time to time he especially used to address young people through letters in Paigham Sulh, impressing upon them to acquire knowledge of the Holy Quran, to do service of the Holy Quran and to achieve closeness to God. Hence he writes in a letter from Dalhousie dated 26 July 1940:

“Knowledge of the Quran is an inheritance from the Promised Messiah, with which the triumph of Islam in the world is bound up. Learn all the branches of knowledge but use them to serve the Holy Quran. But you cannot bring them into its service unless you yourselves understand the Quran. You cannot take the Quran to the world unless you have the following three acquirements: firstly, learning the Holy Quran yourself; secondly, learning other branches of knowledge and bringing them into the service of the Quran; and thirdly, learning other languages, and spreading the teachings of the Holy Quran in the world by translating them into those languages. Every young person should have these three objectives before him. … Along with that, you must remember that this is God’s work; the strength to do it can only be obtained by falling before God in prayer and beseeching Him for help. So just as it is the object of your life to acquire the knowledge of the Holy Quran for the purpose of spreading it in the world, likewise praying to God to ask for help and for strength to do this work should also be considered as the purpose of your life. Allah has made the regular prayer (salat or namaz) the means for this. … Prayer is the foundation of Islamic culture and the Holy Prophet Muhammad has given it the prime place as the means for training the Muslims. … Adopt the habit of prayer firmly like a discipline. First get used to prayer as a formal regulation, then gradually you will develop joy and interest in it which will make it the means to gain strength from the Divine Power.”

Events of 1941

At the annual gathering in December 1940, Maulana Muhammad Ali put forward two important proposals to the community. One was in connection with his book The Religion of Islam, which had fulfilled the wish of the Promised Messiah he had expressed in 1892, at the time of making his claim, that a comprehensive book on Islam should be written in the English language to show the beautiful face of Islam. On this occasion Maulana Muhammad Ali proposed that copies of this book should be presented to persons whose views are influential in forming public opinion, such as authors. Accordingly this proposal was acted upon in 1941. The second proposal was that, to strengthen the foundations of the propagation of Islam in the West, a group of people should be prepared who, on the one hand, gain proficiency in different languages, and on the other hand study Islamic knowledge. So in 1941, and after that as well, he kept on stressing upon young people, from time to time, the need to learn foreign languages. In addition, funds were raised at this annual gathering to present the famous book Muhammad in World Scriptures by Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi to different libraries, and also to help the Woking Mission.

In his first Friday khutba after the annual gathering, Maulana Muhammad Ali addressed young people as follows:

“Young people who are just at the start of their lives ought to have a purpose before them, and it should be a grand objective. It is in accordance with the high or low nature of the aim before us that the good and evil powers within us develop and progress. … The Holy Quran has pointed out that high purpose of life in the following words: ‘And thus have We made you an exalted nation that you may be bearer of witness to humanity’ [2:143], meaning that just as the Holy Prophet is your guide and model, so you must also become guides and models for the nations of the world. … This is exactly the purpose towards which the Imam of the Age has called us, that we become guides who show the right path. …

Secondly, not only has a grand objective been put before you but the path towards it has been made clear to you, and moreover some stages of the journey have already been covered. …

Thirdly, I wish to say in this connection that nothing can be achieved unless you identify yourself with it and devote yourself to it entirely and whole-heartedly, and have the greatest passion for it. …

Fourthly, to achieve the goal you must work hard, so hard as never to tire of it.

All of you are like soldiers of an army. No night passes when I do not fall before God in prayer in the latter part of the night, feeling in my heart that I am in the presence of God along with my Jama‘at. At that time, during prayer, the face of each and every member of the Jama‘at appears in my view and I pray for all of them that Allah may increase their strength and courage and enable them to make ever greater sacrifices for the religion.

We are in the last stages of our lives. In future all this burden is to fall upon you. I have reached such an age that every extra year that is granted to me I regard as only the grace of God. My beloved companions, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Dr. Syed Muhammad Husain Shah and Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig have gone to meet their Creator at the ages of sixty-two or sixty-three. When in 1938 at the age of sixty-three I fell seriously ill it seemed that my time had come, but God in His wisdom granted me some further opportunity to serve the religion.”

(Paigham Sulh, 27 January 1941)

After this he gave important advice to the young people. First of all he exhorted them to study the Quran, by making it a part of their daily routine to read it with understanding. Then he drew their attention towards other Islamic literature and the books of the Promised Messiah. Thirdly, he stressed the regular prayer, especially the tahajjud prayer. He added that we need both such young persons who earn income in the world, earning plenty of it, but spend a part of their income in the way of God, as well as such young ones who devote their lives to acquiring knowledge of the Quran and spreading it. In many further Friday khutbas he kept on urging that young persons should pick one language each and master it so thoroughly that they can translate the Holy Quran in it, and for this purpose study Arabic as well.

Maulana Muhammad Ali wanted to see such zeal and fervour in the hearts of Ahmadis for the religion of Islam and the propagation of the Quran that would wake them in the middle of the night to get up and bow before God in prayer. This was exactly the kind of enthusiasm ruling his own heart. During 1941 he expressed these feelings in several Friday khutbas. He said:

“The Holy Prophet has taught by his own example of rising at night and praying to Allah for long in solitude. … What an anxiety there was in the heart of the Holy Prophet that kept him so restless! Develop that same anxiety within your hearts. Rise up in the night, shed tears before God and seek His assistance by praying from the depth of your heart. Remember it well that ultimately the religion of Islam will succeed. And whose greatness shall remain? The greatness of Allah, the Quran and Muhammad the Messenger of Allah. The religion of Islam will most surely be victorious but your hearts should overflow with the urge and deep desire to make it happen.

Remember that no one can find enjoyment in prayer without getting up during the night. There should be such restlessness in your hearts that it wakes you up during the night: ‘They forsake their beds, calling upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and spend out of what We have given them’ [Holy Quran, 32:16]. Your warm and soft beds should not lull you to such sleep that you cannot wake. If at this time when the religion of Islam is crying for help, your heart is not so moved that you are restless to get up and cry before God, then you have achieved nothing. This is the only way you can be victorious. … Arise and cry for God’s help to bring about the days of the victory and success of religion soon. The day when the condition of the Jama‘at is that it rises at night and falls before God with the prayer: O God, You sent this Holy Quran for the spiritual nurture of the world and its reform, and for establishing peace; O God, this world is going astray and moving further off from peace; O God, it was Your promise to make the religion of Islam prevail in the world, so bring that time and establish peace in the world through this Quran — that is the day success will lie at our feet.”

(Friday khutba, 16 May 1941)

“You have before you the mighty aim of making Islam to prevail in the world. Set yourselves to this work. No doubt you are making financial sacrifices, but still one thing is required and that is to develop the same overwhelming urge that was in the Holy Prophet’s heart [portrayed in the words]: ‘Maybe you will kill yourself with grief, sorrowing after them, if they believe not in this announcement’ [The Holy Quran, 18:6]. This was the pain that would not let him sleep. He would get up at night and fall in prostration before God. It is such an inner state that leads to a manifestation of the power of God, and it is for such a person that the aid and help of Allah comes. Make your hearts the abode of such feelings. Rise up at night and pray: O God, You Who promised Your Holy Prophet the triumph of the religion to take place in this age, help us to become the means of fulfilling that promise of Yours. Grant us to witness the victory of Islam in the world so that the purpose of the coming of the Promised Messiah, Your appointed one, is achieved. …

As strongly as I believe that no power on earth can shake Hazrat Mirza sahib, I also believe just as firmly that no one can destroy this Jama‘at as long as there are people in it who shed tears at night. … And I want to tell the doubters, whether they are within the Jama‘at or outside it, that as long as there is a group in this Jama‘at who cry in prayer at night, as described in the words ‘a party of those with you’ [the Quran, 73:20], this Jama‘at will go on conquering the world with its spiritual strength.”

(Friday khutba, 28 November 1941)

From the beginning of June 1941 till the end of September Maulana Muhammad Ali stayed in Dalhousie as usual. During this time he went to Srinagar in Kashmir on 9 June where the foundation stone for the mosque of the Srinagar Jama‘at was to be laid. He stayed there for ten or eleven days, and dealt with organising the Jama‘at as well as delivering public lectures. During August 1941 he became quite ill with cough and cold. Also after his return to Lahore in September he developed a temperature and remained ill during October.

Campaign for charitable loan, December 1941

At the annual gathering in December 1941, Maulana Muhammad Ali launched a scheme by the name of ‘charitable loan’. At that time the Second World War had entered a very critical stage and it seemed that it would spread to India. On one side, the enemy was at the eastern door of India and on the other, Europe and North Africa were under German occupation and there was a possibility that the Germans might reach India. At that time Maulana Muhammad Ali launched a plan for the Ahmadiyya community to make charitable donations to pay off the Anjuman’s foreign debt which amounted to fifty-five thousand Rupees. He appealed to everyone to donate ten days’ income and, after estimating the income of various members, he prepared a list of names and assigned contributions to them. He read out the list at the annual gathering, and as he read each name people responded by shouting labbaik (meaning, ‘here I am to do thy bidding’). Thus in a few minutes a sum of 25 thousand Rupees was collected from a small Jama‘at. Later on during the year, as a result of further appeals by him, the Anjuman was relieved of foreign debt by the annual gathering of 1942.

First trip to Hyderabad, Deccan, 1942

For propagation purposes and at the invitation of some dignitaries of Hyderabad Deccan, Maulana Muhammad Ali left on a tour of Hyderabad on 20 February 1942. On the way he stayed in Delhi for two days, and departing from there on the 23rd by the Grand Trunk Express he arrived at Hyderabad on the morning of 25 February. Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi and Syed Akhtar Husain accompanied him. The news of his coming was already well-known in the intellectual and religious circles of Hyderabad and had also been published in the local newspapers. So at Sikanderabad railway station he was welcomed by Abdul Karim Babu Khan the Ra’is (Chief) of Sikanderabad and a large crowd of people. At Nampali railway station, where he alighted, there was a huge crowd of Muslims of all classes and religious denominations. He stayed at the residence of Abdul Karim Babu Khan.

His stay in Hyderabad was for seven days, till 3 March 1942. During this period three large public meetings were addressed by him. The first meeting was on 27 February at Sikanderabad under the chairmanship of Nawab Mazar Yar Jang Bahadur. In this meeting the topic of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s speech was ‘The Greatest Benefactor of the Human Race’, in which he stressed the importance and imperative need of spreading the message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the world. In this connection he also removed some misconceptions about the Ahmadiyya Movement and acquainted the Hyderabad public with the work of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at.

The second meeting was also held in Sikanderabad on 28 February under the chairmanship of Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim, and the third meeting was in Hyderabad on 2 March under the chairmanship of Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang. In all these speeches the work of the propagation of Islam was highlighted, the attention of the general Muslim community was drawn towards the task of spreading the Holy Quran in the world, and some wrong impressions about the Lahore Ahmadiya Jama‘at were corrected.

On Friday 27 February he led the Friday prayers at the library of the Hyderabad Jama‘at and properly organised the Jama‘at. At that time Shaikh Muhammad Inam-ul-Haq was the missionary from the Anjuman stationed in Hyderabad and head of the mission.

In addition to the public speeches, Maulana Muhammad Ali also delivered many speeches at various functions. Many dignitaries of Hyderabad and Sikanderabad invited him to dinners and on all occasions he made speeches. Besides this, from morning to evening people came to see him at Abdul Karim Babu Khan’s residence.

This stay in Hyderabad made a very favourable impression: not only did the Anjuman benefit financially but the Jama‘at there was strengthened and many dignitaries became admirers of the Anjuman. Thereafter they kept on insisting that he come again to Hyderabad. So in 1946 he paid another visit, which will be mentioned later.

On the evening of 3rd March he started his return journey via Bombay. Till 6 March he stayed with Mr. Naseer Ahmad Faruqui at Thana, a suburb of Bombay. Here too he had occasion to make speeches at various functions and meet some prominent people of Bombay. On his return from there, he stayed in Delhi for one day and arrived back in Lahore on 9 March.

Visit of Mr. Usman Woo

In September 1942, Mr. Usman Woo, a prominent Chinese Muslim leader who was touring India, came to Lahore. He was keen to meet Maulana Muhammad Ali who at that time was in Dalhousie. As Mr. Woo did not have much time, a telegram was sent to Maulana Muhammad Ali who came to Lahore on 28 September and met Mr. Woo in the evening. Mr. Woo told him that Chinese Muslims were well acquainted with the Maulana’s name and work. He said that they knew two persons by the name of ‘Muhammad Ali’: the Muhammad Ali of politics (that is, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, editor Comrade) and the Muhammad Ali of religion. He said that he considered himself most fortunate to meet such a great author of Islam. On the morning of the 29th Mr. Woo again came to Ahmadiyya Buildings and spoke at length with Maulana Muhammad Ali and other prominent members of the Jama‘at. He informed them that many of the writings of Maulana Muhammad Ali had been translated into Chinese, mentioning in particular Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran, The Call of Islam, Muhammad The Prophet and Islam the Religion of Humanity. This literature had reached China due to the efforts of Babu Manzur Ilahi through his work of propagation by means of postal correspondence.* Mr. Woo also said that this was such a Jama‘at that has no parallel in the whole world and if Maulana Muhammad Ali ever visited China the Muslims there would treat him with the greatest reverence.

* [It was reported some years later that the books The Teachings of Islam, A Manual of Hadith, The Religion of Islam, The Early Caliphate and Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad had also been translated into Chinese (Annual Report of the Anjuman, 1960–61).]

Passing away of Dr. Basharat Ahmad

In April 1943 Maulana Muhammad Ali and his family in particular, and the Jama‘at in general, suffered a terrible loss when Dr. Basharat Ahmad died on 21 April. At that time he was staying with his younger son Mr. Naseer Ahmad Faruqui in Bombay. On 23 April his body arrived in Lahore by train and he was buried the same day. A few months before this, in January 1943, the Doctor sahib had completed the third volume of his monumental book Mujaddid-i Azam. After that he remained ill and had gone to Bombay.

Dr. Basharat Ahmad was born in October 1876 in Dharamsala. He received his early education in Sialkot, after which he got admission in the Medical College Lahore. In 1894 he married Halima Begum, daughter of Babu Safdar Jang, who was a police inspector. After completing his medical education he went to Africa for his first post, remaining there for eighteen months. After that he was stationed in different areas of the Punjab. He took the bai‘at in 1902 and, like other notable Ahmadis, he became so attracted to Qadian that he would avail every possible opportunity to visit it. In 1910 his eldest daughter was married to Maulana Muhammad Ali so that, in addition to other shared attributes which will be mentioned later, a family relationship was also established between them, forging a close connection between these two elders of the Jama‘at.

In 1931, when the Doctor sahib retired from his post in Ludhiana, a very lucrative employment was offered to him on behalf of a state. He wrote to Maulana Muhammad Ali, asking for his advice. In reply the Maulana wrote back the following couplet: 

“Life has been spent, there remains nothing except a few days.
Better it is that I should spend whole nights in the remembrance of Some One [i.e. God].”

The Doctor sahib was so moved by this poetic verse* that he decided to settle in Lahore, and the tremendous work he then performed in the service of the Holy Quran and the strengthening of the Jama‘at will be remembered forever.

* [Dr. Basharat Ahmad had this verse framed and installed it in his room. After his death, in his memory Maulana Muhammad Ali took it and affixed it in his own office.]

A glimpse of his incomparable personality and his love for the Holy Quran can be gleaned from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s Friday khutba and his article about the Doctor sahib’s life which were published in Paigham Sulh upon his death. He was buried on Friday, and in his Friday khutba on the same day Maulana Muhammad Ali said that although he did not feel able to deliver the khutba due to his shock and grief, he considered it important to tell the Jama‘at the lessons we can learn from the late Doctor sahib’s life. He said in this connection:

“Dr. Basharat Ahmad was not an ordinary person. He was in fact a saint of Allah whose life was a model for others. … Hazrat Mirza sahib was commissioned by God, so no one can equal his love for the Holy Quran. After him Maulana Nur-ud-Din was the one in whom love for the Holy Quran had reached the highest stage. And after him the late Dr. Basharat Ahmad showed the greatest love for the Holy Quran. By profession he was a medical practitioner in government service, but wherever he was posted in connection with his employment he started regular Quran teaching sessions (dars) there. His exposition had such great power of attraction that, let alone Ahmadis, non-Ahmadis also who once attended his dars would come again and again. … Just now at the railway station a young man said to me: the Doctor sahib was a lover of the Holy Quran and we young ones were lovers of his Quran classes.

In 1936 he fell critically ill but Allah restored him to health because He had ordained a task for him which no one else in either of the two Jama‘ats was capable of doing. After this illness he wrote Mujaddid-i Azam, which will make his name live forever. Two volumes had already been printed during his life and he had completed the manuscript of the third one. So it was when this work was accomplished that God called him back.

His whole life was spent in performing the noblest deeds. He served people in two ways: he treated their physical illnesses and their spiritual ailments. … He helped orphans and the poor and led them to better positions in life. … His offspring that he has left behind are also very morally upright. Though by his death we have lost a pillar of our Jama‘at, yet he has left two strong pillars he created in the form of his two sons.”

Maulana Muhammad Ali finished his khutba with the following words:

“Come, let us spend all our energies and strength to propagate the religion of Allah. Very few days remain of our lives. I am two years older than the Doctor sahib. I take everyday as a God-sent boon. Come and devote your life to the way of God. If you revive God’s name in the world, God will keep your names alive.”

Then Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote an article under the title Do Guna Qabil-i Rashk Zindagi (‘A doubly enviable life’) in Paigham Sulh dated 23 June 1943. Some excerpts from it are given below:

“It is mentioned in Hadith that there are two persons whose lives are enviable: one on whom Allah bestows wealth and grants him the moral strength to spend this wealth in the path of truth, and the other on whom Allah bestows knowledge and he uses it to give judgment and teaches it to others. How enviable is that person’s life who is enabled to do both of these: that is, he spends wealth in the way of God and benefits the world with his knowledge as well!

“Hazrat Dr. Basharat Ahmad was not a very wealthy person. He could have been if he had so wished, but this selfless man never entertained the desire to amass wealth. He was a reflection of the Holy Prophet’s attributes of helping poor relatives and being a support for all. Right from the beginning, a considerable number of his relatives who, due to misfortunes of life, were unable to support themselves, became part of his immediate family just like his own children. … Ever since the Doctor sahib joined the Ahmadiyya Movement, he gave the appointed proportion of his income in the way of Allah as if it did not belong to him. He considered the regular subscription to be a trust which he separated from his money, and he was always in the forefront in contributing to various appeals. He placed reliance on Allah to the utmost degree. He possessed many of the qualities of Maulana Nur-ud-Din; in addition to love and understanding of the Holy Quran, trust in God was one of these. When he retired he did not wish to take a half of his pension fund as a lump sum, saying that he did not need it. I suggested that he could use the money to build a house in Dalhousie where he could then spend summer months comfortably and serve the religion. He agreed to this somewhat reluctantly. I had this residence, named ‘Parveen’, built for him myself, putting much effort into it and supervising all the work personally. Then for the next ten years, without a break, I heard the recital of the remembrance of Allah from that house. … In fact it was my selfishness because I wanted him to be near me and me to be near him ‘so that we may glorify You much (O Allah), and much remember You’ [Holy Quran, 20:33–34, on Moses and Aaron]. …

“He left one-third of his estate to the Anjuman. More than one-third is not allowed by Islamic law, so whoever gives one-third actually leaves everything in the way of Allah. … The whole of his life, from beginning to end, shows a shining example of spending in the way of Allah. In an age when the hell of worldly gain is calling out for more and more people to enter into it, and the small belly of a man, which one day will be filled with a handful of earth in his grave, is not satisfied even by heaps upon heaps of gold and silver, and the fire of greed for material wealth is burning the heart and mind of every person — at such a time if there is a man in whose heart there is not even one corner touched by love of material things, then he is most definitely a saint. Love of mammon and love of God cannot coexist in one heart. Until a man’s heart is cleansed of the dirt of the love of wealth he cannot attain spiritual purity.

“When some virtue reaches the utmost height in a person, it then radiates out from him like a beam of light, illuminating the hearts of others. I have witnessed that the closer people were to Dr. Basharat Ahmad the less love of worldly wealth they had. Closest to a man are his offspring, but a person is powerless, no matter how deeply he wishes, to create the same qualities in his progeny as are in him. However, I have witnessed this particular virtue in all the sons and daughters of the late Doctor sahib. He had two sons, to both of whom God has granted positions of high worldly rank and given them much wealth, but the passion with which they serve the religion and the sacrifices they make in the cause of the faith are very rarely met with in people who reach such high positions. Material wealth has no attraction for these two. … I have also noticed the same traits in his daughters according to their status. His eldest daughter is my wife. I have had some very difficult times in my life, including the long period of five and a half years when I had no means of livelihood. But neither in that period nor afterwards, whether in prosperity or poverty, did she make any burdensome demands on me. In fact, during the period of prosperity, in response to various appeals over time she donated all her jewellery, by and by, which was never replaced.

“Another quality that the late Doctor sahib possessed, which our Holy Prophet has declared as the second enviable one, was that Allah bestowed upon him knowledge and understanding of His Holy Book to the highest degree and, along with that, He enabled him to impart this knowledge to others. And he imparted it in such a wonderful way that he infused into those people who listened to his teaching or read his explanations of the Quran the same love for this Holy Book as he himself entertained. A feature I noticed in his comprehension of the Holy Quran was that it overflowed with spirituality, which made your heart firmly convinced of the truth of his explanation. … His manner of expression was also highly effective, in writing as well as speaking. His own overwhelming conviction that everything in the Holy Quran is resplendent with truth, he filled the hearts of others with the same faith as well. I had little opportunity to listen to his teaching, and that only on three or four occasions surreptitiously, because due to his generous opinion about me he thought that whenever I was present I should teach the Holy Quran. Those three or four occasions were during the annual gatherings. Usually I used to leave the mosque after the fajr prayers and then the Doctor sahib would start his teaching. However, on those occasions I purposely remained in the last row so that he would not be aware of my presence. The last such occasion was during that annual gathering when on the last day he gave explanation of the two chapters The Elephant and The Quraish combined. It put the whole gathering in a state of ecstasy and it furthered my own faith in the word of God so much as to make a lasting impact on my heart. So on the same day in my concluding speech I said that when I was listening to his explanation I was wishing that the author of Bayan-ul-Quran should have been the Doctor sahib.

“Along with love of God and of His Holy Prophet and of His Holy Book, the Doctor sahib also entertained another love in his heart, and that was love for the man who had endeared the Holy Quran to him, in other words the Imam of the Age. After his retirement, having reached the age of sixty years, he performed that monumental task which will not only make his name live forever but testify to the tremendous power that love can create in one’s heart. This work was the writing of Mujaddid-i Azam. In 1936 at the age of sixty, at a time when he was laid low with illness, and had still to take care of two daughters following the death of his wife, the deep urge in his heart that he has mentioned in the Preface to Mujaddid-i Azam moved him to undertake the writing of a magnificent, massive book of two thousand pages for which he had to study and research through some twenty or twenty five thousand printed pages. This is love for the Promised Messiah. … By writing this book he has vastly excelled and surpassed all other biographers of the Promised Messiah. Only one man was worthy of such a task, and after his first serious illness Allah granted him a new life as if to enable him to write Mujaddid-i Azam. Just when the third volume was completed, the author was recalled  by Allah. …

“Love of wealth makes a person miserly while love of Allah makes him generous and enhances his moral character. Love of Allah is a light which bursts out from the heart and illumines the face. When such a person meets others it seems as if his face is radiant with light. A man’s character is also tested inside his home. The late Doctor sahib’s children loved him as dearly as it is possible for believers in One God to love someone while remaining within the limit of not worshipping anyone other than God. They were convinced of his closeness to Allah and the acceptance of his prayers by Allah. Whenever they faced any problem they would forthwith turn to him to pray for them. A true saint is he who is accepted as such by his close family. Many can appear to be saints to the outside world, but to be a saint at home is not easy. The late Doctor sahib was a saint in the home as well as outside. … For me he was always such a friend by merely meeting whom any sorrows I may have had were lifted from my heart regardless of whether I mentioned my troubles to him or not — and usually I was not in the habit of mentioning them. But the One Who really relieves us of our troubles is Everlasting: ‘And Allah is Best and ever Abiding’ [Holy Quran, 20:73].”

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