Tributes to the Lahore Ahmadiyya
| Translators Note:
The defendants asserted that Ahmadis are condemned
as kafir by unanimous Muslim opinion around the world. This
is entirely false. Distinguished Muslim religious thinkers, intellectuals,
and leaders of the community, have not only regarded Lahore Ahmadis
as Muslims, but have paid tributes to the work of Islamic propagation
and revival done by this movement and, in particular, by its great
leader Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali (d. 1951). Section 21.1
presents such tributes from the pens of prominent Muslims who are
held in high public esteem. Section 21.2 refers
to the work of the Woking Muslim Mission (England) under various
eminent Ahmadi imams, showing that leading Muslim figures and the
general Muslim public supported the activities of
21.1: Tributes to Muhammad Ali and
1. Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938)
This renowned poet-philosopher of Muslim India, regarded as the ideological
founder of Pakistan, made the following comments which may be read today
in published collections of his speeches and letters:
- In a speech made at the famous Aligarh College in 1910, he said:
In the Punjab, a pure example of Islamic life has appeared
in the form of the community which is called the Qadiani sect.
(Millat-e Baiza per ayk Imrani Nazar, published by Aeenah
Adab, Lahore, 1970, p. 84)
(Note: As the speech was made before the split, Qadiani
refers to the whole Ahmadiyya Movement.)
- In a letter dated 7 April 1932, he wrote:
As for the Ahmadiyya Movement, I believe that there are
many members of the Lahore Jamaat whom I regard as honourable
Muslims, and I sympathise with their efforts to propagate Islam.
(Makatib Iqbal, Part II, collection of letters of Iqbal,
published by Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1951, p. 232)
2. Mohamed Ali (d. 1931)
He was a famous Indian Muslim political leader from the first world war
till his death. In his well-known English autobiography, he writes:
It was about this time (December 1918) that a kind
friend sent to us a gift than which nothing could be more acceptable,
a copy of the Quran for my brother and one for myself ... with an
austerely faithful translation in English and copious footnotes
based on a close study of commentaries of the Quran and of such
Biblical literature as could throw light upon the latest Holy Writ.
This was the work of my learned namesake, Maulavi Muhammad Ali of
Lahore, leader of a fairly numerous religious community, some of
whose members were doing missionary work in England. ... The translation
and the notes which supplied the antidote so greatly needed for
the poison squirted in the footnotes of English translators of the
Quran like Sale, Rodwell and Palmer, the fine printing, both English
and Arabic, the India paper and the exquisite binding in green limp
Morocco with characteristic Oriental Tughra or ornamental calligraphy
in gold, all demonstrated the labour of love and devoted zeal that
so many willing workers had obviously contributed. This beautiful
book acted like the maddening music of the Sarod, according to the
Persian proverb, on the mentally deranged, and in the frame of mind
in which I then was I wrote back to my friend who had sent these
copies of the Quran that nothing would please me better than to
go to Europe as soon as I could get out of the bounds
prescribed by my internment and preach to these war maniacs from
every park and at every street corner, if not within the dubious
precincts of every public house, about a faith that was meant to
silence all this clamour of warring nations in the one unifying
peace of Islam.
(My Life A Fragment, edited by Afzal Iqbal, published
by Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1966 reprint, p. 115; extract above is
quoted in original English.)
3. Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi (d. 1977)
He was a well-known Muslim theologian of India, and a recognised leader
of orthodox opinion.
- In a book about his contemporaries, he includes a section on Maulana
Muhammad Ali, in which he writes:
It was 1909. ... Through reading English books written by
agnostics, I had turned from a good believer to a heretic. ... My
apostasy continued till 1918. ... At that time, I read the English
Quran commentary by Muhammad Ali of Lahore. It convinced me that
the Quran is no collection of hearsay stories, but a collection
of deep and sublime truths, and if it was not heavenly,
it was almost heavenly.
(Muasareen, Lucknow, India, 1979, p. 43)
- In his autobiography, he wrote:
When I finished reading this English Quran [translation
and commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali], on searching my soul I
found myself to be a Muslim. I had recited the Kalima unhesitatingly,
without deceiving my conscience. May Allah grant this Muhammad Ali
paradise! I am not concerned with the question whether his belief
about Mirza sahib was right or wrong. What should I do about my
personal experience? He was the one who put the last nail in the
coffin of my unbelief and apostasy.
(Aap Beti, Shadab Book Centre, Lahore, 1979, pp. 254
- Reviewing Maulana Muhammad Alis English translation of the
Holy Quran in the newspaper Such of Lucknow, which he edited,
Abdul Majid Daryabadi wrote:
To deny the excellence of Maulana Muhammad Alis translation,
the influence it has exercised and its proselytising utility, would
be to deny the light of the sun. The translation certainly helped
in bringing thousands of non-Muslims to the Muslim fold and hundreds
of thousands of unbelievers much nearer Islam. Speaking of my own
self, I gladly admit that this translation was one of the few books
which brought me towards Islam fifteen or sixteen years ago when
I was groping in darkness, atheism and scepticism. Even Maulana
Mohamed Ali of the Comrade [see ref. 2 above] was greatly
enthralled by this translation and had nothing but praise for it.
(Such, Lucknow, 25 June 1943)
4. Marmaduke Pickthall
He was a famous British Muslim whose English rendering of the Quran is
one of the best known and most popular translations today. Shortly before
his death, he wrote a review of Maulana Muhammad Alis book Religion
of Islam as follows:
Probably no man living has done longer or more valuable service
for the cause of Islamic revival than Maulana Muhammad Ali of Lahore.
His literary works, with those of the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, have
given fame and distinction to the Ahmadiyya Movement. In our opinion
the present volume is his finest work ...
Such a book is greatly needed at the present day when in many
Muslim countries we see persons eager for the reformation and revival
of Islam making mistakes through lack of just this knowledge. ...
We do not always agree with Maulana Muhammad Alis conclusions
upon minor points sometimes they appear to us eccentric
but his premises are always sound, we are always conscious of his
deep sincerity; and his reverence for the holy Quran is sufficient
in itself to guarantee his work in all essentials. There are some,
no doubt, who will disagree with his general findings, but they will
not be those from whom Al-Islam has anything to hope in the future.
(Islamic Culture, quarterly review published from Hyderabad
Deccan, India, October 1936, pp. 659 660; extract above is
quoted in original English.)
5. Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar
Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar produced an English translation of the Quran in 1929.
In the introduction to this work, he gave the following evaluation of
the earlier translation by Maulana Muhammad Ali:
The English translation of the Holy Quran is not the only
book he has written, but it is the one by which he will perhaps become
an immortal amongst those who have written about the Holy Quran. ...
The English of the Preface and the notes is unimpeachable, and Maulavi
Muhammad Ali has corrected the mistakes of the previous translators
in scores of passages; and wherever he differs from them his rendering
is either the correct and most authoritative one or has at the back
of it full support to be found in the standard dictionaries of Arabic.
There is no other translation or commentary of the Holy Quran
in the English language to compete with Maulavi Muhammad Alis
masterpiece. ... It was reprinted in 1920, and both editions have
had phenomenal success and popularity amongst all classes of Muslims.
(Translation of the Holy Quran, by Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, second
edition, National Book Foundation, Pakistan, 1973, pp. xxxvi
xxxvii; extract above is quoted in original English.)
6. Shaikh Muhammad Ikram
He is the author of a well-known triplet of books on the history of Islam
in the Indian subcontinent. In Mauj-i Kausar, covering the period
from 1800 to 1947, he writes about the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
An important work which this [Lahore Ahmadiyya] Jamaat
is doing is the propagation of the Quran, especially among English-reading
Muslims and also non-Muslims. The translation and commentary of the
Quran by Muhammad Ali, head of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, was the
first translation in the English language done by a Muslim. ...
Besides translations of the Holy Quran, the [Lahore] Ahmadiyya
Jamaat is also producing books on Hadith and Islamic history.
... Some time ago, the Anjuman issued a very high standard quarterly,
The Muslim Revival, in English from Lahore, containing very
valuable articles on literary, political and religious issues. Allama
Iqbal wrote so many articles for it. ...
Another most important work done by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat
is the propagation of Islam in foreign countries. ...
The missionary efforts of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat are not
limited to only England, but they have missionary centres in many
other countries as well. Among all the Muslims of the world, the Ahmadis
and the Qadianis were the first to realise that, although this is
the age of the political decline of Islam, yet the freedom of preaching
under Christian governments gives Muslims an opportunity from which
full advantage should be taken.
(Mauj-i Kausar, Idara Saqafat Islamia, Lahore, 1979, pp.
7. Dr Israr Ahmad
He is one of Pakistans leading theologians today. In his book on
the Jamaat-i Islami, the prominent political and religious
party of that country, he comments as follows regarding this organisations
stand on the Ahmadiyya issue in the 1950s:
In the initial stages, the leaders of the Jamaat-i Islami,
when asked about their view of [the conflict between] the Qadianis
and the Ahrar movement against them, gave the following answers in
private meetings: ...
4. Even if the question of the Qadianis is clear, the
question of the Lahore Ahmadis is not so clear. As they accept Mirza
Ghulam Ahmad as only a Mujaddid, it is not right from any aspect
to call them kafir.
The meaning is that Qadianism is itself not worthy
of being made an issue. ... However, in 1952, when the leaders of the
Ahrar did make it an issue, and provoked the passions of the masses,
principle and courage demanded that the above should be said publicly,
and the people be told that they were needlessly being incited, and
that the issue was not so important, nor was the solution that which
was being proposed. ...
Sacrificing its principles, the Jamaat-i Islami added
as the ninth point to its eight point demand, that Qadianis should
be declared as a non-Muslim minority.
(Tahrik Jamaat Islami, Darul Ishaat Islamia,
Lahore, 1966, pp. 189 190)
8. Jafar Khan
In a critical analysis of the whole Ahmadiyya Movement, Muhammad Jafar
Khan, a Pakistani advocate, writes about the Lahore Ahmadis:
We consider the Lahore Group in a sense to be victims of injustice.
As compared to the Qadianis, they are much fewer in number, but they
have done much more solid work for the propagation of Islam than the
Qadianis. In this connection, the names of Maulana Muhammad Ali and
Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din are specially worthy of mention. The Maulana
has translated the Holy Quran into English, and written a three-volume
Urdu commentary on the Quran as well. The English translation was
very important at that time because, probably, only non-Muslims had
translated the Quran into English up to that time. The Maulanas
decision to bring out another edition of the English translation without
the Arabic text is also praise-worthy, because we consider this to
be necessary in translating and spreading the Quran in other languages.
Besides these books the Maulana has also translated the Sahih Bukhari
into Urdu. This two-volume book also has useful explanatory notes.
Although the manner of deduction in many of his explanatory notes
will not be acceptable to many people, it will be conceded by everyone
that these books have been written after great labour and full research,
and are a useful and thought-provoking addition to Islamic literature.
The Maulana has also written some other books such as Collection
of the Holy Quran, and Position of Hadith. Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din
has written countless books and pamphlets on a diverse range of religious
subjects in Urdu and English. His English books, especially, have
proved valuable in the propagation of Islam in Europe.
(Ahmadiyya Tahrik, Sind Sagar Academy, Lahore, 1958, pp.
9. Sayyid Abul Ala Maudoodi
In a private letter dated 23 Muharram 1357 A.H. (about 1937), Abul
Ala Maudoodi wrote:
From among the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, I also do
not consider Qadianis and Ahmadis to be in the same category. I consider
the Qadiani group to be excluded from Islam. However, the Ahmadi group
is included in Islam. ... We cannot issue a valid verdict of the Shariah
against them because they deny the prophethood of Mirza.
(A photocopy of the original, hand-written letter was available
for submission to the court, should the defendants have so required.)
21.2: Woking Mission under Lahore Ahmadiyya
The Woking Muslim Mission in Woking, Surrey, England, was founded by Khawaja
Kamal-ud-Din (d. 1932), a prominent follower of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
and a founder-member of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. (This Mission was
run by the Lahore Ahmadis till about 1965.)
Shaikh Muhammad Ikram, in his well-known history of Indian Muslims,
Mauj-i Kausar, writes as follows about the period covered by
In European languages, Islam was best represented by Sayyid
Ameer Ali. And in Western lands, our most successful missionary Khawaja
Kamal-un-Din was engaged in his work during this era. (p. ii)
The Pakistani writer Ashiq Husain Batalvi, in his Urdu book Chand Yadain,
Chand Tasirat (Some Memories, Some Impressions), has an
entire chapter on the Woking Muslim Mission:
The name of the Woking Muslim Mission has reached more or
less every part of the world. It has done so much work of propagation
of Islam in Europe that no other body has probably done as much. ...
Note: All the Imams referred to in the above extract were prominent members
of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat.
In 1912 the late Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din came to England. He
was a successful lawyer in Lahore, but he had a tremendous love for
Islam. Leaving his practice, he devoted his life for the propagation
of Islam and came to England for this purpose. ...
Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din created a trust for the running of the
mosque which initially had three members: Sayyid Ameer Ali, Mirza
Sir Abbas Ali Baig, and Sir Thomas Arnold who was Iqbals teacher.
This trust appointed the Khawaja as the Imam, and since that time
the Woking Mosque has been the biggest centre of Islamic propagation
in England. ...
Through his efforts the English translation of the Quran by
Muhammad Ali was published from Woking in 1917. This was without doubt
a great achievement because before that no Muslim of the world had
translated the Divine Word into English. ...
Apart from the Khawaja, other people who served as Imams of
the Woking mosque included Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, Maulana Muhammad Yaqub
Khan, Maulavi Mustafa Khan, Dr Muhammad Abdullah and Maulavi Aftab-ud-Din,
whose names deserve honour and respect. ...
Besides propagation work, the Woking Mission is the centre
of those hundreds of thousands of Muslims who live in England. They
include Muslims of every country from Morocco to China. On Eid occasions,
the scene at Woking is worthy of view. There are Muslims gathered
from Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Malaya, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Arabia,
Nigeria, Algeria, in short, every race, colour and nation. There are
also many English converts to Islam. ...
The Imam of the Woking mosque is especially busy. Many societies
and organisations in Britain often hold meetings at which representatives
of different faiths are invited to speak. The Imam of Woking, usually
and often, has the honour to represent Islam at these functions.
(Chand Yadain, Chand Tasirat, published by Aeenah Adab, Lahore,
1969, pp. 399 405)
MUSLIMS SUPPORT WOKING MISSION
Given below, by way of example, are some instances of gatherings at the
Woking Muslim Mission under Lahore Ahmadi Imams, attended and addressed
by prominent, world-famous Muslims of various sects and nationalities.
The reports are taken from the Missions organ, The Islamic Review,
of the time.
- Meeting in London on 6 October 1916 chaired by Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din.
Participants included Mr. Pickthall and Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali,
both of whom published English translations of the Quran some years
later. Yusuf Ali also addressed the meeting. Muslims from India, Egypt
and Iraq were also present.
(The Islamic Review, November 1916, pp. 512 525)
- Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at Woking, 9 February 1932, led by Maulavi
Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad. Among those attending were the Egyptian Charge
dAffairs and the Persian ambassador. The report also says:
Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the renowned Indian-Muslim politician,
also spoke in appreciation of the Mosque and its work.
(The Islamic Review, April 1932, pp. 101 103)
- Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at Woking, 15 December 1936, led by Maulavi
Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad. Among those attending were the Saudi Arabian and
Iraqi ambassadors, and Ameer Adel Arsalan. Report contains photograph
showing the Imam giving the sermon, and the dignitaries in the congregation.
(The Islamic Review, February 1937, pp. 42 44)
- Holy Prophet Muhammads birthday celebration in London, 22
May 1937, led by Maulavi Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad. Among those attending
were: Crown Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia, princes and Sultans from
the Muslim world, and various Arab ambassadors. A list of some of
their names is printed.
(The Islamic Review, July 1937, pp. 242 245)
In March 1926, Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din visited South Africa. He was welcomed
by the entire Muslim community of Durban. Meetings were held in honour
of the Khawaja and Lord Headley, a British Muslim, and they delivered
speeches in the Town Hall. Reports from the South African Press (The
Latest of Durban, 20 March 1926, Natal Witness, 27 March
1926, and Natal Mercury, 22 March 1926) are printed in the Islamic
Review, June 1926, pp. 206 214.