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The Great Mujahid: Life Story of Maulana Muhammad Ali

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

7. From June 1947 till end of 1950.

7a. June 1947 to end 1949

5. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
6. Non-English material

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Part 3
Life at Lahore
April 1914 to October 1951

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7. From June 1947 till end of 1950

Revision of the English Translation of the Holy Quran and campaign for distribution of literature

7a. June 1947 to end of 1949

(First of two sections)

As already mentioned, at the end of May 1947 Maulana Muhammad Ali along with his family went to Dalhousie as usual. During the month of May, due to intensity of heat in Lahore, he used to suffer from fever and some other ailments. That year also in May he was in a very poor state of health, but after reaching Dalhousie the fever stopped. On 25 June 1947 he embarked upon his last monumental literary project, the revision of the English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran. Thirty years had elapsed since this translation and commentary was first published and during these years, starting with Bayan-ul-Quran, the Urdu translation of the Quran with exhaustive commentary, he had produced many substantial writings in Urdu and English on the Holy Quran, Hadith, life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam. As a result, he felt the need for revision of the English translation. In these circumstances, at the age of 71 years this man of God took this revision work in hand. It was not a minor revision that he undertook: he made a great many changes in the translation, almost entirely rewrote most footnotes, and made other substantial amendments. However, two months had not yet passed upon starting this work when the country was overtaken by the cataclysmic events of the partition of India, and Maulana Muhammad Ali had to leave for Lahore in the most dangerous conditions, leaving his books and other belongings behind in his residence in Dalhousie.

Partition of India and journey from Dalhousie to Lahore

In 1947 India was in a state of turmoil and uncertainty. The British government was on the verge of quitting India, but no one knew who would take over power after that withdrawal. The most serious communal riots had broken out all over the country. In Lahore itself there had been terrible disturbances during the months of March and April, so much so that on two Fridays it was impossible for Maulana Muhammad Ali to go to Ahmadiyya Buildings from Muslim Town. On 3 June 1947, the Viceroy of India announced in principle the partitioning of the country into India and Pakistan, and on 14 August 1947 the state of Pakistan came into being after a provisional award of areas. Dalhousie was in Gurdaspur district, and in the provisional award the status of this and some other districts had not been finally determined, but as Gurdaspur had a Muslim majority it was assumed that it would be included in Pakistan. Consequently, on 14 August the Muslim postmaster of Dalhousie hoisted the Pakistan flag on the post office. At that time, due to riots, carnage and massacres having erupted in the plains of the Punjab, communication with Dalhousie by post and telegram was cut off and radio was the only source of receiving news there. After two or three days when the final award of partition was announced, the whole of the Gurdaspur district was given to India.

Dalhousie’s town population largely consisted of people who had come from the plains, the majority of them being Hindus. The local population consisted of Hindu mountain folk who worked as labourers, and among other such tasks they carried the luggage of the tourists from and to the bus station. When Dalhousie became a part of the new India, the Hindus there also went on the rampage, looting and burning Muslim shops and houses. Bakrota, where the residence of Maulana Muhammad Ali was located, was in an isolated place at a high position some distance away from the town. Now Hindu mobs started roaming this area, though still they did not have the courage to turn to violence.

Conditions were deteriorating rapidly. It is well known what happened to Muslims in East Punjab. Millions of Muslim men, women and children were abandoning their homes and fleeing to Pakistan. Thousands of them were brutally massacred on the way. Neither rail nor road travel remained a safe means of transport. At that time Mian Ghulam Rasul and Shaikh Mian Muhammad were also in Dalhousie with Maulana Muhammad Ali. On 21 or 22 August they learnt that a military convoy had arrived to escort them to Lahore. Maulana Muhammad Ali and his family quickly left home to meet the convey, but due to the long distance involved they discovered midway that the convoy had already gone. After that, it rained heavily for three or four days, and this saved their lives because Hindu mobs could not set fire to their homes.

On 26 August another military convoy was sent from Lahore to rescue them. They left their homes early on the morning of 27 August. No porters could be found to carry their luggage. With difficulty a few men were procured, and only the most essential belongings were given to them to carry, while Maulana Muhammad Ali and his family, and Mian Ghulam Rasul, Shaikh Mian Muhammad and Mian Afzal Husain made their way to the bus station. However, when they arrived there they discovered, after waiting for some time, that the Hindu porters had absconded with the luggage. So, almost empty-handed, they left for Pakistan. Men were in one truck and women in the other, and the military escorting party accompanied them. Even this did not guarantee safety because road transport was being looted even in the presence of the army. All through the journey they met crowds of distressed Muslims trying to make it to Pakistan, but who were being cruelly slaughtered on the way. As many of these as could be fitted into these trucks were taken on board. At last this convoy entered Pakistan on 27 August at about sunset time.

In Dalhousie, Maulana Muhammad Ali’s residence ‘Darus Salaam’, with his valuable books and other belongings, was burnt to the ground by the rioting mobs. He could only bring with him his bag containing the manuscript of his writing, which he was carrying in his hand. Similarly, his brothers and other relatives who lived in the village of Murar managed, with much difficulty, to escape to Pakistan with their lives.

Refugees Relief Fund

To help the Muslim refugees who had come to Pakistan having lost everything, Maulana Muhammad Ali opened the Refugees Relief Fund and appealed to members of the Jama‘at for each to donate one month’s pay to it. About Rs. 40,000 were raised to help refugees.

The annual gathering for 1947

In 1947, due to the devastating communal riots, the partition of the country and the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Pakistan, the annual gathering could not be held in December according to the usual practice. It was postponed and held on 26–28 March 1948. It was inaugurated by Maulana Muhammad Ali’s Friday khutba in which he referred to the twin treasures of faith and knowledge which enabled Muslims of the first generations to advance and bring the world out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge. He said that in the present age the spirit of Islam had been lost, and it was revived by Hazrat Mirza sahib. Today it is only knowledge that can build the state of Pakistan, and that is what Hazrat Mirza sahib has bequeathed to us. Let us not squander that inheritance like the prodigal son who wastes his father’s wealth. We should rise and revive the dying world with the spirit of faith and knowledge, without caring whether our name receives renown for doing this work. The world would be alive and Pakistan would be strengthened.

The next day he made a very moving speech, full of deep truths and knowledge, on the topic: ‘No one will overpower Allah’s Religion, but Allah’s Religion will overcome all’. He said that these were not his own words but were based on the Holy Quran’s claims. He cited the testimony of historical events, statements of the Holy Quran and prophetic visions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to prove that, just as at its beginning Islam emerged from a state of oppression to become victorious, it is again now emerging from its latter-day downfall, which came upon it according to Allah’s plan, and is at the start of its path of triumph in the world. It will achieve complete triumph, if Allah please. He said that we should keep it firmly in our minds and hearts that this is what the history of Islam was to be, it is God’s promise: Islam was under persecution first, then it became victorious, then it met with downfall and defeat, and now the time is again coming for it to be triumphant. It is now our mission to show the world the right path. Then in this connection he added:

“Two points are important. Firstly, you should have the same faith in the sure triumph of Islam as did the Holy Prophet Muhammad. If we have not acquired that faith from the Holy Prophet, then what did we gain? Secondly, we gave an undertaking at the hand of the Mujaddid that we will hold aloft the name of God. If, after making that confirmation, we do nothing, then what did we gain from that Mujaddid? Nothing is achieved by making these formal distinctions that we are Muslims and we are Ahmadis. Create real distinctions, and that cannot happen unless we have that fervour raging in our hearts. God also will not fulfil His promises with us until we create that zeal within us.”

Then he appealed for donations of Rs. 50,000 for the Woking Mission and Rs. 50,000 for buying a property for a mission in San Francisco, U.S.A. In the end, he called upon the Jama‘at as follows:

“Prepare your hearts. Pray to God, falling before Him in helplessness. When I found out that my residence in Dalhousie had been burnt down, I prayed: ‘O God, I used to pray for the victory of Your religion in that house. Now that house itself is lying before You, extending its hands in prayer’. Make it your habit that whatever you are doing, whether walking around, sitting or rising, whether in comfort or in distress, prayers are emanating from your hearts for the triumph of the Divine religion.”

Affiliation of the Woking Mission

It has been mentioned before that at the beginning of its life the Woking Mission was affliated to the Anjuman but from 1929 it functioned as a separate Trust. From 1 April 1948 this Mission was again affiliated to the Anjuman because it had been facing financial difficulties. From then on, the Anjuman took over both the expenditure and the administrative responsibility of this Mission and its magazine Islamic Review.

Stay in Quetta

As Dalhousie was now a part of the newly independent India, it was not possible for Maulana Muhammad Ali to spend summer there. So in 1948 he decided to spend summer in the city of Quetta (on the Western border of Pakistan), where his elder son Muhammad Ahmad was stationed in the course of his employment. On 8 June 1948 Maulana Muhammad Ali along with his family went to Quetta. At that time the most important task before him was the revision of the English translation of the Holy Quran, on which he was busily engaged day and night. Regular gatherings of the local Jama‘at also started to take place at his residence, and in the evenings he gave teaching in the Holy Quran. At the age of 73 years he was working so hard on the English translation of the Quran that, after the fajr prayer and then going for his morning walk, he would immediately have breakfast and then set to work. He would work ceaselessly till it was time for the zuhr prayer. In the afternoon he would take a rest for an hour and then resume work till night, except for that time in the evening when he met visitors or gave teaching in the Holy Quran. Although the weather in Quetta was very pleasant and salubrious, nonetheless this constant mental exertion weighed upon his health, as will be mentioned later.

Instructions for spiritual exertions in Ramadan

During his stay in Quetta, the topic of his Friday khutbas was always the service and propagation of the Holy Quran and prayer to God to help achieve these ends. That year during the month of Ramadan he specially emphasized all this in his addresses and writings. He had the following announcement printed in bold letters in the paper Paigham Sulh, every word of which expresses his passion for this cause:

About Ramadan and its blessings

Allah says: O My servants I am very near to you, whoever calls on Me I accept his prayers. Our Holy Prophet says: When Ramadan comes, the doors of Allah’s mercy open.

This was a fact to which the lives of our Guide, his companions and his true followers bear witness. But today it is a mere story. Why? Because our hearts do not have the same fervour for God, our bodies prostrate before God but not our hearts. Real prayer means only the rising of an urge within the heart.

Let us, during this Ramadan, shed tears not on the wrongs that others have done to us but on the wrongs we have done to ourselves, saying: O God, we have failed to value You, we have failed to value Your message, we have concealed Your message. We wish not to dedicate our lives to spread Your message in the world, we wish not to spend our money to take Your message to the world. We do things for which You have plainly threatened punishment. ‘Those who conceal the clear proofs and the guidance that We have revealed’ [the Quran, 2:159], the punishment for which is: ‘these it is whom Allah curses, and those who curse, curse them too … these it is on whom is the curse of Allah and the angels and men, of all of them’ [the Quran, 2:159, 161].

Even then we expect that the doors of Your blessings will open for us. With our mouths we say that You are near us, but our hearts are so distant from You that nothing could be any further.

Our foreheads are placed at Your threshold where we should find paradise, but in our hearts we are like the one who ‘amasses wealth and counts it, he thinks that his wealth will make him abide’ [104:2, 3]. With our tongues we say: O God, we are Your slaves, our wealth belongs not to us but to You. But our hearts are such that when we have to spend a few pennies to exalt Your name in the world, it feels to us like a huge hurdle, and we make false pretexts to try every possible way of avoiding parting with our wealth. O God, deliver us from this false existence. When, in the quietness of the night, we place our foreheads on the ground in prayer, we hear the ground saying in reply:

‘You have desecrated me with your hypocritical prostrations’.

O God, enable us to prostrate truly at Your threshold. Make us Your slaves that we would have no other anxiety but to raise high Your name. Be our Lord that You may turn to exalting the Muslim Umma in the world.

— Muhammad Ali.

A letter of advice

While Maulana Muhammad Ali was in Quetta, he bid farewell to his younger son Hamid Farooq who was leaving for England to pursue higher studies. At Quetta railway station, as the train was about to depart for Karachi, he gave his son a sealed envelope, instructing him to open it on reaching England. The letter in the envelope read as follows:

Colvin Road, Quetta, 1 August 1948, 24 Ramadan.

My dear Hamid,
May Allah keep you safe and sound. Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu.

I have reached an age where I am not sure if I will ever meet you again in this world’s life. I am writing some words of advice which may guide you in your long journey.

  1. Never forget that we have an Almighty God, Who helps us in our troubles and difficulties, and opens such ways for us as we could never imagine.
  2. Do not forget that each and every deed of ours is noted in God’s record. If it is good, it leaves a beneficial effect upon us, if bad then a detrimental effect upon us. We may hide our shortcomings from people but never from God.
  3. Alcohol is the root of all evils. Never go near it, never, never. Do not join in a gathering where alcohol is partaken.
  4. Keep up your daily prayers. Every morning make sure that you rise and say your prayers, and also recite a few verses of the Quran. Make it such a firm habit that it is the one thing that you never omit to do.
  5. Work hard and live a simple life. If you stick to these two habits, they will keep you happy all your life.
  6. Work very hard on your studies, but always keep in mind that you also do some work of service of your religion and good to humanity. Without this, there can be no bliss in life.
  7. Never hide this fact that, by the grace of God, we are Muslims, and we accept the Mujaddid of this century as our Imam — we are Ahmadis who do not accept the coming of any prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, nor do we call as kafir anyone who professes the Kalima.

      If you try to live up to this advice, God will be pleased with you, your parents will also be pleased with you, and you yourself will be pleased as well. When I am gone, be very good to your mother.

Wassalam, Muhammad Ali.

Another serious illness

At the beginning of September 1948, Maulana Muhammad Ali again fell somewhat ill. There was bronchial and lung trouble and persistent fever. The fever was always present mildly, and would at times increase. By the end of September the fever had become very serious and there was swelling on various parts of the body, probably because of the spread of toxins due to the throat infection. His debility worsened so much that his condition gave cause for grave concern. So on 5 October the renowned Lahore doctor Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh was sent to Quetta. He was accompanied by Dr. Allah Bakhsh, and Dr. Saeed Ahmad also went from Dadar. After a thorough examination, Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh said that the effects of pus had spread throughout the body. The basal parts of both lungs, the pericardium, and the front of the chest were also affected. In addition, the kidney function was defective. The infection was thus affecting all the major organs. Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh started treatment, and by the grace of God, there was a significant improvement within two days. The power of God the Most High was clearly seen behind this recovery, in that the right medical assistance was received just in time, while before this the treatment by the doctors in Quetta was not having any effect. Slowly and gradually the illness subsided, although weakness and infirmity persisted for a long time.

Being nearly the end of October, he left Quetta on the 23rd and arrived in Lahore on 24 October 1948. Before leaving, while being bed-ridden he gathered members of the Quetta Jama‘at around him and gave them instructions and advice for a long time. After this, on his directions each person individually promised under oath that as far as possible he would try to join the Friday congregational prayers. What Maulana Muhammad Ali was aiming at was that if all members met regularly even just once a week for Friday prayers, this would lead to the creation of an organised Jama‘at.

On 24 October a large number of members received him at Lahore railway station. He was still so weak that he was carried on a chair out of the station. After returning to Muslim Town his health improved day by day, although according to medical advice he had to spend another month in bed. Even in that state he continued his work and literary activities, and remained engaged in the revision of the English translation of the Quran.

Exhortations to the Jama‘at

It was a source of continuing distress for Maulana Muhammad Ali that some people in the Jama‘at were indulging in destructive criticism and carping at others, as such behaviour was damaging to the work of the propagation of Islam. To remedy this misbehaviour, he would address the Jama‘at from time to time in his khutbas. In his Friday khutba on 5 March 1948, reciting the verse from the Holy Quran “O you who believe, take care of your own souls — he who errs cannot harm you when you are on the right way” (5:105), he said that although this verse means that you must pay attention to your own selves and think first of mending your own ways, but in fact the words “take care of your own souls” are the foundation-stone of creating a community:

“These words draw attention to the fact that no person can make progress for himself by fault-finding in others and dragging them down, nor can a community be built in this way. Rather, everyone must first be concerned with his own reform, his own development. … Construction is difficult and people do not readily take a step to do such difficult work. As compared with this, destructive activity and running others down is very easy. To destroy and ruin another person is very easy, but to become something yourself is very difficult.

Today you are established as the heirs of a Reformer. You have undertaken the responsibility of spreading the message of God in the world. Have we all reached the stage that is required by the words: ‘O you who believe, take care of your own souls’? Have we given up carping at others and trying to knock them down, and instead are devoting all our energies to make ourselves more useful? Have we reached the stage of setting good examples for others to follow? Sadly, even here there are many who pay little attention to doing constructive works. Their minds are less on their own reform and more on showing up faults in others. I say to my friends, this is not the way to build a Jama‘at. To create a Jama‘at you must ignore the weaknesses and shortcomings of others, and focus instead on the correction of your own faults and failings.”

(Paigham Sulh, 17 March 1948)

He gave another Friday khutba, on 16 April 1948, on the topic that if we want God to forgive us our sins we must forgive the faults of others. He said:

“If anyone seeks forgiveness from Allah, his desire to be forgiven is false if he does not forgive other human beings. … This is the teaching given in the words: ‘Imbue yourselves with Divine morals’. … God is the Forgiver, but for those who are forgivers of others. He forgives even without repentance on your part, so you should do the same. … The Imam of the Age has also stressed this point and said that even if you are right, be humble as if you are in the wrong. It does not mean that you call yourself wrong willy-nilly, but that while you are in the right you should also exercise your power of forgiveness. Expect not that the person who is in the wrong should come to you and apologise. …

Some people take offence over trivial matters and think that unless the other person apologises they will not have anything to do with him. This way is not right. The Holy Quran prohibits it, and the Promised Messiah forbade it, saying that only by forgiving our brothers can the organisation of the Jama‘at continue to function. Save your power of fighting to confront the enemy, and use your power of submission on your brethren. Keep in the forefront the virtues of those who are doing the work and ignore their shortcomings. But I see that we feel no concern for our own ghastly faults but criticise those who are doing great and important works at the slightest error on their part.”

Press conference

On 23 December 1948, prior to the annual gathering, Maulana Muhammad Ali called a press conference at the hotel Stiffles in Lahore. In a short speech he told newspaper reporters that for the development of Pakistan, while there were many other issues, a crucially important problem was that the image of Islam and the Muslims in the eyes of the developed nations of the world was highly unfavourable, and this was why they were hostile to Islamic governments. Generally the European and American newspapers gave more importance to India and the views of its Congress Party, showing less respect for us. It was needed to show the world the real picture of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Muslims should be urged to take this work in hand. Wrong impressions of Islam can be changed, and our experience had shown that our efforts had brought about some change in thinking in the West. This, he said, was the responsibility of the Pakistani press. While they stress upon other issues and try to influence public opinion, they should also motivate Muslims to present a good example and true picture of Islam to the world.

At this press conference he showed the audience translations of the Holy Quran as well as other books, and expressed his belief that if the Western nations were shown the picture of Islam as presented in this literature they would surely be impressed. He added that this literature had gained universal acceptance and some of the books had been translated into different languages of the world by the people of those countries themselves. He declared that the honour of Pakistan was linked with Islam and if the newspapers could create this spirit among the public, of presenting the true picture of Islam, it would be a great service. Every Muslim should be a born missionary, and if he understands this point and becomes determined to spread Islam then a transformation can be brought about all over the world.

The annual gathering 1948 and campaign for distribution of literature

The annual gathering of 1948 took place on the usual dates of 25, 26 and 27 December. Maulana Muhammad Ali made speeches on all the three days. One speech was entitled ‘Prayer and the three ways to success’, in which he explained how prayer is the means of progress of three kinds for the human race. This speech was later on published in the form of a booklet. Its Arabic translation was published in Baghdad by Syed Tassadaq Husain Qadari under the title As-Salat wa taraq-ut-taqaddam ath-thalath, which became very popular in Arab countries and soon this booklet was translated in many other languages in various countries.

His other two speeches related to the propagation of Islam. Following up on the fact that the Anjuman had in the past spent more than 100,000 Rupees on the free distribution of literature, the particular plan he proposed to the Jama‘at in these speeches was that this work should be expanded and 100,000 Rupees should be spent for this purpose during 1949. After his three earlier campaigns for translations of the Quran, establishment of missionary centres, and creation of an institute of study and research of the Quran, this was his fourth and last great campaign. The subsequent work of the distribution of sets of books was also a part of this same fourth plan.

His own view was that 50,000 Rupees should be spent on sending literature to non-Muslims, mainly those in Europe and America, and the other half spent on distributing literature to Muslims, largely in Asian countries, paying special attention to making this literature available through libraries. He asked for advice of members of the Jama‘at about this and made an appeal to them for funds which was repeated after the annual gathering from time to time through Paigham Sulh and Friday khutbas. At the annual gathering itself he had appealed for 50,000 Rupees, in consequence of which 35,000 Rupees were raised in cash and the form of promises.

Another proposal was to organise the regular monthly subscription paid by members, as there was some laxity in this regard in the Jama‘at. After the annual gathering, in the Friday khutba on 31 December 1948, he requested Maulana Sadr-ud-Din to attend to this important task, explaining that his own health was now so weak that after delivering a khutba he could not do any work. Just after the annual gathering when he was examined again by Dr. Saeed Ahmad and X-rayed, he was advised to have complete rest for a further two to three months and to abstain even from his regular morning walk. So, he said in his khutba, he was unable to travel and was requesting Maulana Sadr-ud-Din to undertake this task.

Emphasis on publishing literature

During 1949 he put forward proposals of several different forms in connection with distribution of literature. In his Friday khutba on 21 January, referring to the command of God the Most High not to break trust, he said:

“We are also the holders of a trust. As a Jama‘at we have been made responsible for a trust assigned to us by the Mujaddid of the time. What is that? His first book, after his claim to be Promised Messiah was Fath-i Islam, in which he has explained that the purpose of his advent was to spread the word of Allah and the light of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the world and to come to the aid of the Muslims. After this, he writes that for the attainment of this purpose his work is divided into five kinds. Out of the five kinds that he enumerated, the fundamental ones are the first one and the last one. The first is the writing and producing of literature and the last is forming the Jama‘at. The ones in between these are encompassed by these two, so that booklets and notices come under the production of literature, and maintaining the guest house is connected with the formation of the Jama‘at.

In reality, therefore, he has given us two main tasks: one is to spread the Divine religion by means of writings and literature, and the other one is to form a Jama‘at. The Jama‘at is like an army and the literature is its weapon. These are the two means whose real purpose is the revival of the faith.”

Then he mentioned the impact that this literature had made and said that we need to produce such people in our Jama‘at who maintain the heritage we received from Hazrat Mirza sahib and set themselves to do the work that he entrusted to us.

The reason that he laid stress again and again on the work of the propagation of Islam was that there were some members of the Jama‘at who did not give it the importance that was due to it. They believed that it was more important to build a school and a college. One such member, in a Friday khutba, launched the proposal to build a college before any decision had been made by the Anjuman about it. In this connection Maulana Muhammad Ali, in his Friday khutba on 28 January 1949, drawing attention to the Quranic verses “There should be a party from among you who invite to good” (3:104) and “Who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah” (41:33), said that the first verse deals with the necessary arrangements for the advancement and progress of Islam, while the second verse tells us that the best work a person can do is to invite people towards the religion of Allah. This was the purpose for which Hazrat Mirza sahib had formed the Jama‘at. This work requires zeal, fervour and enthusiasm. On the one hand, you must be selfless, giving precedence to this work over all else. On the other hand, after dedicating yourself to the work of inviting towards Allah, you must not create disunity nor have mixed motives. He said:

“Unity and harmony are great blessings. Whichever path you take, move together as one. If you think that inviting people to Allah is not a worthwhile objective, or there is some other goal better than that, then unite and start working towards it all together. The worthwhile purpose is only one: inviting to Allah. By the grace of God, we have a system that depends on the consensus of the Jama‘at, and this system was established by the Imam of the Age. So whatever other work you want to do, place it before that system, and when the Jama‘at as a whole agrees on a course of action, then unite upon it. At that time ignore a man of limited thinking like me, and let him sit in a corner by himself.

Let me make it clear. A scheme has been put before you (i.e., publication and distribution of literature). Last Friday another proposal, for a college, was put before you. I want to make it clear that this was not the decision of your Jama‘at. So far your community has not decided to do it. The last General Council set up a committee to prepare a detailed plan to put before the Anjuman. The Anjuman has not decided anything as yet. When details are put before the Anjuman, it will be up to it to accept or reject the proposal. I have my own personal view but the decision will be taken by majority opinion. I have been told that I want to stop the creation of a college. I am not stopping it, but I do say that this proposal causes disunity and division. Do not let that happen. This proposal for a college is not new. It has been coming before the Anjuman previously but the Anjuman did not approve it. Till the Anjuman gives its approval, concentrate on one task, that of spreading the word of Allah.

The Promised Messiah has well said that our concern is not whether we succeed or fail in our efforts. We have to do the work in any case. As he wrote:

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.

He says: O God, I have taken firm hold of You. If You wish You can separate me out of anger or allow me to see Your countenance out of pleasure; if You wish You can destroy me or grant me respite, but I will never let go of holding on to You.”

(Paigham Sulh, 9 Febuary 1949)

Along with this, Maulana Muhammad Ali also had a great passion for the welfare and betterment of the fatherless children and poor members of the Jama‘at. In his very next Friday khutba after the one quoted above, he stressed upon the need to take care of the poor, the orphans and the indigent, which he believed to be very important for the progress of the Jama‘at. He explained that when he put forward the proposal for an institute for the study and teaching of the Quran (Idara Talim-ul-Quran), one idea behind it was that it would be an institution where boys from poor and rich families would live in the same conditions, with no distinction being made on the basis of wealth. If we set up English public schools, how many people would be able to bear the expenses of sending their children there? We should have an institute where all students live together as well as acquire knowledge of the Quran. He said that he was particularly hurt when, at a meeting of the General Council, the proposals for founding a college and a public school were being discussed, but the members forgot that one of the needs of the Jama‘at is to bear the burden of the fatherless children and the poor.

Due to the doubts being spread in the Jama‘at by some members, the plan for the distribution of literature was not proceeding at a satisfactory pace, and Maulana Muhammad Ali had to make appeals again and again for this scheme. In his Friday khutba on 11 March 1949 he said:

“Is it not a matter of wonder that your literature, which has been acknowledged at home and abroad as presenting the best picture of Islam, when I made an appeal for its distribution, very little attention was paid to it. It is saddening for me. I have no right to ask you to avoid causing me distress, but you should at least make some allowance for my age. … Try to present what is admitted to be the best picture of Islam to people who have not seen it so far. I know I have weaknesses and shortcomings, but I appeal to friends that if I am punished for my faults in this way then the damage that is done is to the religion of Muhammad the Holy Prophet.

I also say that service that is attributed to me is only fortuitous. The real service has been rendered by the Jama‘at, whose financial sacrifices enabled this literature to reach the world. You are the people who published this literature, and it is your responsibility to spread it in the world. I entreat you again: look, service of the religion of God is a trust handed to you by the Imam of the Age. You have taken great care of it and performed your duty to it. Rise and do your duty to it again today.”

Idara Talim-ul-Quran

In April 1949 Maulana Muhammad Ali again presented his proposals to establish the Idara Talim-ul-Quran (Institute for the study and teaching of the Quran) by republishing his speech delivered at the annual gathering of December 1945 about this institute in Paigham Sulh of 6 April. He invited members to send their views to him. His own suggestion was that until a proper building for this institute is constructed on the land in Muslim Town, the work could be started on a small scale as follows:

“Five to ten students having the ability to learn the Quran should be selected and accommodated by us, and alongside their college education they should also acquire knowledge of the Quran. They should live here together and their expenses should be met by us. … Then we would be able to find such people from among them who would be prepared to dedicate their lives for this work and become our missionaries.”

(Paigham Sulh, 11 May 1949)

Some time later this institution was founded in a limited form, in that a hostel for Ahmadi students who were studying in colleges was established in the building of Muslim High School No. 2 where they could live. Arrangements were made for their regular prayers, teaching of the Quran and weekly gatherings. In 1950 he proposed that a house be acquired in a better location, to which this institute would be moved. However, at that same time he fell dangerously ill in Karachi due to an attack of coronary thrombosis and this proposal could not be put into practice.

Passion for the propagation of the Holy Quran

During this entire period, each and every Friday khutba that he delivered was imbued with a distinctive spirituality. He urged repeatedly, and in different forms, the importance of studying the Quran, propagating it in the world, and beseeching God in prayers, particularly during tahajjud, for help. Extracts from these khutbas cannot be reproduced here, as it would be excessively lengthy to do so. He emphasised again and again that the Holy Quran inherently possesses the power to win the world over to it; the need is only to spread it. He considered all other work to be secondary. He never favoured any other plan on which the limited income of this Jama‘at should be spent.

All-Pakistan Economic Conference

In April 1949 the Pakistan Economic Conference was held in Lahore. The meetings were held in University Hall for three days. On 28 April Maulana Muhammad Ali invited to tea the conference delegates who had assembled from different parts of Pakistan. In a short speech he introduced the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, informed them of its past achievements and explained in detail its future plans. In reply Mr. Zahid Husain, who was at that time Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, thanked him and highly praised the work of the Jama‘at. The same evening Mirza Masud Baig read out an English speech by Maulana Muhammad Ali to the delegates in University Hall.

Stay in Karachi in 1949

In view of his old age and frail health, and under medical advice, Maulana Muhammad Ali decided this year not to repair to any hill resort for the summer but instead go to Karachi. It was also in mind that during his stay there he would raise funds for the distribution of literature. So he left for Karachi on 23 May 1949 and stayed with Mr. Nasir Ahmad Faruqui for about four and a half months, a stay that proved to be of immense advantage. His health improved greatly by the grace of God despite the fact that the revision of the English translation of the Holy Quran still demanded much work, and in Karachi there were many other commitments also to keep him busy. But what pleased him most was that during this stay he was able to do what he could not have done at any hill resort, that God opened new ways and means for the plans he was pursuing which he could not have envisaged. The work he used to concentrate on single-mindedly in his stays at hill resorts in the summer was that of writing books. However, during his stay in Karachi, this year and the next, many opportunities arose which enabled, in addition, many arrangements to be made for the propagation of Islam, and the foundations laid for the free distribution of literature. Besides this, he held many meetings with prominent Muslims from outside the Ahmadiyya Movement, Pakistani government officials and ambassadors from other Muslim countries.{footnote 1} He had also the opportunity to clarify the real beliefs and work of the Ahmadiyya Movement at various functions. He made one speech to students of the Sindh Madrassa College.

Some letters to members of the Jama‘at

From Karachi Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote some letters addressed to members of the Jama‘at through the paper Paigham Sulh. The first letter was published under the title ‘An Appeal to Senior Members of the Jama‘at’. He wrote in it that while there are many people in the Jama‘at deserving to be called senior figures, on the principle that “the best of you is he who is the most dutiful”, who are quietly carrying on the jihad that the Imam of the Age set them upon, and due to their efforts the Jama‘at has attained great achievements, but here he was particularly addressing those people whom the Jama‘at had appointed to administer its affairs, such as members of the executive committee and of the General Council and office holders in branches of the Jama‘at. He drew their attention to the fact that religious work could not be carried out without adopting humility and lowliness. Our aim is not to exalt ourselves. He said:

“I appeal from the depth of my heart to the senior people, who are involved in administration and management of affairs, that they should set a good example for the guidance of the Jama‘at. First and foremost, they must not hanker after positions or make demands that certain work be made their responsibility. People want these positions believing the work to be easy or wishing to elevate themselves. They do not realise what enormous responsibility they are taking on. … In religious work, which is done only for God, the person to whom responsibility is given should greatly fear that a burden has been placed upon him which is so difficult to discharge. … Our Holy Prophet Muhammad has taught us the golden rule that we must not appoint such people to duties who are yearning for appointment.”

Then he appealed to these senior men of responsibility that if, at the time of election, a position is offered to someone else rather than to them, they must not be offended, but develop the quality of selflessness. Secondly, when there is difference of opinion, it is not right that some people are prepared to resign because the decision has not gone their way. Our principle should be: qiyam fi ma aqama-llah, so that when a duty is assigned to us we must not refuse to accept it nor must we contemplate resigning, and if a duty is taken away from us, we must relinquish it without ill-feeling. This is the way of attaining the high station of the pleasure of God.

Then Maulana Muhammad Ali made some points about appointments, and said that only those people should be selected who set an example of righteousness and virtue for the Jama‘at and who use their powers as a trust that they have been given. As our Jama‘at has been formed to carry out a struggle (jihad) in the way of Allah, our leading persons must themselves be those who struggle. This jihad of ours is a struggle by means of one’s life as well as possessions. The person who does not make financial contributions according to his means is not, according to the instructions of the Promised Messiah, to be regarded as a member of the Jama‘at, let alone that such persons be elected to leading positions. In the end, he drew the attention of these senior members of the Jama‘at to refrain from criticising each other’s work or the work of the Anjuman in common gatherings as it is damaging. Proper ways should be used in order to correct faults and weaknesses, instead of publicising them everywhere.

Apart from the above, the other letters he addressed to members of the Jama‘at were in relation to jihad in the month of Ramadan, which that time was to consist of procuring subscribers for the magazine The Islamic Review and setting up a mission in Holland. Dr. Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah, Imam at the Woking Mosque, had again urged the setting up of a mission in Holland, as our Movement had an extensive amount of literature in the Dutch language. When Maulana Muhammad Ali received Dr. Abdullah’s letter in Karachi, Shaikh Mian Muhammad, who was visiting Karachi on some business, immediately took it upon himself to bear the entire cost of the Dutch Mission. Later on he established this Mission as a Trust.

Completion of the revision of the English translation of the Holy Quran

It was on a Friday in August 1949 that Maulana Muhammad Ali, after a labour of more than two years, completed in Karachi the revision of the English translation of the Holy Quran. Given below are some extracts from the Friday khutba he delivered that day. This khutba was published with the following titles:

The second important occasion of happiness in my life — Completion of the Revision of the English Translation of the Quran.

We acquired knowledge of the Quran by sitting at the feet of the Promised Messiah. Take advantage of this inheritance of knowledge and try to take the Quran to the world.

He announced:

“The verse I have recited today, ‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds’, I have recited on a specially joyous occasion. In my life there have been many other happy moments but this is the second occasion of special happiness. The first occasion was when I completed the English translation of the Holy Quran, and today it is the second when I have completed the revision of the translation. … Starting such a monumental task and taking it to completion depended entirely on the grace and favour of God. Many friends had been asking me for several years for this revision, but at my age I could not muster the strength required for this stupendous hard work. It was a task both huge and difficult. My earlier experience was there, when I had worked day and night for seven years. But those days were different. Then I had much more physical strength than I have now. I used to work for twelve to fourteen hours daily. When I got tired sitting down, I would work standing up. Now due to my age I could not take on this work. But Allah’s grace and mercy knows no bounds, and with His help this work has been completed today.

By coincidence when I wrote Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad, the gist of the teachings of the Quran on several subjects appeared in this book, and many points were included in it which had not occurred to me when I was writing the translation and commentary of the Holy Quran. This new light that thus illuminated my mind created a renewed strength within me. … How much change I have made in this revision, you can find out from my three friends who are at this time doing the typing as honorary work only to please Allah, namely, Chaudhry Khushi Muhammad, Muhammad Hasan Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Rasul, or after the translation is published then you will know.

I started this work in Dalhousie on 25 June 1947. Hardly had I worked for a month and a half when calamity befell. Three or four of us were stranded three miles away from the centre of Dalhousie. It was only by the grace of God that we escaped safely. … The jealous opponents of the Muslims had us marked as targets, so much so that their first action after we left was to burn down the residences of myself, Mian Muhammad and Mian Maula Bakhsh. So this work was discontinued for a long time. Then I took up this work again and continued on it in Quetta last year. There I went through another ordeal but I was granted a new lease of life by the grace of God. Having passed through these two difficult phases, completing the revision of the translation of the Quran is a source of tremendous joy for me. …

Reading the Quran illuminates your heart, but this depends on the concentration with which you read this word of God. … The boundless treasures of knowledge contained in the Quran will continue to be unfolded till the Day of Judgment. It is an ocean that no one is denied access to, but to get the valuable pearls from it is dependent on how much effort we put in for their acquisition.

I advise my friends to try to find solutions to the problems of the world from the Holy Quran. Apply thought to these problems and then ponder over the Quran. Remember this principle that the solution of the problems of the world lies in developing faith in God, and nothing else can create as much faith in God as can the Holy Quran. …

The true knowledge of the Holy Quran has in this age been disclosed distinctively to your Jama‘at, and this blessing is in reality due to that man at whose feet we gained this knowledge. He set us on the right path. To gain true knowledge, a balanced mind is required, and it is the blessing of God that this Jama‘at has maintained its mental equilibrium. This is why Hazrat Mirza sahib’s intellectual heritage continues in this small Jama‘at. There is another larger Jama‘at which became extremist in belief, and due to its system of blind obedience by the followers to the leader it lost its mental balance. Its own leader complains that his Jama‘at has lost its mental equilibrium. …

You must read the Quran, and read it with thought and concentration. Only God knows to whom He will grant knowledge, for the benefit of His creatures. … The other task is to spread the Holy Quran, in which everyone of you can participate, whether you are great or small. You can do whatever work you wish to, but make this task the aim of your life.”

Meetings with ambassadors of Muslim countries

Apart from his meetings and talks in Karachi with prominent Muslims from outside the Jama‘at, Maulana Muhammad Ali established contact in particular with ambassadors from different Muslim countries based in Karachi, and provided them with essential information about the beliefs and achievements of the Ahmadiyya Movement. When he began to arrange to meet the ambassadors of Egypt, Iraq and Turkey, it was discovered that they had not only heard of his name but held his services in deep respect, and considered it a great honour to visit him. Only the ambassador of Saudi Arabia was reluctant, and twice after promising to come and see him he cancelled his visit. So Maulana Muhammad Ali made an appointment see him and went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy accompanied by Mr. N. A. Faruqui and Shaikh Muhammad Tufail. There he spoke at length with Syed Abdul Hamid al-Khateeb, the ambassador. Maulana Muhammad Ali shed light on the Ahmadiyya Movement, the claims of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and the false allegation that he claimed to be a prophet. The ambassador said that he was previously unaware of the fact that this Jama‘at from among the followers of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad believed him to be a mujaddid. This, he said, was analogous to what happened in case of the followers of Jesus, and now his mind was clear about the actual facts. Maulana Muhammad Ali presented him with some of his own writings as well as a copy of Hamamat-ul-Bushra by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, which he gratefully accepted. Before they parted he embraced Maulana Muhammad Ali, telling him that he had great regard for him, and urged him to make efforts to remove these misunderstandings about the Ahmadiyya Movement from the Arab world and send literature to these countries in Arabic.

Later on the ambassador, accompanied by his son, visited Maulana Muhammad Ali at his residence and invited him to a sumptuous dinner. Then again, before departing for the Hajj, he invited the Maulana to another meal. It was the wish of Maulana Muhammad Ali that his book Tahrik-i Ahmadiyyat be translated into Arabic, and Hazrat Mirza sahib’s Arabic books along with this translation should be sent to Arab countries. However, due to his illness and certain other circumstances later on, he could not get this work started.

Distribution of free sets of books

Earlier, during the annual gathering of 1948, the plan to distribute literature free had been inaugurated, and work had started on it after some funds were raised. In Karachi Maulana Muhammad Ali was devoting special attention to this project. In August 1949 he reshaped this plan into that of distributing the literature in the form of complete sets of books to be sent to different countries. In his Friday khutba in Karachi on 5 August 1949, Maulana Muhammad Ali declared that the complete picture of Islam is today available only from the followers of the Mujaddid of the Age, and by the grace of God all aspects of this picture have been covered in the following literature:

  1. Translation of the Holy Quran with commentary.
  2. Life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
  3. History of the Early Caliphate.
  4. Authentic Hadith, in particular Bukhari.
  5. The book The Religion of Islam.
  6. The book Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad.
  7. The book The New World Order.

All this was available in English and had been translated into other languages. We would be rendering a glorious service to the religion of Islam and its propagation if we disseminate sets of these books in the world.

After this, in many other khutbas he kept putting forward the argument that, as Islam possesses such an intrinsic power of truth and beauty, if its true and complete picture is made to reach the world, then people will by themselves yield to it. He said:

“What will be the resources that will turn the vision that we have in our minds into reality? What those means will be, God alone knows. However, it is my firm conviction, which I acquired from that holy man from whose company I benefited for a long time, that if we show the world the real picture of the truth of Islam, of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and of the Quran, then undoubtedly people will bow their heads before it. Today we possess that picture. There is only the question of propagating it.”

Before returning from Karachi, in his Friday khutba on 23 September 1949, after reading the verse “Perhaps you (O Prophet) will kill yourself with grief because they believe not” (the Quran, 26:3), Maulana Muhammad Ali referred to the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s deep zeal to guide humanity and also the great transformation that ensued from that urge. Then he went on to explain that those who partake of that zeal and urge achieve success of the same kind, in accordance with their level of passion. He then spoke of the fervour of the Companions of the Holy Prophet and other eminent religious elders in Islamic history and their work of reforming the world. After this he dwelt at length upon the heart-felt desire of the Promised Messiah which resulted in practical work being done, on the one side, and an increased demand for knowledge of Islam in the world generally, on the other. He added:

“Every human being has a mission, and I have now completed my mission to an extent. Man has only a limited capacity, but due to the grace of God such Islamic literature has been produced which is needed by the world today, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Allah the Most High, by providing me the opportunity of sitting at the feet of Hazrat Mirza sahib, enabled me to render this service to Islam. If we now keep this prepared literature locked up at home, then there is no difference between us and the other Muslims. The real work is to make this literature reach the world. There is a very large English speaking world, and then there are other languages to be considered as well.

We have not yet built up the determination to spread this literature in the world. Even one individual’s resolve has great power, so if the whole Jama‘at shows the determination to do it, then nothing can stand in its way. But we are not yet fully resolute. This literature in fact constitutes the weapons given to us by God the Most High. The literature in English was not produced in one day. It took forty years. It has facilitated producing literature in other languages. Literature even in hundreds of languages is still not enough, but it needs immense effort and hard labour.”

Proposal to send free sets to five thousand libraries

On 10 October 1949 Maulana Muhammad Ali returned from Karachi to Lahore, and in the Friday khutba on 14 October, while speaking in detail about his stay in Karachi, he put forward the proposal of free distribution of sets of books. A set consisting of the following eight books should be sent to each of five thousand libraries throughout the world:

  1. The English translation of the Holy Quran with commentary.
  2. Muhammad The Prophet, the English translation of Sirat Khair-ul-Bashar.
  3. The Early Caliphate, the English translation of Tarikh Khilafat Rashida.
  4. The Religion of Islam, a book dealing comprehensively with all the doctrines and practices of Islam.
  5. A Manual of Hadith, English translation, with footnotes, of Hadith reports dealing with the practical side of human life.
  6. Living Thoughts of Prophet Muhammad, consisting of a summary of the life of the Holy Prophet and a gist of the teachings of the Holy Quran on various aspects of human life.
  7. The New World Order, in which it is shown that the only acceptable order for the affairs of the world is one based on Islamic principles.
  8. The Teachings of Islam, English translation of the speech written by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad presented at the multi-religious conference in Lahore in 1896, which contains the essence of the moral and spiritual teachings of Islam.

For the accomplishment of this plan, after the meeting of the General Council on 6 November Maulana Muhammad Ali went again to Karachi on 8 November and stayed there for over a month. During this stay he approached selected members of the general Muslim community outside the Ahmadiyya Movement, explaining to them the need and importance of this task and asking for monetary assistance. Before taking this practical step, he requested and urged the Jama‘at to say special prayers for its success. In the Friday khutba of 4 November he drew attention to two specific points. Firstly, we should make a special effort to improve our prayers, since at an earlier time in history also it had been the humble prayers of a community before God that had brought about a transformation in the world. Secondly, he requested that for the next forty to fifty days up to the annual gathering of December 1949 every member of the Jama‘at should take it upon himself to say tahajjud prayers. On 5 November he wrote an article entitled Du‘a, Du‘a, Du‘a (‘Prayer, Prayer, Prayer’) which was published in Paigham Sulh of 16 November. In it he urged the Jama‘at, in most sincere, heartfelt and powerful words, to pray to God for its own improvement and for success, and also for God to send him succour during the mission for which he was going to Karachi again. He also appealed to those people who harboured objections against him and had doubts about the plan for the distribution of literature, saying that they would not find any faultless human being to follow and obey, and that in any case taking part in this spiritual endeavour by means of prayer would not do them any harm but could only bring them closer to God. Then in the same article he has explicated the Sura Fatiha, the glorifications uttered during bowing and prostration, and every phrase of At-tahiyyat recited in the sitting posture, in such a way that as we utter these expressions during prayers an urge and zeal is sparked within us to carry the message of God to the world, and we pray for this mission from the very depths of our hearts. The entire article is worth reading and makes a powerful impact.

Charged with this passion and zeal, and accompanied by humble prayers beseeching God the Most High for help, Maulana Muhammad Ali in his second brief stay in Karachi promoted his proposal for the free distribution of five thousand sets of books before government officials, businessmen, industrialists and other affluent persons belonging to the general Muslim community. The Almighty answered his prayers, and those of a large number of members of the Jama‘at, and as a result of these efforts arrangements were completed during his stay to enable the distribution of 3500 sets whose total cost was 250,000 Rupees.

An objection and answer to it

While on the one hand there was all this fervour and passion, accompanied by hard work and prayers, to strengthen the ways of presenting the true picture of Islam to the world, on the other hand there were some persons who were reluctant to accept the importance of this work because they harboured some objections against Maulana Muhammad Ali on a subjective basis. They claimed that the classical, monumental and voluminous works including commentaries of the Quran written by the illustrious Muslim scholars of earlier times, for instance, Ghazali, Ibn Taimiyya, Razi the author of Tafsir-i Kabir, Ibn Jarir etc., could not be equalled by anyone, and that as compared to these great works we had not produced anything to be proud of. According to them, spending money to spread the literature produced by our Movement was not as useful work as to establish a college or run an orphanage. They held that the general Muslims had, in every age and time, enriched people by writing valuable books, so our literary work was nothing special.

It is necessary to clarify the position in response to these objections. No one can deny that the great scholars of previous times have written magnificent books on Islam and commentaries of the Holy Quran, from which everyone has been drawing benefit even till this day. Accordingly, Maulana Muhammad Ali writes in the Preface of his English Translation of the Holy Quran:

“Among the commentators, I have made the greatest use of the voluminous commentaries of Ibn Jarir, Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi, Imam Athir al-Din Abu Hayyan and the shorter but by no means less valuable commentaries of Zamakhshari, Baidawi and Jami‘ al-Bayan of Ibn Kathir. Among the lexicons, Taj al-‘Arus and the Lisan al-‘Arab are voluminous standard works and have been freely consulted, but the smaller work of Imam Raghib Isfahani, known as Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran, has afforded immense help, and it undoubtedly occupies the first place among the standard works in Arabic Lexicology so far as the Quran is concerned. The valuable dictionaries of Hadith, the Nihayah, of Ibn Athir and the Majma‘ al-Bihar have also proved very serviceable in explaining many a moot point. … Besides commentaries and lexicons, historical and other works have also been consulted. … And lastly, the greatest religious leader of the present time, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, has inspired me with all that is best in this work. … There is one more person whose name I must mention in this connection, the late Maulawi Hakim Nur al-Din, who in his last long illness patiently went through much the greater part of the explanatory notes and made many valuable suggestions.”

The question is whether the Mujaddid of this Age produced any religious knowledge, and whether the mission he set before us can be accomplished by publishing the classical commentaries and dictionaries of the Holy Quran and of Hadith, such as the works of Imam Ghazali and Ibn Jarir, or should we do something else?

This was answered by Maulana Muhammad Ali, after his return from Karachi in December, in the following words:

“What I said was not that we have written huge, voluminous books, but that if anyone has fulfilled the wishes of the Promised Messiah and carried out his mission it is only the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at. From among these wishes relating to the propagation of Islam, deep in the heart of the Promised Messiah, the first one was expressed by him in Izala Auham:
‘If my people help me heart and soul I wish to prepare a commentary of the Quran which should be sent to them [the Western nations] 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.’ (p. 773)
… This is not something insignificant. It was the Promised Messiah’s wish to do it himself. As it happened, he died and the work remained undone. But in fact his wish had been granted by God. So God enabled it to be done after his death, by very feeble hands.

Now I come to a second wish of the Promised Messiah which is mentioned in Malfuzat (book of his reported sayings). He says:

“I want to write a book on Islam and Maulvi Muhammad Ali sahib should translate it. It will consist of three parts: firstly, what are our duties to Allah, secondly what are our duties towards our own souls, and thirdly what are the rights of our fellow human beings upon us.” (Manzur Ilahi, p. 188){footnote 2}
Now think about how the book The Religion of Islam, which I wrote and which is highly popular, is fulfilling this longing of the Promised Messiah. In this book the foundation of jurisprudence has been laid which has been accepted as the basis for developing a new Islamic jurisprudence. All the issues on which the world today needs guidance have been discussed so comprehensively that many eminent men have described this book as an encyclopaedia of Islamic teachings. I met a Justice of the Chief Court who told me that he keeps my book in his library and when the need arises he consults it. As regards my commentary of the Quran, it is not one person but scores of people who have said, not to me privately but in public, that after reading this translation their faith in the Holy Quran has been strengthened and they are highly indebted to it. I am not saying this as a boast. All this has been granted by God.

Hazrat Mirza sahib had also a third wish. … He writes in Izala Auham:

“I would advise that, instead of these missionaries, writings of an excellent and high standard should be sent into these countries.”
… Ponder over why the Imam of the Age expressed his wish to send excellent literature all over the world instead of missionaries. It happens sometimes that missionaries, instead of bringing about reform, cause people to fall into a trial, and such trials have actually befallen. …

 Think about how this wish of the Imam of the Age has also been fulfilled at the hands of this small Jama‘at, that high quality literature should be disseminated in the world. This Jama‘at has produced monumental literature in support of the truth of Islam and of the Holy Prophet, containing facts showing the shining example of his life. It was the help of God the Most High sent down to this Jama‘at that enabled such glorious work to be done. But there is an even higher cause for which Allah has recently provided the resources…”

(Friday Khutba, 16 December 1949. Paigham Sulh, 21 December 1949)

The above explanation is contained in his Friday khutba which he delivered after returning from Karachi. In it, mentioning the scheme of the free distribution of 5000 sets of books and his efforts in that connection during his stay in Karachi, he explained how God had created resources to accomplish this plan, so that Hazrat Mirza sahib’s wish to produce literature of a high standard and distribute it in the world was being fulfilled by this Jama‘at.

His last address to the Qadian Jama‘at

In September 1949 Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote a pamphlet while he was in Karachi which was published under the title Jama‘at Qadian aur har Musalman ke liye lamha-i fikria (‘A pause for thought for the Qadian Jama‘at and for every Muslim’). The Qadian Jama‘at is specially addressed in this pamphlet, and it was his last address to this Jama‘at. It does not contain any discussion of beliefs but mentions only the deeply-held wishes of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and explains how these were fulfilled through the work of Lahore Jama‘at and his (the Maulana’s) writings. Attention is also drawn to various dreams, visions and writings of Hazrat Mirza sahib relating to Maulana Muhammad Ali and it is proved that they were fulfilled in him. He has invited the Qadian Jama‘at to ponder over this and come to the place where they will find the heritage of the Promised Messiah’s knowledge and where the work which fulfils the Promised Messiah’s wishes has been done.

Then, addressing the general Muslim community outside the Ahmadiyya Movement, he asks how can that man, the Mujaddid, have been an impostor who infused the love of God and a passion for the propagation of Islam in the hearts of those who joined him and who created a community whose members devoted their lives and possessions for spreading Islam in the world. Has there ever been in the world an impostor who filled the hearts of his companions with such zeal and fervour to propagate Islam?

Death of Mian Ghulam Rasul

On 23 December 1949 Maulana Muhammd Ali and the whole Jama‘at received a tremendous shock when the death occurred of Mian Ghulam Rasul Tamim. On that day Maulana Muhammd Ali in his Friday khutba dwelt only upon the late Mian Ghulam Rasul. He said that although he was a police officer but the company of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had illumined his heart with the light of God, as a result of which he led a life of high moral virtue that was an example to all. Wherever he was based, his moral behaviour won love and admiration from people. His heart was full of sympathy for humanity, and a large number of people benefited from his kindness. He was a tower of strength for this Jama‘at. God had given him much wealth and he spent it generously in the way of God. Hardly anyone excelled him in the work of propagation of this Movement and extension of this Jama‘at. His qualities of sound opinion, experience and forthrightness occupied a special place in the affairs of the community.

The entire Jama‘at was deeply shocked at the death of Mian Ghulam Rasul. On 24 December, when the annual gathering opened, the first session was cancelled in his memory, and after the zuhr prayers the Jama‘at held his funeral prayers in absentia.

The late Mian Ghulam Rasul was one of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s closest and most long-standing friends. The Maulana had the greatest love and regard for him due to his virtues mentioned above. He was with Maulana Muhammad Ali not only in connection with the affairs of the Anjuman when he came to Lahore, but he also often used to go to Dalhousie when the Maulana went there. These two saintly men were very close friends.

The annual gathering, 1949

On the second day of the annual gathering of December 1949 Maulana Muhammad Ali made a speech on the topic ‘Remembrance of Allah — the sole means of achieving tranquillity of mind’. He said that peace and salvation for humanity can only be achieved by establishing the rule of Allah. The Promised Messiah set us on this path and his wishes had been fulfilled through us. He referred to the universal popularity of the English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran. Some 40,000 copies had been spread in the world and many persons had admitted learning about Islam from it. He also mentioned the various countries where, upon some of our literature reaching there, it had led to the creation of branches of our Jama‘at and had changed people’s views. Then he put forward the plan of sending sets of books to 5000 libraries and informed that he had already made arrangements for almost 4000 sets to be sent. He wanted the Jama‘at to make arrangements to send the remaining 1000 sets. Upon this appeal, members began to respond and displayed a wonderful spirit of sacrifice. Depending on their means, some agreed to fund 100 sets each, some 50, some 25, and some members one or two sets each. They thus fulfilled his wish and supported this plan to completion. After this, ending his speech, Maulana Muhammad Ali said:

“The renaissance of Islam has begun. Outsiders are also now admitting it. Let not your eyes be closed to this work. The task that the Promised Messiah has entrusted to you is no small work. Keep its importance in view all the time and struggle whole-heartedly to make it successful.”


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

[1]. Karachi was the capital of Pakistan at that time.

[2]. See Ruhani Khaza’in No. 2, vol. 1, p. 392.


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