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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.

7b. The year 1950

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

7b. The year 1950

(Second of two sections)

Events of 1950

Due to exertion during the annual gathering, weak health and the shock of the death of a dear and close friend Mian Ghulam Rasul, Maulana Muhammad Ali fell ill after the Gathering and was confined to bed for several days. By the middle of January 1950, he was comparatively better, began to move about and became busy in his work as usual. However, in the beginning of May, as the weather grew hotter, he started having high temperature in the afternoons. Almost every year he used to suffer from this problem due to weak health and other medical conditions. On 30 May he again went to Karachi to spend the summer there. During all this period he rewrote the Preface and Introduction to the English translation of the Holy Quran and revised the manuscript of the translation. By the end of July, the proofs of the translation started arriving from England, and he read and revised them himself. He continued this work even after his serious heart attacks, which will be mentioned later, and completed the task before his death.

Khutbas of 1950

A particular characteristic of the khutbas and writings of Maulana Muhammad Ali throughout his life was the emphasis he placed on praying, and especially the saying of the tahajjud prayer, acquiring knowledge of the Holy Quran, the need and importance of spreading the Quran and other Islamic literature in the world, and making financial sacrifices for this end. In his last days, his khutbas and writings became even more than ever before marked by spirituality and by passion and zeal for these objectives, and they will always serve as a beacon of light for the Jama‘at. As sometimes the focus of the Jama‘at is distracted away from its real goal, and some members place more emphasis on secondary matters, it seems important to include here some extracts from his khutbas and writings. These would make clear to the Jama‘at what was the real aim and substance of the work of his entire life, on which path he led the Jama‘at himself, to which path he wanted to lead it, and what was the yearning and passion in his heart in his last days. This was the man who, in the prime of his youth, gave up worldly entanglements to join the company of the Mujaddid of the Age. Then having illuminated his heart with the light he received from his Mentor he served the religion of Islam day and night for fifty years, fulfilling the wishes of the Mujaddid and producing unique literature on Islam including commentaries of the Holy Quran.

From February to April 1950 he delivered a series of khutbas in this connection. First he devoted several khutbas to the verse of the Quran which begins: “And when My servants ask you about Me, I am nigh…” (2:186), and explained that to attain the nearness to God spoken of here, two means have to be adopted: to develop a strong passion in your heart to spread the message of God in the world, and to bow before Him for this objective and pray for it.

In his first khutba he explained that prayer is the means of attaining nearness to God. He said:

“I want to draw the attention of friends to the fact that our work is the very monumental task of spreading Islam in the world and removing darkness in the world by means of the light of the Holy Quran and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This glorious task demands from us that we spend our wealth for its attainment. … But there is something more we need, without which even our money and our efforts are of no avail … that is falling before God in prayer and endeavouring to attain nearness to Him. … People find it difficult to follow this path, but you must remember that prayer is the means by which man can achieve sure and definite success. The best time for prayer, as you will see by reading the whole of the Quran or studying the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, is none other than the later part of the night. … Although in the early days of the mission of the Holy Prophet only a small portion of the Holy Quran would have been revealed, but read Sura Muzammil (ch. 73) and you will find that the Holy Prophet Muhammad and that hallowed group of his Companions used to rise at night and remain in prayer before God. … God the Most High says that rising at night creates tremendous power and strength in one’s heart. …

Getting up at night to pray before God is the recipe for doing more work, which everyone can experience. We saw the Imam of the Age, Hazrat Mirza sahib. He used to spend the greater part of the night in tahajjud prayer. Look at his work, how magnificent it is! Even till the last moments of his life he continued to write books upon books. He was not merely an author, but one who had created a connection with God and used to write through the Divine light that he thus received. … Many great saints and men of God have tried this path and found it the right one. So two aspects are clearly seen in their lives: an excess of worship of God and an excessive amount of work. …

Rise up at night and pray. To be enabled to serve the Quran is a great blessing. Implore God to grant you the spiritual strength by which you can carry the light of the Quran to others. I appeal to all members of the Jama‘at that if they want to succeed in achieving their magnificent goal, there is only one way — prayer. As much as possible they must cry before God and keep their stress on prayer, so much so that prayer must be uppermost in their minds during all activities. … While prayers in congregation are a means of attaining a high goal, you must also say some of your prayers in solitude, in some corner of the house where there is no one to see you but God. Develop the kind of prayer in which, when you are in prostration before God and the time comes to rise from it, you feel unable to lift your head.”

(Friday Khutba, 3 February 1950)

In his next khutba on 10 February he made it clear as to which prayer can take a human being closer to God in actual fact. There are some aims which also coincide with the will of God. While Hazrat Mirza sahib has set us upon an arduous task, he has also given us the good news that it is the Divine will that it shall be accomplished. What is required is that by praying we instil this Divine intent within ourselves. That Divine will is what was destined to happen with the coming of the Imam of the Age, namely, the triumph of Islam over all other faiths and the spread of the light of the Quran over all the world. So our prayer should also be for the triumph of Islam in the world and the spread of the light of the Quran. This is the prayer about the acceptance of which there is no doubt. He added:

“I ask of you only one thing: that is zeal in your hearts. Develop a passion in your hearts for the propagation of the Quran. Bow before God and implore Him, saying: O God, this holy word of Yours, which contains a priceless treasure, it is today in a state of neglect. Create some means, by Your grace, for its propagation and generate in our hearts the desire to serve it.

Each and every one of you should get up and cry before God. If you cannot leave your warm beds at night then find time at least during the day to bow before God in solitude and pray, as to why we are so powerless to take the Holy Quran to the world. We had made an affirmation and pledge with the Imam of the Age. Why, then, have we lost the power and strength to fulfil our promise.”

In his third Friday khutba in this series, on 17 February 1950, he said that in his first two khutbas he had drawn attention to prayer, that what is needed most by an organization which is bearer of the Quran is not abundance of assets and funds but the power of spirituality. The second principle that he now wished to explain was the study and teaching of the Quran. He then went over, in detail, the great qualities of the Holy Quran and explained what state a believer ought to be in when reciting the Holy Quran. It is “a Book … at which do shudder the skins of those who fear their Lord” (39:23), that is, the awe of Divine greatness must cast its influence on the body of the reciter as well. And continuing this verse: “Then their skins and their hearts soften at Allah’s remembrance”, that is, the body and heart should soften to receive the influence of the Divine word, and the heart should be so moved that the eyes shed tears spontaneously. When a person sheds tears because he is overwhelmed by the greatness of Allah or he cries because of feeling sympathy for another human being, it creates within him a power and energy.

Then Maulana Muhammad Ali spoke of the Holy Prophet Muhammad reciting the Quran, having it read out to him, and shedding tears upon hearing it. He described in detail the Promised Messiah’s love for the Quran and said:

“I would request friends to develop true, heartfelt love and adoration for the Holy Quran and to read it over and over again. … What a great love and devotion for the Holy Quran was shown in this age by the Imam of the time! If you are really the followers of this Imam then create such a love in your hearts, the example of which was set before us by the Imam of the Age in his life.”

Then he advised that, firstly, every man and woman should read some portion of the Holy Quran daily, the best time for this being fajr (early morning). Secondly, asking others to read the Holy Quran to you is also Sunna. Thirdly, the Holy Quran should be taught to those who do not know it. Fourthly, some portions of the Quran should be committed to memory. Fifthly, there should be an institute for doing research in knowledge of the Quran.

In his fourth khutba in this series on 24 February 1950 he said that as regards the great task before us, he had already drawn attention to two basic points for carrying it out. One is prayer and the other is reciting the Holy Quran, acting upon it, and studying and teaching it. Now he wanted to refer to a third basic point, and that is that the Ahmadiyya Movement demands sacrifice from its members. This is the kind of sacrifice that is spoken of in the Quran in the words: “Perhaps you will kill yourself with grief because they believe not” (26:3). Although this is addressed primarily to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, it also addresses every person who professes La ilaha ill-allah Muhammad-ur Rasul- ullah. The religion of Islam was established and spread through sacrifices and in future too it will be spread only by sacrifices.

He then said that the highest sacrifice is to devote one’s life for the mission of spreading the message of God, but a person can still make sacrifice while engaged in worldly business. Both of these are necessary. The community cannot survive unless it has both kinds of people. Then he referred to monetary sacrifice and explained the importance and necessity of the regular monthly subscription, and said that those who do not pay this subscription are harming the Divine cause.

In his fifth khutba on 3 March 1950, he spoke about spending in the way of Allah, that the Quran from the earliest period of its revelation to the last days has presented this concept as a transaction between God and a human being, and in other places it has used the word ‘trade’ for it. It is made clear in many places that love of wealth is hell itself or it brings hell, and spending in the way of Allah is the garden of heaven, and this garden is attained not only in the next world but it begins in this very life.

In the five khutbas after this, he stressed upon the need and importance of prayer, explaining how it creates outward and inward virtues in a person, acts as a means of spiritual and physical training, and instils discipline and organization. If you want to produce a state of humility in your prayers, then make the propagation of the word of Allah as your objective. Make your regular prayer (salat or namaz) entirely into a supplication and stand in the presence of God like a petitioner. He ended this series of khutbas on 28 April 1950 on his starting note, that in order to achieve success in propagating the word of Allah, we must shed tears before God and humbly implore Him, and do our work only for the sake of Allah.

Stay in Karachi in 1950 and illness

Maulana Muhammad Ali was in a weak state of health now. From the beginning of May, as summer started, he began to get high temperature every day in the afternoons. By the middle of May there was some improvement and on 30 May he went to Karachi as before to spend summer there.

In Karachi, where he stayed at the residence of Mr. Naseer Ahmad Faruqui, he was busy with the same engagements as in the previous year. The work of the distribution of sets of books was continuing under his personal direction. Since August he had been slowly and steadily reading the proofs of the revised, fourth edition of the English translation of the Holy Quran, when in September he fell seriously ill due to severe heart attacks. For fifteen to twenty days previously he had been feeling a light pain in his heart and the doctors had recommended rest even then, but resting was not in his nature. As was usual with him, after getting up for tahajjud prayers at 2 a.m. in the night, he would continue to be absorbed in work or in prayer till sunset time, resting only for an hour and a half to two hours in the afternoon.

During the night of 17–18 September from midnight to 3 a.m. he had a severe attack of coronary thrombosis. However, such was his courage and perseverance that he did not even wake anyone in the house, not wanting to disturb their sleep. When the pain subsided at 3 a.m. he fell asleep, and woke again at 4 a.m. and said his tahajjud prayer. It was only at breakfast that he mentioned his illness. The doctor was called who immediately ordered him to bed. But while lying in bed he still went through his mail and other papers with the help of his personal assistant Maulvi Abdul Wahhab.

In the afternoon he had another most serious attack. Morphine injections were administered. Then he had four further attacks one after another and was put on oxygen. He could not now even turn in bed and was in grave danger. Although the pain stopped on 19 September, but other problems began. Anyhow he was gradually regaining strength when on the night of 28 September he had another heart attack, and the following day, Friday, all hope was given up. Mr. Faruqui reported the events of that day as follows:

“The time for Friday prayer came. It was impossible for me to leave the house, but the women folk insisted that I go and join the congregation and pray. Accordingly, I went and gave the Jama‘at the news. Under those circumstances it was impossible to deliver the khutba or even to listen to one. I said to the Jama‘at that the time for talking was over; now it was time only for prayer. So during the khutba of fifteen to twenty minutes, nothing else was said except heartfelt prayers. The Friday prayer service afterwards was nothing other than praying for him. The whole congregation prayed so earnestly and fervently that it was perhaps answered by the Almighty and at about 3.30 p.m. he started to improve. … What will happen next, only God the Most High knows. When there is heart disease, weakness after years of illness, and the age is between 75 and 80, what can one predict in these circumstances? But the present condition has, by the grace of God, revived our hope. The humility and the tears with which the Jama‘at here prayed yesterday was such that if the Jama‘at in Lahore were also to pray with the same fervour then perhaps Allah may show mercy. I say only this to the August Almighty that I know no one can live forever, and this man is so dear to You, O Lord, that You are pleased to call him back to You, but for the sake of Your Quran extend his life. The new English translation of the Quran is not complete yet. The scheme to send books to five thousand libraries is unfinished. So I beseech You, for the sake of Your Quran, Your Promised Messiah, your Holy Prophet and Your religion, to grant him more time.”

After this his health began to improve. According to medical advice he had complete bed rest for six weeks, and even after this he needed much rest for months. During this period he suffered from some other ailments as well but on the whole his health was improving. On 30 October he was permitted to sit on his bed, and he dictated a message for the Jama‘at which was published in Paigham Sulh in the issue dated 8 November 1950 under the heading: ‘The task entrusted to us of spreading the Quran in the whole world — it grieves me to see that many of us are not taking part in it’.

The message was as follows.

Respected Brothers,

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Due to someone’s state of health, such as my illness, or when the appointed time comes, death is not something unusual. This is the Divine law that is established in the world. I was taken ill on 17 September. On the 18th it was found that I was dangerously ill, and on the doctor’s advice I was confined to bed. Today by the grace of God I have been allowed to sit. During this time there were forty days when everyday I felt that my time had come. But by the grace of Allah the Most High it appears that I have been given some more time. How long it is, God alone knows. During the time when I was staring death in the face I had but one desire in my heart, and it was also my prayer, that if Allah the Most High wants me to serve the Quran further, He may grant me more time. And He may also grant me the means because I see that in the task entrusted to us of spreading the Quran in the world, though we are doing it, but our progress is exceedingly slow. It grieves me to see that many among us are still not taking part in it, while nothing can be achieved in this world unless a group has an overwhelming urge to do it. Read the history of Islam: it was this overpowering zeal that carried the Divine message to the ends of the world in less than one hundred years, even though there did not exist such means and conveniences at that time as there are for us today. But our hearts lack the urge and fervour that is needed for this task.

While I am lying in bed like a mere body, not knowing how much more time Allah the Most High will grant me, I appeal to you, the dear ones of my Jama‘at, to create zeal and fervour in your hearts for taking the Quran to the world, such zeal and fervour that is noticed by the world. Hanker not after honour and high position in the world, but try to raise your rank in the estimation of God. To achieve this, ask of God in your prayers during salat:

O God, put in our hearts the same love to spread Your religion and to take Your Quran to the world that You have been creating in the hearts of Your righteous servants before. Your religion and Your Quran are a beauty and a light which has not yet been fully made manifest to the world whose eyes are still too covered to see it. This light has not yet even reached most of the world and there are others who have this light in their hands but their eyes are covered up. O God, remove this covering from my eyes and illuminate my heart with this glare of Your light so that I may enlighten the world with its brightness.

And not only say this prayer but along with it make progress in your struggle and striving. My dear ones, remember that the life of this world, whose attraction has made you neglect this light of God, is a mere illusion. Remember that it is God’s promise, and it will be fulfilled. I have suffered terribly in the past forty days as never before in my life, but all this time I have been praying: O God, if according to Your will, my time has come then infuse a powerful spirit in my Jama‘at, and create in it a fervour for Your religion and Your Quran so that Your work does not suffer after I am gone.

— Muhammad Ali.

During this critical illness the entire Jama‘at offered the most heartfelt prayers for his recovery. Some venerable members wrote letters to Maulana Muhammad Ali’s wife, extracts from two of which are given below:

1.   “I was so shocked to learn the news of the illness of Hazrat Maulana sahib that I cannot find the words to express my feelings. Throughout the night I was restless and could not sleep. Prayer is our weapon, and how wonderful must prayer be for such a blessed individual for whom prayers are also being said by the Messenger of God, by the Promised Messiah of God and by the angels of God. If an ordinary sinner joins in such a prayer, his prayer is accepted. This is the first letter I am writing by my own hand in two weeks, to express my grief at the Maulana’s illness. To show anguish and concern for a sanctified person is a work for earning Divine reward. So I am writing this letter to partake of this free reward. The honoured Dr. Basharat Ahmad, after recovering from a very serious illness, performed a colossal service to the Movement. The work of writing Mujaddid-i Azam, which he did after his recovery, will make his name renowned for all time. It appears as if Allah the Most High intends to have some great religious service performed by Hazrat Amir [Maulana Muhammad Ali].

For fifty years continuously this righteous man has been wielding his pen, day and night, in the defence of Islam. This is no small feat. It is a fact that the Hazrat Maulana has carried to completion the Promised Messiah’s mission of the regeneration of the faith. The world’s thirst is being quenched by the literature produced by him, and it will continue to be quenched till the time comes when people will be flocking to accept this religion. It is difficult to find another example of the great zeal and passion for the advancement of the Divine religion that Allah the Most High has infused in the Hazrat Maulana. We have not valued him as should have been done, but a time will come when the world will realise his worth.

Faruqui sahib has been bestowed a special grace by Allah, in that the blessed person of Hazrat Amir is at his residence. He has the chance to seek Allah’s pleasure as much as he wishes. The spiritual stages that take centuries to traverse can be covered in days. This is the Divine blessing he has been granted, and all of it is because he is auspicious, Godly and a lover of the Holy Quran.”

2. “We say prayers in order to accumulate Divine reward for ourselves. These sacred personages are rarely born who do not crave after worldly advancement at any time in their lives because it is not ever-lasting, and they do only that work which God has also acclaimed in the Holy Quran. The Hazrat Maulana found love for God from his days as a student, and having turned his back on his career in law, which had a bright future, he accepted the life of an ascetic for almost fifty years. Those from whom God intends to take great service, they are endowed with high qualities in their very nature. … The doctors forbid him to do any mental work, friends give the same advice, but the difficulty is that such holy men do not want to remain idle. … Men of God can never rest. Either God places upon them some work, or they themselves embark upon a task requiring them to work hard. It is the most blessed task of all for a man to remain engaged in serving the religion for the sake of God. There is nothing better in the world than for man to work for God, and for God to open up the ways for him and bestow His help upon him.

The passion to spread the Quran is the real nourishment sustaining the Maulana sahib. How can he give it up? In truth, how can these activities adversely affect health? The affairs of the wretched world can certainly have a detrimental effect on the human heart and brain, but the work undertaken by the Maulana can only do him good. Each and every member of the Jama‘at is desperately worried. May Allah the Most High grant him perfect health from Himself.”

Addressing the Jama‘at after recovery — three letters

It was found by medical examination on 15 November that his recovery was progressing satisfactorily, and he was given permission to walk a few steps. Due to weakness he still could not write, but from his bed he wrote three letters to members of the Jama‘at. In his first letter he thanked all those who had been praying for him from the depth of their hearts, and wrote:

“I also, during my worst condition, was praying for the Jama‘at. When the severity of the pain was causing me agony, another sigh that was also escaping from my lips spontaneously at that time was for the cause of God, His Holy Prophet, His Book and for those friends who are engaged in the work of taking this Book to the world. I am certain that just as Allah the Most High has accepted the prayers of my Jama‘at for me, He will accept my prayers as well.”

Then he mentioned that when his condition was critical, some friends informed him that Allah had intimated to them glad tidings of the acceptance of their prayers. In the first two days of the illness God had also given good news to Syed Asadullah Shah about his recovery. Maulana Muhammad Ali had himself seen a dream on the first day of his illness, while in terrible agony, that his elder brother Maulvi Aziz Bakhsh was sitting on a prayer mat in the upper storey of his house, bare-headed, his hands held out in prayer, facing east, and was saying heartfelt prayers for his health. Maulana Muhammad Ali interpreted this dream to mean that by the elder brother was meant the Jama‘at, and facing east during prayer in a dream was an indication of its acceptance. Regarding this he said:

“I again praise Allah, that He granted the privilege of acceptance to the prayers of my Jama‘at and granted me deliverance from a fatal illness. Now I request friends to say another prayer, and hope that God Who accepted the prayers of the Jama‘at for a useless person like me would certainly accept their prayers for an important purpose.”

This important purpose was connected with the triumph of Islam. He requested that at least one hundred people should firmly resolve that they would dedicate their prayers for this purpose and let him know their names. They should be so firmly determined in this that even if they were to receive news of his death on the morrow they should not lose their resolve but go on praying for this objective as long as Allah gave them life.

In the second letter, dated 2 December 1950, he mentioned that the work of translating the Quran into various languages was progressing very slowly. The printing of the translations into Tamil, Sindhi and Gurmukhi was not proceeding. He said:

“Are we becoming lethargic? Have the senior members of the Jama‘at started to divert their attention from this work? After being enabled to serve the religion, are we losing that privilege by our own hands? … Today the condition is that we and our great men are suggesting the closure of this or that mission and the postponing of translations of the Holy Quran. The day this happens is the day when our Jama‘at will die.{footnote 1}

As a preliminary to the spiritual exertion of prayer, I would like to make three points. However, I am still very weak. My hand shakes when I write and the doctor has forbidden me to speak to dictate a writing. I am not even allowed to talk at length to friends who visit me. As I find myself and my efforts lacking in strength I seek your help.”

In this context the first point he made was that unless we have firm faith in the promises of the Quran we cannot develop true passion in our prayers. So we must read the Quran very frequently. The power and glory of its language will strengthen the hearts. You should make a niche in a corner of your house where you can withdraw from the world and its entanglements, and whenever you find time sit there and read the Quran, and say prayers while reading. He said as follows:

“It is proved from the Holy Prophet’s practice that while reciting the Quran when he came to a verse about mercy he would ask for God’s mercy and when he came to a verse about punishment he would pray to be spared from it. So when you recite the Quran, wherever Divine mercy is mentioned — and the Quran is full of such verses — pray that He shower His mercy all over this world, and pray for mercy for your Jama‘at as it is bearing the burden of spreading the Quran in the world at this time. When you come to a mention of receiving Divine reward, pray that you are granted all the rewards that Allah bestowed on the righteous of previous times. Certainly do ask for the very reward and success that Allah bestowed upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Where Allah’s irresistible power is mentioned, as to how He has ever been making the truth to prevail, then this plea must arise from your heart: ‘Today the world is shrouded in darkness, show a sign of Your great power to the world today as before’. … When the magnificence of the Quran is mentioned, that Allah has sent it as a healing and a mercy, or that this Quran will revive the dead, clear away the hardest obstacles from its path, and reach the corners of the world, stop there and pray: ‘O God, today also remove the mountains of difficulties by means of this Quran and provide us the means to take this Quran of Yours to the ends of the earth’. When you read about the dead earth coming to life by the rain sent by God then this prayer should come from your heart: ‘O God, shower spiritual rain upon this dead earth, awaken it to life spiritual, and illuminate the hearts of human beings with the light of faith’. When you read about the help sent to prophets and the believers, ask for the same help for yourselves because your object also is to exalt the name of God in the world. Where mention is made of the past nations who were destroyed and their acts of disobedience, your hearts should shudder with the prayer: ‘O God, this Your nation which was raised for the guidance of the whole world, save this community of followers of Your Holy Prophet from disobeying Your Holy Prophet and make them bearers of the Quran. When those promises of Allah the Most High are mentioned that He will make truth prevail in the world — and remember that in the stories of the earlier prophets as well as in other contexts the Holy Quran is full of this — then this yearning should come from your hearts: ‘O God, let the truth be triumphant in this day and age also’. And in your state of helplessness this voice should also arise from your heart: ‘O God, this is not only my desire, this is Your promise. So fulfil Your promise. … You sent Your Messenger as a Mercy for the worlds but there are countless nations in the world who are yet deprived of this mercy. You sent Your Quran as a Reminder for the worlds but there are numerous nations whom this message has still not reached. Help us that we may succeed in spreading this Quran in the world. O God, Your help always comes for certain and will keep coming. Your favours have always been bestowed and will continue to be bestowed, but those who should accept them have become negligent because they are in love with the material world and are desirous of worldly pomp, show and greatness. May You create strength in them’.

The Holy Quran is full of places which can move your hearts to say prayers of this kind. I want you to read the Quran but not in such a way that its words are merely on your lips and are not entering deep in your hearts. The real place of the words of the Quran is not on the lips of people but in their hearts. Read the Quran and understand its meaning. But it has an even higher purpose, that it should enter your hearts. It was revealed to the Holy Prophet’s heart: ‘For surely He revealed it to your heart’ [the Quran, 2:97]. The heart is its proper repository. Read it in such a manner as if it is descending upon your heart. Undoubtedly these are words of Allah the Most High but you can only gain strength from them when they emerge from the depths of your heart.”

(Paigham Sulh, 6 December 1950)

In his third letter, dated 8 December 1950, he again urged upon members of the Jama‘at to carry on the spiritual struggle of prayers. For those who could not rise up for tahajjud prayer, he advised that they make supplications within their obligatory prayers and read the Quran in solitude from worldly activities, making its words enter their hearts. Addressing every member of the Jama‘at he drew their attention, besides reciting the Quran, towards memorising certain portions of it, especially those parts where the names and attributes of Allah the Most High and His power and glory are mentioned, and where the Quran speaks of Allah’s promises of victory and triumph given to various prophets at times when they were utterly helpless and weak. He said:

“When you get an opportunity to be alone, and your heart is open to it then lengthen your remembrance of Allah … but you must bear in mind that the words should not only be on your lips but must reach the depths of your hearts. To achieve this, a hard struggle will be required initially. The Holy Quran itself contains the command to read it slowly and pausingly, as it says ‘and recite the Quran in a leisurely manner’ [73:4], because by reading with pauses the words reach the hearts. When a person reads with pauses and tries to make the meaning enter into the heart, then gradually a time comes when those same words first emerge from the heart and then reach the lips. It is this which is the position of nearness to God and of acceptance by Him, that a person utters with his mouth what has arisen in his heart.”

Thanks-giving fund

To express joy at Maulana Muhammad Ali’s recovery, it was proposed by Mr. Naseer Ahmad Faruqui, on the suggestion of one senior member from Peshawar and one from Karachi, that a thanks-giving fund should be established. Making this proposal, he said that it was a promise of Allah that “if you are grateful, I will give you more” (the Quran, 14:7). As the Maulana’s recovery is a great blessing from Allah for the Jama‘at, mere verbal thanks are absolutely inadequate. At this juncture, we must open our hearts and sacrifice our most coveted possession, that is material wealth, in the way of Allah, and this fund should be spent as directed by Maulana Muhammad Ali for the propagation of Islam. A large part of the Jama‘at responded positively to this proposal, and on Maulana Muhammad Ali’s directions this fund was spent on sending the Holy Quran and the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad free or at reduced price to those who could not afford to buy them. Some two thousand copies of the Holy Quran were distributed from this fund.

Return to Lahore

By the end of November 1950 Maulana Muhammad Ali’s health had improved sufficiently to allow him to travel back to Lahore. He returned to Lahore on 10 December. According to medical advice, he was still not allowed to move about very much or even to talk at length. So from his bed he used to supervise important administrative affairs and also read the proofs of the English translation of the Quran.

Annual gathering 1950

The annual gathering of December 1950, which was the 37th annual gathering of the Anjuman, was the last one to be held in the life of Maulana Muhammad Ali. He was still under doctors’ orders to rest most of the time and was not allowed to make a speech. He came to the venue of the Gathering on the morning of 25 December and sat in a comfortable chair on the stage. The meeting was opened by his written speech which was read by Maulvi Dost Muhammad. The speech opened with a very moving prayer. On Maulana Muhammad Ali’s bidding, all the audience stood up holding out their hands in prayer, and kept uttering Amen at the prayers. And what were those prayers? Only that the whole world may somehow be enabled to see the beautiful face of Islam, the last message of God the Most High may spread to every corner of the earth, and all of humanity may become followers and devotees of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him. With every verse of Sura Fatiha, he read these heart-felt prayers. Then he said:

“You and I have worked together for thirty-seven years. However, it is fifty years since our Imam made me give up my worldly occupations to engage in religious service. So praise be to Allah Who enabled me, and gave me the opportunity, to do this work for half a century. Had I achieved the highest position in a worldly profession, I would not have had a modicum of the satisfaction that I have today.”

He then mentioned the heart-felt desire of the Promised Messiah, as to how it had been fulfilled by the literature we had published. He said:

“It is more than fifty years today that the Imam of the Age selected me and my late friend Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. It was proverbially like dust being chosen by an alchemist. Just as other persons benefitted from his Divine-revealed teaching, so did the two of us. My friend left to meet his Maker in 1932, and I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the favours of Allah the Most High upon me in allowing me to serve His religion till now.

Attacks of serious illnesses have been afflicting me since 1934, each attack being worse than the last. It was in 1934 that the doctors for the first time declared one of my illnesses to be fatal, and consequently I hastened the publication of my book The Religion of Islam. Then in 1938 when I was in Dalhousie, the medical verdict about me was that I could die at any moment. Again in 1948 a serious illness befell me in Quetta but Allah the Most High with His grace helped me. Now in 1950 there was again no hope left for my survival. But every time God gave me respite He also enabled me to do more work, and it was not only work of writing that I did but the foundations for a great plan like the translations of the Quran, establishing a mission in the U.S.A. and creating an institute for the study and research of the Quran were also laid during the times of these illnesses. I have hope from His threshold that He has again allowed me time for some work, but only God knows if it would be some scholarly work. But when I fell ill, the work I had in mind was to spread that treasure of knowledge in the world which Allah the Most High had enabled me to prepare.”

After this he explained that if the first wish of our Imam was to get excellent literature prepared for the nations of the West, his second wish was that these writings including translations of the Quran should be spread in the countries of Europe, America and Asia. Although our Jama‘at had so far distributed free tracts and literature on a vast scale, the best plan in this connection was the one that had just been launched, namely, to send a set of eight books to each of five thousand libraries of the world as a free donation. This work required a total expenditure of 350,000 Rupees, of which almost 150,000 Rupees had already been raised. (This money was raised due to Maulana Muhammad Ali’s efforts in Karachi, a large part coming from the general Muslim community outside the Ahmadiyya Movement.) Apart from this, he expressed his wish to hasten the publication of those translations of the Quran which had been completed but not yet printed.

On the second day he attended the afternoon session. A speech written by him was read out, during which he stood up at one point and addressed the congregation for a few minutes. In this speech he mentioned the great hurdles that were overcome in order to carry out the work of the propagation of Islam that had been done so far, and he appealed for the most fervent sacrifices to be made for this religious struggle. He said that the companions of the Holy Prophet were generally not wealthy people but when they were inspired by the love of God they would even deny themselves food in order to spend in the way of God, and as to those who had nothing to give, God has Himself testified about them that they would shed tears at not finding anything to spend in His way. As a result of their sacrifices they became rulers and leaders of the world. He added:

“Can we show any such miracle of love of God in our hearts? If we can, then shed tears for this cause sometimes and say: O God, Your religion is in trouble. The Quran You sent as a ‘Reminder for the nations’ so that it should be spread in the whole world is lying closed in our homes. Far from taking it to others, it does not reach even our own hearts. Grant our hearts the strength that we may follow it ourselves and we may also spread it in the whole world. You sent a Messenger as a ‘mercy to the nations’, but we are neither following in his footsteps nor making any effort to manifest his true picture to the world. Infuse in our hearts such love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad that we may become among his zealous followers and be intensely devoted to showing his beauty to the world.”

Following this, before putting forward some proposals, he said regarding himself:

“I was convinced of the truth of the Promised Messiah from 1891 when I first heard of his claim. I took the bai‘at (pledge) in 1897, and this was the bai‘at that made me visit Qadian, if not once a week, then at least once every two weeks. I used to spend the summer vacations in his company. From 1900 till his death I lived with him. He had entrusted all the administrative affairs to me. I lived in a room in his house. There must be very few people who attained as much company and fellowship of the Imam of the Age as I did. Since 1914 you people elected me as your Amir. You are aware of the work I have done since then, whether good or bad. Today I am not fit enough to stand before you and make a speech. What I have written I have done with a trembling hand. I have not got the power to influence you, but I must draw your attention to one point …”

He then told the gathering that just as they had prayed for him fervently he now needed them to show the same fervour in making sacrifices. Then he made appeals in very moving words for the following objects: firstly, for regular monthly contributions of one-tenth of one’s income; secondly, for donations of ten days of one’s income to meet the deficit in the budget; and thirdly, for meeting the expenses of setting up more missions.

Both of these last two speeches of Maulana Muhammad Ali have been published as a pamphlet entitled Is zamana ka aur her zamana ka sab say bara Islami jihad (‘The greatest Islamic Jihad of this and every other age’).


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

[1]. This is a reference to the decision taken in Lahore by the leading members of the Anjuman during his critical illness, when faced with a deficit in the budget of the Anjuman, to close the U.S.A. mission and postpone the translations of the Quran. Maulana Muhammad Ali sent a telegram to halt this decision and suggested other ways of dealing with the deficit.


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