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The Great Mujahid: Life Story of Maulana Muhammad Ali

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

8. The last year, 1951, and death.
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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8. The last year, 1951, and death

Last letters to members of the Jama‘at

Immediately after the annual gathering Maulana Muhammad Ali had another minor heart attack, confining him to bed for a few days. When he improved, he again made some addresses to the Jama‘at through Paigham Sulh. In his first letter, published under the title ‘A mighty aim and a mighty position’, on 14 February 1951, he wrote:

“After the annual gathering I again suffered a minor attack of illness, and for this reason the doctor advised me to rest in bed for some days. Now by the grace of God I am feeling better and want also to give you some good news. Arrangements have been completed to distribute a further one thousand copies of the English translation of the Quran to the public, and God willing, this will be achieved at an expense of only 3,000 Rupees from the Thanks-giving Fund. At the annual gathering you will have heard another good news, that the annual budget of this small Jama‘at has now reached one million Rupees. However, it is a matter of concern that our income fell short of expenditure by 66,000 Rupees.”

Then, drawing attention towards the need for more financial sacrifices and propagation efforts, he said:

“My real aim in drawing attention to this is to turn your minds towards prayer. This is the weapon used by the righteous to reform the hearts. But remember that a prayer not accompanied by effort is not accepted. Along with your efforts and struggle use prayer, and along with your prayer keep up your efforts and struggle. Each of these necessitates the other. Knock on God’s door. There is none who knocked at this door for whom it was not opened. But you cannot knock on it with words of your tongue. You must knock on it with zeal of heart, with the sighs that arise from the heart. Rise up during the night to pray or say prayers during the day. Those who cannot rise during the night should improve the quality of their prayers of the day. …

The most important question is: what should we be asking for at the door of the Master of masters? As it was our Holy Prophet Muhammad who taught us prayer, we must ask for the same thing for which our Holy Prophet again and again turned to Allah. … He had no desire to acquire worldly leadership or wealth. The only longing in his heart was for reforming human souls. Whether a Muslim learns this point of wisdom today or in the future, it will make him progress towards the high position upon which our Holy Prophet was established. Therein lies the secret of the progress of Islam. It amounts to just this:

Namaz (salat) is a supplication.
It is a petition in the court of the Lord of the Universe.
And the plea is that Allah the Most High may set right the human hearts and spiritually nourish His creatures by means of His Quran and His Prophet Muhammad.

It is true that one aim of prayer is also improvement of your own self, and it is also true that prayer can be said for other purposes as well. However, if you limit your salat and supplications to this extent only, and have not that higher purpose before you which the Holy Prophet had in view, then you have not recognised the high rank of the Holy Prophet and are satisfied with a lower aim. If you go with a plea before such a High Authority then ask for something very great … for He has the power to grant you even what you think is impossible. … It is God’s promise that humanity will be saved. It is God’s promise that the whole world will be illuminated with the light of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, and Islam shall prevail in the world. What you consider to be impossible, your God says it shall certainly happen. … Of course, until the same urge is produced in our hearts as was in the heart of the Holy Prophet … we cannot fulfil the description ‘those who are with him’ [the Quran, 48:29], nor can we witness the success that Islam has achieved once before.

This is that great favour bestowed upon us by the Mujaddid of this century and the Imam of this Age, that by drawing our attention to this exalted purpose he has led us towards a high position …

Try to make your salat like the salat of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. … Go to the mosques to perform prayers in congregation. However, our Holy Prophet has instructed that we should not turn our homes into graves, so some of your prayers should be performed at home.  In the mosque you have to rise from your prostration on hearing the Imam’s call, but in your salat at home fall before Allah with such devotion that you are unable to raise your head.”

His other letters are full of the same spirit. In his fourth letter, published in Paigham Sulh on 28 March 1951, he writes that arrangements have been made to distribute 2000 copies of the English translation of the Holy Quran to people with money raised for the Thanks-giving Fund. He then added that there was a Divine purpose even in the smallness of our numbers, which was that, in this age also, an example of assistance from God the Most High may be witnessed. Therefore, despite this dearth of human resources, God produced many men who rendered very great services. He said that he was not talking about those elders who had been with us since the time of Hazrat Mirza sahib but those friends who joined us later and are persons of meagre means. Nonetheless, every one of them is doing the work of an entire Jama‘at. He cited some examples as follows:

“In Assam [Eastern India] our friend Dr. Khadim Rahmani Nuri has done so much work as if we have a mission established there on which we are spending thousands of Rupees, whereas in fact there is only one man working by himself with the help of God. He translated the Quran into the Khasi language and also translated many other books and booklets. … In Iraq, Syed Tasaddaq Husain Qadari has done incomparable work. Only because of him the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam and its works are well-known in all the Arab countries, and Arabic translations of our books have been spread. … In Siam [Thailand] Ibrahim Quraishi rose with such determination that I was amazed to see his work. … In Burma we found Dr. Akbar Khan, belonging to the same category of men of meagre means, who translated much literature into Burmese and is now busy in translating the Quran. … By the grace of God we have also found such a person in Istanbul. … Likewise, Allah the Most High has raised such men in British Guiana [Guyana], Dutch Guiana [Suriname], the Philippines and Trinidad. … Due to the work of these devoted few people the name of God, His Holy Prophet and His Quran is gaining renown in the world.

I am not mentioning at this time the Anjuman’s achievements but only telling you how a few individuals, due to the spirit infused in them by connection with the holy Imam of the Age, have brought about a great change in large populations.”

These then were the people with whom he had a heart-felt connection and whom he loved, and they were the examples that he put before the Jama‘at in these last letters. They all were doing solid work quietly, without asking for financial help from the Anjuman nor desiring any material gain. Mentioning these people, he appealed to members of the Jama‘at to struggle hard with overwhelming dedication and make sacrifices. After that he wrote:

“At the moment I am busy in this work like a traveller who is to embark on a journey tomorrow but has very little time to make preparations for it. My friends and well-wishers try to stop me, telling me not to work too much. But for me that death would be easier which comes while working. So I beseech my friends to give the same value to my message as should be given to the message of a man from the next world. If you are poor, you should raise your determination for spreading the word of Allah to such a high level that it should shake the heavens. If you have been granted wealth by God, you should make it flow in God’s way so profusely as to satisfy the needs of a whole world. If you hold a high position in the world, you should try to seek a high status in the court of Allah which would be with you forever. My friends, these are the paths worth following, not the ones towards which I see some of my friends starting to take their steps. …

It is the favour of God towards me that He bestowed upon me great success. So do not try to make me fail. Every person who is not taking part in this mission according to the instructions of the Promised Messiah, is trying to make me fail. Though he may have ninety-nine pretexts for it, they are insignificant compared to my one plea that this work is for God and His Prophet and His religion. If anyone assists me, he will be helping not me but the religion of God. … There must be ninety-nine faults in me, but you decided to disregard and overlook them when you elected me as your Amir. So, after having made your affirmations, do not desert me, otherwise you will be like the woman who “unravels her yarn, disintegrating it into pieces, after she has spun it strongly” [the Quran, 16:92]. … Try to excel one other in good deeds, and do not try to outdo one another in negligence, apathy and fault-finding.”

Whereas a large section of the Jama‘at was devoted to him and made sacrifices according to his instructions, but due to some Divine purpose there were also others to whom this work was not as important as it should have been, and who wanted the Jama‘at to get involved in matters of secondary importance. In this connection they used to raise objections and criticism against him. In many matters and at meetings of the Anjuman their attitude was very hurtful to him. While a large part of the outside world acknowledged him and appreciated his works, there were some people within who caused him distress. He endured all this for some twenty-two years, but at this age and in this poor state of health these things were bound to have an adverse effect on him.

On 5 April 1951, while he was writing his fifth letter to the Jama‘at, he had angina pains during the writing and the letter remained unfinished. He had started this letter with the prayer of Moses given in the Quran: “My Lord, expand my breast for me and ease my affair for me and loose the knot from my tongue that they may understand my word” (20:25–28). He said that whatever he wanted to write in this letter he wrote two pages of it and then tore it up because, he thought, who would listen to his exhortations? He wrote:

“There are some people in the Jama‘at who do not understand, just as other Muslims do not understand, that the work of the propagation of the word of God is something for which one must put oneself to much sacrifice.”

When such people openly called upon the Jama‘at to other works, the result is that:

“People think: everyone is beating his own drum, so whom should we follow and whom should we ignore?”

He wanted to stress in this letter also that the Jama‘at should concentrate exclusively on spreading the word of God. There should be financial sacrifices for this end, as well as prayers at night for it, and this work must not be allowed to suffer because of the emotions of some members.

These, then, were the four or five letters he wrote addressing the Jama‘at after the annual gathering of 1950 till May 1951 when he went to Karachi, and they well show the state of affairs in the Jama‘at at the time as well as the zeal in his own heart.

Meeting delegates to the World Muslim Conference (Mu’timar ‘Alam Islami) and his fame abroad

A World Muslim Conference was held in Karachi in February 1951. After participating in the conference many delegates came to Lahore, and for nearly one week they kept on calling at  Maulana Muhammad Ali’s residence to meet him, as he was too weak at that time to go out due to illness. The leader of the Turkish delegation, Mr. Omer Riza Dogrul, who was a famous writer as well as a member of the Turkish Parliament, wrote an account of his impressions of his meeting with the Maulana which was published in the May 1952 issue of The Islamic Review. Some extracts from it are quoted below:{footnote 1}

“… We had read his writings in Turkey for 30 years with great benefit to ourselves. He enlightened us on many matters, for he had penetrated deeply into the spirit of Islam and understood its aims and objectives, and had set out to explain them to others. …

On our arrival at the Maulana’s house I asked that we should cause him no inconvenience. ‘I will go to his room and kiss his hand,’ I said. I was promised that my wishes would be fulfilled, and so I waited in the drawing room. After one or two minutes I saw a light shining through the open door; I was irresistibly drawn towards it, and a moment later was embracing Muhammad Ali. His form had really acquired a sort of transparency and translucidity which were not of this world. His hair and beard, which were exceptionally white, surrounded his face like a halo. He was of striking stature. His eyes were pale and dim, and gave the impression that his thoughts were already not of this world. I spoke in order not to tire him; I treated subjects which I knew would interest him, and as I was very well informed about these ideas, he received my remarks with a sympathetic smile. …

I asked him: ‘What are your other occupations?’ He replied slowly in a deep voice:

‘I have sworn an oath to send a complete set of my works to all the libraries of the world. I have 5,000 complete sets of my works, for which my friends have collected money in order to send them to all the important libraries of the world. Would you kindly give me a few addresses of libraries that would be interested in receiving them?’

I immediately wrote down several addresses, and he gave them to his secretary.”

Then as Mr. Dogrul took his leave Maulana Muhammad Ali stopped him and said to him:

“I beseech you to do all that lies in your power to express the enlightenment of Islam. I am sure that you will never in any way give satisfaction to the fanaticism of the narrow-minded people or even consider supporting the views of the intolerant.”

Mr. Dogrul told the Maulana that if anything could keep the Muslims alive it is the interpretation of Islam which was spreading in the world through this Jama‘at. He informed Maulana Muhammad Ali that many of his books were already translated into the Turkish language and other books would be translated in the near future.

Similarly, delegates from other countries also visited him. The leader of the Ceylon (Sri Lanka) delegation made a special effort to locate Muslim Town in order to come to see Maulana Muhammad Ali, and praised his services and those of the Jama‘at. He expressed the wish that the translation of the Holy Quran into Tamil may be published soon as this language is spoken by the Muslims of his country as well as a large section of the other population. The Thai delegate, Mr. Ibrahim Quraishi, visited Maulana Muhammad Ali twice and showed him beautifully printed books in the Thai language which were translations of the Maulana’s writings. He informed that he was translating the Quran into the Thai language using the Maulana’s translations. He was taking the explanation of the meanings of Arabic words from Bayan-ul-Quran and the footnotes and commentary from the English translation. Likewise, the Chinese delegate said that translations of the Maulana’s books had been published in Chinese.

During those days Maulana Muhammad Ali received a letter from a high Arab official in Egypt by the name of Muhammad Saeed Ahmad, who was Secretary in the Egyptian Ministry of Railways, Telegrams and Telephones. He asked permission to translate the book The Religion of Islam into Arabic, which the Maulana granted with pleasure. A little later, on 27 April 1951, the Egyptian Ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Wahhab Azzam, who later on became Secretary General of the Arab League, came to see Maulana Muhammad Ali. As on 5 April the Maulana had had another attack of illness and was unable to leave his bed, Abdul Wahhab Azzam was received in the bedroom where they talked at length. He gave the Maulana further details about the proposed Arabic translation of The Religion of Islam, and copies of the Maulana’s various books were presented to Mr. Azzam.

It is also relevant to mention here that, a little earlier, when Liaquat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was visiting the U.S.A., he received a telegram from Mr. William Aherberg, Secretary, Religious Section of the United Nations in New York. The message was as follows:

“Through you I want to convey to the people of Pakistan that we appreciate and value the good work of publishing Islamic religious literature in English being done by Maulana Muhammad Ali and the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam of your country. In order to create better understanding between Pakistan and U.S.A. … you must encourage these intellectuals of Lahore to open a branch in the United Nations Centre in New York. This branch could be a part of your [i.e. Pakistan] delegation at the United Nations or be independent. This will give them access to the international press and radio and other facilities.”{footnote 2}

In this connection, another incident would be of interest. A Turkish woman journalist, Miss Kuterman, correspondent of the famous Turkish newspaper Alwas, came to Pakistan in 1950. In Lahore, while attending a gathering of journalists, she began to make inquiries about where Maulana Muhammad Ali lived. By coincidence Maulana Yaqub Khan, who was at the time editor of the Civil and Military Gazette, was there. He arranged for her an appointment with Maulana Muhammad Ali, who invited her to an afternoon tea. She related to the Maulana that although her mother, who was a religious lady, had arranged for her to learn the Holy Quran, but the Quran remained a closed book for her and she was alienated from religion. Later on, her newspaper posted her to its London office as chief reporter and there by chance she saw a copy of the Maulana’s English translation of the Quran. When she read it, it opened her eyes to Islam. Then she read his other books and decided that she would go to Pakistan and kiss the hands of the man who had kindled her interest in the Holy Quran and in religion. She was thankful to God, she said, for receiving that privilege today. Then she kissed his hand and before leaving she requested him emphatically to visit other countries and come to Turkey as well, where Muslims would receive him with great honour.

Similarly, a woman writer from Lebanon, who was also president of the women’s association of Lebanon, by the name of Habiba Shaban Bekan, wrote that after reading the Maulana’s book Muhammad and Christ she kissed it and hugged it again and again, as it had relieved her of the great confusion and perplexity that she had suffered from regarding the issues discussed in the book. This lady got many of his books translated into Arabic and printed in Beirut at her own expense.

A distinguished lady from Lahore, after visiting the U.S.A., related on her return that it was by going abroad that she became fully aware of the honour and respect in which Maulana Muhammad Ali was held. In the U.S.A. she met some new Muslim men and women and when they came to know that she was from Pakistan they asked her with great interest the place in Pakistan she had come from. On hearing the name of Lahore they were thrilled and asked her to tell them about Maulana Muhammad Ali, how he lives and what he does. They told her that they had become Muslims after reading his English translation of the Holy Quran and other books. Similarly, there was a gathering of black Americans who had become Muslims, and they also inquired from her about Maulana Muhammad Ali and remarked that she was fortunate to live in a city where such a learned, saintly figure was residing.

There are many other events of this kind, which cannot be related to avoid prolonging this book. In brief, the real greatness of the work of Maulana Muhammad Ali is realised from foreign countries. In numerous countries there are people who had drunk deep at this fountain whose source was Muhammad Ali. His books have been translated into so many languages that it is difficult to procure a complete record. Books such as The Religion of Islam, Muhammad the Prophet, The Early Caliphate, The New World Order and others were even translated into Arabic and acquired great popularity. It is highly remarkable that while Islamic literature (the Holy Quran, Hadith, books on life of the Holy Prophet and Islamic law etc.) already existed in Arabic, as this is of course the original language of Islam, yet books on Islam should be translated from English into Arabic whose author is not an Arab, who had himself acquired his knowledge from another non-Arab, and who belonged to a movement which had been widely denounced with condemnations of heresy. This is the most powerful testimony to the personal greatness of that man, and more so it is evidence of the greatness of his teacher who set him on this path and made him capable of rendering this magnificent service to Islam.

Other work in early 1951 and another attack of illness

Apart from what has been mentioned above, among his other preoccupations during the first four to five months of 1951 there were two other major tasks. One was his personal supervision of the distribution of the sets of books. He was in correspondence with various countries of the world, and addresses of libraries and other similar institutions were being sought, to which these sets were to be despatched. He had taken this task in hand in the beginning of 1950, and till his death, during a period of nearly eighteen months, eight hundred sets had been dispatched to foreign countries. In this connection, new reprint editions of The Religion of Islam, A Manual of Hadith, Muhammad the Prophet and The Early Caliphate had also been published.

The second task was the proof reading of the revised, fourth edition of the English translation of the Quran. In addition to the staff assigned to read the proofs, he himself would read all of them once and make corrections. In the first three months of 1951, when his health was comparatively better, he would regularly work in his office. Although the morning walk had been given up, he used to take a stroll around the house and would walk to the Muslim Town mosque for the five daily prayers. On the evening of 5 April he was suddenly taken ill, as has been mentioned before, and besides suffering from high temperature and angina his lungs were affected as well. Two famous doctors of Lahore, Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh and Dr. Muhammad Yusuf were treating him. For two days he was given oxygen at home. For some days the temperature kept rising and there was also an attack of influenza. After about ten days the temperature came down and his condition improved. According to medical advice he spent a month in bed. But even in that state he continued to read the proofs of the English translation of the Quran and supervise the distribution of the sets of books.

His last journey to Karachi

At the end of May 1951 his health was much better than before, and as the weather in Lahore was getting hotter he left for Karachi on the morning of 31 May by the ‘Pakistan Mail’ train service. Photographs were taken on this occasion at Lahore railway station. In Karachi his health improved significantly. His physician, Dr. Paracha, declared after examining him that his heart condition was satisfactory. Gradually he regained his strength and continued his activities in Karachi as previously. Firstly, in connection with the distribution of the sets of books, correspondence with other countries and the despatch of books continued under his supervision. Secondly, he was going through the proofs of the revised, fourth edition of the English translation of the Holy Quran. Thirdly, he was also holding meetings with prominent Muslims of Karachi, ambassadors of Muslim countries based in Karachi, and other like persons, in order to expand and improve the work of the distribution of the sets of books. On 6 July, the Karachi Jama‘at held Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at the residence of Mr. Naseer Ahmad Faruqui. The khutba was delivered by Mr. Faruqui and Maulana Muhammad Ali made a short speech. However, his improving health was dealt a blow by some unpleasant events. Before these are mentioned, it is appropriate to relate some other happenings.

Plan to perform Hajj, visit Western countries and Middle East

In the last three or four years Maulana Muhammad Ali had entertained a strong desire to go to perform the Pilgrimage to Makka and he had made all the arrangements for this. However, as he was continuing the revision of the English translation of the Holy Quran and then its proofs were arriving, if he had gone for the Pilgrimage this work would have been left incomplete. Apart from the Hajj, he also planned to visit England and the Middle East, which he had decided to do after meeting ambassadors of Muslim countries. The whole tour was to take six to seven months. He was trying to get the new edition of the Holy Quran printed as soon as possible so that he could be free of anxiety on this account during his visit of these countries. He intended to take with him Shaikh Muhammad Tufail (his assistant and later a missionary of the Jama‘at). The original plan was to go in April 1950 and first spend a few months at Woking, England. Then he would visit Germany, followed by Turkey and countries of the Middle East, and after performing the Hajj he would return back home. But at that time some work still remained to be done on the draft of the new edition of the translation of the Holy Quran and the proofs of the first parts had started to arrive. So he postponed the plans for April 1951. Then in September 1950 in Karachi he had serious heart attacks. After returning to Lahore in December, despite his weak disposition, he stuck to his plan and seats were booked for passage in April. But immediately after the annual gathering of December 1950 when he had a mild attack, the doctors, after examination, strictly forbade him to embark on any long journey. So all the arrangements were cancelled.

Invitation to join Board of Editors of the Encyclopaedia of Islam

About the middle of August 1951, Maulana Muhammad Ali received a message, channelled through the government of Pakistan, from the famous orientalist Professor Kraemer of Holland, that he had formed a board of writers for the Encyclopaedia of Islam, and had himself proposed the name of Maulana Muhammad Ali to join this group of writers. He expressed the hope that the Maulana, despite his poor health, could join the board in view of the great importance of this work, particularly for Muslims all over the world and generally for everyone else as well. In reply Maulana Muhammad Ali expressed his happy willingness to accept this responsibility and wrote that although due to bad health he was in bed most of the time but he had continued his literary activities and recently had gone through 1400 pages of the proofs of the new edition of the English translation of the Holy Quran and written its preface, so he was willing to take on this additional work. The Maulana also informed the Anjuman of this.

Holy Quran Trust

It had been a long-standing wish of Maulana Muhammad Ali that some permanent arrangement could be made for the publication of translations of the Holy Quran, enabling this work to continue uninterruptedly into the future. His passion and zeal for the propagation of the Quran must have become clearly evident to the readers of this biography and to those who have read his sermons and writings. All those who worked with him and all other members of the Jama‘at are witness to the fact that the one aim that dominated his mind was to spread the Holy Quran and other Islamic literature in the world on the widest possible scale so that the prophecy of the triumph of Islam could be fulfilled. After 1941 all the campaigns that he placed before the Jama‘at were connected with producing translations of the Quran, publication of the Quran, and teaching the Quran, the last campaign being the propagation of literature through distributing sets of books. As against this, the difficulty was that the Anjuman had very limited financial means. There was only a small community to support the work of this Anjuman, and it had made unparalleled financial sacrifices. These campaigns that had been undertaken required funds but it often happened that, during financial difficulties, the Anjuman had to transfer funds from one objective to another, and the money collected for a particular cause could not be solely spent on it. As Maulana Muhammad Ali considered the spreading of the Quran in the world to be the primary purpose of the Jama‘at, he tried several times to raise a reasonable sum of money which would be invested in order to provide a continuous source of income to be spent solely on the propagation of the Quran. He made this attempt for the first time on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee and while launching the plan to do something special for the Jubilee he said: “if that work would not reveal the greatness of the Holy Quran then we would have drifted away from the right path”. But afterwards the General Council decided to spend the money collected on the consolidation of the Jama‘at.

Then in October 1943 he laid before the community a proposal for creating a ‘Quran Publication Trust’ and outlined it as follows: “Some funds will be donated by the Anjuman for the propagation of Islam and for some we will ask our friends to donate individually. This 100,000 to 200,000 Rupees could be invested in some business, and the resulting income be used to translate the Holy Quran into different languages of the world and publish these translations.” On this occasion this proposal was put twice before the General Council of the Anjuman. However, for some reason the name ‘Trust’ seemed to be a cause of anxiety for the Anjuman, even though the only object of a trust is to dedicate funds for a particular purpose, so that they are not diverted to other ends, creating a permanent source of income for the specified purpose. If that money is left at the general disposal of the Anjuman, then even though it may be earmarked for a specified head of expenditure it could still be diverted to other purposes, and this is what had in fact been happening. By creating a trust, even one subordinate to the Anjuman, this risk can be avoided. On this occasion too the General Council of the Anjuman only agreed to creating a ‘Quran Translations Fund’. This was set up in December 1943 and a reasonable sum was raised for it. Work on four translations of the Quran was started during the life of Maulana Muhammad Ali but none was ever published. In 1950 when the Maulana suffered his first serious heart attack and was bed-ridden in Karachi, the leading members of the Anjuman in Lahore decided, in order to meet the deficit in the budget of the Anjuman, to stop the work of translations of the Quran and close the mission in the U.S.A.

There was another factor in the background to the creation of the Holy Quran Trust. Every fair-minded person must have realised that the Promised Messiah’s wishes regarding the propagation of Islam were fulfilled through the literature produced by Maulana Muhammad Ali during a period of forty to fifty years. However, some leading persons had long been spreading the objection as to why Maulana Muhammad Ali was urging mainly the publication of his own books. As he received royalty on the sale of his books, this meant that there was much scope for the critics to spread misgivings. But it was obvious that if there was a means of introducing Islam to non-Muslims in other countries, especially to Western nations, then it was mainly through the valuable writings of Maulana Muhammad Ali, such as his English translation of the Holy Quran with commentary and books on Hadith, life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and the teachings of Islam. These writings he had produced specifically for this purpose, and in accordance with the wishes and the directions of the Promised Messiah. Hazrat Mirza sahib’s wishes had been fulfilled through these books, and he had himself chosen Maulana Muhammad Ali for this task. Also, Maulana Nur-ud-Din had set him on the task of producing English and Urdu translations of the Holy Quran and Hadith and their explanations, for the purpose of the propagation of Islam. Above all, there was the verdict of the present age testifying that it was this literature that attained the height of success and acclaim in the entire world, brought thousands of people to the right path, and was translated by people of other countries at their own initiative with great eagerness into their own languages, so much so that it was translated into Arabic in Arab countries. In spite of these magnificent, crystal-clear proofs, some persons had misgivings about the propagation of this literature, and consequently they refrained from participating in this work in any practical way, which has been referred to in the quotations from the khutbas and writings of Maulana Muhammad Ali given above. Not only this, but certain prominent members openly attempted to devalue this precious treasure of literature, as has been mentioned before. This necessarily meant that Maulana Muhammad Ali was compelled to make some arrangements to ensure that, no matter what turn the Jama‘at may take after his time, this work could continue permanently. This is a dark page in the history of this Anjuman but a biography cannot ignore it.

This was the background to the creation of the Holy Quran Trust. What happened now, in 1951, was as follows. When Maulana Muhammad Ali started the scheme for the distribution of the sets of books, he raised entirely by his own efforts about 150,000 Rupees, much of this being contributed by Muslims outside the Jama‘at. As all but one of the eight books which constituted the sets to be sent abroad were written by Maulana Muhammad Ali, on which he received royalty, he decided that whatever royalty he received on sets of books purchased through this fund would not be used by him personally. On these books he was due royalty at the rate of one-third (33¹/³ %). He deposited this royalty as a bond with the Anjuman in a separate fund called the ‘Royalty for Godly Purposes Fund’, and instructed the Anjuman that this would be spent on religious purposes as directed by him alone. Accordingly, from time to time, he spent money from this fund on such purposes at his own discretion, without asking the permission of the Anjuman. He also used it to help some Ahmadis who were in need. But the largest item of expenditure from this fund was the printing of an extra ten thousand copies of the new, fourth edition of the English translation of the Quran which was under print in England. The various editions of the English translation of the Quran before this had amounted to a total of some fifty thousand copies, but as now the literature was to be spread at a faster pace it had been decided that this fourth edition would consist of twenty thousand copies. Therefore, Dr. Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah, the Imam of the Woking Mosque in England, had made all the arrangements for the printing of twenty thousand copies and paper had been bought as well. However, the Anjuman changed its decision and wanted to print ten thousand copies. At this, Maulana Muhammad Ali asked the Anjuman to allow him to get another ten thousand copies printed at his own expense, to be paid out of the ‘Royalty for Godly Purposes Fund’. These copies would be distributed by him to deserving cases either at reduced price or free and the money received by sale would revert to the ‘Royalty for Godly Purposes Fund’. The Anjuman gave its approval, and thus the extra ten thousand copies of the translation were printed out of this fund.

At the end of 1950 and the beginning of 1951 Maulana Muhammad Ali had to face some particularly unpleasant circumstances. This coincided with the time when he had had several heart attacks and his health was very poor. In view of all this background, he decided to form a trust with the remainder of the money in the ‘Royalty for Godly Purposes Fund’ with the object of the publication of the Quran, and so he named it as the ‘Holy Quran Trust’. Besides himself, among the trustees that he appointed there were five persons who were his relations,{footnote 3} regarding whom he was sure that they would always run the Trust for the objects that he had laid down. The objects of this Trust were specified by him as follows:

  1. To supply the Holy Quran to the deserving, those in search of the truth, and students at reduced price or free.
  2. To give scholarships and stipends to persons doing research work on the Quran, other students, and deserving people.
This was subject to two conditions: firstly, that at least 75% of the income is spent on the first aim above, and secondly, that this Trust will work in full co-operation with the Anjuman and respect its decisions as long as the Anjuman observes its obligations as regards payment of royalty.

It must be made clear that the storm of propaganda that was raised, to the effect that this Trust was set up from the funds of the community without the Anjuman’s permission, was absolutely false. The funds that were transferred to this Trust came from royalty which, according to the decisions and the practice of the Anjuman and according to the law, was his by right. He had himself devoted it for religious purposes instead of using it personally. According to Islamic Shari‘ah a person can dispose of his money in four ways: give it as a gift, make a will for it, devote it (waqf) for some purpose, or leave it to his heirs. The English word for waqf is Trust, but this term was presented by the critics as a threat. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din raised large sums through donations and created a trust with that money. One or two other stalwarts of the Jama‘at set up trusts using personal funds or left legacies for certain causes without requiring the Anjuman’s permission. Similarly, this Trust was also set up with private funds. Any doubt about this is removed by the following writing of Maulana Muhammad Ali which was approved by the Executive Committee of the Anjuman according to its Resolution No. 395, dated 8 December 1950:

“I should be permitted to have ten thousand further copies printed, over and above the Anjuman’s ten thousand copies, at my own expense. The Anjuman would pay only for the first ten thousand copies. All the expenditure incurred by the further ten thousand copies shall be paid by me out of the Royalty for Godly Purposes Fund.”

At that time no one objected that this money belonged to the Anjuman and not to the Maulana, but when this fund was transferred into the Trust then this objection was raised.

There remains the question why this fund was not entrusted to the Anjuman for this purpose, and whether the Maulana did not have confidence in the Anjuman? The answer can be found in his following writing:

“Why did I not entrust this work to the Anjuman? The reason is that the Anjuman, in view of its needs, sometimes spends funds intended for one object on some other object and subsequently it is not returned. Thus last year, during the time of my most serious illness, the Anjuman, after diverting funds earmarked for certain objects towards other purposes, decided to stop the original works instead of considering returning the funds back to those objects. It thus decided to close the U.S.A. mission and stop work on the translations of the Quran. This decision caused me such severe distress as is beyond words. So, disregarding my critical illness, I wrote letters and sent telegrams to stop this step from being taken. … I presented the proposal to the Anjuman, and at the annual gathering, that the financial problems should be solved not only by calling for special donations but also by the sale of some of the many lands that we had bought only for the purpose of strengthening the Anjuman’s financial position, so that our essential work, that of taking the Quran to the world, is kept going.”

Soon after the setting up of this Trust, Maulana Muhammad Ali left for Karachi while in a weak state of health.

The creation of this Trust was intolerable to the very people whose attitude was the cause of setting up this Trust in the first place. They misled a large section of the Jama‘at by warning of imaginary dangers and by spreading groundless suspicions that have been mentioned before. When this came to the attention of the Executive Committee, it was decided to bring it up before the General Council. At this, some persons forthwith considered it necessary to assemble members of the Jama‘at at Lahore, and these people issued circular letters individually as well as collectively. There also occurred some other events which had a very adverse effect on the health of Maulana Muhammad Ali in Karachi. He was compelled, even in that state of health, to give some response to the letters and circulars that were being spread in the Jama‘at, and decided to submit the remaining reply at the General Council. During those days he developed breathing problems, had difficulty sleeping, and his health deteriorated. He was treated suitably for all these outward symptoms but after these events his health did not improve.

At the end of September, after some meetings with Shaikh Mian Muhammad in Karachi, Maulana Muhammad Ali came to the conclusion that, as there was a storm of false propaganda raging in the Jama‘at, and misgivings had been put in the minds of the ordinary members, creating division and disunity, and this state of affairs would remain unchanged no matter how much clarification he issued, therefore he should discontinue the Trust. So the funds that had been transferred to the Trust were returned into the ‘Royalty for Godly Purposes Fund’.

Just for the sake of raising objections even straight-forward matters were twisted. The worst example of this was the objection that in the Trust deed the Maulana had described himself as Hanafi and therefore concealed the fact that he was an Ahmadi. The Trust deed was drawn by a competent attorney of law and according to him it was necessary to write that this Trust was created according to the Hanafi branch of Islamic law (Hanafi Fiqh). Everyone knows that the Promised Messiah described himself as a follower of Hanafi Fiqh and the Ahmadiyya community follows Hanafi Fiqh. To exploit an innocuous legal requirement, in which there was no misrepresentation, in such a cynical manner was deplorable in the extreme. Moreover, this was said regarding the man who was the ‘commander’ Mansur of the army of the Promised Messiah, who for fifty years had dedicated each one of his works to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and mentioned him in the preface of all his major books, and in 1949 in his booklet Jama‘at Qadian aur har Musalman ke liye lamha-i fikria (‘A pause for thought for the Qadian Jama‘at and for every Muslim’) he had shown that his life was a continuation of the life of the Promised Messiah.

This saga ended with the resolution of the General Council passed at the time of the annual gathering following the death of Maulana Muhammad Ali. It was as follows:

“Resolution No. 51, General Council, dated 26–27 December, 1951.

This meeting of the General Council declares it unanimously, in clear and unambiguous words, that the late Hazrat Amir (Maulana Muhammad Ali), may the mercy of Allah be upon him, was God-fearing to the highest degree and the qualities of honesty and integrity shone in his person in the most perfect way. He was a great pillar of strength for the Ahmadiyya Movement in this age.

In the last period of his life, some unpleasant events occurred, on which this meeting expresses its regret.”{footnote 4}

Death of Maulana Muhammad Ali

These unpleasant events had adversely affected the health of Maulana Muhammad Ali. His health had previously improved so much that his doctors and medical attendants were satisfied with his condition. He used to walk around the house as usual and was busy in his work. On the occasion of Eid he had even addressed the Karachi Jama‘at briefly. However, after these events he began to be very tired and exhausted. His heart was already weak and now he developed breathing problems. It was always his habit to sleep very little, but now that vanished entirely. Even in this condition he wrote detailed replies to two letters that had been circulated. But as his detractors had announced that they would publish ten circulars, and six or seven numbered circulars had already been issued by them, he wrote at the end of his reply that he would answer everything before the General Council of the Anjuman. Those who were issuing these circulars demanded that the General Council should be called in the middle of August. But due to the state of his health and the intense heat, it was impossible for him to travel from Karachi to Lahore for this purpose. So he intended to call the General Council in October as usual, and had written a statement in this connection which was finished on 8 October 1951. While in the same condition he had also finally completed the checking of the proofs of the fourth edition of the English translation of the Quran.

Mr. Naseer Ahmad Faruqui was having him treated by specialists in Karachi for his rapid breathing and other problems that had started but there was no treatment for the sorrow he had suffered. During the last four or five days of his life he also developed stomach pains which increased his weakness.

Due to the deterioration in his health and from some Divine indications, he had come to know that his end was near, but no one ever saw the least sign of despair, sorrow or despondency on his face. If he ever expressed any anxiety it was about the Jama‘at, and he expressed it to Mr. Faruqui or one or two other prominent members. During his last days when he felt greatly saddened over the state of affairs of the Jama‘at, he mentioned to Mr. Faruqui that he had received revelation from God (ilham), saying: ya ‘azim al-martaba (meaning, ‘O highly ranked one’), and upon receiving it he felt, due to his humility, that these words were referring to God. But immediately he received another revelation: wa ya da‘if al-jaththa (meaning, ‘And O weak-bodied one’). So this second revelation explained that the first revelation was about him. His interpretation was that his body was now so weak that his soul must leave it. His first plan was to go to Lahore on 15 October. When this was mentioned, he said: “But I have seen that I am flying to the heavens in an aircraft”.

On the morning of 13 October, he felt a little better. After his morning prayers he had a light breakfast. But shortly afterwards it seemed as if he had made contact with Allah. He turned his attention away from his near and dear ones who were there to look after him. At about 9 a.m. one of his doctors, Colonel Khan, came but the Maulana paid him no attention, even though he always conversed with his doctors and often engaged in some humorous talk with them. As he had been having sleeplessness during the nights, it was assumed that he wanted to sleep. So the doctor gave him a soporific injection, which made him somewhat drowsy. It was in that state that at about 11.30 a.m. on 13 October 1951, corresponding to 10 Muharram 1371, the soul of Maulana Muhammad Ali left to meet its Maker — inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi raji‘un (‘We belong to Allah, and to Him do we return’). That day was the tenth of Muharram.

The events that followed in Karachi are related in detail in Mr. Faruqui’s article at the end of this book. In brief, in the evening, after the necessary funeral customs for the body of the deceased were completed, the Karachi Jama‘at said the funeral prayers at the residence of Mr. Faruqui. The coffin started its journey to Lahore by the Pakistan Mail train service at 6.30 p.m. The news of his death was broadcast in the evening and night news bulletins of Radio Pakistan and the same day from All-India Radio and the Asian programme of the Voice of America. As the Pakistan Mail travelled towards Lahore, at almost every station during the night and the next day people met the train to pay their homage, having heard the news on the radio, and many Ahmadis joined the same train along the way. On the evening of the following day the train arrived at Lahore, where a large crowd of both Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis at the station met the coffin with tearful eyes and carried it from the train. The coffin was first taken, for a short while, to his home in Muslim Town. Then it was taken to Ahmadiyya Buildings. In the mosque at Ahmadiyya Buildings, at exactly the spot from which he had delivered sermons to the Jama‘at for 37 years, imbued with spiritual content and filled with zeal and passion for the propagation of the Holy Quran, his funeral prayers were led by his older brother Maulana Aziz Bakhsh. As twenty-four hours had by now passed since the news of his death was announced, it allowed a large number of people not only from Lahore but from other cities as well to attend his funeral prayers. After this, he was buried at about 9.30 p.m. in the Ahmadiyya community plot at the Miani Sahib cemetery. He had left a written will about his place of burial, saying: “I have wished for long that my grave should be at a location where I am lying at the feet of those of my companions who have passed away before me”.  He was buried according to this instruction.

A will for the Jama‘at

When Maulana Muhammad Ali had a serious heart attack for the first time in September 1950, he gave Mr. Faruqui some instructions about his funeral. When, on 29 September, his condition worsened greatly and he became certain that he was about to meet his Creator, he called Mr. Faruqui towards him and said something to him in a weak voice, which the latter did not hear the first time. Mr. Faruqui asked him to repeat it, and bringing his ear close to the Maulana’s lips he heard him say:

“Our duty is to spread the Quran in the world, then it will do its own good work.”

Later on his health improved and he went to Lahore. The khutbas he delivered there have been mentioned before. These words are as his last will and therein lies the secret of the success of the Jama‘at.

Newspaper reviews and messages at his death

Those who mourned the death of Maulana Muhammad Ali were not only his own family and members of the Jama‘at but people in many countries throughout the world, even in the farthest corners of the earth which could not be imagined, were also shedding tears for him. The wide scale of the sorrow felt at his death can be judged from the numerous letters of condolence received by his relatives as well as by prominent members of the Jama‘at from all over the world. Many of these letters were published in the issues of Paigham Sulh from October 1951 to January 1952. All those letters would make up a book by themselves. By way of example, some newspaper reviews and letters from Muslims who were not Ahmadis are given below.

Dawn, leading Pakistan English newspaper, Karachi:

“Maulvi Muhammad Ali, whose death occurred in Karachi, probably did more writing on Islamic subjects for almost half a century than any contemporary individual. Immersed in scholarly pursuits and gifted with a researcher’s frame of mind, his aims were not academic. He was a missionary who awoke to his calling in life in the environment of the last century when Islam in this sub-continent was a target of concentrated scurrilous attacks from Western missionaries and votaries of a venomous revivalist Hinduism. A man of his academic distinction, in the late nineties, must have overcome a strong temptation in declining to enter Government service — the inevitable goal of education in those days — and choosing a missionary career. The object to which he dedicated his life was the translation of the Holy Quran into English; and he lived long enough after the first edition of his translation and commentary appeared in 1917, to follow it up with many other works. The best among these subsequent works are believed to be his Muhammad, The Prophet and The Religion of Islam. The former is a biography which pre-eminently serves its purpose; and the latter is almost cyclopaedic in its range of information. As a missionary Maulvi Muhammad Ali had profitably studied the publicity techniques of European missionaries and his prolific writings reflect his ability to devise a suitable approach to almost every individual section of his readers. Stupendous was the energy that he could put into this task; and as the years grew on him the will-power made up for what was lacking in physical strength. He died working almost till the last. Silent and unassuming as he was, both the man and his works were appropriately reflected in the fact — paradoxical as it might seem — that his writings were better known than the man himself. His death is a real loss. He will be mourned by a wide circle of friends and admirers. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved family.”{footnote 5}

Star, Lahore:

“On October 13, at 11.30 a.m. in Karachi, there passed away from this world a well-known scholar and religious leader — Maulana Muhammad Ali, head of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam, Lahore.

Soon after finishing his education, and while still very young, Maulana Muhammad Ali joined the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, and came to the fore as a writer in English on Islam while he edited the Review of Religions, a monthly organ of the Ahmadiyya Movement of which the first issue came out in January 1902. The monthly journal, devoted to the comparative study of Religion, did yeoman’s service under Maulana Muhammad Ali’s editorship by defending Islam against the onslaught of Christian Missionaries and European Orientalists of the old school whose writings were more marked by a virulent prejudice against Islam than by a spirit of honest enquiry and scholarly research.

After the death of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Mr. Muhammad Ali was assigned the task of preparing a translation in English of the Holy Quran; but the work could not be finished in the life-time of Maulvi Noor-ud-Din. Moreover, after the death of Maulvi Noor-ud-Din, a split occurred in the Ahmadiyya Movement over some points of belief and doctrine, as well as general policy to be followed in carrying on the mission of the Movement. Maulana Muhammad Ali was the Head of the section that broke away from Qadian and established itself in Lahore, finally coming to be known as Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam, Lahore.

The translation of the Holy Quran into English, prepared by Maulana Muhammad Ali, was published in 1917, and was at once accepted as a most valuable addition to Islamic literature in English prepared by Muslim scholars and divines themselves, as distinct from what European and American scholars write on the subject, practically always under a deep anti-Islamic bias characteristic of Christian missionaries.

Apart from his translation of the Holy Quran, Maulana Muhammad Ali brought out a translation of Sahih Bukhari, and many other books on subjects connected with the superiority of Islam as a religious and social system. By removing him from our midst, death has thus created a vacuum that will long be felt by all interested in the revival of Islam as the most dominant spiritual force in the lives of the Muslim peoples.”{footnote 6}

Abdullah Battersby (British convert to Islam):

“In the heart of the late Maulana Muhammad Ali, the beloved President of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, there burned that inextinguishable light and that tremendous zeal for the Faith of Islam that gave him the power to overcome the frailty and weakness that marked his declining years. In his anxiety for the spread of Islam to the West and his own profound belief in his mission, he surely taxed his strength and, when it was my privilege to meet him, a little less than a year ago, at his Muslim Town home in Lahore, I was struck by the sheer simplicity of this man who had achieved so much in the holy cause of Islam. …

His immense scholarship and learning easily gave Muhammad Ali a place of pre-eminence among Islamic savants, and no nobler monuments to his memory can be raised than his translation and commentary of the Holy Quran and its companion volume ‘The Religion of Islam’.

The renaissance of Islam that is taking place in the West today owes much to the labours of this revered scholar. …

Nothing seemed able to deter him in the pursuit of this noble ideal. His faith enabled him to live a life of self-abnegation and purity, and one feels that, like Sir Galahad, he could have recited: ‘My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.’

He was a man of culture and a civilized mind, who loved virtue for its own sake, who held a deep faith that Islam shall conquer in the end.

He was prompted from within to sail like a sailor into new seas of thought, to explore the dark channels of  Western misunderstanding and to throw the broad gleams of the light of his scholarship along their murky depths. He was inspired by his intense zeal for the Faith to work to the last with haste — the night of life was approaching and his passion to carry out his mission made him impetuous to complete it.

He forgot that time was passing and in his anxiety worked feverishly till eventually God called him to Himself, and there passed from our midst one of the greatest and most beloved scholars of our time.”{footnote 7}

Maulana Abdul Majid Salik, editor Inqilab:

“Maulana Muhammad Ali became a true and staunch Muslim by living in the company of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Not only that, the greatness of the religion of Islam was so impressed upon his mind and heart that he devoted the whole of his life for its propagation. Every moment in his life was spent in the service of the faith. Besides the English translation of the Holy Quran, he wrote countless books on religious subjects. In my opinion, the best of these is the book The Religion of Islam, by studying which an English-knowing person can acquire such detailed knowledge about the religion which even the fully-qualified maulvis do not possess.

For the last fifteen years, Maulana Muhammad Ali had been living in Muslim Town, where I also have my residence. So we used to meet often in various gatherings and functions. Despite his religious and pious nature, he was quite informal. He was, no doubt, an Ahmadi, but his relations with other Muslims were extremely sincere and fraternal. One reason was that he was the head of that group of Ahmadis whose beliefs are not intolerant. Secondly, he was by nature peace-loving. He used to give sympathetic support to the campaigns and movements of the Muslims, and did not tolerate takfir of them, because he believed that calling Muslims as kafir was inconsistent with the work of propagation. He presented the message of Islam not only to India but to the Western world as well. And it is a fact that he possessed the capability of doing so in every way. He was not only a learned man of the religion, but also a high-ranking commentator of the Quran and mujtahid. He was an English writer of the highest standard, who well understood the Western mind. He presented Islam to Western-educated people as well as to Westerners themselves in such a style that they could not help becoming convinced of the greatness of this faith. I believe that hundreds of seekers-after-truth in the Western countries became Muslims by reading the writings and books of Maulana Muhammad Ali, and it is as a result of his efforts that today the name of Islam is mentioned with respect in the West, hostility towards Islam having much diminished. The selfless service of Islam, over a long period, will surely be a source of Allah’s mercy for Maulana Muhammad Ali, because Allah never wastes the efforts and exertions of the true servants of his faith.”{footnote 8}

Sidq, Sunni Muslim periodical, Lucknow, India:

“The services which the deceased rendered to Islam with the pen in his long literary life are incomparable and unparalleled in their place. His pen was the greatest blessing for English readers and also for Urdu readers influenced by Western thought. God alone knows how many people had their faith [in Islam] restored by him, and how many Americans and Europeans seeking guidance found the path to Islam through him. … The deceased devoted each and every moment of his life to the service of the religion.”{footnote 9}

Khwaja Hasan Nizami, spiritual leader, Delhi:

“In connection with the work of the propagation of Islam, I had cause to meet the Maulana from the beginning of my life till today. I consider him to be a very great and very successful worker for Islam. May Allah grant him protection, and patience to the bereaved.

I inform my disciples and their leaders in India and Pakistan to hold meetings of reading the Fatiha for him. He has rendered so much service to the Quran and Islam that I believe it essential to hold the reading of the Fatiha for him.”{footnote 10}

Malik Abdul Quyum, Principal, Law College, Lahore:

Maut-ul-‘álim, maut-ul-‘álam — the death of a great scholar (‘álim) is tantamount to the death of an entire world (‘álam). If this adage applies anywhere, it applies to the death of Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali. It is not easy to find in this age in the whole of Asia, let alone Pakistan, another example of a life like his and of his constant struggle and sacrifice. … His efforts, day and night, of seventy years have today not only been rewarded by Allah but the place he has attained in the field of the propagation of Islam itself represents a singular achievement. … The late Maulana is included among those greatest figures in the history of Islam who can, without exaggeration, be called the founders of a new era. …

In this age, in the world of Islamic writings and literature, his English translation of the Holy Quran and the translation of Bukhari are standard translations and books …

The late Maulana’s life, both physical and spiritual, contains the best possible lesson for Muslims generally and the Muslim youth particularly. He used to rise at 3.00 a.m. and perform tahajjud prayers, and after that he was busy with work all day till as late as after the ‘isha  prayers, showing the true example of the practice of the righteous Muslim leaders of earliest times. His sincerity, his virtues and his integrity reflected like shining gold on his unblemished character. He is, and will be, counted among those famous Muslims who were born to serve Islam and gave their lives in the same way. He was one of those revered men described in the Quran as: ‘These are drawn nigh to Allah, in Gardens of bliss’ [56:11–12].”{footnote 11}

Mr. A.J. Khalil, Advocate, High Court, Maisur:

“He was a true mujahid of Islam, who proved to the world by his work that the pen is mightier than the sword. … The world has not recognised his greatness as it ought to have done. He was the true, great mujahid of this century. … I believe that it was the will of God the Most High that the precincts of the civilized world be adorned with those pearls of Islamic teachings that have been prepared in the form of the literature he has written on Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The English translation of the Holy Quran and the translation of Hadith done by him would be sufficient in the sight of Allah the Most High to grant him salvation. … Such men will rarely be born till the end of time, and the Muslim people will not be able to fill the void left by this servant of Islam.”{footnote 12}

Mr. Bashir Ahmad, Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey:

“Maulana Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest religious and spiritual leaders of Pakistan. For a lengthy period in Lahore he did such work as will make him remembered always and forever. The English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran, life of the Holy Prophet, the history of the early caliphate, and his books in English on Islamic teachings are unique. Even those who differ with him acknowledge their usefulness. These books are read in all parts of the world. One year ago Mrs. Muhammad Ali sent to my wife a few copies of these books in Turkey. The Turks accepted them as being highly sacred gifts. A Turkish official who is a friend of mine said to me a few months ago: However you can, please have me sent the English translation of the Holy Quran by the Pakistani author Maulana Muhammad Ali, I am prepared to pay any price for it.

The work that Maulana Muhammad Ali has done in freeing the Islamic world of today from doubts and confusion is an achievement of which Pakistan can be justly proud.”{footnote 13}

Mrs. Bashir Ahmad, wife of Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey:

“In the 20th century of the Christian era, Maulana Muhammad Ali has tried to take to every corner of the world the message of unity and truth which the Holy Prophet Muhammad delivered to humanity 1300 years ago. He dedicated his life to present to the world the real and true point of view of Islam. Due to his hard work and effort, of night and day, such a magnificent and superb translation of the Holy Quran was completed which is being highly appreciated in all countries. His books on Islam have been acclaimed in many countries. In my two years of stay in Turkey this fact has become clear that the Turkish people have a truly high regard and estimation for the Maulana’s services to Islam. His good name is well known among the religious sections of Turkey. His book The Religion of Islam is being translated into the Turkish language. …

We are proud of the fact that in the land of the Punjab, which has produced many famous men, this standard bearer of Islam was born who rendered such magnificent services to Islam from which all the Muslims will derive benefit for centuries. I had correspondence with him from Turkey and received his last letter one month before his death. We had close friendly relations with him for years.”{footnote 14}

Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi:

“To deny the services of the deceased to Islam is to deny the existence of the sun in broad daylight. In 1930, twenty-one years ago, when I was drowned in the poison of agnosticism and rationalism spread by Western ideas, it was the deceased’s English translation of the Quran which guided me. Otherwise, only God knows for how much longer I would have been lost, and only God knows for how many people it proved to be the guiding light, as it did for me. Then his writings: the Urdu commentary of the Quran, translation of Bukhari, ‘Early Caliphate’, Life of the Holy Prophet, ‘Islam the Religion of Humanity’, ‘A Manual of Hadith’ — each more useful and excellent than the other — are in existence. … I had only one occasion of meeting him personally, and that meeting was very amiable. There was an inner light radiating on his face, which is only produced by waking in the night [for prayers] and by spiritual exertions.”{footnote 15}

Shamsul Ulama Dr. Umar ibn Muhammad Daudpota, Karachi:

“Maulana was a divine of great insight into the teachings of Islam, which he disseminated through his memorable books. His services to Islam and his efforts to make its true value appreciated by both Muslims and non-Muslims will remain an abiding monument to his learning and erudition. We have lost in him one whose compeer can scarcely be found among the so-called Ulema of Pakistan.”{footnote 16}

Feroz Khan Noon, Pakistani statesman:{footnote 17}

  1. “I was very sorry to read in the papers of the demise of Maulana Muhammad Ali. Please accept my deepest sympathy. It is a loss which not only I but the whole Muslim world will share with you fully. His works will remain for ever and I do not know of any man who has done so much for the revival of Islam … not even during the last 500 years.”{footnote 18}
  2. “For the present generation of non-Arab Muslims, Islam was a closed book. The late Maulana, by his scholarly translation of the Holy Quran, has opened the door to this sealed treasure, especially for Muslims of the present times. This translation and the other writings of the Maulana have played the most prominent role in the religious, cultural and political revival of the Muslims. Due to this work future generations will always be grateful to him.”{footnote 19}


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

[1]. The extracts quoted here are taken from Mr. Dogrul’s original English article as published in The Islamic Review, May 1952, pages 17–18.

[2]. This message has been retranslated into English from the Urdu translation published in Paigham Sulh dated 14 February 1951, quoted in Mujahid-i Kabir.

[3]. All these relations of his were, by the grace of God, staunch Ahmadis who participated prominently in the works of the Jama‘at and made financial sacrifices. Their ‘fault’ was that they were his relations, and this was made a basis for objection.

[4]. Paigham Sulh, 16 January 1952, p. 6.

[5]. Dawn, Karachi, 16 October 1951, as quoted in The Light, 8 November 1951, p. 2.

[6]. Star, Lahore, 20 October 1951, as quoted in The Light, 8 November 1951, p. 2.

[7]. The Light, 1st January 1952, p. 7.

[8]. Paigham Sulh, special issue, 26 December 1951, p. 65.

[9]. Ibid., p. 67, quoted from Sidq, Lucknow, India, 26 October 1951.

[10]. Ibid., p. 65, quoted from Munadi, September–October 1951.

[11]. Paigham Sulh, 26 December 1951, p. 66.

[12]. Ibid., p. 66.

[13]. Ibid., p. 67.

[14]. Ibid., p. 67.

[15]. Ibid., p. 67.

[16]. The Light, 8 November 1951, p. 7.

[17]. Feroz Khan Noon was Governor of East Bengal, Pakistan, at the time of writing these tributes. Later he also served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

[18]. Letter dated 16 October 1951, published in The Light, 8 November 1951, p. 7.

[19]. Message for Paigham Sulh, special issue; published in Paigham Sulh, 16 January 1952, p. 6.


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