2017 01 The Light January 2017


The Call of the Messiah 1
Submission and Sacrifice – II By Dr Jawad Ahmad 2
The Early Legacies of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Lahore Ahmadiyya
Movement in America By Patrick Bowen Ph.D. 7
A message for the Jalsa By Iain Dixon 11
Readers’ Comments 12

International Organ of the Centre for the worldwide

Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam

The only Islamic organisation upholding the finality of prophethood.





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Shahid Aziz

Mustaq Ali


ن ی ِْ الرَّح ب اہلل الرَّْحْ‏ ٰ

The Call of

the Messiah


Hazrat Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad,

The Promised

Messiah and Mahdi

س ْ ِ


Criterion for judging ahadith concerning


If there is a hadith containing a prophecy

which the muhadditheen i have considered

weak, but in your or at some earlier time than

i Compilers and scholars of the hadith


The Call of the Messiah 1

Submission and Sacrifice – II

By Dr Jawad Ahmad 2

The Early Legacies of Mirza Ghulam

Ahmad and the Lahore Ahmadiyya

Movement in America

By Patrick Bowen Ph.D. 7

A message for the Jalsa

By Iain Dixon 11

Readers’ Comments 12

The new Lahore-Ahmadiyya Mosque

yours, the prophecy contained in that hadith

has been fulfilled, then that hadith must be accepted

as authentic. And, those who judged it

weak and failed to accept it, thinking that it was

a fabrication, will be considered as being in error.

The number of ahadith ii containing prophecies

runs into hundreds. Most of these have

been held by the muhaddithin to be fabricated

or defective. But, when one of these is fulfilled

and you try to avoid the point by saying that you

could not accept it because it was weak, or this

or that narrator in the link through which it had

come was not a righteous man, then such a rejection

on your part would be due to your lack

of faith. This is because you would rejecting a

hadith whose reliability had been established

by Allah by the fulfilment of the prophecy contained

in it.

Now, suppose there are one thousand

ii Plural of hadith.

Nickerie, Suriname

I Shall Love All Mankind.



The Light 2

ahadith of this kind, held to be weak and unacceptable

by the muhaddithin. And, further suppose

the prophecies contained in them happen

to be fulfilled. Would you reject them? And, also

reject the one thousand arguments in support

of the truth of Islam which the fulfilment of the

prophecies stood for? If you do anything of the

kind, you will thereby become enemies of Islam.

Allah says: The Knower of the Unseen, so He

makes His secrets known to none, except a messenger

whom He chooses. . . (76:26-27).

Therefore, to whom is a true prophecy to be

attributed, if not to a true prophet? Is it not

more in tune with one's righteousness of mind

to say on such occasions that the muhaddith in

question had erred in so far as he had rejected

as weak a hadith which, in fact, was quite reliable?

Or would it more proper for us to say that

in supporting a weak hadith with the testimony

of actual events Allah Himself had been guilty of

an error? For you, the guiding principle in any

case should be that you should follow even a

weak hadith, provided it is not contrary to the

Holy Quran and the Sunnah, or contrary to

other ahadith which agree with the Holy Book.

Amazing Story of

Submission and

Sacrifice II

Dr. Jawad Ahmad

(continued from the December 2016 issue)

Personality of Prophet Abraham is very pivotal

in the religious structure of Islam. Islam

owes a great deal to the prayers of Prophet

Abraham, and it reaches its spiritual climax

with paying homage to him in the form of Hajj.

One can come across number of verses in the

Quran in which Holy Prophet Ibrahim is highly

However, great care is needed on this point,

for it is a fact that there exists a large number of

fabricated ahadith which have caused a great

deal of disruption in Islam. All the conflicting

sects take as the basis of their authority this or

that hadith, as suits their needs. So, that even

such a clear and well established question as

that of the prescribed obligatory prayers has

given rise to extreme differences of view. For example,

after the recitation of the Al-Fatihah,

some say "Ameen" loudly, audible to others.

While, others adhere to the view that this

should be done silently in one's own mind,

while others believe that such recitation spoils

one's prayer and is, therefore, forbidden. Some

hold their hands folded on the breast, while others

hold them at the navel. The real cause of all

these differences can be attributed to the

ahadith themselves, as the Holy Qur'an says:

But they became divided into sects, each party rejoicing

in that which was in them (23:53).

I Shall Love All Mankind.

Photographs of the opening ceremony of the

new Lahore Ahmadiyya Mosque in Nickerie

in Suriname



The Light 3

I Shall Love All Mankind.

The Ameer, Hazrat Dr Abdul Karim Saeed,

opening the annual prayer meeting of LAM.

praised and is regarded as “model of virtue”:

“Surely Abraham was a model of virtue, obedient

to Allah and upright… and grateful for Allah’s

favours. Allah chose him and guided him

on the right path . . . We revealed to you (O Muhammad):

Follow the faith of Abraham, the upright

one . . .” (16:120-123). Hazrat Mirza Ghulam

Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya

Movement in Islam, has put special emphasis on

this aspect of Islam and tried to revive the

Quranic injunction to persuade followers of

other religions to at least believe in One God “O

People of the Book, come to an equitable word

between us and you, that we shall serve none

but Allah and that we shall not associate aught

with Him” (3:63). And this is what Prophet Jesus

also exhorted to his disciples: “Jesus said

unto him, thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with

all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all

thy mind. This is the first and great commandment”

(Matthew 22:37,38. Luke 20:27). Even

during the life time of the Holy Prophet (s) he

held discussions with Christians with a view to

create better understanding and closer relationship.

This dialogue was held with a Christian

delegation of 60 priests from the city of

Najran, in Syria. In the dialogue, all important

questions about Jesus such as his birth, his alleged

claim to divinity and his death were discussed.

Similarly, the founder of the Ahmadiyya

Movement held long and in-depth discussions

with Christians and Hindus and even offered to

give up eating cow’s meat etc. provided they

stop maligning the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

Ahmadi scholars like Maulana Abdul Haque

Vidyarthi, a scholar of Sanskrit and keen student

of comparative religions, inferred from Vedas

and other Hindu scriptures that Brahma is

from Abraham or Arabic Ibrahim. He also made

a research and substantiated that prophet Dhul

Kifl mentioned in the Quran most probably refers

to Kapilvastu, (21:85) which is the birth

place of prophet Buddha in Nepal. It is a historical

fact that it was the Founder of the Ahmadiyya

Movement who encouraged a well-known

Hindu Pundit Shaugan Chander to hold an interfaith

conference in Lahore in 1896. The Promised

Messiah’s paper read at the Conference

was later published in the form of the book: Islami

Usool ki Philosophy. Its first English translation

was by Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali as

The Teachings of Islam. It is time to boost efforts

for religious understanding and harmony. It will

not only make followers of other religions

aware of the true teachings of Islam but it will

also help in negating the misconceptions created

by the extremist activities by the disgruntled

elements among the Muslims. History tells

us that prophet Abraham in his several long and

arduous travels from Canaan to Makkah, each

way, trudged through deserts and rugged

mountains covering almost 1300 miles. This

great migration in obedience to the command of

Allah was not to find a better and flourishing

city – but to a city which is even today surrounded

by arid desert and rocky mountains.

Prophet Abraham with his wife and a son were

commanded by Allah to raise foundations of a

House of God which in the centuries to come

was to witness fulfilment of prophecies made

through the tongues of Moses and Jesus. This

unnoticed city was destined to become centre of

universal teachings of Islam and was to become

symbol of Divine might which withstood several

attempts to destroy it. This first House of God,

has after centuries, regained its destined glory,

and God proved that He can transform a muddy

house into glorious spiritual centre which today

enjoys respect and honour of millions of peoples

across the world. This house of God is a living

monument vindicating truth of all the

prophets – from Adam to Holy Prophet Muhammad

- who delivered message of unity of God

and guidance to achieve nobility and submission.

Prophet Abraham and his family played a

marvellous role in the working of this Divine



The Light 4

Plan and there cannot be more lasting reward

for them than the institution of Hajj when every

tongue and heart of a Muslim recite salutations

and blessings for them. When Hazrat Ibraheem

leaves his wife and his son on the command of

Allah in the desert, did the wife complain? No,

rather she lived in those inhospitable surroundings

showing utmost courage and patience.

Again, when the son comes of age and is able to

help his father and be his support, he sees in a

dream that he should sacrifice his son. When

this dream is repeated and he asks his son for

advice, does the son falter in his resolve to follow

request of his father? It is difficult to see any

son, agreeing to such an act on himself, unless

he has complete faith in the nobility, trustworthiness,

and godliness of his father and his own

personal faith and relationship with Allah. It is

only in this context that we could appreciate

Ishmael responding: “O my father, do as thou art

commanded: if Allah please, thou wilt find me

patient.” My own understanding of this response,

is that Ishmael’s offer in a way received

greater acceptance by Allah and He not only replaced

it by a ram but also enjoined it to be a

part of the rituals of Hajj. Again, we should see

the act of sacrifice in relation to our own children.

As a child, Ishmael, by his devotion to Allah,

set the stage for the abolishment of human

sacrifice which was prevalent among the peoples

of that time. It is therefore heart-rending to

read that when young fifteen year olds, act as

suicide bombers to kill themselves and the people

in the name of Islam. This is, in fact, an outright

defiance of Islam and mockery of the spirit

of Eid-ul-Adha. Replacement of a ram in the case

of Ishmael was designed specifically to abolish

such cruel acts of paganism. Moving on with the

subject of sacrifice: We see common day examples

of sacrifice and the results it shows. For example,

students who work hard and sacrifice

leisure activities and don’t waste time on games

and television etc. do see the results of their

hard work. Also, more recently we had the

Olympic games being shown from Rio, and stories

of all the athletes were full of sacrifices for

the last 4 years and how they missed their families

and cut themselves off from other worldly

activities and concentrated on their chosen

sport and see how they were rewarded with

I Shall Love All Mankind.

success and jubilation for all to see. So there are

examples for all of us that we can achieve anything

in life if we set our minds to it and work

hard to achieve it. Then there are ordinary sacrifices

which we make in our choices on daily

basis where we may sacrifice one thing or another

to please each other which helps cement

our relationships and allows us to live more

harmoniously. All religions have their annual

remembrances. For example, in this country we

see nativity scene being played and acted in

schools and churches all over - reminding people

of the birth of Jesus and the story as per

Christian religion. This keeps the significance of

the birth of Jesus (as) and his significance as the

son of God for the whole world to see. Same is

the case with other religions. Dr Basharat Ahmad,

a well-known writer and scholar of the

Quran, has written a beautiful article explaining

the philosophy of this sacrifice visualising it in a

wider perspective. He has explained in particular

symbolic importance of the sacrifice of an

animal vis-a- vis love of God and sacrifice in

submission to His will. “There are two things essential

for the love of Allah, one is belief in the

unity of Allah and the other is sacrifice. Love of

worldly things and relations are usually determined

by the importance of these things; the

more value a thing holds in our opinion, it will

supersede the love we have for it. For example,

love of the wealth is very common but if your

life is in danger then you will sacrifice it readily

to save your life. Similarly, in case one’s honour

is at stake, then one would sacrifice life one’s for

the sake of duty and honour. So, supreme love is

that one should sacrifice, what is most dear to a

person than to earn that love. True love demands

that the object of love should be one and

that you should be so much in love with it that

you are ready to sacrifice everything else in order

to achieve that objective. Unless intensity of

love for the objective is so overwhelming, it cannot

be considered to be whole-hearted love. In

other words, love for an objective demands negation

of any other love. That is why perfect love

demands sacrifice of all other loves. Same is the

case when we say we love Allah and nothing but

Allah: laa i-laa-ha ill-lal- laah it should mean

that we totally negate entertaining any other

love and are ready to obey His commandments



The Light 5

though we have to sacrifice any worldly objective.

That is why when a Muslim believes in the

unity of Allah, and takes an oath: laa i-laa- ha illlall-laah.

It means that by taking this oath, he

undertakes to love One and Only Allah and negates

love of all other objectives. This negation

on the part of a believer is further intensified by

subsequent undertaking: ill-lal- laah – that is,

nothing but Allah. So, the first part of the Kalimah

is demonstration of love for Allah to the utter

negation of all other loves. Therefore, Islamic

formula, Laa i-laa- ha ill-lal- laah is an expression

of perfect love for Allah to the exclusion

of all other worldly interests. In other

words, we take an oath that if any worldly interest

comes in the way, we are ready to sacrifice it

and will hold belief in Allah above worldly affairs.

That is why we find all the prophets invariably

demonstrating such perfection in love for

Allah and His creatures that they were regarded

as perfect examples. The Holy Quran bears witness

to the perfection of love and obedience of

prophet Abraham and Prophet Muhammad (s)

in these words: “Surely Abraham was a model of

virtue, obedient to Allah, upright, and he was

not of the polytheists” (16:120). Similarly, about

the Holy Prophet Muhammad Allah testifies:

“Surely you have sublime morals” (68:4). In

other words, a believer’s love for Allah is so perfect

that he cannot ignore his love for His fellow

beings. That is why his character is a perfect example

and anyone who follows him becomes

lover of Allah and Allah in return loves him. This

is what the Quran says: “Say: If you love Allah,

follow me: Allah will love you, and grant you

protection from your sins” (3:30). The Holy

Quran explains this point in the following

words: “There are some who take for themselves

objects of worship besides Allah. And

those who believe are stronger in their love for

Allah” (2:165). Love is a relative term. Man loves

various things in his life which include his family

and other material things. But Quran has

placed the love of Allah in the highest order. And

that is why in order to achieve higher and

higher state of moral sublimity, love of Allah

works as the most active motivation.

Therefore, while performing sacrifice, the

object should be complete submission to the

I Shall Love All Mankind.

will of Allah and that gives strength to a believer

to stand steadfast and bear opposition and

hardship in upholding the truth. The Holy

Quran draws our attention to the object of offering

sacrifice as ‘performing of duty’ and not to

achieve any ulterior objective: “Not their flesh,

nor their blood, reaches Allah, but to Him is acceptable

observance of duty on your part. Thus

has He made them subservient to you, that you

may magnify Allah for guiding you aright. And

give good news to those who do good (to others)”

(22:37). The flesh and blood of the sacrificial

animal does not reach Allah but what is required

to achieve thereby is God-consciousness

so that we fulfil our obligations which we owe

to Allah and His creatures with sincerity and devotion.

One way of understanding significance

of submitting to the will of Allah which can be

symbolically called Sacrifice is to visualise state

of an animal when he is being slaughtered. Animal

stands for animal instincts such as worldly

emotions and desires while angelic instincts are

humane and moral desires. Sacrificing an animal

stands for that we commit ourselves to sacrifice

our worldly desires and submit entirely to

the will of Allah just like an animal is subservient

to the will of his master. Only and only then

we can truly stay true to the greatness of Allah.

This is also the significance of reciting Allah-o

Akbar while putting knife to the throat of an animal.

In this state when we are reciting Allah-o

Akbar (exalting His Glory) while slaughtering

the animal we should be fully conscious of Allah’s

total over-lordship just as the animal is entirely

at the mercy of his master. To proclaim Allah’s

greatness is committing ourselves to submit

entirely to the will of Allah and cut off all ties

to the worldly desires as sacrifice is to cut animal

physical relationship. In the struggle between

animal and angelic instincts Divine guidance

helps in overcoming animal instinct and

attaining moral victory. The Kaabah is a continuous

source of physical and spiritual blessings.

Its blessings do not end with the annual Pilgrimage;

it continues in the form of Umrah for

the rest of the year. Even celebration of Eid-ul-

Adha, sacrificing an animal, reciting takbirs after

daily prayers for three days is partaking in

the acts of devotions being performed at the

Kaabah and other sites such as Muzdalifa, Mina



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and Arafaat. It is not just a visit to the House of

Allah. It is presenting oneself before Allah and

renewing one’s pledge to obey His commandments

and submit to His will. Pilgrimage provides

both an inclusive and an exclusive spiritual

exercise for moral and spiritual elevation.

During this time, the pilgrim feels a compelling

urge to bring a change in his life and to seek forgiveness

and repentance. The continuous recitation

of being present in Allah’s August Presence

and acknowledging Allah’s blessings and

bounties, the pilgrim aspires to a life of bliss and

contentment in this world for himself and for

his family and the near and dear ones. These

moments of self-realisation and outpouring before

the Lord of the worlds, is an opportunity to

achieve tremendous bliss and spiritual elevation.

There is subtle Divine wisdom underlying

the three practices in Islam, prayer, fasting and

pilgrimage. These can be regarded as three

practical steps towards attaining purity and

sublimity in the eyes of Allah. It starts with selfrealisation

in ritual prayers, then goes a step

further when we undergo physical hardship

during the month of Ramadan to perform noble

acts and inculcate feelings of fellowship, and towards

the last ten days when we enter into partial

seclusion – itikaaf – to make more vigorous

strides towards our spiritual development and

character- building. Then, if we have the means,

we move to the step of complete seclusion and

submission in Hajj, in which state we become

oblivious to our normal worldly routine and relations

and we devote ourselves completely to

the worship of the One and Only God. Hazrat

Maulana Muhammad Ali has beautifully summed

up the benefits of this spiritual journey in

these words: “Islam lays the greatest stress

upon the spiritual development of man, and in

its four main institutions – prayer, zakat, fasting

and Hajj . The five daily prayers require the sacrifice

of a small part of his time and, without in

any way interfering with the everyday life, enable

him to realise the Divine that is within him.

The institution of zakat demands the giving up

of a small portion of his wealth without interfering

with his right to property. Fasting requires

the giving up of food and drink but not in

such a manner as to make him unfit for carrying

on his regular work or business. It is only in Hajj

I Shall Love All Mankind.

that asceticism assumes a marked form, for the

pilgrim is required not only to give up his regular

work for a number of days for the journey to

Makkah, but he must, in addition, give up many

other amenities of life.” Sacrifice in the case of

Eid-ul-Adha is to remind us that sacrifice

strengthens bond of love whether it is with Allah,

or individuals or a country or any noble

cause. It helps us to achieve the objective. When

we claim that we love Allah, it means we love to

obey commandments of Allah and to serve His

creatures. In other words, love and obedience

are like body and soul. Success and failure of

one, is dependent on the other. In other words,

both body and soul enjoy the bliss and endure

punishment of good or bad deeds. Spirit of sacrifice

lies in humility, kindness and good gesture

shown at any place, time and moment which

brings peace, happiness and comfort. It is a

spirit which works irrespective of cast, creed,

colour, race, nationality and religion. It needs no

language, a simple nodding, a smile, a helping

hand and sharing food or anything generates

such a great feeling of friendship and love. Hajj

provides a marvellous occasion to experience

this spirit of sacrifice. Thus, spirit of sacrifice is

a key to developing all individual and social relationships

which Divine guidance intends to inculcate

in a society. The Holy Quran regards

such acts of sacrifice as maoon or small acts of

kindness. It reprimands a believer for not doing

small acts of kindness: “So woe to the praying

ones, who are unmindful of their prayer; who

do good to be seen and refrain from acts of kindness”

(107:4-7). The Holy Quran explains beautifully

the purpose of mentioning the stories of

old. It is to remind the believers to learn lessons

from the past. But in the case of Pilgrimage, reminding

is of a different kind. Every pilgrim reenacts

those events and takes an oath in the

presence of Allah to glorify Him and obey His

commandments. The Holy Quran says: “And remind,

for reminding profits the believers. And I

have not created the jinn and the men except

that they should serve me” (51:55,56).

Let us try to practise the spirit of sacrifice in

our daily lives and make our lives individually

and collectively a haven of peace and happiness.



The Light 7

Dr Patrick Bowen addressing the jalsa over


The Early Legacies of Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad and the

Lahore Ahmadiyya

Movement in America

Patrick Bowen Ph.D.

(Editor’s note: A paper delivered at the Annual Conference

of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Anjumans Ishaat Islam

of Lahore, December 22, 2016. Emphasis in bold at

various places is by the editor.)

One of the reasons I am so pleased to be

here this morning is that as a scholar who specializes

in the history of conversion to Islam in

America, I have come to see that there are few

figures and movements as significant in

American Muslim history as Mirza Ghulam

Ahmad and the Ahmadiyya Movement. Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad appears to have personally

played a crucial role in the creation of some of

America’s first Muslim convert and Sufi communities

and the later Lahore Ahmadi movement

influenced several other important Islamic

currents in the United States as well. So,

to be able to be with you here and speak with

members of a movement that has had such a

prominent place in American Islamic history is

indeed a privilege.

This morning I would like to outline the

early impacts of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the

Ahmadiyya Anjuman of Lahore in the United

States by looking at these impacts as having occurred

over the course of five distinct periods. I

am going to be focusing on a ninety-year time

frame, 1886 to 1975, not only because this is the

I Shall Love All Mankind.

area of my specialization but also because this

time frame encapsulates a history that has

shaped the direction of American Islam ever

since. In each of these five periods, influential

figures and Islamic organizations

emerged with important ties to either Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad himself or to the Lahore Ahmadiyya

Movement. These figures and organizations

would go on to shape important early

contours of the American Muslim community in

both relatively well-known ways and lesserknown,

but still significant, ways. Each of these

periods, then, offer key insights into the role of

the Ahmadiyya movement in the development

of the Muslim community in the United States

and how Islam in America - especially that of

American converts to Islam - was uniquely

shaped by the Ahmadiyya movement.

The first period of Ahmadi influence on the

American community encompasses the years

during which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself was

in direct contact with Americans. Most scholars

of both Islam in America and Ahmadi history

are aware that the first prominent white

American Muslim convert, a man named Alexander

Russell Webb, initially began taking

a serious interest in Islam after starting a

correspondence with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

in late 1886. In this correspondence, which

lasted several months, Webb showed enthusiasm

for spreading Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s ideas

and was invited to Qadian to study under the

teacher. Having no means to provide for his family

in his absence, Webb was forced to decline

the offer, yet it seems to have been this very invitation

that motivated Webb to obtain later

that year a job that would permit him to move

his entire family to Southeast Asia, which he

hoped would eventually allow him to visit India.

During his five-year stay in Asia, although Webb

lost contact with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, he retained

his passion for Islam and had embraced

the religion by the summer of 1889. Soon after

this, he met with various Muslim funders who

helped Webb develop a mission to spread Islam

in the United States, and between 1893 and

1897, Webb led the first major Islamic movement

in America. Because of infighting and possibly,

as Webb argued, a widespread fear of the



The Light 8

potential repercussions if Americans converted

to Islam, Webb’s Islamic movement never

gained mass popularity. Webb, therefore, retired

to a quiet life in America, although he

maintained his connections with Muslims

throughout the world, including the Ahmadiyya,

for whom, in 1910, he helped with the revision

of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s book The

Teachings of Islam.

As I have stated, Webb’s connections

with the Ahmadi community are fairly well

known to scholars, but there are also a few less

well-known ties between Americans and Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad during this same period. One of

the most fascinating possible connections appeared

during the same time and at nearly the

same location that Webb first took an interest in

Islam. It seems that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s

first exposure to Americans came by way of

an article published in 1886 in a journal for

members of the Theosophical Society, a liberal

spiritual organization that was devoted to

studying the various religions of the world.

Webb was a member of this organization at the

time, and it seems to have served as the intellectual

and organizational model for his later Islamic

movement. Interestingly, though, an acquaintance

of Webb who was also in the Theosophical

Society - a man named Thomas Johnson

- may have similarly been inspired by the

article about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, for in early

1887 he established his own organization devoted

to studying Sufism, or Islamic mysticism -

which had been precisely one of the key elements

of Islam Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was promoting

at the time. Johnson’s group, known as

the Sufic Circle, was the first Sufi organization

in the United States, and it may have influenced

later Sufi movements that were to spread in

America and throughout Europe.

A small number of other Americans seem to

have been linked with the Ahmadiyya movement

during these early years as well. According

to Ahmadi sources, a physician and follower

of Webb, Dr. Anthony George Baker, embraced

Islam directly through correspondence

with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. In addition,

a man from New York named F.L. Andersen,

I Shall Love All Mankind.

who began corresponding with Mirza Ghulam

Ahmad in 1901, was soon being promoted

as the first true Ahmadi convert in

America. Andersen remained committed to the

Ahmadiyya cause for the next thirty years;

however he became devoted to the Qadian faction,

which made a strong effort to promote Islam

to Americans during the 1920s.

The Lahore-based Ahmadiyya Movement,

however, does not seem to have made clear inroads

in the United States until the early 1930s,

and this represents the second period of links

between the Americans and Ahmadis. Like in

the previous era, this period’s Ahmadi influence

came not from Ahmadiyya representatives who

were physically present in the country, but rather

from overseas missionaries. At the time,

the Muslim mission in Woking, England was being

significantly influenced by the Ahmadiyya

Movement of Lahore, and it was that community

that was publishing one of the first widely

popular English-language Islamic journals to be

read in the United States. In fact, the editors of

the Islamic Review appear to have made a strong

push to promote both their magazine and Islam

itself during the early 1930s. Letters published

in the journal reveal that it was being sent to libraries

and schools across the country and, in

the process, was stimulating American interest

in the religion.

Perhaps one of the most surprising, if littleknown,

outcomes of this particular Ahmadi effort

is that the magazine’s tendency to publish

letters from Americans made other Americans

aware of their presence, which in turn helped

bring together various American Muslim

convert-focused organizations. The earliest

example of this is the case of the white converts

in Los Angeles, California, who read about each

other in the magazine’s 1931 and 1932 issues.

By the summer of the latter year, white Muslims

in the region who had met each other through

the journal began to organize. Then, in the

following year, a small, but nationally-focused

Muslim organization named the American

Islamic Association used the Islamic Review

to recruit the West Coast converts into its

East Coast-based network. The American

Islamic Association had been indirectly linked



The Light 9

to the Woking mosque since the former’s

founding in 1930, and its members even had

their own articles appear in Woking’s journal;

but were it not for the Woking mission

connecting the Americans who were

scattered across the country, the American

Islamic Association probably would never

have become the first truly national convertbased

Muslim organization in the United

States. And, as we will now see, this

accomplishment helped lay a foundation for

future generations of American Muslims.

It was in the third period that the Lahore

Ahmadiyya connections finally became direct in

America, and in the process they helped

establish a strong multiracial, convert-focused

Muslim community in the United States.

Members of the American Islamic Association,

first of all, appear to have come into contact

with the Lahore movement’s leaders in India;

Lahore’s joint secretary K.S. Chaudhri Manzur

Ilahi announced in 1936 that he had been in

communication with the group’s leaders.

However, what was perhaps more important for

Mr. Ilahi was the actual Ahmadi mission in

America that was founded in 1935. Although

the extant evidence is somewhat unclear about

the issue, it appears that the person responsible

for starting the American mission was an

African American convert named Saeed Ahmad.

Mr. Ahmad seems to have been from the

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region and more than

likely had previously been involved in one of the

several different Islamic sects that had been

popular in the region over the previous ten

years. According to various accounts, in 1934

the region’s Muslim community, which had

recently unified under the Qadiani movement,

underwent a major schism, and, due to the

effors of Mr. Ahmad and others, the Lahore

Ahmadiyya movement gained a significant

following in the region. As a result, over the next

dozen years the Lahore-influenced region

became one of the main centers of mainstream

Islam among African Americans, with its

influence spreading across the country.

Meanwhile, white and immigrant Muslims

who were associated with the old American

Islamic Association continued to maintain ties

I Shall Love All Mankind.

with Lahore, and new white converts with

Lahore links began appearing. The most notable

of the latter type was a woman from New York,

Nadira Osman, who embraced Islam after

reading the works of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and

learning of his connections with Alexander

Russell Webb. By the 1940s, Miss Osman and

other white converts and immigrants were

connecting with each other and organizing new

Islamic institutions and interacting with

Lahore-influenced African Americans in several

regions of the country. In fact, during the war,

African Americans with Lahori connections

attempted to create the first truly

multiracial and national mainstream

Islamic organization, the Uniting Islamic

Societies of America. Although the institution

had dissolved before 1950, it solidified

connections and left an important model and

organizational legacies for American Muslims

in the ensuing years.

There is some overlap between the third

and fouth period of American contacts with the

Ahmadiyya movement of Lahore. In 1943, as

Ahmadi-influenced Americans were developing

their own institutions, leading Ahmadi figures

in India decided that the time was ripe to

establish a full-fledged mission in America led

by learned Indian Muslim teachers. The mission

was officially launched in 1947 when the

Lahore representative, Bashir Ahmad Minto,

arrived in San Francisco, California and

incorporated the Moslem Society of the USA. Mr.

Minto quickly went to work, sending out

hundreds of advertisements and letters to local

and national periodicals, giving dozens of

lectures across the state, distributing Islamic

publications to all who were interested, raising

money to purchase a building, and corresponding

and meeting with hundreds of Muslims

and potential converts. With these efforts, he

had established the first robust Lahore Ahmadi

mission in America, and as a result he had

begun winning over to Islam a new class of

Americans: college-educated whites. In previous

periods, the vast majority of American

converts to Islam had not attended college. In

most cases, although these people tended to be

interested in intellectual subjects like history



The Light 10

and philosophy, they had not formally attended

a post-secondary institution. But Mr. Minto’s

approach to promoting Islam was able to bring

in the college-trained, and at one school, the

well-respected University of Chicago, one of Mr.

Minto’s converts established a college Islamic

association, one of the first of its kind in the

country. Despite these new development,

however, the earlier Lahore connections with

Americans were not forgotten, and after Mr.

Minto left in the mid-1950s, a former member

of the American Islamic Association, Muharrem

Nadji, was appointed to be the new official

representative of the Lahore movement in


The final period of American contact with

the Lahore Ahmadiyya movment, like the fourth

period, had some overlap with the previous

period as well as connections with Lahoriinfluenced

developments from earlier in the

century. The main figure of this era was a

Pakistani named Muhammad Abdullah, a welleducated

representative of the Lahore

movement who first traveled to the United

States in the mid-1950s. During this initial

seventeen-month stay, while Mr. Minto was

focusing his conversion efforts on white

Americans, Mr. Abdullah became interested in

African American Muslims who belonged to the

famous non-orthodox sect, the Nation of Islam.

Soon, Mr. Abdullah began exchanging letters

with the head of the Nation, Elijah Muhammad,

with the hope of eventually bringing him and

his organization to mainstream Islam. After a

brief time working in the Fiji Islands, Mr.

Abdullah returned to the United States and

became a leading Muslim figure in both

California and, after affiliating himself with

African Americans who had been influenced by

the Lahore movement back in the 1930s, in

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Although one of Mr. Abdullah’s key

contributions during his American career was

helping enable the Lahore movement better

recruit African Americans in California, it was in

the latter city, Philadelphia, that he was able to

leave his greatest legacy. It remains somewhat

unclear how exactly it occurred, but in the year

I Shall Love All Mankind.

1960 Mr. Abdullah came into personal contact

with Wallace Muhammad, the son of Elijah, and

heir-apparent of the Nation of Islam. At the

time, Wallace was working in Philadelphia as a

minister for the Nation, but despite being

regarded by many in his group as the future

national leader of their community, he had

come to question several of the Nation’s nonorthodox

teachings and was beginning to take

an interest in orthodox Islam. Mr. Abdullah

therefore offered to educate Wallace on many

things about Islam, including teaching him

some Urdu and Quran commentary. Wallace

regarded this education as a turning point in his

religious life. He soon would break from his

father and align himself with the famous

Malcolm X when the latter embraced orthodox

Islam. In fact, Malcolm’s orthodox Muslim

organization even formally met with Mr.

Abdullah’s Philadelphia group in late 1964.

However, after Malcolm’s assassination the

following February, Wallace, fearing for his life,

spent the next ten years publicly wavering

between a commitment to his father’s

organization and orthodox Islam. It seems,

though, that in private he was commited to

orthodoxy and had begun making plans to

convert the Nation of Islam - which was by far

the largest and most influential Islamic

organization in the United States at the time -

into an orthodox movement. Then, when Elijah

Muhammad died in February 1975, Wallace, as

predicted, took charge of the organization and

almost immediately began to implement the

massive religious transition of the group’s

doctrines to align with orthodox Islam. Mr.

Abdullah himself was even praised in the

community as an important religious teacher

and was frequently featured in the movement’s

newspaper. Wallace Muhammad’s conversion

of the Nation of Islam brought tens of thousands

of African Americans to orthodox Islam, and

this community, which is now entering its third

generation as an orthodox movement, remains

the largest African American orthodox Muslim

community in the United States. Because few

groups have been able to quickly convert so

many people to a single new religion

without the use of force, this transition was

an event that has few equals in world



The Light 11

history, let alone in the history of religion in

America. Were it not for the work of Mr.

Abdullah, then, this significant event may

have never come to pass.

To conclude my speech this morning, I

would like to not only summarize my main

points, but also point out a few larger themes

that I think we can take away from this history.

To state my main point once again: there were

five distinct periods during which either Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad himself or the Ahmadiyya

movement of Lahore played important roles in

shaping American Islamic life. During these

periods, the impact of the Ahmadiyya movement

was felt through not only its teachings

being spread, but, perhaps more significantly, in

the actual organizations that developed with its

influence. Dozens of Islamic movements have

attempted to shape and influence Islam in

America over the past 130 years, but relatively

few have affected the creation of numerous real

institutions. The Ahmadiyya movement of

Lahore not only did that repeatedly, but

played a role in the emergence of some of the

most important and groundbreaking

institutions and transformations in the

history of American religion. There are traces

of Ahmadi influence in the very first organized

American Islamic orthodox and Sufi

movements; the first truly national movement

for converts; the first large national multiracial

orthodox Islamic organization; at least one of

the first Muslim organizations at an American

college; and the largest African American

orthodox Muslim community in the United

States. The efforts of the Ahmadiyya

movement must therefore be looked at as

having played a vital role in the shaping of

Islam in America.

A Message for the Jalsa

Iain Dixon

I greet you all in the name of the Lord Jesus

Christ. I write to you from the land of England,

and wish you all the blessings of Allah Almighty

as you gather together for your convention. The

Lahore Ahmadiyya community may have people

who despise it, persecute it, misunderstand

I Shall Love All Mankind.

Zahid Aziz Ph.D. addressing

the jalsa using


it. But you have

friends too. I am a

friend of your Jamaat

and have experienced your love, care and hospitality

first hand. I count you my friends.

May this Convention be for you a time of renewal,

refreshment, renewing of friendships …

and most of all, a time to reconnect with your

creator. At this special time of Jalsa, may you all

be reminded of the words in the Honoured

Quran which say: "Truly my prayer, and my service

of sacrifice, my life and my death, are all for

Allah, the Lord of the worlds." -Surah 6:162.

All that you have, all that you are, and all

that you will become, belongs to Allah. Look for

new ways to express your devotion to Allah.

Rekindle the passion you once had to serve

him wholeheartedly. Let go of the failings of

the past, and take hold of the future with a

new zeal.

We live in a time where the world is full of

hatred. I love the motto of your worldwide Jamaat:

I Shall Love All Mankind. I am reminded

of a prophecy in the Holy Bible that speaks of

the days we are living in now . . .

"In the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous,

boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to

parents, unthankful, unholy . . . lovers of pleasures

rather than lovers of God, having a form

of godliness, but denying its power."- 2 Timothy


Many today are quick to profess themselves

to be Muslims, but their actions would tell forth

a different message. I am thankful to you, the

Lahore Ahmadiyya community that you stand

out amongst the Muslim crowd. You live out the

values of peace, love and tolerance, and have a

desire to serve your communities. In your lives,

corporately, and individually, you echo the

words of our Lord Jesus, who said we are to

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart,

soul, strength and mind . . . and to love your



The Light 12

neighbour as yourself."- Mark 12:30-31

Your Jamaat may seem small, but I think of

the great Sequoia trees of America which are

over three hundred feet tall, but start off from a

seed which is only the size of a fingernail! Something

that is seemingly small and insignificant,

can become something amazing. Almighty Allah

can use that which is small, and use it for his


Some of the most beautiful words in the

Honoured Quran are found in its opening chapter:

“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most

Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and

Sustainer of the Worlds. Most Gracious, Most

Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgement. You

do we worship, and your aid do we seek. Show

us the straight way. The way of those on whom

you have bestowed your grace, those whose

portion is not wrath, and who do not go astray.”

May this chapter be the heartbeat of your

lives. May it be the blood flowing through your

spiritual veins. May you continue to worship Allah

alone. May you continue to seek his aid. May

you continue to seek the straight way. As the

needle of a compass always points north, may

the compass point of your heart always point towards

Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Enjoy Jalsa! Be blessed! Love in Christ.

Readers’ Comments on the


‘Was the Holy Prophet (s)


Zainib Ahmad (USA)

I have always wondered about the blessed

Prophet being unlettered. I liked the article very

much and have read in Reza Aslan's book, a similar

view, which I liked. I agree with the points

you have presented so far. I am surprised that

there are alternate hadith on the same topic.

The last time I presented the view in a dars that

the blessed Prophet was literate, I was silenced

with the hadith about Hudaibiya, when he said,

“show me where it is” and he erased it himself.

Now I realize that there are many narrations of

the same hadith, and we do not have to take any

one as being final.

However, mum did not like your points at all

and immediately dismissed them! She prefers

the traditional view that the Quran is a miracle

because the blessed Prophet was unlettered,

and it would be less of a miracle, if he were not.

She feels the Quran clearly says that he was unlettered!

Andrea Stanton, PhD. Assistant Professor


I would just note that iqra’ historically meant

read in the sense of reciting, and that reading in

general was a far different practice than today’s

notion of individual, silent reading. So, in the

historical context, “iqra’” tells us nothing about

whether someone was wholly or partially literate.

But your argument about the use of ummi

in respect to Muhammad I think is an important

one, and adds a substantial gloss to how he was

distinguished from other humans.

A young


reciting a

poem of

the Promised


at the


Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK)

Founders of the first Islamic Mission in the UK, established 1913 as the Woking Muslim Mission.

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All Mankind.

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