Ahmadiyyat in America

I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the Earth

This was just one of the many divine revelations which were received by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". He was commissioned by God Almighty to revive Islam and spread the real message of Islam all across the world, for the world had come under a disastrous shadow of materialism and decadence. He started his message in the small village of Qadian and had very quickly spread all over Asia and the Middle East through all sorts of ways such as letters, pamphlets, and fame.

‘Our task today is to herald the news in all directions; he who has a noble soul surely comes!’

This statement of his is just one of the many proofs that the message of Islam is a universal message and is meant for the betterment of the whole world. Thus, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" decided to go further and spread his message in Europe and the Americas.

The first effort of spreading his message in America was made using the means of pamphlets and advertisements which were sent to thousands of laymen and clergy in 1885. His message was also advertised in newspapers and other types of media.

Alexander Russell Webb, who was an editor for the American Gazette in 1886, came across a letter of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" in an American newspaper within which Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" was inviting someone to Islam and he became intrigued. He then wrote a letter to him and inquired Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" to teach him about Islam for he claimed to have little to no knowledge of the religion. He also wrote about how he had studied Buddhism, Hinduism, and a number of other religions, yet had not found the truth. He exclaimed that he wanted to find the truth and inquired Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" to teach him. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" then replied to him on 17th December 1886, he accepted his proposal and created a correspondence which would continue on all the way through to the death of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him".

Alexander Russell Webb

In September 1887, he was appointed by President Cleveland to be Consular Representative to the Philippines at the U.S. office in Manila.

‘… I have dedicated the whole of my life … not to confine the spread of the light of truth to the oriental world but, as far as it lays in my power, to further it in Europe and America where the attention of the people has not sufficiently attracted towards proper understanding of the teachings of Islam.’

This is a part of the letter which was sent to Alexander Russell Webb on April 4, 1887, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". He had also reached out to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" through a letter on 24th February 1887.

‘… It occurred to me that I might through your aid assist in spreading the truth here. If, as you say the Muhammaden is the only true religion why could I not act as its Apostle or promulgator in America….?’

This letter and its reply were both printed in Shehnae-Haq in 1887.

Early in 1888 he officially decided to become a Muslim, he stated that;

“Islam was the only acceptable faith for himself ”

while he was still at his post in the Philippines. He then decided to resign his post as consul from the Philippines after 4 years and dedicate his life towards the preaching of Islam in America. After news of his acceptance and dedication reached India, many other Muslims saw this as an opportunity to use him for their own benefit. This was when Haji Abdullah and Moulvi Hassan Ali, two Maulawis of India at that time reached out to him and convinced him to come to India. They collected 6,000 rupees for this endeavour. Alexander Webb left for India in 1892 and upon arriving, he requested for the Muslims to have his acquaintance made with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". The Muslims due to their opposition of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" denied him from meeting Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and told him that he was not a good person to be met with and was a recreant. The reasoning behind this was because Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" had claimed he was the second coming of Jesus Christ in 1891. This created a lot of enmity and hatred towards Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", for the people did not accept him. He then toured India for about a year and went back to America in February 1893.

He landed in New York City with Maulawi Hassan Ali and Haji Abdullah’s pledges for funds so that he could spread the message of Islam. He lived in Manhattan and published the book ‘Islam in America’. He also published a newspaper ‘The Moslem World’. He founded a Mosque but unfortunately, it was short-lived due to Hassan Ali and Haji Abdullah who were unable to provide him with any of the funds, thus leading to all of his efforts in establishing anything significant in vain. He delivered multiple speeches throughout this period which can be found in his book ‘Islam in America’. It was after not receiving any funds he then wrote a letter to Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" expressing his frustration with his unsuccessful attempts at spreading the message of Islam.

He also continued on with his loyalty and correspondence with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". In his correspondence, he expressed his dissatisfaction with not receiving funds and also discussed how he had suffered a lot by not taking the advice of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". Alexander Russell Webb wrote,

‘You told me Muslims have no interest in serving faith but I did not listen to you and as a result failed to meet you.’

Webb’s biggest achievement was his representation of the first Muslim at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions. In 1901, Alexander Russell Webb traveled to Turkey where he was awarded a medal by the Sultan for his missionary work. He was also able to convert one person who is recorded as being named Mr. Anderson in 1904. After all of this, he was able to spend the rest of his life in New Jersey doing what he loved, spreading the message of Islam. He passed away on October 1, 1916, living an honorary life of 70 years.

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" said that at the time the Jama’at was progressing far more in the USA in comparison to Europe.

The next monumental event which took place in America and increased Islam’s fame in the Americas was the incident of Alexander Dowie. Alexander Dowie was born in May 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He grew up in a religious middle-class family and spent his early years of work with his uncle at a shoe business. He left after a few months and went from job to job. He became a part of the South Adelaide chapter of the Total Abstinence Society in 1867 which was run by his father. Around 1868, he returned to Edinburgh to study theology and became a pastor at a congregation church near Sydney. Later on, he moved places and became a minister for the Melbourne Church.

In 1878, he organised the International Healing Association. He was arrested a number of times due to the wild protests he would hold against what he would call “the wickedness” that was in that area.

In July 1888, he moved to San Francisco and continued his healing activities there. He would establish clinics and provide people with prayers and instructions on how to cure themselves without the use of medicines, using only divine healing. He was a huge advocator of Pentecostalism. He would normally travel all over and hold these events where according to him he claimed that there would be “divine healing” occurring, but everyone he would “heal” was an actor and usually worked for him. He traveled all along the West Coast and ended up settling in Evanston, Illinois.

In 1896, he formed his own church naming it the Christian Catholic Church and had an enrollment of 500 followers. In 1895, he established the Central Zion Tabernacle which was used to hold regular services for large crowds at Chicago’s Central Music Hall, and also launched ‘Zion Publishing’ which was used for his weekly newsletters ‘Leaves of Healing’. After gaining some power and a larger follower base he decided to grow his city and attain more land so as to continue with his activities.

In 1900, he announced the founding of the city of Zion, 40 miles from Chicago, where he owned all the property personally. He established a theocratic political and economic structure and prohibited smoking, drinking, eating pork, and any form of modern medicine. He also established a range of businesses, healing homes, and a large Tabernacle. In 1901, he had made the claim of being the Prophet Elijah, the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Over the next seven years, his life was a rollercoaster ride which made him incredibly rich and then left him destitute. It gave him thousands of followers and took them all away and turned them against him. He was evicted from his own religion and town due to a number of reasons, one being that he was caught committing fraud and misusing the funds of the Church. He would preach against alcohol and was an alcoholic himself, even his family left him and wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. This showed the wrath which was falling upon him due to his false claims and was used as an example from the Lord to show the type of life false claimant leads.

Alexander Dowie and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" crossed paths in 1902 when he released a prophecy stating that all Muslims would die if they did not submit to Christianity and he went on cursing the Holy Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and berating Islam. This was when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" addressed him to stop and refrain from cursing Islam and especially the Holy Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". When Alexander Dowie would not pay heed he then invited him to a Mubahila (prayer duel) through a letter. This was published in a number of newspapers. Dowie, however, did not take notice of this challenge and continued on cursing the Holy Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and berating Islam. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" had written to him a number of times asking him very politely to at least stop cursing the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" yet he would still pay no heed.

It was at this point that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" informed him that if he continued on this path he would be very severely punished by God but he still continued on. Dowie then wrote in his paper on 27th December 1903 that;

“in India there is a Mohammaden Messiah who keeps on writing to me that Jesus Christ lies buried in Kashmir. People ask me why do I not send him the necessary reply. Do you think I should answer such gnats and flies? If I were to put my foot on them I would crush them to death. The fact is I merely give them a chance to fly away and survive”

(Leaves of Healing December 27, 1903)

Dowie still had not paid any mind to this challenge and this was when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" writes that Alexander Dowie has not replied to his Mubahila and that he will give him another 7 months from 23rd August 1903. The prediction about Alexander Dowie’s demise was a sign which was meant especially for Europe and the Americas. There had already been numerous signs which were shown in Punjab and Asia, now it was the turn for the Americas and Europe to see it and benefit from it. Alexander Dowie was very popular all-over North America and the prophecy of his tragic demise was also published in a number of newspapers namely; Chicago Interpreter, July 28, 1903, Daily Telegraph, July 5, 1905, and the Argonaut, December 1, 1902. After this Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" received a revelation which confirmed his victory, it was revealed to him 2 weeks before Dowie’s death. This revelation was also published in his book ‘Aryas of Qadian and Us’.

The revelation is as follows;

“God says that I will show a new sign, which will have a glorious victory. It will be a sign for the whole world and it will be God’s very personal sign from the heavens. It is mandated for human beings to stay very watchful for God will show it very soon. So that he may stand witness that this humble person, who all nations are bad mouthing is from him. Blessed are those who may benefit from it.”

(February 20, 1907)

Despite being 11 years younger than Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and also boasting about his amazing health he was first stricken with a severe attack of paralysis on the 1st of October 1905. Then he had a second attack of paralysis on the 19th of December which incapacitated him completely. He then stayed alive for another agonising 2 years unable to do anything at all and died on 9 March 1907. Through this Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" was able to get major coverage all around the United States and used this as means to spread his message. Also, the fulfillment of his prophecy regarding Alexander Dowie helped with his authenticity in a great way.

After all of this happened, during the era of the Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" the first missionary of Islam was appointed: Hazrat Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them".

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq

He was the first-ever missionary who was able to establish something significant in America. He was a descendant of Hazrat Uthman raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" and came from a noble family of judges who were settled in Multan and Pakistan. His ancestors migrated from Arabia to Iran and then reached Punjab during the reign of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi who was the ruler of the northwestern Indian Subcontinent (eastern Iranian land). His father, Mufti Inayatullah, had passed away before Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" claimed to be the Promised Messiah. His mother, Faiz Bibi, joined Ahmadiyyat between 1896 and 1897.

After her initiation into Ahmadiyyat, when she was returning to Bhera from Qadian, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" walked up to their horse carriage stand to bid farewell to her and Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them". Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" had ordered some food for their journey but it was brought unpacked. He then tore up a yard of cloth from his turban and gave them the food wrapped in it. Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" was born on 11 January 1872, at Bhera in Mufti Mohallah. He visited Qadian at the end of 1890 by horse carriage from Batala. He had gone to Qadian to be in the presence of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and also to potentially take bai’at at his hands. He stayed there for around 3 days with one other person; Hafiz Hamid Ali who was also there for the same purpose. He and Hafiz Hamid Ali had some audiences with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", which ended up in Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" being very attracted to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" message and teachings. On the second or third day, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" told Hafiz Hamid Ali that he would like to be initiated in the Jama’at and meet with Huzoor.

For the bai’at he followed Huzoor into a lone room and sat on a cot with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and then Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" took Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq’s raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" hand in his hand and had him affirm the ten condition of bai’at.

He then stayed in Jammu for five years. He started teaching Mathematics in Islamia High School at Lahore from August 1895 to September, before joining the Office of Accountant General as a clerk, where he worked till 1901. He then migrated to Qadian in July 1901 to settle permanently near Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". He served as second-master in the beginning but became headmaster of Taleem-ul-lslam High School in 1903. He was appointed the Editor of Al-Badr from 1905 till 1915. During the period of the first Khalifa, he delivered speeches, lectures and held debates. During the period of the Second Khalifa, he went to England in March 1917 for missionary work. In England, he would propagate the message through lectures at famous parks such as Hyde Park and would also write and publish many pieces of literature. He was able to convert 100 people through these efforts. While he was in London, he was instructed by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" in December 1919 to take the message to America.

He then boarded the SS Haverford from Liverpool and left for America on 24 January 1920, and arrived on 15 February 1920 in Pennsylvania. As soon as he arrived, he was arrested by authorities under the Immigration Act of 1891, which stated that Polygamists; or persons who admit their belief in the practice of polygamy” are inadmissible to the United States of America. He was placed at the Philadelphia Detention House in Gloucester, New Jersey.

This amendment was put in place to stop immigrants from coming into the country and to stop Islam from spreading. This was due to the hate and prejudice Americans were feeling from all the new waves of immigrants that were coming in from Asia and Europe. The reason for this hate and prejudice was that the Americans saw immigrants from other areas of Europe presenting two orders of problems. First, they were seen as non-assimilating and holding threatening views that undermined the American way of life, such as being pro-labour, or socialist; second, they were not considered completely white. They were not seen as fitting into the “American way of life.”

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" then repealed his admission among the authorities and explained before the tribunal that there was a difference between Halal (permissible) and Fardh (obligatory) in Islam. One of the issues he touched upon was marrying up to four women at a time in Islam; he argued that although it is allowed in Islam it is not obligatory to do so. His argument was heard and accepted, resulting in him being allowed to walk free with the condition that he would not promote polygamous trends in America. Although he was put in jail, he spent the time quite productively and spread the message of Islam in jail. As a result of this preaching, he was able to convert nineteen inmates in a very short period of two months before his release in April 1920.

He spent some time preaching on the coast and then decided to move to New York after 2 months. He rented a room but was given a notice by the landlady to vacate it because of some instigation by some Christian preachers. He found another place and continued on with his preaching, not letting any hurdles stand in his way at all. By May 1920, he had contributed twenty articles on Islam to various American periodicals and newspapers, among them The New York Times. During his first year of missionary work in the United States, he delivered fifty public lectures on a variety of subjects in American cities, including Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Grand Haven, Michigan.

Mufti Muhammad Sadiq in an American newspaper

He started the Muslim Sunrise and published the first edition in July 1921, 3,000 copies were printed and distributed free from 74 Victor Avenue, Highland Park in Detroit, Michigan. This issue had the full-size picture of the second Khalifa and his message for local Ahmadi Muslims. His message would attract African Americans a great deal due to the fact that the message was very open to people of all ethnic origins. The ‘Nation of Islam’ was also influenced a great deal by the Ahmadiyyah message. Elijah Muhammad was found to be reading a number of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" books. He made Chicago, Illinois the first-ever headquarters for the Ahmadiyya Movement in America; also the area of the first-ever Mosque in 1922. This mosque is located on 4448 Wabash Avenue, the funding came from India from the Ahmadi Muslims. From 1921 to 1925 thousands of Americans converted to Ahmadiyya from all different types of ethnicities and cultures.

First-ever Ahmadiyya Mosque in the USA

After this, each of the Khulafa would make trips to America, conduct speeches, and hold events. All of this led to many converts and a very strong foundation. Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them", the second caliph of Islam did not visit the United States but did give a brief talk regarding the United States at the 2nd annual Ahmadiyya convention in 1949. Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them", the third caliph of the Ahmadiyya movement visited America in 1976, and again in 1978. He delivered lectures urging the people to come back to God and stay with the true teachings of Islam. Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them", the fourth caliph of the Ahmadiyya movement visited America in 1989 to deliver lectures at the annual Ahmadiyya convention. This is an excerpt from one of his lectures;

‘The salvation of mankind depends on accepting this religion of peace. Islam is the religion which does away with all discrimination between man and man, demolishes all barriers of race, and creed which divide humanity; Islam liberates man from the bondage of sin and strengthens his ties with his Creator. It is a religion so simple, yet so highly organised as to meet the demands and the challenges of the changing world.’

Al-Sadiq Mosque, Chicago
Al-Sadiq Mosque, Chicago

In 2008, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad abaabbreviation for "May Allah be his helper", the 5th caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community visited America for the first time. Addressing a gathering of over 10,000 people, including dignitaries and journalists, he remarked:

‘You know your creator when you love his creation. If everyone remembers and practices this, there will not be any enmity in anyone’s heart… That is how you create peace in the world.’

Over 35 U.S. newspapers covered the historic visit. He then visited again in 2012 and once more again in 2018. In 2018 he inaugurated 3 mosques and delivered many speeches. The Ahmadiyya Community in the USA now has 74 chapters and a strong follower base of around 18,000 followers. It also has 56 mosques spread out all over the United States and its main headquarters are in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Disclaimer

This article was originally published in the Annual Printed Edition of Majallatul Jamia

Munawwar Ghumman

Munawwar Ghumman

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