… Say: ‘To Allah belongs the East and the West. He guides whom He pleases to the right path’ (1).
“For as the lightning comes out of the East, and shines even unto the West; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (2).
Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, was born in the East. His birthplace, Qadian, is a remote village in India, where he was born in 1835. Under Divine inspiration, he initiated the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at in 1889. His mission to spread Islam was of universal magnitude. He repeatedly received God’s reassuring revelations that his message shall reach all the people of the world:
“I shall carry thy message to the ends of the earth” (3).
“A Warner came into the world, and the world accepted him not, but God shall accept him and will demonstrate his truth with powerful assaults” (4).
Though Qadian was an unknown small village, it is amaz- ing to note that Hadrat Ahmad’s message did reach the West in his lifetime. It happened so fast that the Biblical prophecy concerning the ‘Coming of the Son of Man’ was certainly fulfilled: like lightning coming out of the East and shining over the West. Let us, therefore, examine some aspects of the success story.
Hadrat Ahmad (as) would appreciate the secular advancement in technology, agriculture and scientific fields of the Western nations, but pity their moral and spiritual degradation! He had full conviction that if the West was approached properly and prayerfully, it would incline towards the truth of Islam and discard the false creed of the Divinity of Jesus, and accept the Unity of God.
In his book Izalah Auham (1891), he wrote,
“The rising of the Sun from the West (as predicted by the Holy Prophet of Islam to happen in the latter days) means that Western countries, which have for centuries been in the darkness of non-belief and error, shall be illuminated by the Sun of righteousness, and shall partake in the blessings of Islam” (5).
Hadrat Ahmad’s (as) vision was fulfilled by the fact that first his writings did reach the West in his lifetime, and later his own son and successor, Hadrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih II (ra) came to London in 1924 and delivered a speech inviting the West to accept Islam. Later, Hadrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih III (rh), came to London several times and addressed the Western nations. Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), Khalifatul-Masih IV, migrated to the UK in 1984 and made London his headquarters. He also established MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya)—a satellite transmission system that spreads the message from London to the entire world every day of the year. In 2003, Hadrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) was elected to be the Fifth Khalifah, and the location where the election took place was London. In addition, Islam International Publication Ltd. is now constantly producing a profusion of Islamic literature from the United Kingdom.
Plans to spread the true message of Islam among Europeans and Americans were discussed and implemented by Hadrat Ahmad (as) himself. He initiated several advertisements for publication in the Western media and sent letters to thousands of eminent Westerners inviting them to study Islam. At one point (1885), he mailed 16,000 registered letters to world’s renowned religious leaders, scholars and thinkers asking them to remove any doubts that they might have against Islam by communicating to him. Many outstanding men, such as Alexander Webb (an American journalist and diplomat), F. L. Anderson (New York) and Dr. A. George Baker (Philadelphia) accepted Islam through corresponding with him directly. In 1893, he wrote a book entitled A’ina-i-Kamalat-i-Islam (Mirror of Islam’s Excellence) and once again issued a notice specifically praying for the Caucasian race—the British people—to accept Islam.
In May–June of 1897, on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign, he wrote a booklet entitled ‘Tohfa-i-Qaisariyyah’ (Gift for the Empress) and sent it to Her Majesty through the Viceroy of India, inviting her to Islam.
He presented the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and the significance of Islamic principles that could lay a foundation for universal peace and unity of mankind. He also suggested to the Queen to hold an interfaith conference so that the British public could be informed of the teachings of Islam.
On the initiation of the 20th century, he decided to publish an English monthly magazine with the objective to inform and educate its readers about important current topics with particular emphasis on the Islamic perspective. Consequently, the first issue of “The Review of Religions” was published in January 1902. It was well received in some Western countries. Hadrat Ahmad (as) expressed the purpose of the magazine in the following words.
As the members of our Jama‘at are already aware that the principal purpose of my advent is to remove all the fallacies and the misconceptions which have been caused by Christianity and to invite people to the true Islam. This objective has also been described by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in such words that the Messiah will “break the cross.” To fulfill this very mission, this magazine has been started (7).
Quickly the magazine became popular in the English speaking countries and received encouraging reviews from eminent sources such as Count Tolstoy, Review of Reviews (London), and the Editor of the Encyclopedia of Islam.
Hadrat Ahmad (as) proclaimed that the West had not gone without witnessing the signs of God concerning the Second Coming of the Messiah. Earthquakes, showers of shooting meteors, and the eclipses of the Sun and the moon in the month of Ramadan were Divine signs fulfilling old prophecies, but the West had yet to witness a magnificent sign in the form a prayer duel.
Dr. Alexander Dowie, a man with a spectacular career as a faith-healer, founding father of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church and the establisher of the city of Zion in Illinois, USA, had threatened the Muslims of the world with destruction if they did not accept Jesus as their Savior.
He had claimed to be the Third Manifestation of Elijah, the forerunner for the Second Coming of Jesus – who would, according to Dr. Dowie’s claim, descend in Zion. He also used abusive language, insulting the Holy Prophet of Islam. In 1902 he prayed for the annihilation of Islam. Only one voice of concern was raised from the Muslim world, indeed from the East. Responding, Hadrat Ahmad wrote to Dr. Dowie, beseeching reason and restraint, urging him to stop proclaiming for the destruc- tion of millions of Muslims. But Dr. Dowie heightened his expression of animosity and insulted Hadrat Ahmad (as) by
“Do you think I reply to these gnats and flies. If I put my foot on them, I would crush out their lives.”
When reasoning was of no avail, Hadrat Ahmad (as) offered an easy way to prove the truthfulness of his claims: Dr. Dowie should pray only for one man’s destruc- tion — that of Hadrat Ahmad (as). It was a challenge for a prayer-duel (mubahalah) stating that whosoever of the two was a liar should die a miserable death during the lifetime of the other! Hadrat Ahmad (as) was 12 years older than Dr. Dowie at that time (1902) and not in good health, whereas Dr. Dowie was in robust health and enjoyed great prosperity and popularity.
This challenge was amazingly unique to the Western mind, and the American news-media picked it up imme- diately. In mid-1903, more than thirty newspapers and periodicals, including Chicago Interpreter, Literary Digest, New York Mail and Express, Rochester Herald, Boston Advertiser, Washington Pathfinder, Chicago Inter Ocean, Baltimore American, Houston Chronicle, and Morning Telegraph reported it. In fact, the news swept in the West like lightning.
On February 20, 1907, Hadrat Ahmad (as) published a prophecy that he had received from Allah entitled ‘A Prophecy of a New Sign.’ He wrote,
“God says that He will show a new Sign, which will contain a glorious victory. It will be a Sign for the whole world, and it will be by God’s own hands and from heaven. Let every- one wait for it because God shall show it very soon, so that He may make it evident that this humble person who is being abused by all nations is from Him. Blessed are those who may derive benefit from it” (7).
Within less than two weeks of the publication of the above prophecy, on March 9, 1907, precisely, Dr. John Alexander Dowie died a pathetic death. Once again, the news of Hadrat Ahmad (as)’s astonishing victory in the prayer-duel spread as lightening in the West coming from the East! The Chicago Evening American summarized Dr. Dowie’s life story in the following words:
Gigantic success and tragic failure punctuated his life. Here are some remarkable works and reversals that- marked Dowie’s career: He built a creed; he was excommu- nicated. He built a city; he was expelled from it. He amassed a fortune of millions; he was reduced to virtual poverty. He elevated Voliva to great power; Voliva ruined him. He drew about him thousands who worshipped him; he died deserted by all save a handful of the faithful.
The Sunday Herald of Boston wrote a detailed article on June 23, 1907, under the heading:
Great Is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Messiah: FORETOLD PATHETIC END OF DOWIE AND NOW PREDICTS PLAGUE, FLOOD, AND EARTHQUAKE.
Calling him a seer, the paper stated:
The Indian gentleman has been well known in the eastern pastures of the world for many years. His claim is that he is the ‘true Messiah who was to come in the last ages’ and that God has showered him with Grace. He first came to the attention of the United States in 1903 on account of controversy with Elijah III. Since the death of Dowie, the Indian prophet’s reputation has soared, for did he not tell the death of Dowie, that it should take place within his (the Messiah’s) lifetime, should take place with great sorrow and torment”?
Another person who attracted Hadrat Ahmad (as)’s attention was one Rev. John Hugh Smyth-Pigott, who lived in Britain.
He was a handsome and charming man who, like his predecessor, Rev. H. J. Prince, loved the com- pany of young and beautiful women. He had more than 3,000 followers who lived very well, enjoying good food, drinks, and playing billiards in the company of attractive young ladies. All of his followers were promised immor- tality. In 1902, Rev. Smyth-Pigott claimed to be the Messi- ah – Jesus incarnate –“God, not man.”
When the news reached Hadrat Ahmad (as), he took notice of his deceitful claims and said that similar false claimants had emerged at the time of the Messenger of Allah (sa) but were quickly annihilated. He predicted that the same would be the case of Rev. Smyth-Pigott. A reve- lation “Allah is severe in punishing!” was made public to be applicable to Smyth-Pigott (8).
On August 23, 1903, Hadrat Ahmad (as) issued another notice expressing his heartfelt pain that even in this age, false claimants were emerging among the followers of Jesus Christ. For this abhorrent situation, he blamed the Christian dogma of the Divinity of Jesus. Dowie had claimed to be Elijah in America, and Smyth-Pigott had become Jesus the God in London. Hadrat Ahmad (as) said that the difference between the two was that Dowie did not dare to call himself Jesus, but Smyth-Pigott was viciously bold to announce his Godhead. Soon after, the prophecy concerning him started to unfold, bringing him to manifest disgrace! The press widely publicized Smyth-Pigott’s notoriety, and thus he was put to shame in the eyes of the entire world in the lifetime of the Prom- ised Messiah, Hadrat Ahmad (as).
Hadrat Ahmad (as) was fully appreciative of all the scientific advancements made by the Western nations. He praised their inventions acknowledging them to be helpful in the process of globalization – especially in the fields of transportation and communication. He utilized all modern means to spread his message to the farthest corners of the earth. He remained ever thankful to God for enjoying freedom of religion and expression under the civilized and fair justice system of the British Empire. He was also aware of the political and economic weak condition of the Muslims, but did not believe that their progress lay in merely copying the West. He believed in the power of prayer and seeking help and guidance from Allah, the Exalted, and treading the path of righteousness. He remained critical of the Western philosophies that led mankind toward atheism and immorality. Western civilization was superficially attractive while lacking some of the basic moral principles. He abhorred ‘man-worship’ prevalent in the Christian West. Use of alcohol, pork consumption, lack of modesty, absence of ‘Purdah’ between genders, sexual promiscuity, depression, suicides, and occurrence of crime were the themes that he constantly expounded, presenting the remedy of righteousness and spiritual reformation to the West.
He had great trust in the potential ability of the Western people to recognize the truth. He emphasized that the teachings of Islam should be presented to them in a manner that suits their temperament. Knowledge of their languages and cultures was essential. He was fully convinced that the noble and righteous souls in the West shall be attracted to the message of truth, and the glorious Sun of Islam will shine over the West. He took all possible measures to reach out to the West. With the special Grace of Allah, he succeeded. He laid down a firm foundation for presenting the beautiful face of Islam upon which his Successors (Khulafa) have now built a worldwide network of Islamic missionary work! There is hardly any country in the West where the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat has not reached.
1. The Holy Qur’an, (2:143)
2. The Bible, Matthew, 24:27
3. Al-Hakam, Vol. II, Nos. 24-25, August 20-27, 1898, p. 14. Translation from Tadhkirah, Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, London, 1976, p. 184.
4. Anjam Atham, pp. 51-52, Translation from Tadhkirah, Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, London, 1976, p. 168)
5. Izalah Auham, p. 516
6. Al-Hakam, September 30, 1903
7. Qadian ke Arya aur ham, p. 2
8. Al-Badr, February 20, 1903
Last modified: December 2021