The Muslim Sunrise magazine was launched in the United States by Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq in 1921. The magazine content was initially filled with extracts from the Holy Qur’an, the sayings of the Holy Prophet (sa), and the writings of the Promised Messiah (as) including his poems translated into English. It also had excerpts of sermons/addresses and messages from the Khalifa (Caliph) of the time. Later, articles by regularly contributing writers were included. I believe that writing is a fulfilment of the Qur’anic commandment of Allah as He says:
“Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth: “Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain; Nay, Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire” (1).
As such, reflecting and observing, both internally and externally, is a form of prayer to Allah that helps the supplicant towards the right guidance and knowledge he/she seeks, as well as towards being inspired to write.
In the early years of its publication, there were many names of different writers, a few of whom I noticed to be the most frequent contributors to the Muslim Sunrise magazine. The writers whose names caught my eye were as follows: (excluding the founder of the Muslim Sunrise):
1. Sufi M. R. Bengalee
2. Professor T.L. Vaswani
3. Omar Cleveland
4. Miss Nina Stauffer
5. Robert Earl Barclay
6. Abdullah R. Scott
7. Haze Hurd (Abdul Hameed)
8. Enrico A. Florey (Mubarak Ahmad)
9. Khan Sahib M. Mubarekali Ahmad, B.A. B.T.
10. Tahir B. Merywaniy
I do not know these writers personally, but their work speaks volumes about their mindset, a reflection of their noble character, and of their time and effort spent in hours of research to help lovingly disseminate the message of Islam to others. I have learned a great deal and been inspired by their writing. I would like to present here a few examples displaying the variety of topics covered by some of these early writers.
In his 1931 article entitled ‘Islam on Economic Justice,’ Sufi Matiur Rahman Bengalee, long-serving Editor, and a prolific writer for the Moslem (Muslim) Sunrise, asks:
“When one is starving and sees another surfeiting in plenty, what is the reaction?” (2).
His answer to his own question is: “Either crime or hatred” (2). The author further sheds light on how some sociologists have pointed out that speculative profits and some forms of interest also help the rich to get what does not rightfully belong to them. This is an accurate indication of how, a century later, the world of economic justice, or injustice, is still the same, if not worse.
Another early contributor to the Moslem (Muslim) Sunrise, Omar Cleveland, offers the Islamic viewpoint in his 1931 article ‘The Democracy in Islam,’ in these words:
“The prince and the pauper meet on common ground. Here the irony of fate is refuted. The inequality of wealth and opportunity, which makes life so cruel, ceases. All are children of Allah” (3).
Professor T.L. Vaswani’s 1934 exposition on ‘Vital Values of Islam’ resonated with me since the present-day situation in India is getting worse, sadly, in terms of the lack of unity between Muslims and Hindus. Professor Vaswani writes:
“I plead for a Hindu Moslem (Muslim) unity in the great name of Humanity. India has through the ages borne witness to Her, borne witness to the vision of man as man. And if, worshipping the vision in our hearts, we make the Hindu Moslem (Muslim) unity an abiding force in our public life, we shall indeed make our backward India beautiful, and our eyes shall behold her glory” (4).
As an Indian myself, I could not agree more with Professor Vaswani’s words.
An article by Enrico A Florey (Mubarak Ahmad) published in the October-January 1931-32 issue and entitled, ‘In Justice to Islam,’ shared an ongoing problem which the world is bearing witness to and still struggling to understand. He writes:
“I would like to ask any fair-minded thinking persons if they wish to learn the truth about Christianity, would they consult alien and unfriendly sources for their study of the subject? I hardly think so. Then why should they be less fair with other religions? Before passing an opinion on Islam why do they not see what Islam has to say for itself? In all the Bible students that I have ever talked with, I have never yet found a single one of them that has ever read the Koran (Qur’an), and most of them have never read any part of it. Nevertheless, they are all absolutely certain that the Koran (Qur’an) is a forgery from start to finish and they unhesitatingly condemn it on these grounds” (5).
In the same October-January 1931-32 issue, in an article entitled ‘Is Faith in God Necessary?’ Khan Sahib M. Mubarekali Ahmad, B.A., B.T., writes:
“Many people in the West think that religion is not necessary for man. They admit the necessity of Moral progress of man, but they say that moral lives are sufficient for the moral progress of Society and that it is not necessary to believe in any God for that purpose” (5).
He goes on to give an analogy of two men who are religious and not religious respectively, and asks:
“Which of them will be able to withstand a strong temptation?” (5).
The answer he provides is as follows:
“A man who believes in an all-Knowing God to whom he is answerable for his actions cannot do any wrong; hope carries a man forward and fear saves him from falling back. Nothing can supply these two motives more effectively than faith in God” (5).
True, indeed: God has sent many Prophets to guide mankind towards Him, as Robert Earl Barclay reminds the reader in his 1934 article, “The Guides of Islam:”
“He who sincerely seeks God will surely find Him. The road is long and tortuous and at times uncertain. God in His infinite mercy has taken compassion upon us who seek Him and has placed guides along the way. Accept their assistance: Zoroaster – Moses – Isaiah – Jesus – Mohammad – Hazrat Ahmad – and the road will be the shorter and the pleasanter for their company” (5).
Women were equally forthcoming in their contributions to the early issues of the magazine and in defending Islam in every way. One such regular writer was Miss Nina Stauffer who in 1933 penned an article called “Islam and Science.’ She writes:
“From the Arabic language, the language of Islam, there have been translated choice gems in literature, philosophical teachings, mathematical computations, as well as facts about astronomy and law which the Moslems (Muslims) patiently recorded. When Europe was struggling through the dark ages of ignorance, Islam was seeking new truths in the educational field. The whole scientific world of this modern civilization must pay tribute to Islam for the great discernment in chemistry which changed the ancient art of alchemy from a Black Art to one of the great basic sciences” (6).
I found Tahir B. Merywaniy’s writings on ‘The Nutritional Value of Pork’ from1914 to be interesting and informative. He writes
“Pork is characterised by its high fat content and by the fact that fat is deposited between the individual fibres throughout — not in separate layers, as in beef. Therefore, with the protein must be eaten a large proportion of fat which renders the pork less easily digested” (7).
Since the time this article was written, research shows that pork meat has even less nutritional value when the poor conditions in which the animal is kept and the many injections given to fatten it, are taken into account.
There is a fascinating account (1932) by a convert named Haze Hurd (Abdul Hameed) – ‘Why I became a Moslem (Muslim)’ – in which he relates his personal narrative of accepting Islam. He writes
“It was a great revelation to me that the Moslems (Muslims), instead of rejecting the founders of other faiths, respect and believe in all of them. They do believe in Jesus also only in the right way, that he was a man and a great prophet of God. I found that Islam is the embodiment of all religions purified of all the corruptions that have gathered into them” (8).
Also included in this issue from 1932, the first British Ahmadi Muslim convert who visited Qadian, Abdullah R. Scott, shares his unique experience in inspiring detail in ‘My Impressions of Qadian’ in these words:
“The people of Qadian, although of a religious turn of mind, are also very keen on gardening which requires an outlay of a good amount of money in this soil, and many gardens are to be found in this small town. Here you find the word and work of God working in conjunction with each other and not in opposition as scientists would have us believe” (8).
Having been raised in Qadian myself, I could not agree more; the people of Qadian are indeed attached to Nature, totally dedicated to their faith, very simple and grounded.
The media generally portrays Muslims in a most unflattering light, worse in the West and not any better around the world. From its earliest days, writers of the Muslim Sunrise articles covered a variety of topics such as economics, science, women’s rights, social justice, etc. The articles serve to remove misplaced doubts about Islam. People are often interested in burning books instead of reading them but by reading books, periodicals, or magazines, we are respecting and cherishing the time and effort spent by these writers through their knowledge and research on the topics. These help to augment our own knowledge and widen our horizons, so to speak. I believe it is in our best interests to stimulate our powers of writing once again and to follow in the footsteps of pioneer writers.
These articles elicit an elevated level of reflection and their relevance to today is fully relatable. I feel very blessed to have been part of the Muslim Sunrise magazine since the Spring of 2016. To attempt to maintain and prolong the efforts of the inspired writers who have left a legacy in the minds and hearts of many impressionable generations is an honour. There are many writers contributing currently to the Muslim Sunrise, and it is a privilege to be included in that group. I believe it is incumbent on us all to spare some time and go through the historical archives of the Muslim Sunrise and its website to benefit fully from the past issues.
As a final thought I would like to share a passage from the writings of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), which reminds us of the importance of the written word in defending Islam Ahmadiyyat:
“You should know it well that this is not the time to go the battlefield for religious purposes. The battles that were fought during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (sa), were not meant to convert the non-believers to Islam by force; these battles were fought by the Muslims to defend themselves. When the Muslims were inhumanly tortured and turned out of Mecca and many Muslims had become martyrs, it was then that God commanded them to fight back; this definitely was a defensive measure.
“Now the times have changed. There is peace everywhere; it is with the pen that Islam is being attacked. That is why it is necessary that pen should be used to rebut the attacks. God the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an that you should make preparation to defend yourselves with the same kind of weapons as the opponents happen to use. Think of the preparations that the opponents of Islam are now making. They are not lining up the armies. They are publishing magazines and books. We also should, therefore, pick up our pens and answer their attacks with magazines and books. It is not expedient that the prescription (treatment) and the sickness should be at variance. If the treatment does not conform with the sickness, the consequence is bound to be unprofitable and harmful” (9).
1. The Holy Qur’an (3:192)
2. The Muslim Sunrise, 1931-32, Issue I, https://muslimsunrise.com /past-issues/
3. The Muslim Sunrise, 1931-32, Issue I, https://muslimsunrise.com/past-issues/
4. The Muslim Sunrise, 1934, Issue I-II, https://muslimsunrise.com/past-issues/
5. The Muslim Sunrise, 1931-32, Issue II, https://muslimsunrise.com /past-issues/
6. The Muslim Sunrise, 1933, Issue III-IV, https://muslimsunrise.com /past-issues/
7. The Muslim Sunrise, 1941, Vol: 13, https://muslimsunrise.com
8. The Muslim Sunrise, 1931-32, Vol: 4, https://muslimsunrise.com /past-issues/
9. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfuzat, Vol. 8, Pg. 20
Last modified: December 2021