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Founding of The Islamic Review, 1913
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Founding of The Islamic Review, 1913

In this section we have compiled contemporary reports relating to the founding of The Islamic Review.

1. Proposal to publish articles in a magazine

In Badr, 27 February 1913, a letter by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din addressed to members of the Ahmadiyya Movement is printed, containing some proposals for publishing his articles in England in association with an existing magazine. It is entitled Plan to propagate Islam through newspapers in England. Translated below are some extracts from his letter:

Brethren, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu

I had written a long letter to honoured brother Maulvi Muhammad Ali from here requesting that it should be read at the annual gathering [salana jalsa], and probably it will have been read. At the end of that letter I had argued that what can be achieved by the pen here, as well as in the rest of the Western world, cannot be done by speech, nor by the sword or cannon. … In India my experience showed that what can be achieved by speech cannot be achieved by the pen. Here it is the reverse. … So I started writing articles on various religious subjects and sending them to newspapers. However, they were returned with thanks because, firstly, those publications had no interest in religion, and secondly, they strictly follow each its own editorial policy.

Therefore the need arose to start our own magazine or newspaper, because no newspaper can publish our articles all the time. It occurred to me that Hazrat Maulvi Muhammad Ali could come here and the English edition, at least, of The Review of Religions be transferred to this country. I emphasised this in my letter mentioned above. But I learnt from letters received after this from Qadian that the Maulana has yet to remain with Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih [Maulana Nur-ud-Din] for several more months in order to complete the English translation of the Holy Quran. Moreover, my suggestion would require an expenditure of more than 15,000 Rupees over the next year, which the community would not be able to support in view of the present building fund. Pondering over this problem, God has shown me a solution. I have made a special arrangement with a monthly magazine here that every month they will give me space in it equal to a half of The Review of Religions for my articles. In return, we have to help them by providing subscribers and increasing the sale of certain special issues. I have sent details of this arrangement to Qadian. The cost of this will be 1500 Rupees. …

All I wish is that some brothers buy at least one issue, and some others send me the price of one issue which I can distribute from here on their behalf. …

This work will inshallah begin on 1st January [1913] and I ask my brothers who wish to help me in this task to do so soon and whatever they want to give they should give it before the end of January direct to Shaikh Rahmatullah sahib, Proprietor, English Warehouse, Lahore. He will forward me all the money.

In the end I again request that all of you should pray for my good. Now it is only the service of Islam and service of the community that is keeping me in this country. May Allah have mercy. I am in good health.

Seeker of prayers,
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din,
13 December 1912

My address:
c/o National Bank of India, 26 Bishopsgate, London

Badr, 27 February 1913, pages 5–6

2. Proposal to start own magazine

The above proposal appears not to have been carried any further, as in the next issue of Badr (6th March 1913) Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din explains his plan to start his own magazine. The heading of his letter consists of the following words of the Holy Quran:

“Who will be my helpers in the way of Allah?”
(man ansari ilallah, the Quran, 61:14)

The letter is introduced by a note by Maulana Nur-ud-Din himself. Shown below is the image of the heading of the letter and the introductory note by Maulana Nur-ud-Din:

Badr, 6 March 1913, p. 1

The translation of this note is as follows:

Our members and Muslims generally should ponder over this letter, which is a heart-felt plea by its author. You should read it with deep sympathy. I pray to Allah that you give it your full attention. Three thousand is not much for a magazine. You can be a subscriber or you can provide financial assistance, as you wish. Whatever you do, provide encouragement for the Khwaja sahib. ‘And surely Allah will help him who helps Him’ [the Quran, 22:40].

26 February 1913

The translation of the body of the letter is as follows:

My guide and master the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, raised this same call many years ago, and upon this call God the Most High granted him a whole company of helpers who performed such a distinguished service to Islam that the people of India acknowledged it. Today, sitting thousands of miles away in the land of the Christians, I again make this call and hope to God the Most High that it will not be in vain. In actual fact, the Being Who can fulfil all my hopes and aspirations and make me succeed in my objectives is that same Glorious Almighty Who, by sending me to this land all of a sudden, opened before me a vast field for spreading the Word of God, but the same God has taught me that in a state of dire need I should raise the cry: “Who will be my helpers in the way of Allah?”

Not one week passes but the sons of Al-Dajjal are defeated and humiliated at the hands of the servant of the [Promised] Messiah. There is also useful work being done through private communication. But to produce long-lasting results, a sustained effort is required. I wrote in a letter the conclusions I have come to in regard to the question of the propagation of Islam in Western countries, which was read at the annual gathering [of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Qadian in December 1912]. The purport was that either a magazine should be issued from here or The Review of Religions should be transferred. Later I learnt that the needs of the community and its other expenses do not allow the expenditure of fifteen to twenty thousand Rupees which would be entailed in transferring The Review of Religions to this country. Then, after special prayers for this object and advice, I decided to bring out a monthly magazine from here.

My brief stay has shown me that the world here is so alienated from religion that people are not interested in any matter pertaining to religion. A magazine devoted purely to theological subjects will probably not be read by anyone even if it is free, let alone that people would buy it. Therefore it has been decided that a small part of it be devoted to topics in ethics, morality, economics, education and politics. The world considers these as subjects apart from religion, but Islam includes them all. So it is our intention that, while the real object and purpose of this magazine would only be religious, but to induce some minds to read it there should also be content about other subjects, and that too should be given from an Islamic point of view. If such matter is included, there is a close friend of mine who has offered to distribute free a certain number of copies of the magazine at his own expense.

In the expenditure upon this magazine, I do not include my labour as editor and the work of brother Dr. Ibadullah as manager. May God reward the good doctor greatly! It is to cover the printing, publication, paper, postage and other necessary expenses that, leaving aside the help offered by my friend, I want our brethren to subscribe to two thousand copies at this time. Of these, I will distribute free one thousand copies here and in America, Africa and Europe. This is actually a very small number because many thousands of copies must be distributed here free in order to have any effect, and a continuing and sustained effort is required to produce any result.

I would like my brethren, whether they can read English or not, to subscribe. Those knowing only Urdu will receive the Urdu translation. I have set the subscription at five Rupees annually, which is not much under the circumstances mentioned above. I would like some brethren not to take note of the price but to help me at this time with whatever they can afford. By the grace of God I have, up to now, published some books in India on the same basis and in the past three or four years continuously tried to render service to the Movement. With the help of my brethren, God did not let my work go to waste. After working in India, now the Divine purpose has brought me here. I have the tools in my hands for clearing the weeds and ploughing the land but I find here many rough plains, rocky hills, thorny bushes and wildernesses. It is God only Who can strengthen my hands and make firm my feet.

I have appointed Munshi Nur Ahmad as my agent to visit you in various towns and cities and appeal on my behalf. May Allah the Most High inspire your hearts for this end, and if this work is according to His will and purpose then may He open your hearts and hands for my help.


Address: National Bank of India, 26 Bishopsgate, London

Badr, 6 March 1913, p. 1

3. Announcements of founding

In the same issue of Badr, the news of the launch of the magazine is published under the heading Muslim India and Islamic Review. It reads:

In my last letter I informed brethren that I planned to issue from here a permanent monthly magazine. All the articles have gone to press and next week, inshallah, the magazine whose title is given above will reach our friends. It contains some of my discussions with bishops and Christian scholars of divinity here in which they have admitted the weakness of their standpoint. May Allah the Most High make this magazine a means of guidance for the people here. Brethren, I appeal to you to render me help by your pen and money. Please do not hesitate. Remember well the verse [of the Promised Messiah]: ‘As I have been given light for the Christian peoples’. I pray that Allah the Most High grant me to spread this light among the Christian people. Wassalam.

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
c/o National Bank of India, 26 Bishopsgate, London

In The Review of Religions this news is published as follows:

The Muslim India and Islamic Review

In the article “Islam and the World”, published in this number of the Review, Mr. Parkinson speaks of a crying need of the Muslim world, viz. a periodical in the English language to be published from London and translated into other languages of the Islamic world. The periodical is, of course, to be devoted to the discussion of subjects Islamic. We are glad to announce that a periodical of the type suggested by Mr. Parkinson has already been started in London under the editorship of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Ahmadi, B.A., LL.B., and the first number of the paper is already out, and is expected to reach India by the next mail. We wish this highly laudable enterprise every success and make an urgent appeal to all the Muslims to freely give the Khwaja all the support he deserves. The name of the periodical is “The Muslim India and Islamic Review”, and the annual subscription is Rs. 5.

All remittances and literary communications should be sent addressed to Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, care of National Bank of India, 26 Bishopsgate, London.

The Review of Religions, March 1913, p. 132.

The Mr. Parkinson mentioned here is the British convert to Islam, writer and poet, John Yehya-en-Nasr Parkinson.

4. Report of a visit by agent Nur Ahmad

In No. 2 above, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din has written in his letter published in Badr, 6 March 1913 that “I have appointed Munshi Nur Ahmad as my agent to visit you in various towns and cities and appeal on my behalf”. A report of such a visit to Lucknow is published in Badr, 22 May 1913, by the Secretary of the local Ahmadiyya branch. It is translated below:

Nur Ahmad sahib, the agent of the Khwaja sahib, came to Lucknow and stayed at my house. He met all the lawyers, religious scholars and speech-makers of Lucknow. The letter to the Turks and a specimen of The Islamic Review was distributed as a gift. Some promised to become subscribers and others promised to make donations. …

On 25 March 1913 at 4 p.m. all of us Ahmadi brethren went to meet Maulana Shibli Naumani at his residence. After greetings etc., talk began. Praise for the Khwaja sahib was on everyone’s lips. What they felt inwardly only Allah can know. What I liked best was what was said by the expert theologian Abul Kalam Azad who was sitting on one side of Maulana Shibli Naumani. He said:

‘There is a spirit that is driving these persons of the Ahmadiyya community, and this fact cannot be denied. Everyone must help the Khwaja sahib. After going to Calcutta I will send 200 Rupees.’

Then he addressed me and said:

‘In reply to your letter, I had written to you that Jesus, peace be upon him, has died. You must have received it.’

I said that I had received it and had filed it.


Humbly, Kabir-ud-Din Ahmad,
Secretary, Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Lucknow.

Badr, 22 May 1913, p. 8–9.

Maulana Shibli Naumani (d. 1914) was a famous Urdu literary figure and historian of Islam renowned for his biography of the Holy Prophet Muhammad entitled Sirat-un-Nabi. Abul Kalam Azad (d. 1958) was an Islamic religious scholar and author who also held high political and ministerial offices in India later in his life.

Note: The original name of The Islamic Review when its publication started in February 1913 was Muslim India and the Islamic Review but by 1914 it was changed to The Islamic Review and Muslim India. In 1921 it was shortened to The Islamic Review.

Related links:

Front cover of the first issue of Muslim India and Islamic Review, February 1913

The Islamic Review archive

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.