visit to India, 1927-28:
Report of his welcome and procession in Lahore
See main article: Lord Headley’s visit to India, 1927–28
Given below is a translation of the report in Paigham Sulh, Lahore, 4 January 1928 (pages 3–4), describing the welcome accorded to Lord Headley by the Muslim public and leaders of Lahore. It appears to be written by the Editor Maulvi Dost Muhammad. The translation is complete except for minor, unimportant omissions. All headings are in the original report.
- The words of Lord Headley quoted below have been translated back into English from their Urdu version, except that his opening words “Brethren-in-Faith” are given in English in the Urdu report.
- The reference to “the writer of these lines” is to Maulvi Dost Muhammad who was at the Woking Muslim Mission in the period that he mentions.
- In this translation, maps of modern Lahore from Google Maps have been inserted to show some of the roads and points that the procession passed along.
Arrival and welcome of Lord Headley
Inspiring scenes of Islamic fervour and unity
Magnificent procession and welcome
The day 28 December 1927 will be regarded as a memorable day in Lahore. It was the day when that exalted figure, holder of two peerages and two baronetcies in England, that is, the Right Honourable Lord Headley Al-Farooq, arrived in Lahore to remind the Muslims of Lahore of the lesson of unity and brotherhood.
As announced earlier, his lordship had come to preside over the meeting of the All-India Tabligh Conference in Delhi, and since this was his first journey to India after his acceptance of Islam, it was naturally the desire of the Lahore Ahmadiyya community to trouble him to preside over its annual gathering as well. He accepted to fulfil this desire and on the morning of 28 December 1927 he arrived in Lahore by Bombay Mail [train service].
Before his arrival, preparations had been made in Lahore for a grand welcome. Arrangements had been made to take him in procession through all the main streets of the city. All those streets had been well adorned by the local residents, who did not belong to the Lahore Ahmadiyya community. Apart from small paper flags which were hung everywhere, boards had been installed from place to place displaying messages of welcome and congratulations. On the wider roads, temporary gates constructed of sticks and coloured paper had been erected. Even before the train arrived, there was a large crowd outside the railway station, thronging long in the distance. There was good organization by the police. Very few people were allowed on to the platform. Of particular note among them were: Sir Muhammad Shafi, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Mian Abdul Aziz, Syed Muhsin Shah, Dr Mirza Yaqub Baig, Mian Abdul Hayy of Ludhiana, Dr Khalifa Shuja-ud-Din, and our Ameer Maulana Muhammad Ali. As the train pulled in, there were cries of Allahu Akbar. Sir Muhammad Shafi, and the two English converts who will be mentioned later, entered Lord Headley’s compartment and placed garlands around his neck. From among the authorities present at the station were: Mr E.H. Lincoln, Additional District Magistrate, [etc.] …
As soon as his lordship emerged from the station, a motor car decked with flowers came forward and he boarded it amidst shouts of Allahu Akbar which were shattering the heavens. Accompanying him were Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Sir Muhammad Shafi, our Ameer Maulana Muhammad Ali, and Khwaja Nazir Ahmad who acted as his lordship’s secretary.
Lord Headley’ first speech
Upon entering the motor car, his lordship addressed the audience as “Brethren-in-Faith”. After thanking them he said that he had been overwhelmed by his reception and wished to see this example of Islamic brotherhood, which is a distinctive sign of Islam, at work in all Muslim organizations. Urging upon them the need for unity and mutual harmony, he said that what Islam requires today is for its followers to stand as a united body when facing others. The greatest danger to Islam today is from within, and not from outside. That danger from within is that there are among us sects who expel each other from Islam on the basis of secondary differences. It is imperative that you desist from this and lay the foundation for mutual love and harmony, so that outsiders cannot take undue advantage of the disintegration of strength among the Muslims. He said that at this time the need is for Muslims to work with united strength for the propagation of Islam, as their existence and success depends upon this.
Order of the procession
After this brief speech, the procession made ready to leave. It was led by horse-mounted volunteers, followed by scouts of the Punjab Boy Scout Association. Behind them were students of the Muslim High School and other volunteers, many of them reading out poems. Next was the motor car carrying Lord Headley. Behind this was another motor car carrying two other English converts to Islam who are in the army stationed in Rawalpindi. One of them, Mr Muhammad Hill, embraced Islam at Woking in 1920 or 1921 in the presence of the writer of these lines. A clear proof of his love for Islam is that since he has come to India he has lost no opportunity to call his fellows to Islam. As a result of this, another English Muslim was with him, whose name is Mr Abdul Majeed Collins. In the same car was Khwaja Hasan Nizami who had accompanied Lord Headley from Delhi. This was followed by a long line of motor cars and horse-drawn carriages in which many notables of Lahore and certain members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya community were riding.
Departure of Procession
At around 9.00 am the procession left and went towards Delhi Gate. Along the way everywhere people were waiting on roofs of houses, porches of shops and sides of roads. There was hardly a place where his lordship’s car was not showered with flowers. People had fanfare playing instruments ready, which were sounded as soon as his lordship’s car came into view. Vegetable sellers at Delhi Gate had made garlands of vegetables which they were hanging. At various places garlands of fruit were presented to his lordship.
His second speech
Having passed through Delhi Gate the procession reached the Wazir Khan crossroads. Here Lord Headley made his second speech. He expressed what he felt about the enthusiasm and fervent happiness shown by the people, and again urged the need for unity and harmony and told them not to indulge in sectarianism. He stated frankly that the greatest danger facing Islam was internal disunity, and the sooner Muslims removed it the better for them. In other words, they must not let secondary differences jeopardize mutual love and brotherhood, and refrain from calling each other as kafir.
The procession then reached Kashmiri Bazar where Haji Malik Deen Muhammad, book seller, presented a basket of fruit to his lordship. Here again Lord Headley made a speech at people’s insistence. He said: “It is a matter of special pleasure for me to come to this capital of the Punjab and meet you people. I can never forget the grand welcome that you have given me. I had come to Lahore previously, nearly thirty years ago, but did not receive such a welcome at that time. This is because the welcome I am receiving now is a magnificent demonstration of the universal brotherhood of Islam which is taught in the Quran in the words: ‘The believers are brethren’.”
Lord Headley again drew the attention of the people towards the internal danger faced by Islam, the cause of which is the sectarian division of the Muslims. He advised them strongly that if they wish to see Islam reach an honourable position of distinction in the world, and hope for its victory and success in the West, they must overlook small differences and become united, and work for the propagation of Islam with the strength of unity.
Poem of congratulation and well-wishing
After this advice, the procession, passing through Kashmiri Bazar, reached the head of the Dabbi Bazar. There the famous Muslim poet and journalist Mr Muhammad Bakhsh Muslim, B.A., presented a poem of congratulation and well-wishes to his lordship, and recited it himself melodiously.
Address by Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Muslimeen
After this the procession, passing through Dabbi Bazar, reached Hatta Bazar, where, in front of Kinari Bazar, the Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Muslimeen presented an address in Urdu to his lordship. In it, heart-felt pleasure was expressed at his acceptance of Islam and services to Islam, and the hope was expressed that in this age of the destitution of Islam his lordship’s acceptance of Islam would lead to success for Muslims.
After listening to the address by the Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Muslimeen the procession went towards Heera Mundi, and turned there towards Bazar Hakimaan and Bhati Gate. On the way, near Batti Bazar, is the famous educational establishment of the Anjuman Numania, whose staff and students were outside, joining the Muslim public in displaying their happiness.
Bazar Hakiman and Bhati Gate
From here the procession reached the Bazar Hakiman where the crowd of enthusiasts exceeded in size the crowds in all other streets. House tops, shop fronts and street corners were overflowing with crowds of men and women, leaving no place to set foot in. Wherever his lordship saw women, he stood up and bowed to offer his greetings. They too raised their hands respectfully to return the greeting. Once or twice some people wished to take his photograph. However, due to the old age of his lordship, the procession was required to be completed without delay and could not stop. Thus those people were disappointed.
His lordship’s fourth speech
Near Bhati Gate, in front of [the mosque known as] Oonchi Masjid, his lordship was asked to speak again. He repeated his appeal for unity and harmony to Muslims, mentioning the same internal danger to Islam that he had spoken of previously.He thanked Muslims for their fervent expression of joy and their welcome. He urged them, in plain language, that if they want to have respect and success in the world, the only way is to give up sectarianism and work together in unity. They must carry the message of Islam all over the world, as it needs the brotherhood and equality taught by Islam. They must shun mutual differences and rise up in unity. They must defeat atheism, materialism, and linguistic and racial discrimination by means of the cutting arguments provided by the teaching that There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
In Anarkali Bazar
It was only with difficulty that the procession was able to leave Bhati Gate at around 12.00, and passing quickly along Katchery Road and Gol Bagh it reached Anarkali. Here again the size of the crowd was astonishing. The road and shops were adorned, not only with small flags, but also the Muslim shopkeepers had on display carpets and their best products. There was hardly any place where his lordship was not abundantly showered with flowers.
Reaching the middle of Anarkali Bazar his lordship stood up again to make a speech. Expressing thanks for this magnificent welcome, he urged the necessity to adhere to the unity and brotherhood which, he said, was utmost imperative at this time in facing others. He then referred to the irrational and complicated doctrines of Christianity and said that the teachings of Islam are free from such riddles and are entirely clear and simple, containing nothing that is against reason. The universal brotherhood of Islam and its equality cannot be matched by any other religion in the world. Therefore this must be presented before the world in its true sense with the strength that is found in unity. We must not declare one another as kafir on minor differences.
He also urged Muslims to show tolerance towards people of other religions, and show it to such a great extent that they become attracted to us because of our good behaviour towards them.
End of the procession
At around 1.30 pm the procession reached at the crossroads of Lohari Gate. According to the programme, from there it should have turned towards Shah Alami Gate and Mochi Gate, and then have terminated at Ahmadiyya Buildings. However, the age of his lordship did not permit subjecting him to further exertion. Also, the time for lunch was passing and he had to deliver his presidential address at the meeting of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore at 3.00 pm. Therefore, at this point Lord Headley, Sir Muhammad Shafi and Khwaja Nazir Ahmad thanked all the people, and his lordship’s car went towards the residence of Sir Muhammad Shafi where arrangements had been made for his stay.