Smiling in the Face of Adversity: Life Devotees of Islam Ahmadiyyat

No matter how challenging the circumstances and how severe the hardships are, those who are determined to strive for the cause of God never retreat.

Smiling in the Face of Adversity: Life Devotees of Islam Ahmadiyyat

No matter how challenging the circumstances and how severe the hardships are, those who are determined to strive for the cause of God never retreat.

No matter how challenging the circumstances and how severe the hardships are, those who are determined to strive for the cause of God never retreat.


JUNE 7, 2021

Many noble souls who devoted their lives for the cause of Islam Ahmadiyyat have irrigated the garden of faith with their sweat and blood. I dedicate this piece to present a brief sketch of the lives of some of such devotees, which will very well testify to their high and exemplary standard of faith.

One such person was Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahim Nayyarra who championed the cause of propagating the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat in the continent of Africa. He endured great hardships and was faced with extreme difficulties but never wavered from his determination to serve this cause.

Maulana Abdur Rahim Nayyarra was a sincere companion of the Promised Messiahas. He was sent to Nigeria in 1921 and thus had the distinction of being the first Missionary to Africa. His resolute and unflinching personality, strong relationship with the Almighty, and fervent prayers yielded great results in the region from the very outset of his missionary activities and news of thousands of people accepting Ahmadiyyat became a repeated affair.

However, this could not last long as the acceptance of Ahmadiyyat by such a large number of people in a very short time triggered an outcry born at the behest of deep-rooted malice and envy of the opponents as they could not stand the spectacle of people entering into the fold of Ahmadiyyat in multitudes.

Organized groups of anti-Ahmadis from various sects entered the continent and initiated malicious propaganda to hamper the progress of Islam Ahmadiyyat. They left no stone unturned to misguide other Muslims and prevent them from accepting Ahmadiyyat.

As a result of their wicked designs, it became very difficult for the local Ahmadis as well as the missionaries to practise and preach their faith. Hence history is replete with incidents of hostilities against the native Ahmadis of various countries in the African continent.

Early Ahmadis in Africa displayed the same tenacity and resolve as was exhibited by Hazrat Bilalra at the time of the Holy Prophetsa. Undoubtedly it was extremely hard to remain steadfast in such an environment of hostility and aggression. In the midst of all these difficulties, Maulana Abdur Raheem Nayyarra was also faced with financial hardships as he was extremely cautious in spending the wealth of the Jamaat especially upon himself[1]. Maulana Sahib himself describes the situation of those days in these words:

Dear brothers! Those who have the privilege of quenching their thirst in intense heat with iced drinks should be apprised of the fact that here [in Africa] the Ahmadi Missionary does not have access even to well water due to which he, sometimes, has to take medicines to suppress thirst. Similarly, those who travel on horses, cattle, motor vehicles, and bullock carts should know that the Missionary of Islam here has to pass through dense forests on foot. And those who enjoy sweets made of milk and ghee should be informed that the servant of Ahmadiyyat can only dream of such lavish provisions. Nevertheless, let not anyone be mistaken that I am telling this because I want to count my favours upon you. No. Instead, an Ahmadi Missionary makes sacrifices solely for the sake of Allah and His Messenger and for the cause of propagating the message of Islam.[2]

The fact is that even today, in many under-developed parts of the world, our missionaries are living under extreme conditions and have to travel long distances to access basic facilities like water. But despite this, they are such dedicated in their faith that they strive in the cause of Allah enduring all these difficulties, away from their near and dear ones.

Another devoted servant of Ahmadiyyat who faced great hardships in the way of Allah is Hazrat Hakeem Fazlur Rahman Sahib. He sacrificed his family life and travelled to West Africa to spread the message of Islam. He went through very difficult situations and had to face innumerable challenges but always demonstrated tremendous fortitude and patience and was instrumental in laying a strong foundation of Ahmadiyyat in West Africa.

Upon the instruction of Hazrat Musleh Maudra, Hakeem Fazlur Rahman Sahib travelled to the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) in 1923 and served the cause of Ahmadiyyat there for about eight years. Then he returned to his homeland for a short stay of about a year and a half during which he got married. Then he was again sent to Africa where he remained for fourteen years. Hence, he completely sacrificed his personal life for the cause of Islam and for serving humanity.

His father passed away in his absence. He had left his wife not long after the marriage, and by the time he returned, they both had become old and his son had grown up. Such was his sacrifice, and it was the result of this sacrifice that Ahmadiyyat was strongly established in the region. On 23rd November 1955, his blessed soul departed this temporary abode[3]. Undoubtedly, his sacrifices will always be remembered in the history of Ahmadiyyat.

Another sincere servant of Islam Ahmadiyyat was Hazrat Al-Haj Maulana Nazir Ahmad Ali Sahib who was the third Missionary to Africa. He was sent to the Gold Coast in 1929. His extreme simplicity, strong relationship with the Almighty, keen desire to serve mankind and a zealous passion for propagating Islam made him an exemplar of nobility and selflessness.

He served in Ghana for around five years and was then sent to Sierra Leone in 1937[4]. Despite severe opposition, it was through his selfless contributions and initiatives that Ahmadiyyat spread in Sierra Leone. Hence, when he came back to Qadian in 1945, Hazrat Musleh Maudra gave him the title Kaamyaab Jarnel – meaning a successful general – as an acknowledgement of his tremendous services and successful endeavours[5].

Later in November that year, he was appointed as the Head of Tabligh for West Africa and was sent back to Sierra Leone along with three other Missionaries. Prior to his departure, he addressed the people of Qadian in a speech saying:

Today we are leaving [Qadian] to perform Jihad in the cause of Allah and to propagate Islam in West Africa. Life and death is a part and parcel of life. Hence, if anyone amongst us dies, then you should know that far away in another part of the world, a small piece of land has come under the ownership of Ahmadiyyat. It is the responsibility of Ahmadi youth to reach there and fulfil the objective for which we would have occupied those lands in the form of graves. Hence, our tombs would demand from you that you train your children in such a way that they fulfil the cause for which we would have sacrificed our lives.[6]

These words of Ali Sahib, which actually were an expression of his sincere desire to die in the cause of Allah, were fulfilled when he was sent to Sierre Leone for the last time in 1954. He spent about a year there and passed away on 19th May 1955. Hazrat Musleh Maudra instructed that he be buried in Bo in Sierra Leone[7].

During Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III’s visit to Sierra Leone as a part of his West African tour, he met an elderly person named Ali Roger Sahib. Upon asking how he became an Ahmadi, he narrated the whole account that led to his acceptance of Ahmadiyyat. The incident is faith-inspiring which I wish to mention here.

Once, Maulana Nazir Ahmad Ali Sahib visited Ali Roger Sahib’s village. A religious discourse was arranged with some clerics belonging to other Muslim sects. During the debate, Maulana Sahib presented strong and powerful arguments that the clerics were made speechless and were forced to employ their last tool which was to declare him Kafir.

After the discourse, when Nazir Sahib requested the villagers to allow him to stay overnight there, none obliged on the pretext of his being declared Kafir by the clerics. However, Ali Roger Sahib thought that on the grounds of humanity, this person must be allowed to stay in the village for the night even if he is a Kafir. Hence, he agreed to accommodate Maulana Sahib and invited him to his house. But Nazir Sahib said that he would prefer to spend the night in the nearby jungle. Ali Roger Sahib was influenced by this reply and hence offered to accompany him to which he agreed. Nazir Sahib cleared a small space in the jungle and started praying quite fervently even though he had severe pain in his kidney. After the prayers, Nazir Sahib told Ali Roger Sahib that he was shown in a vision that an Ahmadi school is standing right at that place and that Roger Sahib was the Chairman of the Administrative Committee of that school.

Afterwards, Ahmadiyyat gradually spread in the region and a school was built at the same place where Nazir Sahib was praying and Ali Roger Sahib was appointed the Head of its Administrative Committee. After witnessing this manifest sign of the Living God, Ali Roger Sahib accepted Ahmadiyyat.[8]

Truly the servants of faith who make great sacrifices are always exemplary in their efforts. Islam Ahmadiyyat has been blessed with many such souls who laid everything in the cause of God and service to humanity. This short article will not be enough to even mention the names of all of them, let alone paying tribute to their sacrifices. May God bless them all and continue to be their Guardian in this life and the hereafter.

The author holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He is currently serving the Community as the Secretary of Publications of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya), Kolkata chapter.


[1] Friday Sermon by Khalifatul Masih IV dated 4th March 1988

[2] Al Fazl 9 June 1921

[3] Friday Sermon by Khalifatul Masih IV dated 4th March 1988

[4] After serving for four years in the Gold Coast from 1929 to 1933, he was called back to Qadian where he stayed for three years. Then in 1936, he was again sent to the Gold Coast where he remained for about a year, thereby having served in the region for five years in total. After that in October 1937, he was sent to Sierra Leone.

[5] Al Fazl International 3 April 1998

[6] Ibid

[7] Friday Sermon by Khalifatul Masih IV dated 4th March 1988

[8] Al Fazl International 10 November 2006

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1 Comment

Shahid · June 7, 2021 at 3:25 pm

Well written. Nicely composed.

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