India: Prominent Westerners Who visited Qadian 1912-1937

By Ghulam Misbah Baloch, AMJ Missionary, Jamia Ahmadiyya Canada- Translated & updated by Zakaria Virk, Toronto 30-4-2016

Original article was published in Urdu in al-Fazl Int. London 18-24 March 2016. A shorter version was published in Ahmadiyya Gazette Canada.

People visit places for various reasons i.e. education, pleasure, or business. Oft-visited places are well known all around the World but there are some cities that became places of attraction because God had so destined. History is witness to this (Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina, Vatican City, Bodhgaya, and Benares). In this age, God the Almighty made such a promise to Hazrat Mirzā Ghulām Aḥmadas 1935-1908 of Qādiān, India at a time when he was living in obscurity and anonymity. It was revealed to him:

The time is near when people shall be made ready to help you and

                        you will become known among men.”

“People will flock to you from distant lands.”

Such prophecies are from a period when Hazrat Mirzā Ghulām Aḥmadas was an unknown person, a solitary soul among the multitudes, with no significance or of little value in the eyes of the people. Then, the prophesied time came when God chose him as the Promised Messiahas and Imām Mahdī, and thousands upon thousands flocked to Qādiān to accept him. A large number of his devoted followers and well-wishers visited him and Qādiān became a sacred city. Every new day witnessed the truthfulness of the great prophecy about this city, with even greater splendor and grandeur than before.

There were a good number of Western scholars ‘and tourists who reached Qādiān after a toilsome and grueling journey. In April 1908, an American couple and a Scotsman visited the Promised Messiahas in Qādiān and asked proofs for the truthfulness of his claim.

The Promised Messiahas responded: “Your coming here is also a sign from God, which if you had known you would have hesitated to come here. In fact your travel from distant places to this small town is according to a prophecy, and is a sign and argument for my truthfulness. Imagine the distance, America to Qadian” (Malfoozat, volume V, page 517, published from Rabwah)

We now give details of some Europeans and Americans who visited Qadian and bore witness to prophesies of Promised Messiah Hazrat Ahmad (as).

Hervey De Witt Griswold (1860 Dryden NY-1945) USA 

Griswold attended Union College in Schenectady, NY state from 1881 to 1885, and then went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1885 to 1888. He began his 36 years long missionary career in 1890 in Jhansi, India. In 1894 he was appointed professor of philosophy in Forman Christian College, Lahore. As its librarian he added a substantial number of books on religion and philosophy. He wrote two papers about the Holy Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement (as): The Mahdi and Messiah of Qadian, 1902, and The Messiah of Qadian 1905. In his first paper he wrote: I heard from his own lips at Qadian, which shows he did visit Qadian.

In Malfoozat, Volume 1, there is a notation that two Christian scholars from Forman College Lahore visited Qadian and did a detailed interview. The names are not given, but most likely one of them was Dr. Griswold. He sums up personality of Hazrat Ahmad: “venerable in appearance, Magnetic in personality, and active in intellect”.

Mr Griswold read his paper The Messiah of Qadian at a meeting of The Victoria Institute of Philosophical Society of Great Britain, afterwards Colonel Alves remarked: “I think that when we entered this room most of us did not know where Qadian was.”

Note: Zakaria Virk has a photo-copy of the 7 page article “The Ahmadiyya Movement” by Griswold  published in The Moslem World, Vol. 2, No 4, October 1912, pp. 373-379

Charles Frances Sievwright  1862-1933 Australia, (Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Hakk)

He was born in Melbourne, Australia and entered the fold of Islam in 1896, taking the name Muhammad Abdul Hakk. After his conversion he traveled in Islamic countries & arrived in India. He was privileged to have met Promised Messiah (as). A detailed report of the meeting is given in Malfoozat, Volume 3. In 1906 when he was in New Zealand, he accepted Ahmadiyyat. Later he immigrated to USA, and died in Glendale, Los Angeles County.

He described his visit to Qadian and meeting Hazrat Ahmad (as) in the following words: “This meeting with Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian in the year 1903 was a wonderful proof of the truths of Islam … on the 22nd October 1903, I was in Qadian and received the hospitality of the entire community… nothing astonished me more, among all the extraordinary incidents during my missionary travels, then the finding of myself in that sacred place and face to face with its Messiah”. (The Muslim Sunrise, Chicago USA, 1922, page 144)

He told Hazrat Ahmad (as) “ever since I arrived in Qadian, I notice that my heart is contended” (Malfoozat Volume 3, page 446)

Dr. Theodore Leighton Pennell MD, FRCS (1867-1912)  U.K.

Dr. Pennel was born in the U.K. and at age 25 went to India as an honorary medical missionary under the Church Missionary Society, UK. At first he was appointed to the existing Medical Mission at Dera Ismail Khan. In 1893 he was transferred to Bannu, where he had the responsibility of opening up a medical mission. Pennell wrote a captivating book about his experiences in northern India, “Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier“.

During his 9 year stay in Bannu, he was owner of an Urdu newspaper Tuhfa-e-sarhad, which carried articles against Hazrat Ahmad (as). In 1904 he travelled all over Punjab on a bicycle and arrived in Qadian on 4th January 1905 to meet Hazrat Ahmad. At that time Hazrat Ahmad (as) was indisposed and could not come of the house to greet him in person. He described his visit to Qadian in his book, and wrote about the staff and students of Madrassa Ahmadiya:

… in particular I noticed that, though the next morning was chilly and drizzly, yet all were up at first streak of dawn, and turned methodically out of their warm beds into the cold yard, and proceeded to the mosque, where all united in morning prayers, after which most of them devoted themselves to reading the Quran for half an hour to one hour. Many of the masters, too, seemed very earnest in their work, and had given up much higher emoluments to work for quite normal salaries in the cause to which they had devoted themselves. … we had been kindly and hospitably received, and there was something inspiring in seeing a number of educated men thoroughly zealous and keen in the active pursuit or religion”.

( Among the Wild Tribes of Afghan Frontier by T.L. Pennell, page 248-249, publisher Seeley & Co. Ltd, 38 Great Russell Street, London, 1909) …..   read the book online

Howard Arnold Walter (1883-1918) USA 

Image result for Howard Walter

Mr. Walter was born in New Britain, Connecticut. He studied at Princeton University, NJ and Hartford Theological Seminary. In 1913, Walter joined the staff of the YMCA , and was appointed in Lahore. In January 1916 he accompanied education secretary of YMCA Dr. W.M. Hume and Dr. Edmund Delong Lucas, vice-Principal Forman Christian College to visit Qadian. They met Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II, head of the Ahmadiyya Movement. A detailed report of this meeting was published in al-Fazl, 15 January 1916, pages 3-6.

He wrote one of the earliest studies The Ahmadiyya Movement Today in 1918 which was published in The Moslem World, Hartford, CT. Subsequently he wrote a book The Ahmadiyya Movement in which he described his visit to Qadian. “My visit to Qadian, in January 1916, although it took place more than eight years after the death of Ahmad, showed me a community where there existed abundant enthusiasm and zeal for religion, of a vigorous, positive kind unusual in Islam in India at the present time”.    (The Ahmadiyya Movement, page 139, Oxford University Press 1918). 

Note: Zakaria Virk has a photo-copy of the 13 page article “The Ahmadiyya Movement Today” which was published in The Moslem World, Vol. 6, No 1, January 1916, page 66. 

Rev. Dr. Edmund Delong Luca, USA

Dr. Luca was born in India, but immigrated to USA. He graduated from Wooster College Ohio. Later he enrolled himself at Union Seminary and Columbus University. He was sent by Presbyterian Church to India. On his way he stopped in Syria for six months to study Arabic. In Lahore he was appointed professor, then vice-principal and later principal. (The Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, NY Friday 19th January 1940).  To honor his memory a medal in economics is given to this day at Forman Christian College, Lahore.

He came to Qadian along with H.A. Walter. Afterwards he visited Sri Lanka and gave a speech recounting his visit to Qadian. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II, mentioned this in his famous commentary: “ upon his return Mr. Luca gave a lecture to Christians in Colombo in which he said… you people think that fight for Christianity will be fought in big cities and in big universities, but I tell you I have just returned from a town where trains don’t go(at the time there no trains come to Qadian) …  but I have seen such preparedness to combat christianity that it makes to say that next fight for Christianity in which it will be decided Islam is living religion or Christianity, it will fought in the town of Qadian. This was the opinion of principal of a college published in Ceylon newspaper.” (Tafseer-e-kabir, volume 10, page 74 – tafseer sura al-feel).

David Samuel Margoliouth (1858-1940) UK

Prof. Margoliouth (1858–1940) was a famous British orientalist and professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford for 48 years. Many of his works on the history of Islam became the standard treatises in English.  He was a brilliant editor and translator of Arabic works.

On December 16, 1916, Prof. Margoliouth visited Qādiān and met Hazrat Khalīfatul-Masīḥ II (ra). Huzoor gifted him some Arabic books of Promised Messiah (as): Ijaz-e-ahmadi, Lujjat al-Noor, Seerat al-Abdal. As he had to travel by train in the evening to Lahore, he took a tour of Qadian and saw Bahishti Maqbara, Minaratul Masih, Libaray of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I, and Darul Uloom.    Al-Fazl, December 19, 1916, pages 18-20.

Dr. David Reed Gordon (1866-1959) 

His father Dr. Andrew Gordon started the Presbyterian Church in 1855 in Sialkot. After completing his studies in the USA in 1895, he was appointed in India, and worked for 36 years as a missionary in Gurdaspur. For few years he was stationed in Rawalpindi. Upon retirement he returned to USA and died in 1959 in Duarte, California. First time he came to Qadian in 1920 to meet Hazrat Musleh Mauood (ra)- vide Al-Fazl 23 December 1920, page 1. Second time he and Zwemer both came to Qadian in 1924.


Samuel Marinus Zwemer (1867-1952) USA

Samuel Zwemer.jpg

Mr. Zwemer was an American missionary and scholar. He made his home in Arabia and Egypt for almost 38 years (1890-1929). Because of his evangelization efforts in Islāmic countries, he was named, The Apostle to Islām.

In May of 1924, Zwemer visited Qādiān accompanied by Murray Thurston Titus (who was in charge of the Moradabad district) and David Reed Gordon (who was in charge of the Gurdaspur district). Zwemer described his visit in the following words:

From Lahore, we went to Gurdaspur and on to Qādiān, the birthplace of “The Promised Messiahas of the Punjab”, and of the Amadīyya Movement . . . Our reception was most cordial. In fact, they had sent to meet us at another railway station and invited us to spend days instead of hours . . . They gave us of their best and we saw all there was to see. Not only is the Review of Religions published here, but three other magazines; and correspondence is carried on with London, Paris, Berlin, Chicago, Singapore, and all the Near East; pigeon-holes filled with possibilities; shelves crowded with encyclopedias, dictionaries, and antiChristian philosophies; an armory to prove the impossible; a credulous faith that almost removes mountains, yet in this nest of propaganda, as afterwards also at Lahore, we met only with personal kindness and hospitality.                 Across the World of Islam by Zwemer, pages 316 & 317, Fleming H. & Revell Company, NY 1929)  biography

Dr. Murray Thurston Titus 1885-1964 USA 

He was born in Batavia, OHIO. He went to India in 1910 where his first appointment was teaching English, history and philosophy at Reid Christian CollegeLucknow. In 1913 he was ordained whereupon he was appointed to the Methodist Episcopal Church of North India to do evangelical work in villages in several districts of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh) and in Lahore. He authored books about Islam in India.  He was known for encouraging understanding between Christians and Muslims. He returned to the US in 1951.

When he was in charge of Morababad Mission in 1924, he visited Qadian together with Dr. Zwemer. In his book The Young Moslem Looks at Life (1934) he compared powerful Turkish ruler Sultan Abdul Hameed (d. 1918) with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as).

While Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in his obscure Indian village of Qadian dreamed his dreams, of spiritual conquest of the world in the latter part of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth centuries, the caliph of the Moslem world, Abdul Hamid, in his luxurious palace by the Bosporus, dreamed dreams also dreams of Pan-Islamic power that would oust the exploiting, imperialist European powers from India, Egypt and North Africa. He hoped to see the day when it would be possible to establish a great bloc of independent Moslem nations of whose spiritual and political life the Turkish caliph would be the head. To further these ends the caliph joined Germany…. The names of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and Abdul Hamid stand today as symbols of the challenge of Islam to the world in these modern times. The caliph’s great political challenge of Pan-Islamism collapsed with the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire; but the spiritual challenge of Islam as found in the worldwide missionary effort of the Ahmadiya movement of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is still very much alive. Its significance lies not so much in its achievements for the cause of Islam or in the number of its converts to the faith for these have not been such as to alarm nonMoslems but rather in the fact that it represents the ever present spiritual desire and aspiration of the whole Moslem world to see the faith of Islam triumph. In this fundamentally religious sense the Abode of Islam still looks upon people of other faiths as belonging to the Abode of War. In the spiritual realm Islam still challenges the world.

(The Young Moslem Looks at Life, pp. 152-153,

Friendship Press, NY, 1937, heading The Ahmadiyya Movement).            read the book online   biography 

Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965) Holland

He was a Dutch missionary, a linguist, & a professor of history and phenomenology of religion at Leiden University (1937-47). He was a prominent figure in the ecumenical movement from Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. He visited Qadian in 1929, and had his detailed report of the visit published in The Moslem World.

He wrote: “ … the Ahmadiyya … are a very remarkable group in modern Islam, the only group that has purely missionary aims. They are marked by devotion, zeal and sacrifice that call for genuine admiration … their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, must have powerful personality. When I visited qadian, .. I was struck by the buoyant spirit of great enthusiasm for Islam. They are not humble bearers of a message, but the proud and self-conscious proclaimers of a truth.”

(The Moslem World, Vol. 21, No 11, April 1931, pp. 170-171).

Note: Zakaria Virk has a photo-copy of the Kraemer article “Islam in India Today” which was published in The Moslem World, Vol. 21, No 11, January 1931, page 151-176.

Friedrich Wagner Chemnitz – Germany

He was a German globe trotter who lived for 5 years in China (194-29) where he had friendly contact with Chinese Muslims. In 1930 he was on his way from China to Germany that he passed through Leh (Ladakh) India, where he had a chance meeting with Hazrat Khan Bahadur Ghulam Muhammad Khan Bhervi (ra 1892-1956). They had friendly discussions. Mr. Khan suggested to him to visit Qadian. Mr. Chemnitz arrived in Qadian 29th November 1930, and departed 15 January 1931. He was fortunate to attend Jalsa Salana (Annual Conference). His impression of Qadian was published in the Review of Religion and re-published February 2015.

He writes: “ It is a spiritual atmosphere, which one feels at Qadian, an atmosphere quiet different from the material world outside. Here he religious thoughts dominate… I would advise anyone who may afford to pay a visit to Qadian, that he should make it a point to stay there for several days because it is after a stay of some days, that the real spirit of Qadian will begin to reveal itself to him. … Qadian is not Delhi or Agra in respect of splendid buildings. But it is a place whose spiritual treasures never exhaust… there will be only very few, who will leave Qadian taking nothing with them. And that what a visitor take with him cannot measured in coins. No it is something much more precious and really invaluable. “ Review of Religions May 1932, pp 159-161   Feb. 2015

Abdullah R. Scott UK

Mr. Scott was a convert to Islam and first British Ahmadi Muslim. He arrived in Qadian 9th May 1931 and stayed for two months. He met spiritual leader of the Movement Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II, and saw holy places. He penned an 11 page article “My Impression of Qadian”.

He writes:  who could have thought that the insignificant village of Qadian and that lonely person in his place solitude, whom very few knew or cared to know, would become the centre of attraction of the whole world and would flourish in so short a time. Yet all this was prophesied by the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) years before he proclaimed the news of his advent and which alone is, in my humble opinion, a very strong argument in proof of his claim even if there had been no other sign. Let those seekers after truth who are not already acquainted with the full facts concerning the Ahadiyya Movement and its Holy Founder, do so early, for, herein they will find unlimited treasures. (Review of Religions, August 1931, page 185)

Abdukkerim Gyula Germanus 1884-1979 Budapest, Hungry

Julius Abdulkerim Germanus was a professor of oriental studies, a Hungarian writer and Islamologist, member of the Hungarian Parliament and member of multiple Arabic academies of science, who made significant contributions to the study of the Arabic language, history of language and cultural history. In 1928 Rabindranath Tagore invited him to India to organize, and then lead as first professor, the Department of the History of Islam (now the Department of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Islamic Studies) at his university Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan. He visited Qadian probably in 1932, and met head of the Ahmadiyya Movement. He described his visit to Qadian in his Hungarian book “Allah Akbar” 1936, and included two photographs of famous tomb of Jesus in Srinagar.

Prof. John Clark Archer   (1881-1957) USA

John Clark Archer, Ph.D. (1881-1957) was a professor of Missions and Comparative Religion at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. He visited Qādiān in June 1937 and had the honor of meeting His Holiness Hazrat Muṣleḥ Mau‘ūdra and discussing some Islāmic subjects with him. Later on, he wrote a letter of gratitude to Nāẓir A’lā Qādiān, which was published on page 6 of Al-Fazl, July 23, 1937.


Apart from these western scholars, a number of missionaries and tourists also came to Qādiān all the way from America, Europe and Australia. The question is that since Qādiān was not a tourist attraction or a famous educational center or commercial center, why did these eminent personalities of the West go to the trouble of travelling to this small village? The only answer is that “a man of God,” “the long awaited Messiah” who became a challenge for the Christian world and who served Islām to a degree that surprised the world, was born there. They affirmed in incredulity as follows, “the little town of Qādiān seems to be a kind of modern Mecca.”7 (The Register, Literary Letter, April 20, 1918, page 4)

Regarding the prophecy about the fame of Qādiān The Promised Messiahas says:

This prophecy is from that era when even in this small village, there were many who were unacquainted with me. And now, when 17 years from this prophecy have passed, in accordance with the implication of this prophecy, this humble one’s fame has reached the point that in this country, children and women from other nations are not unaware of my humble self. The soul of a person who is aware of these two eras – of what that era was like and what the condition is today – spontaneously declares that this magnificent knowledge of the unseen is as distant from human faculties as a fly’s power is from the work of a mighty elephant. “ (Sirāj-e-Munīr, Rūḥānī Khazāʼin, vol. 12, p. 74)

In one of his Urdu poems, Hazrat Ahmad (as) says:

There was a time when
Even my name was inconspicuous

Qādiān was also hidden,
as if it was under a cave.

No one was acquainted with me;
nor was anyone my follower

But now look how there
is such publicity all around.

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