Islam Ahmadiyyat in Africa – Fulfillment of a Grand Prophecy

Jazeb MehmoodAFRICA • AHMADIYYAT

13th April 2022

Jazeb Mehmood – Ghana

In March 1889, the Promised Messiah (as) founded the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Allah the Almighty gave him glad tidings that his message would reach the corners of the earth. Allah promised him that his community would flourish and that he would be blessed; so much so that kings would seek blessings from his garments. This was at a time when he was virtually unknown. [1]

During his lifetime his message spread to other countries, and since his demise in 1908, the community has gone on to reach the corners of the earth, as the Promised Messiah (as) had prophesied. In Africa, the community has progressed rapidly under the guidance of the Caliph (successors of the Promised Messiah (as)). In the blessed era of the Fifth Caliph of the Promised Messiah (as), Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Ahmadiyyat has greatly progressed in Africa.

Early Ahmadiyyat in Africa

The earliest mention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Sub-Saharan Africa goes back to 1916. Interestingly, the message of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community first reached here through The Review of Religions in Nigeria. A Nigerian trader in Islamic literature from Cairo and other places, including Britain, had brought the magazine to Lagos, which intrigued many young Muslims who were ready to accept Ahmadiyyat at the time. [2]

In Ghana, then the Gold Coast, a nascent group of Sunni Muslims and ex-Christians among the Fante people in the southern region also heard of Ahmadiyyat Community through a Nigerian Ahmadi, who was living in the south of Ghana, when Yusuf Nyarko, a Fante, dreamt that ‘white’ men were leading his community of Muslims in prayer. Upon discovering the existence of a community in South Asia, the Ghanaian Muslims took the unique initiative to contact the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), in Qadian through The Review of Religions and request that a missionary be sent to teach them Islam. Hence, in 1921, the Second Caliph (ra) sent Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Nayyar (ra) to Ghana, thereby sowing the seed of Ahmadiyyat for the first time in Africa. It is indeed a sign of the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah (as) that Ahmadiyyat reached Africa through a dream. [3]

In East Africa, the first mission was opened in 1934. Since then several missions have been established in other places such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Local communities have sprung up in many places, and quite a few mosques have been built. [4]

The message of Ahmadiyyat soon spread around Ghana, and in the early 1960s the first Ahmadiyya mission was established in Abidjan, Cote D’ivoire. New national communities were established in the 1970s in Burkina Faso and Benin via Ghana, and in Cameroon and Niger, proselytized from Nigeria. Senegal also added a mission, proselytized initially from the Gambia. [5]

In North Africa, the Community had already been introduced to the people of Egypt during the lifetime of the Promised Messiah (as), whose book Ijaz al-Masih (Miracle of the Messiah) was published in Egypt and reviewed in several Egyptian periodicals. [6] In Algeria & Morocco, although the community dates to the 1970s and 1990s respectively, members have often faced persecution at the hands of the government. [7]

Ahmadiyyat in Africa Today

There is no doubt that Ahmadiyyat has come far in Africa. In the last decade, the Community in Nigeria celebrated its centenary, and nearly 30,000 people from surrounding countries attended this jalsa. [8] Likewise Sierra Leone held its centenary celebrations, and they too attracted large numbers of Ahmadis from around the country and foreign guests. [9] Ghana’s annual gathering regularly attracts over 30,000 people. [10]

Africa also holds the distinct honour of being the first place where the prophecy of the Promised Messiah (as), that ‘kings would seek blessings from your garments’ was fulfilled. It was during the time of the Third Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (rh) that Sir Singhate, who was elected Governor General of Gambia, requested that he wanted to obtain blessings from the garments of the Promised Messiah (as). Accordingly, a piece of the clothing was sent to him from Rabwah that was a source of immense joy to him. Since then, many African kings and chiefs have visited the Caliph, and some have even accepted the Ahmadiyyat. [11]

In some countries, the Community has been directly involved in efforts to gain independence, and by truly recognizing that love for one’s nation is part of faith, Ahmadi Muslims in Africa have always tried to play an active role in their countries. Mentioning some examples of this, the Fifth Caliph, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) states:

‘When Sierra Leone’s independence was achieved, its Government officially recognised the role of our Jama’at and the humanitarian services it had rendered, to both the country and to its people.

The Government did this by specially inviting a central representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at from Pakistan, to attend the main function marking the country’s independence… Since the independence of Sierra Leone was achieved, there have been a number of Ahmadi Muslims who have had the honour of becoming Members of Parliament, Ministers of Government and Ambassadors of State.

Similarly, upon the independence of Tanzania, the Ahmadiyya Community was also able to play a significant role. One of our local Tanzanian Missionaries, Sheikh Amri Abedi, who received two years missionary training in our centre in Rabwah, Pakistan, was also personally able to play a valuable role towards the independence of Tanzania. The leaders of the country used to consult with him regularly and seek his wise counsel. Later on he was appointed the first African Mayor of Darus Salam. He was also elected unanimously to the Legislative Council of Tanganyika, and then in 1963 he was appointed Minister of Justice and proved to be greatly loved and popular in this role. Therefore, throughout his life he rendered great services to his nation.

Another example of the services rendered by the Ahmadiyya Community is that the name ‘Tanzania’ was actually chosen upon the recommendation of an Asian Ahmadi Muslim, to the government of the time. This too was an historic service to the nation.’ [12]

Jamia Ahmadiyya (Missionary Training Centers)

Jamia Ahmadiyya International in Mankessim, Central Region of Ghana

The Community has been successful in opening missionary training centres in many countries in Africa. Currently, Jamia Mubashireen (five-year missionary training institute) is operating in countries like Ghana, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso.

The current progress and expansion of the community throughout Africa has been simultaneously drawing the attention of the community to the ever-increasing need of missionaries. During the blessed era of the Fifth Caliph (aba), Allah the Almighty has blessed the community with the establishment of a Jamia Ahmadiyya International in Africa, which offers a seven-year course on religious education, and is open for students from all African countries. [13]

MTA Africa, MTA 3 & MTA Ghana

MTA’s Wahab Adam Studio in Accra, Ghana

MTA Africa was launched in August 2016, when the need for a channel specifically for viewers in Africa was sorely needed. On 27 May 2020, MTA International rearranged its channels and introduced two channels specifically for Africa. [14]

MTA Africa 1 is a satellite-based television channel of MTA International. The main languages of this channel are English, French, and Swahili. MTA Africa 2 is for viewers in Western Africa. The main languages of this channel are English, while programmes are also broadcasted in Creole, Hausa, Twi and Yoruba. MTA 3 Al-Arabiya is also broadcasted in North Africa. It was launched on 23 March 2007. All these channels are also available for live streaming via the internet.

The Fifth Caliph (aba) officially launched MTA Ghana on 15 January 2021 – a new digital terrestrial television channel established specifically to meet the needs of the people in Ghana. [15] Highlighting one of the unique aspects of the channel, the Fifht Caliph (aba) stated:

‘The channel will be utilized to convey the true and beautiful teachings of Islam to the people, God willing. MTA Ghana is the only channel on a digital platform in the country that is solely dedicated to broadcasting Islamic teachings.’ [16]

Today, MTA studios in Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, and many other African countries are producing multiple programmes specifically designed to educate African viewers in their language.

Services to the Holy Qur’an in Africa

Under the blessed guidance of the Caliph, the community has also been able to publish translations of the Holy Qur’an in many African languages – some of which have never been translated. Countries across Africa have been provided copies of the Holy Qur’an in their language. Major languages like French and Swahili aside, the community has successfully translated the Qur’an in other, less mainstream languages like, Mossi, Twi, Fula, Mandinka, Wolof, Kriol, and Yao to make sure the message of the Holy Quran reaches to every tribe and people of Africa. [17]

The community has also been able to open many schools, or madrassas, dedicated to helping young boys and girls to memorize the Holy Qur’an. Such schools are operating in many countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Benin, and Sierra Leone. [18]

Humanitarian Efforts in Africa

The community has built hundreds of mission houses, thousands of mosques, over 500 schools, and over 30 hospitals and clinics across Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Raqeem Press is also established in eight African countries. Speaking of the community’s humanitarian efforts in Africa, His Holiness, the Fifth Caliph (aba) stated:

‘The majority of our humanitarian projects are based in Africa. With the Grace of Allah, over the past eighty or ninety years, we have strived not only to bring the African people closer to Allah, but also to discharge the rights owed to the people of this great continent. It is in this spirit that our Jama’at has opened many schools in Africa. It is with this spirit that many of our Ahmadi engineers, who have been trained and brought up in the West, travel to the remotest parts of Africa to try and provide a supply of drinking water to the poor and deprived local villagers…

In the same way our Ahmadi teams have provided electricity to people living in the remotest parts of Africa, by installing solar panels. Also, now in certain countries we have started a new project of creating model villages, in which facilities such as tap water, electricity, street lights, community centres and paved streets will be provided Insha’Allah.’ [19]

The Nusrat Jahan Scheme

On 4 April 1970, the Third Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (rh) launched the Nusrat Jahan Scheme. This initiative increased educational and health services in Africa through development projects funded by donations from Ahmadi Muslims worldwide and led by Ahmadi Muslim volunteers who committed to terms of service in Africa. [20]

Working in partnership with West African states, the Ahmadiyya Community founded new schools, hospitals and health clinics throughout the region, serving rural areas and admitting students and patients from any religious tradition. This scheme has expanded over the decades and remains a major aspect of the work the community does in Africa. One noteworthy example is the foundation of the Masroor Eye Institute, which has been helping people in Burkina Faso since its foundation. [21]

Humanity First in Africa

Humanity First Team in Ghana making a donation

When the Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) launched Humanity First in 1995, his aim was simple – help humanity. This was especially needed in third-world countries in Africa. Since then, Humanity First has played an active role in helping people across Africa. [22]

In 2014, when the Ebola virus epidemic hit West Africa, Humanity First treated over 200,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea, and Mali by offering medical services, clean water, orphan care, and shelter. Their initiatives like ‘Feed a Family’ and ‘Water for Life’ have also been helping many people across Africa for years. [23]

IAAAE in Africa

The Third Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad (rh) initially launched the International Association of Ahmadi Architects & Engineers (IAAAE) to use modern technology to provide humanitarian relief to regions in need. From humble beginnings where it was involved in simple projects like making and distributing small dry cell lamps, today, IAAAE is providing clean potable drinking water to remote parts of Africa. [24] At the recent annual symposium of IAAAE in the UK, His Holiness, the Fifth Caliph (aba) remarked:

‘During the past two years, people in nine countries have benefited from your Water for Life projects. In this time, the IAAAE was able to rehabilitate more than 100 water pumps to a functioning level, and so thousands of the most impoverished people in Africa were able to gain access to clean water. The biggest struggle for people living in remote parts of Africa is the lack of clean drinking water, and so, by installing water systems, the IAAAE has had a genuinely life-changing impact upon those people who are the hardest hit by poverty and deprivation.’ [25]

A Prophecy Fulfilled

The Promised Messiah (as) had prophesied that the community would spread from Qadian to the rest of the world. Despite extreme circumstances, in the last 133 years, the community has done just that under the banner of the Caliphate. At the time, no one outside the community believed that a virtually unknown person would gain followers in his town, let alone the world. But today, the progress of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and the faith and passion of its followers all over the world, is a testament to the fulfillment of this promise.

About the Author: Jazib Mehmood is a fifth-year student at the International Ahmadiyya University of Theology and Scholastic Sciences in Ghana

ENDNOTES:

  1. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) (2016). Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya — Part Four. Tilford, Surrey, UK: Islam International Publications Ltd. 400

2. Jegede, A. O. (1989, December 18). History of Ahmadiyyat in Nigeria. Review of Religions, 84(12), pp. 19–26. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from https://www.reviewofreligions.org/8062/history-of-ahmadiyyat-in-nigeria/The Ahmadiyya Movement in Nigeria. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School: https://rpl.hds.harvard.edu/faq/ahmadiyya-movement-nigeria#:~:text=The%20Ahmadiyya%20Movement%20was%20introduced,of%20the%20Nigerian%20Youth%20Movement.

3. Hanson, J. H. (2017). The Ahmadiyya in the Gold Coast. Indiana: Indiana University Press. 163–180; Adam, A. W. (1990, September 18). Ahmadiyyat in Ghana. The Review of Religions, 85(9). Retrieved March 17, 2022, from https://www.reviewofreligions.org/8236/ahmadiyyat-in-ghana/

4. Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya UK. (2008). Khilafat Centenary Special Edition. Tariq. 167

5. Hanson, J. H. West Africa, Ahmadiyya in. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Oxford Islamic Studies: https://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/print/opr/t343/e0062

6. Dard, A. R. (2008). Life of Ahmad. Tilford, Surrey, England: Islam International Publications Ltd.; Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) (2019). Majmoo’ah Ishtiharat (Vol. 3). Qadian, Gurdaspur, India: Nazarat Nashro Ishaat Qadian. 223–227

7. Algeria: Wave of arrests and prosecutions of hundreds of Ahmadis. (2017, June). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/06/algeria-wave-of-arrests-and-prosecutions-of-hundreds-of-ahmadis/; Sakina Benzin. (30 December, 2016). مغاربة يعتنقون الأحمدية. تاريخ الاسترداد Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Maghress: https://www.maghress.com/ahdathpress/450592; Human Rights Watch. (2017, September 4). Algeria: Stop Persecuting a Religious Minority. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/04/algeria-stop-persecuting-religious-minority

8. Ahmadiyya holds 63rd annual conference. (2014, December 19). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Vanguard News: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/12/ahmadiyya-holds-63rd-annual-conference/

9. Quraishi, A. H. (2021, March 12). 100 years of Ahmadiyyat in Sierra Leone: Three days of centenary celebrations. Al Hakam(56), pp. 6-7. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.alhakam.org/100-years-of-ahmadiyyat-in-sierra-leone-three-days-of-centenary-celebrations/

10. Wilson, A. B. (24th, January 2020). Ghana Holds 88th Jalsa Salana. Al Hakam(97), p. 7. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.alhakam.org/ghana-holds-88th-jalsa-salana/

11. See Khurshid, M. A. (2017). Cherished Memories Of Africa. (D. M. Ahmad, Trans.) Munawar Ahmad Khurshid. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Cherished-Memories-of-Africa.pdf

12. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) (2012, January 28). Pan African Address. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from Review of Religions: https://www.reviewofreligions.org/5408/pan-african-address/

13. For more information, please see About – Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghanahttps://www.jamiaghana.org/about/

14. Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Ahmadipedia: https://www.ahmadipedia.org/content/institution/12/muslim-television-ahmadiyya-international-(mta)

15. GNA. (2021, January 17). Ghanaian Ahmadis to benefit from new terrestrial TV Channel. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from News Ghana: https://newsghana.com.gh/ghanaian-ahmadis-to-benefit-from-new-terrestrial-tv-channel/

16. Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Launches MTA Ghana TV Channel. (2021, January 16). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Press & Media Office: https://www.pressahmadiyya.com/press-releases/2021/01/head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community-launches-mta-ghana-tv-channel/

17. Published Translations of the Holy Quran. (2017, September 30). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Al Islam: https://www.alislam.org/quran/translations.pdf

18. Qurashi, A. H. (2021, July 2). First Madrasatul-Hifz for Sierra Leone Jamaat. Al Hakam(172), p. 21. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from https://www.alhakam.org/first-madrasatul-hifz-for-sierra-leone-jamaat/; Salau, S. (2015, December 11). Ahmadiyya’s Qur’an memorisation school graduates 48 Hufaadz. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from The Guardian Nigeria News: https://guardian.ng/features/ahmadiyyas-quran-memorisation-school-graduates-48-hufaadz/

19. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) (2012, January 28). Pan African Address. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from Review of Religions: https://www.reviewofreligions.org/5408/pan-african-address/

20. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III (rh) – Significant Appeals. (2008, March 1). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from The Review of Religions: https://www.reviewofreligions.org/1961/hadhrat-khalifatul-masih-iiiru-significant-appeals/

21. Majlis Ansarullah UK (2021, November 30). Masroor Eye Institute – Granting the Gift of Sight in Africa. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from The Review of Religions: https://www.reviewofreligions.org/35775/masroor-eye-institute-granting-the-gift-of-sight-in-africa/

22. About Us. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Humanity First: https://humanityfirst.org/about-us/

23. Humanity First. (2014). Annual Report 2014. Surrey: Humanity First. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://humanityfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/HF-Annual-Report-2014.pdf

24. IAAAE. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from IAAAE: https://iaaae.org/

25. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad – Khalifatul Masih V (aba) (2022, March 10). IAAAE – A Long Term Vision to Help Developing Nations. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from Review of Religions: https://www.reviewofreligions.org/37778/iaaae-a-long-term-vision-to-help-developing-nations/

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