A Divine Sign for America

By: Anwer Mahmood Khan

Dr. John Alexander Dowie, a pretender to prophethood, was challenged by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah. He died a miserable death as prophesied by Hazrat Ahmad.

Allah bestowed the glad tidings upon Hazrat Ahmad that He will manifest powerful signs to vindicate his veracity. These signs were shown both in the heaven and the earth. The signs on earth included the wrath of God on the enemies of Hazrat Ahmad foretold through prophecies. The month of March appears to have a special relation to the Jama’at. We notice that many opponents of Hazrat Ahmad saw their destruction in the month of March. Lekhram died on March 6, Dowie died on March 9, and Munshi Ilahi Baksh also died in the later part of March.

Today I will discuss one great sign that was manifested in the United States, and was truly a fulfillment of a great prophecy of Holy Prophet MohammedSA concerning the advent of Imam Mahdi. This sign is the fulfillment of a prophecy about the death of John Alexander Dowie resulting from a mubahala or prayer duel as offered by Hazrat AhmadAS

John Alexander Dowie was bom in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1847. His family moved to Australia in 1860. He began working at his uncle’s shop as a shoe salesman. He had a bad temper and once during a disagreement he threatened to hit his uncle with an iron rod. Dowie did a few odd jobs here and there as a clerk and, in 1867, moved back to Scotland for further studies. He studied theology and some other subjects for 2-3 years. As his father could not afford to continue funding him, he was asked to return to Australia. In 1872, he came back to Australia and began a job search in the Church. Finally he was accepted at a congregational church in the small city of Newton near Sydney. Later, he moved and became a minister in a Melbourne Church. In 1878, he organized the International Healing Association. He was arrested many times during his stay because of his extreme protests against the wickedness that, according to him, abound in that area. In July 1888 he moved to the United States and arrived in the San Francisco area.

He began his healing activities here; initially he was given a warm welcome, but later he began calling all those who helped him as apostates. He extensively traveled up and down the west coast. Passing through Utah, he arrived in Evanston, Illinois. This is where he began his ministerial work in a small wooden hut near the World Fair facilities. In 1896 he formed his own church, the Christian Catholic Church. He had an enrollment of 500 followers. In 1897, he established the Central Zion Tabernacle. In 1895, he was arrested over a hundred times for protesting against alcohol use and practicing medicine without a license.

Slowly he began buying large parcels of land some 42 miles north of Chicago while keeping the attention of the media in his controversial pursuits in Chicago. On New Year’s Eve, he gathered all his followers to an all-night service at the Central Zion Tabernacle. As the clock struck 12, Dowie drew the large curtain 25 ft high and 25 ft wide that was hiding the blueprint of the new City to be founded that he named Zion. The blue print was a piece of land 6600 acres in area along the bank of Lake Michigan. This was the beginning of the City of Zion. From this point on, he began to progress with leaps and bounds.

Claims of John Alexander Dowie:
Upon closer examination of the claims of Dr. Dowie, one finds an interesting trend of progressive authority. He assumed three titles besides being called a General Overseer or Doctor Dowie; he has descnbed these titles over a period of eight years. The first title, which he declared for himself on January 22,1896 was “authoritative teacher.” We read:
“I am not claiming any office; no man has heard me claim any office. I am a teacher and have taken no other place. I have not stood here claiming to be recognized as a prophet. I have not stood here claiming to be recognized as an Apostle. I have stood here as an authoritative teacher.”

June 2,1901: Claims to be the Elijah
On June 2,1901, he then claimed to be the Elijah III as we read:
“As the teacher of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion…I continued to develop practically these principles in my ministry, and God used me to prepare the church for the declaration of June 2, 1901. I there stood forth before an immense audience in the Chicago Auditorium and declared that God had sent me as John the Baptist had been sent, in the Spirit and Power of Elijah.”

He further said:
“The name is not a title, it is a reality. I firmly believe in common with tens of thousands of my followers that I have been sent by God in the ‘Spirit and Power of Elijah’ as the third and last manifestation of that prophet. The first manifestation was in Elijah (which means Jehova is my God) 28 centuries ago, when the worship of Baal was triumphant in Israel. This was Elijah the Destroyer. The second manifestation was in the person of John the Baptist. (Matthew 13:14). He was Elijah the Preparer. The third manifestation of Elijah is in my person, of whom Christ spoke, after John the Baptist’s death, when he admitted the correctness of rabbinical contention, ‘Elijah must first come,’ saying ‘ Elijah indeed cometh and shall restore all things.’ I am Elijah , the Restorer.” (Pages 53-57)

Finally, he declared his ultimate office to be “The First Apostle.” This declaration was made on September 18, 1904. He said:
“I stand hereby today as the High Priest on earth and the First Apostle of the Christian Catholic and Apostolic Church in Zion of that High Priest in Heaven”

In this capacity, he not only announced his communion with the Divine, but he made several statements mat he claimed to have originated from the Almighty God Himself. It behooves us to scrutinize carefully this claim, as Dowie attributed it to be the word of God.

We further notice that Dowie claimed to be Elijah IIl and hurled foul and abusive remarks towards Islam,¬†the Founder of Islam, and Muslims in general. There is not enough space to present all of Dowie’s allegations against the Holy Prophet Mohammad8″

I would share a few, however, to show the intensity of his hatred for the Founder of Islam: He writes in his publication “Leaves of Healing” thus:
“Zion will have to destroy Mohammedanism”

“One of the greatest systems in the Orient is Mohammedanism … the Mohammedan is taught to look forward to heaven as one vast brothel and harem, where he can find satisfaction in women that are prepared for him as the creatures of lust. Zion will have to wipe out that shocking blot upon humanity. That accursed flag will have to come down from the high towers of Jerusalem. May God help me to knock at the gate of the Moslem before long!. The Moslem will fight. There are hundreds of millions of them. One of the great wars imminent is that between the Cross and the Crescent. But, beloved, there is something stronger than steel. It is the Sword of the Spirit. There is something greater than anger. It is Love. Love subdues the man; it subdues the nation, and will reach the heart…” (Leaves of Healing, Volume Xffl page 474)

“The Unspeakable Turk”
“How can any one who knows exactly what Mohammedanism is, for one single moment imagine that God or man can forever stand that abomination”
‘Where the Moslem hoof comes no grass grows’ is the Eastern proverb. Wherever the accursed teaching of Mahomet has come there has been an end of all real progress…. I pray for the day to come when the Crescent shall disappear, and when the flags -1 would like to see them united there and everywhere of Great Britain and America shall float over Zion at Jerusalem, as they often do at the city of Zion near Chicago. May God Grant it! It is the time that the Moslem abomination was ‘gone, bag and baggage’ as Mr. Gladstone used to say. Let it slink away back into the deserts of Arabia whence the filthy thing emerged…. May God destroy it. (Leaves of Healing, Volume XH page 526)
“Indulgence in Damning Lust the Prize Offered in Mohammedanism and Mormonism”
“But with it all came the damning lust; that which enticed, under Mohammed, the tribes of Koresh to forsake their God and enlist under his banner, namely, that they would have women galore while they lived, and that when they died there would be a host of houris with whom they should dwell in a paradise of damning lust, eating and drinking, and be forever happy, with the happiness of a filthy brute whose highest aspirations never rise higher than its belly. This was the prize that Mohammad offered, and this is the prize that Mohammedanism still offers… This is the prize, despite all they say, that still underlies Mohammedanism and Mormonism, and which by the grace of God, we hope to do something in smashing.” (Leaves of Healing, Vol. Xin, Page 662)

The Terrible Danger to Christianity from Mohammedanism
“I warn the Christian nations of America and Europe. Islam is not dead. Islam is full of power. Although Islam must go, although Mohammedanism must be destroyed, remember it will not be wiped out by the effete Latin Christianity; the powerless Greek Christianity; the wom-out Christianity of those who nominally acknowledge Christ and live as gluttons and drunkards and harlots and whoremongers and oppressors.” {Leaves of Healing, Vol. VII, August 25,1900)

Hazrat Ahmad, being the champion of Islam, deeply loved the Founder of Islam. Naturally, Hazrat Ahmad was deeply grieved by the foul allegations and abuses of Dowie towards the Holy Prophet Mohammad. He responded first with polite admonishment, but this polite invitation went on deaf ears, and Dowie did not even care to acknowledge the receipt of such invitations. Rather he continued in his vituperations regularly and filled them with fresh venom of some sort. Hazrat Ahmad, at this stage, issued a leaflet inviting him for a decisive act of mubahala.

Hazrat Ahmad writes:
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Challenge to Dr. Dowie for a Prayer Duel
“…. Recently there has appeared in the United States of America a man, apostle of Jesus, whose

name is Dowie. He Claims that Jesus in his capacity of God has sent him into the world to invite people to the doctrine that there is no God besides Jesus… He has repeatedly declared in his paper that his God Jesus has told him that all Muslims will be destroyed and not one of them will survive, except those who should acknowledge the son of Mary as their God and Dowie as the apostle of that artificial god…. We have a message for Dowie that he need not be anxious to destroy all Muslims… There is a very easy way of determining whether Dowie’s God is true or our God. That way is that Mr. Dowie need not repeatedly announce his prophecy of the destruction of all Muslims, but should keep me alone in his mind and should pray that of the two of us, the one who is false may die before the other… Mr. Dowie should publish this prayer which should bear the testimony of at least one thousand persons.. .1 too will pray accordingly and shall append to my prayer the testimony of a thousand persons, if God so wills. I am sure that through the adoption of this course A WAY SHALL BE OPENED FOR Mr. Dowie and all the Christians for the recognition of the truth… The only condition is that the death of either of us should not be compassed by human hands but should be brought about by illness or by lightning, or snakebite or by the attack of a wild beast. I grant Mr. Dowie three months to comply with my request and I pray that God be with those who are true. (Review of Religions Vol. 1 No. 9 page 342-348)

Although Mr. Dowie did not pay any attention to this prayer contest. The world press took special notice, and over forty newspapers around the world published this duel in their daily, weekly, and monthly publications. A small list is presented below:

Clippings from the Newspapers covering Hazrat Ahmad’s Prayer Duel, A Summary:
1 The Argonaut, San Francisco, Dec. 1,1902 “An Anglo-Arabic Praying Match”
2 New York Times, March 29, 1903 Editorial: “The Rival Prophets”
3 Baltimore America, June 25, 1903 “Dowie versus Ghulam”
4 Boston Daily Advertiser, June 25, 1903 Dr. Dowie, Elijah n, has received a Challenge to a Prayer Duel by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, Punjab, India
5 Democrat and Chronicle, June 25, 1903 “Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, threatens to pray Prophet Elijah Dowie to Death. All right, such long range assassination. As that is permissible. Sail right in, Mirza.
6 The Inter Ocean, Chicago, June 27, 1903 Editorial: “Ghulam Ahmad’s Challenge”
7 Burlington Daily Free Press, Burlington, Vermont, June 27, 1903
“A Praying Duel Proposition”-
8 The Inter Ocean, Chicago, June 28, 1903 “Will Dowie Fight this Duel?” Who is a liar?
9 The Sunday Times-Union, Jacksonville, June 28, 1903
(Small News item) One Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who dwells in Northern Hindustan, Challenges Alexander Dowie to praying match, and threatens to pray him to death….
10 Worchester Sunday Spy, June 28, 1903
(Established 1770, by Isaiah Thomas, Worchester, Massachusetts)
“Alexander Dowie has a rival in India”.
11 The New York Times, October 17, 1903 “Dowie and his Host Mass in the Garden”
12 The New York Times, October 18, 1903 “Elijah m’s – Hosts m Tents of Ungodly” Many Complaints Made
13 The New York Times, October 19, 1903
– Throngs Turn From Enraged “Elijah-in”
– Half Of Vast Audience Leaves Garden Despite Guards
– Prophet Denounces City
14 The New York Times, October 20, 1903 “Hostile Audience Howls at Dowie”
15 The New York Times, October 21, 1903 “Came Nation Halts Abuse from Elijah”
16 The New York Times, October 22, 1903
– “Elijah Overawed by Angry Multitude

– Convert for Dowie
– Trust Funds Disappear
– Audience was Hostile
– Strange Revelations
17 The New York Times, October 24, 1903
“Dowie Leaves City – and May Not Return” (16 pages with Review of Books & Art)
18 The New York Times, October 25, 1903
(26 page magazine Supplement and Financial Section)
“Advertisement: “Dowie – His Creed and his
– Letter to the Editor: “The Ways of Dowie” by Mark Marion, N.Y., Oct. 20, 1903
– Dowie Repeating Himself
19 The Commercial Advertiser, NY, October 26, 1903
“Dowie Challenged” Indian Messiah Dares him to Prove his Claims
20 The Times, London, November 9, 1903
– “The Dowie Mission”
– “Dr. Dowie’s Crusade”
21 The Literary Digest, Vol. XXVI, Number 25 “Rival Messiah in a Proposed Prayer Duel”
22 New York Daily Tribune, April 3, 1906″Dowie Down and Out” – New Leader for Zion
23 New York Daily Tribune, April 5, 1906 “Receiver for Zion”
– Act to forestall Dowie’s Threatened Flight Against Ouster
24 The Outlook- The Week, April 14, 1906 “Zion in a Ferment”
25 The Chicago Tribune, March 10, 1907
– Founder ofDowieite Cult and of Zion City
– Who Died Yesterday
– Dowie, Dying, Says He’ll Live Again
– I’ll Return to Earth in 1,000 years – almost his Last Words
– Dowie an extraordinary Man
– In Robes of First Apostle
27 The New York Times, March 10, 1907
– “Dowie Dies in the City he Founded” – Neither wife nor son, whom he had Repulsed, was at his bedside.
28 The Times, London, March 11, 1907 “Dr. Dowie” –
29 Chicago Daily Tribune, March 12, 1907
– “Dowie faithful Hold Last Rites”
-Ten Score followers of “First Apostle”
– Refuse to Participate in other Services
– Not to Attend Funeral
– Gladstone Continues with Arrangements for Final Ceremonies on Thursday
30 The Dunnville Gazette, June 7, 1907 “A Messiah in India”
31 The Truth Seeker, New York, NY, June 15, 1907 “The War of the Prophets”
32 The Sunday Herald, Boston, June 23, 1907 “Great is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad The Messiah” Foretold Pathetic End of Dowie, and now He Predicts Plague, Floods and Earthquakes-

Dowie’s Vituperations against Hazrat Ahmad(AS)
“In India, there is a Mohammedan Messiah who keeps on writing to me that Jesus Christ lies buried in Kashmir. People ask me why do I not send him the necessary reply? Do you think that I should answer such gnats and flies? If I were to put my foot on them I would crush them to death. The facts that I merely give them a chance to fly away and survive. (Leaves of Healing December 27, 1903)

Hazrat Ahmad reiterates his Challenge
It should be borne in mind that Dr. Dowie has not given any reply to my challenge made in September 1902 nor has he even so much as mentioned it in his paper ( i.e. Leaves of Healing). For an answer to my challenge. I will wait for a further period of seven months from this day {i.e. August 23, 1903) if he accepts the challenge within this period and fulfill its conditions as published by me, and makes an announcement to the effect in this paper, the World will soon see the end of this contest. I am about 66 years of age, while Dr. Dowie is about 55 years. Therefore compared to me he is still young. Since the matter is not o be settled by age, I do not care for this great disparity in years. The whole matter rests in the Hands of Him Who is the Lord of the Heaven and Earth, and Judge over all judges and He will decide it in favor of the true claimant. But if Dr. Dowie can not even now gather courage to appear in the contest¬†against me, let both the continents bear witness that I shall be entitled to claim the same victory as in the case of his death in my life time. If he accepts the challenge, the pretensions of Dr. Dowie will be settled though he may try hard as he can to fly away from the death, which awaits him. Yet his flight from such a contest will be nothing less than a death which awaits him and the calamity will certainly overtake him in Zion for he must face the consequences of either acceptance of the challenge or its refusal.”

Dr. Dowie’s High Profile:

  • Owned 6600 Acres of land, 11 square miles
  • Bank of Zion
  • Lace Factory of Zion
  • Zion Schools
  • Factories and manufacturing plants
  • Railway lines
  • Grocery Stores
  • Produce Markets
  • Central Zion Tabernacle
  • Zion Publishing House
  • 4 publications
  • Leaves of Healing printed in 4 languages and distributed all over the world
  • Branches in Australia, Germany, France and Switzerland
  • Over 3000 Personal Guards
  • Thousands of employees
  • His personal Christmas gift no less than One Million dollars
  • Net-worth estimated to be in excess of 20 Million dollars

Dowie’s Trip to New York in 1903:

  • 3000 soldiers traveled from Zion to New York all paid
  • 8 Trains carried thousands of his followers
  • Madison Square Garden was rented for a month
  • New York Times published this headline: ” Invasion of New York by Dowie’s army, Chicago Tribune expressed an expectation of 100,000 converts
  • 30,000 people were packed at Madison Square Garden to hear Dr. Dowie.
  • Preparations for this moment took 10 months planning and $ 300,000
  • All New York publications covered his trip.
  • Decline of Dr. Dowie began in New York

ZERO HOUR started on Oct. 18, 1903 New York Times Headlines:
” Hostile Audience Howls at Dowie”
“Elijah Overawed by Angry Multitude”
“Throngs turn from Enraged Elijah III”
“New York – The Waterloo of the Elijah”
” Massive Gatherings deserts Elijah”
“Elijah Ill’s Hosts in Tents of Ungodly Many Complaints made”
“Dowie and his Host Mass in the Garden” “Dowie leaves the City and may not Return”

Dowie’s Low Profile:

  • A Sudden Fall
  • On December 19th 1905, he became paralyzed and it incapacitated him from all work
  • Embezzled $ 2,529,766 from Zion
  • $ 35,000 were found to be given as gifts to pretty women of Zion
  • His daughter died by an alcohol lamp and he could not heal
  • His wife and son deserted him and were not even present with him at his death.

His teaching of Clean Living His practice of lustful life style:
1. Was found to have a cellar of fine wines that he drank. For public view it was a week tea.
2. He planned seven ” vestal virgins” who used to¬†entertain him.
3. He was visited by his personal Physician while he preached against the use of medicines and doctors all his life.
Hazrat Ahmad’s Victory of the prayer Duel highlighted by the Newspapers in bold and unequivocal terms

The Dunnville Gazette, Friday, June 7, 1907
“Ahmad and his adherents may be pardoned for taking some credit for the accuracy with which the prophecy was fulfilled a few months ago.”

The Truth Seeker, Sunday, June 15,1907
“The Qadian man predicted that if Dowie accepted the challenge, he would leave the world before is eyes with great sorrow and torment. If Dowie declined, the Mirza said, the end would only be deferred; death awaited him just the same and calamity would soon overtake Zion. That was the grand prophecy: ‘Zion would fall and Dowie would die before Ahmad’ It appeared to be a risky step for the Promised Messiah to defy the Restored Elijah to an endurance test, because the challenger was by fifteen years the older man of the two, and probabilities, in a land of plagues and fanatics, were against him as a survivor; but he WON OUT.”

The Sunday Herald, Boston, June 23,1907
“Dowie died a miserable death with Zion City torn and frayed by dissensions”

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