THE ARGONAUT, San Francisco
Dec 1, 1902
The Argonaut has received, for review, from Mufti Mohammad Sadiq, of Qauadian, Gundaspur, India, a pamphlet by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, of the same address, who, we glean, holds the position of Chief of Quadian. The brochure is printed in English?very good English, too?and is entitled, ?An Answer to Dr. Dowie?s Prediction of a General Destruction of All Muhammadans.? This work, mixed in, on the reviewer?s desk, with commonplaces by Bangs, historical novels by Indiana school-mama?s, and dry-looking ventures in economics by pale, aspiring, young professors, strikes one as a weird and wildly strange anachronism. And that vivid impression is confirmed by perusal of its pages.
For Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, according to his own modest admission, has been raised by Almighty God in these letters day to redeem the world. “About a hundred thousand persons,” says Mirza, “have already converted by me from the ways of evil. God has shown more than one hundred and fifty heavenly signs and wonders at my hands to which publication was given before their occurrence. I am the very Messiah, the promised one.” Like a good Mussulman, our Indian friend cast reflections on the divinity of the author of Christianity. “That religion,” he says, “is one that can not make its stand for a moment against the strong current of reason.” More than this, indeed, for he devotes two pages to showing, conclusively, that the Christ did not die upon the cross; that He was resuscitated by Joseph of Arimathea; that He then “thought it advisable to bid adieu to his native land and travel eastward,” spending his remaining days peacefully in the Valley of Cashmere. And to clinch his argument, the Messianic Ahmad of Quadian presents to the reader’s astonished gaze a half-tone illustration of an imposing structure, with the legend, “The Tomb of Jesus Christ, Khan Yar Street, Srinagar, Cashmere!”
Having thus disposed of this question, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad casts over the world an omniscient eye and perceives in the West the sinister and majestic figure of a formidable adversary, a veritable anti-Christ, in the person of John Alexander Dowie, of Chicago. Also there is borne to him on the ?winds that blow from heaven? rumor of Dowie?s prophecy that Muhammadans and all other persons who do not come into Zion (located in Cook County, Ill.), are to perish utterly. To this prediction, Ahmad replies. Robbed of its verbiage, his answer is: “Why should Muhammadans perish? Why should blood of thousands be shed? I am the head of a great company; you, also, have many followers. Let the question, then, who is the divine representative on earth be decided between the two of us. Let each call on the name of his God, and let him that is answered be judged worthy.” This has a strangely familiar sound. The modern praying contest, however, differs in some respects from that ancient one between the priests of Baal and Prophet Elijah. For the invocation is not to be for fire from heaven, but (they are Ahmad’s) “that the pray of God shall be that of us two whoever is the liar may perish first” ! Surely it is a proposition, fair and most bold; and the further specifications are equally reasonable. Ahmad’s idea is that Elijah Dowie (if he assents) shall publish the prayer for Ahmad’s ill fare with the signatures of at least one thousand men affixed to it, whereupon he, Ahmad, will do likewise. This militant prophet of Islam further points out that the chances all favor his opponent, since Dowie is ten years younger than himself. The only restriction he imposes is that death shall not occur through human hands (a crafty and suspicious provision, that), but shall be the result of “a disease, stroke of lightning, or snake-bite.”
Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished that John Alexander assent to this proposition from Mirza Ghulam. Amid dry discussions of the tariff, scraps over Alaskan boundaries, difficulties with an Isthmian canal, or what not, a praying contest between the Elijah of Cook County, with his petition in English, signed by Joneses, Johnsons, Smiths, and Browns, and the Chief of Quadian, with his document in Arabic signed by Hindbads, Sindbads, and Ali Babas, will be altogether refreshing. In fact, with Doukobor crusaders rampant in Canada, with dusky Virgin Marys persistently being discovered in the Philippines, with Friar Johns making it hot for the Russian Government, with Katherine Tingleys and Mother Eddys, a Mormon renaissance in the United States Senate, and an Anglo-Arabic praying match, the winter of 1902-3 will take on a fine, glamorous, medieval aspect.
Well, it’s up to you, “Lige.”