Author: Hasan Hakeem
Almost one hundred years ago, the City of Zion, Illinois witnessed a powerful Sign of God. It was an undeniable proof of acceptance of prayer and the victory of Love over Hatred. We ask that you the reader revisit a portion of Zion?s lost history:
Dr. John Alexander Dowie, an American faith healer, had a profound hatred of Islam and its prophet, the Holy Prophet Muhammad. In fact, he was known to use the most profane language in describing the Holy Prophet of Islam — whom he
referred to as “the king of impostors.”
He not only prophesied that Islam would meet its destruction at the hands of Zion, but he used to pray daily that the followers of the religion would be purged from the face of the earth.
In 1902, one of the issues of Leaves of Healing, a Zion publication, carried a prophecy of John Alexander Dowie that all the Muhammadans living on the face of the earth would be destroyed unless they bowed before the Cross. He further prophesied:
“That nation, that people and that kingdom that will not recognize him and the Christian Catholic Church of the Zion as the forerunner of the Church of the living God, that nation and that kingdom will perish because God has said it so.”
In a remote and distant little town in India called Qadian, the news of Dowie?s abuse of the Holy Prophet of Islam reached a man, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who said he was the Promised Messiah. Upon learning of Dowie?s prayers to rid the world of Muslims, the Promised Messiah challenged Dowie and invited him to join in a prayer duel. It was to be a simple test to determine that whosoever is the liar and false prophet should die in the lifetime of the one who is true.
A challenge from Qadian, India
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian took note of Dowie?s tall talk. He addressed a polite letter to him which was published in a relatively unknown English magazine, The Review of Religions, in the issue of September 1902. Ahmad?s request was simple. He made a plain invitation saying:
“Since Dr. Dowie is the messenger of the powerful deity who was crucified by the Jews, I would entreat him to refrain from destroying the whole body of Muhammadans living on the face of the earth.
“If they do not take the son of Mary for their God, the fault is not theirs.
Where is the requisite proof of Jesus? deity and how can they be convinced of the divinity of the one whose very tomb has been discovered in this very country.
“Nay, more than this, they have in their midst the Promised Messiah whose appearance is in accordance with the Prophetic promises, at the close of the sixth and on the commencement of the seventh thousand year and with a host of heavenly signs.”
Alexander Dowie did not take notice of this polite invitation. He ignored this straightforward assertion and continued to be abusive.
His followers encouraged Dowie to accept the invitation. In the issue of December 27, 1902, of the Leaves of Healing, he replied with great contempt:
“In India, there is a foolish Messiah who writes to me often telling me that the tomb of Jesus Christ is in Kashmir and the people sometimes say to me, why do you not reply to this and that or other things. Reply! Do you think, that I shall reply to these gnats and flies. If I put my foot on them, I would
crush out their lives. I give them a chance to fly away and live.”
At another place, in the same month of December, in another issue of the Leaves of Healing, Alexander Dowie displayed his haughtiness, when he observed:
“My part is to bring out the people from the East and the West, from the North and the South and to settle them in the cities of Zion, until the time shall come, when all the Muhammadans are swept away.”
In the face of this boastful language, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad still tried to reason with Dowie. He repeated his plea and invited Dowie to a more convincing method of deciding who is the liar. Using, in his usual way, the language of
moderation, Hazrat Ahmad said:
“Whether the God of Muhammadans or the God of Dowie is the true God, may be settled without loss of millions of lives which Dr. Dowie?s prediction intended. The method is simple and plain. Without threatening the whole body of Muhammadans with destruction, he should choose me as his opponent and pray to God that of us two, whoever is the liar may perish first. I look upon the son of Mary as a weak human being, although I recognize him as a Prophet of God, while Dr. Dowie takes him as the Lord of the Universe.
“Which of us is on the right path is the real point at issue. If Dr. Dowie has the courage to accept the challenge, he will hereby open a way for all others to follow and accept the truth.
“Dowie fixes the appearance of the Promised Messiah within the next 25 years, while I give him the tidings that the Promised Messiah has already appeared. Let Dr. Dowie, like an honest gentleman, obtain permission from his Lord to accept the challenge and take his stand against me.
“I am an old man of 66 years and Dr. Dowie is eleven years younger (Dowie was 55) therefore on grounds of age he need not have any apprehension. Moreover, I am suffering from various diseases and my life does not depend on health but upon the Will of God.
“If the self made deity of Dr. Dowie has any power, he shall certainly allow him to appear against me and procure my destruction in his lifetime, and he will have in his hand a clear manifestation of his mission.”
Hazrat Ahmad waited for a reply to his challenge, but none was forthcoming.
On August 23, 1903, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad made a further public announcement:
“It should be borne in mind that Dr. Dowie has not given any reply to my challenge made in September last (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 fulfills 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 to 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 Heaven and Earth, and Judge over all the 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 lifetime. If he accepts the challenge, the pretension 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 to 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.”
The text of the handbill of August 23, 1903 was again extensively published by the newspapers of Europe and the United States, and these papers kept on commenting on it. About forty papers editorially commented on this challenge. Judging from the extent of the publicity that it gained, it could be safely said that nearly two and a half million people came to know about the proposed prayer duel.
At one point in the next few years, Dowie, who had been silent and kept himself out of this contest with Ahmad, unwittingly entered this contest, when he described Ahmad as a “Worm,” and said he could kill him with his foot.
On February 20, 1907, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad issued another handbill announcing The appearances of another heavenly sign. The Handbill said:
?God has informed me: I will reveal a fresh sign which will be a great victory. This will be a sign for the whole world. (i.e., its appearance will not be confined to India only) The sign will be at the Hand of God and everyone should wait for it. God will manifest this sign shortly. It will be an evidence of divine help. It will be in testimony of this humble being who is being abused by all. Blessed is he, who hearkens this sign.?
Within a fortnight of the publication of this handbill came the death of John Alexander Dowie in the first week of March. The death of Dowie within the lifetime of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad caused a great sensation. The news of the death of Dowie was extensively published in the United States.
It was not merely the death of Dr. Dowie that received publicity, but also the disgrace and the shame which this modern, self-proclaimed, ?Elijah? faced at the hands of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Also. It was noted that both the contenders invoked divine help and assistance and how tellingly the words of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad were fulfilled.