Author: Mubasher Ahmad
Messiah 2000 Inter faith Symposium
Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin
THE PURPOSE OF MESSIAH 2000 INTERFAITH CONFERENCE
AUGUST 12, 2000
(Speech by Mubasher Ahmad, Regional Missionary, West Midwest Region)
The purpose of today’s interfaith symposium is to take a positive step in recognizing the ultimate truth that there is a God, an Almighty and Living God, Who hears the prayers of His humble servants, and Who most certainly establishes the truth of His chosen ones by fulfilling the prophecies He directs them to make.
Almost a hundred years ago, less than twenty miles away from this Chapel, the Zion City witnessed a powerful Sign of God. It was an undeniable proof of acceptance of prayers and the victory of love over hatred and intolerance. The founder of Zion City and the Christian Catholic Church, Dr. John Alexander Dowie, a man with most spectacular career as a faith healer, was constantly expressing his contempt and bitter hatred for Muslims, Islam and the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be on him) in his speeches and writings.
In 1902, he proclaimed arid published his prophecy in his paper Leaves of Healings that all Muslims 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.”
Only one voice of concern was raised in the Muslim world, that of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, peace be on him, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He was from a little known village in India, called Qadian. He urged Dr. Dowie to use reason and restraint, and to stop proclaiming the destruction of millions of Muslims living in the world.
In response to this call to put restraints on his zeal to sweep away Islam and destroy millions of Muslims, Dr. Dowie increased his expression of animosity and insulted Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him. He declared: “Do you think, I shall reply to these gnats and flies. If I put my foot on them, I would crush out their lives.”
When reasoning was of no avail, Hazrat Ahmad offered Dr. Dowie an easy way to prove the truthfulness of his claims against Muslims and Islam. Dr. Dowie should simply pray only for one man’s death and destruction, that of Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him. At the same time, Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him, was going to pray the same for Dr. Dowie. It was indeed an invitation for a prayer duel. Both were to pray that of the two of them, the one who was false, God might take him away in the lifetime of the other.
Dr. Dowie’s hate for Islam, and his arrogance had grave consequences. By a revelation from God Almighty, Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him, prophesied that a tormented death and calamity awaited Dr. Dowie in Zion even though he was much younger and healthier than Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him. But Dr. Dowie continued to seek the destruction of Islam. In the Leaves of Healing of 14 February 1903, Dr. Dowie announced: “I pray to God that Islam should soon disappear from the world. 0 God, accept this prayer of mine. 0 God, destroy Islam.”
Dr. Dowie had claimed to be the Third Manifestation of Elijah, a forerunner of Jesus Christ. Hazrat Ahmad of Qadian, peace be on him, had claimed to be the Promised Messiah (a.s.), the Second Coming of the Awaited One of all nations. Therefore, the issue of the truth of their claims was a serious matter of importance in the history of religion.
At that time, almost all the major newspapers in the United States, and some in other countries, picked up the amazing story and dramatic challenge of Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him, to Dr. Dowie. It received an extensive publicity spread over five years – from 1902 to 1907.
As the destiny would have it. Dr. Dowie died a miserable death in 1907 while Hazrat Ahmad, peace be on him, was still alive. On March 9, 1907, reporting the news of Dr. Dowie’s death, the Chicago Evening American summarized his life-story in the following words:
“Gigantic success and tragic failures punctuate his life. Here are some of the remarkable works and reversals that marked Dowie’s career:
- He built a creed; he was excommunicated. He built a city; he was expelled from it.
- He amassed a fortune of millions; he was reduced to virtual poverty.
- He elevated Voliva to great power; Voliva ruined him.
- He drew about him thousands who worshiped him; he died deserted by all save a handful of the faithful.”
Many of the news clippings of that period are on display today in an exhibition in Todd Wehr Center of Carthage College. You are all invited to visit and see for yourselves the historical evidence. But unfortunately, later on, the historians elected to remain completely silent about that extraordinary event. Many biographies and books on Dr. John Alexander Dowie and Zion City have been written and documentaries made, but the true story of Hazrat Ahmad’s, peace be on him, challenge to him is omitted for reasons unknown!
Today we will revisit that portion of the lost history of Zion City. Today, we will learn more about the fulfillment of the grand prophecy made by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, peace be on him. It is a fact that the historians chose not to narrate, but being a momentous chapter in the history of religion, America has to hear the truth.
After the passage of almost one hundred years, we hope to hear the truth both from Christian and Muslim speakers. We firmly believe that tolerance and respect for other faiths is the only road to peace in the world. If we all listen to the voice of our God-given conscience, it will always direct us to the right path, that of love for all, hatred for none.
Promotion of harmony and mutual respect among religions is the dire need of time. The Holy Quran declares in unambiguous terms that there are people among other religions who stand firmly by the truth and dispense justice. In the words of the present Head of the International Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad:
“Religious peace cannot be achieved without cultivating such broad-mindedness, magnanimous and humanely understanding attitudes towards the people of other faiths.”
We are here, therefore, not to open up the old wounds relating to Dr. John Alexander Dowie’s arrogance and intolerance, rather, we gather for a purpose sublime. We are here to start the healing process.
This Day, Christians and Muslims Have Come Together with the Hope That We All Will Gain Knowledge and Certainty That Truth Always Prevails over Bias and Prejudice.
We can live in peace and harmony without compromising what we feel is essential for our spiritual salvation. Indeed millions believe in one religion or the other, but it is only a few who are blessed with the certainty of faith strengthened by witnessing a mighty Sign of God. This day we remember a lesson that the Almighty taught us through a Mighty Sign that He showed in Zion City. The message was loud and clear: Intolerance, Xenophobia and hatred are not the paths that lead to God – the Ultimate Truth. It is love, meaningful dialogue and inclusiveness that help us to find Him.
Anyone who takes his faith seriously and loves his Creator, should on hearing about this Sign, certainly bow down, in humility and repentance before the Almighty God. The Sign should forever
banish from our hearts, minds and actions, any trace of intolerance, bigotry and fear of any other religion, for any cause. Today we hope to overcome religious prejudice, intolerance and xenophobia.
This Interfaith Symposium should renew our faith in the Living and Loving God, and instill in our hearts the faith and certainty that God does exist, and He is the Light that takes us out of darkness of ignorance and prejudice and He is always on the side of the truthful.
May God grant us the wisdom and courage to recognize and embrace the Truth, the Ultimate Truth. Ameen.