THE INTER OCEAN, CHICAGO
Sunday, JUNE 28, 1903
Vol. XXXIL Number 96
“Will Dowie Fight this Duel?”
Who is a liar?
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, Punjab, India wants to know, and he believes he can get the truth out of John Alexander Dowie. The Hindoo has challenged the Zionite prophet to a duel to death and Dowie has turned up his nose at the Oriental prophet and refuses to say a word.
The man of Punjab is not a joker and he wants Elijah the Restorer to know it. He seeks the Zion potentate to fight to the finish and he has named prayer as the weapon.
Furthermore, Mirza, who claims to be the Promised Messiah has laid down the rules for the deadly combat, and he demands that Dowie either ? shoot or give up the gun?.
Dowie has not accepted the challenge. He has not said that he will not. His followers say he hasn?t time for any Punjabians, and that he has enough to do in preparing to swoop down upon wicked New York in October, when he intends to scrub the territory between the Bowery and the Bronx.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is jealous of the Illinois Messiah. He says some one is a liar and that he can prove it. And he intends doing it by prayer ? a duel of prayer. He wants Dowie to stand up and pray that whoever of the pair is a liar may perish instantly. Mirza has not named his seconds or the place of combat, but he wants a thousand men to back him up, and he is willing to give John Alexander an equally fair showing.
Mirza Is Not Prosperous
Mirza is a Muhammadan, and he is by no means an ordinary prophet. He is not a banker, nor a real estate agent and a builder of cities, nor a lace maker. He hasn?t been very prosperous as a Messiah. Qadian isn?t as profitable a field of religious enterprise as Chicago, and Dowie has the Ilendeo eclipsed when it comes to being a commercial Messiah. While Dowie is wearing a gorgeous purple robe and carrying a staff that reaches two feet above his bald poll, Mirza has only a castoff overcoat, a pair of white broaches, and a bamboo cane.
And in the matter of whiskers, Mirza is considerably handicapped. Dowie’s chin is decorated with a snowfall that reaches to his watch chain, while the Mohammedan boasts only a straggling black beard that hardly hides his collar button. But he sports a puffed and knotted turban that looks as religious if it does not outshine Dowie’s hairless pate.
Dowie is long on prayer; in fact, his orisons ascend almost continually, but according to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, they are not good prayers, and do not reach very high. Here is where Mirza expects to get the best of the captain of the Zion City baseball club. He says Dowie is a liar, and he is going to pray to Almighty to strike down the liar. The Zionites declare this is unfair, and that Mirza would not be fighting on the square, for he would only be praying for the demise of his rival and would not be asking the Almighty to judge between them.
Mirza, in his challenge, does not say he is willing to come to Zion City. He favors long distance prayers, and believes he can undo Dowie by the wireless method as easily as if he had him at his side.
The Muhammadan does not pose as a gleaner of shackles, but he does a large following. He tells the Chicago prophet that he has 100,000 devotees at his heels, and gives Dowie to understand he is no common exhorter. He has heard that Dowie . . . The Muhammadan and he wants to know why.
Mirza claims he was sent here for the reformation of the world exactly at the time fixed by calculations he has made on the biblical prophecies. After this he says to the chief Zionite:
“You should remember that this challenge does not proceed from an ordinary Muhammadan. I am the very Messiah, the promised one, for whom you are anxiously waiting”
This is not according to Dowie?s calculation.
Mirza then goes on in this wise:
“Between Dr. Dowie’s position and mine the difference is this, that Dowie fixes the appearance of the Messiah within the next twenty-five tears, while I give him the gold tidings that the Messiah has already appeared. I am the Messiah, and the Almighty God has shown numerous signs from earth as well as from heaven in my support. My following which already claims 100,000 souls is making rapid progress. The proof that Dr. Dowie furnishes in support of his extravagant claims is the very height of absurdity. He claims to have healed hundreds of sick men. But why did his healing power fail in the case of his own daughter, where it should have been exercised in the highest degree?”
Would not Shed Blood
The Indian claimant is harmless sort of a fellow, and he doesn’t desire to shed any blood in his duel. He believes he can settle his dispute with Dowie with no more serious consequences than the death of himself or his rival.
“Whether the God of Muhammadan or the God of Dowie is the true God may be settled without the loss of millions of lives, which Dr. Dowie?s prediction would involve.? Writes the Punjab man. “That method is that, without threatening the Muhammadan public in general with destruction, he should choose me as his opponent and pray to God 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 the prophet of God, while Dr. Dowie taken him for the Lord of the universe.
“Which of us is right is the real point at issue. If Dr. Dowie is certain of the divinity of the Son of Mary, he should publish the proposed prayer with the signatures of at least a thousand men affixed to it. Upon receiving it, I should address the same prayer to Almighty God and publish it with the signatures of the same number of witnesses.”
“If Dr. Dowie has the courage to accept this challenge, he will open a way for all other Christians to the acceptance of the truth. In making this proposal I have not taken the initiative; but the jealous God has inspired me upon Dr. Dowie?s presumptuous prediction that all Muhammadans shall perish.”
Has a Little Side Information
Before the Oriental gets through with the prophet of the North shore he tells him a few other interesting little things about the Savior that are not generally known outside of Punjab and the adjacent provinces.
“An important discovery regarding Jesus Christ has been made by the followers. Jesus did not die upon the Cross, but was taken down alive and senseless. Subsequently, the Son of Mary recovered, traveled eastward, and lived to a good old age. His tomb is situated in Khanyar Street at Srinagar, Cashmere.”
Dowie probably will not accept the Indian Messiah?s challenge for some time to come. His prayers are taken for months ahead and he is so busy getting ready for his Christianization of Gothim that he isn’t paying any particular attention to Punjabian of any caste, be they . . . in old overcoats and white broaches.
Dowie Doesn’t like Prophets
If Mirza Ghulam Ahmad takes into his head to come to this country and board the prophet in his own land office, he will find that Dowie hasn’t been waiting at any time fooling with other Messiahs. He will find instead that Dowie has been engineering town-lot booms and directing the program of the collection takers between prayers. He will find a few stores where he can buy a new coat and a decent-looking hat, if he has the money, and he will find a hotel where he may sleep if he does not neglect the Zion City cash drawer.
But Mirza will not find a warm welcome if he comes. Dowie isn?t inviting any rival prophets or Messiahs. He doesn?t want any sideshows, and, what is more, he never would listen to the Easterner’s proposition, for Mirza insists upon writing the prayer. The Zionites fear there is some sort of a hidden trick in this very proposition, and they declare they know the doctor won’t have anything to do with the plan.
At any rate, over in Punjab Dowie will be discredited if he does not enter the duel. But there are not many Hindoos in the Dowie flock, so, in the long run, it doesn’t make much difference. But the question is not one of what the followers think about it. It is, who is a liar?
Will Dowie fight it out?