Abdur Rahim Nayyar was the first Ahmadi mullah sent to British West Africa. Soon after he was sent, the Khalifa at Qadian ordered Al Hajj Fadl-ul-Rahman Hakim to also go to British West Africa and help, thus, Hakim first went to Nigeria (1922). By 1923, Al Hajj Fadl-ul-Rahman Hakim was mostly working out of Ghana as the first permanent missionary to Ghana. He stayed until 1929, at which point he was called back to Qadian. He returned to Ghana in 1933. He seems to have been relieved by another Ahmadi Mullah, Maulana Nazir Ahmad Ali, technically, he spent only the year of 1936 in Ghana and moved over to Sierra Leone, wherein he was the first ever permanent Ahmadi mullah on the scene. Fadl-ul-Rahman worked as the missionary in-charge of Ghana from 1935 to 1947 (See Fisher). Fadl-ul-Rahman died in Pakistan in 1955.
For the first decade, the Ahmadiyya mission had only a single missionary at any one time, supported by a Fante interpreter. During the 1920s, Hakim conducted open-air lectures across notable locations along the southern coast. In his efforts he adopted the Quran and the Bible. Many of these discussions revolved around the death of Jesus, a perspective at odds with the non-Ahmadi Muslim and Christian populations of Ghana. Titles included “The Bible Shows Jesus did not die on the cross” and “Jesus did not die on the cross, nor is he sitting alive in the fourth heaven at the right hand of God.” Such polemics, on the one hand, were a cause of confusion for the Christian peasants in the southern regions and on the other hand created a negative relationship between Hakim and some Christians. In some cases, polemics induced intra-religious violence directed towards Ahmadis.
From the very beginning, the Ahmadiyya movement adopted Western-style education system and at the same time advocated for Islamic curriculum. In 1928, the Community requested the colonial government for permission to build a mosque and a secondary school in Kumasi. However, the government rejected the application, on the basis that there already existed a Muslim mosque and a school in the region. The following year, another letter was sent with over 400 signatures from Asante members of the Community.
By 1927, the Community numbered 3,000 across forty localities in the southern regions and the Ashanti Empire. In 1927, an increased missionary outlook was adopted, which facilitated its spread among the Fante people in the south, the Wala people in the north, and the Ashanti people in-between.
In 1929, Hakim left the colony, only to return again in 1933, for another two years. According to Samwini, the rapid expansion posed a threat to the very existence of Christianity and the Sunni order in the country. Al Hajj Fadl-ul-Rahman Hakim was on this way back to Qadian, he stopped in Nigeria.
With small number of Muslims being admitted to public schools, the Community petitioned the government, in 1931, to select Muslim members for the government’s board of education.
Al Hajj Fadl-ul-Rahman Hakim returned to Ghana.
The 4th split in the Ahmadiyya movement happened. Al Hajj Fadl-ul-Rahman Hakim was there and witnessed it.
The 5th split in the Ahmadiyya movement happened, this time, Jibril Martin became the president of the Nigerian Ahmadi’s who refused to give allegiance to the Khalifa at Qadian.
By 1946, there were up to three Indian missionaries and five West African missionaries, and four teachers in the country.
By 1948, Ahmadis were estimated to number over 22,000.
A letter was written in 1946 to the Chief Commission of Ashanti, arguing that most rights and privileges are being afforded to Christians. It was not until 1950 that the colonial government first gave permission to establish an Ahmadiyya school in the Ashanti Empire. The T.I. Ahmadiyya Senior High School in Kumasi was founded on January 50, 1950.
Al Hajj Fadl-ul-Rahman Hakim died in Pakistan.
In the 1960 census Ahmadi Muslims were estimated at 175,620.
There were 21 West African missionaries, and only four foreign ones.
Links and Related Essay’s
Stefan Reichmuth. “Education and the Growth of Religious Associations among Yoruba Muslims: The Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria”, Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 26, Fasc. 4 (Nov., 1996). p 8.
- “THE AHMADIYYA MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA”. HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL. RETRIEVED SEPTEMBER 19, 2015.
- Animashaun, Bashir (2012) Jibril Felix Martin (1888 – 1959) and the spread of Western education among Muslims in 20th century Lagos. Ilorin Journal of History and International Studies Vol 3 No 1 2012
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