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In the early 1860’s, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote Sir Syed Ahmad Khan a few letters


I have written extensively about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his “theft” of the ideas of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of Aligarh.  Whether Esa (As) was alive or dead was a “dead” issue in Islamic thought for over 1000 years, then Sir Syed Ahmad Khan wrote his commentary of the Quran in 1880, and had already been writing publicly that Esa (as) was dead in the 1870’s.  In this entry, I am adding some new information to this story.  Afzal Upal has revealed in his book on Ahmadiyya that MGA was actually writing letters to Sir Syed back in the early 1860’s, when he was employed in Sialkot (see page 112).

The reference
“””Since Mirza Sahib liked to debate Christian clerics, Murad Beg who used the nom de guerre
of Mirza Shikasta (and later on Muwahid) and was a resident of Jallandhar, told him, “Syed
Ahmad Khan has written an exegesis of Torah and Injil. If you write to him it may be helpful.”
Thus Mirza Sahib wrote a letter to Sir Syed in Arabic”””. (Shahid, 1958: 97).  See Shahid, Dost Muhammad (1958). Tareekh-e-Ahmadiyyat. Rabwah: Idarat-ul-Musanifeen.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan argued from the Quran that Esa (As) was dead (1882)

See the scan-work

Sir Syed was the first Muslim in India to ever say that all hadith on the Mahdi were weak…MGA copied

Like I have written before, MGA and his team copied from Sir Syed on almost every single topic, except Jesus in India, that was tooo ridiculous for any human to conjure up.  In this specific case, I have a scan from the writings of Sir Syed, pre–1891, wherein he says that all hadith on the Mahdi are weak and unreliable.

The scan from tahdheeb al ikhlaaq, vol -7, August 1877

Sir Syed’s view on Esa (as)–1882

Obviously, MGA took all of his theories on religion from other people.  Sir Syed began publishing his commentary of the Quran in 1880, however, the section which concerns Esa (as) was published (see Nuzhat Haneef) in 1882, MGA almost immediately began calling himself as “like-esa”.  It’s important to note that it was Noorudin who urged MGA to do so. Later on, MGA also copied Sir Syed’s swoon theory and passed it off as his own (see Jesus in India, 1908).  MGA also attracted lots of people who were already following Sir Syed’s new ideas on Islam, Like Maulvi Abdul Karim and others.

The Quotes
i. “Now we must turn to the Holy Quran to see what it says. The Quran makes mention of Jesus’ death in four places … Firstly in Sura Aal Imran, secondly in Sura Ma’ida, … thirdly in Sura Maryam … fourthly in Sura Nisa’. Jesus was not killed by the Jews, either by stoning or by crucifixion, but he died his natural death, and God raised him in rank and status … From the first three verses it is clear that Jesus died a natural death. However, as the Ulama of Islam had followed the Christians, in accepting that Jesus had gone up to heaven alive, before looking at the Quran, so they have tried to interpret some of the words in these verses to accord with their unsound belief.”

(Tafsir Ahmadi by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, vol. ii, p.48)

ii. Referring to the expression ‘in this’ (Arabic: bi-hi) in the verse: ‘And there is none of the People of the Book but will believe in this before his death’ (4:159), which is generally taken to mean in him (i.e. in Jesus) Sir Syed writes:

“This points to the words ‘And their saying: we have killed the Messiah’ [4:157], and to their saying, and not to the Messiah. So this means: ‘All the People of the Book, before their death, will believe that Jesus was killed’. After this it is said: ‘And on the day of Judgment he, i.e. Jesus, will be a witness against them’. The word ‘ala [‘against’] is used to indicate loss or harm. So the meaning is that on the day of Judgment Jesus will be a witness against their belief.”

(Maktub Sir Syed, No. 2, p. 48)

iii. “Jesus spent his early life migrating from one place to another. His later life was not very long, for he was 33 years of age when he died, and at that time there were only 70 people who believed in him.”

(The Ali Garh Magazine, Intikhab No. 1971, p. 48)

See the lahori website.  I copy and pasted from there. 

Noorudin and Abdul Karim were influenced by Sir Syed

As we all know, Noorudin, Maulvi Abdul Karim and MGA were all influenced by the writings of Sir Syed.  Sir Syed denied all miracles in Islam by 1880, he denied the Islamic creation theory, the return of Esa (as), the arrival of the Mahdi, the physicality of the Mir’aj, all the hadith work, etc etc etc.  Obviously, Noorudin and Abdul Karim knew each other in 1880 and in the below I present data which proves this fact.

The Quote
“””Humble servant (yaqoob Ali) narrates that Hazrat Moulvi Nurdin Khalifa Awal- in the beginning also was influenced by the thoughts and ways of Sir Syed. But in the company, and training of Hazrat Sahib (MGA) -slowly the impression of sir syed washed away. Moulvi Abdul Karim also in the beginning were fond of Sir Syed.”””

Nuzhat Haneef
She wrote about this topic in her book.  Feel free to review that.

Other Data
Lahori-Ahmadis confirmed that Abdul Karim was influenced by Sir Syed (See the HOPE bulletin, Feb 2008).

Afzal Upal references
He mentions that MGA defended the Orthodox views on the return of Esa (as), as opposed to Sir Syed (M. A. Upal, Towards a computational science of culture, in Proceedings of the27th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, page 2568, Lawrence Earlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 2005).    

The Ahmadi-cleric, Maulvi Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah was an opium addict!!!–Numani, Sirajulhaq (1915). Tazkiratul Mahdi. Qadian, India: Zia-ul-Islam Press


My team recently found a rare book written by Ahmadis, and about Ahmadis and from the earliest period in Ahmadiyya.  Its called Tazkiratul Mahdi, it was written by Sahibzada Sirajul Haq, and very early on in this history of Ahmadiyya, in fact, Upal recently quoted it.  Numani, Sirajulhaq (1915). Tazkiratul Mahdi. Qadian, India: Zia-ul-Islam Press. See Upal’s bibliography, page 128 of the book.

Summary of the quote
Molvi Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah was a opium Addict. Pir Sirajul Haq Numani writes in his book Tazkiratul Mahdi page 7 part 1 that Molvi Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah used opium in great quantity. But he left it at the time of Baiat with MGAQ.

When did Sarwar Shah join Ahmadiyya? 
He wasn’t on the list of 313 Ahmadis in 1896.  He seems to have joined some time between 1899–1904.  He was a Deobandi-type-of Muslim before then.  Later on, he became an official ghost writer and companion of MGA, and then a teacher of Mahmud Ahmad, who eventually became the Khalifa in 1914.

Sarwar Shah hated the Lahori-Ahmadis
Sarwar Shah must have been told to write fake stories about the enemies of the Qadianis.


Hadrat Khalifatul Masih IIra related the following dream of the Promised Messiahas in his speech:

There was a throne laid out on the top of the small mosque and I was sitting on it and with me was Maulavi Nur-ud- Din. One person (whose name need not be disclosed)1271 began to attack us wildly. I said to someone: ‘Catch hold of him and expel him from the mosque.’ He pushed him down the stairs and he went away running. Bear in mind that the interpretation of a mosque is the community.

[Barakat-e-Khilafat, Speech of Hadrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, p. 31]

1271—-Note by Hadrat Maulana Jalal-ud-Din Shamsra: In his book Kashful-Ikhtilaf, Hadrat Maulavi Sayyed Sarwar Shahra (published February 1920, page 12) records this dream and adds that the man was Khwajah Kamal-ud-Din. When he was proposing a pact with the newspaper Watan, the Promised Messiahas said that he had seen dreams of warnings about him.

The scans

Mirza Nasir Ahmad’s first marriage—1934

This entry is about the first wife of Mirza Nasir Ahmad.  Which he married in 1934.


Mirza Mahmood second khalifa of Qadiyani jamaat married his son Mirza Nasir, who eventually became the third khalifa, to Syeda Mansoora Begum daughter of Mubarika Begum and Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan of Malir kotla. Nikah was held in July 1934 and Barat proceeded to Malir Kotla on 4 August and returned with bride on 6 August 1934 to Qadiyan. Mirza Mehmood sent his son Mirza Nasir to England for higher studies next month. Mirza Nasir returned to Qadiyan in November 1938. Mansoora Begum died in December 1981. Mirza Nasir remarried to 24 year old Syeda Tahira Siddiqa in April 1982 at an age of 73 years.

Syeda Tahira Siddiqa Nasir the second wife of Mirza Nasir in her Book KHALIFATUL MASIH SALIS writes:-

“””After one month of marriage Mirza Mehmood sent his son Mirza Nasir to England for higher studies. During this period newly wed Mansoora Begum has faced the situation with great patience and courage. She did not mention of her pain to anyone else.
Once she did not receive money from Mirza Mahmood for his daily expenditures. She wanted to send a letter to her husband in England but had no money to pay postal charges. She was so self honoured a lady that she did not ask for the money even from her parents. So she took one of relative into confidence and sold the real silver or gold embroidery (suchha Gota) of her Dupatta.”””

The scans

Other relevant Essays

In 1880, Khan published first volume of his tafsir–and he asserted that Esa (as) was dead…..MGA copied, via Nooruddin

I have been making this point ever since I read Nuzhat Haneef’s book on Ahmadiyya back in the mid-2000’s.  I have made countless blog entries, read those:

The Quote
“””The Quran makes mention of Jesus’ death in four places… Firstly in Sura Aal Imran, secondly in Sura Ma’ida, … thirdly in Sura Maryam… fourthly in Sura Nisa’. Jesus was not killed by the Jews, either by stoning or by crucifixion, but he died his natural death, and God raised him in rank and status… From the first three verses it is clear that Jesus died a natural death.” (Khan, 1880: 48).
(also See Upal, “Moderate Fundamentalist”(2018),
(, page 82.

“Fate of a False Prophet” by Syed Hasanat Ahmad in The Review of Religions, August 1984

I am reproducing an entire article which is from the Review of Religions of 1984.  This article was re-produced on the official Qadiani-Ahmadi website  It can be found here, (retrieved on 10-5-17),

**However, it should be noted that Shaikh Mubarak Ahmad wrote the section about Piggot, its in his foreword to the article.  

The article

Fate of a False Prophet

Syed Hasanat Ahmad
The Review of Religions, August 1984
Sent by Brother Hasan Hakeem (USA)

Some of the American newspapers were liberal and fair in the treatment of this “News-story.” The Boston Herald carried a detailed and documented feature on Dowie in its issue of June 23, 1907. It devoted a full page to the Prophecy of Ahmad along with a large size portrait of him. The feature was headed with two banners. They ran:

“Great is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Messiah Foretold Pathetic end of Dowie.”

The Boston Herald then recalled some of the observations of Alexander Dowie, which he made in great contempt about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The paper also repeated the haughty assertion of Dowie in reply to Ahmad’s challenge: In India, there is a foolish Messiah… If I put my foot on them, I would crush out their lives.

The paper also quoted another direct reference made by Dowie in this journal, the Leave of Healing (December 12, 1903). If I am God’s Prophet, there is none on God’s earth. At another place Boston Herald quoted him as saying in his journal (Feb. 14, 1904), “I pray to God for the day to come when the Crescent shall disappear and may God destroy it.” The Boston Herald was not the only paper which carried a feature on the great “prayer-duel.” Even in the lifetime of Dowie, American newspapers like the New York Commercial Advertiser (October 26, 1903) immediately after the New York fiasco, published the following challenge of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at great length which an Indian newspaper had not the courage to publish. The story in the New York Commercial Advertiser ran thus:

“Dowie Challenged”

“Far far away-India, comes a printed circular from Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who writes from Qadian in the Punjab. He has issued a challenge to Elijah III (Dowie) to make his prediction, but so far Zion City’s own and special Messiah has failed to reply. In support of his claim, the Indian Messiah declares that when the Lord saw how badly things were being managed on earth, He raised him in the land of Punjab for His works are wonderful.”

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was further quoted as saying:

“I am the true Messiah who was to come in the last ages. This has Almighty spoken to me. I do not claim to be the Promised Messiah by my own assertion, but Almighty God, who made the earth and heaven, has borne witness to the truth of my claim. The evidence of God has passed His grace on me in far greater abundance than upon the Messiah who has gone before me. In the looking glass of my person, the face of God is revealed to a far greater extent than in that of Jesus’ person. If these simply are my own words and there is no authority for them, then I am a liar; but Almighty God bears witness to my truth. No one can give lie to me. Thousands of times, I should say, times without number, has He borne witness to the truth of my claim. A sign of evidence of God in my favor will appear in the death of Mr. Piggot — the arrogant pretender to divinity, who shall be brought to destruction within my life time. Another sign will appear on Dr. Dowie’s acceptance of my challenge. If the pretender of Elijahship shows his willingness by any direct or indirect means to enter the lists against me, he shall leave the world before my eyes with great sorrow and torment. These two signs are for Europe and America.”

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad emerged victorious in this historic prayer duel. It was left to an American newspaper to acknowledge this historic event. The Truth Seeker, another leading American Journal, referred to the clear victory of Ahmad in its issue of June 15, 1907. In an editorial captioned The War of the Prophets, it said:

“Dowie called Muhammad (Holy Prophet) as king of impostors. He not only prophesied that Islam will meet its destruction at the hands of Zion, but he used to pray daily that the crescent is wiped out from the surface of the earth. When the news of the prophecy reached the Indian Messiah, then he challenged the Elijah and invited him to join him in a prayer-duel that whosoever is the liar should die in the lifetime of the true Messiah.

Qadiani Messiah prophesied that if Dowie accepted the challenge, he would die in his (Ahmad’s) life time with great disgrace and adversity. And even if he did not accept his challenge, even then his end is drawing close and death will overtake him. His Zion City will meet a great fall. This indeed was a great prophecy that Zion will fall on bad days and Dowie will die in his lifetime. This was dangerous assertion on the part of the Promised Messiah that he should challenge the Elijah the second in the contest of a long age, especially when the challenger himself is about fifteen years older than Dowie and had many diseases.


The Fate of a False Prophet unfolds a classical tale where truth was successful against falsehood with all its false promises and false claims. The prayer-duel between Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (who fulfilled the predictions regarding the Second Advent of Jesus) and Dr. Dowie, was not a casual contest between two unknown claimants. It was a great media event in the USA from 1902 to 1907. The tragic death of Dr. Dowie from acute paralysis in 1907, proved beyond doubt that Divine Hand had intervened in favor of Islam and it was but a fit ending for the erroneous Christian doctrine of the God-head of Jesus.
It was a great sign for the Americans who witnessed this miracle with awe and reverence. It is, therefore, only fit and proper that God-fearing and righteous among the people of this country, take heed and listen to the call of Ahmad, the Promised Messiah; so that the blessings of the Al-Mighty should be with them forever.

Washington DC Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad Feb. 18, 1985

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful
We praise Him and invoke His blessings on His Noble Prophet


By Syed Hasanat Ahmad

On June 2, 1901, in the newly founded city of Zion, north of Chicago, John Alexander Dowie declared himself to be Elijah, the Prophet. This assertion by Dowie represented the culmination of a movement launched in the United States. This movement captured the fancy of the Americans and prestigious papers like the Century and Independent New York published articles and features on this emerging figure.
The deep impression Alexander Dowie created on the American mind can be judged from the following, written by Mr. Napes, in the Independent New York of August 1, 1901:

“When I left Church, my heart was full of respect for this prophet and his followers, for these people with dedication and sincerity are trying to follow the teachings of the Holy Book.”

Dowie claimed the divine power of healing and his fame spread so fast that it caught the imagination of many credulous and wealthy Americans. The progress was so tremendous that soon his Apostolic Church had its own bank, its own printing plant and thousands of people were flocking to this movement.

Elated with this unprecedented success, fond of drama and pageantry, Alexander Dowie fixed the midnight of December 31, 1899, the turn of a new century, as the Zero hour for the formal launching of a new Jerusalem of his movement-the Zion city, to be located along the banks of the beautiful Lake Michigan.

Before a galaxy of thousands of joyous Americans, at the Altar of a leading church of Chicago, hung a rich velvet curtain 25 feet high and 25 feet wide, hiding from the eyes of the eager spectators the much-awaited “object”.

As the clock struck twelve, ushering a new year and a new century, Alexander Dowie, dressed in rich crimson gown, drew the curtain. And lo! A blueprint of the Promised land was unfolded. This blueprint was a piece of land eleven square miles, along the bank of Lake Michigan. People were weeping with joy-a new Jerusalem being born before their eyes.

The Night drama having ended, soon an unprecedented rush started for securing a piece of land in this holy city. So tremendous was the demand for a piece of land that lots had to be drawn to avoid bickering among the followers.

Leaves of Healings, the official organ of the movement began rolling out of a new printing plant and started carrying out colorful details at every stage of its construction.

On July 15, 1901 — exactly fifteen months after the night drama — the gates of this holy city were formally opened. Nine months later, on March 31, 1902, Zion became a legal entity. Alexander Dowie was the Genghis Khan of this city. His word was the law. Banks, stores, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, industrial areas, factories and Mills, all that was in the town, belonged to Dowie-the Elijah.

Munsey’s magazine, September 6, 1902, published an article by Grover Townshend, saying:

“Alexander Dowie ranks with the outstanding personalities who founded a new city capable of housing a million people. A city, which its founder proposes to convert into a spiritual headquarters of the whole world.”

John Alexander Dowie had come to the USA in June 1888 and founded the Christian Catholic Church in 1896, which came to be known later as the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church.

The Elijah of the modern times enjoyed the most robust health, claiming that being a messenger of God, no disease could touch him. He arrogated to himself the much attributed power of Jesus Christ and claimed that he could heal all kinds of diseases.

Jesus Christ wandered from settlement to settlement to announce that the kingdom of Heaven was at hand, but this “successor” travelled by the most expensive mode of travel, occupying the most luxurious and expensive hotel rooms. A well paid army of evangelists worked for him all over the United States proclaiming to the people: “the advent of Elijah, blessed are those who join him and his band of followers as early as possible.”

The success of the movement became established so early that Dowie was now planning to raise up many cities like Zion.

In 1902, one of the issues of Leaves of Healings 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.”

Dowie was at the peak of his career. His voice was obeyed like an oracle. An army of followers was around him. His sway over the masses was growing so much that a leading U.S. daily, the New York commercial Advertiser in its issue of October 1903 acknowledged this fact.

A Challenge to Dowie

From the far distant land of India, and from a little known and inaccessible town of Qadian, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad took note of his tall talk. He addressed a polite letter 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 drew his attention to accept the invitation. In the issue of December 27, 1902, of the Leaves of Healings, 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 Healings, Alexander Dowie displayed some 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 abusive language, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad still tried to reason with him. He repeated his plea and invited him to a more convincing method of deciding who is the liar. Using, in his usual way, the language of moderation, Mirza Ghulam 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 next twenty five 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.”

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was comparatively an unknown figure in the United States, yet his brave challenge to John Alexander Dowie evoked countrywide publicity and the text of his challenge was extensively published in the American newspapers, such as:

The Chicago Inter Ocean, June 28, 1903
The Telegraph, July 5, 1903
The Literary Digest, June 20, 1903
The New York Mail & Express, June 25, 1903
The Herald Rochester, June 25, 1903
The Record Boston, June 27, 1903
The Advertiser Boston, June 25, 1903
The Pilot Boston, June 27, 1903
The Pathfinder Washington, June 27, 1903
The Detroit English News, June 27, 1903
The Democratic Chronicle Rochester, June 25, 1903
The Burlington Free Press, June 27, 1903
The Albany Press, June 25, 1903
The Baltimore American, June 28, 1903
The Buffalo Times, June 25, 1903
The Groomshire Gazette, July 17, 1903
The Houston Chronicle, July 3, 1903
The Trichmond News, July 1, 1903
The Argunaut San Francisco, Dec. 1, 1903
Mirza Ghulam 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 Healings). 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 life-time. 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.”

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad spoke with a conviction and belief that cannot be the product of human ingenuity. Thus all avenues of flight for Dr. Dowie were closed. In either case, whether the challenge was accepted, refused or ignored, his doom was forecast with a conviction that could only be described as divinely inspired. 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.

Dowie, who had so far kept 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.

The Beginning of the Downfall

The times for verbal exchanges having ended, the Hand of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s God moved and moved with great majesty. For the challenge of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was not his own. The sharpness of his challenge came from a divine conviction. Within two months of the issuance of the handbill, a great heavenly sign was witnessed all over the United States. The following were the events leading up to it.
For a long time, this modern Elijah had been nursing a fond wish to storm New York as never had been done before. Having reached heights that no other American clergy had yet reached, Dr. Dowie announced with much fanfare, the holding of a Mass Rally in October 1903 at Madison Square Gardens in New York, a venue known for big international gatherings.

A team of top-notch organizers spent ten months of hard work carefully planning out details for the rally of rallies. The New York Journal (Feb. 3, 1903) reported the news under a banner: “INVASION OF NEW YORK BY DOWIE’S ARMY.”

With the backdrop of Ahmad’s prophecy, Alexander Dowie wanted to make it a memorable event in the history of American clergy. Although Zion city was 900 miles from New York, yet he considered it absolutely necessary to marshall 3000 soldiers of the movement to impress the minds of New York.

Dr. Dowie had an eye on the millions of New Yorkers who would be a source of immense revenue. Dr. Dowie knew well that if he captured the hearts of the New Yorkers, he had literally captured the entire United States. Prospects were simply unlimited. Preliminaries began weeks in advance. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on publicity.

The Zero hour struck on October 18, 1903, 57 days after Ahmad’s handbill announcing the divine verdict. From early dawn, on October 18, the Madison Square Gardens started filling. Gradually it was packed to capacity. It was literally overflowing. Thousands could not get an access and had to be content on standing outside. Three thousand Guards of Zion Restoration Host, as they were called, had lined up and over fifty different bands were in attendance. There was a stillness as the proceedings commenced. All the fifty bands located at vantage points struck Zion tunes. This was followed by a comely songstress singing religious hymns. It was Dowie’s hour.

Dowie was fortified by the conviction that his awaited moment had come. The setting had been to his heart’s content. His magic was his voice. His spell lay in his voice. His remarkable oratory, on several occasions had held great gatherings spellbound in Chicago. The greater the gathering the greater the spell and the magic of his voice. The hypnotic effect of his voice rose to heights corresponding to the size of the gathering, and this was the greatest gathering he was ever to address.

With measured and majestic gait, Alexander Dowie approached the rostrum, his followers eagerly awaiting that charm and magic for which he was so well known. But lo! that charm and magic which was his sole asset suddenly left him.

He made a false start, and then made another effort to cast his magic spell. The mammoth crowd was eager to hear him speak, but before hundreds of thousands of people of New York and among some of his closed followers, he stood there speechless. It had never happened before. People who had eagerly been awaiting to listen to Alexander Dowie now had begun to stir and then slowly started moving to leave the arena. Dowie asked the Zion Guards to close the door, but it had a reverse effect. More people left and eventually it developed into a stampede.

What did happen, nobody knew. Was it a heavenly sign? What was clear at that moment was that thousands of New Yorkers left a furious Alexander Dowie making desperate efforts to save whatever was left of this gigantic rally on which he had pinned his hopes of great victories. He fondly hoped to convert at least a hundred thousand New Yorkers to his creed.

The Chicago Examiner in an issue four days before this rally had estimated that no less than a hundred thousand New Yorkers would become his followers. Next morning (October 19, 1903) the leading daily of the time, The New York American carried the news of the rally with the banner reading: “NEW YORK-THE WATERLOO OF THE ELIJAH.” Another leading daily, the New York Times carried the news with the heading: “MASSIVE GATHERING DESERTS ELIJAH.”

Not only this, Alexander Dowie had to muster all his courage and persuasion to hold back his own followers for a few days more in New York but even they disappointed him. Despite a great deal of cajoling and coaxing, the three thousand Zion Guard, described as Zion Restoration Host, insisted on a speedy return and left for Zion.

A crestfallen Dowie escaped to Zion by rail that dropped him at Zion station unsung and unheard.

That was the first heavenly strike that Dowie received after he was challenged by Ahmad and that within two months of the challenge.

Conscious of his bold prophecy that he would be victorious over his enemies and conscious of his fast falling popularity, Dowie was now desperately looking for fresh pastures where he could rehabilitate himself as the Elijah. He decided to undertake a world tour to win converts. The tour took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, and finally to England, the land of his mother.

This world tour brought further cracks into the Catholic Church of Zion Movement. In Honolulu, he was found reveling in the company of scantily dressed alluring girls. On arrival in Australia he was refused accommodation by every hotel in Melbourne. The success which he enjoyed during his earlier sojourn in Australia before he migrated to the United States had deserted him. He left for Europe.

In desperation and bitterness, he abused and insulted the loyal editor of the Leaves of Healings. This devoted follower had accompanied him to send details of the successes he was to achieve on this world tour. He resigned and left his company.

During his visit to Germany, the American Ambassador refused to make an appointment for him with William Kaiser.

The reception in London was even worse. It was outright disgraceful and shameful. People refused to listen to him. In disgust he had to leave England in disguise.

When he returned to the United States, he faced a hostile press wanting to know the exact nature of his relationship with a “Charming Damsel” – a constant companion throughout his world tour.

Logic and reason fail to give a satisfactory answer to this sudden change in Dowie’s fortunes-except Ahmad’s public challenge of August 23, 1903.

The irony of this whole episode is that Alexander Dowie was facing charges on the very count he attacked Islam. In an issue of the Leaves of Healing (September 12, 1903) Dowie had attacked the teachings of Islam which permitted polygamy and described it as a lustful teaching. He wrote, “Islam drew Quraish tribes in the name of carnal lust so that they could live a life of self-gratification.”

What a divine punishment! The hidden hand of God was mercilessly chasing this self-styled Prophet and Elijah. The prophecy of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of August 23, 1903, was so all embracing that it offered no escape route to Alexander Dowie.

Something further happened! His followers and companions sensing the approaching end revealed that Zion was financially in a bad way. Alexander Dowie was gradually inching towards his final end.

Two years after the historic fiasco of New York, in September 1905, he made a final effort and staged another drama to catch the old spark of his great fame.

On a Sunday in September 1905, he summoned an extraordinary meeting of the Central Tabernacle, the supreme body of Zion movement. He took great pains in organizing and planning this meeting. There was a long line of Zion guards which he duly inspected before entering the Hall. He ascended the high alter, dressed in the costume of modern Elijah. All eyes were on him. There was a pin drop silence as he started his traditional oratorical performance. Newcomb, his biographer, says that on that evening he was superb and at his best. This historic sermon was followed by the Lord’s supper. After the supper, Dowie appeared in his white silken robes before his followers. Verses from the Bible were recited and then the traditional bread and wine were served among those who were present. The main function was drawing to a close. Dr. Dowie was only to make some valedictory remarks before it ended. Suddenly Dr. Dowie shook his right hand violently as if something had bitten it. He did it several times. His followers silently watched. Then lo! All of a sudden he fainted and collapsed. Paralysis had hit him. The tongue that wagged to abuse the Holy Prophet of Islam and his spiritual son, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, stopped wagging.

The Final Blow

In December the same year, another attack of paralysis struck him down and this time he was completely crippled. But along with the physical torture, mental torture followed.
His own wife and son disowned him. They revealed his misdeeds. Dr. Dowie’s son got hold of letters that the modern Elijah had written to a rich heiress of Switzerland, Miss Hofer. Startling disclosures came to light that he was involved with several women. His private rooms were found to be stocked with the choicest wines, although he denounced publicly all intoxicating liquor. He was found intoxicated on several occasions. His own followers denounced him as an impostor.

Great was his fortune, but still greater was his adversity. Great was his rise, but still greater was his fall. He asserted that disease was a sin, and claimed the power of healing and yet he was laid low by the worst of diseases. Denounced and cast out, John Alexander Dowie was leading a miserable life.

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 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad caused a great sensation. The news of the death of Dowie was extensively published in the United States. Even in India, details of his death were carried by The Pioneer Lukhnow (March 11, 1970); The Civil & Military Gazette (March 12, 1907); and The Indian Daily Telegraph (March 12, 1907).

It was not merely the death of Dr. Dowie that got publicity but also the disgrace and the shame which this modern “Elijah” faced at the hands of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Also that both the contenders invoked divine help and assistance and how tellingly the words of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad were fulfilled.

This indeed was a great prophecy that Zion will fall on bad days and Dowie will die in his lifetime. This was dangerous assertion on part of the Promised Messiah that he should challenge the Elijah the second in the contest of long age, specially when the challenger himself is about fifteen years older than Dowie and had many diseases. Circumstances were against Ahmad, but ultimately Ahmad emerged victorious.

It was an acknowledgement from a non-Muslim, non Indian paper.


Haqiquatul Wahy (The Reality of Revelation) by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Invitation to Ahmadiyyat by Mirza Bashirud Din Mahmud Ahmad.
Review of Religions, Various issues from 1903 to 1907.
Ibrat Naak Anjam (The Terrible End) by Khalil Ahmad Nasir.
Life of Ahmad by A. R. Dard.
Dowie-Anointed of the Lord by Arthur Newcomb.

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