Maulana Muhammad Ali (1874-1951)
A Mighty Striving: Full
Reviews of his major English works
Pakistani reviews of his Urdu work Bayan-ul-Quran
Born in 1874 in Punjab (India), Maulana Muhammad Ali achieved a
very high distinction in his academic studies and obtained degrees
in English (M.A.) and Law (Ll. B.) by the year 1899. He joined the
Ahmadiyya Movement in 1897.
As he stood on the threshold of a lucrative career in law in
1900, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya
Movement, called on him to devote his life to the service of Islam.
He forthwith abandoned his worldly plans and went and joined the
Great Reformer in Qadian. Here he learnt those gems of Islamic
truth which were uncovered in this age by Hazrat Mirza, through
which Islam was now going to attract the hearts of people all
over the world.
Hazrat Mirza appoints Maulana Muhammad
Ali to key positions
Hazrat Mirza appointed the Maulana as editor of the Review of
Religions, one of the first Islamic journals in English, which
started publication in the year 1902. Through this magazine, Maulana
Muhammad Ali presented the pristine, beautiful face of Islam to
a modern world which had only seen an ugly image of it.
In 1905, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad published his Will in which
he established the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, a body to govern
the Ahmadiyya Movement, and he appointed Maulana Muhammad Ali
as the Secretary of its executive council. Hazrat Mirza empowered
this executive council to be his successor, and stipulated in
writing that “after my death the decision of this Anjuman
in every matter shall be final and binding”.
After Hazrat Mirza’s death
After Hazrat Mirza’s death in 1908, his right-hand man Maulana Nur-ud-Din
became Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and led the Movement according
to the rules laid down by Hazrat Mirza in his Will. However, certain
elements in the Ahmadiyya Movement were seeking to turn the Movement
into an intolerant, narrow sect which would call other Muslims as
unbelievers, and were trying to establish autocratic rule in the
Movement by a family dynasty.
When Maulana Nur-ud-Din died in March 1914, these circumstances
compelled Maulana Muhammad Ali to leave Qadian, and he along with
other very senior members of the Ahmadiyya Movement, established
the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam
(Ahmadiyya Association for the Propagation of Islam) in Lahore,
to continue Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s real mission and preserve
his actual beliefs.
The two basic principles of belief which led to the foundation
of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, which this Movement has always
stressed as its key beliefs, (and which were in fact the beliefs
actually held by Hazrat Mirza) are as follows:
- A person who professes the Kalima Shahada is a Muslim,
and cannot be called a kafir by anyone.
- The Holy Prophet Muhammad was the Last of the Prophets, and
after him no prophet can appear, neither a past one like
Jesus, nor a new one.
Work as head of Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement
From the foundation of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement in 1914 till
his death in 1951, Maulana Muhammad Ali led this Movement, organised
its world-wide missionary activities, and produced a vast amount
of highly scholarly and invaluable Islamic literature in English
He did translations of the Holy Quran, with full commentary,
in both English and Urdu. His other chief English writings include:
The Religion of Islam, Muhammad The Prophet, A Manual of Hadith,
The New World Order and Living Thoughts of the Prophet
Muhammad. This is a unique collection of books, dealing with
all aspects of Islam and clearing the serious misconceptions about
its teachings held by both Muslims and outsiders. Within their
pages is a complete picture of Islam restored to its original
purity — a religion of peace, tolerance and spirituality. This
literature has spread to all parts of the world due to popular
demand, and it is now being translated into other languages. The
Maulana’s contribution and his books have been highly acclaimed
by eminent Muslims outside our Movement.
A famous British Muslim translator of the Quran into English, Marmaduke
Pickthall, writing in 1936, began his review of a book
by the Maulana with the following words:
Probably no man living
has done longer or more valuable service for the cause of
Islamic revival than Maulana Muhammad Ali of Lahore.