The Promised Messiahas had earlier written to the Queen Victoria to hold a conference the likes of which was held at the time of the third Roman Caesar in order to do away with the disputes that existed between various faiths at the time. This proposal was sent on numerous occasions to the authorities which demonstrated the intention of the founder of the movement in finding solutions to the prevalent problems of the society at the time and serves as an answer to those who wrongly attribute hostility towards other faiths on his part.

The Promised Messiahas did not receive a reply on his proposals sent to the Queen Victoria so as a last resort, he addressed the Indian Government headed by Lord Curzon by means of a leaflet on September 27th, 1899. He wrote, by way of introduction, and in reply to the various allegations of seditious motives made against him to the government by the Mullahs that he was a great well-wisher of the Government and the country. The strong language, he said, which he had used in some of his writings against Christian missionaries was in response to the Christian campaign of vilification against the Holy Founder of Islam. This was a serious provocation to Muslims and would certainly have caused disturbances throughout the country if he had not pacified the excited passions of Muslims by his reasoned, strong, and forceful writings.

Then he drew the attention of the Government to the state of unrest which existed in the world of religion. The mullahs were issuing fatwa after fatwa that he was an impostor worthy to be killed and there was a great turmoil in the hearts of the people. He claimed that he was the Promised Messiahas with whom God spoke just as He spoke with the Prophets of old. He requested the Government to take the matter in their own hands and decide it once for all. He suggested that the Government should organise a religious conference in which the leaders and the learned advocates of each and every religion of the world should be called upon to prove and demonstrate the truth of their respective faiths in two ways:

  • Each advocate should put forward the teachings of his own faith and show that they are best fitted for all the requirements of man.
  • Each advocate should demonstrate practically that his faith still possessed the spiritual power with which it was characterised originally. He should show such signs or make such prophecies (to be fulfilled within a period of 12 months) as would prove beyond the shadow of doubt that the signs were beyond the power of man. Further details of the conference should be settled by calling a preliminary meeting. The Promised Messiahas offered himself as one of the candidates who would prove that he was sent by God and said that he was prepared to be put to death if he failed to do so or, even if the advocate of any other faith succeeded in showing signs similar to those which he could show.

There is no doubt that a world conference held for this purpose under the auspices of the Government would have certainly settled the question of religion once for all. The Pioneer (Allahabad) dated October 29th, 1899, and the Madras Standard, dated November 2nd, 1899, approved of this suggestion, which was published in the pages of the Pioneer. These papers also suggested that the Metropolitan of India should champion the Christian faith. But no body offered to take up the challenge. If the Government had adopted the suggestion there is no doubt that religious disputes, which are at the bottom of the whole trouble in India, would have come to an end and peace and harmony would have reigned throughout the country.

The publication of the proposal was not restricted to India, but we find more than fifty newspapers from America, Canada to the UK that published this proposal of the Promised Messiahas. The Saturday Review London 2 December 1899 reviewing the proposal wrote:

“Even in these days of open competition no more startling proposal has ever been made than that gravely preferred to the Indian Government by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Kadian – a well – known Mohammedan re former.  He proposes to submit the truth of all rival religions to a competitive examination under official control.  Government is to call a public conference at which representatives of all religions are to give proof, each of his own creed, in two forms.  (1) A demonstration of the sublimity of its moral teachings (2) an outward and visible sign of its divine support by the performance within one year of some miracle transcending all human limits.  Precautions are to be taken to prevent imposture and the British Government is to pronounce the award.  The Mirza, who claims divine inspiration, makes the challenge in complete sincerity and with such confidence in his cause that he offers to submit to crucifixion if he fails.”[1]

conf 1
The Saturday Review, 2 Dec 1899

Below are few screenshots of such newspapers that published the proposal of the Promised Messiahas.

Conf 2

Hazrat Maulana Abdul Raheem Dardra writes:

“The present is; however, a most sceptical world and some people go to the extreme of asserting that writings in which miracles figure are not ‘historical in the modern and scientific sense of the word’. The Promised Messiahas appeared in such an age and he invited, openly and repeatedly, men of all descriptions to test the truth of his mission through heavenly signs and miracles under the supervision and control of a scientific and modern Government like that of the British; but it is a matter of extreme regret and disappointment that the authorities concerned could not see their way to becoming official witnesses of the extraordinary result of an almost unprecedented spiritual experiment in human history. Unbelievers have really not the courage of the convictions which they profess and only prove themselves to be stumbling blocks in the way of an unthinking world But their indifference, unbelief and opposition detract nothing from the greatness of a Prophet of God. Seekers after truth, always few in numbers, flock to his fold and slowly build up a community which expands, flourishes and establishes peace, goodwill and righteousness wherever it reaches.”[2]

This was not the first time the Promised Messiahas had encouraged the authorities to hold such a conference so that the enmity that had existed between different faiths could be turned into something constructive where the members of each faith were able to demonstrate the beauty of their religion from their holy scripture without reviling another. It was for this purpose that the Promised Messiahas launched a new movement for the study of comparative religion as far back as 1895. To understand the intention and the purpose of calling for such a conference it is essential to present the words of the Promised Messiahas himself.

In an announcement published 29 December 1895 the Promised Messiahas stated:

“As the followers of almost all the religions of the world residing in British India enjoy full peace and liberty under the benign rule of the British, and as Almighty God has blessed us with all the requirements for religious research, because distances have been reduced to nothing by the facilities for travelling, it befits lovers of truth to take advantage of the existing state of things and to make honest efforts to put an end to all religious strife and difference and thereby bring all worshippers of God to one altar. Among His manifold blessings very opportune to the accomplishment of this holy object are the invention of printing, to make any number of books on the different religions of the world accessible to every seeker after truth; the construction of rail roads, to bring persons from the different corners of the country to one place within hours or, at best, days; the institution of the telegraph and post offices, to facilitate communication. Even in things of everyday use one has the better of his brethren of the past generation. He has handy steel pens and has no more to spend time in making and mending them. He has no more to be labouring in polishing paper, as the best paper is available at small prices. He has watches to regulate time and all modern discoveries in sanitation and medicine to preserve him in good health.

All these facilities seem to have been furnished by Providence for a special end. Besides the facility we enjoy for holding communication with our co-religionists living in different parts of the world, for calling together in one assembly the learned men of the East and West, and for having easy access even to those books of certain religions which were regarded as too sacred in former days for strangers’ eyes, the study of the various languages has removed, to a large extent, the insurmountable barriers in our way to universal brotherhood. Moreover, when we see the deep interest universally taken in religious movements nowadays by people of all creeds, an intense struggle and contest amongst the foremost religions of the world for supremacy and a natural bent of the minds of people to investigate religious questions, accompanied by the greatest zeal and enthusiasm, we cannot help believing that the Lord of nations proposes to turn all of them into one and His peace-spreading hand intends to reduce jarring elements into one harmonious whole. And it is not an impossibility.

 If the above-mentioned blessings of God may be properly utilised in the search of truth, if the learned men and theologians of all religions come together in one assembly, each honestly endeavouring to reveal the truth and narrating the beauties and excellences of his respective religion with an unprejudiced mind and in a brotherly spirit, and all prepared calmly to argue and listen to the arguments of one another, it is likely that the light of Truth may shine upon all and all come to a common understanding. Shall it not be a matter of pity and regret if in the face of all these God-given facilities we do not try to elevate humanity by finding out the true religion and then acting upon its commandments? Nay we shall be ungrateful to our Benefactor for all His gifts if we do nothing to reform human corruptions while we pass our life in luxury and lassitude. I appeal, therefore, to all those well-wishers of humanity, to whatever creed they may belong, who with burning souls are ever aspiring after truth, purity and philanthropy and invite them to a conference which I propose to hold at Qadian in the Gurdaspur District, Punjab (India), for religious researches.”

After mentioning rules such as ‘That the conference shall be open to the representatives of all creeds—to Jews, Christians, Aryans, Parsees, Brahmans, Jainies, Bhuddists, Sanatan Dharama Hindus—and to Atheists.’ And that the Promised Messiahas will bear the entire expense of their stay at Qadian, their food lodging and safety will also be his responsibility. He is also willing to cover the cost of one’s travel who is not able to afford it and if required he is willing to deposit that amount in any bank where they will be paid on their departure. Thirty days were proposed for this purpose, days and times being equally divided among the representatives. Each speaker to give an exposition based on the teachings of his religion in order to demonstrate the beauty and excellences of his religion rather than disdaining another. Though he can refute allegations levied against his religion. In establishing then truths and beauties of his religion the speaker shall dwell especially on the following two things:

(a) Reasons to believe in the existence of God, especially derived from the words of the sacred book in which he believes.

(b) The necessity of religion in general and of a belief in his faith in particular in order to bringing about salvation.

Moreover, Urdu language was proposed as medium for the deliberations but for ‘English-speaking gentlemen not knowing Urdu shall also be furnished by me with able translators, whose services may be utilised gratis, in rendering their English speech into Urdu provided that the former have no objection to accepting such help.’ Further each paper to be signed by the author and copies to be provided with correct address to be published later as a compendium. Five months were given by the Promised Messiahas to inform him of their acknowledgement and approval and if he did not receive any intimations by May 1896 then with great sorrow and pity the conference would be postponed.

The Promised Messiahas concluded:

“I hereby invite the attention of the learned men of each community and request them to respond to my call and try to make research and establish truth, purity and peace in the world, which in my opinion can be done only by following the precepts of one true religion. I hope the conference will be conducive to manifold blessings… I hope that those noble-minded persons whose soul is ever aspiring after virtuous study and research shall spare it with a willing heart. I appeal to their sense of humanity and philanthropy and wish to convince them that is the only source of human elevation. We are ready to waste years after years in worldly pursuits, but we neglect religion which is more important. I pray that God may inspire my fellowmen to come forward and to assist me in establishing His true glory in the world.”[3]

Selfish motives intervened and his opponents did not like to cooperate with the Promised Messiahas even in this most reasonable and useful movement in which he took the lead. The government also was not interested in such a proposal nevertheless the Promised Messiahas fulfilled his obligation[4] of calling the representative of each and every religion to come forward to remove all grievances and establish the truth in the most just and impartial manner.

[1] The Saturday Review 2 December 1899 Vol 88 P.696

[2] Life of Ahmad by Maulana Dard 696-697

[3] Majmua-e- Ishtiharat Vol 2 P.77-83 (Edition 2019), Translation: Life of Ahmad by Maulana Dard P.466-475

[4] And the messenger is not responsible but for the plain delivery of the Message’ (Quran An-Nur 24:54)

One Comment

  1. Thanks to those pure hearted souls who have put so much efforts in bringing out and putting together these historical documents which may benefit the seekers of the truth.
    May Allah reward them immensely.
    Salam and regards.
    Kalimullah Khan.
    Maryland, USA
    November 12, 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *