An Obscure Centenary
Ahmadiyya Muslims celebrated their 100th anniversary in the New York Times.
Readers of the New York Times were greeted yesterday with a full-page paid advertisement, notifying its readers of the 100th anniversary of the Ahmadiyya or Ahmadi Muslims’ presence in the United States: on 21 February 1921 their first missionary arrived in Philadelphia.
The Ahmadi community—possibly as high as 20 million strong worldwide today, existing in 210 countries—traces its roots to the Punjab region of northern India and Pakistan in the late nineteenth century, then under the British Raj. It was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908)—whose picture appears in the Times; he claimed to be the divinely appointed Mahdi (Guided one or Messiah), who accordingly to Islamic eschatology appears toward the end of time to bring about a reign of peace and the final triumph of Islam. The Times’ notification included several bits of his core teaching, such as: “Believe in God as One without associate and have sympathy with God’s creatures and be of good conduct and think no ill. Be such that no disorderliness or mischief should approach your heart. Utter no falsehood, invent no lies, and cause no hurt to anyone, whether by tongue or your hands. Avoid all manner of sin and restrain your passions. Try to become pure-hearted, without vice. It should be your principle to have sympathy for all human beings.”