In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
This small booklet is a chapter taken from AHMADIYYAT: The Renaissance of Islam by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, a distinguished scholar of Islam. It briefly narrates an extremely significant encounter between Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, peace be on him, and Dr. John Alexander Dowie, the founder of Zion City, a bitter enemy of Islam who had claimed to be Elijah III, the precursor of Jesus Christ. Dr. Dowie was intolerant of Islam and abusive of Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of God be on him. He had announced that he would finish Islam and would establish his brand of Christianity--Christian Catholic Church--all over the world. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, peace be on him, challenged Dr. Dowie for a "prayer duel", and prophesied that Dr. Dowie will meet a tormented death in the life of the Promised Messiah.
VICTORY OF PRAYER OVER PREJUDICE
John Alexander Dowie was by birth a Scotsman. He was born in Edinburgh in 1847 and studied for the Church in his early years.
In 1872 he went to Australia as a cleric and acquired a certain degree of reputation for healing. In 1888 he went over to the United States of America and started the publication of ~ paper called Leaves of Healing. In 1896 he founded the Christian Catholic sect. In 1901 he started building a town in the State of Illinois which he called Zion City. He established many factories within the area of the town and became in effect the uncrowned king of Zion City. In the same year he claimed to be Elijah III.
Dowie was a bitter enemy of Islam and of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him. He gave repeated expression to his hostility towards Islam in his speeches and writings which were published in the Leaves of Healing. On one occasion he delivered himself of the following despicable verbal caricature of Islam:
I think of the falsehood of Muhammad with great contempt. If I were to accept those falsehoods I would have to believe that in this gathering and indeed in any part of God's earth there is no single woman who possesses an immortal soul. I would have to acknowledge that you women are but wild animals which can be used for an hour or a day as playthings and that you have no eternal existence, and that when those who are dominated by bestial passions have satisfied their lust with you, you would die the death of dogs. This would be your end. This is the religion of Muhammad (Leaves of Healing, Vol. VII, No.5, 26 May 1900).On another occasion he said:
I warn the Christian people of America and Europe that Islam is not dead. Islam has great strength;, though Islam and Muhammadanism must be destroyed. The ruin of Islam will not be compassed through the supine Latin church or the powerless Greek church. (Leaves of Healing, 25 August 1900, p. 7)
Being provoked by his reviling of Islam and the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, and his eagerness to destroy Islam and the Muslims, Ahmad confronted him with the following challenge in September 1902:
I am surprised at the attitude of some Christian missionaries who have studied philosophy, physics, astronomy, etc., and yet invite people to accept a weak human being as God. Recently there has appeared in the United States of America a man, apostle of Jesus, whose name is Dowie. He claims that Jesus in his capacity of God has sent him into the world to invite people to the doctrine that there is no God besides Jesus. But what kind of a God is he who could not safeguard himself against the Jews, who was betrayed by a treacherous disciple against whose mischief he proved helpless. He ran to a fig tree to eat of its fruit and did not know that it bore no fruit; when he was asked when would the Day of Judgement arrive, he confessed his ignorance of it. He became accursed, which means that his heart had become impure and had turned away from God and that he had been cast away from God and His mercy. He climbed towards heaven because the Father was very far from him, even by millions of miles, and this distance could not be overcome unless he ascended to heaven in his physical body. What a contradiction is here! On the one hand he asserts: 'The Father and I are one' ; and on the other he journeyed over millions of miles to meet Him. If the Father and Son were one why did he have to endure the fatigue of such a long journey? The Father was where he himself was, as both were one. Then on whose right hand did he sit?The challenge of the Promised Messiah was given great publicity in the American Press, in some organs of which its substance was published almost verbatim, among them the Literary Digest of 20 June 1903, the Burlington Free Press of 27 June 1903, the New York Commercial Advertiser of 26 October 1903.
The Argonaut of San Francisco, in its issue of December 1902, gave an account of the challenge under the caption, 'English versus Arabic Prayer Contest', and concluded as follows:
'In brief the Mirza has written to Dowie: You are the leader of a community. I too have several followers. The decision as to who is from God can be easily sought. Each of us should pray that whoever is false, God should take him away in the lifetime of the other. The one whose prayer is heard shall be considered from the true God.The paper commented:
'This indeed is a most reasonable and just position.'
Dowie gave no reply to Ahmad's challenge but announced in the Leaves of Healing of 14 February 1903:
'I pray to God that Islam should soon disappear from the world. O God, accept this prayer of mine. O God destroy Islam.'
On 23 August 1903 Ahmad published another statement addressed to Mr. Dowie, in the course of which he said:
I do not say merely out of my own mouth that I am the Promised Messiah. God Who has created the heavens and the earth bears witness for me. To complete His witness He has manifested and continues to manifest hundreds of signs in my support. I say truly that His grace upon me is in excess of His grace that He bestowed upon the Messiah who appeared before me. His countenance has been exhibited in my mirror more widely than it was reflected in his mirror. If I say this only out of my own mouth, I am false; but if He bears witness for me, no one can call me false. I have thousands of His testimonies in my support, which I cannot number... One testimony is that if Mr. Dowie will accept my challenge and will put himself in opposition to me expressly or impliedly, he will depart this life with great sorrow and torment during my lifetime.At last Mr. Dowie announced in the Leaves of Healing of December 1903:
In India, there is a Mohammedan Messiah who keeps on writing to me that Jesus Christ lies buried in Kashmir. People ask me why do I not send him the necessary reply? Do you think that I should answer such gnats and flies? If I were to put my foot on them I would trample them to death. The fact is that I merely give them a chance to fly away and survive.Thus the issue was squarely joined between Ahmad and Dowie. From that moment Dowie entered upon a progressive decline of all his affairs. His health began to deteriorate, his followers began to have doubts and questioned his claims, he began to encounter financial difficulties. In 1905 he suffered a severe stroke of paralysis and was directed by his physician to move to a warmer climate. He was taken to Mexico and later to Jamaica. The affairs of Zion were handed over to a nominee of his who soon turned against him. His wife and children deserted him and he was charged with diverse il1icit and immoral practices. On 9 March 1907 he died a miserable death, The prophecy of the Promised Messiah was truly and completely fulfilled. The Danville Gazette of 7, June 1907 wrote:
'Ahmad and his adherents may be pardoned for taking some credit for the accuracy with which the prophecy was fulfilled a few months ago.'
The Truth-Seeker of 15 June 1907 wrote
'The Qadian man predicted that if Dowie accepted the challenge, he would leave the world before his eyes with great sorrow and torment. If Dowie declined, the Mirza said, the end would only be deferred; death awaited him just the same and calamity would soon overtake Zion. That was the grand prophecy: Zion would fall and Dowie would die before Ahmad.The Herald of Boston, in its issue of 23 June 1907, observed:
'Dowie died a miserable death with Zion City tom and frayed by internal dissensions.'Ahmad had often confessed that the keenest distress that oppressed his mind was the deification of Jesus by the Christian Church, and that he was most anxious to discover some means by which this matter might be conclusively settled and mankind might be rid of this enormity. He missed no opportunity of expounding the truth on the basis of the Holy Quran, the Christian scriptures and human reason. While exposing the baselessness of the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus, he always took care to point out that, according to the teaching of the Holy Quran, he himself believed in Jesus as a true Prophet of God and revered him as such.
Muhammad Zafrulla Khan