First foreign tour
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Before the partition of India in 1947, Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi had travelled from Lahore to several parts of the subcontinent in connection with the Islamic propagation work of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, in some cases for quite lengthy stays. His first tour outside the subcontinent began in 1953.
Departure from Lahore
From Lahore Ahmadiyya Urdu organ Paigham Sulh, 16 September 1953, p. 2:
Image of news item
For the information of all branches of the Jama‘at, we report that Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi will be leaving for Dutch Guiana [Suriname] on 29 September. He is going by the Pakistan Mail [railway service]. At his age, to go to a remote place, leaving the comfort of home, purely to preach the message of Truth, is a very great sacrifice. In this age, only the Ahmadiyya Movement has produced such mujahids who truly place service of religion above worldly considerations and raise the name of God and His Messenger to the ends of the earth, and present the real picture of Islam before the world. Members of the Movement are requested to come to say farewell to the Maulana on 29 September at the Pakistan Mail and to pray that Allah the Exalted make this missionary journey of the Maulana a source of blessing for Islam and the Movement, ameen.
Personal note by Website admin, Dr Zahid Aziz: Although I was under two years old at the time of the departure of the Maulana as mentioned above, I clearly remember being present at Lahore railway station and sitting in his railway compartment before his departure. My family lived in the Maulana’s house at the time, at 24 Muslim Town (now 24 Salik Street), Lahore. A crowd of people gathered on the platform to say farewell, and I remember them calling out Allahu Akbar as the train departed. I was quite sad at his departure and took possession of the key to his rooms upstairs in the house. In his absence, I would go to his rooms just to sit there, and sometimes ask the cleaner to come upstairs with me and clean his rooms.
Stay in England, 1953
On his way to Suriname, Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi stayed in England for about two months. It was reported in The Islamic Review (Woking, Surrey, England):
“Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, author of Muhammad in World Scriptures, arrived in England from Pakistan on 8th October 1953. After his short stay in the United Kingdom he will be leaving for the West Indies as a missionary. He will be staying there for about a year.”
(November 1953 issue, p. 34)
“On Sunday 8th November 1953, Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi spoke on the Prophecies about the advent of the Prophet Muhammad in Hindu scriptures.”
(December 1953 issue, p. 40)
In the reports of meetings of the Woking Muslim Mission at its London rooms, 18 Eccleston Square, Victoria, SW1, it is stated:
“On Saturday 28th November , Father Thomas Holland D.D., Vice-Rector, Catholic Missionary Society, London, gave a talk on the ‘Message of Christianity to the Modern World’. … After the talk a few questions were asked by the audience. Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi asked whether Jesus Christ ever said that he was the only Begotten Son of God. To this the speaker replied in the negative, but added that His disciples stated that it was so, and they must have heard it from their master.”
(January 1954 issue, p. 33)
A news is also published on the same page of “the marriage between Dr. Isa A. Samad (Pakistani) and Miss Zainah Buerki (Swiss Muslim) on Sunday 29th November 1953 at 3.30 p.m. at the Mosque, Woking.” It is reported in this news that Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi was one of the two witnesses.
“Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi left for the West Indies on missionary work on 22nd December 1953, by ‘S.S. Ariguani’. After his short stay in Trinidad he will be proceeding to Dutch Guiana, where Muslims of Surinam are anxiously awaiting his arrival.”
(February 1954 issue, p. 35)
From his stay in England of 1953, we possess two letters which Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi wrote to his daughter, Mrs Akhtar Aziz, in Lahore (mother of this Website admin). These are on aerogramme forms, with the letter-head of the Woking Muslim Mission printed on one side:
Sulh, 24 February 1954 (p. 2), there is a report of Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi’s visit to Trinidad. It is stated to have been received from the Secretary of the Trinidad Muslim League in a letter in English and translated into Urdu for the paper. We do not have the original English letter, and render below in English its Urdu version:
“Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi arrived here on 5th January . A grand reception to him was provided by the President, the Mufti and other office-bearers of the Trinidad Muslim League. The same evening several hundred people from different parts of Trinidad came to welcome and meet him at a gathering in Jinnah Memorial House. Al-Haj Maulvi Ameer Ali, Mufti of Trinidad, extended him a welcome on behalf of the Muslims of Trinidad, and many others also made speeches. The Mufti in his speech expressed his desire that the Maulana would stay for some days and impart the benefit of his great scholarship to the Muslims of Trinidad. In his reply, the Maulana assured them that during his stay he will do whatever he can. He stated that he has spent much time on studying prophecies of the advent of the Prophet Muhammad in various scriptures of the world, and he would speak on this subject during his stay.
He stayed in Trinidad for 19 days, during which he visited all the important centres and gave 14 lectures. Apart from the lectures, he held discussions at meetings. All his lectures were attended by large numbers of people who liked them very much.
Apart from Muslims, followers of other religions such as Hindus and Christians also admired his lectures. People came to pay their respects to him and talks on religion were also held.
Muslims of Trinidad have benefitted greatly from his visit and they are convinced that he is a great scholar of world religions.
On 23rd January a farewell function for him was arranged by the members and office-bearers of the Trinidad Muslim League, as he was departing for Dutch Guiana [Suriname]. On this occasion, the address was presented by Mr Muhammad Ibrahim, Secretary of the Muslim League, and some others also made speeches. In reply, the Maulana expressed his thanks and said that although he is thousands of miles from home yet he does not feel as if he is a stranger here.
On the evening of 23rd January the Maulana left for Dutch Guiana. Office-bearers and members of the Trinidad Muslim League, as well as many other people, were at the airport to bid him farewell. He promised to come again to Trinidad on his return.”
Later on, Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi published an interesting article about his journey by ship to Trinidad in the Lahore Urdu magazine Ruh-i Islam, of which he was an honorary editor, and a further article about his visit (see the June–July 1955 issue, p. 99–104, and the August–September 1955 issue, p. 29–34 and 81–84).
Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi again visited Trinidad in June 1957 for two weeks during his second foreign tour. Photographs from that visit, as published in Ruh-i islam, are at this link.