Ahmadiyya

The pioneer Ahmadi Muslim medical missionary to West Africa, M. Shah Nawaz Khan Meeting with the king of Lagos Oct 1960
The pioneer Ahmadi Muslim medical missionary to West Africa, M. Shah Nawaz Khan Meeting with the king of Lagos Oct. 1960. courtesy of Air Cdre (R) Rashid Ahmad Bhatti

Ahmadiyya is an Islamic group headquartered in India, founded by Mirza Ghullam Ahmad with a distinct Islamic ideology which varies considerably with orthodox teachings. Adherents believe Ahmadiyya had a mandate to divest Islam of fanatical beliefs and to return the religion to the true Islamic teachings as practised by Prophet Muhammad. In what is seen as heresy by some orthodox elements, the founder, Ahmad, is regarded as a prophet who symbolically converge several religious personages into one person.

The three major accounts of Ahmadiyya’s 1914 advent in Nigeria agrees that movement literature inspired Nigeria’s own mission, when either school teacher, Hamid came in contact with the book in 1913 or when Ali Fahm got some movement literatures on his business trip to Cairo, Egypt, which he transferred to his friends in Lagos. There is even a third version that Oguntola Odumbaku, a Christian medical doctor returned from London with publications by the movement which he shared with his educated Muslim friends. Two years after this first contact, twenty-one people have signed the movement covenant document which formally made them members. Believers congregated periodically at Bamgbose Street of Lagos for expositions on the Islamic review.

Within a decade of its founding in Nigeria the Ahmadiyya movement had started the Taalim-ul-islam Muslim school in Elegbeta, Lagos Island, thereby becoming one of the first Muslim organizations to establish a school in Nigeria. The movement’s growth was swift but her intellectual resource base was depleted especially in 1934 and again in 1974 following protracted internal crisis.

Movement tenets guide against the opposition or attack of other religious faiths, and members are expected to promote the course of Islam only through the principles of the organization motto; “Love for all, hatred for none”.