Duty and Steadfastness

44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Many non-Muslims are familiar with the caricatured face and name of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but”. . . there are two other voices in the world of Allah.” In his passage through the Islamic community of East Africa, Duncan had the good fortune to encounter and become a friend of Maulana Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad, the director of all Ahmadiyya missions in East Africa for over twenty-seven years. They spent many hours engaged in wide-ranging and probing dialogue on the theme of universal Islam in the twentieth century. They maintain a cordial relationship today. Maulana Ahmad was subsequently appointed as Ameer and Missionary in charge of the Ahmadiyya Communities in the United Kingdom and, later, in the United States, where he presently resides with his family. His modest office in Nairobi housed only a desk and books and pamphlets, in its location behind the Ahmadi mosque. He accomplished the prodigious feat of translating the Holy Quran into Swahili (said to be the 10th language in usage in the world) while he was in charge of East African headquarters of the Movement. He began this exemplary task in 1936 and completed it in 1953 — over 1100 pages, “the greatest job of translation ever attempted in East Africa, perhaps in all of Africa, regarding a single volume work.” The original Arabic is preserved in this translation, in all of its pristine purity. The first Ahmadi missionary entered East Africa in 1934. Ten years later he was joined by a partner; today they number thirteen Pakistani and twelve African missionaries. They are scattered all over that part of Africa and earn small salaries, being supported by subscription funds donated by local members. These funds also provide for the publication of Ahmadi literature in English, Arabic, Swahili, Luo and Luganga. As Maulana Ahmad says, “We are a very poor community. . .but we have zeal. . . we devote our lives to our assigned tasks . . . we go willingly.” How do the missionaries go about accomplishing conversions to Islam in East Africa? Much instruction is given in the religion of Islam and the applicant must meet the requirements: circumcision; proper cleansing of hands and feet; successful completion of lessons and question-answer sessions based on the Holy Quran and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.); understanding of the conditions of the Bai’at as taught by Ahmadies; signing of the conversion papers which are sent to be recorded at international headquarters at Rabwah, Pakistan; changing to a Muslim name; learning Prayers; and passing through the final ceremony of initiation which consists of proper cleansing (wudhu), and followed by more instructions. Only the Ahmadiyya Movement is actively spreading Islam in East Africa. Sunni and Shi’ite sects resent and oppose Ahmadi teachings as not based on the Holy Quran and are thus un-Islamic. Maulana Ahmad responds that it is the Ahmadi understanding of Islam which keeps Islam alive in these times of chaotic change in social, political and economic institutions. Duncan describes Maulana Ahmad as “a quiet, intelligent, soft-spoken man who has thought about what he wants to say . . . a far cry from those wild-eyed Muslim fanatics who are out to convert or confront the world.” Maulana Ahmad carefully explained that it is his responsibility to “lay the foundation of understanding of Islam so that others, non-Muslims, will turn to the only universal faith for all men, regardless of colour, country, place in life or community” of origin.