Jalsa Salana/Annual Conventions

History of The Review of Religions – An Exhibition

Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael, UK

The Review of Religions magazine was launched by the Promised Messiah (as) in 1902 to spread the message of Islam to the English-speaking world. During the Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana) 2022 of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, an exhibition was hosted by the Review of Religions team to raise awareness about the history and development of the magazine in the last 120 years. During this time, The Review of Religions has become a multi-platform, multi-media and multi-language organisation promoting the peaceful message of Islam. 

In addition to the print editions, The Review of Religions has diversified its reach through social media, videos, podcasts, web site, and an extensive array of exhibitions. The Review of Religions is now published in French, German, and Spanish. During the exhibition, a timeline of the progress of the magazine was displayed showing key dates and key personnel. This was well received by the visitors.

Our audience at the exhibition was informed that The Review of Religions was an important channel to connect with the Western world and convey the message of Islam to the English-speaking world. This connection raised awareness about the advent of the Promised Messiah (as) in the Western world. Dr A. George Baker of Philadelphia followed the teachings of Islam Ahmadiyyat by reading The Review of Religions, and later accepted Ahmadiyyat. Another prominent example is of Mohammed Alexander Russel Webb, who converted to Islam through the teachings of Ahmadiyyat conveyed in The Review of Religions and correspondence with the Promised Messiah (as).

A faith-inspiring incident was related to the visitors to the exhibitions about The Review of Religions in Mauritius. In 1907, in the British colony of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, a young man, Mohammad Azim Sooltangos, was sitting in his teacher’s library perusing a copy of The Crescent, published by Abdullah Quilliam, a 19th-century British convert to Islam based in Liverpool. His attention was drawn to an advert for The Review of Religions. He brought it to the attention of his teacher, Mr Noormamode Noorooya, a Muslim born in the Comoro Islands who had settled in Mauritius. For six years, Mr Noormamode Noorooya and his student, Mr Muhammad Azim Sooltangos, studied the claims of the Promised Messiah (as) and introduced them to their friends. They then decided to send their pledge of allegiance to the First Caliph, Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin (ra). Thus, it was through this that the Ahmadiyya Jama’at of Mauritius was born. The Review of Religions played a vital role in the spread of Islam Ahmadiyyat to the Gold Coast. Mahdi Appah, the chief of the Fenti Muslims, was given a copy of The Review of Religions, through which he was able to contact Qadian and request for a missionary to be sent to the Gold Coast to help them learn about Islam Ahmadiyyat. In order to establish an Ahmadiyya Mission in the Gold Coast, the Second Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), appointed Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahim Sahib Nayyar (ra) who arrived in the Gold Coast on February 28th, 1921.

A very popular item in the exhibition was an invitation to crack a century-old code. A sequence of numbers was revealed to the Promised Messiah (as) as numbers and a mysterious symbol. This sequence remains unsolved after well over a century. This makes it seem like the solution is more likely to be scientific or mathematical rather than linguistic. Could this have something to do with a scientific or mathematical discovery that is still yet to take place? Our young and olds were invited to crack the code leading to great discussions.

There were exhibits showing the historical edition of The Review of Religions. It was astounding to see a 1902 edition of the magazine, as these words were published during the lifetime of the Promised Messiah (as) would have been seen by the Imam of our age. The exhibit also presented aspects from the two God Summits held by The Review of Religions in 2021 and 2022.

Our young visitors enjoyed a short quiz and word searches based on the exhibition. It was a highly enjoyable experience for the men and women attending the Jalsa Salana UK. Because of Covid-19, the exhibition was limited to the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. We look forward to a wider exhibition in the years to come.

About the Author: Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael MD, M Ed, FRCS (Gen Surg.), MBBS, is a consultant. She qualified in 1987 with gold medals for academic Excellence and undertook her surgical training at major teaching hospitals in London, Edinburgh and Philadelphia. She has authored many articles for major peer-reviewed scientific journals. She is a senior member of The Review of Religions Editorial Board as well as the Assistant Manager.