The Holy War – Part 2 of 2


The Great Debate Between Christians & Muslims in the Subcontinent

 Part 2 of 2

Translated from the Urdu by Shehzad Ahmad and Farhaad Ahmad



Introduction to Dr. Henry Martyn Clark

Before proceeding further, an introduction of Dr. Henry Martyn Clark is imperative. As noted earlier, Dr. Henry Martyn Clark was the chairperson of this debate. He was the one who challenged the Muslims and chose Mr. Abdullah Atham to represent Christianity. There were three apparent reasons for choosing Abdullah Atham: (1) Atham was from among the local Indians and his conversion to Christianity could have proven more helpful in converting the locals to Christianity. (2) Atham had been a Muslim before embracing Christianity; his name was ‘Aathim’, which developed into ‘Atham’ due to variations in accents. He possessed a deep knowledge of Islamic fundamentals and was also well-acquainted with Christianity. (3) He held a high post in Public Service that could be leveraged to impress the locals. The proof for these three reasons is found in the following statement by Dr. Henry Martyn Clark:

“We chose as our champion Mr. Abdullah Atham, who is amongst the earliest of living converts from Mohammedanism, with whom Mohammaden controversy is a life’s study, and who after many years of honourable service as an Extra Assistant Commissioner under Government, has now retired and is spending the evening of his days in Amritsar.”1

The introductory note about Atham in the Missionary Herald also demonstrates that Atham was considered to be the toughest opponent against Islam:

“The Christians chose as their leader one who was among the earliest living converts from Mohammedanism, and who had made the subject a life study.”2

Dr. Henry Martyn Clark was appointed as a medical doctor under the Church Mission Society in the Indian city of Amritsar. He was the adopted son of the famous Christian priest, Robert Clark. Dr. Clark was born into an Afghan family. When he was two and a half years old and an orphan, he was adopted by Robert Clark and his wife in the North West Frontier Province. For the sake of his upbringing and higher education he was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he qualified as an MD and after receiving missionary training, he was sent to India. Here, like other missionaries, Dr. Clark also sent reports regarding all his activities to the Church Mission Society. These were published along with other important reports in the Intelligencer. He also sent Robert Clark updates of his activities in India. A discovery of important documents amongst these records will be discussed later on in the article, which is significant in light of the aftermath of the debate.

 An Invitation to Show Heavenly Signs and the Subsequent Reaction

Heavenly signs identify a living religion, which are not works of magic, but rather serve to prove the power of prayer. Despite this, the Christian representative Abdullah Atham and his companions persistently desisted from an invitation to prove that their faith is a living religion. Eventually, the Christians realised that the more they continued to avoid this invitation, the more it would hint towards their defeat. Thus, on the fourth day of the debate, which was the 26th of May 1893, Abdullah Atham had the following excerpt written in his exposition of the debate:

“Sir, the answer to yesterday’s mubahila [prayer duel] is this that as Christians, we do not see the need for new miracles in support of the old teachings and neither do we see ourselves fit to do so…And nor are we claimants to this. However you [the Promised Messiah] are very proud of being a claimant as such. We do not refuse to see miracles…Therefore we bring forth three people amongst whom one is blind, one has a leg cut off and the other is mute. Cure therefore whosoever you can from among them… and therefore live up to your challenge now in the presence of all these Christian and Muslim fellows.”3

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) counter-challenged the Christians to show miracles as mentioned in the Holy Bible
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) counter-challenged the Christians to show miracles as mentioned in the Holy Bible

Upon hearing this, the Christians were overjoyed as they were sure that Hazrat Ahmadas would now be silenced. However, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the awaited Promised Messiahas mentioned in religious scriptures, was given the Divine Promise that he would be bestowed success in every field. The promise of Divine help for the Promised Messiahas was a promise made by God Almighty Himself. Hazrat Ahmadas responded in the following words:

“In your religion there are signs mentioned by Jesusas of such people who have attained salvation, that is, the true believers. Can those signs be witnessed in you? For example, Mark 16:17-18 states:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’

“Therefore, I now make a polite request, and pardon me if my words seem harsh; cure these three incapacitated people that you have brought forward by laying your hands on them and bring forth the experience of the signs prophesied to true believers. Therefore, excuse me if I am being impolite, but if you are claiming to be the true believers, then three sick people are here before you whom you yourselves have brought – lay your hands on them. If they are cured, we will surely accept that you are true believers and have attained salvation. There is no other way we shall accept this, for Jesusas claimed that if any of you were to have even an iota of belief in him, and you were to tell a mountain to move, it would do so. However, I am not requesting for mountains to be moved because they are quite far from where we are. Thus, it is indeed helpful that you have brought here these three sick people, so lay your hands upon them and cure them, or you shall not be able to claim that you possess even an iota’s worth of belief.”

The Promised Messiahas thus stated:

“Let it be clear that this challenge cannot apply to us because Allah the Almighty has not made it a sign of ours in the Qur’an, that it is a specific sign of yours that you shall put your hands on the sick and they shall be cured. Yes, He does say that He shall according to His Will, accept your prayers, and at least if your prayers are not worthy of acceptance and go against God’s policies, then you shall be informed about it. He does not say anywhere that you shall be given the power to miraculously do whatever you wish…”4

This is but one example of how convincingly the Promised Messiahas overcame the Christians using their own Biblical scriptures. Using the Bible, the Promised Messiahas went on to falsify their belief in the divinity of Jesusas.5 The following is just one example of how even his opponents were compelled to pay tribute to the Promised Messiahas.

The Promised Messiahas put forth this reference from the New Testament to refute the divinity of Jesusas:

The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ (Psalms: 82:6) If he called them gods to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be broken – do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming’, because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’’6

Dr. Henry Martyn Clark, hailed as the champion of the Christians, responded to the aforesaid verses in the following manner:

“Of course we had, ‘Why callest thou me good?’ adduced against the Divinity of our Lord, but the argument on which the Mirza rested this portion of his case was John X:35. This is a novel argument in my experience of Mohammedans.” [Emphasis added]7

Thus was the acknowledgment of the renowned Christian priest who made the challenge to debate in the first place.

Victory or Defeat in the Debate?

The debate concluded in the same manner most public debates ended – both parties claimed to have achieved victory. For this reason, the Promised Messiahas chose to desist from further debates. However, there was an extraordinary power in this debate. When the doctrines of Christianity were disproven with clear proofs and arguments and yet the Christians did not accept defeat, the Promised Messiahas with the permission of God, made an announcement:

“What opened unto me tonight is that when I prayed to Almighty God with much humility and passion that ‘O Allah decide this matter between us and we are humble people and we cannot do anything without Your decision,’ He gave me the sign as a glad tiding that the party out of the two groups who is intentionally lying and is rejecting the True God and is making a humble man into god, shall be thrown in to the Hawiya in fifteen months time. He shall face great disgrace (the term fifteen months is according to the number of days of the debate, each day equalling a month). This is subject to him not reverting to the truth. And for the one who is upon the truth and is following the True God, this sign shall manifest his honour. And when this prophecy is fulfilled, some blind people shall begin to see and some lame people shall begin to walk and some deaf people shall begin to hear…”8

As it happened, Abdullah Atham did not die in the foretold time period of the aforementioned proclamation. This has become one of the major allegations against the truth of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas by opponents of the Ahmadiyya Community. However, like all other allegations, this is also the consequence of hasty judgments without proper research, misunderstandings, prejudices or simply bad intentions. It is quite sad that hours upon hours can be exhausted on solving equations to understand concepts in mathematics, physics and chemistry, yet when it comes to religious matters, often people are not willing to progress beyond the equivalent of “two plus two equals four”, so to speak. In this case, an academic confrontation between two great religions has been reduced to the likes of a childish conflict.

The aforementioned prophecy contains the following words, “And when this prophecy is fulfilled, some blind people shall begin to see.” These words are proof that although some ignorant people shall begin to “see,” many will still remain devoid of insight. Thus, sincere and open-minded people are shown the light of truth, however those harbouring jealousy and rancour remain stranded in their stubbornness.

In order to hide their humiliation, the Christian missionaries began proclaiming that many Muslims had converted to Christianity as a result of the debate. Although some Muslims did steer away from Islam temporarily, the fact that they came back to Islam upon receiving guidance from God, was completely concealed by the Christian missionaries. Suffering from shame, the Christian priests did not confess this at any point. After some research, only one reference was found which contains the truth of the matter, yet even that is riddled with lies. Eugene Stock, the historian for the Church Mission Society, has written concerning the result of the debate:

“Several Mohammedans of good position embraced Christianity and were baptised; and it seemed as if no such victory over Islam had ever been won. But it has to be mournfully confessed that most of these were overcome by the terrible temptations that beset them, the enticements on the one hand, the persecution on the other.”9

The embarrassment the Christians suffered is apparent from this statement. Still, the dishonesties are quite clear, for it begs the question as to what enticements could the Promised Messiahas have offered. How could he have persecuted anybody? The Government at the time was of the British; British Law was governing the country and the British owned all land and property. Thus, offering any enticements would only have been possible for the Christian missionaries, not for the Promised Messiahas. Moreover, the Christians admitted that the Muslims being converted to Christianity enjoyed an affluent position in society. Therefore, what enticements could the Promised Messiahas have offered to such people who were already well-off? And what could he have used to threaten them, when they were already people of good standing in society? Leaving these questions aside for now, in the following section we turn to the prophecy regarding Abdullah Atham.


Lack of Understanding Underlies Allegations Concerning the Prophecy Regarding Abdullah Atham

With God’s Permission, the Promised Messiahas made a prophecy regarding Abdullah Atham and the fulfillment of the 15-month period mentioned therein, was awaited by Muslims and Christians alike. Dr. Henry Martyn Clark explains this in his report to the Church Mission Society:

“It has been the theme of converse, of close attention during the past year. From Madras to Peshawar, through the length and breadth of broad India, thousands upon thousands of men have been watching with thoughts intent on the far northern city where Islam had thrown down the wager of battle, and where God Himself would decide.”10

Whereas the rest of the world was awaiting the result of the prophecy with the intention to mock at it, the Promised Messiahas and his companions were spending this 15-month period in prayers. Naturally these prayers were for the fulfillment of the prophecy. However, we must remember here that there were two ways the prophecy could have been fulfilled: (1) Abdullah Atham could have decided not to turn to the truth and entered Hawiya i.e. a great torment, and (2) Abdullah Atham could have turned to the truth and saved himself from the torment of Hawiya.

A true believer’s job is to pray. The Holy Qur’an guides believers on how their prayers are to be accepted:

And Allah has full power over His decree, but most men know it not.” (Ch.12:V.22).

It is true that Abdullah Atham did not die within 15 months of the prophecy. However, before considering this further, we must look at how the word Hawiya which was used in the prophecy, has been explained by the Promised Messiahas. The Promised Messiahas says:

“Indeed, as far as I understood the meaning of the revelation, it was that the person for the opposing party who is debating in support of falsehood, the meaning of Hawiya for him is the punishment of death. However, the revealed word is only Hawiya, and is subject to a condition that the person does not turn to the truth. And this condition of not inclining to the truth is a revealed condition as I had clearly written this in the revealed text. It is absolutely true and is according to the revelation that if Mr Abdullah Atham’s heart, as it was prior to the prophecy, intended to degrade Islam and did not take any part in turning to the truth by accepting the greatness of Islam, then he would have died within this time period. However, God Almighty’s revelation has told me that Abdullah Atham has, by admitting the awe and might of Islam, to an extent turned towards the truth, which has resulted in delaying the fulfillment of the prophecy of his death and a complete entry into the Hawiya.”11

Hence, the conclusion that may be derived from the aforesaid is that because Atham turned towards the truth, he was saved from the punishment foretold in this prophecy. The fulfillment of this prophecy was therefore conditional upon Atham’s acceptance of the truth. (The gist of the prophecy has been discussed herein as above. The original text thereof can be found in the Promised Messiah’sas book, The Holy War). However, notwithstanding this condition, it is the practice of God that the fulfillment of prophecies containing a warning, is always conditional upon those being warned not turning to God. Allama Aloosi writes in his famous commentary of the Holy Qur’an, Roohul Ma’aani:

“The verses consisting of a promise are unconditional. And the revelation consisting of a warning, although may not mention a condition, however are subject to conditions. Their conditions are not mentioned in order to instill more fear into the heart.”12

Henry Martyn Clark Admits Defeat

Before we undertake an analysis of Atham’s state of turning towards the truth, it is expedient to consider a statement by Dr. Henry Martyn Clark written in a report about the debate. It was obligatory on every missionary to send reports relating to work being done in his region, the purpose whereof was to keep the Church Mission Society abreast with different activities being undertaken by missionaries worldwide. These reports known as the ‘Intelligencer’ were not for the consumption of the general public, but were only written for the record of the Mission Society to make the Mission Society aware of the situation of the missionaries and the difficulties they were facing in different areas. In the report published by Dr. Henry Martyn Clark after the debate, he wrote about Atham as follows:

“When our turn came, I must candidly confess our champion did not make the best of our case against Mohammedanism. Despite much advice…Mr. Atham pursued a course of his own…It was scarcely the type of war required.”13

This statement was also published in America in the Missionary Herald. This magazine was a special issue on the works of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. It conceded to Atham’s defeat in these words:

“Dr. Clark affirms that…the presentation of the Christian side was not [at] all that could have been asked for…”14

This statement proves two things: (1) Although the Christians were claiming victory during the debate, secretly they were compelled to admit defeat, and (2) The main purpose of the debate was to distinguish the true religion between Islam and Christianity, with proofs from their Holy Books. Atham’s end was another issue. However, Islam’s victory was ensured through the person who came as the “Breaker of the Cross.” The admission by the leader of the missionaries that the cross had “broken into two,” epitomises the fact that nobody other than Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas was deemed suitable for this task. This inevitably lends support to the conclusion that the Promised Messiahas was the victor of the debate, “The Holy War.”


Letter from Dr. Martyn Clark

At the time of the Promised Messiahas, the head office of the Church Mission Society was in Salisbury Square, London. Later, this was moved to the city of Oxford, where it is still located today. The Archives of the Society are also in Oxford, however, most are in the Department of Special Collections in the University of Birmingham. Whilst searching for material through the archives in the University of Birmingham, a letter written by Dr. Henry Martyn Clark was discovered. He wrote this letter to his father Robert Clark on 4th September 1894. This is the same date on which the period of the prophecy regarding Abdullah Atham was to come to an end. Dr. Henry Martyn Clark had written to his father about his activities in this letter. In the end he mentioned that he had gone to meet Abdullah Atham in Ferozepur and how there had been an apparent improvement in his health, although his mental health was in poor condition. It is evident from Dr. Henry Martyn Clark’s letter that Abdullah Atham was spending his final days permanently residing in Amritsar. The signs of the fulfillment of this prophecy manifested themselves as Atham began to feel bewildered and gradually lost control of his senses. As a consequence, he would see snakes and at times would see a sword dangling over his head. He started suffering from many other similar hallucinations. Becoming scared of his fate, he fled from one place to another. He eventually became so overwhelmed that he never returned to Amritsar until the term of the fulfillment of the prophecy came to an end. Dr. Henry Martyn Clark’s letter is a testament to this fact:

“At 6 pm I left for Ferozepur where Atham is. I wanted to settle the details of the home coming on the 6th…. I had a couple of hours with Atham…The crisis just now is intense beyond words.”15

This statement yields clear proof that Atham had migrated from Amritsar to Ferozepur. Moreover, in stating that Atham wished to return to Amritsar straight away after the period of the fulfillment of the prophecy had ended, it also provides evidence of the fact that the migration was due to the overbearing effects of Atham’s fear of the fulfillment of the prophecy. The Promised Messiahas referring to Atham’s own statement writes:

“Who does not know that Mr. Atham published a clear statement in the Noor Afshan Paper (which was a Christian newspaper) that ‘definitely during the term of the prophecy I became scared of blood thirsty angels?’ Who does not know that there were so many signs which pointed towards Atham being scared that it is impossible to cover them up?”16


The Truth Behind Atham’s Allegation of Attempted Murder

The reason given by critics for why Atham migrated is that attempts were being made to murder Atham, and that he was sure that these attempts were (God forbid) by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas in order to bring about Atham’s death and in turn fulfil the prophecy. Since he was unable to hide the loss of control over his senses brought about by his state of bewilderment and fear, Atham became the victim of yet another dilemma. The Judge and Arbiter of the age, the Promised Messiahas, has exquisitely analysed and issued judgement on this. He writes:

“…then he understood that it was not right of him to show so much agitation due to an Islamic prophecy. It was then that the excuses of attempts to poison and three attempts to murder were made. Because of the level of fear that had been shown by Atham due to his bewilderment, it required that if they were to prove that the cause of this was not the revealed prophecy, then there should be some other reason which was so strong and powerful, that it could instil the fear of death in one’s heart. Therefore, with the support of lies they forged these causes of fear…”

“Who finds it difficult to understand that he faced abasement due to his false and baseless allegations? And there was no way to rid himself of this disgrace other than to have proven the false claims in court or to have brought forward some witnesses or to have sworn to the truth of the claims in a public gathering. However, Mr. Atham did not adopt any of these means”17

It is pertinent to point out that the Promised Messiahas wrote Anjam-e-Atham after Atham’s death and while analysing the context of the situation he detailed the stages the prophecy was fulfilled in. However, if Atham considered his hallucinations to be (God forbid) attempts of murder by the Promised Messiahas, then the Promised Messiahas had during Atham’s lifetime, suggested that Atham should take the support of the law and submit a court case against the Promised Messiahas. The proof for this can be found in the Promised Messiah’s books, Anwarul Islam and Dhia-ul-Haq. The Promised Messiahas wrote the aforementioned books straight after the term of the prophecy came to an end on 5th September 1894. However, neither did Atham raise a court case nor did he swear to the truth of his claims in a public gathering. The answer that the critics contrive here is that Atham spoke in Amritsar to a cortege, which was organised in celebration of the term of the prophecy coming to an end. There, he expressed his association with Christianity, and as per usual, used foul language against Islam in order to emphasise that he had not turned to the truth and remained fully adhered to his Christian beliefs and enmity towards Islam. Quite ludicrously, the statement was intended to prove that if the prophecy was not fulfilled due to the non-fulfilment of the condition of turning to the truth, then Atham’s speech at the cortege was enough proof that Atham never turned to the truth.

A Secret Inclination to the Truth

It is important to bear in mind the fact that inclining to the truth is a matter of the heart. It begs the question that during the whole term of the prophecy, Atham fleeing from one place to the other, seeking shelter in various places owing to unexplained causes of fear, making allegations of attempted murder against the Promised Messiahas and yet not taking the matter to court, not raising a voice or pen against Islam for the duration of the term of the prophecy, not using foul language against the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, desisting from announcing his state of mind, – if all this is not proof of Atham turning to the truth then what does this all mean? Although as already noted, while a verbal declaration is not necessary for turning to the truth, it is necessary for a person of faith to affirm the truth when he is questioned regarding it. To the contrary, Abdullah Atham who hesitated not once but many times in affirming the truth and did not swear that he had turned to the truth. It is imperative to ask critics that if punishment is withdrawn because of a temporary turn towards the truth, does the inclination towards the truth not count? In The Holy Qur’an there are many verses that bear testimony to the fact that Allah withdraws punishment for even a temporary inclination towards the truth. The people of Pharaoh turned to the truth eight times, each time the promised punishment was withdrawn.

Abdullah Atham Announces His Beliefs in an Open Gathering

A consideration of the announcement that Abdullah Atham made at the completion of the designated period of the Promised Messiah’s prophecy is instructive. It is noteworthy that this announcement in fact was not Abdullah Atham’s own, a fact that can be proven by Dr. Henry Martyn Clark’s letter found in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Birmingham (discussed earlier). In this letter, Dr. Henry Martyn Clark writes:

“We propose a thanksgiving service on the 6th D.V. I am sending my own message to Atham.”18

What greater evidence may be rendered in support of Atham’s inclination towards the truth than the fact that the announcement Abdullah Atham read out at this convention was not even his own? The overall situation of Atham may be assessed in the following manner:

The prophecy was conditional on the basis that if Atham did not repent he would be cast into hell.

Atham, in awe and fear of this prophecy, went into a state of confusion.

He began to hallucinate that attempts were being made to attack him. To prove that these were only hallucinations, we find that no one from Atham’s family (his daughters or sons-in-law) made any formal complaint to the police.

During the fifteen months set as the time period for this prophecy, he did not utter or write anything against Islam.

After the completion of the time period set for the prophecy, he reaffirmed his belief in Christianity and his enmity towards Islam.

Thus, Atham’s short-term repentance prevented him from being subjected to the fulfilment of the prophecy, which was conditional upon him repenting.

Even then, this announcement that he made was not written himself but by Dr. Henry Martyn Clark who wrote as noted above, “…my own message…”  Therefore, it is clear that Atham still remained in a state of repentance at the time of the announcement and thus read out someone else’s written message, or that he considered that message as a reflection of his own feelings.

Whatever the case may be, Atham’s failure to openly declare on oath that he did not repent, that he did not experience any fear as a result of this prophecy and the fact that he did not approach the authorities over the alleged plots to murder him (despite the Promised Messiah as having urged him to do so), are clear proofs that the representative of Christianity, Abdullah Atham, was not the victor, – Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah as and Imam Mahdi had triumphed.

Actual Time Period of the Prophecy Regarding Abdullah Atham

The time period of this prophecy is generally thought to have commenced on 5th June 1893, ending fifteen months later on 6th September 1894. However, although the prophecy is deemed to have started on 5th June 1893, its actual running period was not fifteen months per se. During this fifteen-month period, while there is evidence to suggest that Atham repented (discussed above), he failed to accept the Promised Messiah’sas challenge of making a declaration on oath to that effect. Atham exhausted almost a year in this state of uncertainty and although Divine Will granted him another twelve months to live, ironically his death was also prophesied during this period – Atham met his end seven months later, on 27th July 1896. Therefore, the actual time period of this prophecy runs from 5th June 1893 till 30th September 1896 – Abdullah Atham passing away within the time period prophesised. The news of Atham’s death in the Church Missionary Intelligencer came in the following words:

“Another native worker, Mr Abdullah Atham – whose name will be remembered as the leading advocate on the Christian side in the public controversy with Mohammedans at Amritsar in 1893 – dies at Ferozepore on July 27th, after ten days’ illness. Mr. Clark says of him, ‘He was a true and faithful servant of Christ, and the Punjab will miss him now that he has gone.’”19

It is noteworthy that the news of the demise of a notable Christian preacher who took part in the infamous debate and whose death was already prophesied should be reported in such a nonchalant manner. This was the same newsletter that wrote generously about the debate and also wrote about the prophecy concerning Atham. If the prophecy as is claimed by critics, was not fulfilled, the news story of Atham’s demise would have certainly mentioned, perhaps even sensationalised this fact. Therefore, it begs the question why the same newsletter, which deemed this debate to be a theological battle between truth and falsehood (the outcome resting squarely on Atham), speaks of his death in such an immaterial manner? This should leave no doubt with respect to the fulfilment of the prophecy.

Ironically, it was the same Church Mission Society that merely wrote five lines for Abdullah Atham’s death in an attempt to cover up the fulfilment of a grand prophecy, that now took up one and half pages to cover the Promised Messiah’sas demise. While the Intelligencer had reported about the debate in great detail, highlighting its significance and proclaiming that the prophecy against Atham had failed – it now wrote a great tribute to the Promised Messiahas, paradoxically strengthening the grounds to establish its own defeat. The report begins by referring to the census which was conducted in 1901, wherein the followers of the Promised Messiahas were entered as Ahmadis, and concludes in the following words:

“…it will be interesting to see whether future census reports have occasion to mention the name of the Qadiani leader, and for how long!”20

The Promised Messiah’sas Community was made to succeed by measuring up to the very standards the opponents had stipulated themselves. A renowned scholar of Indian history, Avril Ann Powell writes:

“In the 1890’s, at the time of the Amritsar debate, these two minority communities numbered their initiates merely in thousands. The Ahmadis subsequently created a very successful world missionary movement, numbering at least half a million by the 1940s. While the Punjab remained the Ahmadi ‘homeland,’ there were various new foci of migration and subsequent conversion in other parts of the world, notably in Africa and Indonesia, but also in Britain and North America.”21

In comparison, Powell wrote about the state of the Christians in the following words:

“Until the early 1920s the Punjabi Christians also continued to expand their numbers… During the next two decades their gains were relatively small…”22

Furthermore, Powell renders a captive analysis of the census stating that:

“The total number of Punjabi ‘native Christians’ was recorded in the census of 1941 as nearly half a million, similar to the estimated global total of Ahmadis, only half of whom by then resided in Punjab.”23

A few definitive conclusions may be drawn from the aforesaid analysis. Firstly, that not only did the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community come to be considered as a separate community for the next three decades, but has since been fundamentally perceived as a growing community. Secondly, and quite ironically, the Christians are increasingly being perceived as a minority. What a great sign this is of the “cross” being broken. Even if one were to turn a blind eye to this reality, its resolute force would compel one to acknowledge it.

The British conducted censuses of this nature after every ten years, a practice which was also customary in India at the time. The aforementioned census that took place in 1941 was the last census to be conducted before the partition. Following partition, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community multiplied in numbers not just in India and Pakistan, but in hundreds of countries worldwide. If anyone disappeared, it was those who mocked and ridiculed the Promised Messiahas and boasted that the followers of this “Qadiani leader” would soon be eliminated from future censuses.

Dr. Henry Martyn Clark’s Great Grandson Meets with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba

It has been almost one hundred and twenty years since the debate “The Holy War,” and while Dr. Henry Martyn Clark was lost somewhere in the past, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas, and his Community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, under the guidance of his Successors has continued to flourish. Some time ago, through the guidance of the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and 5th Successor (Khalifah) to the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, I had the opportunity to undertake research on the debate “The Holy War.” During this process, I studied various records and archives in Britain, and a wealth of information was discovered from the Oxford Church Mission Society’s library and from the Department of Special Collections at the University of Birmingham. The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London was also very helpful in obtaining material on the subject.

Moreover, during the course of this research, Dr. Henry Martyn Clark’s residential home, his grave and his progeny were also traced, and proved instrumental in collecting further crucial information. Dr. Clark’s cemetery records helped in locating his residential home and the links therefrom were used to trace his progeny. One of Dr. Clark’s great grandsons, Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark, was found to be residing in the north of Britain. When he learnt that someone was conducting research on the life of his great grandfather, he was intrigued – after all, why would someone be researching about him? However, when he learnt more about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he realised why such research was being undertaken. I met with Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark at his home, who shared many details of his family history. What was profoundly interesting was a beautifully framed document that Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark maintained, and one that he could not read as it was written in a language foreign to him. Amazingly, the document was in fact, written in Urdu, and had been presented to Dr. Henry Martyn Clark on the occasion of a farewell address when he was leaving India. The document listed his achievements – interestingly, one of them being that he had endured many difficulties during the days of the debate, “The Holy War.” The debate has therefore been recognised as a significant event in history, transcending ordinary discourse.

Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark, great grandson of Dr Henry Martyn Clark, came across as a very respectful and dignified person. As he learnt about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he became increasingly interested in it. He was invited to come to London, an invitation he happily accepted, and when he discovered that the Fifth Successor of the Promised Messiahas is the Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he expressed his desire to meet him. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaba graciously accepted to meet Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark and the meeting took place on 3rd December 2011 in London. Before his meeting with His Holiness, he was shown the Makhazan-e-Tasaweer (Central Photo Exhibition of the Ahmadiyya Community in London) at Tahir House, which provided him with an overview of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s history and progress through historical and also present-day photographs. He was surprised to learn about the Community’s representation all over the world, its mosques, colleges, schools, hospitals and annual conventions held globally. Upon learning all this, Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark remarked that while people do not even know the name of Dr. Henry Martyn Clark and other missionaries of his time, the Promised Messiahas and his community, who initially faced so much opposition, have succeeded in attaining such great heights. After viewing the Photo Exhibition, Mr. Jolyn Martyn Clark went to meet Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba – 5th Successor to the Promised Messiahas.

The meeting took place at 3:30pm that afternoon. Upon entering the office of His Holiness he shook his hand and then took a seat in front of him. He first thanked His Holiness for kindly taken time out to meet him. His Holiness engaged Mr. Clark in a discussion on various subjects and during this conversation enquired from Mr. Clark what he knew about the debate known as “The Holy War.” Mr. Clark replied that he had only recently undertaken some research into the subject, however, he realised today that while Dr. Henry Martyn Clark had been lost in the folds of history, his opponent has succeeded all over the world.24

To witness this meeting was truly a faith-inspiring experience, – to think that there was a time when Dr. Henry Martyn Clark had left no stone unturned to oppose the Promised Messiahas, creating obstacles in his way, and yet today a member of his own progeny had come to visit the Promised Messiah’sas successor and was overcome by his spiritual enlightenment. May thousands of blessings descend upon the one who came to “break the cross” and by walking in the footsteps prescribed by his Holy Master, he adhered to the Qur’anic verse:

And that it may warn those who say ‘Allah has taken Unto Himself a son.’”25

How beautifully the Promised Messiahas followed this commandment and how thoroughly was he blessed in undertaking this task. He succeeded in disproving Christian beliefs in a manner synonymous to “breaking the cross.” All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.




1.  CMI, February 1894, p. 97

2.  Missionary Herald: Containing The Proceedings of The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Vol. XC, Published: Press of Samuel Usher, Boston 1894

3.  The Holy War, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 6 p. 150

4.  The Holy War, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 6, pp. 153-154

5.  For a more detailed discussion of this subject, the Promised Messiah’sas book, The Holy War may be referred to.

6.  John: 10: 33-36

7.  CMI, February 1894, p. 99

8.  The Holy War, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 6 p. 292

9.  The History of the Church Mission Society: Its Environment, Its Men and Its Work, by Eugene Stock, Church Mission Society, London, 1899

10.  Some Results of the Late Mohammedan Controversy, by Henry Martyn Clark, Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol. XLV, Nov 1894, p. 813

11.  Anwarul Islam, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 9, p. 2

12.  Roohul Ma’aani, Vol. 4 p.190

13.  CMI, February 1894, p. 99

14.  Missionary Herald: Containing The Proceedings of The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Vol. XC, Published: Press of Samuel Usher, Boston 1894

15.  CMS/C Special Collections, University of Birmingham

16.  Anjam-e-Atham, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 11, p.17

17.  Anjam-e-Atham, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 11, pp. 17-19

18.  Letter written by hand, from Dr. Henry Martyn Clark to Robert Clark, dated 4 September 1894, taken from the Special Collections, University of Birmingham, ref. CMS/C

19.  Church Missionary Intelligencer, October 1896, p. 781

20.  Church Missionary Review Vol. LIX, Oct 1908, pp. 620-62, London

21.  Avril Powell (1995): Contested gods and prophets: discourse among minorities in late nineteenth-century Punjab, Renaissance and Modern Studies, 381:1, 38-59

22.  Avril Powell (1995): Contested gods and prophets: discourse among minorities in late nineteenth-century Punjab, Renaissance and Modern Studies, 381:1, 38-59

23.  Powell, 1995

24.  The details of this meeting were reported in Al Fazl International, dated 6th January 2012

25.  The Holy Qur’an, Ch.18:V.5