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A Brief Introduction to ‘The Daily Al-Fazl’

A brief account of the origins and history of the Rabwah (Pakistan) based religious publication the Alfazl, at present the only daily published by the community.

61The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 The Daily Alfazl Rabwah is an educational and religious paper of the Ahmadiyya Muslim C o m m u n i t y. Historically it is the oldest daily of the Sub- continent to have been continuously in print to date, except when its publication was banned by the government of Pakistan due to religious prejudice. Alfazl was started by Sahibzada Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (the second successor to the Promised M e s s i a h( a s ) on June 18 1913 during the lifetime of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I. The name Alfazl was given to the paper by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I. Since then the paper has been serving the Jama’at through the publication of articles on h i s t o r y, national and inter- national affairs, the Jama’at’s dynamic progress around the world and issues relating to the moral upbringing of the Jama’at. When Alfazl was launched, it was initially published on a weekly basis. At the annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Community in 1913 it was published for three consecutive days specifically for the local Jama’at of Qadian. Up to November 1915, it was being published three days a week but then for a while, the publi- cation was limited to two days a week. From July 1924 to December 1925 it was published for three days a week. Then on 22 April 1930, it was decided to make the publication four days a week. However after some time this was reduced to three days a week. By Ahmad Mustansir, Department of English, Jamia Ahmadiyya (Junior Section) Rabwah A Brief Introduction to The Daily Al-Fazl. 62 A Brief Introduction to the The Daily Al-Fazl The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 Finally in March 7, 1935, it became a daily paper. Since then Alfazl has been serving the Jamaat in a remarkable way for about 91 years. Some 9000 copies are printed daily and Alfazl also commands a large readership outside Pakistan. A l f a z l has its own website, w w w. a l f a z a l . c o m. A link to alfazal.com is also available on the only official website of the Jama’at, www.alislam.org. After the infamous Presidential Ordinance of 1984, certain words are forbidden to be printed in Alfazl. Those words are replaced with others (which are not prohibited by law) or a dash mark. Some words such as Sahabi (follower of a prophet), Masjid (mosque), Muslim, Islam, tabligh (preaching Islam), Muballigh (one who preaches), Ishaat-e-deen: (spreading the religion of Islam), Ummul Momineen (mother of the believers, wife of the prophet) etc., cannot be used by Ahmadi writers. The con- tents of Alfazl are also under the constant scrutiny of govern- ment agencies. Mr Abdul Sami Khan is Alfazl’s current editor. Mr Fakhar ul Haq Shams and Mr Abdul Sattar Khan are the two members of the editorial board. The manager and his assistants are supervising administrative affairs. The manager and the publisher of the paper is Mr Agha Saifullah. In 1953, when agitation began against the Ahmadis, the government of the Punjab Province of Pakistan banned Alfazl for one year lasting from February 1953- March 1954. Alfazl was banned once again on 12 December 1984, when Zia ul Haq was the President of Pakistan. This ban lasted for four years and was the longest in the history of the paper. It was only after the ruling by the Lahore High Court that the ban was lifted and the publication was restored on November 28, 1988. In 1990, the government of the Punjab banned the publication of Alfazl for the third time. This ban lasted from 21 June to 20 August 1990. Editors of Alfazl have been imprisoned in the past. Mr Masood Ahmad Khan Dehlvi was imprisoned for two days in 1982. Imprisoned with him were Maulana Dost Muhammad Shahid a renowned scholar of the Jama’at and Mirza Abdul Rasheed a former employee of Tahrik Jadid in Rabwah, Pakistan. Again in 1994 Maulana Naseem Saifi jailed from 7 February 1994 to 8 March 1994 along with some of his colleagues, including Agha Saif Ullah, and Qazi Muneer Ahmad . When A l f a z l re-launched its publication on 28 November 1988 after a ban of about four years, its management faced a barrage of court cases, which have continued to date. Currently there are about 50 such cases being heard against A l f a z l’s’ manager, editor and printer. The Jama’at planned to establish its own printing press in Darul Nasar Gharbi Rabwah some thirty years ago but the government denied permission for this. The building originally meant for the Press, now houses the A l f a z l o ffice. Machinery bought for the press could not be used, but despite all these difficulties, Alfazl has contin- ued to be produced. 63 A Brief Introduction to the The Daily Al-Fazl The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. 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