THE SPREAD OF AHMADIYYAT TO NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES
After Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at had been well-established in Nigeria and its membership had grown enormously, the Jama’at then spread to neighbouring countries. The countries so blessed with the presence of Ahmadiyya Jama’at through the efforts of the Nigerian Jama’at include: The Gambia, Benin Republic, Niger Republic, Togo Cameroun and Equitorial Guinea.
This country used to be the stronghold of the Tijaniyya order. The first time Ahmadiyya was preached in The Gambia was 1959, when Alhaji Hamzat O. Sanyaolu was sent there by the then Amir, Maulana Naseem Saifi. He stayed there for three months (November 1959 to January 1960). At first, he was not allowed to preach, but with perseverance, faith and prayer, he was later allowed. With this opportunity, Alhaji Sanyaolu was able to explain all the points raised against Ahmadiyya Jama’at by the non-Ahmadis. This preaching was so successful that when he (Alhaji Sanyaolu) left them and returned to Nigeria, the people wrote to the Amir in Lagos requesting for a Missionary to continue the good work of Alhaji Sanyaolu. Their request was passed to the International Headquarters in Rabwah.
In response to this request, Maulvi Muhammad Sharif was sent by the Huzur and was instructed to stop-over for briefing in Nigeria, enroute The Gambia. By the grace of Allah, the Jama’at has been waxing stronger and stronger ever since.
REPUBLIC OF BENIN (FORMERLY DAHOMEY)
The Republic of Benin is the immediate neighbour of Nigeria to the west.
Ahmadiyya entered the country through some of the indigenes, who had joined the Jama’at in Nigeria and were very anxious to have their brothers and sisters back home partake in the divine light through acceptance of Hazrat Ahmad as Imam of the Age. Among the early brothers was Brother Sikiru Dauda who had been very active in the activities of the Jama’at, since his return to his home country (Benin).
After the initial introduction, a Central Missionary in the person of Maulvi Bashirud-Deen was sent there to survey the situation. In 1972 however, the Jama’at requested the then Amir Maulana Muhammad Ajmal Shahid, to send Resident Missionary. Alhaji Muhammad Taoheed Shekoni was posted to them. He met three active members of the Jama’at with whom he was carried on his preaching activities. The brothers were: Sikiru Dauda, Abdul Lateef and Bisiriou Raji. Port-Novo was used for the Jama’at’s daily and Jum’ah Prayers. This, therefore, marked the beginning of a regular Jama’at of Ahmadiyya in The Republic of Benin. Initially, as a result of the opposition encountered by the Jama’at , the members’ wives did not join the Jama’at until some- time later.
At the time Alhaji Shekoni was in the country, the Military had just taken over the reign of government from the civilians; and so, there were tight security measures everywhere including restriction on preachings. He was, however, successful in obtaining government permit to this effect. As part of his preaching activities, he wrote a letter to the country’s Military Head of State congratulating him for successfully coming to power, as well as introducing Ahmadiyya to him. He also paid visits to the offices of Ministers and Commissioners of Police and distributed Ahmadiyya literature and pamphlets written in French language.
Through these preachings the Jama’at gained a considerable number of converts especially among the youth. The Jama’at also built a one-storey Mosque on a piece of land donated by Alhaji Bisiriyou Raji, the then President of the Jama’at. Even Eid prayer was being observed on one of his farmlands.
After the departure of Alhaji Muhammad Taoheed Shekoni, who spent one and a half years in the People’s Republic of Benin, some other Missionaries were sent there at different times. Those sent there included Late Bro. A. R. Oluwa and Alhaji M. A. Salman (on several occasions). In particular, Brother Tajudeen Abdul Azeez was there for a considerable length of time. Later on, a Central Missionary in person of Maulvi Sookia was also posted there to teach and lead the Jama’at.
Owing to the activities of hostile non-Ahmadis, the Jama’at Mosque in Port-Novo was closed down for some time by the government. But the ban was later lifted through divine grace. The Jama’at was thus once again making progress in the propagation of Ahmadiyya in the People’s Republic of Benin.
The fifth Khalifah Hazrat Masroor Ahmad visited Benin during the Centenary Khilafat celebration in 2088.
THE REPUBLIC OF NIGER
In Niger Muslims constitute about ninety percent of the population. It is located on the Northern border of Nigeria. In August, 1974, one Bro. Abdur-Rahim Balogun, a native of Igboho, Oyo State of Nigeria, who settled in Niger came to the then Amir Maulana Ajmal Shahid to request for a Missionary. In response to this request, Alhaji Muhammad Taoheed Shekoni was sent there in September, 1974. When he got there, he met brothers Abdur-Rahim Balogun, Abdul Azeez Yusuf, Ismail Adepoju and a few others, with whom he started the Ahmadiyya Jama’at in Niger Republic.
Alhaji Shekoni spent four years in the country (1974-1978). But because the year 1974 coincided with the renewed global persecution of Ahmadis , he and the few members then also had to contend with a lot of opposition and persecution from the orthodox Muslims. Times without number, he was invited for questioning by various Government Agencies on the allegations of the opponents and many wicked plans were hatched against him.
In 1977, three of the members there followed Alhaji Shekoni to the Jama’at Annual Conference in Nigeria. The Amir himself, Maulana Muhammad Ajmal Shahid, accompanied by Major Giwa, also visited the country on Thursday November, 4, 1976. During the one week tour, he seized the opportunity to visit many people and places, explaining many points raised against the Jama’at and answering questions from various quarters.
By 1978 when Alhaji Shekoni left the country, membership of the Jama’at there had increased though not all of them were very active in the Jama’at. At his departure, brother (now Maulvi) Abdur-Rasheed Ahmad Agboola (who became the Amir and Missionary-in-Charge of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at in Nigeria in 1988) was sent there to replace him to continue the crusade.
Despite the fact that many of the members had left the country to settle back home in Nigeria, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Niger Republic has come to stay by the special grace of Allah.
REPUBLIC OF TOGO
Republic of Togo is a relatively small country in comparison with Ghana, Nigeria and even Benin Republic its immediate neighbour. The most popular religion is traditional worship, followed by Christianity. Muslims were in the minority.
In 1979, the then Amir and Missionary-in-Charge of Ahmadiyya Jama’at in Nigeria, Maulana Muhammad Ajmal Shahid, started sending representatives of the Jama’at there on different occasions, in order to pave the way for the establishment of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at there. He also encouraged members in the Republic of Benin, the immediate neighbour of Togo,to preach the message of Ahmadiyya to whom so ever they encountered.
His efforts materialized after two years of concerted efforts. The Jama’at was established in Vogan, a town not too far from Togo-Benin Border, in 1981. This was as a result of the activities of the Nigerian local Missionary in the Republic of Benin, Bro. Tajudeen Abdul-Azeez, and the members there. Among the early converts of the Jama’at in Togo was brother Ibrahim Agbobli, who donated a piece of land for the building of the Mosque.
In August, 1981, after the Annual Conference of the Republic of Benin, all members including the Amir, Maulana Muhammad Ajmal Shahid and the Nigerian Local Missionary in Benin, Brother Tajudeen Abdul-Azeez moved to Vogan in Togo, for the foundation laying ceremony of Ahmadiyya Mosque . The members in the Republic of Togo have been attending conferences both in Nigeria and in Republic of Benin since the establishment of the Jama’at in that country.
REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON
Cameroon Republic is Nigeria’s neighbour to the east. Yaounde is its capital. Majority of the people of this country are Christians. In spite of this fact, Ahmadiyyat had made some impact there.
It so happened that in 1982, during the tenure of Maulana Muhammad Munawwar Chaudry as the Amir and Missionary-in-Charge of Ahmadiyya Jama’at in Nigeria, late Pa Hamzat O. Sanyaolu was sent to Cameroon Republic for preaching. He went there with many books of the Jama’at for sale to the people at cheap prices and many pamphlets for free distribution.
Through the efforts of Alhaji A. I. Yusuf, one Alhaji Masha (a non-Ahmadi) was contacted who gave the address of one of his friends based in Cameroon in person of Alhaji Rufai Igedi. He was living near the General Post Office in Duala. With a recommendation letter by Alhaji Masha to Alhaji Rufai Igedi about Alhaji Hamzat Olatubosun Sanyaolu, he (Alhaji Sanyaolu) had little or no problem getting into the country for his assignment. Though he was not allowed to preach there for the three-week duration he spent there. Through divine grace, he enjoyed the companionship and assistance of one Mr. Shuaib.
They went about distributing, selling some Ahmadiyya pamphlets, literature and talking to whomever they could. Even then, their activities were monitored by the country’s government security agents. But thank God, they never fell into the trap of the law.
However, by the special grace of Allah, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is now in existence in Cameroon Republic. During the International Jalsa Salana in Islamabad, London in 1987, a Muslim from the country attended, met and held discussions with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (r.a.).
It was his meeting with Huzur which let to the instruction given by the Huzur (during his visit to Nigeria in February 1988) that Maulvi S. R. Khursheed should pay a visit to the country as early as possible, after his (Huzur’s) departure from Nigeria. Maulvi Safiur-Rahman Khursheed Sahib visited the country on two occasions and the visits were very successful. By the grace of the Almighty Allah, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at has now taken a firm root in Cameroon Republic.
Late Misionary Tabethatha was an indigenous Alfas posted to served the community. In 2008, another indigene,Muhammad John Dienga Nganya, former a Christian graduated at the Jamia Ahmadiyya Missionary Training College Ilaro. He has been posted to Cameroon. Nigeria has also construted a Central Mosque in the country for Islamic propagation.
This piece is taken from the website of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Nigeria .