letter from Belgium about meeting with Princess Karadja,
The following is the translation from Urdu of
a letter by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, addressed to the Head of
the Ahmadiyya Movement, Maulana Nur-ud-Din, published in the
Ahmadiyya Community newspaper Badr (issue dated 31
July 1913, pages 45). It gives an account of his meeting
in Belgium with Princess Karadja in late June or early July
1913. See Note
2 below for some biographical information about her. It was there that he learnt about the forthcoming Congress
of Religions in Paris, which he then attended and spoke at.
In the translation below, any brief insertions
within square brackets [
] are made by the Website Editor.
Longer explanations are given in separate footnotes.
In the name of Allah, the
Beneficent, the Merciful
(From Chateau Bovigny, Municipality:
Gouvy, Country: Belgium.)
To the honoured leader and master,
May Allah keep him safe
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
According to what I wrote in my last
letter, I reached here yesterday, Saturday, at mid-day. This
is a hilly area near the border of Belgium with Germany. [Note
1] Princess Karadja, owner of this castle, belongs to
the royal family of Sweden. She is a widow, aged between 45
and 50 years, and widowed for about 22 years. Since then she
is involved in scholarly pursuits. [Note
2] I had come to see her, as I stated. Although this was
indicated in her writings, but it became clear when I spoke
to her, that she claims to receive Divine revelation and her
mission is to disclose those secrets which she thinks are
hidden in the Gospels, the Torah and the ancient Egyptian
religion. At present here in Europe, not Sufi ideas but mystical
ideas are very popular in many circles. The fact is that people
to a great extent do not like what is in the Bible and the
teachings of Jesus. These are now stretched to give them some
other interpretation. Every miracle is being given
spiritual interpretation. Princess Karadja believes
that she has been chosen for the Divine mission to disclose
What is curious, and in my view useful
for us, is that whatever has been disclosed to her is very
close to Islam. She is also under the influence of The
Islamic Review. Whatever I told her about Islam overjoyed
her, and she expressed agreement with it. So in her article
published in the July issue of The Islamic Review she
has openly acknowledged that she accepts all the seven fundamental
doctrines of Islam. As far as I can see, she is highly intelligent
and to some extent of a pure mind. She had read much, is disaffected
with present-day Christianity and reaches the right conclusions
which she believes to be Divinely-revealed to her. Why should
we object? I asked her a clear question today, which she could
not answer except to say that she could not understand the
I said: When Jesus left this world
he had acknowledged that after him shall come the spirit of
truth who will guide into all the truth, [Note
3] but you think that after Jesus religion remained in
its true form for two centuries, after which the truth became
concealed and this was followed by seventeen centuries of
corruption, and the door has now opened for that spirit of
truth. Did the perfect attributes of God cease to work from
the third century after Jesus till today? Did He not provide
means of our physical nourishment for all this time? So what
is the reason that spiritual nourishment be suspended for
seventeen centuries at a stretch? What should have happened
was that the door of Divine grace should have opened some
short time after Jesus. Why must we wait this long?
I said: You have accepted that the
knowledge that is now about to be revealed has never been
revealed to anyone in Europe before. Since there is a claimant
who has given such knowledge to the world thirteen hundred
years ago, and he claims to fulfil that prophecy of Jesus,
why should we not accept him? The probability of truth is
in the favour of that other claimant who came before you.
As to what he brought, there is a simple way of determining
it. You tell me each and every point of new knowledge that
you claim has been revealed to you, and if the same is found
in the Holy Quran in full detail then why should it not be
accepted that that knowledge has already come? Of course perhaps
Europe, due to prejudice, will not accept them from the Quran
but it is possible that it will accept them from you.
This made a deep impression upon her,
as I could tell from her face, and she said: I will definitely
read the Quran. I think she may prove to be like a Pandit
Dayanand for here,[Note
4] that is, it is possible that the idols here may be
broken through her work. Of course, she is much better than
Dayanand because she shows great respect and honour for the
Holy Prophet Muhammad. I have noticed that this princess is
very broadminded. She replied to me by saying that the Quran
was undoubtedly for the East but for the West she was needed.
I said: Why shouldnt the Quran be accepted for the whole
world and you be considered as its instrument for Europe?
This made her stop and she said: I will definitely read the
Quran, I regret that I have not read it, please let
me know of a good translation. I said that we were preparing
a translation. She replied: Please get it printed very quickly,
that will be the translation worth reading for me because
the others will not be free of prejudice. Yesterday she gave
me another of her short writings which has not yet been published.
I read it today and was astonished that seven-eighths of it
is Islam as if from a Muslim Sufi.
She is vehemently opposed to the Christian
doctrine of atonement and believes in the principle no
bearer of a burden shall bear the burden of another.
Regarding paradise and hell, she also believes in the concepts
of advancement to higher degrees in paradise and the purpose
of hell being only purification and cleansing. These two teachings
are entirely opposed to present-day Christianity and in agreement
with the Quran. She is also sternly opposed to the idea that
salvation is only through faith, and accepts my writing stating
that this is a preposterous idea and that the doctrine that
the blood of Jesus washed away our sins is wrong. She considers
faith without good deeds to be entirely illogical. She accepts
Jesus as a perfect man and a good model, and believes that
the Divine element which reached perfection within him is
to be found in every human being. When I mentioned our belief
in the sinlessness of all other prophets as well, and told
her that we consider all prophets to possess that same element
within them developed to perfection, she said: I accept that,
but I have received grace through Jesus. I said: Now receive
grace through Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Her
reply was: all right. She has a natural attachment to Jesus,
and this is a matter of ego for her. Sometimes she conceded
during the talk that some points were not made clear even
to Jesus, but still she assigns him an exaggerated status
and considers him as perfect. I asked her why she had been
selected to receive this grace? She replied that till this
day the male has terribly oppressed the female, who are a
half of humanity, so now a woman has been appointed. I said
that Islam had ended the oppression of women and opened for
them the same doors of spiritual progress as for men, so there
was no need for the Princess appointment. She acknowledged
that she had read my article in The Islamic Review
about woman and approved of it very much. She admitted that
by reading The Islamic Review not only has her knowledge
increased but many of her views have changed as well. She
is astonished that there are so many priceless gems in
Islam and still Islam is so much attacked. She said:
I will definitely support
Islam. Please let me know more about its merits. Khwaja
Kamal-ud-Din, I have much sympathy and amity for you. Your
mission and my mission are not different. You have come
to establish the same beliefs in Europe as I want to establish:
the oneness of God, removal of the doctrine of atonement,
explaining the truth about Jesus, showing that the door
to spirituality and revelation is open to all. But I understand
Europe, that is why God has chosen me. We have small differences
in some matters. It would be best if we do not discuss them.
I said: The fact is that it is this
for which God has raised you. If I attack the prevalent form
of Christianity it would be intolerable for these people.
Also I am a stranger. So God has raised you to clear away
idolatrous beliefs. Today I gave her the Promised Messiahs
answers to the five questions at the Religious Conference
and told her that the points she had discussed with great
difficulty in her writing, for which she could not find any
authority in the Bible, have been explained fully in this
7] and all have been based on the Holy Quran.
In the end I told her to consider
that if she is asked to provide authority from the Gospels
and words of Jesus for the concepts she had mentioned to me,
which she believes to have been revealed to her, then there
is no answer, total silence. She argues that the world at
that time was not receptive to them, so they were not taught
then, but the world is receptive now. But if all these concepts
are found in the Quran in the most perfect way, shouldnt
we give preference to the Quran?
I shall leave here tomorrow morning.
For the time being it has been agreed that she will come to
London in September, where she has a magnificent house, to
stay for seven or eight months. She also has disciples. Many
women come to see her and she teaches them what she considers
to be abstruse spiritual secrets. She told me: We could work
together there and I could also study the Quran. It would
be a wonder if her disciples became disciples of the Holy
Prophet Muhammad. I offered and she accepted that I would
explain those spiritual secrets in the light of the Quran
and she would accept them and teach them to her disciples.
Allah knows best.
Another advantage accruing from meeting
her is that I learnt that there is going to take place a very
major religious conference in Paris in two weeks time. I want
to participate in it and read a paper. So the Princess has
promised to give me a letter of recommendation addressed to
the organisers of the conference, advising that I should be
given the opportunity to make a speech on Islam.
If God wills, this is an excellent
opportunity, as people from all over the Western world will
I hope Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad and
Munshi Nur Muhammad have will have left on 2 July. [Note
8] Great difficulties are faced here: the July issue [of
The Islamic Review] is ready and has been printed but
as I am not there [in England] there is no arrangement for
sending it out.
The Princess has given me a letter
she wrote in French. I have had it read, as it was open. It
appears from it how highly she respects Islam and also she
esteems me very much. I am not concerned with being esteemed
personally.What I mean is that this meeting has borne very
good results. May God give me an opportunity in Paris. After
reaching Paris the day after tomorrow, inshallah, I
will write again. I may possibly be able to write in that
letter what happened.
Notes by Website Editor
Note 1. This
is the Ardennes Forest on the German/Belgium border where
the famous Battle of the Bulge was fought near the close of
the Second World War in December 1944/January 1945 involving
more than one million soldiers of both sides.
About Princess Karadja
According to several sources, she was Marie Louise Smith of Sweden (1868-1943). See for example, the Wikipedia entry on her son Prince Constantin Karadja. There is also an entry for her husband Jean Karadja Pasha, whom she married in 1887.
One Henry Thomas Hamblin, in a writing entitled My search for truth (see
this link), mentions meeting Princess Karadja in London
in 1921 or so:
I became acquainted with the late
Princess Karadja, founder of The White Cross Union and also
well known as a seer. Princess Karadja wrote several books
in which she displayed a profound knowledge of esoteric
and occult matters which was quite beyond me.
when in London and having an hour to spare, I visited Princess
Karadja. She told me many interesting and extraordinary
Three or four books by her are listed at amazon.com and abebooks.com.
At the followng websites, articles about her with photographs can be found (each link below goes directly to the article):
The author of a book entitled God is Love
dedicated his book to Princess Karadja and writes on the dedication
TO HER EXCELLENCY
THE PRINCESS MARY KARADJA
At the Courts of the LOW COUNTRIES
And Of SWEDEN And NORWAY
And GRAND CORDON Of The MEDJIDIE Of
H.M. THE SULTAN OF TURKEY
By HER Favour and Request, This Story,
Written in the light of her friendship,
Under HER hospitable roof, at
THE CHATEAU DE BOVIGNY, LUXEMBOURG
(Luxembourg here refers to the province of that
name in Belgium.). See
Swami Dayanand Saraswati (18241883) was the founder
of the Hindu reform movement the Arya Samaj in India. He vehemently
opposed the common practice of idol-worship in Hinduism.
The Holy Quran, 17:15.
This was held in December 1896 in Lahore, where a famous paper
by Hazrat Mizra Ghulam Ahmad was read.
By the book is meant The Teachings of Islam by Hazrat
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
These were two Ahmadis sent to England to assist Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
in his Islamic mission.