Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 19: John Webster’s Acceptance of Ahmadiyyat
At Hyde Park Corner, amongst the regular speakers was a Mr John Webster, who had, for 30 years been speaking on various subjects. In 1960, it was he who attracted the largest crowds. A while ago, a book entitled ‘Speakers of the Hyde Park’ was published and in it, a prominent mention of Mr Webster was made. His story covered many pages of the book. Soon after my arrival in England, I started going to Hyde Park regularly. I often asked questions of Christian and Atheist speakers and I got familiar with some of the speakers to whom I presented some literature on Islam and Ahmadiyyat. Once, at the end of a session, I approached Mr Webster and he invited me for a cup of tea in a neighboring restaurant. He showed interest in Ahmadiyyat.
The next Saturday I took with me a copy of ‘Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam’. After listening to his speech, I presented the book to him. Two weeks later, during his speech at Hyde Park, he pointed at me and suggested that after his speech I should stay back. At the end of his speech both of us went to a restaurant for a cup of tea. Mr Webster had three or four of his friends with him. He told me that he had read the book that I gave him three or four times and that during every reading he discerned new points of interest. He said that he had never, in his whole life, read another book so full of knowledge and meaning.
Naturally, we started talking about the Promised Messiah (pbuh), his claims and the tasks he had accomplished. I gave him some more literature. The following Saturday, at the end of his speech Mr Webster told me that he wanted to join the fold of Ahmadiyyat. He told me that during the previous week (in a dream or vision) he had seen the Promised Messiah (pbuh). He told me that the Promised Messiah (pbuh) had asked him:
“Is there an impediment in your joining Ahmadiyyat?”
On hearing this from him, I was thrilled to bits. On the following Saturday he came to the Mosque and signed the Form for joining the Jamaat. At the same time, he said to me that, as he was an old and renowned speaker at Hyde Park, his having embraced Ahmadiyyat should remain a secret for sometime. However, the following Saturday, when he stood up to speak, involuntarily, he started talking about the Promised Messiah (pbuh).
Some Pakistani Muslims from amongst the audience opposed him and told him that he knew nothing about the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. Then they verbally abused the Jamaat. In response, Mr Webster said:
“I can assess your manners very well from the way in which you have used such abusive language.”
He said that he was in a position to say that Hadhrat Mirza Sahib was engaged in the struggle for dominance of Islam. His life was pious and pure and he alone had been blessed with scholastic philosophy.
On the following Saturday a large number of Muslims from the Indo Pak Sub Continent came to the Hyde Park Corner. They tried to heckle Mr Webster and tried their best not to let him speak. However, their efforts ended in a total failure. Mr Webster continued to speak on Ahmadiyyat. The following few weeks were somewhat troublesome.
On one occasion, some Pakistani Muslims tried to physically assault Mr Webster. In a scuffle that followed two or three Ahmadi listeners received injuries. One of them was Muhammad Ilyas Nasir Dehlavi. In the hope that the conditions would once again become peaceful, the police asked Mr Webster to suspend his speeches for a while. Mr Webster refused and for the following few meetings the police were present in force. This situation continued for a whole year. After that Mr Webster migrated to Australia and settled there.