Ali was born in Punjab, British India, in 1874. He obtained an M.A. in English and a LL.B. in 1899. He joined the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1897 and dedicated his life to the service of the movement as part of what he saw as a restored and pristine Islamic faith. Some Muslim scholars and jurists, on the other hand, have considered the Ahmadiyya to be outside of mainstream Islam or even heretical.
In March 1914, when Hakeem Noor-ud-Din died, there was a split in the movement, which led to a section of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya including Ali and other senior members of the movement relocating from Qadian to Lahore. They became known as Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam (Ahmadiyya Association for the Propagation of Islam) or the Lahori Party.
Ali led this movement after its foundation in 1914, organising its worldwide missionary activities, and produced a vast amount of literature in English and Urdu. He translated the Qur'an with a commentary in both English and Urdu. His writings in English include The Religion of Islam, Muhammad The Prophet, A Manual of Hadith, and The New World Order and Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad. He died in 1951 and was succeeded in the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam by Sadr-ud-Din.