He obtained an (M.A.) English and (Ll. B.) Law in 1899. He joined the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1897 and devoted his life to the service of this movement in 1900. Although he considered his movement to be part of Islam, others considered it outside the fold of Islam.
In 1902 Maulana Muhammad Ali became the editor of the Review of Religions, one of the first Islamic journals in English. When Mirza Ghulam Ahmad established the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam (a body to govern the Ahmadiyya Movement) in 1905, he appointed Maulana Muhammad Ali as the Secretary of its executive council. At the time of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad´s death in 1908, he was succeeded by Maulana Hakeem Noor-ud-Din, Khalifatul Masih I., who became Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement.
In March 1914 when Maulana Hakeem Noor-ud-Din died and was succeeded by Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, Khalifa Masih II., the son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The election of this 25 year old caused problems with the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya over interpretation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad´s Will. The dispute also centered on differences in interpretation of verse 33:40 of the Qur'an, which referred to Muhammad as the 'Seal of the Prophets'. The status of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya and the Khalifat was also under contention. Amongst others, Maulana Muhammad Ali believed that Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya should lead the movement, whilst Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad believed that the Khalifa was the leader and the Anjuman the advisory body. Further disputes related to the status of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as Promised Messiah and Mahdi also rose to the surface.
This unresolved dispute led to a section of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya including Maulana Muhammad Ali and other senior members of the Ahmadiyya Movement relocating from Qadian to Lahore. They became known as Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam (Ahmadiyya Association for the Propagation of Islam) or in short as the 'Lahori Party'.
Maulana Muhammad Ali led this movement after its foundation in 1914, organising its world-wide 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, The New World Order and Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad. He died in 1951.
He was succeeded by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din.