Reports of Id-ul-Adha
4th August 1922
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din leads prayer and gives khutba
From The Islamic Review, October 1922
We present here reports relating toId-ul-Adha at the
Woking Mosque on Friday 4th August 1922, taken from The Islamic
Review, October 1922. This is presented as an example of the
celebration of such festivals at the Woking Mosque in the early
years of the Woking Mission, to illustrate how these occasions were
conducted and the kind of international Muslim dignitaries who graced
them by their presence.
The photograph below shows the khutba being delivered in
the grounds of the Woking Mosque (see this photograph in a larger
British Press coverage
In The Islamic Review, October 1922, on pages 409413,
British Press comments on thisId-ul-Adha celebration
at the Woking Mosque are reprinted. We quote from these below.
The Times, August 5th:
About two hundred Mussulmans commemorated the festival
of Eid-el-Azha Qurban Bairam at Woking yesterday. The
feast celebrates the sacrifice of Abraham, venerated alike
by Jews, Christians and Mussulmans. After the picturesque
scene of the initial prayer on the lawn before the Mosque
an impressive declaration of faith was made by Princess
Hassan, an American by birth and an Egyptian by marriage.
Those present included the Imam (his Holiness the Khwaja
Kamal-ud-Din), who addressed the gathering, Lord Headley
(chief of the English Mussulmans), the Turkish Charge
dAffaires, the Persian Ambassador, the Persian Consul
in London, His Highness the Amir-ul-Saltanat (of the Persian
Royal Family), Sahibzada Aftab Ahmed Khan (member of the
Council of the Secretary of State for India), and his
brother Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed (Minister of Gwalior).
The days proceedings laid emphasis on the Biblical
fact that the sacrifice made by Abraham called forth the
Divine injunction forbidding human sacrifice.
Westminster Gazette, August 5th:
On a Surrey lawn, under the open sky, I had the unusual
experience today of hearing an American woman solemnly declare
her adherence to Islam.
She wore furs and carried an immense aigrette in her toque,
had pearls about her neck, and held a vanity bag in her
gloved hands. Beside her stood a big, imposing, bearded
man in a dull white turban and a long, figured, buttonless
coat of a colour too faded and indeterminate to be easily
named. The woman repeated after him, firmly:
I bear witness that there is no God or object of
adoration but one God, Allah. I bear witness that Mahomet
is the servant and messenger from Allah. I promise to
be a good Muslim.
The convert was Princess Hassan. Her husband was first
cousin of the ex-Khedive Abbas Hilmi, and nephew of King
Fuad, but she herself was born in California.
The card which admitted me to this ceremony was printed
in gold type. Armed with this, I mingled with fezzes and
turbans, and watched Muslims prostrate themselves on the
lawn, their faces towards Mecca.
More nearly in front of them was a queer little building,
garish in red brick, and yet more garish in certain Moorish
embellishments which made the four chimney-pots look like
minarets. To their right was a small white, domed structure,
the only mosque in this country. Behind them, their noise
frequently bringing the preacher to a pause, rattled the
South Western expresses.
Three large carpets and some white tablecloths had been
spread on the wet grass, and at the side of them was a line
of boots and shoes which the worshippers had discarded.
On these carpets were Muslims from all over the world. The
black-bearded, handsome Afghan Minister and his suite were
there in woolly fezzes.
The Turkish Charge dAffaires, a smaller and more
elderly figure in a red fez, arrived after the recital of
prayers. The Persian Ambassador was there, and the two slim
men in flowing black robes and white flannel hoods were
members of the Riff delegation. Lord Headley was the plain
English gentleman. Indian students were there, an Egyptian
from Birmingham, men of various dark-skinned races in a
variety of bright turbans, boys in gay raiment, and a few
They came to the carpets at the bidding of a picturesque
old man in an orange turban, who, with hands to his ears,
had raised the monotonously plaintive call to prayer
the salat. An equally picturesque figure, on a clean straw
mat, led the prayers, read from the Quran and preached the
sermon. He was the Imam the Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din of
the gold-lettered invitation card.
There was a spice of politics in his sermon, blended with
an exposition of the four attributes of Allah. Allah
is Rabb-ul-alameen, he said, the creator, maintainer,
nourisher and evolver of all nations. Let those who are
the rulers of the world follow him in this first attribute,
and so secure the peace of the world without the mockery
of Genoa and the hopelessness of the Hague Conference.
Another observation was: Today you call a nation
bandits or cut-throats, and tomorrow you go and shake hands
with them as gentlemen, simply to serve your political ends
and to bring another nation to dust. That is not the way
to restore peace on the earth of the Lord on High.
To walk humbly with the Lord was the Imams
prescription for the millennium.
When the service ended the worshippers rose to their feet
and embraced one another fervently.
Woking News and Mail, August 11th:
Muslims from all countries in the world who are resident
in England assembled at the Mosque, Woking, on Friday, to
celebrate the Feast of Eid-ul-Azha Qurban Bairam, in commemoration
of the sacrifice of Abraham, the great patriarch of the three
religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the festival
coinciding with the annual pilgrimage to the Holy City of
Mecca. The festival at Woking was attended by upwards of two
hundred Muslims, many distinguished visitors being among them.
A number were wearing native garb with turban and fez, the
scene on the carpeted lawn at the call to prayer being a very
picturesque one. Among the company were Lord Headley (President
of the British Muslim Society), the Princes Aziz and Sadiq
of Mangrol, Her Highness Princess Hassan, H.E. Sardar Abdul
Hadi Khan (Afghan Minister) and suite, the Afghan Minister
at Paris, H.E. Reshid Pasha (Turkish Charge dAffaires),
two members of the Riff delegation of the new Morocco Republic,
one being a brother of Emir Abdul Karim, the Republican President,
H.H. Amir-ul-Saltanat, a member of the Persian Royal Family,
Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad (member of the Council of the Secretary
of State for India), and his brother, Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad
(Minister of Gwalior), Dr. Abdul Majid (Muslim Jurist in London),
the Persian Ambassador and the Persian Consul in London.
There were representatives in attendance from Turkistan,
Afghanistan, Russia, India, Malay Peninsula, Arabia, Syria,
Palestine, Turkey, Switzerland, Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, America,
France, and from South, East, West and North Africa, as well
as many British converts to the Muslim faith, but the rainy
weather undoubtedly kept away many who would have been present
Following the call to prayer, which was conducted in the
open air by the Imam of the Mosque, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, there
was an interesting ceremony, in which Her Highness Princess
Hassan declared her faith in Islam, and was admitted to the
community. The Princess is an American lady by birth, but
Egyptian by her marriage to a nephew of the former Khedive
The Imam, who is the author of the recent book, India
in the Balance, and a leading authority in the Muslim
world, being responsible for the inauguration of the Muslim
mission in England, then delivered an eloquent address to
the assembled Muslims of all races and colour.
In the course of his address the Imam said they met that
day to revere Abraham in commemoration of the great sacrifice
he found himself prepared to make at Mina, a place only seven
miles distant from Mecca, where representatives from the whole
Muslim world were assembling that day in connection with their
pilgrimage to that Holy City. His was a great sacrifice
a sacrifice which must inspire every believer today to be
ready to offer up to God what was most near and dear to them,
be it wealth, or love, or life, in the cause of God, which,
from the Muslim point of view, was the cause of humanity.
Had not all religions declared with varying emphasis and
in different accents, but still declared, that man had been
made after the image of God? So Jesus and Muhammad taught
them, and the latter enjoined them to imbue themselves with
divine attributes. He wished the world could accept this and
make this its one and only religion, for mankind could then
be guaranteed to be in the time to come free from the trouble
that was all around them at the present day.
The opening chapter of the Quran disclosed the four attributes
of Allah. He was Rabb-ul-alameen, the creator, maintainer,
nourisher and evolver of all nations. In His providence He
knew no difference between man and man, no distinction between
race or colour, and no partiality for a creed or a class.
His blessings are open to all and upon all. Let those, then,
who were the rulers of the world follow Him in this and so
secure the peace of the world without the mockery of Genoa
and the hopelessness of the Hague Conference. Today they called
a nation bandits or cut-throats, and tomorrow they shook hands
with them as gentlemen, simply to serve their political ends
and to bring another nation to dust. That was not the way
to restore peace on the earth.
It was immaterial to a Muslim whether the Government of a
nation belonged to A or B. It was like the sunshine, not confined
for good to any place. But if a nation desired to secure the
stability of her rule over other nations, then let that nation
observe the great and divine moral of which he spoke. In that
case the distinction of nationality would disappear, and the
ruler, though of a different colour, would be one with his
They complained about the unrest in India with a sort of
boredom not unmingled with disgust but India was a
country very rich in Natures gifts, a country of almost
limitless resources, and yet it was a country where a very
large number of the children of the soil were living on the
verge of starvation, and where people were existing on a few
shillings a month. He was in England in 1918, when the influenza
epidemic was playing havoc throughout the whole world. It
made its appearance in this country as well, and the then
Government was given notice by the public to combat it. Every
scientific means was resorted to, and the epidemic was stamped
out with comparatively little loss of life. But had they ever
thought of India? India within three months lost three million
souls, equal to the number of all our casualties in the whole
war. A ruler, if he sought to follow the attributes of God,
should of his own beneficence take every measure, hygienic
or sanitary, so that the good health of his people might be
secured and maintained. The whole strife between capital and
labour would come to an end if the employers would, so far
as lay in their power in this respect, imitate their God.
At midday luncheon was provided, the fare consisting of native
dishes in the form of pulao (rice cooked in meat), potato
curry, kofta curry and jelly, and in the evening those who
remained partook of tea.
Note: There are two more reports of this occasion from newspapers
quoted in The Islamic Review (Evening Standard, August
4th, and Woking Herald, August 11th) which we omit to avoid
Woking Missions own report of the occasion
A report of thisId-ul-Adha written
for the Mission by Rudolf Pickthall appears in The Islamic Review,
October 1922, on pages 404408. Its text is quoted below.
EID-UL-AZHA 1340 A.H.
A MORNING of low grey clouds and drizzle,
shiny roofs, dripping trees and sodden grass was not an inspiriting
prospect for the Feast of Eid-ul-Azha Qurban Bairam, celebrated
at the Mosque, Woking, on Friday, August 4th.
Had the rain not ceased, and the clouds lifted, towards eleven
oclock, thus enabling the Prayers to be recited in the open
air, the tiny Mosque would have been woefully inadequate for the
needs of the occasion, and much of the dignity of the proceedings
must necessarily have been sacrificed.
As it was, the numbers that attended, small though they were in
comparison with former occasions, more favoured by the weather,
taxed the limited accommodation of the Memorial House to the utmost
during such time as the rain continued to fall. Happily the timely
change in the forenoon proved sufficiently lasting to render the
day, in spite of all drawbacks and disappointments, one of real
pleasure and not a little profit.
For the stranger, whether devout Churchman or a seeker after faith,
or even if he be a twentieth century post-war Gallio, stoutly professing
to care for none of these things well content with a cross
between the perfunctory piety of the daily press and the theological
finalities of Mr. Wells there are two things in Islamic worship
which can scarcely fail to impress, two characteristics which set
it strangely apart from the idea of worship as conceived and as
practised by its great militant rival.
Concerning the first simplicity I have already ventured
to write in these columns; of the second unity I would
suggest that it has, if possible, an even greater significance.
The conception of unity commends itself variously to various types
of mind. The Catholic maintains the unity of his faith by the simple
process of shutting out the non-Catholic, and the non-Catholic returns
the compliment with zest.
Each from his own point of view if he be sincere and not
a mere ecclesiastical casuist is, no doubt, justified. Sincerity
is apt to be narrow-minded, and to such the formula, This
is right, therefore that must be wrong, becomes irresistible,
leading to the wholesale manufacture of heretics and souls self-doomed
to perdition. I repeat, to a sincere man, and to such an one only,
this condition of mind, if not to be commended, is at least logically
justifiable, because it is born of conscience; but that it can ever
in this world make for unity other than such unity as that
which the Holy Inquisition sought to establish in Spain and elsewhere
will hardly be suggested. At this present period of history
there is no sign of it, but we have, on the other hand, the three
hundred and forty odd sects and denominations recorded in Whitakers
Almanac, with all that they imply.
The Primitive Methodist will shudder at the idea of the Mass,
the Papist wax contemptuous at the mention of the Lords Supper.
The Anglican priest denies any spiritual status whatever to the
Baptist minister, and the Quaker will have no truck with either
of them; Lutheran and Calvinist are, in each others eyes,
as far apart as Hell and Heaven, and the Plymouth Brother is a law
If it be argued that all this is inevitable after the turmoil of
two thousand years, then it is but fair to turn to Islam with her
thirteen hundred years of warfare, and see how she has fared. There
were assembled at the Woking Mosque on this Friday of Eid-ul-Azha
some two hundred Muslims, comprising representatives of practically
every race in Europe, Asia and Africa; and not only of every race,
but of each and every sect or more properly speaking
school of thought in Islam, many of them, no doubt, accustomed themselves
to lead the prayers on Fridays or at Festivals, yet all following
the one Imam as a matter of course.
It may be said that a similar phenomenon, or one at least in some
respects analogous thereto, is not unknown in Christendom, when
the Churches (that of Rome excepted), on occasions of national or
other importance, hold what are termed special united services.
But union is, alas, not always strength, and unanimity, as often
as not, makes but a sorry cloak for compromise.
At such times, all denominations sink their differences for once
in a way, as a special concession, as it were, to what, it is conceived,
may be perhaps after all, the prejudices of the Deity they profess
to worship. Yet even here the conduct of the united service must
be very tactfully apportioned between the spiritual leaders of the
proceedings a minister of one denomination reading the lesson,
of another offering prayer, of a third delivering an address, of
a fourth giving out a hymn, and so on lest any one of them,
feeling out of it or otherwise aggrieved, should retire
in dudgeon and the harmony be marred.
And it must be borne in mind that such demonstrations of Christian
unity derive their importance solely from the fact that they are
exceptional which being so, any suggested analogy with the
unity that signalizes Islamic prayer, falls to the ground. For in
Islam this unity is not exceptional it is a matter of course;
the two and seventy jarring sects to which Fitzgeralds
Omar makes reference leaving academic dispute to its
appropriate time and place are as one in the presence of
God; and every Friday in every mosque throughout the Muslim world,
such a united service takes place as a matter of course.
For of sects, in the sense in which that word has
become familiar to Christs Church militant here on earth,
Islam knows nothing. The Holy Quran, the rock of its foundation,
whereon it stands away and aloof from the murmur of the tides of
scientific progress or Higher Criticism, permits of no two interpretations
of any one of its essential truths; so that the schools of thought
(or sects, as they have been erroneously termed) into which it must
needs be that any society of human beings, however blessed in its
inception, will in time, inevitably become divided, dispute among
themselves concerning the lesser matters of the law only, because,
with respect to the greater, there is no dispute.
The sermon of the Imam, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (and where will you
find two hundred Christians representing all denominations assembled
together on a Sunday or day of festival to hear, let us say, the
Bishop of London as a matter of course ?) had for its subject
the religion of Abraham and the religion of the Muslim. The learned
preacher, with forceful eloquence and an admirable lucidity, presented
to his hearers the guiding principle of the Faith of the Patriarch,
and of the Faith of Islam in its simplest form, to wit, that it
is the duty of man to strive in all things to obey the behest of
his Maker, and humbly to seek to imitate the example of the Highest
as He has revealed it in His creation; and deplored the fact that
it is because the rulers of this world have failed in this, that
wars and rumours of wars, social upheavals and abortive conferences
have continued and continue.
We, in England, have a kind of convention whereby religion and
politics are considered to be better apart; and indeed, where politics,
as is generally the case, is another name for ambition, and religion,
as not infrequently happens, a worldly profession, like any other,
it is best that they should be kept strictly separate, if only because
of their sinister resemblance.
But where religion stands for mans duty to God, and politics
stands, as it should, as an essential portion of his duty to his
fellow-man, it is impossible for them to be separated. Religion
divorced from the things of this world loses at once its raison
detre, and if this be true of the individual, shall it
not be true of the nation ?
The rain holding off, luncheon was partaken of on the lawn at one
oclock, and in view of the eleventh-hour change of plan thereby
involved, the indefatigable staff of the Mission merit unstinted
praise for the admirable manner in which it was served.
The congregation in the afternoon was appreciably smaller, for
the reason that, the day being Friday, many were compelled to return
to business and other engagements; but the audience that gathered
to listen to the Imams lecture was a singularly attentive
one, and his thoughtful exposition on the Muslim conception of prayer
suggested what must have been, to most of the non-Muslims present,
an entirely novel point of view.
Tea appeared at 4.30, and with its disappearance a memorable day
drew to its close a day rendered the more enjoyable, perhaps,
by the thought of what might have been had the weather not so opportunely