Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

The year 1914

January 1914 (and roll-over from Dec 1913)
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January 1914

(and roll-over from December 1913)

On this page we have compiled reports and news published from January 1914 onwards (to beginning of March), which relate to the work and events of December 1913 and January 1914.

A letter from Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din to Maulana Nur-ud-Din, dated 4th December 1913, has been mentioned elsewhere in connection with the acceptance of Islam by Lord Headley and much of it, relating to Lord Headley, quoted there. See this link.

Some other extracts from it are as below:

I do not know when I will get any rest. Of course, the special happiness that God has granted [i.e., Lord Headley’s acceptance of Islam] has changed things unexpectedly. In these three weeks I have recovered from my physical infirmity and am as I was before. Al-hamdu lillah and again al-hamdu lillah. Nonetheless there is much work to be done. This is the time to start a continuing series of lectures on Islam, and along with it to write articles in the major newspapers, and to meet the general public. By the grace of God, the British people have awakened. Now is the time to take advantage of it.…

God knows people are highly desirous of lectures and I keep putting them off. Two weeks ago I gave a lecture on Islam at Muswell in North London. Last week I gave a lecture at Cambridge. Many students of theology attended and were dumbstruck. Next week I again have to go to Folkestone. There are repeated invitations from Glasgow and Edinburgh, an invitation from Gloucestershire, and from various parts of London. This is an opportunity, but who can go?…

I plead in the name of God, do not postpone till tomorrow or the next day deciding whether someone should be sent. Not one, but two persons should be sent immediately. However, these are requests. I will do whatever is your instruction.

Kamal-ud-Din, from the home of Lord Headley.

Paigham Sulh, 6 January 1914, p. 4.

Marriage of Princess Saliha of Egypt

In his report dated 24 December 1913, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din gives the news of the acceptance of Islam at Woking by the Christian, Russian husband of an Egyptian princess, and their Islamic marriage:

The prayers of my master [Maulana Nur-ud-Din] are working. The heart-felt, desires of my Mirza, which he expressed morning and night, are bearing fruit. The soul of our beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him, is aroused. …

In some previous letter I had mentioned Princess Saliha of Egypt, whose husband, a Russian, accepted Islam in Woking at my hand. Events which came to light yesterday shows that this happened by the great grace of God, and this Russian count’s change of religion saved the honour of a high Muslim family, removing from that family, by my hand, the disgrace they had been suffering for the past five years. Princess Saliha is in fact the paternal grand-daughter of Prince Ismail Khedive, during whose rule European powers obtained concessions in Egypt, gaining a foothold in that country. Princess Saliha first married Prince Ibrahim who died in 1906. … In 1907 the princess married a Russian count who was a protestant Christian. This marriage caused uproar in Egypt, as a result of which the princess and her husband had to leave Egypt. They lived in various European countries, and have been living in England for the past few months.

It was by the will of God that they met me. I started preaching Islam to them, as a result of which the husband came to Woking three weeks ago to become a Muslim at my hand, out of his own accord. I did not consider this sufficient, and on 12th December, in the presence of fifty to sixty Muslims for Friday prayer at Lindsey Hall [Notting Hill gate], I accepted the affirmation of Islam again from the Russian count. I then advised them both to enter into an Islamic nikah. Consequently, two days ago, that is, last Sunday, I conducted their nikah in the Islamic form at the Woking Mosque, the mahr being 2,000 Pounds, in the presence of fifty Muslims from India, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. Apart from these, I had also invited some European gentlemen and ladies. Lord Headley was present with his four sons. After the wedding, there were arrangements to have plentiful refreshments. …

Last Friday there were, by the grace of Allah, some 200 Muslims at the Friday prayer. Such a gathering would not be found in any mosque in the world. A passion and urge for Islam has arisen in these young men. Besides all these young Muslims, about a dozen non-Muslim men and women come every Friday.…

Lord Headley is utterly in love with Islam. On the day of the wedding of the princess he said to Mrs Fatima Ebrahim: ‘As Khwaja left his flourishing legal practice to serve Islam, I also intend to leave my engineering profession for the sake of the service of Islam’. He spends six to seven hours every day propagating Islam by letter and correspondence.

Paigham Sulh, 13 January 1914, p. 3.

Note by compiler: Our further research has shown that the full name of the princess was Saliha Hilmi (1878–1953), and her husband was Serge Yourkevitch who was a Russian count and diplomat from St. Petersburg. They are mentioned as attending a meeting of the newly-formed British Muslim Society at the Woking Mosque in The Islamic Review, March 1915, p. 112, where his name is given as Prince Ata-ur-Rahman Shaikh Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Yourkevitch. They are also listed in several later issues of The Islamic Review among the early members of this Society (for example, November 1915, p. 562). Their son Ismail de Yorke (1909–1953) was closely associated with the Woking Muslim Mission and President of the British Muslim Society for many years. Information about Ismail de Yorke is at this link on this website. The link also shows a photograph of the grave in which both the father and son are buried at Brookwood Cemetery.

Maulana Nur-ud-Din, from his sick bed, replied as follows in a letter dated 14th January 1914:

Congratulations on the coming to Islam of the Egyptian princess and the Russian count. I congratulate you most heartily on this. It says in the Holy Quran: ‘If you are thankful, I will give you more’ [14:7]. Give much thanks to God about Woking and don’t leave it to pursue some possibility. Continue praying to God. The money of Muslims was spent in Woking [this refers to Dr Leitner receiving funds from Muslims in India to build the mosque]. Africa certainly requires our sympathy. A European is required for there [as missionary of Islam]. Send The Islamic Review to them. Egyptian, Iranian and Turkish young men may appear to have no connection with Islam but the influence of La ilaha ill-Allah [‘There is no god but Allah’] must be upon them. The Muslim students who are there [in England], no matter what kind of people they may be, they are after all our own people. …
Regarding propagation of Islam, it says in Hadith that first invite people to La ilaha ill-Allah. Prayer is the real identity of Muslims which sets them apart from others: ‘And We did not make that which you would have to be the qiblah but that We might distinguish him who follows the Messenger from him who turns back upon his heels’ [the Quran, 2:143]. When they accept prayer, then the turn of zakat comes.

And I am sure that those who become Muslims at your hand will believe in the death of Jesus, and similarly they will believe that a physically dead person cannot return to the world. The real mission of Hazrat [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad] sahib was to reform practical behaviour. So you must draw the attention of our friends to improving their practical condition.

Paigham Sulh, 18 January 1914, p. 3.

Propagation work

In his report dated 31 December 1913, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din writes:

Here in many places, such as Folkestone, where there is influence of Islam the allegation has been spread that the Islam which I am preaching here is not Islam, and that Islam in India is completely different. It is alleged that I, the editor of The Islamic Review, am familiar with modern knowledge, and that, having taken the pulse of Europe and studied European thought, I have presented Islam in a form which agrees with those ideas, and that is not Islam in reality. These ignorant objectors are not aware that I have had no opportunity to study European philosophy. This objection is in fact an admission of the great virtues of Islam. Whatever I write in always based on verses of the Quran, and in translating them I use the translation of Sale or Rodwell in order to be cautious. … If Islam is as I have presented it, then it has all the qualities which Europe respects. Through Princess Karadja The Islamic Review reaches the circle of European scholars in many places. She told me the day before yesterday, when we met, that her friends have expressed surprise that Islam teaches those ideas which our hearts are taking us to by themselves, and which we want to see in a religion. … People don’t understand that Islam reflects human nature, and my magazine reflects Islam. When you employ your real nature, you will reach the same conclusions which are found in my magazines. …

Friday prayers in London: Glory be to God, how lively, what a fine gathering! Besides Egyptian, Iranian, Turkish, British and Indian Muslims, numbering about a hundred, some non-Muslims also come.

Paigham Sulh, 20 January 1914, p. 1.

In his next letter to Maulana Nur-ud-Din, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din writes:

It is a wonder of Allah that the Woking mosque is now famous all over the world and how lively it is. Every two or three weeks there is a considerable gathering here. It is a wonder of Allah that you, sir, have such a sharp sight. When a friend here advised me not to go to the Woking mosque, you wrote to me saying: You must pray for it and you must go to the mosque. The doors of all grace and blessings were opened by going to the Woking mosque and opening it. The khutba of the nikah of the Russian count and the Egyptian princess made a special impact on non-Muslim women. One of my neighbours said to me: This form of the wedding sermon contains truth and a lesson within it, while a church wedding is only a spectacle and a show.…

On the west coast of Africa I have some friends who wish the message of Islam to reach there. They said to me verbally and wrote to me that I should go there and they would help me. I could not go, but eventually a friend of mine who is a powerful chief from there asked me to send 25 copies of The Islamic Review, which I have been doing for three months.

Paigham Sulh, 22 January 1914, p. 1.

In his next report Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din writes:

Receive the good news that two more women have become Muslims. Miss Potter accepted Islam last Friday and Mrs Sait who came to Woking and embraced Islam. Mrs Sait lives in Brighton. I asked her to invite me one day and invite all her relatives so that we have an occasion to talk.…

His Lordship [Lord Headley] has been busy for the past two weeks in family matters and could not work on his book [A Western Awakening to Islam is meant]. Perhaps it may be finished this week. I have not seen its manuscript, nor does he want to show it to me before it is completed. He wants to tell the Western world with complete honesty that in whatever he has written he has not sought anyone’s advice, and wherever he mentions anything I have said, he will ascribe it to me. I approve of this idea.

Children become very attracted to Islam. In Friday prayers we have some children, although as yet they don’t take part in the prayer. It is a great grace of God. Friday prayer has become so well-attended and interesting that Muslim students are eager to come to it.

His Lordship had his photo taken with me, which I am sending. You know that photos are used here to convey some message. He hopes that by this photo we can dispel Rudyard Kipling’s notion that ‘East is East and West and West and never the twain shall meet’, and show that the Prophet of Arabia has brought together the East and the West. With this in mind, this photograph has been taken of us together. …

Syed Ameer Ali had recommended 100 Pounds [yearly grant for renting Friday prayer premises], but Mirza Abbas Ali Baig has argued for 150 Pounds. … With this grant, arrangements will be made for Friday prayers in a permanent place in London. Those people will be able to meet me who are hesitant to come to Woking. …

This week two letters were received containing happy news. One is translated below and the other is from Viscount De Potier. … The name I proposed for him, which the Viscount liked very much was: Mawahib-ur-Rahman Shaikh Salah-ud-Din Ahmad, Viscount de Potier. …

I think that the life of licentiousness here is no less than that of the Arabs in the days before Islam. Only God can bring about complete purity. But before deeds comes faith. Faith acts as the seed. Some people [Muslim critics are meant], burning with prejudice, are being foolish when they ask about the practice of Islam by the converts. So far only the seed has been planted in a few hearts, while deeds are the fruits. You, who are the grown plants of Islam, show examine your own selves to see whether you are bearing fruits at all.

Paigham Sulh, 27 January 1914, p. 1.

Notes by compiler:

  1. With reference to the mention of Syed Ameer Ali recommending 100 Pounds a year for Friday prayer premises, see his letter at this link.
  2. “His Lordship had his photo taken with me, which I am sending” — The photo referred to is at this link.

More help needed

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din then wrote of the greatly increased demand for his services:

Please consider sending someone here soon. It is not because I am home sick for India, not at all. It is because work is suffering badly. It is required that I live in London permanently because enquirers come there frequently. Coming to Woking is an obstacle for them. I am about to acquire a house in London to serve as a mosque, where there will be arrangements for prayers five times a day and Friday prayers. I will live there three days a week. Last Friday an African Christian came to ask me about Islam. He listened to the khutba  but after the prayers I had no time to see him as I had to go somewhere with Lord Headley…

Someone else is required who would live in Woking because it is by opening that mosque that all blessings have rained down. It is also necessary to travel to various countries of Europe to set up centres for the propagation of Islam. This cannot happen until there is someone else here during my absence.…

Much work lies half finished. Today, after three or four months, I have been able to write a letter to a German friend. I have been unable to reply to any letter from America due to being busy. Our work of the propagation of Islam has now achieved such importance that those newspapers which a few months ago considered it beneath their dignity even to mention us are now reporting us constantly. Thus the Manchester Guardian, which is daily read by the higher classes, in its issue of 12th January [1914], under the title ‘Islam in London’, has written about The Islamic Review and its work. …

When misconceptions about Islam are removed on a large scale, Islam will at once make great progress.

Paigham Sulh, 3 February 1914, p. 1.

In the next issue of Paigham Sulh, there is a letter by Munshi Nur Ahmad, the helper of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, from which we quote below:

A million thanks be to God. The truth is that we do not deserve the grace of God, physical and spiritual, which He is sending us. We don’t know what He has liked about us. It is only His grace.…

When I call out the azan in the early morning or at night, I feel a joy which is not only difficult but in fact impossible to describe in words. From 7 a.m. to midnight I am busy in work. It is midnight now and I am finishing this letter. It is the same every day. Letter writing and correspondence work is increasing from every direction. Letters are received from America and Africa, from such places which we did not know from our geography. It looks as if the days of the spiritual progress have come. …

I am sending a copy of a letter from Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih [Maulana Nur-ud-Din] for publication in your paper.

Paigham Sulh, 5 February 1914, p. 1.

In the letter by Maulana Nur-ud-Din, dated 19 December 1913, reproduced in the above report, he writes to Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din: “Each and every hair of my body is pleased with you and is engaged in prayer for you.”

Letter from Viscount Du Potier

In his next report, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din writes:

God sent another woman, who is a servant at the house of a Muslim friend of mine. She always listens to my talk with interest. This Sunday she accepted Islam. I suggested two Islamic names to her: Halima and Mahmooda, to select whichever she wishes. Miss Potter, about whose acceptance of Islam I wrote earlier, has chosen Sakina out of the two names suggested to her.…

The Viscount [du Potier] wrote, asking for Islamic literature and sending ten shillings. I replied saying: I do not need your money, but what I need is your heart, your noble intentions, and your brotherly co-operation. Yesterday another letter came from him which I translate below:

‘Copenhagen. 14 January 1914.

Dear brother Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

It is your special kindness that you have promised to send some books. I believe that I have the utmost need of them because so far I have little acquaintance with my religion. I received the issues of Muslim India [Islamic Review]  from August to December. Dear brother, you impose too much of a burden upon me when you ask me to take Islam to others. I tried this once and met with failure. I tried to make a Greek girl a Muslim. She could not find anything wrong with Islam but is afraid of her family and says that they might kill her.’…

Lord Headley has gone to Ireland on some private business. He has left his children in my charge, and I am at his house for a week.

Last week, his highness Hakki Pasha, former prime minister of Turkey, invited me and treated me with great respect. The Turkish Consul-General was also there. Also present was the [Turkish] ambassador [to Britain] Taufiq Pasha.

Paigham Sulh, 10 February 1914, p. 1.

Note by compiler: The Hakki Pasha mentioned would be Ibrahim Hakki Pasha (d. 1918), who was Ottoman Grand Vizier from 1910 to 1911.

Maulana Nur-ud-Din’s final letter

The following may have been Maulana Nur-ud-Din’s last letter to Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din:

Qadian. 21 January 1914.

Respected and honoured Khwaja sahib, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu-hu.

I am now old and have lived long. Whenever I placed reliance on people, I suffered. I don’t need to explain the details to you. When you have the money, only then expand the magazine. Do not start some venture based on hope, and then find yourself ridiculed. God has many assistants. When someone does worthwhile work, it will be a sincere person who does it. Those who do it for payment don’t work successfully. All those who worked for the Holy Prophet Muhammad were honorary. That is how the work was done. As soon as honorary work was replaced by paid work, everything perished. Do not work beyond your strength. … There are very few who are willing to sacrifice themselves. These days I don’t order anyone. Self-sacrifice is a very great quality, which a person only possesses through the grace of God.

— Paigham Sulh, 3 March 1914, p. 1.

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.