Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Lord Headley

Hajj with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din: 5. Related at British Muslim Society Meeting
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Lord Headley’s Hajj with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, 1923

  1. British Foreign Office documents relating to it
  2. Departure from London and stay in Egypt
  3. Lord Headley’s speech in Cairo
  4. Report in The Times
  5. Related at first annual meeting of British Muslim Society

5. Related at first annual meeting of British Muslim Society

The Islamic Review for December 1923 (p. 443–445) carries a report of the First Annual General Meeting of the British Muslim Society at which Lord Headley presided and spoke about his Hajj of July of that year. The meeting was held on Sunday 21st October 1923 at 111 Campden Hill Road, Notting Hill Gate, London, W. 8.

Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, Imam of the Woking Mosque and son of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, introduced Lord Headley as follows:

I do not wish to stand between the speaker of this evening — the Rt. Hon. Lord Headley — and yourselves. But I think it my duty to mention certain facts which are of some importance, and which his lordship, modest as he is, would probably like to overlook.

It has been suggested in certain quarters that Lord Headley went to Mecca on a certain secret mission from the Home Government. Allow me to refute that statement. As his lordship will tell you, he went to pay homage to the memory of the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) He went there as a simple and true Muslim; nothing more nor less.

In fact, Lord Headley had once before, when King Hussain, as such, did not exist, booked his passage by the P. and O. steamer Persia in 1914. The war broke out, and under the circumstances his duty was to stay at home with his children, who were then of tender age. He at once cancelled his passage, and in that he did what a true Muslim should have done.

Lord Headley was for ten days dressed in two single sheets. He faced the scorching heat of Arabia, a heat of which even our Syed Mufti Abdul Mohyi, an Arab by birth, complained. But Lord Headley bore it with a smile on his face, and never complained. He slept four nights on the ground without a bed. All this he did for his love of the Faith he has adopted, and not for any political end. These hardships were to him blessings, for his reward lies elsewhere.

Lord Headley, my father [Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din] and Abdul Mohyi Arab, were the guests of King Hussain during their stay in Arabia. Arab hospitality is known in history; and King Hussain did nothing more than keep up the traditions of his family and race.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that the fact that Lord Headley and my father were the guests of King Hussain is a sufficient proof that the brotherhood of Islam is too, like that of Christianity, becoming an empty phrase. I will leave the question for his lordship to answer. I will only refer to an editorial note of Al Qiblah, the semi-official organ of Mecca. After welcoming Lord Headley and my father and stating that theirs was not a political mission, it goes on to say that his lordship went to the sacred city as a Muslim. The Arabs respect him because of the Faith he has adopted. He was the first Muslim to go there from Great Britain, and, as such, was a representative of the Western Muslims. They, the Arabs, honoured him as a servant of the Faith of Islam and not as a peer of Britain.

As to Lord Headley’s speech at the meeting, The Islamic Review gives the following report:

Lord Headley gave an account of his experiences, on his recent Pilgrimage — at Mecca, on his journeys thither and thence, at Cairo and elsewhere. The speaker acknowledged himself to have been, first and foremost, profoundly impressed with Islam and the universal spirit of Islamic brotherhood, and in an address, lit by constant flashes of characteristic humour and insight, conveyed to his rapt and attentive audience his own conception of the reality of that brotherhood as revealed to him by what he saw and heard and experienced for himself, in Egypt and in Arabia. He narrated, with zest, how a certain British Consul had urged him to travel in some sort of disguise — advice at which he was forced to smile, while expressing gratitude to his adviser for the kindly thought; and he desired to record his thanks for kindness shown to him, to H.M. the King of Egypt, H.M. the King of Hedjaz, H.H. Prince Ali, H.H. Prince Tusan, the Najib-ul Ashraf Syed Muhammad Biblavi, Ahmad Najib Bey Bourada Eff., Ismail El Baroudy Eff., Syed Ehsan El Bakery Eff.

A comprehensive vote of thanks, proposed by Mr. Habibullah Lovegrove, the Secretary of the Society, and an appeal for subscriptions, which met, there and then, with a most encouraging response, brought the proceedings to a close.

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