Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968


Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s letter from Belgium about meeting with Princess Karadja, 1913
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Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s letter from Belgium about meeting with Princess Karadja, 1913

The following is the translation from Urdu of a letter by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, addressed to the Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Maulana Nur-ud-Din, published in the Ahmadiyya Community newspaper Badr (issue dated 31 July 1913, pages 4–5). It gives an account of his meeting in Belgium with Princess Karadja in late June or early July 1913. See Note 2 below for some biographical information about her. It was there that he learnt about the forthcoming Congress of Religions in Paris, which he then attended and spoke at.

In the translation below, any brief insertions within square brackets […] are made by the Website Editor. Longer explanations are given in separate footnotes.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

(From Chateau Bovigny, Municipality: Gouvy, Country: Belgium.)

To the honoured leader and master, May Allah keep him safe

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

According to what I wrote in my last letter, I reached here yesterday, Saturday, at mid-day. This is a hilly area near the border of Belgium with Germany. [Note 1] Princess Karadja, owner of this castle, belongs to the royal family of Sweden. She is a widow, aged between 45 and 50 years, and widowed for about 22 years. Since then she is involved in scholarly pursuits. [Note 2] I had come to see her, as I stated. Although this was indicated in her writings, but it became clear when I spoke to her, that she claims to receive Divine revelation and her mission is to disclose those secrets which she thinks are hidden in the Gospels, the Torah and the ancient Egyptian religion. At present here in Europe, not Sufi ideas but mystical ideas are very popular in many circles. The fact is that people to a great extent do not like what is in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. These are now stretched to give them some other interpretation. Every miracle is being given spiritual interpretation. Princess Karadja believes that she has been chosen for the Divine mission to disclose these secrets.

What is curious, and in my view useful for us, is that whatever has been disclosed to her is very close to Islam. She is also under the influence of The Islamic Review. Whatever I told her about Islam overjoyed her, and she expressed agreement with it. So in her article published in the July issue of The Islamic Review she has openly acknowledged that she accepts all the seven fundamental doctrines of Islam. As far as I can see, she is highly intelligent and to some extent of a pure mind. She had read much, is disaffected with present-day Christianity and reaches the right conclusions which she believes to be Divinely-revealed to her. Why should we object? I asked her a clear question today, which she could not answer except to say that she could not understand the Divine purpose.

I said: When Jesus left this world he had acknowledged that after him shall come the spirit of truth who will guide into all the truth, [Note 3] but you think that after Jesus religion remained in its true form for two centuries, after which the truth became concealed and this was followed by seventeen centuries of corruption, and the door has now opened for that spirit of truth. Did the perfect attributes of God cease to work from the third century after Jesus till today? Did He not provide means of our physical nourishment for all this time? So what is the reason that spiritual nourishment be suspended for seventeen centuries at a stretch? What should have happened was that the door of Divine grace should have opened some short time after Jesus. Why must we wait this long?

I said: You have accepted that the knowledge that is now about to be revealed has never been revealed to anyone in Europe before. Since there is a claimant who has given such knowledge to the world thirteen hundred years ago, and he claims to fulfil that prophecy of Jesus, why should we not accept him? The probability of truth is in the favour of that other claimant who came before you. As to what he brought, there is a simple way of determining it. You tell me each and every point of new knowledge that you claim has been revealed to you, and if the same is found in the Holy Quran in full detail then why should it not be accepted that that knowledge has already come? Of course perhaps Europe, due to prejudice, will not accept them from the Quran but it is possible that it will accept them from you.

This made a deep impression upon her, as I could tell from her face, and she said: I will definitely read the Quran. I think she may prove to be like a Pandit Dayanand for here,[Note 4] that is, it is possible that the idols here may be broken through her work. Of course, she is much better than Dayanand because she shows great respect and honour for the Holy Prophet Muhammad. I have noticed that this princess is very broadminded. She replied to me by saying that the Quran was undoubtedly for the East but for the West she was needed. I said: Why shouldn’t the Quran be accepted for the whole world and you be considered as its instrument for Europe? This made her stop and she said: I will definitely read the Quran, I regret that I have not read it, please let me know of a good translation. I said that we were preparing a translation. She replied: Please get it printed very quickly, that will be the translation worth reading for me because the others will not be free of prejudice. Yesterday she gave me another of her short writings which has not yet been published. I read it today and was astonished that seven-eighths of it is Islam as if from a Muslim Sufi.

She is vehemently opposed to the Christian doctrine of atonement and believes in the principle “no bearer of a burden shall bear the burden of another”. [Note 5] Regarding paradise and hell, she also believes in the concepts of advancement to higher degrees in paradise and the purpose of hell being only purification and cleansing. These two teachings are entirely opposed to present-day Christianity and in agreement with the Quran. She is also sternly opposed to the idea that salvation is only through faith, and accepts my writing stating that this is a preposterous idea and that the doctrine that the blood of Jesus washed away our sins is wrong. She considers faith without good deeds to be entirely illogical. She accepts Jesus as a perfect man and a good model, and believes that the Divine element which reached perfection within him is to be found in every human being. When I mentioned our belief in the sinlessness of all other prophets as well, and told her that we consider all prophets to possess that same element within them developed to perfection, she said: I accept that, but I have received grace through Jesus. I said: Now receive grace through Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Her reply was: all right. She has a natural attachment to Jesus, and this is a matter of ego for her. Sometimes she conceded during the talk that some points were not made clear even to Jesus, but still she assigns him an exaggerated status and considers him as perfect. I asked her why she had been selected to receive this grace? She replied that till this day the male has terribly oppressed the female, who are a half of humanity, so now a woman has been appointed. I said that Islam had ended the oppression of women and opened for them the same doors of spiritual progress as for men, so there was no need for the Princess’ appointment. She acknowledged that she had read my article in The Islamic Review about woman and approved of it very much. She admitted that by reading The Islamic Review not only has her knowledge increased but many of her views have changed as well. She is astonished that there are so many priceless gems in Islam and still Islam is so much attacked. She said:

“I will definitely support Islam. Please let me know more about its merits. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, I have much sympathy and amity for you. Your mission and my mission are not different. You have come to establish the same beliefs in Europe as I want to establish: the oneness of God, removal of the doctrine of atonement, explaining the truth about Jesus, showing that the door to spirituality and revelation is open to all. But I understand Europe, that is why God has chosen me. We have small differences in some matters. It would be best if we do not discuss them.”

I said: The fact is that it is this for which God has raised you. If I attack the prevalent form of Christianity it would be intolerable for these people. Also I am a stranger. So God has raised you to clear away idolatrous beliefs. Today I gave her the Promised Messiah’s answers to the five questions at the Religious Conference [Note 6] and told her that the points she had discussed with great difficulty in her writing, for which she could not find any authority in the Bible, have been explained fully in this book [Note 7] and all have been based on the Holy Quran.

In the end I told her to consider that if she is asked to provide authority from the Gospels and words of Jesus for the concepts she had mentioned to me, which she believes to have been revealed to her, then there is no answer, total silence. She argues that the world at that time was not receptive to them, so they were not taught then, but the world is receptive now. But if all these concepts are found in the Quran in the most perfect way, shouldn’t we give preference to the Quran?

I shall leave here tomorrow morning. For the time being it has been agreed that she will come to London in September, where she has a magnificent house, to stay for seven or eight months. She also has disciples. Many women come to see her and she teaches them what she considers to be abstruse spiritual secrets. She told me: We could work together there and I could also study the Quran. It would be a wonder if her disciples became disciples of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. I offered and she accepted that I would explain those spiritual secrets in the light of the Quran and she would accept them and teach them to her disciples. Allah knows best.

Another advantage accruing from meeting her is that I learnt that there is going to take place a very major religious conference in Paris in two weeks time. I want to participate in it and read a paper. So the Princess has promised to give me a letter of recommendation addressed to the organisers of the conference, advising that I should be given the opportunity to make a speech on Islam.

If God wills, this is an excellent opportunity, as people from all over the Western world will be there.

I hope Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad and Munshi Nur Muhammad have will have left on 2 July. [Note 8] Great difficulties are faced here: the July issue [of The Islamic Review] is ready and has been printed but as I am not there [in England] there is no arrangement for sending it out.

The Princess has given me a letter she wrote in French. I have had it read, as it was open. It appears from it how highly she respects Islam and also she esteems me very much. I am not concerned with being esteemed personally.What I mean is that this meeting has borne very good results. May God give me an opportunity in Paris. After reaching Paris the day after tomorrow, inshallah, I will write again. I may possibly be able to write in that letter what happened.


Notes by Website Editor

Note 1. This is the Ardennes Forest on the German/Belgium border where the famous Battle of the Bulge was fought near the close of the Second World War in December 1944/January 1945 involving more than one million soldiers of both sides.

Note 2. About Princess Karadja

According to several sources, she was Marie Louise Smith of Sweden (1868-1943). See for example, the Wikipedia entry on her son Prince Constantin Karadja. There is also an entry for her husband Jean Karadja Pasha, whom she married in 1887.

One Henry Thomas Hamblin, in a writing entitled My search for truth (see this link), mentions meeting Princess Karadja in London in 1921 or so:

“… I became acquainted with the late Princess Karadja, founder of The White Cross Union and also well known as a seer. Princess Karadja wrote several books in which she displayed a profound knowledge of esoteric and occult matters which was quite beyond me. … Once when in London and having an hour to spare, I visited Princess Karadja. She told me many interesting and extraordinary things”.

Three or four books by her are listed at amazon.com and abebooks.com.

At the followng websites, articles about her with photographs can be found (each link below goes directly to the article):

The author of a book entitled God is Love dedicated his book to Princess Karadja and writes on the dedication page:

Formerly Doyenne
At the Courts of the LOW COUNTRIES
By HER Favour and Request, This Story,
Written in the light of her friendship,
Under HER hospitable roof, at

(Luxembourg here refers to the province of that name in Belgium.). See this link.

Note 3. John 16:13.

Note 4. Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824–1883) was the founder of the Hindu reform movement the Arya Samaj in India. He vehemently opposed the common practice of idol-worship in Hinduism.

Note 5. The Holy Quran, 17:15.

Note 6. This was held in December 1896 in Lahore, where a famous paper by Hazrat Mizra Ghulam Ahmad was read.

Note 7. By the book is meant The Teachings of Islam by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

Note 8. These were two Ahmadis sent to England to assist Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din in his Islamic mission.

Related links:




From Badr, 31 July 1913, pages 4–5.

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.