Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Report of ‘Id-ul-Fitr at Woking, 13 November 1939
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Report of ‘Id-ul-Fitr at Woking,
13th November 1939

Imam declares in sermon:

“…the very fact that synagogues have been pulled down in Germany … makes it obligatory upon us Muslims to throw our weight into the cause of the Allies”

From The Islamic Review, February and March 1940 issues

Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939, and this announcement marked the commencement of the Second World War. The lives of individuals and communities throughout Britain were deeply affected and disrupted. The Woking Muslim Mission and Muslims in U.K. were affected like the rest of the country. This can be seen from the report of the next ‘Id-ul-Fitr at the Woking Mosque, given below, which was held on 13th November 1939.

In his khutba, the Imam, towards the end, dealt with the teachings of Islam regarding the two or three kinds of objects for which Muslims are permitted to go to war. One of these objects, the one which the Imam emphasised, was: “To enable every person to follow his religious convictions, to whatever persuasion he may belong.” He went on to say:

“A Muslim is bound to wage war against any person, whether of his own kith and kin and religion or not, who interferes with the beliefs of a non-Muslim. … Muslims are ordered to sacrifice their lives not only to save their own mosques but the religious houses of other peoples as well. …

The Zionist policy in Palestine has done us great harm. Untold miseries has it brought upon our brethren in the faith in that country. But the very fact that synagogues have been pulled down in Germany upon the slightest pretext makes it obligatory upon us Muslims to throw our weight into the cause of the Allies.” (The Islamic Review, March 1940, pp. 97, 98)

We quote below the report of the function. From the names given in it of some of those present, we find that the audience included Muslim ambassadors and other distinguished Muslims, and Christian clergymen.


The Muslim festival of ld-ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, was celebrated at the Shah Jehan Mosque on Monday, 13th November 1939.

Many things combined to make this Id different from those of preceding years. On account of the War Emergency, and the subsequent departure of many Muslim residents from this country, it was anticipated that, comparatively, fewer people would take part in the celebration. Travel facilities were meagre. The special cheap day travel tickets issued to participants on all previous occasions were no longer obtainable. In fact, prior to the event none but an incurable optimist would have expected that on this occasion the attendance would approximate to the figure of former years. Last minute surprises were, however, in store for us. No sooner had the invitation cards been issued, than applications for more came from numerous new friends — Muslim and non-Muslim. The number of the visitors was in the neighbourhood of 600.

Nature was benevolent that day; the rains which had become a regular feature for the past fortnight stopped; the sun which was peeping from behind the clouds reappeared.

One giant marquee was used in place of the usual two. Inside it on the walls were hung the flags of five different Muslim nations — a new feature which greatly enhanced the importance of the occasion and also served as a symbol of the unity of Islamic nations. In the rear of the tent, at its far-end side, were placed tables for serving refreshments. Thick carpets on the floor and stoves scattered about the arena made the atmosphere inside the tent cosy and warm, and provided a reasonable safeguard against the exigencies of the English climate.

One early arrival was none other than Sir Firoz Khan Noon, the High Commissioner for India, who was accompanied by his entourage. By 10-30 a.m. other visitors had begun to arrive. The gathering in front of the marquee was gradually increasing, as, although all the arrivals were ushered into the sheltered atmosphere of the tent, the majority preferred to remain outside walking about the grounds or standing in groups gaily chatting with one another till the appointed time for prayers.

A medley of all Muslim nations on terms of perfect equality and distinguishable from one another only by the different costumes worn, is a heartening sight. And, if it were not for the presence of some members of His Majesty’s Forces, one would have almost forgotten that there was a war on.

Just before prayers a large number of Indian seamen arrived in buses — a solid phalanx in blue uniforms. Their hastily wrapped headgears alone indicated that, for the moment, they were not on their daily nautical duties. When it was announced that prayers were going to be said, the problem of space inside the tent became acute, so much so, that even the uncarpeted passage on the bare ground was utilised.

After the prayers, a very interesting Id sermon was delivered by the Imam. At the end of the lecture his statement reflecting the attitude of Muslims in this war aroused much interest — and comment. The guests were then entertained to an appetising luncheon consisting of Oriental dishes.

So ended a very successful Id day.

Amongst those present were: His Excellency Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, Lt.-Col. Sir Hassan Suhrawardy, Sir Firoz Khan Noon, The Rt. Rev. Bishop J. Wedgwood, Rev. S. R. Bawtree, Rev. P. L. Quitlet, Afifi Fakhouri, Secretary, Arab Centre, London, Dr. H. G. Patel, Captain Rashid, Mr. Ikramullah, I.C.S., Mian M. Nasir, P.C.S., Prof. Dr. A.M. Deen, Mr.Omar Flight, Mr. Lewis Parker, Mr. Dawood Cowan, and Mr. Ibrahim Arif.

— From The Islamic Review, February 1940, pages 42–44.

The complete text of the khutba can be read here.

See also from the same issue of The Islamic Review: Imam of the Woking Mosque replies to question about Fascism/Nazism in 1939.

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.