How Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din first
opened the Woking Mosque
We reproduce below an article entitled The Mosque
at Woking: A miniature of Mecca in the days of the Pilgrimage
which was published in The Islamic Review of July 1930, where
the author mentions events relating to how Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din first
came across and opened the closed Woking mosque in 1912/13. This
article appeared about two and a half years before the death of
The Mosque at Woking: A miniature of Mecca in the days of the
by Kazi Abdul Haq
Most surely the first house appointed for men is
the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations
Holy Quran, 3:95.
It was in 1916 that Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, the founder of the Woking
Muslim Mission, gave us an extremely interesting account of his
first visit to the Mosque at Woking. He told the story to certain
of his friends who went to pay their respects to him on the occasion
of his visit to Lucknow. He said that when he opened the locked-up
House of God in November 1912 he found the floor chock-full of straw
and other rubbish, the accumulations of the many years during which
its doors had remained closed. Then he perceived an old copy of
the Quran placed on a carved wooden receptacle Rihal
lying in a corner, and opening the Holy Book at random he found
the following words that met his eyes in the first line of the page:
Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at
Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations (Holy Quran,
3:95). The word Bekka, the alternative name of Mecca in ancient
times, literally means a place where people gather together in multitudes.
It seemed to him a prophetic name, and so it has proved.
These words touched the Khwajas heart and he fell on the
bare cold floor of the Mosque, prostrating himself before the Lord
with tears in his eyes. He wept like a child and the following prayer
was on his lips, if my memory does not fail me:
O Creator of Nations and All-Powerful God, Thou
madest Mecca the holiest place in the East, and didst bring nations
in multitudes to that city. Make this Mosque, I pray Thee, in like
manner the Mecca in the West.
The words welled up from a true heart. They were heard by the Lord,
and the answer was not long in coming.
The Khwaja was formerly a successful lawyer, and has relinquished
a lucrative practice in response to a call from within. He journeyed
to England and there gave tireless service to the Cause; he kept
no count of day or night; he denied himself every pleasure and relaxation
and in the onset became seriously ill, but medical advice fell on
deaf ears when his doctors urged him to take a few months
rest. He had without doubt achieved a unique success, such as honesty
and integrity, accompanied by diligence and the infinite taking
of pains, most properly deserve; but every moment of success tightened
up the harness of labour. Single-handed he worked on, till he lay
on what seemed likely to prove his death-bed. Various diseases have
assailed him one after the other during the last three years, some
of them mortal, such as pthisis, chronic diabetes, and heart trouble.
Like a willing martyr he prepared to meet his death, as he saw the
seed sown by him in a barren land growing into a fruitful tree.
His prayer to the Almighty that he might see the Mosque at Woking
a Mecca in the West had been heard.
His illness caused great anxiety all over the country, but the
gracious Lord has spared his precious life to us.
Eid-ul-Azha at the Woking Mosque presents a spectacle that can
be matched only in Mecca itself. Almost all Muslim nations in the
world are represented in the gardens of the Mosque, prostrating
themselves before their God and magnifying the Most High, even as
they magnify Him at Mecca on this sacred occasion. Woking is the
only town in the world which becomes on such days a replica in miniature
of the Ancient House of God in Arabia.
The Khwaja gave us also another interesting account of the day
some time in 1913, when he went to Woking in order to take charge
of the Mosque and the Sir Salar Jung memorial house with their appurtenances.
He reached Woking in the forenoon. The time for the noon-prayer
came, and accompanied by the late Shaikh Noor Ahmad, his saintly
companion who was to act as Muezzin that is to say, one who
calls to prayer proceeded to the Mosques precincts.
We find in the Tradition that the first Azan call to prayer
in the days of the Holy Prophet was given at the same hour.
A touching scene occurred when Mr Noor Ahmad came to that portion
of the Azan which runs: Hasten to the prayer and hasten to
success; his voice broke with emotion, and he wept. The Khwaja
was the only observer of the solemn scene and the only worshipper
then present to respond to the call. Afterwards, when the late Shaikh
was asked the cause of his emotion, he replied that the Azan of
Bilal the Muezzin in the days of the Holy Prophet
brought nations to Mecca; but how utterly unable he was to have
worthily replaced him Bilal a passing thought that
brought tears to his eyes.
Be happy, O blessed soul in heaven, thy voice has
been heard and the Woking Mosque draws to itself at the times of
Eid representatives of every Muslim nation.
Thus I address the spirit of the late Shaikh who is no more with
us in this world. I cannot conclude without expressing a Muslims
gratitude to the royal family of Bhopal, seeing that the Mosque
itself is a gift from that illustrious house to the Muslim world.
The late Doctor Leitner, who built the Mosque with the Bhopal money,
published a letter in the early nineties in the London Press in
which he maintained that the Mosque was intended only for a few
selected persons and could in no case be regarded as a centre of
Muslim activities in England, far less as the headquarters for a
campaign for the conversion of English people to Islam. But coming
events were to give his words the lie. The Mosque is not only the
centre of Muslim religious activity in the British Isles but the
seat of the Islamic Mission that has witnessed hundreds of conversions
to Islam. I pray for the soul of the late Begum Sahiba [ruler
of Bhopal]. It is gratifying to note that H.H. the Nawab-mother
of the present ruler of Bhopal promised the Khwaja a considerable
sum for enlarging the Mosque and on her last visit to England laid
the foundation stone of the contemplated extension. I hope that
Muslims will soon celebrate the coming Eids within the four walls
of the new building, as it will be far too cold to remain out in
The Islamic Review, July 1930, pages 242244.