Hajj with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, 1923
- British Foreign Office
documents relating to it
- Departure from London
and stay in Egypt
- Lord Headleys
speech in Cairo
- Report in The
- Related at first annual
meeting of British Muslim Society
2. Departure from London
and stay in Egypt
Photograph of Lord Headley (centre)
at the Hajj with two companions.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din is on the left.
Departure from London
In The Islamic Review issue
for June–July 1923 (p. 206) it is reported under the
heading Where the East meets West:
Amidst the greetings of a
huge concourse of friends assembled at Liverpool Street
railway station [in London] to give them a hearty sendoff,
the Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Lord Headley started on June
22nd on a pilgrimage to the House of Allah at Mecca. Lord
Headley is the first British peer to embrace Islam, and
to his lot now falls the unique distinction of being the
first Western pilgrim to Mecca. It would indeed be a remarkable
scene to see the noble lord wrapped in the pilgrim’s
single sheet meet and greet hundreds of thousands of his
brethren in faith. Notwithstanding Kipling’s “never,”
the East and the West can yet merge into one harmonious
whole in the unity of Islam.
In The Islamic Review issue
for September 1923 there is a report entitled Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
and Lord Headley in Egypt (pages 301307), which
is quoted below.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Lord Headley
It was Friday, the 22nd of June. At
last Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Lord Headley set out on their
long-contemplated pilgrimage to Mecca, Abdul Mohye, the Mufti
of the Mosque, Woking, accompanying them.
It was a long-contemplated pilgrimage.
Soon after his declaration of Islam in 1913, Lord Headley’s
thoughts were set on a visit to Mecca and Medina. Consequently
in 1914, when Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din made up his mind to undertake
a pilgrimage His Lordship seized on the opportunity. All preparatory
arrangements were made; even passages were booked by the s.s. Persia of the P. & O. But as a bolt from the blue
came the Great War and set at naught the entire plan. His
Lordships children were at the time all minors, and
in those troubled days it was not advisable to leave them
alone. With great dismay he had to give up the idea so dear
to his heart, the Khwaja proceeding by himself. 1918 saw the
close of the war, but normal travelling conditions were long
in coming. Even so late as the end of 1919 there were practically
no facilities. The Khwaja was in the meanwhile in the midst
of his kith and kin in India. His return in 1921 roused his
[Lord Headley’s] thwarted longing once more, and at
last came the fulfilment.
Pilgrimage is obligatory on every
Muslim of means, and year after year, as a matter of course,
the Holy City of Mecca is the resort of hundreds of thousands
of pilgrims. But Lord Headleys pilgrimage has a peculiarity
of its own. Lord Headley is the FIRST MUSLIM of this country, and now he is the FIRST PILGRIM from this country too. It was but natural that everywhere
the news should have roused special interest.
The s.s. Macedonia, which carried
the pilgrims, was yet tossing on the Mediterranean waters
when a wireless message hastened to bring the warm greetings
of Port Said. It was from Ahmad Sanabari Bey, President-elect
of the Reception Committee, extending to the illustrious visitors
the hospitality of the town. July 3rd, the day on which the
pilgrims boat touched Port Said, presented a striking
spectacle. It was a surprise to all on board to find that
about fifty of the gentry were already at the docks to extend
them a cordial reception. The boat halted at a distance from
the coast. The deputation, however, made their way to it,
and assembled in the first saloon. It was then discovered
that the representatives of Cairo and Alexandria were also
there with invitations from those cities.
Mr. Najib Bey Barada, Barrister-at-Law,
in an eloquent speech, welcomed the guests to Egyptian shores,
in the course of which he made reference to the Quranic verse:
Behold the Sun and his light; and the Moon when she
borrows light from him. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, he observed,
was the spiritual sun that had dawned on the horizon of the
West. Lord Headley, having, like the moon, absorbed his light,
was shedding his lustre amongst his countrymen.
Mr. Najib Bey was followed by Mr.
Sanabari Bey and a number of men of learning from Cairo, Port
Said and Alexandria, all extending their hearty welcome on
behalf of their respective towns. Over twenty gondolas were
there to carry them back to the coast. The first boat was
occupied by the Khwaja, His Lordship, and Mr. Najib Bey. In
the second were Sheikh Abdul Mohye, Al-Mufti and a few of
the hosts. The rest followed in a line. In the same order
the party got into coaches and, forming a sort of procession,
went through the town. In about half an hour the guests arrived
at the house of Khalil Kassifi Effendi, situated in the European
quarter. Many others of the nobility of the locality came
to see them there. Late-afternoon prayers were said in the
Khalili Mosque, which goes after the name of its founder,
Khalil Effendi. Short speeches were made there. The Khwaja
was requested to deliver the sermon, which he did. Lord Headley
also briefly addressed the congregation. Then came an evening
party in honour of the guests, attended by the cream of the
society. Lord Headley, on behalf of himself and the Khwaja,
thanked all present in most appropriate words.
The next day found the guests on their
way to Cairo. The Port Said Reception Committee had arranged
for a railway saloon at their own expense, which was occupied
by the guests with the hosts from Cairo and Alexandria. From
Port Said right up to Cairo, the train passed no station,
great or small, but found a large gathering for the guests.
Everywhere people would shake hands with Lord Headley and
reverentially kiss the Khwajas hands. Young and old
joined together in lusty cheers of Long live Lord Headley!
and Long live Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din! At such of
the stations where stoppage was not less than three or four
minutes the guests would speak a few words, which Mr. Najib
Bey interpreted into Arabic.
About twelve oclock the train
reached Cairo station, which was crowded to the last inch.
The high and the humble were alike there to do honour to the
guests, who were presented with pretty bouquets of flowers.
In the midst of similar scenes as elsewhere hand-shaking,
hand-kissing, and shouts of Long live Khwaja and Lord
Headley! the guests were seated in motor-cars
and driven to Bekri Mansion, which is situated in Heliopolis.
It is the residence of Syed Ihsan Bekri. Ihsan Effendi is
well known to most English Muslims. He has been in England
for a considerable time, and during his stay took great interest
in the Woking Mission activities. Cairo entertained the guests
for three days. Prayers were said in the Husain Mosque, where
the Sheikhs and Ulemas (learned in theology) welcomed the
guests after Friday prayers. In the afternoon, Syed Bekri,
the elder uncle of Ihsan Bekri Effendi, entertained them at
an evening party. Five hundred people, representative of all
stages and grades of society, assembled in the courtyard of
a palatial building, presented an impressive scene. The whole
arrangement was a display of highly refined taste.
Before tea, welcome speeches were
made. The President of the Reception Committee, Nakib-ul-Ashraf
Sheikh Sawi, in a finely worded speech, welcomed the guests
on behalf of the city. He was followed by many others, of
whom the speeches of Sheikh Bekri and Usman Pasha are especially
noteworthy. Poems in praise of the Khwaja and Lord Headley
Then came tea, which done with, Lord
Headley gave a brief address, Mr. Najib Bey acting as interpreter.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was then requested to address the audience.
Though half of the assemblage, unacquainted with English,
could not understand what the Khwaja said, yet everyone seemed
spellbound. Those that could not follow formed themselves
in several groups, each group having one interpreter to deliver
the Khwajas message. So deep was the impression that
on every occasion thenceforth there was general eagerness
to hear the Khwaja speak on some Islamic subject. So far as
expression of thankfulness was concerned, as well as the spread
of the Islamic Movement in England, Lord Headley did the part,
and did it exceedingly well. Lectures on Islamic topics fell
to the Khwaja to deliver. All the lectures of Lord Headley
were reported in the local English papers.
After a three days memorable
sojourn in the midst of Cairo friends, the guests, in company
with some notables, left for Alexandria. There the reception
was unique. The nobility and the Sheikhs all came to greet
and welcome the guests. His Highness Prince Umar Tusan also
joined in the general welcome through a representative.
Certain features of the reception
accorded to the Khwaja and Lord Headley in these Egyptian
cities are particularly noteworthy. In the first place, the
reception was not from one particular class of people. All
classes showed equal zeal in showing their recognition of
the Khwajas services in the cause of Islam, and their
affection for Lord Headley. A spirit of fraternity pervaded
the atmosphere. The interest of the higher classes may be
judged from the fact that in Alexandria, H.H. Prince Umar
Tusan was, in person, the President of the Reception Committee.
Prince Tusan is a bright gem of the Egyptian Royalty, and
occupies the foremost rank in the Royal Family. On the first
day an evening party was held in the guests honour,
and on the second, a great banquet in the Savoy. Almost all
the Sheikhs, the Ulemas, members of the Royal Family, Government
Ministers, big merchants and leading men of the town, were
Secondly, it must also be noted that
in this general display of fraternal sentiments the Sheikhs
and Ulemas took a foremost part. As a matter of rule, religious
heads and teachers, to whichever religion they may belong,
keep aloof from such activities. But the Egyptian Sheikhs
and Ulemas must be regarded, in this case, as a remarkable
exception. They left no stone unturned to do all honour they
could to the guests. To honour a guest is characteristically
an Islamic virtue; but what is more, of these guests there
was one who had endeared himself to the entire Muslim world
through his selfless services. These Sheikhs and Ulemas hardly
left a word of respect, regard and affection unuttered in
respect of the Khwaja.
Thirdly, the entire Press of Cairo,
Alexandria and Port Said took a real interest in this reception.
All papers, without distinction, ungrudgingly opened their
columns for reporting the movements and activities of the
guests. Gratitude is particularly due to the Christian papers
which, notwithstanding references to Christianity in the various
speeches, showed no narrow spirit of rivalry.
Fourthly, although the movements of
the visitors were confined to but three Egyptian cities, the
cordial sentiment was shared by almost the whole of the country.
As stated, the train passed no station but crowds of country
folk flocked to show their love. Letters and telegrams were
received from numerous places requesting a visit on the return
journey from Mecca.
Fifthly, there were many who were
anxious to treat the guests to individual hospitality, which
the Management of the Reception Committee did not approve
of, as being incongruous with the idea of National hospitality.
The guests were, so to say, regarded as National guests and
welcomed on a National scale.
Sixthly, the reception was unprecedented,
especially at Alexandria, where Prince Umar Tusan was the
moving spirit of the whole thing. The local papers made mention
of this fact.
Seventhly, it was but natural that
the world of Islam should show fraternal love for their new
brother in faith, Lord Headley. But the esteem and regard
which every section of society, the Sheikhs, the Ulemas and
the nobility in particular, displayed for the Khwaja, were
simply remarkable. In their talks and speeches they would
pay homage to the Khwajas erudition in religious lore,
his self-abnegation and his deep insight into the inner meanings
of the Quranic words.
During their stay at Cairo the pilgrims
visited the famous Muslim University, Jami-Azhar. In
Alexandria, after paying a return visit to H.H. Prince Tusan,
they called at the palace of H.M. King Fuad. His Majesty was
at the time out of the town. They they paid a visit to Lord
Allenby, who received them with all pleasure and courtesy
and invited them to dinner, which they were unable to accept
for pressure of engagements.
The 11th found the honoured pilgrims
at Suez, whence they sailed for Jeddha.
Gratitude is particularly due to Ihsan
Bekri Effendi and Mr. Najib Bey Barada, who spared no effort
to afford the guests every comfort. They sacrificed the whole
of their time for the latters company, which they never
gave up till the hour of departure. In fact, Ihsan Effendis
whole household was every moment at the service of the guests.
Note by Website Editor:
In a report by Lord Allenby to the British Foreign Secretary, which is on our website, he refers
to his meeting with Lord Headley and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din.