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
1. British Foreign Office documents relating
Including high level correspondence
between government official
King Hussein will make
due provision for your comfort during your stay in Mecca,
and will place at your disposal a car for the journey from
Jeddah to Mecca.
Arabian Secretary for State for Foreign Affairs
Lord Headley showed himself
as an ardent Moslem and the speeches which he made revealed
great devotion to the Mohammedan faith and attracted considerable
Field-Marshall Lord Allenby writing to Foreign
Secretary Lord Curzon from Egypt
We have obtained a publicly available record of
the British Foreign Office, dated July 1923, containing correspondence
in relation to the Pilgrimage to Mecca by Lord Headley in
that year. Quoted below are documents from this record in
order of occurrence, which is also chronological. On this
webpage the texts of all documents from this record are enclosed
within borders, while all other text not so enclosed are comments
by the Website Editor of this website.
1. Lord Headleys letter
informing of going for Hajj
Probably as a matter of protocol, Lord Headley
wrote a letter to the British Consul at Jeddah, Arabia, regarding
his plans to perform the Pilgrimage. The Foreign Office record
begins with this hand-written letter by Lord Headley dated
21 May 1923, which is given below. Note that Lord Headley
was 68 years old at the time of undertaking the arduous journey
in the heat of July.
I am contemplating a visit to Mecca
next month in company with my old Friend the Khwaja
Kamal-ud-Din. We shall probably reach Jeddah sometime
in July for the Pilgrimage to Mecca and I shall esteem
it a great favour if you will kindly inform the Arab
Authorities of my visit and ask them to kindly make
any suitable or necessary arrangements.
The Khwaja has already done the Pilgrimage
but this is my first visit: possibly you know that
I am myself a Muslim and President of the British
Muslim Society and many of the Arabs are friends of
mine and know that I am going.
To The British Consul,
of original letter.
2. Letter by British Consul to Arabian Foreign
ministry and its reply
Upon receiving the above letter, the British Consul in Jeddah
wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (called
S.S. for F.A. in the correspondence below) of
the Arab Hashimite government as follows:
British Agency, Jeddah
June 2nd, 1923
S.S. for F.A.,
I have the honour to inform you that
I have received from Lord Headley, who is President
of the British Muslim Society, a letter in which
he announces his intention of proceeding to Mecca
on Pilgrimage next month and asks me to request
the Hashimite Government to be so good as to make
such arrangements as may be suitable and necessary.
Lord Headley proposes to travel in
the company of Khoja Kamal-ud-Din.
In view of the language of your unnumbered
letter of 27th Zil Qada, 1339, I have the
honour to enquire whether it will be possible for
Your Excellency to make arrangements as desired
by Lord Headley.
H.R.M. Vice Consul
Acting British Agent and Consul
The reply on behalf of the Arabian Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs is as follows:
H.E. the British Agent,
In reply to Your Excellencys
letter No. 526 (393) of 2.6.1923, relative to the
intention of Lord Headley, President of the British
Muslim Society, to come on Pilgrimage this year,
I have the honour to inform you that Khoja Kamal-ud-Din,
the Imam of the London Mosque, had already communicated
with us in the matter. We told him that the coming
Lord should, if he likes, come in his purely Moslem
dress. He will be received, together with the Khoja,
the Imam, who intermediated for him most fittingly.
We have, however, previously written
on similar subjects various messages in which we
have explained the position of the Hashimite Government
in connection with such matters, from what is clearly
observed and felt from the accusation that we are
handing the two holy sanctuaries over to His Majestys
Our remarks are not made with a view
to thinking evil of those who claim to be Moslems
and confess the Moslem faith, the confession of
which by any person causes him to be considered
a Moslem at once without hesitation. But, Your Excellency,
we mean that all the world does not know of your
British policy and of the freedom of the Hejaz from
any interference as is the fact. Then, after this,
we will not hesitate about any one who says that
he is a Moslem and desires to enter the country.
for S.S. for F.A.
3. British Consuls letter to Lord Headley
The following is the response by the British
Consul, Jeddah, to Lord Headleys original letter:
June 10th 1923.
Dear Lord Headley,
Your letter of May 21st last reached
me on June 2nd, and I gather that Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
has also written to the Hashimite Government on
the subject of your intention to perform the Pilgrimage
to Mecca this year.
Sheikh Fuad-al-Khatib, the Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs in Mecca, informs me
that King Hussein will make due provision for your
comfort during your stay in Mecca, and will place
at your disposal a car for the journey from Jeddah
to Mecca and a carriage for the journey Mecca-Arafat
I anticipated difficulties, owing
to the extreme susceptibility of King Hussein to
criticism (which is not lacking) of his alleged
subservience to British influence. Than such subservience
nothing could, in fact, be further from the truth,
but His Majestys unwillingness to give colour
to the rumour that Mecca is now in British servitude
has hitherto debarred English pilgrims from the
The local authorities are emphatic
that your dress and attitude should be, as it were,
exclusively Moslem until your return to Jeddah.
You will, I am sure, find no difficulty in meeting
their wishes in this respect.
I enclose a letter from Sheikh Fuad-al-Khatib
to the Khwaja and the copy of a letter written to
The two letters from Sheikh Fuad-al-Khatib,
the Arabian government Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
as referred to in the last line of the above letter, have
been translated into English in the Foreign Office record,
and are as follows:
To the British Agent, Jeddah.
I beg to enclose a private letter from me to Khoja
Kamal-ud-Din, the Imam of the Moslem Mosque in London,
for favour of transmission by post or summarising
its contents by telegram in case you think time is
short. With best thanks.
The letter from Sheikh Fuad-al-Khatib to Khwaja
Kamal-ud-Din, enclosed with the above note, is as follows
in the English translation given in the Foreign Office record.
In this letter the term H.M. my Lord refers to
his King and H.R. means Lord Headley.
I hasten to acknowledge receipt of your latest letter
of 24/5/23 the contents of which I submitted to H.M.
my Lord. You, your Indian guest and Lord Headley are
welcome, but I draw your attention to the following
remarks in reply to your questions:
1) Arrangements will be made for your comfortable
journey for the Hajj and after performing the Hajj.
H.M. my Lord is preparing for H.R. a motor car from
Jeddah to Mecca, and from Mecca to Arafat. These will
be a special car as it is difficult to go by motor
there because motors disturb the camels which will
be filling the roads and the deserts.
2) Please arrange that H.R. the Lord should be with
you as if he is an Indian pilgrim and should dress
himself in the Indian fashion. When he goes back,
there will be no objection for him showing the nationality,
if he likes. This is not a matter of doubt in your
witness of his Islamism, and you are the Imam of the
mosque there and the preacher of the religion, neither
is it connected with the smallest point of the British
honour, let alone the fact that the religious law
does not justify preventing anybody performing the
pilgrimage duty after he has admitted of the Moslem
faith and his Islam is correct; but it is the present
political circumstances which necessitates same.
3) As to the climate, it is with regret that it is
quite hot this year. The best way to withstand it
is to keep patient in it. For the Hajj comes in the
This auspicious season (pilgrimage) will come in
a better climate only after about three years.
I am sending these informations at your request hoping
that you will consider them.
We have informed our representative in Egypt of your
coming to facilitate your journey.
I repeat my request that the Lord should be as an
Indian pilgrim on his way here, as afore mentioned,
because you will see many newspapers saying that we
sold the country to the English people and that the
two sanctuaries became a colony and here are the English
going there and coming back.
This remark is not forever. It is only till these
clouds have disappeared and everybody is convinced
of the falsehood of such rumours.
The British Consul at Jeddah wrote to the Foreign Office
in London as follows:
|Please inform Lord Headley local authorities will
make arrangements as desired. He should dress as an
Indian pilgrim. Letter for him c/o British Consul, Port
4. Lord Headleys
Lord Headley then wrote a letter, dated 9 June
1923, as follows to the British Consul at Jeddah:
It has now been settled that I shall leave London
on the 22nd inst. on board the P&O S.S. Macedonia
which is expected to reach Port Said on July 4th.
We expect to stay in Cairo for a week and to leave
Suez on July 11th, arriving at Jeddah on the 16th.
My friend the Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and two other Muslims
will accompany me and I shall be greatly obliged if
you will kindly let the Arab authorities know that
we are coming and that we intend to be in Mecca on
the 24th July. I am well acquainted with Emir Abdullah
King of Trans Jordania and read the address of Welcome
at Woking on Nov. 5th 1922. I feel sure that his Father,
King Hussain, will give me welcome as I am the President
of the British Muslim Society.
very faithfully yours
President British Muslim Society.
image of original letter.
5. Letter by British Consul to Arabian Foreign
ministry and its reply
The British Consul in Jeddah wrote again to the Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs of the Arab Hashimite government
British Agency, Jeddah
June 27th, 1923
S.S. for F.A.,
With reference to previous correspondence
ending with your letter No. 818 of 24.10.1341, on
the subject of the Pilgrimage of Lord Headley, President
of the British Moslem Society, I have the honour to
inform Your Excellency that Lord Headley hopes to
arrive at Jeddah in the company of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
on the 15th July next by Khedivial Mail boat from
H.R.M. Agent and Consul
The reply by the Arabian Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs is as follows:
H.E. the British Agent,
In reply to Your Excellencys letter
No. 605 M (393) of June 27th, in which you informed
me of the date on which Lord Headley expects to arrive
at Jeddah, I have the honour to inform you that he
With best respects.
Fuad al Khatib
S.S. for F.A.
6. Secret note from High Commission in Egypt
The next document in the Foreign Office record
is marked SECRET and is a note from
the British High Commission in Egypt as follows:
PAN-ISLAMISM IN EGYPT
Information has been received from a reliable source
to the effect that Lord HEADLEY, the well-known English
pervert to Islam, and an Indian, Khoja KEMALEDDIN,
both belonging to the Islamic Society in England,
will sail for EGYPT on the 4th July. After a short
stay in this country, they will continue their journey
to MECCA. The HIZB UL WATN, having been informed of
the plans of the above-mentioned individuals, are
arranging to give them an official welcome upon their
arrival in EGYPT. They are expected to arrive at ALEXANDRIA,
and to leave for MECCA from PORT SAID. The HIZB UL
WATN are therefore organising committees in these
two cities to welcome the visitors. Khoja KEMALEDDIN,
who is a particularly active Islamic propagandist,
will probably act as guide and sponsor for Lord HEADLEY.
22nd June 1923.
Copies to: S.I.S. 2
British Agent, Jedda 1
from Lord Allenby to Lord Curzon
The final document in the Foreign Office record
is a report by the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Field-Marshall
Lord Allenby, to the British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon,
about the visit through Egypt of Lord Headley and Khwaja
Allenby (18611936) was a famous British military general
who was Commander-in-Chief of British allied forces in the
Middle East towards the end of the First World War, and
later served as British High Commissioner for Egypt, 19191925.
Lord Curzon (18591925)
is famous as Viceroy of India at the beginning of the 20th
century. He was Foreign Secretary during 19191924.
The report is as follows:
July 13th, 1923.
The Most Honourable
The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
K.G., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E.
etc., etc., etc.
I have the honour to inform you that
Lord Headley, accompanied by Khoja Kamel ed Din,
the Imam of the Mosque at Woking, arrived at Port
Said on the 4th instant and, after visiting Cairo
and Alexandria, left yesterday for Jeddah in order
to take part in the Pilgrimage.
2. Considerable publicity was given
to his visit to Egypt before his arrival here and
both the Watanist and the Zaghlulist
parties showed themselves anxious to act as his
host during his stay in Egypt, hoping doubtless
thereby to gain some local political advantage.
Reception Committees were formed in Port Said, Alexandria
and Cairo, and in each of these towns Lord Headley
was the object of most marked attention, while the
meetings which were held in his honour were remarkable
for their enthusiasm. Lord Headley showed himself
as an ardent Moslem and the speeches which he made
revealed great devotion to the Mohammedan faith
and attracted considerable attention.
3. On his arrival at Port Said he
was met by His Britannic Majestys Consul as
a matter of courtesy and he subsequently called
on me here. He was at pains to impress upon me that
he was visiting me in my capacity as His Majestys
Representative in this country, and he repeated
this statement to me in the presence of Khoja Kamel
ed Din and two Egyptian members of the Alexandria
Reception Committee, and added that he wished to
assure me as High Commissioner here that his visit
had nothing to do with politics and was undertaken
solely for religious purposes. He made similar remarks
on more than one occasion in public at the various
receptions which were held for him.
4. While his utterances on more than
one occasion caused considerable resentment amongst
the local Christian communities, particularly the
Syrian Catholic community, his visit passed off
5. He informed me that he hoped to
visit Sanaa in the Yemen after the completion
of the pilgrimage and thence to proceed to Khartoum
whence he would make his way home to England.
6. I am sending copies of this despatch
to Khartoum, Jeddah and Aden.
I have the honour to be,
With the highest respect,
Your Lordships most obedient, humble servant,
The Watanist and the Zaghlulist
parties mentioned in this report were two nationalist
parties in Egypt, the former named from the word watan,
meaning country, and the latter named after Saad Zaghlul Pasha
(d. 1927), an Egyptian political leader and founder of the