The passing of a great man
by R.G. Pickthall, Bar-at-Law
Reproduced below is the text of the tribute paid to
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din by R.G. Pickthall, M.A. (Oxon), Bar-at-Law, which
appeared under the above title in the special issue of The Islamic
Review devoted to the death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, dated AprilMay
1933, on pages 125127.
The lamented death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din has removed from the
world of religious thought one of its most inspiring and impressive
figures a figure made the more remarkable by its sharp and
outstanding contrast with what has long passed for religious eminence
Whereas, with Western nations, religion has for very many generations
been regarded as, at the least, a means of livelihood at
the most a road to preferment and worldly consideration with
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din his religion was actually his very life and
for its furtherance he gladly sacrificed himself and all he had.
To this his work at Woking alone bears ample testimony, and it is
this which enabled him to carry through the well-nigh insuperable
task to which he had devoted himself that of opening the
ears of the West to the message of the East as set forth in the
gospel of the Holy Prophet.
That aspect of his life and endeavour is sufficiently well-known
to need any further words from me: rather would I seek to recall
memories of the man himself, his unswerving kindness, his patience,
his loveableness, his sympathy, his saintliness. These could only
be appreciated to the full by those who had lived under the same
roof and in close association with him as it was my great
good fortune to do; and it is with poignant feelings of regret that
one looks back to those Sunday afternoons round the tea table at
the Sir Salar Jung Memorial House, after the Sunday lecture was
over, when we all guests from London and further afield,
and friends from Woking and the surrounding districts would
gather round him like disciples round their Master, while he, with
patience and lucidity expounded any difficulties which might have
arisen and answered the questions which all were eager to put.
Nor did Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din confine himself to study or pulpit.
Many times I have been his companion to various entertainments,
wherein even then he was quick to perceive the perils, latent for
ignorant or unbalanced youth, which we are all now belatedly beginning
to realize; and often have I sat with him on summer evenings, under
the trees on the lawn before the Mosque, with the trains roaring
by on the embankment behind us, while he would discuss every kind
of topic, shedding a new and individual light on each, or I would
seize the opportunity by asking his advice, which he was always
ready to give.
His learning was immense, as abundantly appears from the numerous
books and pamphlets which came from his pen, but he never obtruded
it in any way, so that sometimes its presence came as a surprise
to the unwary. Once I remember, in Berlin, whither I had the privilege
of accompanying him in 1922, at a little gathering of German savants
in the Wilhelmstrasse to which we had been invited one afternoon,
the conversation turned upon a philological point of some nicety,
when a modest suggestion from Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din amazed and delighted
the group, who little thought to find in their guest a foeman more
than worthy of their steel and that in a subject generally
conceded to be almost a German preserve.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was a born fighter in the cause he had at heart.
He never acknowledged discouragement. Always cheerful, always mindful
of the bright side of things and of men, he had put his hand to
the plough and never looked back, meeting each temporary reverse
or disappointment with the simple words God knows better.
He was a firm friend, sympathetic, tactful, generous and, above
all, wise, as many have gratefully cause to remember.
We in Woking had hoped that God in His mercy would spare Khwaja
Kamal-ud-Din to re-visit once again the Mission he had founded,
and mark with joy its flourishing condition. Now it is some consolation,
yet a sad one, to know that all that is mortal of that heroic saintly
figure will be laid to rest in the shadow of the little Mosque he
loved so well.
R.G. Pickthall, M.A. (Oxon.)., Bar-at-Law
Note by Website Editor: With reference to the last sentence
of this obituary, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din is in fact buried in Lahore
in the Lahore Ahmadiyya section in the Miani Sahib cemetery, where
will be found the graves of other Lahore Ahmadiyya pioneers such
as Maulana Muhammad Ali.