Muslims worship in an English
Woking Friday prayer service reported in the Daily
Express, London, February 27th, 1932
[Note by Website Editor: A report of a Friday
prayer service at the Woking Mosque along with a photograph were
published in the Daily Express, London, dated February 27th,
1932. These were reproduced in The Islamic Review, May 1932,
p. 141142, from which we publish them below.]
|The Muezzins call to prayer at
the weekly service at the Islamic Mosque (centre) at
(Right) The Deputy Imam Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad leading the
prayers in the mosque, bowing towards Mecca.
An English woman Moslem is seen among those who were at the
Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar!
A black-haired youth in a lounge suit stood on the edge of a fountain
in a garden at Woking yesterday and, placing his hands against his
ears to shut out all communication with the outer world, intoned
these words in a loud penetrating voice: Allah-u-Akbar!
He was the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.
Allah is the Greatest Allah is the Greatest!
And then, still in the Arabic: I bear witness that nothing
deserves to be worshipped but Allah!
As he stood and called to the faithful he was unmindful of the
engineering works to the left, of the railway trains screeching
behind him. He stood before a beautiful, if diminutive, mosque,
with minarets all faced with blue and gold, with an arabesque doorway,
and, above all, a gilded dome and the Crescent of Muslim.
As the muezzin had no objection to others beside the faithful entering
the mosque, I joined the company. The Imam deputising for the day
rose without ceremony. He was in correct morning dress, and wore
a dark-coloured sheepskin fez. Private prayers had begun. There
was deadly quiet. The Imam, with his back to the followers and looking
towards Mecca, was deep in contemplation and wordless petition.
Now he raised his hands in supplication. Now he sank on his knees
and bowed his head on the carpet. One after another the other worshippers
joined him. Nobody spoke. There was presently a sermon from a text
in the Quran. It was to the effect that no dead thing, but only
the living, can create interest in the mind of man.
The application of this was (a) that Islam was no dead thing,
but alive; (b) that being so, though attempts had been made
to crush Islam, the religion still persisted. The Imam traced the
attitude of medieval history towards Mohammedanism, and came suddenly
to the Bishop James controversy that has recently taken place in
the Evening Standard, especially concerning Mohammedanism.
The Imam took strong exception to a statement that had been made
to the effect that the position of Mohammedan women was deplorable.
It was Islam, he cried, that gave a position to
women. It was Muhammad who gave women a share in inheritance; it
was he who made the defending of womens honour a part of human
character. Chivalry had its birth in Islam, Chivalry
was not known in the world till that time.
The sermon was ended. More prayers this time altogether.
The Muslim women joined now. As-salaam-u-alaikum wa rahmatullah-i
(peace be with you and the mercy of Allah). All the worshippers
turn their heads to the right, then to the left. The gesture means
that the prayer for peace embraces the whole world on either hand.