Report of Id-ul-Adha
16th April 1932
Published in the Sunday Times
Prayers led by English Muslim, William Bashyr-Pickard
From The Islamic Review, August 1932
The report of this Id-ul-Adha was published in the
Sunday Times, 17th April 1932, and is reproduced below
from The Islamic Review, August 1932, pages 248249.
For a photograph of the occasion see
THE EID-UL-AZHA AT WOKING.
It is raining hard, and brightness pierces through heavy leaden
skies, and from the sloping top of a large marquee, pegged out on
a sodden field, to-day drip rivulets of water.
And yet inside are over four hundred of the most happy and contented
people I have ever seen. Indians, Malayans, Persians, Arabs, Afghans
and Moroccans mingle with French and English, their racial differences
forgotten in their common faith of Islam.
The marquee is erected near the blue and gold Shah Jehan Mosque,
whose whited dome can be seen from the railway line, and has been
needed because the Mosque is far too small for the celebration of
Eid-ul-Azha. One of the most sacred Muslim festivals, it is held
yearly to commemorate Gods restraining of Abraham when he
attempted to make a sacrifice of his son Ishmael.
Coverings had been spread over the grass under the marquee, and
stoves were dotted about to bring a little physical warmth to the
damp atmosphere, which had no effect on the good spirits and fellowship
of the worshippers.
Before and after the service they laughed and chatted together,
often breaking off to give the double heart embrace of their faith.
Young students kept darting about, eager to meet and embrace each
other, and older members, to whom they showed a respect that was
marked by affection but not awe.
The officiating Imam, Aftab-ud-din Ahmad, had issued the invitations,
but he smilingly stood aside for an English Muslim, Mr. William
B. Bashyr-Pickard, B.A., (Cantab), and who is the librarian of Hertford,
to conduct the prayers.
The portion of the Koran relating to Abrahams sacrifice was
read, and Mr. Bashyr-Pickard told of the brotherhood of man, without
antagonism of race or class, which is the basis of the Muslim religion.
Mr. Bashyr-Pickard (the Arabic prefix means one who brings
good news) is the first English Moslem to conduct the prayers
at the festival of Eid-ul-Azha
Many of the congregations were seated on the ground, and some,
feeling that the marquee was a veritable mosque, had removed their
shoes. Most of the men wore European clothes, with fezes and turbans.
A few Eastern women, wearing saris, sat in chairs at the
back, near the many English women.
Lord Headley, who is president of the British Muslim Society, wore
a red fez almost as impressive as the white headdress of Sir Umar
Hayat Khan, who, in a yellow tunic and white trousers, stood near
Lunch was served in the marquee after the service, and a number
of young students acted as stewards. There was no top table
and no place-names.
Among those present were their Excellencies The Egyptian Minister,
The Hedjaz Minister and the Charge dAffaires of Afghanistan,
Colonel Nawab Sir Umar Hayat Khan, Al-Hajj EI-Farooq Lord Headley,
Rt. Rev. Bishop James, Prof. Haroun Mustafa Leon, the merchant prince
Zainul Ali Raza, Mr. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Mrs. Buchanan Hamilton,
Nawabzada F. M. Khan, Sir Bramwell and Miss Thomas, and Mr. Habibullah
Lovegrove. The members of the spiritualist community attended the
function in a number never witnessed before.