Reports of Id-ul-Fitr
at Woking, 28 May 1922
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din leads prayer and gives khutba
From The Islamic Review, JuneJuly 1922
We present on this page reports and a photograph of Id-ul-Fitr
at the Woking Mosque on Sunday 28th May 1922, taken from The
Islamic Review, JuneJuly 1922. This is presented as an
example of the celebration of such festivals at the Woking Mosque
in the early years of the Woking Mission, to illustrate how these
occasions were conducted and the kind of international Muslim dignitaries
who graced them by their presence.
The photograph below shows the khutba being delivered in
the grounds of the Woking Mosque (see this photograph in a larger
We first quote below most of the report of thisId-ul-Fitr
written by Rudolf Pickthall in The Islamic Review, JuneJuly
1922, pages 246250.
THE EID-UL-FITR, 1340 A.H.
EID DAY 1922 (the
28th of May) broke with a cloudless sky, and a promise, duly redeemed,
of unstinted sunshine and intense heat.
The oasis of the Woking Mosque in its sylvan setting of pine, rhododendron
and the fresh green of woodland bracken, seemed more than ever a
reproach to the desert of brick and mortar and corrugated iron with
which Industrialism has sought, of late, to hem it in; while the
attendance was even greater than in previous years, Muslim being
present representing well-nigh every nation; and a brilliant diversity
of Eastern costume and headdress splashing the scene here and there
with unexpected colour.
By 11 oclock the hour of Prayer it was estimated
that upwards of two hundred persons had arrived; over three hundred
sat down to lunch, which was served at 1.15 on the lawn and under
the trees; while the advent of a new and large contingent for the
afternoon lecture and the subsequent tea brought the attendance
of the day to a total of well over four hundred.
To one who is present at the Eid festival for the first time, it
is by no means easy to analyse his impressions, or, when analysed,
to record them. He is apt to be trammelled not a little by an old
point of view, seeking to reconcile it, in all its differences,
with the new; never doubting the while but that the two may be,
fundamentally, one and the same.
Religion and ceremonial have been so long and so closely associated
together in the minds of men, that mankind is prone to judge a Faith
one way or the other by the pomp of its externals;
some arguing that these, be they never so elaborate, are seemly,
if inadequate, attempts to express our veneration for Eternal Truth;
others, that their very magnificence is but a mask for make-believe.
Neither view is of course just; for Eternal Truth can surely stand
in need of no adornment from us, and yet, to withhold too straitly
the marks of mans homage may tend perhaps to neglect or irreverence.
In a world of men, there is much to be said for Pomp and Circumstance.
The solemnity of chant and procession, incense and altar lights
with which the Catholic Church surrounds the mystery of its worship,
is not to be condemned as symbolizing something which most of its
worshippers have perhaps forgotten long ago if, indeed, they
ever actually realized it any more than it is to be commended
for a vain endeavour to breathe life into a valley of dry bones,
or to perpetuate the dying cult of a dead myth.
All these things may be so, the faith forgotten, the cult dying
and the myth dead; yet nothing that tends to promote a spirit of
reverence, to induce thought in the thoughtless, or to remind man
of his Maker, can ever be altogether mischievous or useless.
Is ceremony essential to devotion? And if it be so, and yet, in
excess, a source of danger, what is the measure of ceremony which
will serve to turn mans mind to God, without, at the same
time, luring it, as it were, to earth?
To such a question the Eid Day ceremony seems to suggest an answer.
The very absence of what may be called, perhaps, the mechanics of
devotion, which the Catholic is too apt to take for granted, counts
for much. The stage-managed procession, the carefully trained choir,
the organist alert not to miss his cue neither
to be premature with a kyrie or behindhand with an Amen
the elaborately musical colouring given to the Creed and
the Lords Prayer, the strict precision of gesture and genuflexion,
all, things which, however excellent and seemly in themselves, must
fully occupy the thoughts and minds of those concerned with their
proper presentation that is one picture. The other
a carpet spread on the grass beneath the Surrey pines, the voice
of the Imam reciting the Quranic verses, the silent praying multitude,
high and low, rich and poor, one with another, wherein is neither
priest nor layman, prostrate, their faces turned towards Mecca
has about it an altogether strange dignity, a solemnity that tends
to quicken rather than give pause to thought.
After the Prayers, the Sermon.
The Imam, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, spoke of that great Mysterious
Power which the Atheist seeks to express in terms of chemistry,
and the Agnostic doubts, simply because he does not know. He spoke
of the Attributes of God how they are revealed in Nature
and how they may be revealed in man; they are there for all men
to follow, be they rulers or ruled; and that if both rulers and
ruled would even now, at the eleventh hour, set those Attributes
before them, the tumult and unrest which to-day threaten to engulf
the world like a tidal wave, would be stayed as by the Hand of God.
The address is printed in full elsewhere, but it may not be out
of place to recall here a further aspect, new and impressing, of
Science in discovering new secrets of Nature, so called, is but
revealing God, and the laws of Nature, so discovered, illustrate
one after another the Attributes of God precisely as those Attributes
were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad 1300 years ago and recorded
in the Holy Quran.
The theme is to modern ideas, however unconventional even, sufficiently
startling; but the preacher handled it fearlessly, indeed convincingly,
and his earnest eloquence and close reasoning, couched in language
which even the least academic could understand, produced a profound
The Afternoon Lecture, which dealt with Gods message to mankind
that it has been directly revealed to all nations and not
one alone was largely attended, that is to say, as largely
as was humanly possible. But the beautiful Mosque the princely
gift of Her late Highness the Begum of Bhopal a gem of a
building, perfectly proportioned and a delight to the eye, is all
too small for a gathering such as this, and could barely contain
one tenth of those who were anxious to enter. Had the weather been
wet, the success of the day and its memories must, for this reason,
have been marred.
After the lecture, tea; and a general intermingling of groups and
conversation, and so a striking and memorable day drew to an end
a day not, it may be, without its answer for many whose minds
are clouded with a doubt.
Reports in the British national and Woking local press
The same issue of The Islamic Review (JuneJuly 1922,
pages 250256) reproduces six news reports of the occasion
from the British press. We quote four of these below.
Daily News, 29th May 1922:
END OF A MONTHS FASTING
AN ISLAM FESTIVAL AT WOKING
MOSQUE BRITISH ADHERENTS OF EASTERN FAITHS
There has been rejoicing in Islam fervent prostrations
in the name of Allah at the Mosque of Woking, the Moslem prayer-house
which you can see through the trees outside the railway station.
For the first time for thirty days all Moslems have eaten
to-day between sunrise and sunset. Now the Month of Fasting
is over and the great feast of Eid-ul-Fitr has been held in
the cool shadow of the scented pines. From now onward it is
permissible for Moslems to eat in daylight.
A British peer, an Indian millionaire importer from Mincing
Lane, and British followers and their blue-eyed Saxon wives
who have answered the clarion call of Islam, joined to-day
in the festival.
Lord Headley, who is the president of the British Moslem
Society, is said to be our second peer who has embraced Islam,
the first having been the late Lord Stanley of Alderley.
The Mosque at Woking is the only one in England where the
stranger the unconverted is besought to enter.
It was the gift of the mother of the present Queen of Bhopal,
the only Indian state where a woman rules. Here, you can bathe
your fevered brow in the waters of Islam. Here is a fount
that never seems to cease its outpourings, where you can trace
and read the written word of Islam or its followers lying
at the crystal depths of its gushing waters.
It seemed as if an Eastern sun shone down upon the Mosque
lawn this afternoon, where Arab, Egyptian, Indian and Englishman
and Englishwoman rejoiced exceedingly, and said: Allahu
Akbar God is great. Some of the Englishwomen
were clad in silken Oriental robes, and broke bread at the
same table as Arab potentates in native dress. The Afghan
Minister and the Turkish Chargé dAffaires, the
Palestine delegation and the representatives of Hedjaz and
Irak broke their fast.
PRAYERS ON THE CARPET
A vast Oriental carpet was spread on the lawn and strange
postures of prayer were watched by porters and navvies on
the railway line. Then, in the name of Allah, those who rejoiced
raised their hands to their ears, then folded their hands
across the body and placed them on the knees and bowed the
head and body. In the final prostration the body touched the
Then came the feast, which was spread on white tablecloths
beneath the trees. It consisted of: Rice cooked in meat gravy
and butter; currie, potatoes, and meat; blancmange and drinking
The Imam of the Mosque, a gorgeous figure who wore a raiment
of many colours, spoke on the subject of Islam as the
basis for a world creed, which was followed by an English
tea of bread-and-butter and pastries.
Daily Telegraph, 29th May 1922:
ISLAMISM IN LONDON
Moslems throughout the world yesterday celebrated the great
festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, Kuchak Bairam which marks
the conclusion of the Month of Fasting. It was celebrated
in London by a picturesque and notable gathering at the Mosque,
Woking, the only Mosque in England which was the gift
some thirty-five years ago of the ruler of Bhopal. Indians,
Arabs, Turks, Syrians, Afghans, and Moroccans were among the
races of the world, and of the British Empire in particular,
who were represented at the service conducted by the Imam,
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. Many of the devotees brought their English
wives and children with them. They formed a strange congregation
under the trees of the lawn of the Moslem Mission House, the
little Mosque being too small to hold them all. At eleven
oclock the muezzin was heard from the temple calling
to prayer. The congregation thereupon gathered in rows on
the greensward facing towards Mecca. In the front rows came
the men, and behind them their women. All of them discarded
their shoes, and performed the familiar salutations by raising
the hands to the head. The Imam then delivered a brief religious
address in which he emphasized that the Moslem religion is
essentially a universal religion whose broad ancient tenets
and benign toleration embrace members of all the great races
of the world. Fasting, too, was common to the Moslem, Christian,
and Jewish faiths. Purification came with fasting. The illumination
of life by which alone we could see God came with fasting.
At the conclusion of the Month of Fasting the Moslems in England
were glad to meet together again and to meet their English
co-religionists and friends.
At the conclusion of the simple service the congregation
greeted and embraced each other in Moslem fashion, and afterwards
took part in a very pleasant and appetising repast in the
open air under the trees, in the course of which the members
and staff of the mission, rich and poor alike, vied with each
other in discharging the kindly office of host and servant,
irrespective of social station. Tea followed in the afternoon
after a further religious celebration, and afterwards the
visitors returned to London.
Among the notable persons present were the Princes of Mangrol,
the Persian Chargé dAffaires (in the unavoidable
absence of the Minister in Paris), the Afghan Minister, the
Turkish Chargé dAffaires, the President and Secretary
of the Palestine Delegation, and representatives of Hedjaz
Note by Website Editor: Minister
was the term for Ambassador. Hedjaz refers to what is
now Saudi Arabia.
Morning Post, May 29th 1922:
MOSLEM FESTIVAL AT WOKING MOSQUE
The Moslem festival of Eid-ul-Fitr Kuchak (Little) Bairam,
which marks the conclusion of the Month of Fasting, was observed
at the Mosque, Woking, yesterday.
Among those who attended were Lord Headley, the Princes Aziz
and Sadiq of Mangrol, the Afghan Minister, the Turkish Chargé
dAffaires, the Chief Secretary of the Persian Embassy,
the President and Secretary of the Palestine Delegation, the
Nawab Sahib of Tohru, and representatives of Hedjaz and Irak.
Muslims from Arabia, Syria, India, America, Afghanistan, Turkey,
China and Java constituted the congregation.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, the Imam of the Mosque, who conducted
the service, delivered an address, in which he said that things
created were sustained, and brought to their final perfection
under a perfect system of laws and regulations, which he would
sum up under three heads: the law of creation, the law of
sustenance, and the law of evolution, and Allah was the creator,
sustainer, and evolver of the various worlds around us. That
Mysterious Power was the same as the laws and forces of Nature,
which worked as did the Creator, and so it was that science
and religion were in perfect harmony. He exhorted his hearers
to study the Quran, on every page of which was inscribed the
name of Allah reproduced in ninety-nine forms, each one of
them representing His various attributes. If they lived up
to these attributes their morality would be secured; to deviate
from them was to tread the path of sin. As God was merciful,
so let them be merciful to others, even though they were not
of their nationality. God had not shown partiality in the
matter of any nationality, and if we did not show partiality
for race, creed, or colour, all unrest in the world would
Woking News and Mail, June 2nd 1922:
MUSLIMS END MONTH OF FASTING
PICTURESQUE ISLAM FESTIVAL
AT THE MOSQUE
Sunday was the conclusion of the month of fasting in the
Islam religion, and all Muslims that day ate for the first
time for thirty days between sunrise and sunset. To celebrate
the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr Kuchak Bairam several hundred
Muslims of all races and colour made the pilgrimage from far
and near to attend the festival at the Woking Mosque in Oriental
Under a sky of azure blue, beneath the rays of a tropical
sun, and surrounded with scented pine trees, the faithful
gathered on the rolling lawn in front of the Mosque ready
for the call to prayer. The scene was gorgeously spectacular
to the visitors eye, and brilliant sunshine showed up
to wonderful effect the variety of colour to be seen in native
costume worn by both sexes. Every race seemed to be represented.
There were Arabians, Egyptians, Hindus, Afghans, Turks, Chinese,
Americans, Javanese, Syrians, etc., some in robes of many-hued
colours representative of their race or rank, some in correct
English dress, while others wore European dress with a distinctive
fez or turban. Some, on the other hand, were accompanied by
their English wives. There was a very large percentage of
English Muslims present, and the many English visitors who
had been given an invitation to attend at the festival were
given a cordial reception and made to feel at ease, for this
is an occasion when the Mosque is a common meeting-ground,
when colour, creed or caste is not considered, when Prince
and ruler meet peasant and subject on a common footing. Some
of the Englishwomen were clad in Oriental robes.
The company was much larger than in previous years, and showed
an increased number of English adherents to the Eastern faith.
Among the notabilities present were Lord Headley (the President
of the English Muslim Society), the Princes Aziz and Sadiq
of Mangrol, His Excellency Sardar Abdul Hadi Khan (the Afghan
Minister), the Turkish Chargé dAffaires and staff,
the President and Secretary of the Palestine Delegation, representatives
of Hedjaz and Irak, the Nawab Sahib of Tohru, Secretary of
the Persian Embassy, and the other representatives of the
nationalities mentioned formed the congregation.
A GREAT MYSTERIOUS POWER
A large Oriental praying carpet was spread on the wide lawn,
and when the time arrived the call to prayer was sounded throughout
the grounds, the faithful assembling and prostrating themselves
on the carpet, having first removed their shoes. A large percentage
of the general public were accommodated with chairs at the
rear, where they watched the proceedings, so strange to European
eyes, with interest. In the name of Allah the prayers were
led by the Imam of the Mosque (Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din), who afterwards
read from the Quran and delivered an eloquent address in English
on Religion. He set out the tenets of the Islam faith, and
said that behind all laws of nature and others, behind everything
that had been discovered by man, behind all things, there
was a great mysterious Power. Putting the whole thing briefly,
this Power was the Creator, Maintainer and Sustainer of the
universe. The little that was known of the great Power at
work behind the scenes came from the knowledge of the laws
of nature. Every moment creation was going on, and if the
Unseen Power could be accepted as the origin of such it could
be rightly attributed the title he had named. The Imam went
on to speak of the Quran, and characterized its moral code,
and then spoke of the conflict which there should not be in
religion if they believed in the Unseen Great Mysterious Power
who made no difference in colour or race. False theology and
untrue science were at daggers drawn. If they were to have
comfort and civilization, and to secure perfect happiness
or success in life, then they must, in the words of Muhammad,
imbue themselves with Divine attributes. Islam meant complete
submission to Divine laws and a Muslim was one who submitted
to those laws. There was not one law discovered by man that
could not be traced to the Mysterious Power. He spoke of the
guidance the Quran gave to many millions of people, and also
referred to the ninety-nine names of God in the Quran. In
conclusion, he asked the faithful if they had ever contemplated
those ninety-nine names of God. If they had not, then their
prayers were a farce. God was merciful let them be
merciful to others. God was just let them be just.
All over the world to-day there was a great upheaval between
rulers and ruled. If those rulers would only walk humbly with
the Lord, who knew no difference between race and colour,
then their troubles would be over.
Following the address the faithful embraced each other, and
the company then sat down to a luncheon at which native dishes
figured, among which were rice cooked in meat gravy and butter,
curry, potatoes and meat, blanc-mange and drinking water.
The lunch was served on white tablecloths on the lawn. Afterwards
many of those present made a tour of inspection of the surrounding
countryside, and later returned to an English tea of bread
and butter and pastries. After tea the festival was brought
to a conclusion.
Note: There are two more reports of this occasion from newspapers
quoted in The Islamic Review (from Daily Herald, May
29th and Woking Herald, June 2nd) which we omit to avoid