Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Lord Headley visit South Africa in 1926
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Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Lord Headley visit South Africa in 1926

See also a photograph of their public welcome through the streets.


The following news appeared in The Islamic Review, March –April 1926 (first page, p. 85, under ‘Notes’):

Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, the founder of the Woking Muslim Mission, accompanied by the Rt. Hon. Lord Headley, sailed for South Africa on Friday, February 5th, on the R.M.S. Balmoral Castle. A number of prominent British Muslims had assembled at Waterloo Station to bid the travellers “God-speed.”

At Cape Town and Johannesburg

They reached Cape Town on 22 February 1926. The May issue of The Islamic Review carries detailed reports of their arrival at Cape Town, the grand receptions in their honour and their speeches, quoting news from the local newspapers of South Africa. This is followed by similar reports of their arrival and public activities in Johannesburg, which they reached on 5 March.

At this link, we provide the pages of the above issue of The Islamic Review containing those reports.

At this link, we provide images of original pages from The Moslem Outlook of Cape Town reporting on their visit to that city.

At Durban

In The Islamic Review, dated June 1926 (pages 206–214), a number of reports of their visit to Durban are reproduced from South African newspapers. The text from these pages of The Islamic Review is given below.

From The Latest, Durban, March 20, 1926



THE Muslim community of Durban gave an enthusiastic welcome to the two well-known Muslim missionaries, the Right Hon. Lord Headley (A1-Haj El-Farooq, the Muslim Peer), and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, B.A., LL.B. (editor of the famous Muslim religious journal, the Islamic Review, and Imam of the Mosque at Woking, England), on their arrival in Durban on Sunday last at 2 p.m. The distinguished visitors from England were met on the platform of the Central Station by responsible leaders of the Muslim community of Durban, and after exchanging fraternal greetings they were garlanded with roses and pink carnations. Subsequently they entered a waiting victoria, which was drawn by four well-groomed white horses to Albert Park, via Gardiner, West and Grey Streets.

There was a great assembly of Muslims at the Albert Park, who amid deafening cheers welcomed the distinguished oversea visitors. The balcony of the pavilion was gaily bedecked with the Union Jack and red, green and white — the national colours of India.

In a neat speech Lord Headley explained that no political significance must be attached to their mission to this country, as their mission to South Africa was a religious one. They had no desire whatsoever to meddle with politics.

An eloquent and stirring address, first in English, afterwards in Hindustani, was then delivered by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. He declared that his mission to South Africa was a mission of peace and goodwill, and he did not desire to condemn any religion; on the contrary, he respected all religions, and was ever eager to extend and accept the hand of universal brotherhood. The Imam expressed his heartiest thanks to the Muslims of Durban for the great reception accorded to them that afternoon.

Among the prominent members of the Muslim community present at the pavilion were : Hajee M. A. Motala, Mohammed Ebrahim, Moulvi Fateh Mahomed (Imam of the Juma Musjid Mosque), Amod Haffejee, A. H. Kazi, Hajee E. M. Paruk, Hajee M. A. Jeewa (proprietor Indian Views), S. M. Lockhat, H. E. Amra, A. H. Moosa, M. C. Coovdia, Sheik Himed, S. M. Jahavery, A. I. Kajee (secretary South African Indian Congress), M. I. Kajee, M. Thajimoon, C. N. M. Khan, S. Emamally, Rondi Ally, O. H. A. Jhavery, M. H. Wahed and A. G. Kazi.

Subsequently Lord Headley and the Al-Haj attended prayers at the Grey Street Mosque. In the afternoon they were guests of Hajee E. M. Paruk at his beautiful mansion at Currie Road, where friends were given the opportunity of meeting and conversing with the distinguished visitors.


One of the cleverest Muhammadan barristers of Lahore, India, and a foremost champion of Islam in England, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was born in Lahore in 1870, and received his education at the Lahore Mission College. He obtained his B.A. degree in 1893, and his law degree in 1898. He joined the Bar in the same year and practised at the Lahore High Court Bar until 1912, when he gave up a very lucrative legal practice in favour of the religion of Islam. In 1912 he proceeded to England, and the conditions there induced him to do something in the service of Islam.

In the same year he started the now famous Muslim religious journal, the Islamic Review, the mouthpiece of Islam in the West, which he owns and edits. The present mission is a natural growth of the journal and a persistent demand on the part of oversea Muslims for the spread of Islam and Islamic literature.

The work in England is conducted through lectures and literature. The Al-Haj is a recognized literary personage and is the author of several publications on various aspects of Islam, and has never met with any opposition in England; on the contrary, his lectures and writings were welcomed throughout. England.

“I have oftentimes lectured on the unity of God and Islam, but besides the Churches and other religious platforms in England, I have been often and often requested to address the Theosophists, Spiritualists, leaders of New Thought and several other institutions, on the brotherhood of Islam,” said the Al-Haj to the writer in the course of a lengthy interview.

Our visitor has visited Germany, France and Belgium in the interest of Islam. After studying the conditions in Germany as to the estab­lishment of a mission there, he was able, with the assistance of his Muslim co-workers, to establish a mission in Berlin, and at his suggestion a new mosque was recently built in Berlin, and he has secured some forty German converts to Islam, and among them number some eminent scientists and doctors of medicine.


“In France I went to take part in the Religious Convention convened by liberal Christians, but the Great War put a stop to that movement. In short, a new movement from within the Church is really paving the way to Islam. The modern Church claims the best brains in the Christian Church in her support. As far as Christianity goes they entertain the same beliefs as the Holy Quran teaches, as the true faith of Christ, and the matter has become so apparent that the opponents of the Modernists dubbed them Muslims.”


“Islam means peace, and it teaches principles conducive to secure peace. As, for instance, we believe in the Divine origin of every great religion in the world, and accept their respective founders as the messengers from the Most High to them, and we have been enjoined by the Quran to pay the same respects as we do to our own prophets. This broad-minded principle leads us to believe in the universal brotherhood of man. Islam therefore comes to level all artificial barriers of class, creed, colour, or race, between man and man. A Muslim must treat every non-Muslim metaphorically as an equal child of God. Islam leaves the question of faith between man and his God and deprecates any compulsion or persuasion in religious matters. Islam also respects differences of opinion, and we Muslims have been enjoined to present peacefully our faith to others and leave it to their own judgment.”


“What is the real object of your present mission to South Africa?” was one of the many questions put to the Al-Haj by the writer, and the reply in precise language ran thus: “We are starting a sort of literary fund in this country in order to distribute Islamic religious literature broadcast — in this connection to write some books that may meet the religious demands of Muslims and non-Muslims.” Continuing, he added: “For the last few centuries Islam and its founder have been labouring under gross misrepresentation from the pens of those opposed to us from political, religious and other points.” He added that the present visit to South Africa was chiefly to bring about a. complete unity of thought between Muslims and non-Muslims. He said that abuse was no argument, and he did not believe in abuse as constructive argument. All along, even in England during his brief sojourn of thirteen years, he always endeavoured to sow the seed of peace, harmony and concord between Muslims and members of other faiths. He welcomed a frank and friendly discussion at all times, and expressed a keen desire to meet leaders of religious thought in this town.


Mr. Jeewa, hon. secretary of the Lord Headley-Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din Reception Committee, informs me that a public welcome will be accorded to the Rt. Hon. Lord Headley and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, B.A., LL.B., in the Town Hall this evening at seven o’clock, when addresses will be presented to the distinguished visitors.


The Rt. Hon. Lord Headley and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din paid a visit to the M. K. Ghandhi Library on Wednesday evening. The distinguished visitors were accompanied by prominent members of the Natal Indian Congress, the Library Committee, and other members of the Indian Community. Subsequently they delivered addresses on “Islam and Civilization.” A crowded audience patiently listened to the speakers, whose eloquence moved their hearers.

From The Natal Mercury, Durban, March 22, 1926




On Saturday afternoon a reception to Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and to Lord Headley was held in the Town Hall, when addresses of welcome were presented to the distinguished visitors from the Muslim community of Durban and suburbs.

In the course of the address to the Imam appeared the following passages:

“We are highly appreciative of your noble and inspiring works in the cause of the propagation of Islam in the West. and the dissemination of Muslim literature, which have proved of incalculable value in the breaking up of deeply rooted prejudices against our Holy Faith, and in introducing a right atmosphere for the appreciation of Our Prophet’s sublime message. As a lucid expositor and expounder of the exalted teachings of Islam, shorn of sectarianism, both in the Press and on the platforms, the Muslim world has indeed discovered in you an ideal and a living embodiment of the saying of Our Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) that the ink of the learned is as precious as the blood of the martyr.”

In the address to the Right Hon. Lord Headley recognition was made of the invaluable services his Lordship had rendered as President of the British Muslim Society.

“We pray to Allah that your sojourn in our midst may prove a happy augury to bring about a better understanding between the East, the West, and the South, and may your stay here become productive of the spiritual assimilation of the ideals of the divergent nations living in this sub-continent with the ultimate object of furthering the progress of humanity on rational lines. We pray to the Almighty God that you may be blessed with long life and prosperity, and may He enable you to devote your great talents for the progress of the universal religion of Islam.”

Mulvi Hajee Fateh Mahomed, who presided, garlanded the guests, and after a speech by Lord Headley, and Al-Haj Kamal-ud-Din had delivered an address, in which he traced the progress of Islam, the proceedings closed in the manner usual to such functions.



At a subsequent meeting in the evening, Mr. R. K. Khan, who presided, briefly introduced the two visitors to a gathering which fell short of the numbers which attended the ceremony in the afternoon.

In his address Lord Headley made it clear that the primary object of their mission was to spread Muslim literature in places where it was needed. One of their chief troubles for many years past had been that they had laboured under the disadvantages of being misrepresented. There were zealous opponents who did not hesitate to state what was incorrect about the Muslim faith. If those people would talk a little less about salvation, and speak a great deal more of truth, he thought they and everybody else would be all the better for it.

The Khwaja took as his subject “The Message of Islam,” and in his discourse touched on some of the salient points of difference between the Muslim faith and Christianity, which, he argued, had incorporated everything from paganism, while he admitted that in the light shed by science and research it was gradually discarding what had been superimposed throughout the ages. The books that constituted the original Bible had disappeared, or become corrupted, or they had become unintelligible. That the Bible had become corrupted prominent leaders in the Church admitted today. They need not believe in the Bible, which authorities said was replete with folklore, but there was need to believe in the Quran. God said that after Muhammad came, his book alone shall remain uncorrupted. Nature, the upliftment of Nature, was their religion. God was above anger with a tiny “little thing” like himself. “You are not a child of wrath, but Viceroy of God on the surface of the earth. That is, everything on the face of the earth is at your disposal. All I create is for you, man.”

The speaker referred to the Europe of only three or four centuries before the coming of Muhammad, and argued that as long as the Christian Church held thrall in those days there was no civilization, nothing of science and culture, but once Europe was emancipated, progress and culture came, and he argued that this commenced fifty years after the corning of Muhammad, and was coincidental with the progress of the Muslim faith.

Today they were all proud of the democracy of politics, but Muhammad came and preached equality; so much so that he raised women from the degradation in which she was standing at that time, a degradation which came to her through the Church. Look into the mediæval history of the Church. Woman there was an evil, a scorpion, and he referred to St. Jerome, St. Augustin and others. The sacred elements a woman should have on her handkerchief. Was a woman so polluted that she should be given the sacred elements on a handkerchief? The position of woman under legislation was touched upon, also with a view to showing how disadvantageous her position was in comparison with that of man, and the Khwaja pointed out that Muhammad said that man and woman came from the same essence, and so they were twain. Muhammad said a man’s wife was his sovereign, whereas the Bible taught that a woman should be in subjection to man. In the Muslim marriage there was nothing but love, honour and obey. Woman was equal with man.

Votes of thanks were passed to Lord Headley for his address and to Al-Haj Khwaja Karnabud-Din for his lecture.

From Natal Witness, March 27, 1926


The Right Hon. Lord Headley, the first peer of the British Realm to avow his belief in the Muslim religion, and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, the Imam (or priest) of the Woking Mosque, England — the first missionary to preach Islam in the British Isles upon an organized basis, arrive in Maritzburg today.

Lord Headley was educated at Westminster School, and graduated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took, in 1878, the Mathematical Tripos.

Engaging himself in educational work after leaving the College, he became editor of the Salisbury Journal, Wiltshire, which position he filled for two years, and then served as secretary to Sir F. Seager Hunt for the next seven years, ultimately becoming engaged as civil engineer in Cashmir, where he completed the Baramula-Srinigar road in 1896.

To the world of Islam he is best known as being the first President of the British Muslim Society — an organization formed some twelve years ago with the object of enlightening public opinion in England concerning Islam.

Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-nd-Din comes from an old family of Punjab, noted for its learning. He is the second son of Khwaja Aziz-ud-Din, and was born in the year 1870 at Lahore.

He entered the Mission College at Lahore, where he graduated first in Arts at the age of twenty-three years, and then four years later in Law, joining the Bar of the High Court of Punjab in 1898.

His essays on economics gained for him the Punjab University Medal for Economics, and found for him the professorship of History and Economics at the Islamic College at Lahore.

After years of practice as a lawyer, in which he gave up that profession for religion, he emigrated in 1912 to England and founded, at Woking, the famous Muslim Mission, the first organized venture of its kind in the annals of Islam. In the following year (1913) the Islamic Review, the monthly magazine of the Mission, made its first appearance for the diffusion of Islamic teaching.

He had a hard time keeping his Mission going, but gradually matters improved, and the congregation grew so much that in 1920 the Mosque at Woking was extended.

Though the Khwaja usually refrains from taking any active part in politics, yet when problems of world-wide importance, such as the Caliphate Question, come to the fore, his interest in them is more than a passing one. During the most trying period, perhaps, in the history of British rule in India, when feelings were running high, because of Mr. Lloyd George’s speeches against all Islam, the Khwaja came forward to enlighten public opinion in England and elsewhere, and to plead for conciliation and better understanding.

To this end he first wrote India in the Balance and then The House Divided. He is the author of twenty-five works, including The Religion of Atom, The Ideal Prophet, Woman in Islam, The Mother of Languages, and The Sources of Christianity.

As regards the objects of their mission here, Lord Headley said in his first public speech in Durban that it had no political significance. “It is entirely with the view to start literary propaganda which shall enable us Muslims to show to the world what our religion really is,” he said.

The local Muslim community will hold a public reception in honour of the visitors tonight at 7.30 p.m. in the Town Hall.


Below are reproduced the addresses presented to Lord Headley and the Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din by the Muslims of Maritzburg, Natal. The addresses were embossed in silver plates inlaid with gold work and were set in a wood mounting:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.





We, the undersigned, on behalf of the Muslim community of Pietermaritzburg and district, desire with feelings of deepest respect to extend you our most hearty welcome on this the first occasion of your Lordship’s visit to this historic city.

We highly appreciate your unflinching zeal and devotion to the cause of Islam in England; and we feel happy in the knowledge that as President of the British Muslim Society of England your Lordship’s ceaseless labours to disabuse Western minds of wrong notions about Islam have met with marked success, and that your noble influence has gained over many an adherent to the Holy Faith.

To you we are, as the whole world of Islam is, indebted in gratitude for your having so ably assisted our saintly brother Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din in his selfless task of the Woking Muslim Mission, by encouragement, sympathy and practical support.

The world of letters is as enriched by your literary contributions as is the world of science by your engineering skill and works; and your treatise, A Western Awakening to Islam, has proved, we sincerely believe, a source of enlightenment and hope to many a wavering and despairing mind.

In your Lordship we see an example of a True Muslim imbued with the spirit of the primitive and true Islamic equality of man; and your pilgrimage to Mecca in 1923, dressed in IHRAM — the universal and only dress of lords and vassals, of rich and poor, and of whites and blacks on the plain of Aarafat, have, we hope, revealed to the West that Brotherhood of Man in practice could be found within the pale of Islam only; and which has also refuted Kipling’s famous but fallacious dictum.

We pray to Allah that He may spare you long to serve the cause which you have so nobly championed; and we sincerely wish that your sojourn among us here may prove a happy one.

In conclusion we earnestly pray to Allah that your mission may in this sub-Continent become productive of immense potentialities for Islam.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.





In extending you a hearty welcome to this historic city, the one-time capital of Natal, we, the undersigned, on behalf of the Muslims of Pietermaritzburg and District, beg to place on record our recognition and appreciation of the yeoman services that you have rendered for the cause of Islam in Europe generally, and in England particularly.

We rejoice in the knowledge that in you, indeed, the West has witnessed the personification of the injunction of the Holy Quran:

“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation and have disputation with them in the best manner,”

and that your lucid expositions of the fundamental principles of our Holy Faith, both in writings and on platforms, have endeared your name all over the Muslim world.

The fountain of knowledge that you have made to flow through the inspiring pages of the Islamic Review, the only torchbearer of Islam in the West, and through your other writings, bears a glorious testimony to your erudition and extensive research.

To you indeed the whole world of Islam owes a debt of gratitude for the noble task that you undertook some fourteen years ago in founding the Woking Muslim Mission, an undertaking which is as unique in the annals of Islam as it is symbolic of the self-sacrifice of you its founder.

We feel happy, and are thankful to RAB-BUL-AL-AMEEN that your devotion to the sacred cause, your piety, your deep learning and, above all, your unflinching trust in Allah and your resignation to His Will, have all combined to overcome obstacles, to surmount difficulties and to turn into hope disappointments that beset your path, and enabled you to create a Spiritual focus of Islamic Light amidst the gloom of materialism in the West.

We earnestly pray to Allah that He may shower on you His choicest blessings and vouchsafe unto you many, many years of life full of health and vigour so that you may continue in your noble task.

May ALLAH also crown your mission here with glory and success; and may your sojourn among us prove a forerunner of many a return.


Despite the heavy downpour that swamped Durban early in the evening there was a large crowd, says the Natal Advertiser, consisting mostly of Indians, in the Town Hall to hear an address delivered under the ægis of the Order of the Star of the East.

Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din delivered a very eloquent address on “Revelation.” Every religion, he said, was based on “Revelation” and strove for the same goal. It was of no use for a person to say, “My religion is good, your religion is bad,” until such a time when he had, through direct effort, won, not what is commonly known as a conscience, but a higher conscience of what was good and what was bad for human progress. He cited the analogy of human ills. Everything on this earth, he said, was governed by laws; even so the human body. A thorn in the flesh produced pain; thus, great Nature demonstrated what was harmful and what had to be purged. The laws of human life had to be indulged and obeyed — otherwise there was only one result. In human life, therefore, Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din showed there were similar laws governing conduct, the laws of good and evil. These laws had to be obeyed, and obeyed stringently.

This website is created and published by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (U.K.), Wembley, London,
the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.