Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Lord Headley

Lord Headley’s visit to India, 1927-28:
Maulana Muhammad Ali’s address
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Lord Headley’s visit to India, 1927-28:

Maulana Muhammad Ali’s address presented to Lord Headley

See main article: Lord Headley’s visit to India, 1927–28

Text below is taken from The Light, Lahore, 5 January 1928 (pages 8–10)

The following address was presented to the Right Hon’ble Lord Headley (Al-Farooq) on December 28, 1927, on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore:-

WE, the members and associates of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore, approach your Lordship with all due respect and affection, and most heartily welcome you to our town — the headquarters of all our activities in the propagation of Islam in the world. We, noble Lord, welcome you, not because you are a Peer of the British realm, but because you are a Muslim brother and the pioneer of Islam from the British Nobility. In your noble self we find only a repetition of Islamic history, and we are proud to observe that Islam, and only Islam, in the world of religion, has, from time to time, claimed the services of the members of Royal Houses and Noble families for the spread of its truth, and your Lordship, we are proud to say, has followed the steps of Royal Missionaries in Islam. In this connection we cannot but admire to find courage of conviction in you. The late Lord Stanley and the late Sir Richard Burton, among many others, were Muslims in their heart, but for reasons which are not known to us they did not make a public declaration of their faith.

We do remember those days of our apprehensions and anxieties when your and our dear brother, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, went to England to launch the boat of Islam in the Western waters troubled with dogma, atheism and materialism. Every mail from England in those days was opened with apprehension. And at last our apprehension was dispelled when the happy news of your avowal of Islam was flashed to the four corners of the world, and the spread of the Quranic truths became a fait accompli in our minds. Our hopes gradually began to be realized as the subsequent history of the Woking Muslim Mission shows. Today, among a large number of Western people of all shades and ranks, who have joined the numbers of Islam, we mention only a few of noble ranks:

Sir Abdullah Archibald Hamilton, Bart.; Lady Hamilton; Lady Evelyn Cobbold; Viscount de Potiers; Count Yourkevitch; Sir William Wright, Bart.; Countess Fatima (daughter of Count Rupert Albert Rudolf Wolf-de-George), Germany.

And among the literary luminaries: Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall; Said Felix Valyi; Prof. Dr. Leon; Mr. Dudley Wright; Mr. Bashir Pickard; Usman Fisher, Bar-at-Law; Prof. Nur-ud-Din Stephen; Professor J. Whymant; Rev. James du Cox; Dr. R. Kennedy Stewart Ross; Dr. Marcus, Ph.D. (Berlin); Dr. Greifelt, Ph.D. (Berlin); Dr. Banning, Ph.D., and Professor Hutfiltz (Berlin).

And we take this occasion to convey this news to your Lordship that soon after you had sailed from England, we received the gladdening news that Hubert Charles Rankin, Esqr., the eldest son and heir of Sir Reginald Rankin, Bart., has joined the fold of the Faithful.

My Lord! since your declaration in Islam you have proved a rock of strength to the single-handed efforts of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. Your able writings on Islam invited intelligent attention and study of Islam in lands teeming with grossest misrepresentation of our dear faith; and today we find Western mind greatly disabused of all that was said by the busy peoples there in defaming Islam. Your activities in the spread of the faith so dear to your heart have not been confined to the British Isles. In these advanced years you sacrificed your comfort and rest in making tours in Egypt and South Africa where your services have borne ample fruit.

Your zeal and love for the observance of the religious injunctions of Islam cannot be better illustrated than in your recent pilgrimage to Mecca. In the hottest period of the year and in the arid and parched land of Arabia, we find a Peer, corning from the cold climate, in Ihram.

We are not unaware of the various hardships you have had to face since your declaration. We never forget how bigotted Catholics did burn and destroy your estate and Manorial House in Ireland. All this you have borne with a true Muslim spirit.

As your Lordship is aware, the aims and objects of our organization are purely the propagation of Islam throughout the world. As such we are neither a political body nor as a community do we take interest in political upheavals of any country. In preaching Islam all our activities are concentrated in the propagation of Islam as taught by the Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him — Islam which is above sectarian differences. In fact, we do not recognize any such differences. We believe Islam to be free from sects; though there are many schools of thought, and we do belong to one of them. Nevertheless it is a matter of cardinal principle with us that we do not recognise any prophet after the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the last of the blessed line of prophets. Neither do we place any one, who believes in the Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad, whatever his other views may be, so long as he subscribes to the Kalima, La-ilaha ill-allah Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah, out of the pale of Islam. This, we believe, you must have noticed at Woking. The same line of action characterises our activities at other centres.

My Lord! the foundation of this Anjuman was laid in 1914 at the very spot at which we are now addressing you. The chief lines of the activity of the Anjuman have been the production of Islamic literature which should meet the need of the day, the preparation of Muslim Missionaries who should carry the message of love and peace to different parts of the world, the establishing of missions in and outside India, and, last though not least, the education of the rising generation of Islam in the religion and history of Islam. And what little we have achieved in these fourteen years shows only the truth of what the Holy Quran has asserted: “And those who strive hard for Us, We will certainly guide them in Our ways.”

My Lord! of the items enumerated above our attention has chiefly been directed to the production of healthy literature; and in the production of that literature we have given the first place to the Holy Quran. In fact, to bring the Holy Quran to the forefront, both in missionary activity and in the life of the Muslims, is our avowed object, and therefore the first service to the cause of Islam which we had in view was a translation of the Holy Quran with exhaustive commentary. The work was first done in English and afterwards more exhaustively in Urdu. Over ten thousand copies of the English translation have already been circulated and they have reached almost all parts of the Muslim world, and too numerous to count are the acknowledgments of benefit received from it by the Muslims themselves, while in the case of not a few non-Muslims it has been the cause of bringing them over to Islam. It is now recognised as a standard work, and European writers on Islam have frequently made use of it in their writings. It is also being translated into several other languages, viz., Tamil and Teligu, which are two Indian dialects of Southern India, Malay which is spoken in Java, Chinese, Albanian and Dutch. Another book which has been translated into several languages and has already been published in Turkish is “Muhammad the Prophet”, a life-story of the Holy Prophet of Arabia. An idea of the work done in this direction may be had from the fact that in all nearly 39,000,000 pages of Islamic literature have been turned out of the printing press, through the efforts of the Anjuman. Besides all this is the valuable literature produced at Woking, through the noble efforts of yourself and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din.

Among the journals published by the Anjuman are the Paigham-i-Sulah in Urdu, the Light in English, the Moslemische Revue in German, besides the Islamic Review which has achieved a world-wide fame.

The most important of the Anjuman’s work as regards literature is however not only its production but also its free distribution. Three hundred copies of the English translation of the Holy Quran have been supplied free of cost to libraries in Europe and America while hundreds of others have been given away at concession prices. Fifteen hundred copies of “Muhammad the Prophet” have also been supplied free of charge to libraries. The supply of the German quarterly, the Moslemische Revue, is entirely free. Besides all this, nearly 6,000,000 pages have been distributed free in form of tracts.

The second item of our work is the establishing of missions in foreign countries as well as in India. Your Lordship is well acquainted with the noble band of workers who, with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din or in his absence, have worked at Woking — Maulvi Sadr-ud-Din, Maulvi Mustafa Khan, Maulvi Yaqub Khan, Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, MauIvi Abdul Majid, and M. Abdul Khaliq Khan, who are all members of our Anjuman. The work done there, as you know, is not simply the conversion to Islam of a thousand people or more; more important is the change brought about in the outlook of the West generally.

Next in importance to the Woking Mission is the Berlin Mission which was established by the Anjuman in 1922. A. magnificent mosque has been erected in the heart of central Europe at an outlay of about Rs. 150,000, while a quarterly in the German language makes the truth of Islam shine there. Seventy men and women, many of whom are of literary fame, have already come forward there to make a public declaration of Islam. The names of some of them have already been mentioned above.

Two years’ work at Trinidad (B.W.I.) infused quite a new life into the Muslim population of that island, and signs of Islamic activity are now clearly witnessed there, so that students from that distant land have come over to us to complete their religious studies, in order to be able to carry on the work of the propagation of Islam in their own country.

Nearer home we have established a mission in Java where 55 millions of Muslims needed an awakening, and where the Muslim community could not be saved without counteractiug the influence of Christian missions. A great deal of useful work has been done here for the past three years, and many important books especially those dealing with the Christian religion have been translated into the Malay language, while propaganda work is also being carried on through journals and lectures.

My Lord! while our activities, since this Anjuman was started, have been chiefly centred in Christian, lands, we have not neglected our home. Unfortunately, not withstanding centuries of Muslim rule in India, and notwithstanding the fact that the Hindus and the Muslims are living here as neighbours, a great deal of ignorance as to the religion and history of Islam still prevails even among the educated classes, to say nothing of the vast masses steeped in ignorance. In this connection we wish to draw your attention to another important point. Here in India there are seventy millions of people who are looked upon as untouchable by the higher class Hindus. To these unfortunate beings are denied all rights of humanity. Their very shadow is polluting to a higher class Hindu. In Islam alone lies their salvation, in Islam which does away with all pollutions and gives to all men an equal position as members of one brotherhood. On the Muslims, therefore, lies the duty of carrying the light of Islam to these seventy millions, and as members of an Anjuman whose object is to spread the light of Islam we are not forgetful of this duty. It is only two years that we have devoted our attention to this work and already we have brought nearly 2500 men into the fold of Islam.

While speaking of our missionary activities we cannot omit a mention of the Ishaat-i-Islam College which we have very recently started for the training of missionaries. This institution encourages the study of comparative religion and generates a spirit of cohesion and brotherhood among Muslims of all denominations and a liberal attitude towards other religions. But while this College is meant only for preparing missionaries, we have also two High Schools for the general education of Muslim boys, where we try to educate young Muslim students in the religion and history of Islam along with other subjects which the curriculum of the university requires. Some philanthropic work is also being done by our Anjuman, but it is unnecessary to go into these details.

This, my Lord, is a brief sketch of the service that this Anjuman has done to the cause of Islam. And I would bring this address to a close by adding a few words as to its funds. Starting with Rs. 20,000 as its income and expenditure for the first seventeen months of our existence, we are presenting this year a report of nearly Rs. 230,000 income, sixteen times what it was at its start. And during this period of fourteen years the Anjuman has acquired lands and constructed buildings whose total value amounts to Rs. 538,000, while its book-depot contains books of the value of over Rs. 200,000. The achievement of these results has been made possible by the earnestness with which every member of the Anjuman is inspired, the result being that wherever we have a member, there we have got a missionary. And in conclusion thanks are due to the associates of the Anjuman as much as to its members; and to you, my Lord, for having taken the trouble to come over and preside at this our meeting.

In the Urdu translation of this address as published in Paigham Sulh, 4 January 1928 (pages 2 and 4), it is signed off at the close as:

I remain,
Your Lordship’s sincere brother,
Muhammad Ali,
President, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, Lahore

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.