Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

Obituary by Lord Headley
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The passing of a great Muslim

by the Rt. Hon. Lord Headley

Reproduced below is the text of the tribute paid to Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din by Lord Headley which appeared under the above title in the special issue of The Islamic Review devoted to the death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, dated April–May 1933, on pages 109–114.

We to-day mourn the loss of one of the most distinguished Muslims of our time. The name of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din is known and respected all over the world, his erudition and ability being such that had he given his time to the study and practice of the law, for which he had been educated, there is no doubt that he would have made a great name and been at least a Judge of the High Court. But he preferred to sacrifice all worldly prospects and doing what he felt sure was for the advancement of Islamic culture and for the benefit of humanity.

Our dear Brother, who has now, we love to believe, passed into the blessed state of rendering possible a nearer contact with the Almighty, has left behind a beautiful example of a saintly life spent for the benefit of others; the Muslim spirit pervaded his great personality and was amply evidenced by his daily life of humble devotion to his Maker.

Panegyrics are really out of place when writing of the Khwaja; his writings and lectures proclaim the man without any of my poor words. There is a grandeur of the heart and a grandeur of the mind, and these must ever arrest the earnest attention of all with any pretensions to scientific attainments. It was the tender heart of the Khwaja which led the way to victory in the course of his arguments: — ‘My son, give me thy heart’ — having won the heart the rest was easy, like taking the citadel of a castle.

My first meeting with the Khwaja was at Kew where an old friend, Colonel George Cockburn, introduced us as both being interested in India. I was much impressed with the quiet dignity and gracious manner, and am not surprised — on looking back for nearly twenty years — at the influence his remarkable personality gained over me.

I may fairly say that during all those years I have never heard him utter a word that could be called harsh or unforgiving. His individuality was eminently attractive, and he often got his own way by letting his opponents think that they were winning all down the line, when in reality they were being led by him and became in the end the supporters of his Cause.

All the people to whom I had the privilege of introducing the Khwaja were impressed by the absence of any trace of dogmatism or fanatical rancour. He was invariably a good listener and appreciated a good joke and I seem even now to hear the hearty laugh and see the accompanying winning smile. Many of my English friends were enchanted with the Khwaja’s gentle influence. He never did more than place the facts before his listeners, and in this way he advanced the Faith and carried conviction wherever he went.

It is rather curious that when I came out openly as a Muslim certain of my friends informed me that it was impossible for me to be saved and that everlasting damnation was to be my inevitable lot: others gave out that I had been inveighed into a belief in Islam by the wicked machinations of the Khwaja and his friends who had been setting traps to catch unwary Christians! The Khwaja was, in my opinion, quite incapable of trying to deceive anyone, he was also ever ready to impart his own knowledge to everyone he came across, though he never worried them in the process. This may be laid down to his great charm of manner: no one ever spoke to him without wanting to continue the conversation.

It was my great privilege to accompany him on two very important journeyings — one being in 1923 the Pilgrimage to Mecca, when I became a Haji or Pilgrim and the other the tour through South Africa in 1926, where he won golden opinions on all hands.

I have never met a man who was better able to express the accepted interpretation usually put in the mouths of God’s Messengers. I had many opportunities of seeing how carefully he compared notes and how he invariably put the spirit ahead of the letter in all his teachings and throughout his whole life. For this reason chiefly and to illustrate his steadfastness and open-hearted belief, I here quote from that part of his work which I think he would no doubt like to be repeated:

[We have omitted the long quotation given here for brevity — web page Editor.] …

I hope the readers of these few lines of deep appreciation will lay to heart the fact that our dear friend passed many years of weakness and suffering, and that it was nothing but his indomitable courage that enabled him to continue the work so long as he did. All who were cognizant of the state of his health sympathized with him in his sufferings and we all wish to emulate his fortitude and sincerity, and we pray to Allah for an abundance of that happy Faith which sustained our friend in his afflictions. It is with conviction we feel that the example set by the noble life of this Saint-like man will live for ever — it can never die.

It is very probable that a biography of the Khwaja will shortly be written by one of our friends, in which case I may be able to supply a few anecdotes collected during our tours, in Egypt, Arabia, India and South Africa, for which there is not sufficient room in this short article.


From The Islamic Review, April–May 1933, pages 109–114.
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