Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

Muslims in Lahore hold public meeting in 1933 to commemorate the life of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
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 Muslims in Lahore hold public meeting in 1933 to commemorate the life of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din 

Shortly after the death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din in December 1932, a public meeting was held in Lahore in January 1933 in commemoration of his life and work. It was attended by the leading Muslims of Lahore, some of whom made speeches at the meeting.

A brief news item about the meeting was published in The Light (16 January 1933, p. 4, col. 1), the English organ of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. It ran as follows (the highlighting of names in red is ours):

To mourn the death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, a large meeting of the Musalmans of Lahore was held in the Habibia Hall (Islamia College, Lahore) on January 8. Chaudhri Sir Shahab-ud-Din, President, Punjab Legislative Council, presided. The hall was packed to overflowing and members of all sects and schools participated. Glowing tributes were paid to the great work of the distinguished deceased in the cause of Islam by the President, Justice Sir Abdul Qadir, Sir Feroz Khan Noon, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Hakim Ahmad Shuja, Assistant Secretary, Punjab Council, Dr. Khalifa Shuja-ud-Din and Malik Barkat Ali, Advocate. The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

(1) This meeting of the Musalmans of Lahore acknowledges the glorious services rendered by the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din Sahib to the cause of Islam and mourns his death as a national loss. The meeting expresses its deepest sympathy with the bereaved family.

(2) This meeting of the Musalmans of Lahore unanimously resolves that a “Memorial Fund” should be started to keep alive that magnificent work of propagation of Islam in the West which the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din Sahib started and that a committee comprising of the following be formed to raise funds for the said purpose:

  1. Sir Sikander Hayat Khan
  2. Sir Shahab-ud-Din
  3. Sir Feroz Khan Noon
  4. Sir Abdul Qadir
  5. Nawab Ahmed Yar Khan Daulatana
  6. Maulana Muhammad Ali
  7. Khan Bahadur Shaikh Rahim Bakhsh.
  8. Doctor Ghulam Muhammad
  9. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad

A more detailed report appeared in the Lahore Ahmadiyya Urdu journal Paigham Sulh (11 January 1933, p. 5), which can be read at this link.

Here is a synopsis of the report, with translation of some extracts from it.

The meeting was held on Sunday 8 January at 3.00 pm. Apart from the names in the English report above, the following are also mentioned among those present:

  • Baron Umar Ehrenfels
  • Nawab Shah Nawaz Khan of Mamdot
  • Maulvi Ghulam Muhayy-ud-Din
  • K.B. Shaikh Ameer Ali
  • Sayyid Mumtaz Ali, editor, Tahzib Niswaan

The names of some leading members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement are also mentioned, which, apart from those in the English report above, include: Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, Sayyid Ghulam Mustafa Shah, Dr Mirza Yaqub Baig, Dr Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah and Dr Basharat Ahmad.

After the opening of the meeting, the President, Sir Shahab-ud-Din said:

“Most people present here would know Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din but there will be few who would have known him for as long a period of time as my friendship with him. This is 45 or 46 years. We were friends from our school days. After school, he entered the Mission College and I went to Government College. Coincidentally, we both achieved in the B.A. examination together, and he passed the law examination one year before me.

After this he practised law in Peshawar for six years and he began to be counted among the best lawyers of the area. As he had to go to Lahore again and again in connection with some court cases, he took up permanent residence in Lahore. Here too his practice was very successful and he achieved much success financially as well as in terms of reputation. However, he had the desire from the beginning to serve the faith. As a close friend I said to him many times: You should either remain in the legal profession or devote yourself to the religion. At last he said to me one day: I have accepted your advice and decided to devote myself to the service of religion.

After this, he went to England for the propagation of Islam while utterly lacking any resources. In the land of the West, the astonishing success he achieved, and the work he did which brought about a revolution, needs no introduction. It is our duty that, besides expressing grief and sympathy at his untimely death, and offering prayers for his forgiveness, we must try to continue the work which he started and for which he even gave his life.”

After the President, Sir Abdul Qadir said in his speech:

“The late Khwaja sahib was very intelligent and hard-working from the beginning. If he had continued in the legal profession he would have made great progress in his worldly career. I knew him since a long time ago. In his youth, he possessed a refined literary taste. I am familiar with his prose and poetry. He was also a good public speaker. But his achievement which is most deserving of mention, and is a matter of gratitude, is that he was the first to begin the propagation of Islam in the West. I have myself been to Woking and seen the highly useful work being done there. The deceased loved to do service of Islam. For that he sacrificed everything he had.”

After this, Sir Feroz Khan Noon, the Minister of Education, putting the motion to express sadness and sympathy, said:

“I received benefit from the Khwaja sahib during my time in England. I was young and many doubts about religion had arisen in my mind. But meeting with the Khwaja sahib and his books kept me within Islam; otherwise there was the danger that I would become a Christian. In my opinion, his greatest service to Islam were the useful books he wrote for the Muslims.”

Then Maulana Muhammad Ali made a brief speech in which he said:

“The events of the life of the Khwaja sahib have been related by my two friends (the President and Sir Abdul Qadir). He was a student in the Mission College. In Christian teaching institutions there are two kinds of [Muslim] students: those who feel more strongly for Islam than even other Muslims and those who come under the influence of Christianity. The Khwaja sahib belonged to the latter category. He was on the verge of becoming a Christian but he met a spiritual guide (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) and this created a great change in him, so much so that he overcame Christianity.

Christian missionaries from Europe and America are spread over our country and in the rest of the world, and they are making strenuous efforts to spread their religion. The Khwaja sahib was the first man in the present times to go to the lands of the West and take the message of Islam there. But there is a difference between the Christian missionaries and Khwaja sahib. The Christian missionaries have the great power of organization and money behind them. Their nations spend billions of Rupees on the preaching of Christianity. The Khwaja sahib took this step while being destitute and he was victorious. This was due to the influence of one man who had made the deceased utterly devoted to the propagation of Islam. It was belief in God and His Messenger, and certainty that Islam will prevail, which created within the deceased the strength to do this great work. Undoubtedly the Khwaja sahib brought numerous British persons into the fold of Islam, but he performed the even greater task of removing the misconceptions about Islam in Western countries to a large extent.

Certainly you should extend your sympathies to his son, his wife and other relations. But deservant of your sympathies are also the deceased’s fellow workers who are engaged in the propagation of Islam not only in England but also Germany and other countries.”

Maulana Muhammad Ali went on to mention the deceased’s writings, the mission in Germany and Baron Umar Ehrenfels.

Then two poems were read in his praise.

Hakim Shuja-ud-Din, who moved the second resolution (see above), said:

“When the Khwaja sahib went to England for the first time to establish his mission, I was in England as a student. I have to confess, to my great shame, that at that time I opposed this magnificent venture because I believed it to be impossible. But later I realised that I was mistaken. I had grown up in an atmosphere in which there was some prejudice against the Ahmadiyya Movement. But I have seen that we agree with the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement in issues such as prophethood.”

Baron Umar also paid a brief tribute to the Khwaja sahib. After saying prayers for the forgiveness of the deceased, the meeting concluded.

Who were these eminent Muslim leaders mentioned in the above reports?

We have added some biographical information below which shows that those who were prominent in attending this public meeting to commemorate the life of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, and who spoke in tribute to him, were the most eminent and highly-distinguished leaders of the Muslims of India at that time.

Sir Shahab-ud-Din (d. 1946): President of the Punjab Legislative Council for three consecutive terms between 1925 and 1936, and Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly from 1937 to 1945.

Sir Abdul Qadir (d. 1950): Judge, newspaper editor, member of the Punjab Legislative Council, member of the Secretary of State for India’s Council, leader of the Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam of Lahore. His portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery, London (see link). He is also mentioned in the archives of UNESCO as a member of its International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation 1939–1940 (see link). His son Manzur Qadir was Foreign Minister of Pakistan, 1958–1962, and Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court in the 1962–63.

Sir Feroz Khan Noon (d. 1970): Graduated in history from University of Oxford, 1916, and qualified as barrister-at-law from the Inner Temple, London, 1917. In the 1920s and 1930s he served in the cabinets of some of the governors of the Punjab. In 1936 he was appointed the High Commissioner of India to the UK. During the Second World War, he was made a military advisor and representative of British India in Winston Churchill’s war cabinet. In 1945 he was appointed as the Permanent Representative of British India at the UN. After the founding of Pakistan, he served as Jinnah’s envoy to Muslim countries, Governor of East Bengal, and Chief Minister of the Punjab, and was Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1957–58.

Hakim Shuja-ud-Din (d. 1969): Was a famous poet and writer; see further this link.

Malik Barkat Ali (d. 1946): At his death, Mr Jinnah said: “Muslim India has lost in him a great man, and I have lost in him not only a colleague, a collaborator, but also a great friend.” See further this link from Pakistan Today.

Dr Khalifa Shuja-ud-Din: A prominent official of the Punjab Muslim League, became in 1936 one of its vice-presidents (along with Malik Barkat Ali) under the presidentship of Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal. After the independence of Pakistan, served as Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, 1951–55.

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