Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

Obituary by R.G. Pickthall, Bar-at-Law
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The passing of a great man

by R.G. Pickthall, Bar-at-Law

Reproduced below is the text of the tribute paid to Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din by R.G. Pickthall, M.A. (Oxon), Bar-at-Law, 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 125–127.

The lamented death of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din has removed from the world of religious thought one of its most inspiring and impressive figures — a figure made the more remarkable by its sharp and outstanding contrast with what has long passed for religious eminence in England.

Whereas, with Western nations, religion has for very many generations been regarded as, at the least, a means of livelihood — at the most a road to preferment and worldly consideration — with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din his religion was actually his very life and for its furtherance he gladly sacrificed himself and all he had. To this his work at Woking alone bears ample testimony, and it is this which enabled him to carry through the well-nigh insuperable task to which he had devoted himself — that of opening the ears of the West to the message of the East as set forth in the gospel of the Holy Prophet.

That aspect of his life and endeavour is sufficiently well-known to need any further words from me: rather would I seek to recall memories of the man himself, his unswerving kindness, his patience, his loveableness, his sympathy, his saintliness. These could only be appreciated to the full by those who had lived under the same roof and in close association with him — as it was my great good fortune to do; and it is with poignant feelings of regret that one looks back to those Sunday afternoons round the tea table at the Sir Salar Jung Memorial House, after the Sunday lecture was over, when we all — guests from London and further afield, and friends from Woking and the surrounding districts — would gather round him like disciples round their Master, while he, with patience and lucidity expounded any difficulties which might have arisen and answered the questions which all were eager to put.

Nor did Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din confine himself to study or pulpit. Many times I have been his companion to various entertainments, wherein even then he was quick to perceive the perils, latent for ignorant or unbalanced youth, which we are all now belatedly beginning to realize; and often have I sat with him on summer evenings, under the trees on the lawn before the Mosque, with the trains roaring by on the embankment behind us, while he would discuss every kind of topic, shedding a new and individual light on each, or I would seize the opportunity by asking his advice, which he was always ready to give.

His learning was immense, as abundantly appears from the numerous books and pamphlets which came from his pen, but he never obtruded it in any way, so that sometimes its presence came as a surprise to the unwary. Once I remember, in Berlin, whither I had the privilege of accompanying him in 1922, at a little gathering of German savants in the Wilhelmstrasse to which we had been invited one afternoon, the conversation turned upon a philological point of some nicety, when a modest suggestion from Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din amazed and delighted the group, who little thought to find in their guest a foeman more than worthy of their steel — and that in a subject generally conceded to be almost a German preserve.

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was a born fighter in the cause he had at heart. He never acknowledged discouragement. Always cheerful, always mindful of the bright side of things and of men, he had put his hand to the plough and never looked back, meeting each temporary reverse or disappointment with the simple words “God knows better”. He was a firm friend, sympathetic, tactful, generous and, above all, wise, as many have gratefully cause to remember.

We in Woking had hoped that God in His mercy would spare Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din to re-visit once again the Mission he had founded, and mark with joy its flourishing condition. Now it is some consolation, yet a sad one, to know that all that is mortal of that heroic saintly figure will be laid to rest in the shadow of the little Mosque he loved so well.

R.G. Pickthall, M.A. (Oxon.)., Bar-at-Law

Note by Website Editor: With reference to the last sentence of this obituary, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din is in fact buried in Lahore in the Lahore Ahmadiyya section in the Miani Sahib cemetery, where will be found the graves of other Lahore Ahmadiyya pioneers such as Maulana Muhammad Ali.


From The Islamic Review, April–May 1933, pages 125–127.
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.