Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Abdullah Quilliam

Quilliam in Islam in England booklet
Photographic archive
Film newsreel archive
Contact us
Search the website

From Islam in England
by Sheikh Mushir Hosain Kidwai of Gadia

Quoted below is an excerpt from pages 2 and 3 of this booklet, containing mention of the movement of Quilliam in Liverpool. Read the whole booklet here. We have added a couple of explanatory footnotes.

The first open conversion of an Englishman that took place in the British Isles was, as far as known to me, that of Mr. Quilliam of Liverpool. He had the courage and nerves to declare himself openly and ostentatiously as a convert to Islam. About the same time a Peer of the realm and a high rank military official also became converted to Islam, but their conversions, although extremely sincere and rigidly based upon the intrinsic merits of that glorious faith, were not demonstrative. Mr. Quilliam was a man of position in the town, being a solicitor. He was a man of acknowledged ability, and a very good speaker. When I met him, he was far from being in the ascendance of his world-fame as a Muslim, but the impression he made with his long well-trimmed beard and his Islamic affability and courtesy was by no means ineffective. Mr. Quilliam and his followers received sympathy and financial help from Muslims abroad. A magazine was started by the gifted solicitor and a sum of money was also collected to build a mosque — the first mosque in the British Isles. Alas ! the enthusiasm of the Liverpool converts proved ephemeral. Mr. Quilliam himself had to leave Liverpool and that unfortunately under a shadow. Later on, about fourteen years ago, when Maulvi Sadr-ud-Din[1] visited Liverpool to find out if there was any trace left of the result of Mr. Quilliam’s work, he found only one house where a lady still professed Islam. The family of Mr. Quilliam, who appended to his name the grand title of Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles, were no more demonstrative of their faith. No sign of any mosque could be found. In fact, no mosque, as such, had ever been built at all. It was a private house where a few Muslim converts and the family of Mr. Quilliam congregated and said their prayers, and it was to that house that the name of a mosque was wrongly given and money was received for that “mosque”. It was a very sad end to a very glorious endeavour. Such a great regard I have for the courageous effort made by Mr. Quilliam to further the cause of Truth in the far-off Island[2] that I deliberately avoid going into details of the downfall and collapse of that movement…


[1] The year was 1914. See Maulana Sadr-ud-Din’s account of his visit to Liverpool at this link. He was Imam of the Mosque at Woking and Head of the Woking Muslim Mission during 1914–16, at the time after the departure of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din from his first visit to England in August 1914. Maulana Sadr-ud-Din (d. 1981) later became the Second Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement in 1951, following the death of Maulana Muhammad Ali.

[2] Kidwai refers to Britain as “the far-off Island” presumably because the booklet Islam in England was published in Lucknow, India.

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.