Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Abdullah Quilliam

Account of Quilliam’s work by an English convert in Review of Religions, 1912
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Account of Quilliam’s work by an English convert in the Review of Religions, 1912

An article entitled Islam in England by Khalid Sheldrake, a convert to Islam, appears in the Review of Religions for July 1912. It briefly traces the history of Islam in England from the earliest times. It was written after the cessation of the activities of Quilliam and his community in 1908, and refers to his work in some detail as follows:

“The first organised Islamic community was founded at Liverpool by an English Solicitor (who had accepted Islam in Algeria) named W.H. Quilliam in 1881. He took the name of Abdullah and subsequently was received often by the late Sultan of Turkey who decorated both his family and himself and conferred the title of Bey upon him. I knew Quilliam well, and as many people have spoken ill of him, I will endeavour to give you some idea of the struggles and hardships he underwent for Islam. He was a charming personality, full of wit and repartee, kind and patient — he was known in Liverpool as “The Poor Man’s Solicitor” as on scores of occasions he fought cases for men who were penniless and charged no fee. He was a learned man, an eminent Geologist and linguist, and President of many Manx and Liverpool Guilds and Societies. His books on the Antiquities of the Isle of Man is a standard work. Although, unfortunately, he is no longer with us, having committed a technical offence though not in any way a criminal one, and I who know the facts of the case consider him morally justified in his action which only showed very eloquently the superiority of the Islamic legal code over that in use in England at the present day which is far from reaching the standard laid down by our Holy Prophet 1300 years ago. He was the author of the “Faith of Islam”, “Footprints of the Past,” “The Religion of the Sword,” “Studies in Islam” and many others. He edited the “Crescent” and “The Islamic World” which he kept up out of his own pocket. He opened the Mosque and Lecture Hall and contributions were sent from all parts of the Muslim world. For 25 years he lectured and wrote for Islam. The mosque windows have been smashed by stones week after week and he was insulted on every possible occasion. He boldly defended Islam when quite alone at the Liverpool Town Hall in 1903 in a most brilliant speech which was reported not only by English papers but Continental as well. His example was followed by many. The cause of Islam is still upheld in Liverpool by a devoted band under F. Djaffer Mortimore, aided by Prof. Stephen, Hasan Arculli and Resched P. Stanley (Late Mayor of Staleybridge). My readers will quickly recognise the name of Yehya-en-Nasr Parkinson, F.G.S. He was one of Sheikh Abdullah Quilliam’s converts and he is a great gain to Islam as his fluent pen is always active in its service and as a poet he emulates those well-known Arab poets whose works are the delight of the Muslims today.”

Note: For more about Yehya-en-Nasr Parkinson, please follow this link.

At the close of the whole article the following comment occurs:

“I am very thankful to the Editor of the Review of Religions for so kindly sending me books and pamphlets to lend to enquirers. I think that this paper is doing useful work for Islam, and I thoroughly enjoy its perusal every month. I shall be happy to receive presents of Indian Journals in English on Islamic subjects; as they pass from hand to hand they bring a better knowledge of the ‘Faith which is most excellent’.”

Review of Religions, July 1912, pages 286–289.

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.