Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

Report in the Daily Express of Friday prayer service at Woking, February 1932
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‘Muslims worship in an English town’

Woking Friday prayer service reported in the Daily Express, London, February 27th, 1932

[Note by Website Editor: A report of a Friday prayer service at the Woking Mosque along with a photograph were published in the Daily Express, London, dated February 27th, 1932. These were reproduced in The Islamic Review, May 1932, p. 141–142, from which we publish them below.]

The Islamic Review, May 1932
“The Muezzin’s call to prayer at the weekly service at the Islamic Mosque (centre) at Woking.
(Right) The Deputy Imam Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad leading the prayers in the mosque, bowing towards Mecca.
An English woman Moslem is seen among those who were at the service yesterday.”

Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar!

A black-haired youth in a lounge suit stood on the edge of a fountain in a garden at Woking yesterday and, placing his hands against his ears to shut out all communication with the outer world, intoned these words in a loud penetrating voice: “Allah-u-Akbar! — Allah-u-Akbar!”

He was the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.

“Allah is the Greatest— Allah is the Greatest!”

And then, still in the Arabic: “I bear witness that nothing deserves to be worshipped but Allah!”

As he stood and called to the faithful he was unmindful of the engineering works to the left, of the railway trains screeching behind him. He stood before a beautiful, if diminutive, mosque, with minarets all faced with blue and gold, with an arabesque doorway, and, above all, a gilded dome and the Crescent of Muslim.

As the muezzin had no objection to others beside the faithful entering the mosque, I joined the company. The Imam deputising for the day rose without ceremony. He was in correct morning dress, and wore a dark-coloured sheepskin fez. Private prayers had begun. There was deadly quiet. The Imam, with his back to the followers and looking towards Mecca, was deep in contemplation and wordless petition. Now he raised his hands in supplication. Now he sank on his knees and bowed his head on the carpet. One after another the other worshippers joined him. Nobody spoke. There was presently a sermon from a text in the Quran. It was to the effect that no dead thing, but only the living, can create interest in the mind of man.

The application of this was (a) that Islam was no dead thing, but alive; (b) that being so, though attempts had been made to crush Islam, the religion still persisted. The Imam traced the attitude of medieval history towards Mohammedanism, and came suddenly to the Bishop James controversy that has recently taken place in the “Evening Standard,” especially concerning Mohammedanism. The Imam took strong exception to a statement that had been made to the effect that the position of Mohammedan women was “deplorable.” “It was Islam,” he cried, “that gave a position to women. It was Muhammad who gave women a share in inheritance; it was he who made the defending of women’s honour a part of human character.” “Chivalry had its birth in Islam, Chivalry was not known in the world till that time.”

The sermon was ended. More prayers — this time altogether. The Muslim women joined now. “As-salaam-u-alaikum wa rahmatullah-i” (peace be with you and the mercy of Allah). All the worshippers turn their heads to the right, then to the left. The gesture means that the prayer for peace embraces the whole world on either hand.

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.