Id-ul-Fitr at Woking, 1 August 1916
See this link for photographs on this occasion as published in The Islamic Review, August 1916. It is quoted below.
THE FESTIVAL OF ID-UL-FITAR AT WOKING
THE Muslim Feast after the month of Ramadhan (Fasting) fell on Tuesday, the 1st of August. The little town of Woking, within twenty-five miles of London, was the scene of the celebration of the great event.
Those who took part in the celebrations hailed from various parts of the world. There were ladies and gentlemen, from. different counties of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some were from France, a few came from Belgium, and the representatives from Turkey, Persia, Russia, Soudan, Egypt, and India, Central and Southern regions of Africa, etc., had their quota of those who worship the one and only Allah (God). Many members of the British Muslim Association, headed by Lord Headley, were also present. The wonderful and inspiring effect produced by this happy conglomeration of sexes, ages, races, colours, and nationalities was manifested from the cheerful faces of all those who were present. Every Muslim seemed to be proud of his universal, liberal and democratic faith which practically demonstrated the universal brotherhood of the whole humanity. The festival, in which so many Britishers took part, also demonstrated the formidable advance of Islam in these islands. All the British Muslims — men and women and even children — felt themselves perfectly at home with their brothers from distant lands. Under the benign influence of Islam even the notorious insularity of the people of these islands had given way. All Muslims felt that they were one people bound together by the one cord — the Cord of Allah, the Creator and Cherisher of all people, the whole universe. The new Muslims felt that their visions had widened and their ideas had. become more liberal. While before they believed that Christians alone were sure to get salvation, now they believed that salvation was open to all humanity. While before they thought that all mankind was born sinful and that sin was introduced by woman, now they believed that mankind was born sinless, that woman was not the culprit, and that whoever did good acts will get his or her reward. They found that Islam was free from all mysteries, and was a religion as suited for the advanced communities of Europe as for the primitive tribes of Africa.
It stood not only for all that which was most noble spiritually, but also for all what was most helpful socially, since it dealt a deathblow to all the prejudice of race, colour, and caste. At Woking, in the forenoon of August 1st, a peer of the British realm bowed in obeisance to the Great Almighty in the same line with one who had no claims to a peerage. A prince of the East offered his homage to Allah with him who had no princely rank. A polished savant laid his offering of thanksgiving and prayer with a rough child of ignorance before his one and only God.
The converts from Christianity felt very happy over the fact that they believed in a religion which satisfied their reason, and which demanded from them a respect for all the prophets and teachers who were sent down from time to time to all the nations and peoples. When they were Christians they were ordered by their clergymen to believe, without thinking for themselves, in theological problems they failed to understand; now they were told to satisfy their reason and to work out their own salvation by their righteous and benevolent acts.
In short, high and low, men and women and children, vied with one another in displaying their adherence to their newly won treasure in practising the real equality and fraternity of Man, as preached by the Holy Quran.
The prayers were led by the Reverenced Maulvi Sadruddin; but as he himself pointed out, Islam has no priesthood, and any other Muslim from the congregation could have just as well led the prayers.
After prayers the Imam delivered the (Khutba) sermon. The subject chosen was the universality of Islamic teachings. He emphasized the liberality which Islam preached and the great Prophet of Islam practised. The sermon was punctuated by apt illustrations from the life of the Holy Prophet, who had such a broad mind that once he offered his own Mosque for Christian service when a Christian deputation from Najran came to wait upon him. The Imam concluded his address by explaining the catholicity of the great basic principle of Islam — the whole-hearted devotion to the one and only God, who has no peers, no sharers, and unlimited and unqualified love towards all His creatures, including birds, animals, and even plants. It was this on which the enduring monument of Islam rested, and no surer foundation of a faith could there be. It was absolutely wrong to think that Muslims worshipped Muhammad. They worship none but Allah — the one and only God.
After the sermon, Nurse Stenning and another lady declared their faith in Islam in these words:
“I believe that there is no god but God, the one and only God. I believe in all the prophets sent by God, as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others. I believe that Muhammad was the last prophet.
“La illaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah.
“I promise to live a virtuous Muslim life, by the help of God.”
It was not till late in the night that the congregation broke up.
The help given by our British Muslim brothers and sisters of the town to make the festival a success was very valuable. They were quite as much interested in the success of the feast and worked as hard for it as any of those who have been born and bred in Islam.
We fervently pray that before we assemble again, after a little over two months, to celebrate the feast of sacrifice by Abraham, our number in these islands may be far, far larger. May all happiness attend all our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be.
ABDUL QAYUM MALIK.