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Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s report of his lecture Woman, from Judaism to Islam
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Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s reports of his lecture Woman, from Judaism to Islam

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s first letter mentioning the proceedings of his lecture (Woman, from Judaism to Islam at the Lyceum club, Piccadilly, London, 20th May 1913) appeared in the Ahmadiyya community newspaper Badr, 19th June 1913, on page 4. Addressed to Maulana Nur-ud-Din, the letter begins as follows:

24 May 1913

To the honoured, guide and leader, may Allah keep him safe,
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu-hu

Allah the Most High granted much favour, and there was the prayer and attention of yourself. At last on 20 May the lecture took place at the Lyceum club, Piccadilly, about which I had asked for prayers. This was, in fact, my first lecture in London, to ladies of high society. I was not overawed by the country or nation. The delivery of my lecture and its success were of the kind that used to happen in India. There were more than fifty ladies, and some men.

The above letter then goes on mention his conversation with a lady before the lecture. We omit this as it is given in more detail in the following fuller report by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. This report appeared in Badr, 26th June 1913, pages 8–9, and is translated below.


My first lecture at the Lyceum Club, Piccadilly, London

I had no need to write on this topic, but the conversations I had with some upper class ladies both before and after this lecture impelled me to pen these lines. This lecture was held at a club of upper class ladies. The title was Woman, from Judaism to Islam, in which I intended to show the position of woman according to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. I do not wish to say anything about the lecture as I have already sent its Urdu translation to brother Dr. Mirza Yaqub Baig for publication. It may be published soon, and those interested can obtain it from him. [Note 1] It is enough to say that it was a successful lecture and a source of astonishment and bewilderment to the audience as to what they were hearing and what I was saying. I knew well that, especially as regards rights of women, the prejudiced Christian missionary groups had resorted to so much falsehood, fabrication and vituperation here. So, instead of presenting arguments, I mainly read out passages word for word from the Torah, the Gospels and the Holy Quran, and made the necessary deductions from them. It was this that caused astonishment in the audience. Anyhow, I report here the conversation which my friends should read carefully.

Honourable lady: Ever since I saw the notice of this lecture, I have been greatly perplexed and my interest has been increasing.

I: I regret that I needlessly caused you distress and bewilderment.

Honourable lady: No, you don’t understand. Your topic is very difficult. I cannot understand how you will serve the cause of your religion today.

I: The topic doesn’t seem difficult to me, and my religion is so clear, straightforward and plain that it does not need my service.

Honourable lady: What I mean is, what status will you today show that woman holds? Islam has not given much of a status to woman. It will be a very difficult task for you to show that it has given woman any status.

I: Now I understand your meaning. Will you believe me if I tell you something? After listening to my lecture today, you will be so grateful to my Holy Prophet as to no other man who ever lived on earth because he gave such high honour to womankind which no one before him or after him till today has given her.

Honourable lady: True, it is possible. It is now becoming known to us more and more daily that there is much ignorance and misrepresentation about Islam.

Conversations with two or three other ladies were also as above, in different words, so I do not repeat them here. During the lecture some faces were a picture of amazement and surprise, others were radiating happiness, while another group was of a Christian missionary bent of mind. This group, although small in number, included a professor, and they were deeply worried. They saw that the lecturer not only tried to establish the greatness of Islam but also assailed Christianity.

After the lecture I had a conversation with the wife of a marquess. She said: “I am especially grateful for that part of your lecture in which you clearly showed that Islam believes in the spiritual and moral progress of woman, and holds that women have souls, because a few days ago I had a big argument with someone on the point that Islam does not deny that woman has a soul. His view was that Islam does not accept that woman has a soul.”

An Englishman who holds an M.A. from the University of Cambridge, and is an acquaintance of mine, sent me a message expressing regret that he could not attend because the lecture deserved to be criticised very greatly. Upon learning that the lecture was successful and much liked, he became perplexed because he had told a friend of mine that nothing had done more injustice to woman than Islam and wherever this religion went it took away the rights of woman.

The M.A. man should find, upon reading the lecture, that it is his religion which destroyed the rights of women and which taught as its essential beliefs that women were unclean and polluted, and that the woman was “organ of the devil”, “the devil’s gateway”, the first sinner, “the first deserter of the Divine law” who brought death and sin into the world. It is his religion which, in order to justify the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of atonement, declared belief in inherited sin and laid the guilt for that inheritance firmly and squarely on woman. Anyhow, his eyes will be opened when he reads the lecture. If the Christian religion is true and attaining salvation depends upon accepting its doctrines, then salvation depends upon believing woman to be the most sinful of creation! Islam is the one and only religion that has done favour to woman. While declaring this, it gives me pleasure to know that the audience of this lecture included some prominent Muslim figures who viewed my small service very favourably and urged me to distribute this lecture widely in Arab countries.

To end, my purpose in writing these lines is to show how much misrepresentation has been made against Islam, while our Muslim brothers till today consider it enough just to talk praisingly [about Islam] in their own gatherings in order to gladden one another’s hearts.

Badr, 26 June 1913, pages 8–9.

A little later Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din made further reference to the reaction to his lecture in one paragraph within a letter published in Badr, 4–11th September 1913, pages 5–6. This is translated as follows:

The lecture in London about women made a good impression at the time, so much so that I was told by Mirza Abbas Ali Baig, member of the India Council, [Note 2] that a prominent noble lady said to him: If this man keeps on lecturing like this, we cannot remain Christians but must become Muslims. However, I have now learnt that the council of the [Lyceum] club was, by majority of view, opposed to it, even though the President was in my favour. I learnt this from indications. It was thought that the speaker had slaughtered Christianity and his purpose was to show the superiority of Islam by degrading Christianity. It is true that my lecture, in a way, did end on the note that if you want rights [for women] you must leave Christianity and become Muslims. Anyhow, truth is always bitter. It seems to me that the organisers of the club were distressed. It also affected this princess. I feel that what was said in the lecture was necessary, and Mirza Abbas Baig, the member of the India Council, after expressing much gratitude to me, said that he would not have been so happy if I had not discussed the position of woman according to Christianity. Anyhow, whatever happened was as God intended.

Notes by Website Editor

Note 1. It was published in Badr, 10–17th July 1913, pages 3–7, and 24th July 1913, pages 3–6.

Note 2. For more about Mirza Abbas Ali Baig see this obituary. The India Council mentioned here was a body appointed by the British government.

Related links:

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s lecture on Woman, from Judaism to Islam at the Lyceum club, London, May 1913

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