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August 8th, 2012

“Great British Islam”

Submitted by Rashid Jahangiri.

BBC has produced documentary on early 20th century British Muslim Converts. Documentary sheds light on lives of three prominent converts: William Abdullah Quilliam, Lord Headley, and Marmaduke Pickthall. Film also shows scenes of Shah Jehan Mosque/ Woking Muslim Mission. At 14:19 it looks like Maulana Sadar ud Din is delivering lecture.

One think thing that disappointed me is comments by Humayun Ansari, Professor of the History of Islam, Royal Holloway, University of London. Professor Ansari has distorted history just to hide the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement connection with three Muslim converts in documentary.

I would suggest this documentary is stored in Woking Muslim Mission website maintained by LAM, UK.

3 Responses to ““Great British Islam””

  1. August 8th, 2012 at 3:49 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    This was broadcast on Wednesday 18th July. I watched it and circulated the following comment in UK:

    It [the programme] covered the work of three converts: Quilliam, Lord Headley, and Pickthall. It covered their connection with the Woking Mosque and showed their graves at Brookwood. It also had a newsreel film from the Woking Mosque, where I spotted Hazrat Maulana Sadr-ud-Din giving the khutba.

    Despite all this, there was no mention whatsoever of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din sahib or the Woking Mission, even while mentioning Lord Headley. Only the mosque was shown

    The programme also gave much prominence to Pickthall’s translation of the Quran, saying that it was the one which showed the West true Islam for the first time, and was an English translation from a Muslim believer for the first time.

    The Woking Muslim Mission and its founders were completely erased from history in this programme, even though the Woking Mosque featured extensively in the programme.

    In response to Rashid, Professor Ansari may not be to blame for this omission, but the programme makers. I say this because the following happened recently. The publishers of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography contacted me to say that the next edition of the dictionary will contain, for the first time, a biographical note about Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din sahib, and they asked permission to use a photograph from the Woking Muslim Mission website. So I offered them also to take a look at the note before publication for comment. The note was written by Prof. Ansari. I suggested a few additions to it which the editor passed on to him, and he happily accepted them.

    A note to Muslim brothers: This is how reputable organisations and people behave when they want to use your material. They ask permission. I get requests for permission to use photos that are on the Woking Muslim website, almost always from non-Muslims, who ask even for a single photograph. I not only give them permission happily, but offer them more than they asked for. However, Muslims in general feel no reluctance in reproducing these photos and related material even without acknowledgement.

  2. Professor Humayun Ansari comment.
    In documentary 13:30 Prof. Ansari talks about Lord Headley conversation to Islam. He creates impression that Lord Headley somehow had visited India, and that visit of his was reason for his conversion to Islam. This is opposite to facts. Lord Headley converted to Islam before visiting India, at hands of Khawaja Kamalud Din sahib, in 1913.  

  3. August 9th, 2012 at 3:58 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Lord Headley had visited India long before converting to Islam in his professional capacity. It is written in his obituary:

    “In 1896 as Assistant Engineer to Spedding & Co., Lord Headley came to India for the first time and was responsible for the construction of the Baramula-Srinagar Road which was 33 1/3 miles long and included 167 culverts and bridges.”

    However, it can’t be said with certainty that this visit played a role in his conversion. And the programme does create the wrong impression that he visited India and became a Muslim as a result.

    He himself wrote:

    “It is possible that some of my friends may imagine that I have been influenced by Mohammedans; but it is not the case, for my convictions are solely the outcome of many years of thought. My actual conversations with educated Muslims on the subject of religion only commenced a few weeks ago …”

    The programme also creates a wrong impression about Pickthall’s translation as being the first by a believer.

    In the film shown where you see Maulana Sadr-ud-Din sahib, also can be seen Shaikh Nur Ahmad, wearing turban. This gentleman was known as the “Bilal of Woking” as he used to give the azan from the mosque. (See his photo and about him at this link, on the second page of the 2-page article about the founding of the Woking Mission. You may know be able to recognise him in the film clip in the documentary.)

    The programme gives the impression that the Woking Mosque and the activities there somehow came out of thin air, as if it happened without any effort and sacrifice by anyone. It presented the kind of history we are used to hearing from those Muslims who want to remove all mention of Ahmadiyya contributions (like those editions of “Islam, Our Choice” in which all mention of the Woking Mission and its imams has been deleted).

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