Eid-ul-Fitr August 1914

Celebration at the Woking Mosque

The Light (UK), November 2006 Issue (pp. 1–2)

By the time this issue reaches you, Eid-ul-Fitr this year [2006] will have been celebrated. This being topical, we look back at the same occasion some 92 years ago. August 1914 was a monumental month in world history. The dreadful First World War began during that month, and this cataclysm brought the previous age to a close and gave birth to a new age in the political and social history of the world. Eid-ul-Fitr that year fell on Sunday 23rd August, and was the first Eid at the Woking Mosque since the establishment of the Woking Muslim Mission by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din in late 1913. A report of the Eid proceedings was published in the Woking local newspaper the Surrey Herald, and this was reproduced in The Islamic Review in its issue for October 1914. We quote it below.

Muslim festival at Woking
Visit of an Indian Prince

One of the unique features of Woking is the stately Mosque, a view of which is obtainable from passing trains. There are visitors to the Muslim house of prayer every day, and there are few who do not make a special point of seeing the interior while spending a holiday in the neighbourhood.

Well attended lectures are held every Sunday afternoon, but the largest gathering known at the Mosque assembled on Sunday for the “Eid-ul-Fitr,” or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. From the early morning Muslims began to pour into Woking by trains, and at eleven o’clock the prayer was commenced.

The assembly was a brilliant one, and the spotless whiteness of the interior of the Mosque threw out in bold relief the multi-coloured garments of the large gathering, amongst whom was His Highness the Ruler of Bahawalpur. The Mosque proved to be too small for all, and carpets were spread on the steps and in the courtyard.

The prayers were said in Arabic language, and formulas magnifying and glorifying God were recited. The leader of the ceremony was Moulvie [Maulvi] Sadr-ud-Din, B.A., B.T., and his words were repeated for those outside to follow by Shaikh Noorahmad. The prayers were said according to Muslim customs — bowing, kneeling, and prostrating.

After the prayer a sermon was preached by Moulvie Sadr-ud-Din, and many references were given from the Bible and the Quran. At its conclusion an appeal was made for the usual collection on behalf of the poor, which is the custom at all Muslim festivals, and the money will be distributed among poor in Woking. The congregation then repeated several times the following words, but in the Arabic language:

“God is great! God is great! All praises and glorification are due to God!”

During the ceremony members of the public of Woking were in the Mosque to witness the proceedings, at the close of which an English lady made a declaration embracing Islam.

The gathering then proceeded to the lawn in front of the Memorial House, where lunch comprising Indian dishes was partaken of.

To commence the afternoon proceedings the Muslims made a procession through the streets, evoking considerable interest in the novel sight. Prior to the commencement of the lecture the Mosque was becoming quite full, and it was found necessary to adjourn to the lawn in order to provide ample accommodation.

The speaker, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, leader of the Muslims in England, being with the processionists, the gathering was entertained by an address from Shaikh Khalid Sheldrake, who explained mis­representations and objections raised against Islam, and appealed for those present to investigate for themselves.

The procession having returned, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din spoke for some time. He justified the action of the British Government at the present crisis, and said that the present material and physical civilisation, not being constructed upon a pure religious basis, was responsible for the terrible war.

Many of the public remained for tea which followed. The usual prayers were offered at the appointed hours, and the last function of the day was dinner, served in the Memorial House. Many speeches were made, and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was wished a safe and happy voyage when he leaves in a week or so to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and a short visit to India.

The whole day was apparently one of complete happiness, a noticeable feature being the way in which English people — Muslims and non-Muslims — volunteered their aid in the performance of various duties.

We are asked to say that the heartiest thanks are due to the host, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, to whose wide popularity and work for Islam the large gathering is accounted a tribute.

Note by The Light: Maulana Sadr-ud-Din had recently arrived at Woking to relieve Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, who left for India a few days later, performing the Hajj [Pilgrimage] along the way in October 1914.