Abdullah Quilliam’s missing history


A news item about the renovation and re-opening of a Liverpool Mosque appears on the BBC News website in tribute to the ‘first’ native Englishman to embrace Islam.

We note with regret that generally Muslims who write about the life of this great Muslim omit two important facts, as has been done in the BBC article.

First, that he was actively encouraged and supported by the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib. We give below some examples of this co-operation.

In November 1905 a letter from Abdullah Quilliam appears in the Review of Religions regarding exchange of literature.

Learning of the free offer of our journal (i.e. The Review of Religions) to inquirers in Europe, American, Japan and other countries, Sheikh Abdulla Quilliam, Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles, writes to us:

“I enclose you a preliminary list of a few persons who I feel sure would greatly appreciate your offer of supplying your journal free. I only wish that we could offer to do the same with our journals, the Crescent and Islamic World, but unfortunately our funds do not permit, in fact we run both our papers at a loss and we find it most difficult to get subscriptions in for the same. As for contributions to the maintenance of the work here, we do not receive any from abroad and have not done so for many years. I understand that there are people in India who are professing to make collections for the Liverpool Muslim Institute. All I have to say is that such persons are utterly unauthorised by us so to do and that no funds are being remitted to us and have not been for many years now last past.

I am sorry to see that even such a paper in which the whole Muhammadan world should have interest does not pay its expenses. From the vast number of English-knowing Muhammadans in India, one should have expected a circulation of thousands in this country alone. The cause of Islam in England should be the cause of every Muhammadan”

— Review of Religions, November 1905, p. 448.

Advertisements for the papers published by Abdullah Quilliam appeared in Ahmadi newspapers.

In the July 1912 issue of the Review of Religions appeared an article by a Mr Khalid Sheldrake, who was associated with the Liverpool Mosque, which at the end said:

I am very thankful to the Editor of the Review of Religions for so kindly sending me books and pamphlets to lend to enquirers. I think that this paper is doing useful work for Islam, and I thoroughly enjoy its perusal every month. I shall be happy to receive presents of Indian Journals in English on Islamic subjects; as they pass from hand to hand they bring a better knowledge of the ‘Faith which is most excellent’.

In May 1914, The Islamic Review published an article about the Liverpool Muslim Movement.

Abdullah Quilliam had to leave England and with his departure the Liverpool Movement came to an end but upon his return he joined the Woking Muslim Mission and greatly contributed to its work by writing articles for the Islamic Review and attending meetings.

We hope that in the future this part of this great Muslim’s legacy will not be forgotten.

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