The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement in Woking and Woking Muslim Mission
The Woking Muslim Mission was founded in 1913 by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (1870-1932), a lawyer from India and follower of Mirza Ghulum Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and at the time was based at the Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking. For a full online history of the Woking Muslim Mission, which includes digitised versions of the Islamic Review magazine, 1913-1971, see www.wokingmuslim.org.
Early years in WokingFollowing the death of Dr GW Leitner in 1899, the mosque had been closed until 1912 when it was restored as a place of Muslim worship. Khwaja’s first stay in England was from September 1912 to August 1914, when he came to plead a court case before the Privy Council (the highest court of appeal for the Indian sub-continent at the time). His work to open the mosque and establish a Muslim mission had been facilitated by the help of prominent Indian Muslims, such as the Right Honorable Syed Ameer Ali. After the conclusion of the case, Khwaja stayed to establish the Mission, with the object of presenting the true picture of Islam and refuting the distorted image that he felt was widely prevalent in the West at the time. With the encouragement of Maulana Nur-ud-Din, then head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, the Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust was duly established.
For a full detailed history of the Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust at the Shah Jahan Mosque, see Shahed Saleem, The British Mosque: An Architectural and social history, Historic England, 2018.
The Woking Mission and Islamic Review
In February 1913, Khwaja started a monthly journal, The Islamic Review, which for over 55 years was the main Islamic journal in the West.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, was succeeded by Maulana Nur-ud-Din but upon his death in 1914 the community was divided as to his successor. Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad was elected which gradually led to doctrinal differences between those who accepted him as Khalifa and those who preferred to follow the central Ahmadiyya council. The former became the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; the latter formed the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement (also known as Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore).
Following this split in 1914, Khwaja became associated with the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement which ran the Woking Muslim Mission at the Shah Jahan Mosque as its UK centre until the late 1960s. The Mission went on to publish the first English translation of the Qu’ran in 1917. The Shah Jahan Mosque remained the pre-eminent centre of Islam in Great Britain until the mid-1960s. Throughout the 1960s, Woking’s Muslim community grew with families coming from Pakistan. In 1968 the mosque came under Sunni administration.
Many of those involved in the early days of the Woking Muslim Mission and Shah Jahan Mosque are buried at Brookwood Cemetery.
The Everyday Muslim Project has created Britain’s first ever self-guided Muslim Heritage Trails incorporating Brookwood and other key sites in Woking. Trail No.1 features Muslim heritage sites in Woking, including the Shah Jahan Mosque itself and the original First World War Muslim Burial Ground (now the Peace Gardens at Horsell Common). Trail No.2 features a cemetery walk at Brookwood Cemetery, that identifies some the final resting places of key individuals in Britain’s Muslim heritage, such as English converts Abdullah Qulliam, Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (who first translated the Qur’an into English), and HRH Princess Musbah Haidar. The trails can be downloaded at https://www.everydaymuslim.org/projects/woking-mosque-project/muslim-heritage-trail-woking/.
Front covers of the Islamic Review (Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission), click on the images below to see larger copies.
Sources at Surrey History Centre
Woking photographer, Sidney Francis, took photographs in the 1920s and 1930s of events at the Shah Jahan Mosque which often appeared in the Islamic Review. For more information about the collection and links to the catalogue lists see https://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/people/photographers/sidney-francis-1891-1973/. Some photographs of graves at Brookwood Cemetery, taken by Sidney Francis, or his predecessor Marguerite Reed, can be found at https://www.surreyarchives.org.uk/collections/getrecord/SHCOL_10053. Click here for a pdf copy of a list of the people named on the memorials. A small gallery of images is also included on the Brookwood Cemetery page.
Centenary booklet giving the full history of the Woking Muslim Mission (SHC ref 9201)
Shah Jahan Mosque publications and papers, 1920-1985 (SHC ref 8382) contains papers & correspondence from the Mosque relating to activities and membership of the Islamic Review magazine, and some Mosque administrative functions. Included in the collection are pamphlets by the English convert Marmaduke Pickthall, Khwaja Kamal-Ud Din and Lord Headley.
Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking: correspondence and publications, 1920-2002 (SHC ref 7831) contains copies of the Islamic Review and works published by the Woking Muslim Mission & Literary Trust. The material includes pamphlets by Marmaduke Pickthall.
The catalogue lists for both these collections can be viewed using our online Collections Catalogue
The Mosque Information File in the Surrey History Centre searchroom contains newspapers cuttings and articles on the Shah Jahan Mosque (SHC ref 942.2 WOK). Local newspapers can be particularly useful.
Postcards and illustrations of the Shah Jahan and newscuttings relating to events there, dating from 1889 to the current day, can be found in Surrey History Centre’s archive and illustrations collections. Click here to search for these using the online Collections Catalogue (and search using the term ‘mosque’).
Surrey History Centre holds a number of books and articles relating to the Shah Jahan Mosque. Click here to download (pdf ) an information sheet on Sources for the Shah Jahan Mosque. Further books can be found by searching the online Surrey Libraries Virtual Catalogue http://www.surreylibraries.org
Here are just a few of the books held at Surrey History Centre:
- Shahed Saleem, The British Mosque: An Architectural and social history, Historic England, 2018
- M Ikram Chaghatai; Sang-E-Meel, Writings of Dr Leitner, compiled by, Government College Lahore Research and Publication Society, 2002
- Nasir Ahman, Dr Gottleib William Leitner (1840-1899), 2003
- Tina Cockett, The Muslim Burial Ground: Horsell Common, Woking, Woking Galleries, 2004. (Contains useful information about the Indian army and burial ground, including the names of the 19 soldiers who are buried there)
- K Humayun Ansari, The Woking Mosque: a case study of Muslim Engagement with British Society since 1889, Frank Cass, 2002
- Islamic Society of Britain, Muslims in Britain: A Brief History, 2006
- H Ansari, The Infidel Within: the history of Muslims in Britain, 2002
- A Hidden History of the Chattri and the Muslim Burial Ground, Woking Galleries, 2004
- S.A Khulusi, Islam our choice, The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, 1961
- Nasir Ahmad, Eid Sermons at the Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking, England 1931-1940, Aftab-ud-din, 2002. (Includes useful chapters on the early history of the mosque).
- Dr. Zahid Aziz, Muslims in Britain and the start of the First World War,
www.wokingmuslim.org, 2014, click here to download a pdf () copy.
- Dr. Zahid Aziz, Burial of Indian Muslim soldiers of World War 1 in England: How it began in November 1914, www.wokingmuslim.org, 2014, click here to download a pdf () copy.
Further information and useful links
Read more about the Shah Jahan Mosque here.
Read more about the Muslim Burial Ground here.
For an online history of the Woking Muslim Mission, including the Islamic Review, 1913-1971, which regularly features news and events at the Shah Jahan, see www.wokingmuslim.org
For an online history of the Shah Jahan Mosque, see the Mosque’s website www.shahjahanmosque.org.uk; this includes a brief history of the Woking Muslim Mission.
Records relating to the Shah Jahan Mosque can be found in the India Office records at the British Library, including Woking Mosque Trust papers and the foundation of the Muslim Burial Ground http://www.bl.uk/
A very useful website charting the history of Islamic buildings in Britain, including the Shah Jahan, can be found at http://muslimmuseum.org.uk/islam-in-british-stone-pilot/
For a selection of digitised historic newsreel film clips of the Shah Jahan Mosque and its community in Woking, see http://www.britishpathe.com/
Click here to discover more about the Muslim community in Woking during the First World War.
Click here http://www.wokingmuslim.org/work/id-ul-fitr-1915.htm to read an article by Dr. Zahid Aziz on the Second ‘Id-ul-Fitr at Woking Muslim Mission, 13th August 1915. The event was attended by Muslim soldiers of the British Indian Army, who had come from the Western Front in Europe.
Read more about Surrey Heritage’s work with the county’s diverse communities see.