Islam is the second largest religion in the United Kingdom after Christianity with a population of 3,373,966 according to 2017 estimation which constitutes 5% of the total population. And it’s continuously increasing along with Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims.
But hold on for a second. Currently Muslims are 5% of the total population and facing severe hatred. What if I would say that you are the only Muslim living in United Kingdom?
Can you imagine yourself in such situation? May be you would think to migrate to some Muslims countries. And the chances are high that you would conceal your identity as a Muslim while staying because of safety concerns. But today, I would like to bring you the story of a man who was the first native Englishman to embrace Islam. Yes, he was the man who not only converted to Islam but founded first Mosque and Islamic Society in Liverpool in England in 1889.
William Henry Quilliam, a prominent English solicitor and the son of a Methodist preacher converted to Islam in 1887 during his trip to Morocco to recover from an illness. During his trip, he saw a group of Hajis who had been on pilgrimage and was intrigued at the peaceful attitude and the way they were praying. A fellow Muslim explained him that Islam is a continuation of previous faiths Judaism and Christianity and it seemed logical to him and he became a Muslim at that point. He was recovered from the illness of body as well as soul.
Contrary to the chaotic life in England during Industrial Revolution at that time, the life he saw at Morocco was quite appealing to him. A peaceful and simple life, honest and generous people and a calm environment. People were happy and content. There was an environment of solidarity depending very little on whether people are rich or poor. He was highly impressed by the Islamic lifestyle and culture of Morocco.
On his return to England, he decided to preach Islam and to invite people to a better way of life. He dedicated his life for the service of his new faith. Because of his continuous efforts, he converted 200 locals and 600 people in the whole United Kingdom and started travelling all across the country to remove misconceptions about Islam.
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Islam in 19th century was generally seen as Christian heresy and a violent religion in the Kingdom. He also opened a boarding school for boys and day school for girls as well as an orphanage for Non-Muslim parents who were unable to take care of their children, while those parents agreed to the fact that the kids would be raised as Muslims.
In the year 1889, he published ‘The Faith of Islam’, a book solely written for the Daw’ah work. In the book, he presented Islam in a very rationale way that was appealing to the scientific consciousness of Victorian Britain.
The book has three editions translated into 13 languages and became so popular that Queen Victoria ordered print of the book for herself and her grand children. He issued “Islamic World” a monthly publication with world wide audience. A number of notables converted to Islam as a result of Quilliam’s preaching.
Do you think it was easy to propagate Islam in a Christian dominated country when the British Christian missionaries were at their best in the propagation of Christianity throughout the globe, converting millions in the various British colonies? Obviously, it was not an easy task. He faced constant resistance. People started attacking him, throwing pig-heads, razor wires and stones at him after getting incited by media and the priests but he stood up against every atrocities that were done upon him.
He once made the following statement in one of his writing:-
When some years ago I first renounced Christianity and embraced Islam, I found that I was looked upon as a species of monomaniac, and if I endeavoured to induce people to discuss the respective merits of the two religions; I was either laughed at or insulted.
Fanatics and Fanaticism – Abdullah Quilliam – 1890
He was the first Muslim to appear in front of media, he appealed youth to show active involvement in media and stand up for their rights. He would petition Queen Victoria and made his views known to her. He was an articulate responsible citizen but he never hid his views. Because of his notable works, he was appointed as Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles by last Ottoman ruler Sultan Abdul Hamid II and recognized by the Shah of Persia, the Emir of Afghanistan as the leader of British Muslims.
Now, when Muslims are constantly under attack of hate crimes and Islamophobia is rising, this man is a true inspiration for the youth living in United Kingdom and all over Europe and Americas. He faced many setbacks by the enemies of Islam and Churches.
They tried to stop him and his Dawa’h work numerous times by various means as mentioned above. They even tried to kill him. But religion of Allah prevailed as it is destined to be. He was not only a preacher but a true saint who took the divine message and spread it all over the Island which was ruling the world at that time, for which it was said that ‘The sun never sets in British Empire’.
May Allah have mercy upon this noble soul and grant him higher station in Jannah and make us strong enough to take a stand against the atrocities like Abdullah Quilliam did. Aameen.
So, it was the story of William Henry Quilliam alias Abdullah Quilliam, the first Muslim in UK and the founder of first mosque in UK. Let us know, how did you like this story in comment section below. Also Don’t forget to Subscribe us for more such stories, Do share and visit us again.
Jazak Allah 🙂