Saturday, July 4, 2009

William Abdullah Quilliam

William Henry Quilliam (April 10, 1856[1][2][3] – 1932), who changed his name to Abdullah Quilliam, was a 19th century convert from Christianity to Islam, noted for founding England's first mosque and Islamic centre.



[edit] Background

William Quilliam was born in Liverpool to a wealthy Manx family in 1856. His father, Robert Quilliam, was a watch manufacturer. William was educated at the Liverpool Institute and King William's College on the Isle of Man. He began work as a solicitor in 1878.

[edit] Conversion to Islam

Quilliam was brought up a Christian but learned about Islam and converted, either while visiting southern France in 1882 and crossing over to Algeria and Tunisia, or after visiting Morocco in 1887.[4] Returning to Liverpool, he began to promote Islam in Britain as Abdullah Quilliam.

Quilliam established the Liverpool Mosque and Islamic Institute at 8 Brougham Terrace, West Derby Street, Liverpool in 1889, opening on Christmas day. This was England's first mosque, accommodating around a hundred Muslims, This was followed by a Muslim college, headed by Haschem Wilde and Nasrullah Warren, which offered courses for both Muslims and non-Muslims. A weekly Debating and Literary Society within the college attracted non-Muslims.

Quilliam influenced the paths of other converts, including his formerly MethodistUnited Kingdom, and gained other converts through his literary works and the charitable institutions he founded. mother, his sons, and scientists and intellectuals and his example lead to the conversion of over 150 Englishmen to Islam. Quilliam was influential in advancing knowledge of Islam within the

An active writer and essayist, he produced a weekly paper, The Crescent, from 1893 until 1908. He published three editions of his The Faith of Islam, which was translated into thirteen languages, gaining him fame across the Islamic world.

He received many honours from the leaders of the Islamic world. He was appointed Sheikh al-Islam by the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II in 1894 and Persian Consul to Liverpool by the Shah. He also received money from the Emir of Afghanistan to fund the Islamic Institute in Liverpool.

Quilliam's work in Liverpool stopped when he left England in 1908 and the Muslim community there dispersed.

He died in 1932, in London, and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking. He was buried near Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (who each translated the Qur'an), and Lord Headley.

Western Muslims, particularly converts to Islam, see him as a pioneer of the path they have taken. His legacy is maintained by the Abdullah Quilliam Society which was formed in 1996. The Society is raising funds to restore 8-10 Brougham Terrace to re-open the historic mosque and establish an educational centre.[5] It has signed a two-year lease on the premises[6] and has started restoration work.[7]

The Quilliam Foundation, a true Muslim thinktank aimed at challenging extremist islamist ideologies, was launched in 2008.[8][9] Some Muslims criticised the organization's choice of name because Quilliam was opposed to British imperialism and supported the Ottoman Caliphate, even as Marmaduke Pickthall was supporting the reformist Young Turks.[10]

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