Interview with Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din Sahib
HUMAN mind is so constituted that, in spite of materialism, scepticism, cynicism and selfishness that we find rampant in the world, it is willing to listen to those who speak and preach the eternal verities of life. War, famine, plague and pestilence ending in death, more than anything else, force the question of the Great Unknown, and of the Region Beyond, even on the most reckless, the most selfish and the most callous of human souls. I have always thought that the spiritual East has a great message to the materialistic West. My grounds were not only that the great Prophets, the founders of the great religions of the world, were born in the East, but that time and changed conditions of life and circumstances have not taken away from Asia its spiritual supremacy over the temporal domination of Europe. Whoever carries that spiritual message of the East to the West is a great benefactor of the human race, for there can be no real progress for mankind if it is not laid on a spiritual basis. Therefore, I was interested in Khwaja Kamal-ud-Dins missionary work in England, and although I had the benefit of his talk more than once, I was anxious to record my conversation for the benefit of the readers of the Rangoon Mail as well.
Meeting him at the lunch hour on Thursday, I explained to him the object of my visit, but said that the interview might be deferred till the lunch was over. Seeing a sheet of paper in my hand in which I had jotted down my interrogatories, he said with a smile, "That is perhaps the volley you have prepared to make me target of. I would digest it first before I digest my lunch." However, we came to a compromise of lunching together first and interviewing next.
Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din is a tall, well-built man with a thick beard, dressed in the fashion of his province, the Punjab, with a will and courage of his own, and with an abiding faith in the success of the great cause to which he has dedicated his life. Nevertheless, there is the look of the tired man in him, tired not of course of his mission, for death alone can sever it from him, but tired owing to over-work and nervous exhaustion. When I remarked that Nature exacts her penalty even on Gods workers like him, he had a hearty laugh. Serious as he is, he has related to me in a vein of humour several incidents in his missionary work in England, and has laughed with me. He said that he was particularly lucky in that he has been treated with love wherever his work took him, and opposition and misrepresentation, rancour and hatred shown towards him in some places and on some occasions, said he, had been only a passing phase. It is perhaps the old saying that those who came to curse his work stayed there to bless him. I began to catechise him thus:-
Khwaja Sahib, when I was in England 13 years ago, I
thought that Islam had made no impression in that country,
and had no converts, for the matter of that. How is it that
you were able to carry on a propaganda work since then, and
that you have made many converts?
Do you think that you have a good field for a work of
the kind you have so unselfishly undertaken?
What about your funds? How much have you spent on your
Mission till now?
I do not believe that your community has ever thought
of the possibility of a propagandist work for Islam in other
Do you think your community will realise the good of your
work and contribute towards your Mission as much as the
Christian communities have invested their millions on
I know you have numerous sects in Islam. Do you advocate
any particular sect in England?
My belief is that Islam is a religion without sect, in the real signification of the word "sect". I do not believe in preaching sectional differences in propagation of Islam in non-Muslim countries. They dont carry any weight in Islam. My preaching has been, and will remain always, free from sectarian principles. They have nothing to do with those fundamentals. This I say from conviction which finds its translation in my missionary activities. I may say I find no sects in Islam.
Is the future for Islam very bright so far as its Mission
to the world is concerned?
Thus ended an interesting interview. What impressed me most was the fact that the Khwaja Sahib is being seriously handicapped in his work, first by lack of funds, and secondly, by want of fellow-workers. For a great and rich community like the Muslim, it is not impossible to afford him relief in both ways. Look at the sacrifice he has undertaken! Humanly speaking, if he had continued his practice at the Bar, he would have wealth and position in life in abundance. It is, therefore, but right that his Muslim brethren should help him most generously in his work in the West for the propagation of Islam. To one who, like me, belongs to the school of Protestant Hinduism, his presentation of Islam on a Broad-Church basisalthough I know he will repudiate in his eloquent language that Islam has neither several Churches nor several sects, as there is only one Church according to the Quranis very appealing. I wondered before I took leave of him after the close of the interview whether the Khwaja Sahib has not half converted me to the Islamic faith.
See his photographs by clicking here.