Lauren Booth – Rediscovered ‘mother’ of British Islam

Lauren Booth
AI: Summary © The transcript discusses the cultural and political context of the British Isles, including the "flavor of cities" movement and the "flavor of cities" movement. The "flavor of cities" movement is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-imp authorism and anti-ism, and is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-imp authorism and anti- Impala. The "flavor of cities" movement is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-imp authorism and anti- Impala, and is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-impala. The "flavor of cities" movement is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-imp authorism and anti- Impala, and is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-impala. The "flavor of cities" movement is a movement that aligns with progressive causes like anti-imp authorism and anti- Impala, and is a movement that aligns with progressive causes
AI: Transcript ©
00:00:00 --> 00:00:48

Salam Alaikum brothers and sisters, from pirates to aristocrats. The kind of people accepting Islam from the British Isles is as varied as each of our characters. But one important story remained buried for 100 years, and has now been brought to light Alhamdulillah. It's a story of a working class woman of immense bravery and intelligence, who hails from the same area as my father's family. Now, Liverpool in the north of England, where Elizabeth Kate was blessed with her awakening was an area described at the time as the most drunken and violent in the United Kingdom. But this brave sisters tests and determination, give us questions about how Islam can look in the British context.

00:00:48 --> 00:01:35

How can we organize ourselves? What does dower actually look like Amin in our context, and what mistakes and victories did our earliest organized community have? So my guest today has written a groundbreaking work called our Fatima of Liverpool, and we're going to be exploring that Yahia Bert is a British American writer and academic. He holds an Oxford University MPhil in social and cultural anthropology. And His research interests include Muslims in Britain and Europe. Islamophobia, contemporary Islamic thought, and I want to add an interest in working class converts to Islam in Victorian Northern England. Smilla Rahmanir Rahim, salam alaikum. Brother Yak. Yeah.

00:01:37 --> 00:01:37


00:01:38 --> 00:02:00

I think I want to kick off with a taste on the flavor of urban Liverpool in the 1880s. Because really, the roots of our Muslim pneus in the British Isles, if you like in that first community come from this very dynamic, quite frightening. Reality. Tell us about Liverpool in the 1880s.

00:02:01 --> 00:02:02

Well, you know, this was

00:02:03 --> 00:02:49

Liverpool's heyday, you know, it's like half of Britain shipping went through Liverpool. And that was a seventh of the entire world's but it wasn't just the freight that was powering industrial revolution, northwest of England at the time, it was also a major passenger port, as well. So you had people coming from from the east from the eastern from the West African coast. And so Liverpool, on the docks in the area, and the docks was multicultural. So many people were coming in and out to the city. And obviously, it would be hugely, hugely expanded, you had a huge Irish population, Welsh population. So it was very lively mix of different cultures come to this boom town, basically, that

00:02:49 --> 00:03:10

was the, you know, the, the main port for for the industrial heartland of the country. So there was great wealth being generated there, there was also great poverty. And there was great, you know, great cultural interchange and dynamism. So it was an exciting place to be, despite all the problems, obviously, that it was facing.

00:03:12 --> 00:03:26

But it was known for drunkenness. Unfortunately, I've got too many alcoholics in my family, who were Scouters as well, you know, we've we've got that in our family, like, you know, we've got that and archbishops, bishops and our family and alcoholics, that's what we are.

00:03:27 --> 00:04:12

Yeah, of course, I mean, you know, that with with something like 40 to 50,000 sailors coming in and out of the docks every year. And they they got their pay when they landed the dock. And with all this money in their pocket, they spent it on booze. And, and women, you know, there was there was a lively trade in, in, in prostitution as well on the docks. So you know, there was a lot of attempts to by the police to try and crack down on brothels and successfully for the most part. And there was also the temperance movement as well, which was a kind of, which was really driven by devout Christian women started in America, but spreads globally to Britain and other places, including

00:04:12 --> 00:04:49

Liverpool, but it was allied with progressive causes, like anti imperialism, trade unionism, the rights of women and so on. So it's a very underappreciated movement. It's sort of seen today mistakenly as a kind of puritanical movement, actually, it was, it was aligned with progressive causes at the time. But one of the heart at the heart of the temperance movement as well was that the liquor trade is a great evil. So there was a judgment there. And did that come off the back of this movement? of you know, there were lots of Catholics, Irish Catholics who lived in the report, but there was also Protestantism, when they're kind of warring factions on the street around this

00:04:49 --> 00:04:59

time. Yeah, there was, you know, it was a divided city to a certain degree you didn't marry across the line. In fact, you know, my

00:05:00 --> 00:05:23

family comes from Liverpool and in earlier generations, you know, my grandparents broke that taboo. And neither of the two sides really spoke to each other after that, you know, so it was a real thing even into the 20th century, and there could be sectarian violence. And it was a cause of political split in the city. So the Tories played up the Irish question in in Liverpool, and were able to,

00:05:24 --> 00:05:30

you know, to secure the working class Protestant vote in the city. Because of that.

00:05:32 --> 00:06:18

Despite that, trade unionism flourishes even under that some aligned with the Tories, including, in fact, the founder of the first mosque in Britain, Abdullah Quilliam. He was a trade unionist and a Tory both, and was president of the Carter's union, among his many other activities. So we can't tell the story of Fatima Kate's as she changed her name from Elizabeth to Fatima without a little bit of the history of William Abdullah Quilliam, because they met and he is this incredible dynamic figure, both in Liverpool and of course, at the heart of that Muslim community. Tell us, you know, some of the pivotal points that are that we need to know about Abdullah William Coulomb

00:06:19 --> 00:06:26

law not shot. So apart from the fact his parents had a sense of humor calling William Quilliam Yes, exactly. Yeah.

00:06:28 --> 00:06:46

I mean, Victorian humor doesn't always land but but some of us. I mean, he was, he came from a temperance background, like many of the early converts in Liverpool, including Fatima. And he had a double training as a lawyer and a journalist.

00:06:47 --> 00:07:32

And through overwork, his doctor told him to take a rest cure, he winds up going to Gibraltar to study the rocks, he had a passion for geology, and decides on the spur of the moment to go and visit Morocco where he meets Muslims for the first time, he comes back to England self studies and converts privately in 1886. But what makes him an historic figure is that the following year, he decides to actually call the people of England, the people of Liverpool to Islam through the temperance movement, initially, because that was where he'd spent his youth. Actually, he's an activist. And so I think he wanted to bring the temperance movement, people into Islam, by

00:07:32 --> 00:08:02

describing the the Islam as the greatest teetotallers movement in history. So this is one of the early things that really interests me about Abdullah Quilliam is the way that he gives dower so first and foremost, just because he learns about Islam in Morocco, he doesn't come back and dress like a Moroccan. He's very much the Victorian gent, with the with the with the beard and that certain shape and the top hat for his work as a lawyer and the frock coat

00:08:03 --> 00:08:18

and yet from his mouse was coming in English, this great exhortation and love for the one he calls the great Arabian teetotaller. Tell us about his form of dower and who he would have been speaking to

00:08:19 --> 00:08:39

you Well, I think he had a period of of reflection on this because I think after he privately converted, he tried to direct approach and attacking Christianity looking at its shortcomings and comparing them dis favorably compared to Islam.

00:08:40 --> 00:09:12

But he found that that didn't work. He got a lot of he got immediately kind of chastised and rejected and thought as a kind of bit of a loony basically. So he then decided to put an indirect approach and we see this preserved in what is probably the first tower lecture to be published in English anywhere, which is his address fanatics and fanaticism, which was recorded for for Batum by shorthand, copywriter. And so we have that and it was published.

00:09:13 --> 00:09:54

And, and you know, he basically sort of talks about how teetotallers of visionaries, who, you know, are misunderstood, and castigated and rejected and he then talks about other sorts of pioneers and reformers like William Wilberforce, the hollow MP who campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. And then he talks about George Stephenson and the invention of the of the locomotive steam engine, and the first railway line between Manchester and Liverpool, and how there was there were a lot of naysayers about that scheme as well. And then he goes on to talk about the Prophet

00:09:57 --> 00:09:59

peace upon him, somebody who assumed

00:10:00 --> 00:10:46

Only misunderstood what was the greatest reform of any I'm in the profit indirectly through the route of talking about reform. And t totalizm. Obviously designed to appeal as I said, in the early years, I think the first two years of his mission is called his Dawa was to bring the temperance movement, local temperance movement on board with Islam. And, you know, the thing is that art should emphasize it, as a young man, he'd worked right across the north, in the temperance movement, and was well regarded. So he was building from his pre existing network, let's put it that way. This was not a cold call for him. He was working with people that he already knew. So what we can take from

00:10:46 --> 00:11:03

that about dower then surely is that you you you work within the people who already know you and trust you, which is very prophetic, isn't it? The Prophet peace be upon him was known as the truth? Well, he didn't come from somewhere else with an alien.

00:11:06 --> 00:11:07

You know, character they knew him.

00:11:09 --> 00:11:11

Yeah, I think that's right, I think that there has to be

00:11:13 --> 00:11:18

a challenge for all of us. If we look at Britain today, with a population of 4 million Muslims,

00:11:19 --> 00:11:22

who are racialized in significant ways.

00:11:24 --> 00:11:44

converting to Islam today is kind of a modern variant of turning Turk, which is what they used to call converts to Islam in Britain, Eno in the 16th century. So I think that there's always been an attempt to cast Islam as a foreign religion, when it's so clearly now a religion of the land, or religion of the country.

00:11:45 --> 00:12:17

And so the challenge is going to be I think, it's always when somebody converts is to actually stay in their communities and bear witness, rather than seek the comfort of that formerly and strong community and just inhabit that space, and no longer inhabit the space of, of our original communities, or at least to do a balancing act between the two. And I don't personally I don't think I've succeeded myself very well, in that. Why not? Why not? What would you change?

00:12:19 --> 00:12:29

I think that I think that I, if I look back, because I've been a Muslim for over 30 years, I think that the cultural distance was much bigger back then.

00:12:30 --> 00:12:37

Between British Muslims and British society at large now that gdW closed.

00:12:38 --> 00:13:17

But I think I had this sense of inhabiting different worlds, making cultural adjustments on my own journey, rather than thinking in the way that Quilliam thought, but then he was in a different context, really, they were on their own. I'm not saying they were an isolated community, far from it. But they quickly developed an international reputation and contacts and so on. But nonetheless, they were basically on their own teeth. They admitted themselves to Islam, they didn't reach harder to anybody. They were they they were still in the middle of that community, even after converting if you see what I mean, they weren't, they weren't sort of there wasn't somewhere to receive them.

00:13:20 --> 00:14:02

You know, where to go, right? They had to create the illusion that to make their own mosque. And, you know, they only took the shahada later, maybe two years after having admitted themselves to Islam. So you see what I mean, they were doing it on their own anyway. So we're gonna I want us to, we'll circle back remind me to circle back about how their their version of British Islam looks, and what they brought with them because they were in this bubble. But let's talk a little bit about who was Francis Kate? And what was her background? Because I think there has been a good amount written, for example, about some of the aristocrats who may have converted to Islam, but for some reason, our

00:14:02 --> 00:14:08

Fatima was was left by the wayside. How did you rediscover her and how hard was that? And who was she?

00:14:10 --> 00:14:45

No questions there. So let me let me let me talk about her first. So Fatima, Frances Elizabeth Murray, as she grew up, her working class girl from Birkenhead, um, her father was Irish. Her mother was from Edinburgh. She was the fifth of six children. She was the first cohorts to be educated under the Education Act of 1870. So that meant that she got an education up to the age of between five and 12. And we don't know much more about her early childhood except she loses a father dies when she's young.

00:14:47 --> 00:15:00

And although her mother late to be married, I think that they struggled and the older boys had to support the family. And because I don't think Agnes her mother worked, and, but she was killed.

00:15:00 --> 00:15:18

Maria, she is obviously had some education. She got involved in the temperance movement became Secretary of the local association. And that's where she meets calling in for the first time to give this to gives a talk about the greater Arabian teetotaller in the summer of 1887. So the thing is, is that she,

00:15:19 --> 00:15:20


00:15:22 --> 00:15:25

what's remarkable about about her is that she

00:15:27 --> 00:16:01

she, she didn't let her background, her lack of advantages, hold her back, whatever opportunities she could take, she took. And she shows remarkable determination, intelligence and perseverance in everything that she does in her short life. She only lives to the age of 35. And she truly remarkable inspirational figure. She was written about briefly in Ron Jeeves, his biography of Abdullah Quilliam, which came out over a decade ago, there's about a page page and a half on her.

00:16:02 --> 00:16:49

But with the work of my co author, Hamid, metamod, and myself, you know, we decided she deserved her own standalone story, we didn't want the story of this first community to be focused on the the individual founder, because it was a working class community of around about 250 individuals in total, by the over a period of 20 years, with international contacts, so people coming in and out of the community from all different parts of the Muslim world. So we wanted to kind of flesh out the story of this whole community. And Fatima was an obvious person because for me, she really is the co founder of the mosque. And she's she is, was really the second most important figure in this

00:16:49 --> 00:16:53

community after Coolio. So we wanted to give her her due.

00:16:54 --> 00:16:56

So in terms of like finding materials

00:17:00 --> 00:17:45

you have, we had to go to India to find that material, because before the community produced its own newspaper from 1893. In the earlier years, you have to go far and wide to find materials. And happily, you know, Fatima's own story, her own conversion account was published in a in a journal publishing a lot about in India, it's a fantastically which we have at the back of the book. And that that really is what really was the nucleus of what helped us to tell her story. And other than that, of course, we're digging in things like, you know, archives, and old old maps and A to Zed and business directories and census and birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, you know,

00:17:45 --> 00:18:08

thin material, and also reading between the lines of, beyond her own, frag her own few samples of writing that survived poetry and prose, we're sort of reading between the lines of the narratives of others, because after 1893, we don't have anything in our own hand. So we had to work very hard to account for the last seven years of her life,

00:18:09 --> 00:18:51

to do what we could to to kind of read between the lines and fill in the gaps of that story, which you did, which you did really well because it goes between different people's accounts, which is really important because so it grows from her story to the community. This is from how I became a Mohammedan September 1891. It's in the appendix at the end by Fatima e capes II Kate's Liverpool Muslim Institute. She says, When I was a girl about 19 years of age, I used frequently to attend temperance meetings. And it was at one of these meetings I heard Mr. Quilliam, a well known in Liverpool and great advocate of total abstinence, deliver a lecture on phonetics and fanaticism. Up

00:18:51 --> 00:19:01

to this time, I'd always heard about Muhammad, described as an imposter and a bloodthirsty man who forced people to believe in his religion by threatening to put them to death.

00:19:03 --> 00:19:13

These libels and myths direct and analyze are pretty much here today. Nothing's changed, has it?

00:19:14 --> 00:19:59

I think that's right. I think that Islam the light of Islam is covered over by a veil of lies, calumny, propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, fake news, you know, black propaganda, you, you name it. You know, we live in a information world. And I think, you know, we still there's still this veil, but also this opportunity. I mean, it's easier than ever today than ever before, to open your phone or your laptop and listen to a devout Muslim talk about Islam at the click of a button if you choose to listen to them, you know, so, the opportunity is there, but also the the veil of of misdirection is has also spread too.

00:20:00 --> 00:20:46

The same online spaces. So, you know, her work is still cut out for us. I think, you know, what's what's fascinating is it oh, it took one speech for her to, to then she then she goes, That's not what I thought, let me Allah put curiosity in her heart for Muhammad peace be upon him, let me go and find out for myself so to anybody watching or listening to this, I would say, you know, you wouldn't find out about bicycles and their uses and their positive impact from a car salesman, you wouldn't find you wouldn't go to vegan restaurant to find out the best cuts of lamb, you know, come to the Muslim community and search the sources for yourself. They're wide and varied. Okay, but to

00:20:46 --> 00:21:29

go to people who are immediately critical and disliking and go, that's my main source. You're all liars. That's problematic, you know, we really must go to primary sources. And the primary source for for news and truths about Muhammad peace be upon him is the Muslim community. So Francis Cates became Fatima Cates after a couple of meetings. I think there are only two converts at the time, Brother Ali and brother Abdullah, is that right? She's right, yeah, the first trio of founding converts who form a society in July together, which becomes sort of a pool, some Institute and the first functioning was community. So Fatima was there at the beginning, in July of 1887, tell us

00:21:29 --> 00:21:32

about the rejection that she faced at home.

00:21:33 --> 00:21:52

Well, her mother, Agnes was very devout. And, and when she, she caught Fatima at home reading a translation of the Quran, you know, she basically tried to take it off her. And Fatima ran into a room locked in and said, I'm not going to reject anything I haven't

00:21:54 --> 00:21:58

stood, see, you know, I'm going to I'm going to study this this book.

00:22:00 --> 00:22:00


00:22:01 --> 00:22:41

as soon as they heard about her, the unit heard about her decision. And obviously, there was a surprise and anger and consternation to her family. They tried to stop her going to meeting with the other two converts. You know, they they intercepted correspondence from Colleen because he was writing to her at this point, with some fundamentals about the teachings of Islam, as well as her self study. But she was dauntless. You know, she she just escaped home and went, went across the Mersey and went to the meetings and Liverpool and nothing's nothing deterred her. She was, she was dauntless, you know, a quiet legend. You know, it's I mean, you know, she nothing held her back. So,

00:22:42 --> 00:22:46

and she not only had challenges within her family, she also had

00:22:47 --> 00:23:22

the early meetings of the community will regularly disrupted by by street toughs, you know, people would we lay them going to and from the meetings, Fatima was, you know, often accosted on the street and held down, and horse manure whispered in her face. But this young woman of 22, she never backed down, she still went every single week, for the meetings, the rented premises that they had. So they, when they started out, they were renting an upstairs room in one of the Temperance halls and in Liverpool,

00:23:23 --> 00:24:05

and the small bar and they said, it was really hard work to get people to come in at the beginning, often they said nobody was there, but ourselves at we'd called people. But But then, eventually, slowly over about two years, that band of three becomes 14 or 15. You know, so incredibly hard work under very difficult circumstances, even sometimes, the meetings themselves could be broken up, you know, and that there was on one occasion, there was violence, you know, that was witnessed by Fatima. And, and, and her husband Hubert, who, who hadn't converted at that time. He does convert later in 1890. But, but he witnesses along with her that the violence directed at the Muslim

00:24:05 --> 00:24:17

community, so small Muslim community as it was, so, you know, he, you know, they, she saw a lot but she, as I said, she was she was a, she was a pillar of that community.

00:24:18 --> 00:24:27

I wonder what lessons we can draw from the way that they anglicized the anglicized the sermons and practices.

00:24:28 --> 00:24:31

So I've got a book that was given to me by Sheikh

00:24:32 --> 00:24:59

Abdul Hakim Murad in Cambridge, and it is Muslim hymns. And it's taking on that idea that the sounds from each area of the world where we where we come from are really inside us in a way that we can't fundamentally describe, you know, the, the tonality of an Indian Muslim their understanding of tonality

00:25:00 --> 00:25:24

is very different from the traditional hymns, you know, Jerusalem and things like that. In fact, I know that our Asian and Arab brothers and sisters because of their wavering tonalities, they find our way of, of music very boring. But to us, you know, it raises it raises our Eman, it does something to us. So I know that Abdullah Quilliam kind of anglicized sermons and practices, talk us through how that looked.

00:25:26 --> 00:25:38

Yeah, I mean, I think that, as I said to you before, they they were on their own in the first few years, and they admitted themselves, Islam, and all three of the first three converts all came out of the temperance movement.

00:25:39 --> 00:25:40


00:25:41 --> 00:26:04

they had a meeting on a Sunday evening, which to all intents and purposes, looked like a Protestant even song service, but with Islamic content, so they had hymns, they took popular hymns from the front of the day, they only change the lyrics if they contravened Islamic teachings or monotheism, as they understood the from the Quran.

00:26:05 --> 00:26:13

And they had a kind of sermon that was quite often quite either vehemently anti Christian, or,

00:26:14 --> 00:26:19

you know, gave out some fundamentals about Islam of the Prophet's life. And,

00:26:21 --> 00:26:26

and they would have, you know, readings of the Quran from the stage, they would read

00:26:27 --> 00:27:12

prayers from the stage, so it'd be a stage then with chairs you know, and this this this setup, this arrangement was carried over when they moved to their own premises in 1889. So this carried on so what they would have what what changed was that they would call the alarm for the first time in England from the from the out into the street, it first in Arabic than in English, then they would have this what they originally called Sunday divine services. Okay. And, and then after that, they would have the namaz so that the Sunday divine service was open to anybody to come in off the street. The namaz which was at a fixed time at about eight or nine or something like nine o'clock,

00:27:12 --> 00:27:21

that will be only for Muslims. On a Sunday, not on a Friday, some on a Sunday. Yeah. Something has just landed with me.

00:27:22 --> 00:27:46

Because they were on their own, they kind of made up what a service would look like. They didn't Did they know nothing about what a hookah should be? Or nothing about, you know, how to what was the actual numbers? Like how did how did they learn these things? It's a little bit unclear, but the ninth and the mass starts off, they did offer an amaz quite early on, or sola.

00:27:48 --> 00:27:49

But it was at a fixed time.

00:27:50 --> 00:27:56

So the time remain fixed or timetable throughout the whole year, five times a day?

00:27:58 --> 00:28:39

Well, maybe individually, I'm talking about collective services at the mosque, which by the way, was called the church of Islam. For the first set, you know, first I would say five or six years later gets called the mosque, or the probe the probe, the ProMaster provisional mosque, I don't know what pro mosque means, but some of the Indian Muslims were calling it a pro mosque. I don't know what exactly what that means. But there was a sign outside on the street with a church of Islam and things you have to remember that, at this point, in the early 1890s, they were balancing between two things, two competing sets of expectations. Okay, so, going from a period of isolation in a being in

00:28:39 --> 00:29:11

a bubble as you as you put it, actually, you know, they're gaining huge exposure for about 1818 90 days, the word of this community spread throughout the Muslim world. It's a sensational story. So people start to come to visit and come to try and help them and so on. So they had orthodox Muslims coming both last scars, you know, Muslim sailors who are coming on to the docks, so working people, as well as you know, it's kind of a lot, you know, rich Indian law students who would come to help them okay educated.

00:29:12 --> 00:29:26

And, in fact, one of them comes refeeding Akhmad and get some to read the shahada with him when he first comes up to Liverpool. So as I said, they admit themselves to Islam, but later on Indian was sort of, I want to sit you down, I want you to read the shahada to me.

00:29:28 --> 00:29:59

I'm sorry, there was a bit of pushback wasn't there from some of the Indian Muslim visiting who said they didn't say it's nice, they said it's cool for but it's like, this is nonsense. You're not You're not doing my thing is nonsensical. And you know, it doesn't make much sense and even some of the Ottomans. So you listed the same thing. I didn't put all the sources in but basically, I'm saying you've got orthodox minded Muslims saying, you know, this is this is all a bit a bit strange. And dodgy We're glad you become Muslim, but you know, and then you had the new

00:30:00 --> 00:30:41

had the passers by on the street, he owned the Avant. And then they're calling people in and they want them to get something that's there for culturally familiar with. So the hymns or hymns that the people who come in off the street would have grown up listening to. So they're caught between sort of the hostile, slash curious passerby on the street because the first mosque was on a very busy road, the West Darby road, going into city lots of foot traffic, carriage traffic. And so you know, that anybody could be passing that little Mosque, which was just in a little Georgian, Georgian terraced house. And at the same time, we're just spreading the Muslim world and they're getting

00:30:41 --> 00:30:48

visitors. So they've got two competing sets of expectations here at this point. So what what you find is the

00:30:49 --> 00:31:36

community that's on a journey is a transitional movement, from Protestant Christianity to Sunni Islam, if you see what I mean, it's so by about 18 1906, you know, 15 years later that the the mosque itself issues a prayer manual, that is basically Hanafi fiqh, I mean for the harder for purity and for prayer, even aquariums introduction says, you know, really does God really want us to say prayers and language we don't understand, you know, isn't it better to still to say, your offer or divisions in English, so he's was never really entirely sure about it. But the prayer manual was written by John Watson of the community at MIT brown. So you know, it's, it's, and also the Indians

00:31:36 --> 00:31:46

provided an Imams to come up to guide the community. So of mana better cut to the poly was, was there in

00:31:49 --> 00:32:32

the between 89 to two and eight. But I always felt that there was always a kind of a kind of complicated thing going on, where they still wanted to keep the appeal to the people coming in, because it was a dour minded institution, and they wanted people to the primary mission was to get people to convert to Islam, and he didn't want to make it seem too strange to them. So you know, you have to remember there are very few Muslims in Britain at this time, under 10,000. And so, you know, it's not like today, you've probably been Mrs. meter Muslim every day in this country. Now, wherever you live, but your sleeps, same one. But it was different back then. So I think that, as we see with

00:32:32 --> 00:33:09

Fatima story, there are a lot of misconceptions flying around about Islam. So, you know, I think that it's something we need to, we need to be straight about these sort of dilemmas, but at the same time, view them with the eye of charity, I think, because they didn't have much to go on didn't have any resources or your knowledge. But they what they did with the little that they knew was remarkable, I think, even if it's not what we would do today, because we're in a totally different circumstance. But I think we have to sort of say, well, you know, they did it with a lot of a lot of bravado and confidence. And you know, they just yourdomain they gave it a shot gave it their best

00:33:09 --> 00:33:55

shot. I think that's fair to say, you know, what's interesting is that you see the Abdullah Quilliam, he talked about temperance as a way of reaching people in this really tortured kind of scene of drunken sailors and Protestants and Catholics firebombing each other in the street and poverty and, you know, industrialization and things changing. He said, temperance and calm and here's the man who practice calm. So let's move towards calm. Now, Fatima, may Allah be pleased with her and bless her. She really went out and talked about the difference between Islamic marriage and, you know, Protestant, or specifically Catholic marriage, this idea of being tied to life. And she

00:33:55 --> 00:34:04

did that from a place of pain and determination. Talk to us about how she was trying to educate people about marriage whilst going through something herself.

00:34:06 --> 00:34:45

Well, you know, Fatima, Amis is a remarkable thing. You know, as I said, she, the period we're talking about here, 1889 980 9091. This is when she was at her most active in the Muslim community in Liverpool. She was the pillar calling other women to Islam. So we profile some of the women in the book, there are women that she met and invited to Islam who came to Islam at her hand. She was a leader, I think of the women in the community, for sure. And despite all of this, and despite all the opposition we've talked about, would have thought that her husband Hubert, who himself was away at sea, often

00:34:46 --> 00:34:59

would be a source of comfort and support her because he himself converts in 1890. But, but, but the sad truth is that actually he was a source of pain for her, because he shortly after their marriage,

00:35:00 --> 00:35:30

maybe six months after the merge, it becomes a violent and abusive marriage. And on two occasions, he tries to murder her. She only escapes the second time because of the help of her younger sister, Clara, who also had converted by that time. And they particularly petitions for divorce. But she only is granted a 12 month judicial separation. As far as we know that they never live together again after that. But

00:35:31 --> 00:35:46

in the middle of that struggle with her husband before she, she, she, before she says for divorce, she is standing up for the rights of for Islam in the local press, saying that Islam grants

00:35:48 --> 00:36:34

sees divorce, not as a sacrifice. So a marriage not as a sacrament, but as a contract. And under Sonic law, it would mean that, you know, if that contract is breached, than a divorce could be granted. And so she was saying Islam was more progressive in the matter of women's rights than then than English law was at the time. And she made that case in the, in the local press. So, you know, I, we can see immediately how she is looking to her faith to offer her support against an abusive husband, and is looking at his, you know, looking for, and it's finding resources that she can draw on to help her in her life, you know, and she does get out and, you know, she does

00:36:36 --> 00:36:49

you know, shoot, she gets a break, she gets to go travel, eat to the east for at least six months. We don't know exactly where she went. But we think our best guests that she went to Beirut, and possibly on to Damascus, with a stopover in Alexandria.

00:36:51 --> 00:37:08

And, you know, she she gets some kind of respite. And it what's really charming about her travel east to the east that she does it with two other English Muslimahs as well. So they cut banks and Armineh McCosh, which is charming in and of itself, the idea of the three Victorian working class,

00:37:09 --> 00:37:48

women of the North, going on a trip out east. So that's kind of, you know, the kind of thing the BBC should make a drop. We could make, you know, make us You should tell phytomer story. I think that is a challenge out there. I'm gonna read a little bit from the marriage question April 1891. This appeared in the Liverpool mercury to the editors of the Liverpool mercury. Gentleman, your correspondent in one of her recent letters recommended one of your other correspondents to join the Muslim Church of Liverpool, as their views with reference to the control of wives would be more in concordance with his and thereby insinuated that the state of the marriage laws amongst Muhammad and

00:37:49 --> 00:38:32

was even more unsatisfactory than in Christian England. This is one of the vulgar errors into which persons whose whole knowledge of Muhammad isn't Mohammedanism is derived from reading books and pamphlets written by bigoted bigoted Christian missionaries, missionaries, and others so often fall into, therefore permit me as a Muslim lady and wife to at once say that Muhammad and ladies enjoy and have done so ever since the time of the Prophet, much greater legal rights as to separate property divorce than those enjoyed by Christians up to quite a recent date. I mean, that's a very spiky, determined response from a tiny, tiny minority, isn't it?

00:38:33 --> 00:39:17

Well, I that's what I'm trying to say that why I think there are admirable is that they showed lots of courage and a lot of gumption. You know, it's I mean, and they're not. I think that's what I find almost that courage is what I find most inspiring to myself, you know, it stiffens my back, I think, to read that, you know, because we have so many more, so many more advantages than, than they had, you know, and rather than become, you know, conference become like professional winches. But the community doesn't do this to me, and doesn't give that for me in those these problems and how it converts, received and so on. I just think we have to do it for ourselves and just get on with it.

00:39:18 --> 00:39:26

Sorry, sir. To be sorry, to be blunt. But you know, I just think, I think that there's a strain of kind of you owe us something.

00:39:27 --> 00:39:49

Sometimes amongst converts in Britain, which I think he's unhealthy. I think we just have to, we just have to get on with it. And, you know, if there's a problem, let's try and solve it ourselves. You know, there, there are over 100,000 converts to asylum in Britain. And, you know, we're big enough now to kind of organize things and

00:39:51 --> 00:39:59

solve, things aren't being solved. You know, and just get on with it. I think I'm not talking about separate community. I'm just saying an organized community.

00:40:00 --> 00:40:11

Working with everyone else. So we can, we can deal with some of these issues and problems that the community faces today. That sounds like a whole other interview, which I would love to get into at some point.

00:40:12 --> 00:40:30

But maybe, maybe not. Today, I'll tell you what, let's end with how Fatima how her life ended. And then we want to, you know, really how the history how that moment rather, for the first convict community,

00:40:31 --> 00:40:48

how they vanished, how it it didn't grow, or did it. And looking at the looking at the, the evidence, as we find it, it looks very likely that Fatima was actually of the liquid Liam's secret third wife,

00:40:49 --> 00:40:53

and that the child of a child that she had was his

00:40:54 --> 00:40:55

Hubert Helene.

00:40:57 --> 00:41:03

She spent the last years of her life from 1895 onwards, living in West Kirby,

00:41:04 --> 00:41:08

where she was renting out a boarding house. And

00:41:10 --> 00:41:47

so she was Why was she distant? I mean, we don't know we don't have anything in her own voice from 1893. Maybe she wanted to get away from the complexities of life and Liverpool Quilliam already had two other families. The two wives couldn't stand each other by all accounts. Why? Why would she want to be put in the middle of that? At the same time, Quilliam was also getting a lot of criticism from the wider Muslim community. And maybe he didn't need the attention that a third wife would bring. So so you know that there are plenty of motives for her to move away, but we don't know the exact reason.

00:41:49 --> 00:41:52

And she dies young, you know, at the age of 35.

00:41:54 --> 00:41:56

had been ill for a couple of years.

00:41:57 --> 00:42:11

Quilliam, Quilliam for adopts Hubert Helene. And, and, and, you know, brings him up. So, you know, Fatima, like the rest of the community was largely forgotten.

00:42:13 --> 00:42:58

The doors closed on the mosque in 1908. And the community is no longer organized. So you know, there's no organized activities going on in Liverpool, that doesn't mean necessarily that that was the end of everybody's faith, although I do think there is evidence that not many of the children remained within the faith, as far as we can tell. But many of the, many of the women in particular, in some of the men had moved away, some married of born Muslim men and settled abroad in India and Turkey, for instance. So it's not well, not necessarily the end of the story. But that's a lot of work to find out, trace all those families histories. So we don't know the details.

00:43:01 --> 00:43:13

Knowledge of this community was kept amongst small at the small convert circles in Britain. I'm talking about outside of the Quilliam family itself. So there was a knowledge passed on up to our times.

00:43:14 --> 00:44:00

The main link person I knew was the late David Ross at Olin, who established the Association of British Muslims in the mid 70s. He knew people who had who had known Quilliam, so that there was like a direct link, but very little was practically known about the community until the historical research that we've done in recent years is undertaken. So there was a bit of knowledge, and also live a promise and three discovers William by finding copies of his journal in the local library in the early 70s. So that's why you get the foundation of the Abdillah Quilliam society in the late 90s comes out of that local historical research that's being done by Liverpool Muslims. So people are

00:44:00 --> 00:44:45

beginning to rediscover, but I think really, it becomes a big thing, I think, in the last 20 years, really, and by the work of many, many people, including Ron Jeeves biography and then you get the BBC covering and that, you know, the mosque reopens in 2014, you know, and you get more and more like media attention. And what we want to do with Fatima Fatima Musgrave was rediscovered in 2019. We had a headstone put there to community fundraiser, last Ramadan, and the headstone was put up in November and then we had this marvelous commemoration in January, we had 13 Convert associations come from across the country to commemorate Fatima's life and it was a marvelous day, honestly. I

00:44:45 --> 00:44:51

mean, there was a real tears I would have been crying because it's very, very moving and Jimena Moon did

00:44:52 --> 00:44:56

an account of Fatima's life that was incredibly moving.

00:44:57 --> 00:44:59

And it was everybody felt we know we did

00:45:00 --> 00:45:43

prayers her grave you know, finished I heard some of the Quran and we had people coming from all different backgrounds you know Sufi selfies, like all kinds of different backgrounds, everyone coming together and commemorating this remarkable our founding mother really, our mother did I feel so moved about this because a convert convicts often leave nobody to pray for them after they've passed. So to our dear brothers and sisters watching this, please when you make your doors add the convicts and their children to your doors just generically and oh Allah all those who are struggling in your past all those who are new and all those in the past who sought to keep the faith alive in

00:45:43 --> 00:46:19

far flung places. Please don't Don't forget them. Don't forget us. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, Robin Ella, does it glue banana but it's a data mela hotline Mila don't crush me until the hub. You know. I mean, and please, you know, anybody listening, please remember Fatima in your prayers as well. And may Allah raise her right. Thank, you know, for her sacrifices that she made. Because she is our mother. You know, for anyone who is a Muslim, a common Muslim convert and Britain she's she's the Pioneer. She's the one who sacrificed. She's the one who laid the foundations.

00:46:20 --> 00:46:44

Thank you so much for the for spending time today. talking us through that. This is the the the book, our Fatima of Liverpool. It's available online and all the places where you normally get your books. And it's a great read. And it says by the ACA said please remember Fatima and all the early Muslims in your doors Salam Alikum rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh

Share Page

Related Episodes