Liverpool – Home To One of The Earliest British Muslim Converts

Liverpool, historically an unimportant and small city which just comprised of seven streets only rose to prominence in the 18th century as part of the booming transatlantic trade. Today tourism is one of the biggest industries in Liverpool, which is no surprise as it is famously known for its heritage, tourist sites and its atmosphere .

However, it was also in this once-upon-a-time small and unimportant city that a 19th-century convert from Christianity to Islam was born. William Henry Quilliam also known as Abdullah Quilliam was mostly known for founding one of England’s first Mosque and Islamic centre right in the heart of Liverpool.

Abdullah Quilliam

Born in the year 1856, Abdullah Quilliam attained the title Sheikh of the British Isles at a young age of 31; a title bestowed upon him by Sultan Abdul Hameed II a and the Emir of Afghanistan at the time. He was born at 22 Eliot Street and although he spent his childhood in the Isle of Man returned to Liverpool and was educated in the Liverpool Institute. He soon started working as a lawyer at 28 Church Street working on very high-profile murder cases and became quite proficient in this field of work.

Whilst he was doing this, on one occasion he made a trip to Morocco and it was on this trip he made the decision to become a Muslim. Upon returning to Liverpool he embraced Islam and claimed himself that he was the first Englishman to become a Muslim.

Quilliam established one of the very first Mosque and Madrasa (Islamic School) in the UK at 8 Brougham Terrace which still functions and operates as a Mosque and Madrasa today. Known as the Abdullah Quilliam Mosque, Quilliam had this set up to be run as a Mosque, a boarding school for boys and a day school for girls. Within the building there was also an orphanage, a small museum and a science laboratory and was open to Muslims and non-Muslims for educational activities and classes.

8 Brougham Terrace | Image Credit: Place North West

Visitors that are interested in visiting this Mosque can do so as it still functions as a Mosque. After a donation made by the Prince Nasrullah Khan of Afghanistan, number 11 and 12 Brougham Terrace were also purchased to form part of the Mosque. There are prayer spaces inside, an ablution area and a separate area for women to pray. Visitors to Liverpool should make it a point to visit one of the very first Madrasas (Islamic School) and Mosques in the country.

Quilliam had a difficult time when people found out about his conversion and therefore faced persecution and harassment, which today can be classed as one of the very first examples of Islamaphobia in the UK. He fled overseas and upon returning adopted the name Haroun Mustapha Leon passing away near Woking in 1932. Today he is buried in the Brookfield Cemetery in Woking.

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