The life and times of Abdullah Quilliam



April 10, 1856

William Henry Quilliam was born at 22 Eliot Street in Liverpool. He spent his childhood on the Isle of Man but most of his working life in Liverpool and was educated at the Liverpool Institute. His parents were Wesleyan Methodists.

Victorian Liverpool
Victorian Liverpool


Becomes a solicitor

December, 1878

Works as a solicitor at 28 Church St, Liverpool. He was a criminal lawyer and defended many high profile murder cases. The Liverpool Weekly Courier described him as the "unofficial Attorney-General of Liverpool". Amongst his other activities were: zoology, public speaker, philanthropist, founder and editor of many journals and trade-union activities.

Abdullah Quilliam
Abdullah Quilliam


Conversion to Islam

Abdullah Quilliam became a Muslim when he visited Morocco. A more detailed account of his conversion can be found at the Cairo Speech he delived in 1928. A snippet of the speech: "I read the translated Holy Quran and the book of Hero’s written by Carlyle and many other books. When I left Tangiers I was obedient to Islam and surrendered to its power and confessed it was the true religion."

Abdullah Quilliam 1902
Illustration of Abdullah Quilliam 1902
First Converts


Djem Ali Hamilton became his first covert to Islam, followed by Elizabeth Cates who took the name of Fatima after her conversion.

Liverpool Muslim Institute

September, 1887

Initially at Mount Vernon Street and then 8 Brougham Terrace. The Pall Mall Gazette wrote: "The mosque at Liverpool is a place of worship for a comparatively large resident membership, as well as for thousands of Mahommedans, merchants, sailors…"

Liverpool Muslim Institute
Interior of Liverpool Muslim Institute


Public announcement of conversion to Islam

He renounced Christianity at the age of 32, changed his name to Abdullah and anounced his conversion in the Liverpool media.

Caracature of Abdullah Quilliam
Illustrated portrait of Abdullah Quilliam


Providing breakfast for poor children

This led to 200-400 children being fed in the morning on Chritmas Day and 400-600 in the evening.


About 20 English converts

Many others followed including: Professor Nasrullah Warren, Professor Haschem Wilde and Resched P.Stanley who had been the Mayor of Staleybridge.

Resched P.Stanley
Convert:Robert Stanley Mayor of Stalybridge
First publication of Faith of Islam

July 1889

The pamphlet Faith of Islam was first published. The first edition had 2000 copies and a further 3000 copies were published in 1890. » Faith of Islam

Number of converts reaches 50

End of 1889

Among the converts was an Anglican clergyman, Rev H.H.Johnson


Protest against play ‘Mahomet’

October, 1890

The muslim community successfully organised a protest against the opening of the play “Mahomet”, wriiten by Hall Caine. It is thought that Abdullah Quilliam was instrumental in the halting of this play.

Lyceum Theatre
Lyceum Theatre where the play was to be held


First public Muslim funeral in Liverpool


Michael Hall a former Methodist preacher who converted to Islam in 1890 was buried in a Liverpool cemetery.

First public Muslim marriage ceremony in Liverpool

April, 1891


Mass printing of Faith in Islam

October, 1890

20,000 copies of Faith in Islam was printed.

Publication of Faith in Islam
Inside cover of Faith in Islam
Number of converts reaches 83

End of 1892

This was the most successful year for the number of converts, bringing a further 33 into the fold of Islam.


First edition of the Crescent


The Crescent, a weekly record of Islam in England, edited by W.H. Abdullah Quilliam represents Muslims in England between 1893 and 1908. These unique documents are a historic record of the situation of Islam and a growing convert community in British colonial times. It was publicised internationally.

Publication of the Crescent
A front cover edition of The Crescent
First edition of the Islamic World

July, 1893

A monthly journal published by Abdullah Quilliam that had world-wide circulation.

Publication of the Islamic World
A front cover edition of The Islamic World
Becomes an Alim


Abdullah Quillima was warded the title ‘Alim’ by the Sultan of Morocco after returning from North Africa.

Gives his first Fatwa


Abdullah Quilliams first fatwa warning Muslims not to fight fellow Muslims in Sudan.

Number of converts reaches 100

End of 1893


Sheikh of the British Isles

July 1894

The Caliph of Islam, Sultan Abdul Hameed gave the official title of Sheikh al-Islam for the British Isles.

Sultan Abdul Hameed II
Sultan Abdul Hameed II
Becomes ill due to Malaria

September 1894

An illness which would trouble him for the rest of his life.


Purchase of 8 Brougham Terrace


The Liverpool Muslim Institute purchased 8 Brougham Terrace and paid off the mortgages for 11, an 12. This was achieved due to a donation by Prince Nasrullah Khan of Afghanistan.

Brougham Terrace
Brougham Terrace
Number of converts reaches 121

End of 1895


Opens Muslim home for unwanted children


Opened at 12 Broughmam Terrace, called the Medina Home.

Orphan in Liverpool Victorian England


Number of converts (members of the Liverpool Muslim Institute) reaches 152

End of 1897


Lord Mayor of Liverpool attends mosque for Eid al-Adha

February 1898

Sir John Houghton was the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. In his speech he stated that he had visited Catholic and Protestant functions, a Jewish synagogue and now the Muslim Mosque.


Appointed as Persian Consul for Liverpool


The Shah of Persia appointed Abdullah Quilliam the Persian Consul for Liverpool.


Mosque visit by The Guardian of the scared mosque in Medina

May 1902

Shareef Abdul Karim Murad, The Guardian of the scared mosque in Medina, visited the mosque and gave a lecture. he was considered one of the most respected leaders in the Musilm world at the time.


Funeral prayer for Lord Stanley

December 1903

Abdullah Quilliam held a funeral prayer (janaza) in memory of Abdur Rahman or Henry Edward John Stanley, the third Baron of Alderley.

Lord Stanley
Lord Stanley


Abdullah Quilliam leaves Liverpool

Leaves for Constantinople never to return to Liverpool. The latter years of his life were spent in the Isle of Man and London.

The closure of the Muslim Institute

Abdullah Quilliam becomes Henri de Leon or sometimes known as Haroun de Leon, a member of the Woking Mosque community. There a many theories behind the reason for the change in identity. These will be found at the websites Q&A section at a later date.

Henri de Leon
Henri-de-Leon (Abdullah Quilliam)


Abdullah Quilliam presides over Mohammad Ali Jauhar delegation

A delegation led by Mohammad Ali Jauhar visits Woking Mosque to promote the Khilafat movement. The ‘Islamic Review’ states about the meeting: “It was presided by an English Muslim, Prof.H.M.Leon’. A short film clip at the time can be viewed at British Pathe. In the opening clip Abdullah Quilliam is the person directly behind Muhammad Ali – still 1 » British Pathe

Mohammad Ali Jauhar
Mohammad Ali Jauhar


Death of Abdullah Quiiliam

28th April

On the 28th April, 1pm, Abdullah Quilliam was buried at Brookwood Cemerery, Woking. He was buried close to other famous Muslim personalities such as Lord Headley, and Marmaduke Picktall.

Note: Information taken from Islam in Victorian Britain by Ron Geaves


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