The Collected Poems of Abdullah Quilliam
Edited by Ron Geaves and Yahya Birt
“A unique and fascinating window into the soul of British Islam in its earliest days.”
—Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad
When William Henry Abdullah Quilliam (1856‒1932) declared his conversion to Islam publicly in 1887, he was not content to merely practise his new faith as did other early British converts of the period. Rather, he set about the task of establishing Islam in Britain, starting with his home city of Liverpool. To this end, he established the first mosque community in the UK, and through its various activities converted approximately 250 inhabitants of the city to Islam. He sought ways to establish Islam that chimed with what he saw as the best values of Victorian Britain, and so he promoted the best values of Victorian society as synonymous with Islam. His efforts to promote Islam were recognised by the Caliph, Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, and by Abdur-Rahman, the Amir of Afghanistan, and both bestowed various titles, honours and gifts upon him and his family.
His weekly newspaper The Crescent, in which he published much of the poetry in the present collection, ran from 1893 to 1908 and circulated to over eighty nations. Poetry permitted Quilliam to draw upon both British and Eastern literary heritages, sometimes combining both in his poetic endeavours. Some of Quilliam’s poems show yearning for God, others love for nature. There are also poems about historic or topical events, and those that reveal the poet’s affections, including his romantic interests. A good portion of his poetry can be plausibly read as autobiographical: Quilliam often used his poetry to express his deepest feelings about his life, those closest to him, and his faith; as he put it, his “most inmost heart”.
The Collected Poems of Abdullah Quilliam brings together the secular and religious poetry of Abdullah Quilliam in a single volume for the first time. This comprehensive collection covers his entire four-decade poetic output and reveals much about the inner spiritual and emotional life of Britain’s most famous Muslim convert, about the private man behind the public figure.