Lord Headley al-Farooq was born in 1855 A.D. and was a leading British peer, statesman and author. Educated in Cambridge, he became a peer in 1877, served in the army as a captain and later on as Lieut. Colonel in 4th Battalion of North Minister Fusiliers. Although an engineer by profession he had wide literary tastes. One time he was the editor of the “Salisbury Journal”. He was also the author of several books, most well known amongst them being:
A Western Awakening to Islam. Lord Headley embraced Islam on 16th November 1913(8) and adopted the Muslim name of Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farooq. The Lord was a widely travelled man and he visited India in 1928.
It is possible some of my friends may imagine that I have been influenced by Muslims; but this is not the cause, for my present convictions are solely the outcome of many years of thought. My actual conversations with educated Muslims on the subject of religion only commenced a few weeks ago, and need I say that I am overjoyed to find that all my theories and conclusions are entirely in accord with Islam. Conversion, according to the Koran, should come out of free choice and spontaneous judgement, and never be attained by means of compulsion. Jesus meant the same thing when he said to his disciples: “And whosoever shall not receive you nor hear you, when ye depart there” (St. Mark, vi, 2). I have known very many instances of zealous Protestants who have thought it their duty to visit Roman Catholic homes in order to make ‘converts’ of the inmates. Such irritating and unneighbourly conduct is, of course, very obnoxious, and has invariably led to much ill-feeling stirring up strife and tending to bring religion into contempt.
I am sorry to think that Christian missionaries have also tried these methods with their Muslim brethren; though, I am at a loss to conceive, why should they try to convert those who are already better Christians than they are themselves? I say ‘better Christians’ advisedly, because charity, tolerance and broad-mindedness in the Muslim faith come nearer to what Christ himself taught than do the somewhat narrow tenets of the various Christian Churches. To take one example: the Athenians Creed, which treats the Trinity in a very confusing manner. In this Creed, which is very important and deals conclusively with one of the fundamental tenets of the ‘Churches’, it is laid down most clearly that it represents the Catholic faith, and that if we do not believe it we shall perish everlastingly.
Then we are told that we must think of the Trinity if we want to be saved – in other words that the idea is of a God whom we in one breath hail as merciful and almighty and in the very next breath whom we accuse of injustice and cruelty, qualities which we would attribute to the most blood-thirsty human tyrant. As if God, Who is before all and above all, would be in any way influenced by what a poor mortal ‘thinks of the Trinity’. Here is another instance of want of charity. I received a letter, it was of my leaning towards Islam in which the writer told me that if I did not believe in the Divinity of Christ I could not be saved. The question of the Divinity of Christ never seemed to me nearly so important as that other question: ‘Did he give God’s message to mankind?’ Now if I had any doubt this latter point it would worry me a great deal, but thank God, I have no doubts, and I hope that my faith in Christ and his inspired teachings is as firm as that of any other Muslim or Christian. As I have often said before, Islam and Christianity, as taught by Christ himself, are sister religions, only held apart by dogmas and technicalities which might very well be dispensed with.
In the present day men are prone to become atheists when asked to subscribe to dogmatic and intolerant beliefs, and there is doubtless a craving for a religion appealing to the intelligence as well as to the sentiments of men. Whoever heard of a Muslim turning atheist? There may have been some cases, but I very much doubt it. There are thousands of men and women, too, I believe who are at heart Muslims, but convention, fear of adverse comments, and desire to avoid any worry or change, conspire to keep them from openly admitting the fact. I have taken the step, though I am quite aware that many friends and relatives now look upon me as a lost soul and past praying for. And yet I am just the same in my beliefs as I was twenty years ago; it is the outspoken utterance which has lost me their good opinion. Having briefly given some of the reasons for adopting the teachings of Islam, and having explained that I consider myself by that very act a far better Christian than I was before, I can only hope that others will follow the example – which I honestly believe is a good one – which will bring happiness to any one looking upon the step as one in advance rather than one in any way hostile to true Christianity.