British Muslim Heritage
The Mother of the Faithful.
By H. Mustapha Leon.

On the 21st Zul-heggia, 1318, answering to the 11 th April, 1901, there passed away from earth to heaven Harriet Khadijah, the beloved mother of Abdullah Quilliam Effendi, the Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles. The deceased lady, who was in her 70th year, had led a long and useful life, and was highly respected by all who knew her, the local Muslims bestowing upon her the title of ‘the Mother of the Faithful’.

She was born in Cheshire, upon the 3rd March, 1832, her father being the late Dr. John Bamford Burrows, a prominent physician in Liverpool. In 1854 she was married to the late Mr. Robert Quilliam, and the offspring of that union was a son, to whom was given the name of William Henry Quilliam, and who is now so widely known as Sheikh Abdullah Quilliam Effendi.

Prior to her marriage she had taken an active part in religious work in connection with the Methodist Church, to which she belonged. After marriage she devoted herself to the education of her only son, and there is no doubt that it is to the assiduous care and careful training of his pious mother that the Sheikh was able to acquire that interest in literature and those other traits in his character which are so marked and appreciated by those with whom he is brought into contact. One of the means of education adopted by the late Mrs. Quilliam for the improvement of her son’s knowledge was the taking him to hear lectures upon various subjects delivered by leading orators and learned men, and she and her husband were astounded on one occasion, when the Sheikh was but a boy of 12 years of age, to hear him repeat the substance and some of the language of a lecture he had heard the previous evening, an effort of memory wonderful in a child, but which those who have had the opportunity of listening to the Sheikh’s lectures will fully appreciate and readily believe.

In 1868 Mrs. Quilliam took an active part in resisting the extension of the notorious ‘C.D. Acts’ in the British Empire.

In 1872 the deceased, with a desire to aid the great temperance reformation, joined the Good Templar Order, and soon became a prominent and zealous member of that organization, and filled some of the highest offices in the order.

In 1893 she accepted the Islamic Faith, and from that time until illness and advancing years prevented her from so doing, she took an active interest in the Muslim cause. An excellent series of articles descriptive of a journey taken by the writer from Liverpool to the Black Sea, was contributed to the pages of the Islamic World by Mrs Quilliam, and will well repay perusal,

                        ‘Happy he
               With such a mother! Faith in womankind
               Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high
               Comes easy to him, and though he trip and fall
               He shall not bind his soul with clay.’

  She passed away just at mid-day on the 11th April last, at peace 
   with God and at peace with the world.

             ‘To know, to esteem, to love, and then to part,
             Make up life’s tale to many a feeling heart.’
  May Allah rest her soul in eternal peace. Amin!
                                        (The Islamic World., vi, 189-191.) | British Muslim Heritage