Hadji Mohammad Dollie was a son of Scottish father and a Malay mother born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1846. He opened the first “Hanafi” Mosque in Cape Town along with a Dutch convert to Islam in the 1880’s.
Reading through the biography of Abdullah Quilliam I was surprised to see the mention of a mosque known as Regent’s Park Mosque that opened in 1895. Where could this have been? Who opened it and what happened to the founder? What were the activities of the Mosque?
These questions intrigued me to unearth a Victorian mosque in London and the life of its founder Hadji Mohammad Dollie who passed away in 1906 and who’s death date happens to coincide with UK’s national Visit My Mosque day on 18th February.
Hadji Mohammad Dollie arrived in London around 1895 and took up residency in Albert Street, along with his two sons as it was difficult for them to study in South Africa at the time.
Dollie had been asked by the Muslim community of London who perhaps numbered 200-300, to teach their children Qur’an since he was a hafiz (someone who had memorised the whole Qur’an). He agreed, and from then onwards, he decided to turn his drawing room into a mosque.
From the house-mosque, he would venture to different localities to perform funeral prayers. Within the house-mosque, regular prayers were taking place, including Eid prayers where worshippers would come dressed in their national garb, catching the eyes of the neighbours!
He also offered religious guidance, supporting white English converts to the faith. Inter-racial marriages too place there too. This was a hub for members of the Victorian Muslim community who would hold meetings about concerns that they believed were of importance such as the affairs within the Muslim countries including the Ottoman Empire, often offering supplications for the head of the Islamic State, AbdulHamid the second. This was a place where they spoke with a united voice!
At around 1899 Dollie and his family relocated to 189 Euston Road (the present location of Wellcome Collection) along with the house-mosque. He may have made this move in order to be close to Euston station which would have allowed for an easy commute for other Victorian Muslims in Liverpool including his son Omar.