There is a property on Brougham Terrace not far from Liverpool city centre that is derelict, vandalised and in need of much repair.
The house,was once owned by one William Henry Quilliam whose father was a Methodist preacher but in 1887 he became the first Christian to convert to Islam in Victorian England.
Quilliam had been on a trip to Morocco, converted there and adopted the name Abdullah disgarding Henry.
In 1889 he opened ‘The Liverpool Muslim Institute’ at the aforementioned property as a mosque, an orphanage and a community centre for the local growing Muslim community.
According to Professor Ron Geaves the author of the book Islam in Victorian Times.
“William Abdullah Quilliam was brought up as a devout Christian and was part of the Temperance Movement which promoted abstinence from alcohol. One of the reasons he was attracted to Islam was that alcohol is forbidden for Muslims. He also had theological concerns about Trinitarian Christianity,”
Upon gaining something of a reputation he was given the title of Sheikh-ul-Islam meaning leader of Muslims in the British Isles and Vice Consul of Persia by the ShahThis was conferred on him by the last Ottoman caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Prof Geavesgoes on to say
“He was a royalist and was also recognised by Queen Victoria. He had sent her one of his books about Islam, apparently. She then ordered several copies for her children.“
A group of Muslims from Merseyside set up the Abdullah Quilliam Society in 1999 in order to preserve Quilliam’s legacy. In 2000 they took over responsibility for the building, which is now recognised as part of British Heritage.
The society wants to reopen the mosque and publishing house as a museum and heritage centre.