Shah Jehan Mosque

Perhaps one of the most resonant reminders of the Muslim presence in the First World War is the Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking. Built on the long Oriental Road in the town centre, the mosque is still in operation and boasts beautiful architecture and a resounding natural garden around it.  Built in 1889, this is the first purpose-built mosque in the UK. The first Muslim burial ground for soldiers was built near it, and their burial rites would be carried out at the mosque. In addition, Muslim troops attended Eid prayers at this mosque.

Shah Jehan Mosque

Shah Jehan Mosque

Profile: Raja Alaf Khan

Rank: Various, until Major
Regiment: 1st Punjab Regiment

Major Alaf Khan was born in November 1895 in the village of Fatehpur, near Mirpur, Kashmir. As a teenager, he took an important job in the region’s wheat warehouse, but resigned due to his disagreement with the environmental conditions. He was then a schoolteacher – the only Muslim one in his district. One day, though, when a member of the community desecrated a copy of the Qur’an, in protest, Khan resigned from his job. At the age of 19, he decided to join the army, participating in the World War from until 1919. Though he retired from the army as a Junior Commissioned Officer in 1940, Khan was recalled to the army a year and a half later in order to participate in the Second World War, in which he served as a 2nd Lieutenant, and won three distinguished medals.

Major Khan’s son is the Labour Councilor for Woking, Mohammad Ilyas Raja. Here, you can watch Cllr Raja talking about his father’s personal life outside of the war, with the full interview coming soon.

Alaf Khan

Raja Alaf Khan