Shah Jehan Mosque
Perhaps one of the most resonant reminders of the Muslim presence in this war is the Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking. Built on the long Oriental Road in the town centre, the mosqueis still in operation and boasts beautiful architecture and a resounding natural garden. Built in 1889, it 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.
Profile: Raja Alaf Khan
Rank: Various, until Major
Regiment: 1st Punjab Regiment
Major Raja 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 another teacher desecrated a copy of the Qur’an, Khan resigned.
At the age of 19, he decided to join the army, participating in this war. Though he resigned 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.