100 Years Ago… – Honourary degree of doctor of literature and Mufti Sahib’s first impressions of America

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The Moslem Sunrise, July 1921

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Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra (1872-1957)

Certificate

“W Mayes Martin, AM, DD, LLD, Chancellor

John FB Walker, PhD, STD, LLD, President and Dean of the Theological School

AW Slade, AKC, DD, LLD, Dean of the College

Orlando A Mansfield, Mas Doc, FRCO, FAGO, Dean of the College of Music

EG Ravenscroft, PhD, JD, DCI, Secretary

Fredrick Arnd, AR, LLD, Dean of the University Law School of Pharmacy

“Lincoln Jefferson University

Chicago, Illinois

TO WHOM THIS MAY COME

Greetings!

“This is to certify that under and by virtue of a charter granted by the State of Illinois to the Trustees of the Lincoln Jefferson University, there has been conferred upon

MUFTI MUHAMMAD SADIQ

The Honorary Degree

DOCTOR OF LITERATURE

on the nomination and approval of the faculty, in recognition of his attainments as a scholar, success as a leader of men, and his devotion to promoting the higher and nobler relations between man and man. “To him we grant all the rights, privileges and honors appertaining to this degree, and in testimony thereof witness the signature of our President and the Seal of this University. 

“Done in the City of Chicago, Illinois, this the 16th day of December, 1920. 

“(Sd.) John FB Walker, PhD, DD, LittD, President of the University and of the Board of Trustees.”

Some of my first impressions

America is a mixture of nationalities, languages, races and colors. You will find here the best of them as well as the worst. It is a land of freedom, but freedom is being misused in some cases. 

Over in England, I was used to seeing all the traffic go to the left; here, on landing, I noticed everywhere written “Keep to the Right.” Sounds nice and right, and one begins to feel that this is the right land to live in. The Americans are taller and stouter than the English but not so quick. They do all their business on their extremely excellent telephone system, but are slow in writing work. Some parts of the states are colder than England but the Americans seem to know beforehand (while English do not) that they have to encounter the cold weather and therefore they provide for it in time. 

The houses are built to be well-heated with the heating provisions in the basement and very few are seen catching cold, while in England everybody seems to be sneezing and wiping his nose in winter. 

The wood framework houses are exquisite and electric light enhances their colored beauty. While in England, they generally shave their beard but keep their moustache, here all around the clean shave is the fashion of the day. Very few keep moustaches and very seldom a foreigner – Jew – is seen with a long beard. 

My dear and respected friend Mr Karoub’s younger daughter, Fatima, once softly touching my beard with her little hands, said: “What a long moustache you have got, my Shaikh.” Her knowledge of the English language is well-developed, but still she knows no such word as beard. The Americans, approached rightly and talked to reasonably, are ready to accept the truth.

There is no cockney drawling of vowel sounds in the American tongue, but their idioms are peculiar in some cases, for example:

In England                                In America

Reel of thread                             Spool of cotton

Chest of drawers                        Bureau

Lift                                             Elevator

Commercial traveler                 Drummer

Small wares                                Notions

Season ticket                              Communication ticket             

Autumn                                       Fall

Cock                                           Rooster

Girl is shy                                   Girl is bashful

Don’t mention                            You are welcome                      

Certainly                                     Sure

Boot polish                                  Shoe shine

Half boiled egg                           Soft egg

A cry for the Holy Quran

A bookseller writes from England: 

“We have been asked several times for Part 2[n]d of the Holy Quran, but we cannot give any satisfactory answer. It would be a great pity if this fine publication were to be stopped.” 

This is one example of the cries for need of such an elaborate [and] complete edition of the Holy Quran as our first part is. May Allah help us in bringing that grand work to completion soon.

Assalam-o-Alaikum

Peace be with you and the mercy of Allah and his blessings.

In most of all the letters that I get from brothers and sisters in India and other countries, I read a request of giving their respects, greetings and salutations to the Moslem brothers and sisters in America, and vice versa, so through this paper today, I pass on the salaams on both sides with my love and earnest prayers for the welfare and happiness of one and all.

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Moslem Sunrise, July 1921)

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