William Henry Quilliam, was born in 1856, the son of a watchmaker, of Manx descent, brought up Wesleyan Methodist, later turning to Unitarianism and successful practised law in Liverpool. In 1884 due to ill health he travelled to North Africa to recover in warmer climates, and there his attention was drawn to Islam. Soon after he converted, he started propagated the religion in England.
He formed a ‘Church of Islam’ in a hall in Mount Vernon Street, and after five hard up-hill years, the number of followers increased to over thirty. At which point he needed to move to larger premises.
Quilliam lectured and wrote extensively and much of his work was translated into many languages. He was soon honoured as an Alim (Islamic scholar) by the University of Fez, Morocco, a year later he was named Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles (Head of Islam in Britain) by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (and Caliph of Islam), and the Shah of Persia bestowed upon him the title Persian Counsel in Liverpool.