Churchill on Islam

Making Wisdom Popular

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Winston Churchill, the man who would serve as perhaps the greatest and most famous British Prime Minister during World War II, recorded some fascinating observations on Islam.  In 1899, he published a two-volume account of his experience as an officer in the British army during the Madhist War in Sudan, which took place from 1881-99.  Churchill was in the Sudan in 1898, where, in addition to serving in the army, he arranged to write several articles about the war. The account was later abridged to one volume (the one widely available today), and the quote below, which comes from the second volume of the original work, was not included in the abridgment.

Though they may not be politically correct by today’s standards, Churchill’s thoughts on Islam are striking, and worthy of consideration in light of circumstances which seem to persist into the modern era:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism [Islam] lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science…the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome. [Emphasis is Churchill’s][1]

I didn’t say it. Churchill did.

SOURCES

[1]Winston Churchill, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan, Volume II (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899), 248-50.