Historical Reprints Religion Future Of Islam

Future Of Islam

Future Of Islam
Catalog # SKU1311
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Wilfred Scawen Blunt


The Future Of Islam

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Written in 1882, did the author correctly forsee the power, influence and future of Islam in the western world? The French, by their invasion of Tunis, have precipitated the Mohammedan movement in North Africa; Egypt has roused herself for a great effort of national and religious reform; and on all sides Islam is seen to be convulsed by political portents of ever-growing intensity.


To Mohammedans the author owes more than a word of apology. A stranger and a sojourner among them, he has ventured on an exposition of their domestic griefs, and has occasionally touched the ark of their religion with what will seem to them a profane hand; but his motive has been throughout a pure one, and he trusts that they will pardon him in virtue of the sympathy with them which must be apparent in every line that he has written.

He has predicted for them great political misfortunes in the immediate future, because he believes that these are a necessary step in the process of their spiritual development; but he has a supreme confidence in Islam, not only as a spiritual, but as a temporal system the heritage and gift of the Arabian race, and capable of satisfying their most civilized wants; and he believes in the hour of their political resurgence.

In the mean time he is convinced that he serves their interests best by speaking what he holds to be the truth regarding their situation. Their day of empire has all but passed away, but there remains to them a day of social independence better than empire.

Enlightened, reformed and united in sympathy, Mussulmans need not fear political destruction in their original homes, Arabia, Egypt, and North Africa; and these must suffice them as a Dar el Islam till better days shall come.

If the author can do anything to help them to preserve that independence they may count upon him freely within the limits of his strength, and he trusts to prove to them yet his sincerity in some worthier way than by the publication of these first essays.

The revival which is taking place in the Mohammedan world is indeed worthy of every Englishman's attention, and it is difficult to believe that it has not received anxious consideration at the hands of those whose official responsibility lies chiefly in the direction of Asia; but I am not aware that it has hitherto been placed in its true light before the English public, or that a quite definite policy regarding it may be counted on as existing in the counsels of the present Cabinet. Indeed, as regards the Cabinet, the reverse may very well be the case.

We know how suspicious English politicians are of policies which may be denounced by their enemies as speculative; and it is quite possible that the very magnitude of the problem to be solved in considering the future of Islam may have caused it to be put aside there as one "outside the sphere of practical politics." The phrase is a convenient one, and is much used by those in power amongst us who would evade the labour or the responsibility of great decisions. Yet that such a problem exists in a new and very serious form I do not hesitate to affirm, nor will my proposition, as I think, be doubted by any who have mingled much in the last few years with the Mussulman populations of Western Asia. There it is easily discernible that great changes are impending, changes perhaps analogous to those which Christendom underwent four hundred years ago, and that a new departure is urgently demanded of England if she would maintain even for a few years her position as the guide and arbiter of Asiatic progress.

It was not altogether without the design of gaining more accurate knowledge than I could find elsewhere on the subject of this Mohammedan revival that I visited Jeddah in the early part of the past winter, and that I subsequently spent some months in Egypt and Syria in the almost exclusive society of Mussulmans. Jeddah, I argued, the seaport of Mecca and only forty miles distant from that famous centre of the Moslem universe, would be the most convenient spot from which I could obtain such a bird's-eye view of Islam as I was in search of; and I imagined rightly that I should there find myself in an atmosphere less provincial than that of Cairo, or Bagdad, or Constantinople.

Jeddah is indeed in the pilgrim season the suburb of a great metropolis, and even a European stranger there feels that he is no longer in a world of little thoughts and local aspirations. On every side the politics he hears discussed are those of the great world, and the religion professed is that of a wider Islam than he has been accustomed to in Turkey or in India. There every race and language are represented, and every sect. Indians, Persians, Moors, are there,-negroes from the Niger, Malays from Java, Tartars from the Khanates, Arabs from the French Sahara, from Oman and Zanzibar, even, in Chinese dress and undistinguishable from other natives of the Celestial Empire, Mussulmans from the interior of China. As one meets these walking in the streets, one's view of Islam becomes suddenly enlarged, and one finds oneself exclaiming with Sir Thomas Browne, "Truly the (Mussulman) world is greater than that part of it geographers have described." The permanent population, too, of Jeddah is a microcosm of Islam. It is made up of individuals from every nation under heaven. Besides the indigenous Arab, who has given his language and his tone of thought to the rest, there is a mixed resident multitude descended from the countless pilgrims who have remained to live and die in the holy cities.

These preserve, to a certain extent, their individuality, at least for a generation or two, and maintain a connection with the lands to which they owe their origin and the people who were their countrymen. Thus there is constantly found at Jeddah a free mart of intelligence for all that is happening in the world; and the common gossip of the bazaar retails news from every corner of the Mussulman earth. It is hardly too much to say that one can learn more of modern Islam in a week at Jeddah than in a year elsewhere, for there the very shopkeepers discourse of things divine, and even the Frank Vice-Consuls prophesy.

The Hejazi is less shy, too, of discussing religious matters than his fellow Mussulmans are in other places. Religion is, as it were, part of his stock-in-trade, and he is accustomed to parade it before strangers. With a European he may do this a little disdainfully, but still he will do it, and with less disguise or desire to please than is in most places the case. Moreover-and this is important-it is almost always the practical side of questions that the commercial Jeddan will put forward. He sees things from a political and economical point of view, rather than a doctrinal, and if fanatical, he is so from the same motives, and no others, which once moved the citizens of Ephesus to defend the worship of their shrines.

185+ pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover


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