Sir Winston Churchill is much admired in right thinking circles. Indeed I know men who admire him so much they have his face tattooed on their arms. Paul Weston admires him so much he quoted from one of his histories on the steps of Winchester Town Hall and was arrested for his pains.
That particular passage is from the The River War: I think its date is 1899.
"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism 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 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. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the
faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses 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 is a powerful passage and is often quoted. Obviously too often for the powers that be. The Telegraph published this item yesterday.
Sir Winston Churchill 's family feared he might convert to Islam
In the public eye, Sir Winston Churchill’s long political career earned him a place among the greatest of Britons.But what may come as a surprise is that he was a strong admirer of Islam and the culture of the Orient — such was his regard for the Muslim faith that relatives feared he might convert.
The revelation comes with the discovery of a letter to Churchill from his future sister-in-law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, written in August 1907, in which she urges him to rein in his enthusiasm.
In the letter, discovered by Warren Dockter, a history research fellow at Cambridge University, she pleads: “Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalise [fascination with the Orient and Islam], Pasha-like tendencies, I really have. If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it.”
Churchill’s fascination led him and his close friend Wilfrid S. Blunt, the poet and radical supporter of Muslim causes, to dressing in Arab clothes in private while in each other’s company. Dr Dockter said of the letter from Lady Gwendoline: “Churchill had fought in Sudan and on the North West frontier of India so had much experience on being in 'Islamic areas’. (I was unaware of this gentleman when I wrote about Wilfrids in 2010; he must be the prototype for Wilfred Desert?)
“But during this period Churchill was in the Liberal phase of his career, having switched to the Liberals in 1904.
The letter was discovered by Dr Dockter while researching his forthcoming book, Winston Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East.
Then the Telegraph Reporter throws in, just for good measure this little titbit
In October 1940, as Britain faced its darkest hour against Nazi Germany, Churchill approved plans to build a mosque in central London and set aside £100,000 for the project. He continued to back the building of what became the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park – which he hoped would win support for Britain in the Muslim world at a crucial moment – even in the face of public criticism.
In December 1941, he told the House of Commons: “Many of our friends in Muslim countries all over the East have already expressed great appreciation of this gift.”
My understanding is that the impetus for the provision of part of Regent's Park for the mosque was that of the King, who was mindful of the role being played in the war effort of all nations of the Empire. The King may well have been naive, but at the height of WWII Churchill found common cause with Joseph Stalin for the duration in order to defeat the immediate enemy, the Nazis.
The comments all point out that he may well have been interested, may well have found cultural elements to attract, but ultimately he was highly critical of the flaws at the heart of Islam.
But while he is admired and quoted by those who challenge the establishment, even the man voted Greatest Briton must now be undermined, and this letter is proving a handy tool. Headlines thoughout the world today, include
Al Arabiya Churchill found Islam tempting, letter shows
Oregon Live Winston Churchill a Muslim?
Gulf news How Winston Churchill flirted with Islam
Al Bawaba Was Winston Churchill about to become a Muslim?
And so on. Halfway round the world before truth has got its boots on. Proof, if proof were needed, that the British establishment is badly rattled. Believe me, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The misleading title of the silly article in the British paper may make some think Churchill found Islam attractive; he never did. The article is absurd, based on a single phrase in a single letter by his sister-in-law who was clearly indulging in intra-familiy epistolary exaggeration, by way of supposed humor. And that's the whole of it.
Winston Churchill was, to me at least, the greatest man to have ever lived (he adorns my office wall). Christina lists some his failings, which she quite rightly asks us to forgive. All humans have faults. The Torah clearly describes the failings of many biblical icons, even Moses. To believe otherwise is idolatrous, and is as wrong as only highlighting a person's mistakes.
I wonder if they know what he said about Islam in "The Story of the Malakand Field Force", chapter one? That's where he defines it as "the religion of blood and war". Where he says also, "That religion [i.e. Islam - CM] which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword - the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter, and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men - stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism...The Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of other creeds, to this form of madness...". And then there's his 1931 speech on "Our Duty in India", much of which would not, of course, please modern Indians, but which contains also the following remarks, with which any rational, well-informed person would not quarrel in the slightest - "Side by side with this Brahmin theocracy and the immense Hindu population..there dwell in India seventy millions of Moslems, a race [sic - CM] of far greater physical vigour and fierceness, armed with a religion which lends itself only too readily to war and conquest. While the Hindu elaborates his argument, the Moslem sharpens his sword." For all we know, he *might* have been tempted. All men can be tempted by evil; and a man of martial instincts might be tempted by Islam. But what matters is what a man does with a temptation. The plain fact of the matter is that Churchill didn't become a Muslim, and that he uttered, on the record, many clear and biting and demonstrably deadly accurate criticisms of the belief system. Expressions like 'fury of intolerance', 'madness' , 'wild and merciless fanaticism' do not exactly sound like praise, to me.