Churchill on Islam

**Posted by Phineas

One of my favorite books is Winston Churchill’s “The River War,” about the Anglo-Egyptian campaign in Sudan in the 1890s. Among its many memorable passages is Churchill’s meditation the nature of Islam. Recent events make me think it’s worth dusting off:

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.  Individual Moslems 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 proseltyzing 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 science against which it had vainly struggled—the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

Some on reading that will scream “racism” (1) and “Islamophobia.” Whatever. Looking over the events of not just the past few days, but the last 20 years, I can’t help but wonder if instead the future prime minister wasn’t sharp-eyed and wise.

Thanks to Steven Hayward for the reminder.

(1) Even though Islam isn’t a race, but a religion. But it’s a bit much to expect intellectual clarity from the Left; the facts are against them, so all they have left is invective.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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