Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Winston Churchill On Islamism

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, on November 30, 1874. His father Randolph was a Conservative politician and descendant of the first Duke of Marlborough, who would die of syphilis in 1892. Winston Churchill's mother Jennie (1854 - 1921) was a flirtatious American socialite, daughter of Leonard Jerome (Jacobson), who owned the New York Times. In May, 1940, Churchill became British prime minister until the end of World War II, and he led Britain again from 1951 to 1955. By the time Winston Churchill died after a stroke on January 24, 1965, he had become one of the pre-eminent figuresof the 20th century. He had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
The British leaders who have followed Churchill (with the exception, perhaps, of Margaret Thatcher) have shown little of his independence of spirit, or individualism. Five years ago, Churchill was voted the greatest Briton of all time in a BBC poll. Those who claim to support Churchill think mainly of his role as a statesman, and as a warrior in the battle against Hitler and fascism.
 In today's politically correct Britain, few people are prepared openly to criticize Islamism. A collective cowardice afflicts the chattering classes. Too fearful of the stigma of being labeled "Islamophobe", leaders and media figures would rather buy into the lies of Muslim victimization than objectively analyze the threat that global radical Islam poses to democracy. Few are aware of Churchill's comments on Islam, and fewer still would dare repeat those words in public today.
 Churchill was born into privilege but he gained first-hand knowledge of Islam in the army. He joined the Fourth Hussars in 1895, and was posted in the North-West Frontier of India (now Pakistan), bordering Afghanistan. During this time, he became a war correspondent, working with full approval of Sir Bindon Blood, chief staff officer of the Chitral relief force. Originally, Churchill's reports were sent anonymously by telegram and letter to the Pioneer Mail. Eventually he was writing for the London Daily Telegraph under his own name. The first of these reports was published on October 6, 1897. He was paid five pounds per article.
 He wrote of his experiences in the borderlands with Afghanistan in a book titled The Story of the Malakand Field Force. This book detailed not only the conflict of the region, but also its cultural and military history, with notes on natural history. When his mother informed him in late 1897 that Longmans had agreed to publish this tome, he noted: that "the publication of this book will certainly be the most noteworthy act of my life. Up to date (of course). By its reception I shall measure the chances of my possible success in the world." The book appeared the following year.
 In this book, when describing a local imam, Churchill coined the term "Mad Mullah". Speaking of the Pathan and Beluchi tribesmen of the border regions, he noted with some sarcasm that "the Mullah will raise his voice and remind them of other days when the sons of the prophet drove the infidel from the plains of India, and ruled at Delhi, as wide an Empire as the Kafir holds to-day: when the true religion strode proudly through the earth and scorned to lie hidden and neglected among the hills: when mighty princes ruled in Bagdad, and all men knew that there was one God, and Mahomet was His prophet. And the young men hearing these things will grip their Martinis, and pray to Allah, that one day He will bring some Sahib (prince) - best prize of all - across their line of sight at seven hundred yards so that, at least, they may strike a blow for insulted and threatened Islam."
 Churchill wrote: "Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men's passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination. But 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 all other creeds, to this form of madness."
 After 9/11, George W. Bush famously described Islam as a "religion of peace". Churchill entertained no such fancy notions. In his history of the Malakand Field Force, Churchill wrote that "civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is usually the better armed."
 By the time his first book was published, Churchill had taken part in active service, fighting in Bangalore. He joined Lord Kitchener's army in the Sudan, and took part in the Battle of Omdurman on September 2, 1898. This battle took place in what is now a suburb of Khartoum, and pitted British troops against 50,000 belonging to a local warlord, Abdullah al-Taashi. This man called himself the Khalifa or "Caliph", and was the successor of Muhammad Ahmad. Ahmad had been the self-styled "Mahdi" (Muslim Messiah) who had beheaded General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885. The war in Sudan was a religious war. The region had been exploited by the Egyptians from 1819 to 1883. Originally the "Mahdi" had waged war against Muslim Egypt but, irritated by the presence of 150 British troops in Sudan, he soon declared Jihad (Holy War) against all Christians. The Mahdi himself had died of typhus in 1885. The Battle of Omdurman was not the last decisive battle in this war, but it signaled the last time a cavalry charge was mounted by British troops.
 Churchill wrote of the Mahdi's jihad, the succession of the Khalifa and Omdurman in a two-volume book published by Longmans in 1899. Entitled "The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of Sudan", Churchill wrote on pages 248-250 of the second volume: ""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. 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 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 proselytising 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 civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."
 This contentious passage became abridged in a shorter version published in 1902. However, the abridged version still contained some harsh words for the fanaticism of Islam. In Chapter One, Churchill wrote: "Fanaticism is not a cause of war. It is the means which helps savage peoples to fight. It is the spirit which enables them to combine - the great common object before which all personal or tribal disputes become insignificant. What the horn is to the rhinoceros, what the sting is to the wasp, the Mohammedan faith was to the Arabs of the Soudan - a faculty of offence or defence."
 In Chapter Two, Churchill stated: "All the warlike operations of Mohammedan peoples are characterised by fanaticism" and in its third chapter he observed: "After the fall of Khartoum and the retreat of the British armies the Mahdi became the absolute master of the Soudan. Whatever pleasures he desired he could command, and, following the example of the founder of the Mohammedan faith, he indulged in what would seem to Western minds gross excesses. He established an extensive harem for his own peculiar use, and immured therein the fairest captives of the war."
 Churchill entered politics in the same year that "The River War" was originally published. As his eponymous grandson pointed out last March, Churchill noted the threat of Wahhabism on June 14, 1921 at the House of Commons. His grandson stated in an address to the Locke Foundation that this speech "followed "hard on the heels of the Cairo Conference, at which he had presided over the re-shaping of the Middle East". This was the March 1921 Cairo Conference, rather than the better known Cairo Conferences of 1943.


 At that time, Churchill was secretary for the British colonies, and he had been involved in the creation of Iraq (in 1921), Jordan (Transjordan) and Palestine. The intention, he told the Commons, was "to set up an Arab government, and to make it take the responsibility, with our aid and our guidance and with an effective measure of our support, until they are strong enough to stand alone ... (and) to reduce our commitments and to extricate ourselves from our burdens while at the same time honorably discharging our obligations and building up strong and effective Arab government which will always be the friend of Britain.
 What is less well known is that he also said on that day: "A large number of Bin Saud's followers belong to the Wahabi sect, a form of Mohammedanism which bears, roughly speaking, the same relationship to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of [Europe's] religious wars.
 The Wahhabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others. They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahhabi villages for simply appearing in the streets.
 It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette and, as for the crime of alcohol, the most energetic supporter of the temperance cause in this country falls far behind them. Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and blood-thirsty, in their own regions the Wahhabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
 The Bin Saud to whom Churchill refers here is King Abdul Aziz bin Saud (c. 1880 - 1953), who would go on officially to establish Saudi Arabia in 1932. In 1926, this king's followers had control of Mecca. Traditionally a caravan procession (mahmal) would arrive annually at Mecca with embroidered curtains from Egypt at the time of the Hajj pilgrimage. The curtains would be placed around the Ka'aba and then returned to Egypt. The Wahhabists slaughtered 25 of the Mahmal caravan members at Mina because they played trumpets. Music was forbidden to the Wahhabists, and the tradition of mahmal was abandoned. The incident soured relations between Egypt and the emerging nation of Saudi Arabia.
 Winston Churchill was fully aware of the potential for fanaticism and warfare, inherent within Islam since the time of the founder and his successors. He did not choose to dilute his words. His experiments at nation building in the Middle East may not have been as successful as he would have wished. He knew that war had attended Islam since its origins, and a century ago fanatics were exploiting this. Today, the world is still threatened by Islamic terrorism and the war of jihad is still being fought, even in the mountains and valleys of Malakand. Our leaders today, unlike Winston Churchill, are too conciliatory to acknowledge publicly the true nature of the beast that threatens us.
 When he was describing Nazism, Churchill said: "An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last." He also said: "Victory will never be found by taking the line of least resistance." Those words should be heeded. In the current struggle against the spread of Islamism, they are as true today as they were 65 years ago.

Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who regularly contributes in Family Security Matters. His essays also appear in Western Resistance, Spero News and He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.

Hit Counter