Winston Churchill criticized Islam in his book, The River War

[In his book The River War, Winston Churchill expressed some of his thoughts on Islam. Churchill had been a lieutenant in the British Army, and served in the Sudan, amongst other places, where he had plenty of opportunity to observe and consider the ways of Islamic society. Here is the relevant extract from his book.]

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 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 [Islam] had vainly struggled — the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

Winston Spencer Churchill, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan, volume II, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899, pp. 248-250

Note: Churchill’s comments on Islam appear in the two-volume first edition of The River War (1899), but not in the heavily abridged one-volume edition (1902).

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