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The British Victorians who became Muslims

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Image copyright Angus Sladen Image caption Lady Evelyn on a trip to Luxor in Egypt

At the height of the Empire, a select ensemble of British parties repudiated Christianity and converted to Islam. These are the stories of three such pioneers, who withstood Victorian norms at a time when Christianity was the bedrock of British identity.

Abdullah Quilliam

Image copyright Abdullah Quilliam Society Image caption William Henry Quilliam adopted the name Abdullah after his changeover

Solicitor William Henry Quilliam became interested in Islam after encountering Moroccans pray on a boat during a Mediterranean break in 1887.

“They were not at all troubled by the force of the strong gale or by the swaying of the vessel. I was deeply touched by the look on their faces and their speeches, which displayed complete trust and sincerity, ” he withdrew .~ ATAGEND

After inquiring about the belief during a stay in Tangiers, 31 -year-old Quilliam became a Muslim, describing his new faith as “reasonable and logical and, personally, I felt it did not contradict my beliefs”.

While Islam doesn’t oblige alters to change their calls, he is in favour of the reputation of Abdullah.

On his return to England in 1887, he became a preacher, and was said to be instrumental in the conversion of about 600 parties across the UK.

Image copyright Abdullah Quilliam Society Image caption Quilliam is credited with converting 200 neighbourhoods and 600 parties across the UK

He likewise substantiated the country’s first mosque that time in Liverpool – regarded by many at the time as the “second city of the British Empire”.

Queen Victoria, who governed over more Muslims than the Turkish Ottoman Empire, was among those who told his pamphlet “Faith of Islam”, which summarised the religion and was translated into 13 expressions .~ ATAGEND

She is said to have ordered six more facsimiles for her family. But her willingness to learn was not always matched by a wider society which believed Islam to be a violent religion.

In 1894, the Ottoman sultan – with the approval of the Queen – nominated Quilliam as Sheikh al-Islam of the British Isles, a claim manifesting his leadership in the Muslim community.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption An illustration of Queen Victoria investing Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz( core) with the Order of the Garter

Despite the official recognition, many Liverpudlian alters faced anger and misuse over their sect, including being assaulted with bricks, offal and mare manure.

Quilliam imagined the attackers had been “brainwashed and led to believe that we were bad people”.

He was known locally for his work with the underprivileged – advocating trade unionism and divorce law reform – but his legal career came to ruin when he tried to help a female buyer endeavouring a divorce.

A honey-trap was put together for her supposedly adulterous spouse – a practice not uncommon at the time – but the struggle flunked and Quilliam was hit off.

Image copyright Kad design Image caption Worshippers still pray at the Abdullah Quilliam mosque in Liverpool, which was opened in 1887

He left Liverpool in 1908 to minimise the scandal’s impact on the Muslim community. He resurfaced in the south as Henri de Leon, although many knew who he was, according to Prof Ron Geaves, who has written a book about Quilliam.

Although his chart abated, he became involved with the country’s second oldest mosque, built in Woking in 1889, and was buried in the Surrey town after his death in 1932.

The Liverpool mosque suffers his refer to this day.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Quilliam also became involved with Britain’s second oldest mosque in Woking

Lady Evelyn Cobbold

Image copyright Philip Hope-Cobbold Image caption Lady Evelyn, envisioned with her husband John Cobbold, felt she was “Muslim at heart”

It wasn’t uncommon for members of the upper classes to be fascinated by Islam, often was encouraged by hurtles in Muslim lands.

From an upper-class house, Edinburgh-born Lady Evelyn Murray spent much of her childhood switching between life in Scotland and north Africa.

“There, I learnt to speak Arabic and my gratify was to escape my governess and stay the mosques with my Algerian friends, and unconsciously I was a little Muslim at heart, ” she wrote.

At her ancestral possession of Dunmore Park, she exceeded at deer-stalking and salmon-fishing.

Her explorer father, the 7th Earl of Dunmore, was often away in ends including China and Canada. Her mother, later a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, was also a lament traveller.

Lady Evelyn acquired her parents’ wanderlust and it was in Cairo where she met and married her husband John Cobbold – a businessman who was part of the brewery empire that loped Ipswich Town FC.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Lady Evelyn was the first British wife known to have performed the Hajj

It is not known when she converted to Islam. The seed may have been sown by her childhood travelings, but Lady Evelyn’s faith was apparently cemented after a holiday in Rome, where she congregated the Pope.

“When His Holiness suddenly addressed me, asking if I was a Catholic, I was taken aback for a moment and then replied that I was a Muslim, ” she later wrote.

“What possessed me I don’t pretend to know, as I had not given a thought to Islam for many years. A accord was ignited and I then and there determined to read up and study the faith.”

It was the religion’s spiritual facet that allured many proselytizes, according to historian William Facey, who wrote the prologue to Lady Evelyn’s memoirs.

He says they followed a “belief that all the great religions shared a transcendent unity … behind the superficial doctrinal item that divides them”.

In the Middle East, Lady Evelyn – referred to as “Lady Zainab” by her Arab friends – often had access to areas reserved for women and wrote about the “dominating influence of women” in Muslim culture.

At the age of 65, she embarked on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca – the first British maiden on record to complete the achievement.

It offered her “endless interest, wonder and beauty” and her report was later published in a journal, Pilgrimage to Mecca.

Image copyright Angus Sladen Image caption Lady Evelyn later wrote about her pilgrimage

Little is known about her life subsequentlies other than she travelled for a short period in Kenya. She died in an Inverness nursing home in 1963 at the age of 95, having ordered that a bagpiper play at her funeral and a Koranic passage, known as the “verse of light”, be inscribed on her gravestone.

The marker, located in her Glencarron estate in the Highlands, was later lashed with a knife – perhaps testament to the strong ideas her shift drew.

“I am often expected when and why I became a Muslim, ” she wrote in her memoirs.

“I can only reply that I do not know the precise moment when the truth of Islam dawned upon me.

“It appears that I have always been a Muslim.”

Robert Stanley

Image copyright Robert Stanley family Image caption Robert Stanley converted to Islam at persons under the age of 70

The narrative of Victorian Muslim history is usually dominated by those from society’s upper echelons, whose notes have been better preserved.

Keeping written documents, such as diaries, was “generally more a sign of being middle class”, says Christina Longden, who only found out her ancestor became Muslim after her leader experimented their family tree.

Robert Stanley rose from working-class grocer to Conservative mayor of Stalybridge – a mill town near Manchester – in the 1870 s.

According to Ms Longden, who has written a book and play video games about him, he was also a magistrate who put in a fund for workers sacked for not voting in line with their bosses’ views.

She also felt he regularly wrote about British colonialism to the newsletter of Quilliam’s Liverpool mosque.

Image copyright KAD DESIGN Image caption Robert Stanley( core) with Abdullah Quilliam( right) at the Liverpool mosque

Stanley met Quilliam in the late 1890 s after he had retired from his working career, and they became close friends.

“Robert was 28 years older than Quilliam so I think there may have been a bit of a father-son relationship there, ” says Ms Longden.

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