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29 Dec, 2014 08:11

Winston Churchill’s sister-in-law urged him not to convert to Islam

Winston Churchill’s sister-in-law urged him not to convert to Islam

Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him to “fight against” the desire to convert to Islam, according to a newly-discovered letter.

“Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalise, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have,” the letter from Churchill’s future sister-in-law, dated August 1907, says, the Independent reported.

“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,” Lady Gwendoline Bertie, who was soon to marry Churchill’s brother Jack, added.

The letter was found by a historian at Cambridge University, Warren Dockter, while he was researching for his book ‘Winston Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East’.

The former UK prime minister was greatly interested in Islam and oriental culture, but “never seriously considered converting,” Dockter told the paper.

Churchill in military uniform, 1895. (Image from Wikipedia/the Imperial War Museum)

"He was more or less an atheist by this time anyway. He did however have a fascination with Islamic culture, which was common among Victorians," he added.

Churchill became acquainted with Islamic culture during his army service in Sudan, and was greatly taken with it.

The researcher noted the possible reason behind the letter, and that those close to Churchill needn’t have been worried. He may have been a great admirer of the culture, but was also critical in his views on Islamic society.

“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,” Churchill wrote in 1899 of his experience in Sudan.