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History Corner







Britain and Islam-1900


Zion’s Watch Tower (September 15, 1900), 276.


‘Shortly after the capture of Khartoum by General Lord Kitchener, and at his instance, a Mohammedan college was founded, known as Gordon College, and more recently another Mohammedan school was founded at Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa.

This latter institution was opened with considerable ceremony under the auspices of the acting-governor, Major Nathan, and of it the New York Sun says editorially:–


‘“The ceremony began with a prayer in Arabic offered up by the Imaum of the mosque, Alfa Omaru, who afterward gave a short account of the efforts to promote education made by the Sierra Leone Moslems.
He referred to the years 1839 and 1841, when the Mohammedan religion was considered as a danger to the colony, when Moslems were persecuted and their mosques pulled down by excited mobs.


Thanks, however, to an enlightened policy, matters were set right, and for more than fifty years the Moslems have enjoyed full toleration and the protection of the British Government. In 1872 the festival of the Lesser Bairam had been attended by the governor, Sir John Pope Henessy, with a military escort, and in 1879 another governor, Sir Samuel Rowe, had entertained seven hundred Moslems at Government House on the occasion of the Bairam Festival of that year. In 1891 Governor Hay handed over a fine property with commodious buildings to the Moslem community for educational purposes, accompanied by a grant for the payment of the teachers. These successive events were important epochs in the history of Islamism in West Africa, and the Imaum looked forward to the day when the present elementary school would become the stepping-stone to a college.”

.  .  .


‘“The news of the official encouragement given to the Mohammedan religion and the culture of its sacred language, Arabic, will in a very short time spread from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, and the wisdom of the policy that dictated it will be justified by the resulting spread of British influence among the Moslem populations of North Africa. In all probability it will lead to a corresponding rivalry on the part of the French, whose hold on the Arabs of Algeria is none too strong, owing to mistakes in policy and the want of character of many of those appointed to office.

 ‘“The next [twentieth] century no doubt has many surprises in store; but whatever they may be, not the least strange will be the spectacle of the two Western nations that led in the crusades promoting, for political and territorial reasons, the creed they then tried to crush.”’



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