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Islam and the Modern World – Marmaduke Pickthall pdf

📘 Book Title Islam And The Modern World
👤 Book AuthorGeoffrey P. Nash
🖨️ Total Pages268
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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Islam and the Modern World


Geoffrey P. Nash

The present volume, a commissioned collection of essays from specialists in the field of British Muslim studies, was originally intended as a commemoration of two of the important anniversaries connected to one of its outstanding figures – Marmaduke Pickthall. 2016 marks the eightieth anniversary of his death and the thirtieth since the publication of Peter Clark’s groundbreaking study: Marmaduke Pickthall: British Muslim. The present volume owes much to this biography’s pioneering scholarship.

While not serving as a blueprint its divisions – the arrival of a writer, Pickthall and Turkey, Pickthall and Islam, servant of Islam, Quran translator, writer of fiction – could not but exert a salient influence over the topics addressed in these pages. Peter Clark’s work also includes a bibliography of Pickthall’s writings that has proved invaluable to later scholars.

As we have seen in his “Foreword” to the present volume, his work was preceded by Anne Fremantle’s pioneer biography of Pickthall, a tome that remains a mine of information for Pickthall scholars. This is especially the case given that he left behind him no personal papers.

However, the broader topic of Pickthall’s place among British Muslims of the early twentieth century had to wait until Jamie Gilham’s masterful Loyal Enemies: British Converts to Islam, 1850–1950 was published in 2014. Gilham’s study confirms that Pickthall’s exploits did not occur in a vacuum.

For a long time, he was an obscure figure known chiefly as an English translator of the Quran. Gilham focuses on the Muslim community which he joined as a convert during the First World War quickly becoming an important representative of a new form of “British” Islam.

 Nowadays he is increasingly in the spotlight along with such contemporaries in the British Muslim community as Abdullah Quilliam, Lord Headley, Lady Evelyn Cobbold, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

Pickthall’s putative status as a “loyal enemy” in relation to British foreign policy in the Muslim world, and his mission in the field of political journalism as a passionate advocate of Turkey has received a lot of attention too. However, there is still a great deal more to say about him. This volume, therefore, has two main focuses.

 Firstly, there is Pickthall himself, a standout Muslim convert, and the factors behind his conversion to Islam, how they were inflected by his personality, background and the context of the period in which he lived.

Second, but equally important is Pickthall’s broader significance as a Muslim in the world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries, variously designated as the period of late colonialism, the modern liberal age, or a turning point in the long engagement between the Islamicate world and Western Christendom/the secular West.

Pickthall was born in Suffolk in 1875; aged five on the death of his clergyman father he moved with his family to London. After Harrow, he attempted unsuccessfully to pass the Foreign Office exam. Still under eighteen, seeking a consular job in Palestine, he travelled to Egypt and Jerusalem with introductions to European residents and missionaries who he was shocked by donning Arab clothing and travelling around Palestine with local guides. His partially fictionalised account of this adventure, Oriental Encounters, was published in 1918.

In Damascus, he was tempted to convert to Islam but returned to England and married Muriel Smith in September 1896. Adopting a writing career, Pickthall’s most successful piece of oriental fiction Said the Fisherman was published by Methuen in 1903; The House of Islam (1906) and Children of the Nile (1908) followed.

The same year the latter was published Pickthall welcomed the Young Turk revolution and when the Balkan Wars broke out in 1912 he embarked upon a journalistic crusade on Turkey’s behalf that led to a four-month sojourn in Istanbul in the spring of 1913.

The Turk in War Time appeared on the eve of the outbreak of the Great War, during which Pickthall maintained his pro-Turk position by calling for a separate peace with Turkey.

Also during this period, he drew ever closer to faith in Islam eventually making a public declaration of this in November 1917.

He now entered the London and Woking Muslim community, acting as Imam and preaching Friday sermons. After the war, he continued to invest in Muslim causes and was invited by leaders of the Khilafat movement to come to India and edit the Bombay Chronicle.

He arrived there in 1920 and continued the paper’s nationalist position; collaborating with Gandhi he addressed large meetings and played his part in what has been described as the largest Muslim-Hindu agitation against British rule since the 1857 Mutiny.

When the newspaper lost a government-instigated court case and received a huge fine Pickthall resigned, but he soon found employment as an educator and later editor of the journal Islamic Culture in the “native” state of Hyderabad ruled by the Muslim Nizam.

Under the prince’s patronage, he found time to complete a groundbreaking English translation of the Quran, published in 1930.

Pickthall retired from service in Hyderabad in 1935, returned to England, and died the following year. He is buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood, Surrey.

This volume probes different facets of Pickthall’s life, personality and career, and in addition places him with respect to his own time. It was as a fiction writer, who between 1900 and 1922 wrote three volumes of short stories, fourteen

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