Lord Cromer, “Islamic Revival,” and Imam Feisal Rauf

Lord Cromer: “Pan-Islamism almost always connotes an attempt to regenerate Islam on Islamic lines—in other words, to revivify and stereotype in the twentieth century the principles laid down more than a thousand years ago for the guidance of a primitive society that crystallization of the civil, criminal, and canonical law into one immutable whole, which has so largely contributed to arrest the progress of those countries whose populations have embraced the Moslem faith.”

Evelyn Baring, Lord Cromer (1841-1917), served as British Consul-General in Egypt for almost a quarter century, from 1883 to 1907. As noted by the London Telegraph’s Andrew Roberts, in February, 2004,

…despite all the multifarious benefits he bestowed during his time there, he is cordially loathed in Egypt today.

Given past and present sentiments for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt among Egypt’s Muslims (“…the Brotherhood has become the most important representative of the Egyptian masses.”), this contemporary hatred of Lord Cromer is consistent with his adamant opposition to such retrograde “Islamic revivalist” movements. Cromer elucidated his objections to early 20th century “Pan-Islamism” identifying the genuine aims and character of this modern transnational incarnation of jihadism.

Lord Cromer also underscored the impotence of the movement’s select, Western-leaning Muslim opponents, who were compelled to adopt its irredentist message or forfeit popular support from the Muslim masses. Ground Zero mosque purveyor Imam Feisal Rauf represents a particularly odious modern variant on this latter theme. An externally “secularized” contemporary Muslim living within the West, Rauf’s goal, as Ibn Warraq confirms in his brilliant explication at NRO today of Rauf’s double messaging, is to Islamize our uniquely Western institutions.

Lord Cromer’s prescient words, are as relevant to contemporary Islam, as they were to the Islamic movements he described a century ago. We would be wise to heed Cromer’s assessment when contemplating the ultimate aims of “moderate” Imam Feisal Rauf, champion of Sharia.

Pan-Islamism almost necessarily connotes a recrudescence of racial and religious animosity. Many of its adherents are, I do not doubt, inspired by a genuine religious fervor. Others again, whether from indifference verging on agnosticism, or from political and opportunist motives, or—as I trust may sometimes be the case—from having really assimilated modern ideas on the subject of religious toleration, would be willing, were such a course possible, to separate the political from the religious, and even possibly from racial issues. If such are their wishes and intentions, I entertain very little doubt that they will make them impossible of execution. Unless they can convince the Muslim masses of their militant Islamism, they will fail to arrest their attention or to attract their sympathy. Appeals, either overt or covert, to racial and religious passions are thus a necessity of their existence in order to insure the furtherance of their political program.

 

Pan-Islamism almost always connotes an attempt to regenerate Islam on Islamic lines—in other words, to revivify and stereotype in the twentieth century the principles laid down more than a thousand years ago for the guidance of a primitive society. Those principles involve recognition of slavery, laws regulating the relations of the sexes which clash with modern ideas, and, what is perhaps more important than all, that crystallization of the civil, criminal, and canonical law into one immutable whole, which has so largely contributed to arrest the progress of those countries whose populations have embraced the Moslem faith.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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