Great British Islam ~(BBC) looked at the lives of 3 Englishmen from the Victorian era who converted to Islam. These men were Quilliam, Pickthall and Headley. All 3 of these men were from privileged backgrounds, raised as Christians and were shown to be as much a part of their Victorian society as their fellow peers.
The programme focused on the lives of these three men, and went into some detail about their backgrounds, the circumstances of their conversion and life after embracing Islam.
All three men in their adulthood visited or lived in Muslim-dominant countries (Turkey, India, Egypt, Morocco) and converted shortly thereafter. Following their conversions, they were particularly displeased with Victorian Britains foreign policy and the demonisation of Islam and Muslims in their society – particularly Quilliam who had an open allegiance to the Ottoman caliphate (receiving the title of Shaykh-ul-Islam of the British Isles as a result of this).
In an attempt to dispell the stereotypes and myths of Islam, Quilliam began a publishing press and produced the monthly newsletter “The Crescent” which was widely distributed. It contained details of visits to the Islamic Centre (Liverpool) of notable personalities including representative of the Ottoman caliphate and academics speaking on scientific matters and research at the Liverpool Muslim Institute. He and his peers however were still at heads with larger Victorian society.
Pickthall’s greatest achievement was in translating the Quran from Arabic into English and was the first translation of its kind. He too had, like Quilliam, greivances with Britains foreign policy. Pickthall and Quilliam became acquaintances in Woking and frequented the Shah Jahan Mosque.
What is striking about these individuals and the Muslims of today is the disagreement with Britain foreign policy, a matter which people believe to be a contemporary issue and one that is largely voiced by Muslims of minority ethnic backgrounds. This it seems is an old greivance, and one that shows no signs of disippating anytime soon.
This short programme is available on BBC iplayer and most probably Youtube.