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William ‘Abdullah’ Quilliam: Modernity and Faith as lived by a Victorian Muslim


William ‘Abdullah’ Quilliam: Modernity and Faith as lived by a Victorian Muslim

Page, Jonathan (2018) William ‘Abdullah’ Quilliam: Modernity and Faith as lived by a Victorian Muslim. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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William ‘Abdullah’ Quilliam, a British convert to Islam, was an oddity to his fellow countrymen and was looked upon with hope and expectation by Muslims around the world who saw his small community of converts as an Islamic outpost in the heart of the British Empire. Many of Quilliam’s countrymen, however, then, as now, understood Islam to represent the antithesis of the modern values which Britain was ostensibly spreading around the globe. Indeed, Muslim societies, it was argued, were undeveloped and required the fruits of modern, Western civilization; Muslims were superstitious, rigidly traditional, and irrational, conditions which could best be remedied by a strong dose of European education. At times, Quilliam’s contemporaries, as well as Quilliam scholars, have depicted him as existing within a framework of resistance, in opposition to this hegemonic, imperialist narrative. But as this thesis demonstrates, through archival research of Quilliam’s periodicals, one of the reasons why he is such a provoking historical figure is that he largely agreed with this ‘European’ account of the state of the world and its peoples. In fact, it was through this worldview that he justified his conversion to Islam and sought to convert others. Quilliam argued that Islam was, at its core, a purely rational, scientific, undogmatic religion. This secular, ‘Victorian reasoning’ for his conversion to Islam problematizes the relationship between modernity and religion. Furthermore, his life demonstrates that, rather than ushering in a secular homogeneity, modernity, like all of history, is messy, resists catchall theories, and defies easy categorization.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Page, Jonathan
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:November 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Jacob, Wilson
ID Code:984866
Deposited On:17 Jun 2019 16:12
Last Modified:17 Jun 2019 16:12
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