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Victorian Muslim by Gilham Jamie;Geaves Ron;

Victorian Muslim by Gilham Jamie;Geaves Ron;

Author:Gilham, Jamie;Geaves, Ron; [Gilham, Jamie;Geaves, Ron;]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780190688349
Publisher: OxfordUP
Published: 2017-09-15T00:00:00+00:00


The Shaykh al-Islam assessed

It is not an easy task to assess how successful Quilliam was in performing his role as Shaykh al-Islam between 1894 and 1908. This is primarily because the voices of contemporaneous converts and other Muslims, especially their objective responses to and opinions about Quilliam, are difficult to locate. Their contributions to publications such as the Crescent and Islamic World are important but must be read in the context of Quilliam’s editorial control. Reading between the lines, it does seem that Quilliam was genuinely well respected by most of his fellow converts and other Muslims in Liverpool; this is hardly surprising given Quilliam’s absolute commitment to Islam, the LMI and Muslim welfare. As we have seen, Quilliam personally converted many British converts in this period; but he also visited them—and other Muslims—when they were ill, conducted their weddings, inducted their children and other family members to Islam, and carried out their funerals. To give just one example, Francess Cates (née Murray) was Quilliam’s second convert, aged just nineteen, after she attended his second lecture on Islam, at the Birkenhead Workingmen’s Temperance Association in 1887.69 Quilliam lent her his copy of the Qur’an and ‘wrote a short explanatory treatise for her with reference to the faith’, which he expanded to become his celebrated The Faith of Islam (first published 1889). When she converted, Quilliam gave Francess the Muslim name Fatima, and she became the first LMI treasurer. Quilliam supported her through mental and physical abuse from both her family and members of the public who were aghast that she had converted to Islam. He also encouraged her marriage to Hubert Cates, and oversaw the conversions to Islam of Hubert as well as Fatima’s sister, Clara Murray. Shortly after Hubert’s sudden death in the late 1890s, Fatima’s own health deteriorated and she seldom visited the LMI. Quilliam, however, kept in touch with her. When, in 1900, Fatima caught influenza, which led to acute pneumonia, Quilliam visited her: she was ‘perfectly conscious, and expressed to him her wish to be buried as a Muslim, as she would die in the Faith she had embraced’.70 Quilliam carried out Cates’ last wishes: he conducted her Muslim funeral and became the legal guardian of her son, who was raised as a Muslim.71

While some converts did leave Quilliam, the LMI and Islam in this period,72 the majority, like Cates, remained loyal to their Shaykh and the Institute. Writing in the period just after Quilliam’s departure from Liverpool, John Yehya-en Nasr Parkinson, a vice-president of the LMI, referred to him warmly as ‘my old friend’, while the LMI’s ‘London Correspondent’, Bertram Khalid Sheldrake, noted that ‘He was a charming personality, full of wit and repartee, kind and patient.’73 But we do not know how far these Muslims actually followed Quilliam’s advice as a fellow Muslim or Shaykh al-Islam. We cannot gauge the impact of Quilliam’s fatwas on Muslims in Britain because there is little if any commentary on these from them (we do know that his



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