Islam In Africa J Du Plessis 1909
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GOVERNMENT AND

ISLAM IN

AFRICA

The

attitude of Christian governments towards

the

ancient

religions professed by nations under their

rule,

and

in particular towards Islam, is one of the most dif

ficult

and

delicate problems of colonial politics.

The

question

came up for consideration by Commission

VII

(Missions

and Governments) of the Edinburgh Con

ference

in

1910, but the matter was not fully debated,

and

attitude,

one academic and the other practicaL

The

academic

cause was the more careful and

systematic

study

of the life and writings of Mohammed

undertaken

by

enthusiastic students of the new science of "Compara

tive

Religion."

The practical cause was

the acquisition

of

Moslem territory by Christian powers, which cast

upon

the

latter the responsibility of governing their

new

subjects

in justice and equity, and compelled them to ex

change

their traditional

antagonism for a

conciliatory

and

protective

attitude.

Leaving

out of account the epoch-making

lecture

of Carlyle,

delivered in 1840, on "The Hero as

Prophet"

(Mohammed),

the earliest writer to set a current of pub

lic

opinion

favourable to Islam was R. Bosworth

Smith,

who

in 1874 lectured before the Royal Institution on Mohammed

and

Mohammedanism. When his papers ap

peared

in

book form* an admirer said of them : "We

are

very

much mistaken if this work does not form an im

portant

starting-point

on the road to a more tolerant

if

not sympatheticview, among popular readers,

of

the chief religion of the

Oriental world."

Bosworth

Smith

was followed by Dr. E. W. Blyden, a Negro,

whose

magazine

articles, republished in 1887 under the

title

"Christianity,

Islam and the Negro Race,"

institute a

comparison between

Christianity and

Mohammedanism,

very

much in favor of the latter, in their influence

upon

the native

African. Coming from a learned and elo

quent

Negro,

who had enjoyed a wide experience of edu

cational

and

administrative work in West Africa,

this

book

made a profound impression, and echoes of

its

main

tenets are found in the pages of many

later writers.

The

refrain of panegyric was taken up by Winwood

Reade,*

the traveller. Canon Isaac Taylor,' the philo

logist,

Joseph

Thomson,' the explorer, C. D. Morel,*

the

publicist,

and C. H. Becker,* professor in the

Kolonial-

*

Mohammed and Mohammedanism: Lectures delivered at the Royal

Insitution of

Great

Britain by R. Bosworth Smith, M. A., Assistant Master in Harrow School

(London,

1874>.

*

Savage Africa (1864), The African Sketchbook (1873), and The Martyrdom of

Man

(XVII

Ed.

1903).

'Leaves from

an Egyptian Notebook (1888), and letters to the Times on "Islam

in

Africa."

'

"Mohemmedanism in Central Africa" in the Contemporary Review (Dec.

1886).

'Affairs

of West Africa (1902) pp. 208

seq.

•"fst der Islam

eine Gefahr fur unsere Kolenien?" in Koloniale Rundschov,

1909, pp.

266

the finding of the

Commission, so far as the British Gov

ernment

was

concerned, took the following,

somewhat

too

deferential, form : "It is not singular that, in the ef

fort

to

give to Mohammedanism the outward respect

due

to

it in a region peopled by its

adherents, the British

officials

should sometimes 'lean over backward.'

But

the

Commission is of the opinion that in Egypt,

the

Sudan

and Northern Nigeria the restrictions deliber

ately

laid

upon Christian mission work and the

deference

paid

to Islam are excessive, and that a respectful remon

strance

should be

made to the British Government

on

the

subject."' Whether or no the "respectful remon

strance"

was

presented I do not know, and whether

or

no

the Government vouchsafed any reply or

attempted

any

vindication of its action I cannot say; but this

much

is

certain, that though nearly ten years have

elapsed

since the

adoption of the above mentioned

resolution,

matters

remain very much in statu quo ante, and col

onial

governments

still assume the right to inhibit Chris

tian

missions

from entering certain spheres, and in par

ticular

from

prosecuting missionary operations in Is

lamic

territory.

How this policy of control and restric

tion

arose,

what it implies, and why Christian mission

aries

call

for its reconsideration and reversal, it will

be

my

endeavor in this article to

show.

'

Report of World Missionary Conference, Vol. VII, p.

113.

2

GOVERNMENT AND

ISLAM IN AFRICA

3

I.

In

former centuries the attitude of Europeans gen

erally

towards Islam

was one of

unqualified antagonism.

It

was the heritage of the long-drawn

struggle of the

Crusades,

and a reflection of the anxiety and

terror of

the

time when Moorish armies overran the

Iberian

peninsula

and the 'infidel Turk' knocked at

the gates of

Vienna. In

those ages it would have

been accounted

treason for

any man to utter a word of appreciation

of

the

character of Mohammed or of the religion which

he

founded.

The temper of the time can be

gauged by

the

contemptuous language of Sir Thomas Herbert,' who

travelled

in Asia in the early years of the

seventeenth

century,

or it may be illustrated by the following quota

tion

from

Hugh Broughton (t 161 2) : "Now

consider

this

Moamed or Machumed, whom God gave up to

a

blind

mind, being a poor man till he married a

widow;

wealthy

then and of high countenance, having the fall

ing

sickness

and being tormented by the devil,

whereby

the

widow was sorry that she had matched

with him.

He

persuaded her, by himself and others, that his

fits

were

but a trance wherein he talked with the angel Ga

briel.

So, in

time, the impostor was reputed a

prophet

of

God, and from Judaism, Arius, Nestorius and his

own

brain

he frameth

a doctrine."*

During

the past half century, however, the

general

attitude

towards Islam has undergone a

momentous

change,

and public opinion, even in distinctively Chris

tian

circles,

is fast veering round to the

opposite extreme.

Forgetful

of Dr. Joseph Parker's warningspoken

as

jest,

but meant in dead earnest"There are compara

tive

religions,

but Christianity is not one of

them,"

many

modern writers have covered Mohammed's

career

and

character with a halo of glory, and lauded his re

ligious

and

ethical system as not merely equal but super

ior

to

Christianity in its adaptation to the needs of unciv

ilized

and

semi-civilized races and communities.

Two

causes,

among others, have brought about this change

of

'Some

Years Travels into Africa and Asia the Great (III Ed. 1677) pp. 320

seq.

Quoted in Zwemer's Islam, p.

40.

leq.

266

leq.

GOVERNMENT AND

ISLAM IN AFRICA

5

institut at

Hamburg. A single quotation will

suffice to

show

the attitude of this school of writers. Winwood

Reade

in his "Savage Africa" speaks as follows:

"The

(African) continent

is being civilized; the Africans

are

being

converted by means of a Religion. It is the

same

religion

which under different names and forms has

civilized

the

Hebrews through Moses and the

Western

world

through Jesus Christ . . . Mohammed a ser

vant

of

God, redeemed the Eastern world. His

followers

are

redeeming Africa" (p. 578) . "Let us judge things

by

their

results. It saves argument. The

African pagans

and

the African Mohammedans may be seen side

by

side

on the same riverthe Casemanche. The first

are

drunkards, gamblers,

swine; as diseased in body as de

based

in

mind. The latter

are practical Christians.

They

are sober; truthful; constant in their

devotions;

strictly

honest. They treat kindly those who are

below

them;

they do their duty to their neighbours" (p.

584).

It

is but just, however, towards both

Bosworth Smith and

Joseph

Thomson to state that they repudiated the conclu

sions

which some

critics drew from their language,

as

though

Islam were a religion superior to

Christianity,

and

maintained their belief that Christianity as a

creed

was

"far more elevating, far more majestic, far more in

spiring"

than

its rival. "If then," says Bosworth

Smith,

"we

believe Christianity to be truer and purer in

itself

than

Islam, and than any other religion, we must

needs

wish

others to be partakers of it; and the effort to propa

gate

it is

thrice blessedit blesses him that offers no

less

than

him that accepts it, nay, it often blesses him who

accepts

it

not."

Turn

we now from the academical to

the practical

school.

The growth of the spirit of toleration

towards

Islam can be

studied in the utterances and policy

of the

series

of able administrators whom Great Britain

sent

out

to Egypt during the last quarter of the

nineteenth

century.

General Gordon was undoubtedly a most sin

cere

if

somewhat peculiar Christian, and

his relations

with

the Moslems over whom he ruled are there

fore

of

the greatest interest. Writing to his sister

from

6

THE MOSLEM

WORLD

Rageef

(Redjaf) on the Upper Nile in 1874 ^^ says:

"I

have

made them make a mosque and keep their Ramad

han,

which

they never paid any attention to before

I

came."

"

And three years later he writes from Dara

:

"When

the Egyptians seized the country they took

the

mosque

here for a powder-magazine. I had it

cleared

out

and restored for worship, and endowed the

priests

and

crier, and had a great ceremony at the opening

of

of

it. This is a great coup. They blessed me and

cursed

Sebehr Pasha

who took the mosque from them.

To me

it

appears that the Mussulman worships God as well

as

I

do, and is as acceptable, if sincere, as any

Christian.""

Lord

Cromer, the greatest of Egyptian proconsuls,

uses

the

following language in describing the ideal adminis

trator:

"He

will find that he has not, as in India, to

deal

with

a body of Moslems, numerically strong, but

whose

power

of cohesion is enfeebled from their being

scattered

broadcast

amongst a population five times as

numerous

as

themselves, who hold another and more

tolerant creed.

He

will have to deal with a smaller but more

compact

body

of Moslems, who are more subject to

the influences

of their spiritual

leaders than their co-religionists

in

India.

He will do his best under the circumstances.

He

will

scrupulously abstain from interference in

religious

matters.

He will be eager to explain that

proselytism

forms

no part of his political programme. He

will

scrupulously

respect all Moslem observances. He

will

generally,

amidst some twinges of his Sabbatarian con

science,

observe

Friday as a holiday, and perform

the

work

of the Egyptian Government

on Sunday.""

On

all fours with the policy of the British Govern

ment

in

Egypt and the Eastern Sudan was that

pursued

in

the Western Sudan. When a British protectorate

was

established

in 1903 over the Mohammedan emirates

of

Kano

and Sokoto, the High Commissioner of

Northern

Nigeria

(Sir Frederick Lugard) declared

inter alia:

"Government

will in no way interfere with the

Moham-

»G.

Birkbeck Hill: Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, 1874-1879 (London,

1881)

p.

54.

"

Ibid. p.

248.

»*I,ord

Cromer: Modem Egypt (London, 1908) Vol. II,

pp. 141-2.

GOVERNMENT AND

ISLAM IN AFRICA

7

medan

religion. All men are free to worship God

as

they

please. Mosques and prayer-places will be

treated

with

respect by us."" That was the policy. Back of

it

lay the

same spirit of toleration and approbation

which

we

observed in the Egyptian administration.

Captain

C.

W. J. Orr, one of Sir F. Lugard's ablest

subordinates,

voices

it in these words : "The religion of Islam, wher

ever

it

prevails, whether at the courts of

Constantinople,

Delhi

or Morocco, or in the less ostentatious govern

ments

of

West Africa, is uniform, both in its practice

and

in

its influences on the minds of men. The 'dead

hand

of

Islam' is sometimes spoken of, as if the religion

were

a

blight which withered all progress amongst

the nations

who

profess it, though the Arabs in Spain held aloft the

torch

of civilization at a time when the rest of

Europe

was

wrapped in darkness. But even if it be

true that

Islam

lays a dead hand on a people who have

reached

a

certain standard of civilization, it is impossible

to

deny

its quickening influence on African races in a back

ward

state

of evolution. Amongst the pagan

tribes of

Northern Nigeria

it is making its converts every

day,

sweeping

away drunkenness, cannibalism and

fetishism;

mosques and

markets spring into existence, and the

pagan

loses

his exclusiveness, and learns to mingle with his fel

lowmen.

To

the Negro Islam is not sterile or

lifeless.

The

dead hand is not for

him.""

11.

Such

in brief compass is the history of the

gradual

spread

of the spirit of toleration towards the creed

and

practices

of Islam. In so far as this change

of attitude

has

resulted in a more just estimate of the character

of

Mohammed,

and a more ungrudging recognition of the

measure

of truth and virtue that is found in Mohammed

anism,

there

is little need to cavil at it. But the advo

cates

of

Islam do not claim toleration for the

followers

of the

Prophet of Mecca in the sense of relief from

perse-,

cution.

I know of no Christian government

that perse-

"Lady



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ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
Rome
Salt of the Earth by Phil Johnson
Salvation History, Chronology, and Crisis: A Problem with Inclusivist Theology of Religions, Part 2
SAMUEL, SAUL, AND DAVID DR. G. WEIL,
Sanctified Sex Before Marriage
Schism And the Local Church Michael G Brown
Scholasticism and its contemporaries
Semon Video:Suffering Glorifies God Pastor John Piper
Sermon Links
Sermon on Hebrews chapter 1 by Thomas Goodwin
Sermon Vide:The Life of George Whitefield by Pastor Piper
Sermon Video (Boasting In The Cross)Pastor J Piper
Sermon Video (The Free Wiil of The Wind) Pastor J Piper
Sermon Video :Abortion by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video :Behold The Lamb of God Pastor Piper
Sermon Video :Love by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video :No one ever spoke like this man Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video :Staying Married Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video :The Lord's Supper Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video :The Supremacy of Christ Pastor Piper
Sermon Video :The Value of The Bible Pastor Piper
Sermon Video :Was This Child Born Blind?Pastor J Piper
Sermon Video 1 When The Righteous Suffer J Piper
Sermon video 2 When The Righteous Suffer p2 J Piper
Sermon Video Resting and Wrestling Pastor John
Sermon Video: Judas Iscariot by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:All Things Were Created Through Him Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Being Single Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Don't Waste Your Life Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Feed The Flame of Gods Gift by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:For Judgement I came Into This World Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:He Knew What Was In Man Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:How God Word's Produces Are Work John Piper
Sermon Video:Jesus Christ In Romans Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Lionhearted Pastor John Piper
Sermon video:Marriage Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Marriage Pursuing Conformity to christ Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Pray Like This by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Racial Diversity Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:The Light of The World Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:The Obedience of Faith Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:The Recession Pastor J Piper
Sermon Video:The Truth Will Set You Free Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:We Found The Messiah Pastor J Piper
Shared Intentions? Reflections on Inspiration and Interpretation in Light of Scripture's Dual Author
Sin and God's Gift Dr J Gresham Machen
SOLOMON AND THE QUEEN OF SABA DR. G. WEIL,
Spanish Theology Video ,La Perspectiva Circunstancial:Revelacion y Situación
Spanish Theology VideoLa Perspectiva Normativa: Dios y Su Palabra
St Anselm R C Sproul
St Cyprian Epistle 1
Strange Fire by A W Pink
Studies In Acts Group
Studies In Matthew Group
Studies in Popular Islam Dr Samuel Zwemer
Suffering And Consolation Rev C H Spurgeon
Sufferring Christians by A W Pink
Systematic Theology DR Cheung
Testament Hebrew Lexicon
That the Scriptures Might Be Fulfilled Piper
The Atonement by Dr J Gresham Machen
The Attributes of God by A W Pink
The Bands of Brotherhood Dr R C Sproul
The Bible and Modern Criticism by Professor F Bettex
The Bible Is The Word Of God A W Pink
The Book of Daniel Professor Joseph Wilson
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
The Cambridge 7
The Center of Biblical Theology in Acts: Deliverance and Damnation Display the Divine
The Children's crusade DR R C Sproul Jr
The Christian Faith DR Geerhardos Vos
The Christian in Complete Armour;William Gurnall, M.A.,
The Consecrated Life:The Life and Times of Francis Ridley Havergal by J J Burns
The Conversion of Dr Martin Luther
The Covenant Way Susan Hunt
The Cross by J C Ryle
The Cross John Newton 1725-1807
The Cross: A Call To The Fundamentals Of Religion J C Ryle
The Cup of Wrath Andrew Bonar
The Dangers of Mixing Law and Gospel Jason Stellman
The Dazzling Darkness of God’s Triune Love: Introducing Evangelicals to the Theology of Hans Urs von
The Death and Resurrection of Christ W. H. Griffith Thomas
The Death of Pride
The Deity of Christ & the Church Robert Peterson
The Divine Refuge Rev Charles Spurgeon
The Doctrinal Value of The First Chapters of Genesis Rev Dyson Hague
The Doctrinal Value of The First Chapters of Genesis Rev Dyson Hague
The Duties of Parents by Bishop J C Ryle
The Early Narratives of Genesis Professor James Orr
The End of Soap Oprah Dr Carl Trueman
The Excellence of Christ by Jonathan Edwards
The Faithful Promiser John MacDuff
The Fallacies of the Higher Criticism by Professor Franklin Johnson
The Fiture of Justification John Piper Book Review
The Fool's Creed DR Torrey
The Genesis of the New Faith Charles Cutler Torrey
The German Reformation part 1 DR Philip Schaff
The German Reformation part 2 Dr Philip Schaff
The Glory of God In Preaching Darrell W. Johnson
The Glory of The Cross Part 1 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 10 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 2 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross Part 3 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross Part 4 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 5 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 6 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 7 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of the Cross part 8 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 9 Samuel Zwemer
The Goodness of The Law DR R C Sproul
The Gospel and the Poor Tim Keller
The Gospel of John A W Pink
The Gospel of John Set Free: Preaching without Anti-Judaism.
The Grace of Cheerful Giving Frank Cavalli
The Heart of The Gospel DR A T Pierson
The Historical Basis Of The Historical Faith by DR James Denney
The History of Justification by faith James Buchanan
The History of The Higher Criticism by Canon Dyson Hague
The Holy Spirit A W Pink
The Holy Spirit Rev C H Spurgeon
The Idea of Biblical Theology DR Geerhardus Vos
The Importance of Christian Scholarship Dr J G Machen
The Importance of Prayer DR A Torrey
THE IMPROVEMENT OF AFFLICTION Robert Murray McCheyne
The Internal Evidence For The Fourth Gospel Canon G Osborne
The Jewish World In The Days Of Christ Dr Edersheim
The Kingdom of God DR Geerhardus Vos
The Koran H A R Gibb
THE LAW OF APOSTASY IN ISLAM Dr Samuel Zwemer
The Life of Adoniran Judson
The Life of Dr Martin Luther part 1 by Philip Melanchon
The Life of Dr Martin Luther part 2 by Philip Melancthon
The Life of Elijah by A W Pink
The Life of Faith A W Pink
The Life of John Bunyan
The Life of King David A W Pink
The Life of King David part 2 A W Pink
The Life Of Matthew Henry
The Life of Stephen Charnock by William Symington
The Magic Bullet Sebastian Heck
The Mohammedan Controversy (1897) Dr Samuel Zwemer
The Mosaic Authorship by Professor George Wright
THE MOSLEM DOCTRINE OF GOD Dr Samuel Zwemer
The Most Important Question DR Torrey
The Need For Revival Dr A Torrey
The New Life Andrew Murray
The Oppresion of Man Thomas Manton
The Origin of Paul's Religion by Dr J G Machen
The Origin of the 'ID AL-ADHA Dr Richard Bell
The Origins of The Qur'an Rev W Goldsack
The Pastor and the Funeral by Harry Reeder
The Peace that Passes R.C. Sproul Jr.
The Persecution of the Church by Dr Philip Schaff
The Person of Christ Dr John Owen
The Place of Christ In The New Testament by Dr James Denney
The Pleasures of God video 4 Pastor John Piper
The Pleasures of God Video 1 John Piper
The Pleasures of God Video 2 Pastor John Piper
The Pleasures of God video 3 Pastor John Piper
The Pleasures of God video 5 Pastor John Piper
The Power of Prayer Andrew Murray
The Power of The Word Of God R A Torrey
The Precious Gift of Baby Talk John Piper
The Rainbow In The Clouds John MacDuff
The Reformation by Dr Philip Schaff
The Refutatation of Dispensationalism by A W Pink
The Resurrection of Christ Dr J G Machen
The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ John Calvin
The Secret of Blessing DR R A Torrey
The Secret of Blessing DR R A Torrey
The Soul-Shaping Reality of the Gospel: An Interview with David Wells
The Spirit of Rebellion R C Sproul jr
The Study Bible developed and located around the world!
The Tabernacle In The Wilderness by Professor David Heagle
The Testimony of Christ To The Old Testement William Cavan DD
The Theology of John Calvin by DR Philip Schaff
The Theology of Romans by Dr Charles Hodge
The Things of God R.C. Sproul
The Triune God: Good, Beautiful, and True Harry Reeder
The Unholy Pursuit of God in Moby Dick Dr R C Sproul
The Vanity of the world Rev John Newton
The Victory Parade We Don't deserve R C Sproul Jr
The Way of Holiness Jonathan Edwards
The Way The World Thinks DR A Mohler
The Westminster Assembly Project Chad Dixhoorn
The Will of God In Prayer DR A Torrey
The Witness of Paul by Dr J G Machen
The Word Of God B B Warfield
The Work Of The Holy Spirit Dr A Kuyper
The Works Flavius Josephus
The Year in Books Keith Mathison
Theological Articles
Theology in the time of Charlemagne
This Isn’t Going to Be As Easy As It Looks by Keith Mathison
Time to (Re)Discover Hebrews Sinclair Ferguson
To Be Deep in History Keith Mathison
Truly Reformed Theology Burk Parsons
Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books by Hugo Grotius. Corrected and Illustrated with Notes b
Two Thumbs Down by R.C. Sproul Jr.
United in the (whole) Truth Burk Parsons
Unqualified Christians Burk Parsons
'Uthman and the Recension of the Koran Leon Caetani
Vehicles for Giving the Self: An Interview with Michael Card
Video on the Prosperity gospel John Piper
Video:The Prosperity gospel Pastor John Piper
Video:The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World Dr D. A .Carson
VINCENT'S NT WORD STUDIES
Walking With God George Whitefield
Water of Life John Bunyan
Way to Christ Boehme, Jakob (1575-1624)
We Believe the Bible and You Do Not Keith Mathison
Western Seminary Missions Conference
What is Christianity? Dr J G Machen
What makes the Apostles Creed so special? By Simon Peter Sutherland
When To Pray Dr A Torrey
Who Belongs To The Church? by John Calvin
Who Is My Brother Dr R C Sproul jr
Why Jesus Christ Died Rev T .T. Shields Famous Canadian Preacher
With Passion R C Sproul jr
Work of Jesus Christ John Bunyan
Writing Fo God 's Glory Burk Parson
Young Women,Idolatry and The Powerful Gospel Elyse
神的意思原是好的