SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, credited with leading his nation and the Allies to victory against Nazi Germany during World War II, wanted to convert to Islam and family members had to beg for him not to do so, according to various news reports.
The reports have surfaced after a letter written by Churchill’s sister-in-law Lady Gwendoline was discovered a history research fellow at Cambridge University, points out a report in The Independent. Lady Gwendoline Bertie was married to Churchill’s brother as this report in The Telegraph notes and she wrote the letter in 1907 before she got married to Churchill’s brother.
The contents of her letter go like this, “Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalise [fascination with the Orient and Islam], Pasha-like tendencies, I really have…If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it.”
Apparently in another letter to Lady Lytton, Churchill also referred to himself as a ‘pasha’ and wished he were one. The report in The Independent points out that “he even took to dressing in Arab clothes in private.”
So did Churchill really consider conversion or was his future sister-in-law over-reacting? According to the researcher Warren Dockter, while the British leader had a fascination for the Islamic culture, he “never seriously considered converting.”
“He was more or less an atheist by this time anyway,” Dockter told The Independent on Churchill’s spiritual leanings.
No doubt though, his fascination with Islam was such that during the war, he put aside £100,000 for the purpose of a Mosque in central London in the “hope of winning the support of Muslim countries in the war”, adds the report in The Independent.
Dockter told The Telegraph that Churchill’s view of Islamic culture “were an often paradoxical and complex combination of imperialist perceptions composed of typical orientalist ideals fused with the respect, understanding and magnanimity he had gained from his experiences in his early military career.”
But while there might have been some admiration for the religion, the former UK Prime Minister was unabashedly critical of Islamic laws. So his sister-in-law might just have over-reacted a bit to Churchill’s personal fascination with Islamic culture.