Wilfred Scawen Blunt and his Ideas on the Future of Islam


  • Syed Munir Wasti


Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, like many aristocratic Englishmen in the age of Empire in the late 19th century, took an interest in the Muslim populations of the colonies being governed by Britain. As a prolific writer and poet, his approach differs from his contemporaries in being, on the whole, genuinely sympathetic to Islam. In his book ‘The Future of Islam’ he shows how important the power of Islam in coming centuries is likely to be, and touches upon many important topics, such as the growing spread of Islam in the world and possible adjustments to the Caliphate. He would like to see the formation of a friendly association between Great Britain and the Muslims of the world in the political interests of Britain. Inevitably, many of his predictions and wishes did not materialize in the 20th century. Wilfred Scawen Blunt [1840-1922] was an English gentleman who followed the leisurely pursuits available to affluent members of Victorian society, i.e., travelling and poetry. His travels in the Middle East made a powerful impression on his intellectual and emotional sensibilities. As E.M. Forster wrote in his essay on Blunt, he ‘was drawn to Islam, and at one time thought of professing it.’1 He was, no doubt, in sympathy with the subjugated peoples of the Middle East and with the Indians of South Asia who were groaning under the colonial yoke. Further in the essay, Forster writes, ‘Egyptians found him too proTurkish and Indians too anti-British.’2 This attitude was unique for a stolid Englishman of the time of the ‘highnoon of Empire’. Blunt feared the advance of European powers in Oriental lands. Forster further writes: ‘His detachment is amazing. He dreaded a war because it must involve Asia and Africa, and complete the enslavement of the conservative Oriental nations, whom he loved and who loved him……