River War & WS Churchill’s Perspective of Islam


Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins – Greg_L-W.




The following quote of the young Winston Spencer Churchill appeared in the first edition of The River War published in 1899 but was removed from subsequent editions. About 15 years ago I had the good fortune to own a first edition, which I should have kept having looked up the prices of current copies for sale today!


The quote appeared around page 250 in the second volume.


Whilst on the subject may I commend the first edition; if you can afford it, as they vary from around $400 to $12,000 on AbeBooks; it is infinitely more interesting to read, having more illustrations and maps, and being in a format far easier to read than the modern versions, which are available on Amazon for around £2.50!


I first reproduced it on the internet in about 1998, as I felt it conveyed some of the ambiguity of views on followers of Islam. Having lived in both the Middle East and Pakistan and spent time in both Malasia and Indonesia I have always found Islam of interest.

May I stress that having no belief in any of the gods mankind have invented, mostly in the Bronze Age or before and seeing religion as such as one of the very most evil concepts mankind has chosen to inflict on himself and others ‘interesting’ is a view I hold of all major religions and belief constructs.

What seems to be overlooked about this comment of the young Winston Churchill’s is that at the time he made it he was involved in The River War and part of the limited British forces who were seeking to control the Islamic forces of The Kalifa having fought in the battles of Atbara & Omdurman in the recovery of the Sudan.


The young Churchill had every reason to respect the Muslims whom he had fought alongside yet was aware of the ferocious reputation and nature of the Dervish.

As a result there were even fears amongst his family that Churchill might, at the time, convert to Islam.

Much like the memorable and erudite speech of Enoch Powell, infamously misquoted and deliberately misinterpreted Winston Churchill’s comments have also been deliberately misquoted and infamously misinterpreted by the likes of the BNP – and the same racist forces that abused Enoch Powell’s speech!

In context and at the time made there is no doubt that neither Winston Churchill nor Enoch Powell made their statements with any racist connotation despite the efforts of subsequent mischief makers!

Consider just how different Winston Chruechill’s statement sounds when the section:

‘Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die;’
is removed from those who aim to quote Churchill and promote an anti Muslim spin to his comments!


How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity.

The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.

Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

It is always worth tracing a quotation to its origins to avoid being duped!



Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins

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