Sharkey on why some identified Western Imperialism with Missionaries

“Thus, under the aegis of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Western imperialism, missionaries were able to do what had once been unthinkable in Islamic state domains: to attempt openly to convert Muslims to Christianity.” (p 99)

Sharkey, Heather J. 'Arabic Antimissionary Treatises: Muslim Responses to Christian Evangelism in the Modern Middle East' in the International Bulletin for Missionary Research, Vol 28:3, July 2004, pp 98-104.


Don said…
One other factor is that, in the Ottoman Empire, Western powers had extraterritorial rights, rights which were related to religious matters (the Crimean War started over who would be the protector of the holy places in Palestine.)

Because of the nature of Islam, Muslims are quick to pick up on a connection between secular power and religion.

The extraterritorial rights in China also worked against missionaries there. One reason why Chinese Christianity has grown since the People's Republic was established 60 years ago next month is because the Westerners were given the boot, which left the evangelisation of China to the Chinese and the Holy Spirit.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Don,

Yes, you are quite right. The special protection afforded under the so-called 'capitulations' afforded Westerners a great deal of leeway and feeedoms that others did not receive.

And yes, Muslims tend to pick up on links between religion and politics, even when they don't exist.

I do not think China is a good comparison to dar al islam. Chinese religions had no prereflective bias against Christianity as is present in many forms of Islam.
Don said…
My only point in bringing up China is that extraterriorial rights lead to resentment in the local population, which it certainly did in both places.

I wouldn't expect the same result in the Muslim world if foreign missionaries--Western and otherwise--were given the boot, unless a) the local Christian population had reached a critical mass to continue the work and b) the society in question had been destabilised to some degree. Actually, to some extent the latter happened in China, only the destabilisation has been internally generated (the Cultural Revolution, followed by the economic growth since the 1970's.)
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Don,

Then yes, we are in agreement. As usual, you have good insights into the dynamics of world mission, which one can't understand without understanding the political dynamics of things like the Opium War and the capitulations and so on.

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