‘A Kind of Christianity’?1
This introductory chapter discusses how, despite the common origins of Islam and Christianity, Islam has long been misunderstood and misrepresented in Western societies, particularly over such matters as women, polygamy, sex, sexuality, slavery and jihad. Westerners today are largely unaware that Islam is a relatively egalitarian religion which does not endorse differences of birth, caste, wealth or race. In fact, it denounces privilege as un-Islamic, though this has not prevented the emergence of elites and aristocracies over time. Converts often find the egalitarianism a refreshing change. In this spirit, a number of Muslim states have, in modern times, adopted policies of socialist Islamism. For the British, it has always proved difficult to get the institution of slavery into its true perspective. They have tended to close their minds to the fact that for a long time the British profited enormously from the slave trade, preferring to emphasise the later campaigns against the trade and the efforts made to eradicate it in the Muslim parts of Africa during the Victorian period.
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