The British Empire and the Muslim World
This chapter concentrates on the British Empire and Islam. By the 1920s, the British Empire embraced substantially more than half the Muslim peoples of the world. For much of the 20th century, Britain was the greatest influence over their development. The British Empire was the context in which many Muslims experienced the transition to modernity. British policies in the Muslim dependencies shaped their political development. Muslim attitudes to the British varied according to their particular Islamic understandings and to their particular experience of British rule. Overall strategies of the British Empire helped to shape much of the state system of the modern Muslim world, and left key issues to bedevil subsequent development, among them the problem of Palestine, the relationship of the Gulf states to their larger neighbours, and the role of Islam in the identity of modern states from West Africa to Malaya.
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