Islam in Victorian Liverpool

Islam in Victorian Liverpool

Yusuf Samih Asmay


180 pages / Published: 2021


  • Usually despatched within 24 hours
  • In Stock

ISLAM IN VICTORIAN LIVERPOOL is a unique eyewitness account dating from 1895 of Britain’s first mosque community by an Ottoman intellectual.

It not only brings to life the figure of Abdullah Quilliam (1856–1932), the founder and president of the Liverpool Muslim Institute, but the converts who make up its community and their daily lives and religious practices.

The author sets out to find the truth about Liverpool’s Muslims — who had become famous all over the Muslim world. The book caused great controversy among Liverpool’s Muslims and was later banned by the Ottomans.

The history of Abdullah Quilliam’s activities as the leader of Liverpool Muslim Institute from 1887 to World War One provides a rich laboratory to understand the formative period of modern Islamic thought and the long-lasting geopolitical legacies of the Ottoman and British imperial relationship in shaping contemporary Muslim political identities. Scholars have been fascinated by the extraordinary success of Liverpool’s convert Muslim community and Quilliam's personal charisma in establishing transnational intellectual links with Muslims across the world, the support they received from Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid, and the unprecedented impact they had on contesting the racialization of Islam in the metropole of the British Empire. By translating and publishing an Ottoman-Egyptian intellectual’s critique of this community, Birt, Macnamara and Maksudoğlu shed new light and insight on the global politics of pan-Islamic thought in the high age of imperialism. With great attention to details of personalities, events and conflicts within and around the small Liverpool Muslim Institute, this book provides an excellent example of microhistory that informs, challenges and revises our big narratives of caliphate diplomacy, pan-Islamic solidarity and imperial politics. This annotated translation of Yusuf Samih Asmay’s critical account of “Islam in Victorian Liverpool” is presented with an authoritative scholarly introduction, and should be a required primary text on both graduate and undergraduate courses on imperial Muslim thought and politics.

Cemil Aydin, Professor of Global History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of The Idea of the Muslim World (Harvard University Press, 2017)

A fascinating historical journey through a hitherto unknown account by an Ottoman eyewitness of the early devolvement of a modern British Islam in the late nineteenth century. It triggers the reader’s historical imagination by taking us back in history to look deeply at the Liverpool Muslim Institute through the eyes of Yusuf Samih Asmay in 1890s. It is certainly an enriching historical gateway for specialists and public readers alike.

Umar Ryad, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Faculty of Art, University of Leuven

Through the detailed observations of Ottoman journalist Yusuf Asmay, not only can another layer be added to the multifarious life of Abdullah Quilliam but we discover the intricate political workings within the Ottoman government regarding the activities of the Liverpool Muslim community. This book is a welcome addition for enthusiasts of Late Ottoman studies, Muslims in Victorian Britain and the life of Abdullah Quilliam.

Dr Yakoob Ahmed, Senior Lecturer in Islamic and Ottoman History, Department of Theology, Istanbul University

The rediscovery and translation of Islam in Victorian Liverpool by the Turkish journalist Yusuf Samih Asmay will surely shock the complacent out of too cosy a view of the early beginnings of Islam in Britain as he portrays a community struggling with issues of leadership, structure, financial concerns and the appropriate practices required for a fledgling convert membership in Victorian Liverpool. This is a book that will surely divide opinions.

Ron Geaves, Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of History, Archaeology, and Religion, University of Cardiff, and author of Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam

Translated and annotated with an introduction by Yahya Birt, Riordan Macnamara and Münire Zeyneb Maksudoğlu.


Yusuf Samih Asmay




Yusuf Samih Asmay (d.1942) was an Ottoman intellectual, travel writer and journalist who lived in Cairo. He founded Egypt’s last Ottoman Turkish newspaper, Misr, in 1889, and is best known for his travelogues of England and Sicily.

Other titles


Islam in Victorian Liverpool










215mm (H) x 140mm (W)

The Glory of Iqbal 1877-1938

" This book is a racist hit piece against Abdullah Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Community."

2024-05-02 04:06:56

Abdullah Quilliam was a man who did some very good work against strong opposition. He came under sustained slanderous attack from Egyptian Nationalists, but was supported by various Muslim monarchs including the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

This book reprints a slanderous essay written by a Young Turk Egyptian Nationalist who was sent to the Liverpool Muslim Community with the obvious mission of picking up information that could be used to undermine it and falsely portray it as a British colonialist tool.

The authors of the introduction and notes, including Yahya Birt, credulously repeat and validate practically every obnoxious slander spread by Yusuf Asmay and then affirm many of them in the notes.

There is no recognition from Bert et al. that Asmay was an utterly biased observer deliberately trying to portray Abdullah Quilliam and his community in the worst possible light - and even when Asmay makes statements that they know are factually untrue or completely unsupported they never point the spotlight upon him or his obvious motivations.

Furthermore the Theosophist woman's rights activist Mary T. Keep, is treated as though she was a fair and unbiased witness, even though she had already sought to disrupt and slander the Alexander Russel Webb group before travelling to Liverpool where she immediately began the same work against the British revert community.

This book is very disappointing. I am particularly disappointed with Yahya Birt's involvement with it. I would say that it is particularly badly mislabeled as an 'Ottoman account', when the author was, in fact, an Egyptian Nationalist writing for the anti-Ottoman Young Turks (a modernist group which would later overthrow the genuine Ottomans in 1908) and most stunningly when this slanderous essay was in fact banned by the actual Ottoman government in 1898.

I find the insulting way that the Yusuf Asmay refers to the Liverpool revert community as a group of 'ragamuffins' and the British people outside of the 60,000 elite members of society as bestial, rude, savage, filthy, ungrateful, treacherous, ignorant, idiotic, barbarous, vulgar etc.

On page 56 Asmay asserts that British people will sell their wife for a glass of beer, sleep with their daughters, cut their children with razors, kill their parents and various other things - indeed he says that a man of refinement who walked through a British neighbourhood would vomit for hours afterwards.

If this book was speaking about a non-white nation in such a way without internal challenge then it would not be for via Amazon.

Report this review