Lohan, the American actress, is said to be "exploring" Islam.
Speculation was first stirred by a photograph of the celebrity carrying a copy
of the Quran while completing a stint of community service. This week, in an
interview with the Sun, Lohan told the British tabloid that she was indeed
reading Islam's holy book.
very spiritual person and I’m really open to learning," she said.
"America has portrayed holding a Koran in such a different way to what it
actually is. We all believe in something and at the end of the day it all ties
to a god or a spiritual adviser."
converting to a new religion, just learning more. "Lindsay has always been
very spiritual and is open to exploring all religions and beliefs. She is
simply educating herself on other people’s beliefs," a Lohan
representative told Page Six. Some bloggers suggest it's little more than a play
for attention; some conservatives, meanwhile, expressed deeper outrage.
her convictions, Lohan may or may not know that she's walking in a long
of course, the idea of foreigners turning to Islam evokes grim thoughts.
Numerous Western converts joined the ranks of violent extremist groups, from
the Taliban to the Islamic State. In the eyes of many politicians and pundits,
Islam -- and, by extension, Muslims -- poses a radical and ideological threat.
not the case in an earlier era, long before the rise of global jihadist
organizations. In the 19th century and into the 20th century, myriad European
elites displayed a fascination with the religion, languages, and customs of
Muslims they encountered in the fraying domains of the Ottoman Empire and lands
interest took myriad forms: These included the adoption of the garb of the
Zouaves, seen originally on Berber tribesman, by military units in Europe and
the United States; in the fixation of European painters and writers with the
supposed sensuality and licentiousness of Muslim societies; in the
encyclopaedic efforts of Western Orientalists to learn Arabic and other
languages of the Middle East and South Asia, and also dig up the region's
forgotten ancient cities.
did convert after their travels. Britain's most famous 19th century convert was
William Quilliam, the son of a Methodist preacher who returned after a visit to
Morocco in 1887 with the new name Abdullah. His embrace of Islam fitted
alongside his championing of the Temperance Movement, which advocated
abstinence from alcohol.
plenty of other figures who also believed the West could gain from adopting the
customs of the East.
WorldViews told the story of David Urquhart, an energetic British supporter of
the Ottoman Empire in the first half of the 19th century who saw the Islam of
the Ottomans as a moderating influence in a world of Christian enmities. He
dressed in Turkish robes and attempted to push other foreign practices on his
countrymen, as WorldViews recounted:
returned from his travels in Turkey and elsewhere convinced that the Ottoman
lifestyle was better for one's health. "If London were [Muslim]," he
wrote, "the population would bathe regularly, have a better-dressed dinner
for [its] money, and prefer water to wine or brandy, gin or beer." He
would later launch a largely unsuccessful movement to bring the culture of
Turkish baths to the cold damp of Victorian Britain.
of supposedly Muslim habits was so well-known that even the family of Winston
Churchill, that venerable titan of the West, feared he would be seduced by
don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency
to orientalise, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have," wrote his
soon-to-be sister-in-law in a 1907 letter addressed to Churchill. "If you
come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater
ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I
mean, do fight against it."
likelihood of such a conversion was not particularly great. Churchill, like
other British imperial officers posted overseas, encountered Islam as the
dominant religion of rival empires such as the Ottomans and the Mughals.
Muslims were to be respected -- Churchill was far more contemptuous of India's
Hindus, for example -- but they were also to be defeated.
probably has a different agenda while studying the Koran.
not done reading it. Do you know how long that would take?" she asked the
Sun. "It takes so long."