This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia documents and discusses the life and work of an important but neglected early British convert to Islam, the fifth Baron Headley, Rowland George Allanson Allanson-Winn (1855 – 1935), and also comments on the nature of the kind of xenophilia that can lead to conversion. The essay argues that Lord Headley's attraction to the Muslim world and his religious conversion in 1913 were typical of a small minority of Britons who chose Islam with the guidance of Indian Muslim missionaries in the first half of the twentieth century. But it also shows that Headley's privileged social position enabled him to become a leader of the nascent British Muslim community and an international ambassador for Islam between the wars. A staunch defender of Islam and Muslims, Headley was not wholly uncritical of them and made public pronouncements especially about the spread of sectarianism in Islam and about how that faith needed to be practiced differently in the West.
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Jamie Gilham; THE BRITISH MUSLIM BARON: Lord Headley and Islam, 1913 – 35. Common Knowledge 1 September 2017; 23 (3): 468–495. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3988223
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