In Oxford, England continues to reshape itself as a Muslim country
When Henry VIII broke with the papacy, he did not break with Christianity. Instead, the Church of England became a Protestant-Catholic hybrid, with the monarch in place of the Pope. England’s institutions reflected the nation’s ardent Christianity. This was especially true of Oxford’s and Cambridge’s myriad individual colleges that, for hundreds of years, produced leaders steeped in their country’s Anglo-Christianity. Exhibit A is Oxford’s Magdalen College.
In 1458, William of Waynflete, the Bishop of Winchester, founded Magdalen College, naming it after St. Mary Magdalene (who’s always shown in iconography crying, hence the transformation of her name into the word “maudlin” via the French pronunciation of Madelaine). It has long been one of Oxford’s wealthiest and most prominent colleges.
As the college’s name suggests, it was intended to operate under the umbrella of the Catholic faith. This was reflected in other terms from the 1458 founding charter, which dedicated the college to Mary Magdalene, as well as to “the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, and the Apostles Peter and Paul.” The seal on the charter was Waynflete’s own seal, “which shows the bishop at the bottom humbly kneeling below a group of saints….” This was a Christian institution.
Image: Magdalen College by Remi Mathis. CC BY-SA 3.0.
Nowadays, though, that’s not the case anymore. The latest news from England’s rejection of her Christian past is that Magdalene, rather than celebrating St. George’s Day, in honor of England’s patron saint, will be celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan:
In an email sent out to students obtained by the broadsheet, the vice president of the college, Professor Nick Stargardt invited students and guests to “celebrate Eid with a festive dinner in the Hall,” and said that “the meal will follow Muslim customs: the meat dish will be halal and no alcohol will be served”.
The college has denied that it had an annual tradition of having a dinner to mark St George’s Day, which, unlike Eid, actually falls on the 23rd of this year. However, the Telegraph claimed to have seen evidence of the dinner being held in at least each of the four years preceding the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
Magdalen was accused of attempting to “cancel” the Christian holiday, including a don at the college speaking on condition of anonymity, who said: “The cancelling of St George’s Day is yet another example of the deep antipathy that the leaders of so many of Britain’s academic institutions seem to feel towards the country that built and maintains them.”
This is not the first time England has turned on its own traditions or officially celebrated Muslim ones. It’s notable only because the college was once a bastion of British Christian tradition. But in many ways, Great Britain, aside from being a victim of the leftism that was an undercurrent beginning at the turn of the last century and became official government policy starting after World War II, is also being colonized by its former empire.
By the height of the Victorian Empire, Great Britain straddled the world. The sun never set on that Empire, and world maps were awash in the red used to show British colonies. Most of these colonies were in the Muslim and Hindu world. Beginning after WWII and, with increasing speed for the remainder of the 20th century, and now, into the 21st century, Great Britain has had an open door policy (whether de facto or de jure) for people who lived in those former colonies.
Islam is the second largest religion in Great Britain, with Muslims making up around 5% of the total population. Additionally, unlike England’s nominal Christians, most of whom are irreligious, the Muslims take their faith very seriously.
It passed mostly unnoticed in America, but it’s quite symbolic that England’s top political leader is Rishi Sunak, a Hindu member of the Conservative Party, while Scotland’s top political leader is Humza Yousaf, a Muslim member of the Scottish National Party.
Once, Great Britain went to other countries in her “empire” and imposed her values on them. Now, citizens of those former parts of the “empire” have come to Great Britain and, institution by institution, are imposing their values on her—or at least the Muslim immigrants are. It is, in a very real way, a case of “The Empire Strikes Back.”