Kirstie Blair

Provincial Ayrshire and Global Islam: John Parkinson/Yehya-en-Nasr, The Crescent and The Islamic World

This paper examines the Ayrshire millworker poet who became a significant Islamic convert in the late 1890s/early 1900s, and a leading contributor to the Islamic newspaper and magazine circulated from the Liverpool Mosque, The Crescent and The Islamic World. Parkinson’s life in Ayrshire was interrupted by a brief stint as a newspaper editor in Rangoon, yet he returned to Ayrshire and to his profession as a mill overlooker prior to his death. In tracing Parkinson’s regular contributions both to these internationally distributed papers, and to his local paper, the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, I investigate the tensions between provincial Scottish and cosmopolitan Muslim identities, and how these were negotiated in his writings. Parkinson’s autobiographical writings, articles on Islamic history, and poems, I will argue, all demonstrate an effort to connect Scottish and Islamic history, literature and culture, and to make a case for transcultural affinities and linked identities.

Kirstie Blair, University of Strathclyde, Scotland