George Wyman Bury (1874‒1920) was a British naturalist and explorer who spent 25 years in different parts of the Arab world, including Morocco, Aden, Somalia, and Egypt. He wrote several books, including The Land of Uz about the Arabian Peninsula, which he published in 1911 under the pseudonym Abdullah Mansur, and Arabia infelix, or, The Turks in Yamen, published in 1915. During World War I he served with British intelligence in Egypt, where he was charged with countering Turkish and German pan-Islamist propaganda (and infiltrators) aimed at stirring up popular sentiment against the British and inducing Muslim troops under British command to desert. Pan-Islam, written while Bury was dying of a lung disease, is based in part on his experiences during the war. He writes that Pan-Islam “is a movement to weld together Moslems throughout the world regardless of nationality” and that it is “the practical protest of Moslems against the exploitation of their spiritual and material resources by outsiders.” While acknowledging these indigenous causes, Bury argues that the growth of Pan-Islam as a political movement in the period before and during World War I was very much the product of German political, financial, and logistical support, supported by Ottoman Turkey after it entered the war on the side of Germany. Bury argues that the German attempt to use Pan-Islam as a political weapon was largely unsuccessful, owing to the animosity between the Turks and Arabs and the lack of “psychic insight” on the part of the Germans. Bury concludes with a “Plea for Tolerance,” in which he calls for better understanding in Europe and the United States of the Islamic world. The book includes a fold-out map showing the lands of Islam.

Last updated: August 25, 2016