Armies of God: Islam and Empire on the Nile, 1869-1899

This week I received a hardcover of Armies of God, a library copy from Cheshire, England, and Dominic Green’s out-of-print 2007 study does provide citations for the statements made in his 2022 book. On page 196 he describes the meeting of Theosophical leaders with Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, witnessed by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt:

In Paris, he had no shortage of visitors. Urabist exiles, Catholic nationalists, Irish revolutionaries, religious cranks, and Wilfrid Blunt. When Blunt visited in March 1884, he found the Sage of the East lecturing to a very curious party of strangers. They were led by Madame Helena Blavatsky, the Russian Jewish [sic, no one ever called her Jewish but many called her an anti-Semite] inventor of Theosophy, a fashionable medley of spiritualism, personality cult, and quasi-scientific search for the common roots of all religion. Blavatsky saw Afghani as an authentic Persian mystic, one of those “Aryans” who seemed somehow related to Theosophical sources. He was also the ex-Master of the Star in the East lodge at Alexandria, many of whose founders had been inspired by Blavatsky when she had visited Egypt to study Sufism.

Both shaping new ideologies to bridge East and West, and both convinced of their imminent global triumph, Blavatsky and Afghani met to discuss a third mystic. What, he asked Blavatsky, did Afghani think of the Madhi? She thought he must be a humanitarian, because he sought against the Ottoman and British empires, but she was really troubled by his attachment to the slave trade.

The source of the author’s information is revealed in the endnotes, which I had not found in the new book. The citation reads: 27 March 1884, Blunt, Gordon, 208-209. Green comments:

For several possible reasons, Blunt does not name the “Russian Lady” as Madame Blavatsky. Her companions were Col. H.S. Alcott [sic], founder of the Theosophical Society, and two Bengali Hindu adepts on their way to study for the bar in London. Blavatsky and Alcott came to Europe to meet with their London and Paris lodges and to lobby the British Foreign Office for the religious rights of Ceylonese Hindus.

Here is the Blunt book about Gordon in Khartoum:

Gordon at Khartoum – Google Books