Were they pirates, or were they warriors for Islam? For centuries, historians have debated the significance of one of the most stirring episodes in the history of Britain ’s Muslim minority. Men such as Captain John Ward of Kent astounded their compatriots by proudly adopting Islam to fight the Inquisition and the expansionist powers of Europe. Contemporaries called such men ‘corsairs’; they themselves considered themselves mujahidin. Some were among the most pious Muslims this country has yet produced. Others were famous drunkards and lechers.