He was notoriously reluctant to discuss religion while Prime Minister, with his chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell famously commenting: ‘We don’t do God.’
But since leaving Downing Street in 2007, Tony Blair has become increasingly open about the importance of religion.
Mr Blair, who converted to Catholicism months after leaving Number 10, has now spoken of how he reads the Koran every day.
Reading the Islamic religion’s holy book – considered by Muslims to be the exact words of God – ensured he remained ‘faith-literate’, the former Labour leader said.
In an interview with the Observer magazine, published yesterday he said: ‘To be faith-literate is crucial in a globalised world, I believe.
‘I read the Qur’an [Koran] every day. Partly to understand some of the things happening in the world, but mainly just because it is immensely instructive.’
Mr Blair believes that a knowledge of the faith informs his current role as Middle East envoy for the Quartet of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.
The former PM’s work, which has cost British taxpayers more than £2million, aims to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mr Blair has previously praised the Muslim faith as ‘beautiful’ and said the Prophet Mohammed had been ‘an enormously civilizing force’.
In 2006 he said the Koran was a ‘reforming book, it is inclusive. It extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition. It is practical and way ahead of its time in attitudes to marriage, women and governance’.
But Mr Blair has also faced the devastation wreaked by violent jihadists who interpret the Koran as a call to arms.
He was Prime Minister when the July 7 suicide bombers attacked London in 2005, murdering 52 innocent people.
Not only does reading the Koran support his peace envoy role, it also gives him something in common with sister-in-law Lauren Booth.
Journalist Miss Booth – Cherie Blair’s half sister – raised eyebrows after announcing last October that she had converted to Islam after what she described as a ‘holy experience’ during a visit to a shrine in Iran.
Mr Blair also used the Observer interview to dismiss claims he was on a Christian ‘crusade’ when taking Britain into the highly divisive war in Iraq.
His former constituency agent John Burton said two years ago that Mr Blair ‘believed strongly at the time, that intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone – Iraq too – was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil, making lives better.’
But the ex-Premier said: ‘People still ask me if military decisions in Iraq or Afghanistan were based on some kind of divine instruction. It’s rubbish.
‘Of course not. Just as I couldn’t go into a corner and pray to ask God what the minimum wage should be.’
(www.dailymail.co.uk / 13.06.2011)