Contemporary Islam and the challenge of history by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad

By Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad

The fiscal, social, political, army, and highbrow elements of the Muslims' obstacle for historical past display the final constitution in their notion of reality.

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The impact of the power of the West has challenged to the core his concept of who he is and where his destiny lies. It has questioned his perception of the world and the totality of life; his faith in the adequacy of his norms and ideals has been eroded. The importance of developing a concept of history as a means of preserving Islam appears to be a nineteenth and twentieth-century phenomenon. 2 The Muslim Empire was built on the promise of support from God for the community's efforts in establishing Islam throughout the world.

3 This conference, too, failed to materialize and attempts to organize for collective action to deal with the situation were never realized. This particular meeting was opposed by Sultan* 'Abd al-Hamid* II and by the British who ruled vast areas of Muslim land and feared Pan-Islamism as a potential source of trouble for their rule. 5 Islam as practiced at the time was often a mixture of folk Sufism and what can be called superstition, making it especially susceptible to the charge of being the major cause of decline.

More recently, however, Islam has witnessed its Page 6 history as written and interpreted by Orientalists and historians using Western analytical methods. This history has served various purposes for Muslims, but in general has been used as support for the nationalistic hopes of Arabs endeavoring to find a new identity based on old and deep roots. For the committed Muslim, neither the flow of history itself nor the study and interpretation of it can be considered apart from the realm of the sacred and the workings of the divine.

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