Instead of merely translating the State Sidee des Islam in Von Karemer’s Geschicahte der herr Schendem ideen des Islam, the author has added the value of the book by incorporating into if the researches of Walhausen Goldziher and other English and continental scholars. In other words it is Von Kremer englarged, amplified. In these pages there is an account of those political & social questions which arose in agitated and wrecked the Muslim Empire. Here is an account of the strength & weakness of Islam, a tribute to its inheritance, religious force and vitality.
Von Kremer is essentially a scholar of the highest mark & distinction. He weighs, sifts, criticizes evidence and then delivers judgement. Hence the weight and value of his pronouncement. This book will supply a need long felt by students and the public alike Above all, it will help creating mutual understanding & mutual sympathy, larger outlook & broader tolerance.
“The great object in trying to understand history, political, religious, literary or scientific, is to get behind men and to grasp ideas. Ideas have a radiation and development, ancestry ad posterity of their own, in which men play the part of godfathers and godmothers more than that of legitimate parents.”
Everywhere I notice a growing interest in Islam and in the education imparted by Calcutta University and the other Universities of India—all of which are in many respected giving a lead to the world’s older seats of learning. The interest aroused will, I trust, increase as the years go by. Yet not merely love of learning. for its own sake, but recent political events have quickened widened and deepened this interest. There is, therefore, a need for a brief but exhaustive survey of the social, political and economic conditions of the Muslim under the Caliphate. Nay, the Caliphate itself calls for notice and attention. It is a subject of absorbing interest just now. Its meaning, its significance, its historical importance, its religious bearing—these require careful study. To understand the present we must know the past; for the present is a text and the past is largely its interpretation.
We want no political pamphlet, no controversial monograph; but a sober, well-considered, well- weighed historical work. I can think of no such work in English; but in German there is certainly one which, in spite of the years that have passed since its publication, is still well-worthy of study and respect. It is the Staatsidee des Islams in von Kremer’s Geschichte der herrschenden Ideen des Islams. It would be inaccurate to describe the pages lying before us as a mere translation of the Staatsidee des Islams, for I have incorporated into it the researches of Wellhausen, Goldziher and other English and Continental scholars. It is Von Kremer enlarged, amplified.
Here, in these pages, we have an account of those political and social questions which arose in, agitated and wrecked the Muslim Empire. Here we have an account of the strength and weaknesses of Islam, a tribute to its inherent religious force and vitality, a hope and a prophecy. And here we have an illustration and commentary upon the words of John Henry Newman: “Ali things are double, one against another. Every power, every form of government, every influence, strong as it may, be which it is prevented from doing all things at its will. In constitutional governments they appeal to the law; in absolute monarchies they rise; in military despotisms they assassinate. James the Second is opposed by form of laws; Louis of France by Jacqueries; Paul of Russia is strangled,”
The political history of Islam is the history of shattered ideals. They system, founded by the Prophet and maintained by Abu Bakr and ‘Omar, was a system impossible of complete realization or of ling endurance in a world of imperfect conditions. In these pages we see the slow and steady decline and eventual disappearance of that purely ideal system of love, brotherhood and equality, inaugurated by the genius of the Prophet and sustained by the unwavering loyalty of his two Successors.
Von Kremer is essentially a scholar of the highest mark and distinction. He weighs, sifts, criticizes evidence, and then delivers judgement. Hence the weight and value of his pronouncements. I am confident this little book will supply a need long felt by students and the public alike. It will encourage Islamic Studies and foster sympathy with Muslims. Further it will enlarge the outlook on questions Islamic. There is no greater need to the times than mutual understanding and mutual sympathy, larger outlook and broader toleration.
Has not Goethe said : “Delight, pleasure, sympathy this alone calls forth reality, all else in empty and vain.” I have to offer my most grateful thanks to Mr. H. Bruce Hannah (a thinker, whose recent work has caused a great stir in the historical world), and Mr. A.H. Harley, of the Culcutta Mardrassah, and to Dr. Bruhl for explaining to me passages in regard to which I sometimes felt doubt or difficulty.
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