This book is an interesting and comprehensive look at Islam's past and future from a Western perspective. The author has predicted for muslims great political misfortunes in the immediate future, because he believes that these are a necessary step in the process of their spiritual development; but he has a supreme confidence in Islam, not only as a spiritual, but as a temporal system the heritage and gift of the Arabian race, and capable of satisfying their most civilized wants; and he believes in the hour of their political resurgence. In the meantime he is convinced that he serves their interests best by speaking what he holds to be the truth regarding their situation.
Since the first brief preface to my manuscript was written twelve years ago, events have happened which seem to indicate that the moment foreseen in it has at last arrived when to the public advantage and without risk of serious indiscretion as far as individuals are concerned, the whole truth may be given to the world. Already in 1904 the original manuscript had been thoroughly revised, and in its purely Egyptian part remodelled under circumstances which add greatly to its historic value. My old Egyptian friend, Sheykh Mohammed Abdu, of whom so much mention is made in it, had taken up his country residence at my doors at Sheykh Obeyd, and I found myself in almost daily intercourse with him, a most precious accident of which I did not fail to take full advantage. That great philosopher and patriot—now, alas, lost to us, for he died at Alexandria, 11th July, 1905, the day being the twenty-third anniversary of the bombardment of that city—after many vicissitudes of evil and good fortune had attained in the year 1899 to the supreme position in Egypt of Grand Mufti, and having thus acquired a wider sphere than ever of influence with his fellow countrymen, had it at heart to bequeath to them a true account of the events of his time, events which had become strangely misunderstood by them, and clothed with legends altogether fantastic and unreal.
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