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  • Print publication year: 1977
  • Online publication date: March 2008


The establishment of Arab Islam in the alien world from Spain to the Oxus marks one of those periods in history when man loses his contact with his ancestors, and when the psychological continuity appears almost, even totally, broken. The new civilization, which represents the means and the goal of recovering lost bearings, creates a common memory constituted by a selection of shared memorabilia, largely historical events and judgments on the one hand, human and doctrinal assumptions on the other. The speed of the Muslim expansion, and the speed of the growth of Islamic civilization, prevented fundamental social changes below the highest level and apart from the arrangements which followed logically from the basic rationale of Muslim community structure. The dominant concerns of Muslim civilization had originated in the Arab milieu. Sufism may have absorbed more of Indian mentality than the terminology of its self-statements would indicate.
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The Cambridge History of Islam
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