At the center of the present study lies the interpretation, developed from Clifford Geertz's anthropology of religion, that religions represent cultural systems, which are both influenced by processes of social change and are themselves able to affect them. This chapter proceeds from this frame of reference and examines the concept of the cultural system in terms of its usefulness for understanding Islam and its relationship to social change. In order to clarify the methodological and conceptual framework of this study, the chapter outlines the general course of the author's twenty years of involvement both with Islam and with the development of present work. It is no longer possible to study Islam, or any other non-Western culture, without taking into account the international society that has emerged out of that civilization process. For this phenomenon the author has devised the term "globalization of the civilizing process.".