chapter  2
14 Pages

What is Islam? Islam in the Past and Present

WithBassam Tibi

During a discussion with Senegalese writers and Arab diplomats in summer 1982 in Dakar, a heated argument arose as to whether drumming could be recognized as an Islamic ritual and whether belief in magic was at all admissible in Islam. Like other monotheistic religions, Islam is universalist. In the course of its dissemination it has been professed by many non-Arab and non-Arabized peoples of Africa and Asia. The study of Islamic religious history shows, however, that Islam developed out of a historical imperative according to an Arab ideology, and that it fulfilled that imperative historically. Jews and Christians, moreover, despised the Arabs and regarded them as heathens, an attitude that was to persist into the period after the founding of the Islamic religion and which was to play a special role in the Christian anti-Islam polemics of the Middle Ages.