chapter  4
Islamization in Late Medieval Bengal: The Relevance of Max Weber
ByRichard M. Eaton
Pages 19

It is hardly surprising that Max Weber’s scattered references to Islam reflect the Orientalist modes of thought current in his own day. Such references also betray his concerns with demonstrating why it was that societies not suffused with a “Protestant ethic” could not have independently developed a capitalist mode of production. Thus, in contrast to the dynamism that he found in European societies influenced by that ethic, Weber found Muslim societies to be static, if not stagnant. His characterization of Islam as a “warrior religion,” moreover, was consonant with Orientalist traditions of European thought that viewed Islam as a fundamentally militant ideology. 1 His notion that the religion validated sexual license or sensual delights followed a similar frame of European thought. 2 Concerning other aspects of Islamic history, Weber was at times factually incorrect, such as, for example, in his contention that Sufism was derived from India, or that early Islam knew no quest for salvation or mysticism. 3