society in a given period of time in order to achieve our shared objectives and to protectour values which are at present subject to cultural, intellectual and social onslaughts.The gravest tragedy in traditional societies in general, and in the Muslim societies in particular, is that there is a lack of communication and a difference of outlook betweenthe masses and the educated class. Due to the broad extension of the mass media, literacy,and education in the industrial countries of the West, the masses and the intellectualsunderstand each other rather well and share a relatively similar outlook. In Europe, auniversity professor can easily communicate with the 'uneducated' masses. Neither doesthe professor see himself as of higher stature nor do the masses treat him as anuntouchable person wrapped in a piece of cellophane.Even in the early history of Islamic societies, the present large gap between theintellectuals and the masses did not exist. The great Muslim traditional intelligentsia, the'O^lama-including the jurist- consults (fuqaha), the dialectical theologians(mutakallimun), the interpreters of the Qur'an (mufassirun), the philosophers, and theliteralists ('O^daba)-had close bonds with the general public through religion. Despiteteaching and studying in their seemingly isolated seminaries (hawzah), they successfullyavoided losing touch with the people. Such rapport between the 'O^lama and the peopleexists even today. The majority of our uneducated masses, who have never even heard of a night class or an adult course, can sit next to the 'O^lama, who have achieved prominentscholarly stature, and discuss their problems. They feel comfortable enough with the'O^lama to discuss their needs, complaints, their personal or family problems, and tosettle religious taxes or to ask for bibliomancy or legal opinion.Unfortunately, under the modern culture and educational system, our young people areeducated and trained inside invincible and fortified fortresses. Once they reenter thesociety, they are placed in certain occupational and social positions completely isolatedfrom the masses. In effect the new intelligentsia lives and moves alongside the people, but in a closed "golden cage" of exclusive circles. As a result, on the one hand, theintelligentsia pursue life in an ivory tower without having any understanding of their ownsociety, and, on the other hand, the uneducated masses are deprived of the wisdom andknowledge of the very same intellectuals whom the masses have sponsored (albeitindirectly) and for whose flourishing they have provided.The greatest responsibility of those who wish to rebuild their society and bring together the unintegrated, and at times, antagonistic elements of the society into a harmoniouswhole is to bridge the gap between these two poles-the pole of theory and the pole of practice-and to fill this great abyss of alienation between the masses and the intellectuals.For any responsible enlightened soul who wants to achieve something, regardless of hisideological conviction, it is a duty to build a bridge between the beautiful, valuable, andthe mysterious (in the mind of the masses) island of the intellectuals and the land of themasses; a bridge across which both the intellectuals and the masses can interact.Regardless of any answer to the question "Where shall we begin?" and regardless of your agreement with my answer, we cannot help but accept and agree with this fundamental principle: the first step is to build such a bridge.