mimic Arab, since he knows that Islam, as a world religion, owes both itsendurance and its rich fabric to the entry, century after century, of outlanders:Persians, Berbers, Mongols, Turks, Indians, Malays, Africans. These outlandersoften broke the mould cherished by the Arabs, but they vivified the religion, andwith it the culture and society that are stamped with its mark. Islam has createdan immediately recognizable design for human living, but the way in which thisdesign has been filled out and coloured has differed widely from one region of theDar-ul-Islam (the 'House of Islam') to another; the peacock's tail has been spreadover the world. The European or American who has come to Islam in this way stands astride theoldest frontier in the world, the frontier that has separated Islamic civilization, firstfrom Christendom and later from the post-Christian world, for some thirteencenturies. This is in many ways a strange position to occupy because the frontierruns between two areas of reciprocal incomprehension, and to be at home in bothis, in a sense, to commute between different planetary systems. The Westerner'sinability to understand the Muslim is matched by the Muslim's incapacity tounderstand the Westerner. Those who stand astride the frontier find themselvesobliged to act as interpreters between two different languages and mustthemselves speak both with adequate fluency. The Western Muslim does not change his identity, though he changes hisdirection. He is dyed with the colour characteristic of the culture into which he wasborn and which formed him; he asks the questions which this culture asks; heretains a sense of tragedy and of the world's ambiguity, with which the Europeantradition is imbued but which is strange to the traditional Muslim, and he is stillhaunted by the ghosts of Europe's past. Ancestral voices familiar to his kind arenot silenced, but he has distanced himself from them. The Semitic mind and temperament are legalistic by nature and a certain literal-mindedness is characteristic of the Muslim. The European, on the other hand, ismore concerned with the spirit than with the letter of the law, and he inevitablybrings something of this bias with him into Islam. This may even be the mostuseful contribution he can make to his adopted faith in an age of change andfluidity, in which the outworks of religion are eroded by the times so that it isnecessary, as never before, to establish what are the essentials of the Faith and tohold fast to them. To say this is not to suggest that any part of the total structureis unimportant, but only to emphasize that when a castle is under siege, and alienforces have scaled the outer battlements, one must be ready to man the innerdefences. This book is written for those whose minds have been shaped by Western culture.Given that the contemporary world, as it now exists almost universally, is entirelya product of that culture, I write as much for those of my co-religionists who havereceived a 'modern' education as I do for non-Muslims. Among the former thereare already quite a number who have rediscovered the religion into which theywere born as a result of seeing it through foreign eyes; no longer convinced by thetraditional arguments of their Faith, which sufficed while Islam was a dosedsystem, they have had to dive deep and travel far in order to return to their origin.