This book is primarily concerned with the experience of the Muslim world over the past two hundred years. It identifies two great processes that have shaped it through this period: Western domination and the industrial capitalism that came with it, and the Islamic revival which preceded the Western presence but came to interact significantly with it. It considers the challenges which Western dominance has offered key aspects of Muslim civilisation, and Muslim responses to them.
It also considers aspects of the Muslim revival and how they have come to shape, in various ways, those responses. The role of the transmission of knowledge, both formal and spiritual, in forming Muslim societies is explored, and also the particular role of the transmitters in sustaining the Islamic dimensions of Muslim societies under Western dominance.
Particular attention is paid to South Asia which in the nineteenth century moved from being a receiver of influences from the rest of the Muslim world to be a transmitter of influences to it. Attention, too, is paid to the imposition of the modern state and the restriction of cosmopolitan spaces.