IT is with very great diffidence that I send out this book. Of the lack and need of some text-book of the kind there can be little doubt. From the educated man who wishes to read with intelligence his "Arabian Nights" to the student of history or of law or of theology who wishes to know how it has gone in such matters with the great Muslim world, there is demand enough and to spare. Still graver is the difficulty for the growing body of young men who are taking up the study of Arabic. In English or German or French there is no book to which a teacher may send his pupils for brief guidance on the development of these institutions; on the development of law there are only scattered and fragmentary papers, and on the development of theology there is practically nothing. But of the difficulty of supplying this need there can be even less doubt. Goldziher could do it fully and completely; no other Arabist alive could approach the task other than with trepidation. The following pages therefore form a kind of forlorn attempt, a rushing in on the part of one who is sure he is not an angel and is in grave doubt on the question of folly, but who also sees a gap and no great alacrity on the part of his betters toward filling it. One thing, however, I would premise
with emphasis. All the results given here have been reached or verified from the Arabic sources. These sources are seldom stated either in the text or in the bibliography, as the book is intended to be useful to non-Arabists, but, throughout, they lie behind it and are its basis. By this it is not meant that the results of this book are claimed as original. Every Arabist will recognize at once from whose wells I have drawn and who have been my masters. Among these I would do homage in the first instance to Goldziher; what Arabist is not deep in his debt? With Goldziher's influence through books I would join the kindred influence of the living voice of my teacher Sachau. To him I render thanks and reverence now for his kindly sympathy and guidance. Others in whose debt I am are Nöldeke, Snouck Hurgronje, von Kremer, Lane--many more. Those who are left of these will know their own in my pages and will be merciful to my attempts to tread in their steps and to develop their results. What is my own, too, they will know; into questions of priority I have no desire to enter. Foot-notes which might have given to each scholar his due have been left unwritten. For the readers of this book such references in so vast a subject would be use., less. Such references, too, would have in the end be made to Arabic sources.
More direct help I have to acknowledge on several sides. To the atmosphere and scholarly ideals of Hartford Seminary I am indebted for the possibility of writing such a book as this, so far from the ordinary theological ruts. Among my colleagues Professor
[paragraph continues] Gillett has especially aided me with criticism and suggestions on the terminology of scholastic theology. Dr. Talcott Williams, of Philadelphia, illumined for me the Idrisid movement in North Africa. One complete sentence on p. 85 I have conveyed from a kindly notice in The Nation of my inaugural lecture on the development of Muslim Jurisprudence. Finally, and above all, I am indebted to my wife for much patient labor in copying and for keen and luminous criticism in planning and correcting. With thanks to her this preface may fitly close.
DUNCAN B. MACDONALD.
HARTFORD, December, 1902.
*** As it has proved impracticable to give in the body of the book a full transliteration of names and technical terms, the learner is referred for such exact forms to the chronological table and the index. In these hamza and ayn, the long vowels and the emphatic consonants are uniformly represented, the last by italic.