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350                    2~<? Contribution to Islam
It is manifestly difficult, if not impossible, to determine, as
with a rule and scalpel, what contribution Egypt, as an inde-
pendent entity, Has made to Islam. The political theory under-
lying the religion of Muhammad lays it down as a principle that
national frontiers are meaningless where the rule of Islam is
concerned: the world is divided into two parts, the 'abode of
peace', constituting the area of Muslim predominance, and the
'abode of war', regions where Islam may not be practised,
against which it is the bounden duty of all Muslims to wage
holy war (jihad). Islam is an essentially international and inter-
racial movement, and ideas germinating in one corner of the
Muslim world spread with amazing rapidity throughout the
whole extent of Muslim domination.
Egypt lies in the very centre of the Muslim world, and has
therefore been peculiarly fitted to act as the receptacle and
repository of all Islamic movements, as indeed she served during
the Greek and Christian periods as the melting-pot of Eastern
and Western ideas and cultures. It is further curious to remark
that at the present-day Egypt still fulfils that same world-role,
interpreting the West to the Muslim East, and, to a lesser but
still important degree, the Muslim East to the West. Such has
been, and remains, the paramount function of Egypt, and in
this function Egypt has played a far from negligible part in the
destinies of Islam.
But Egypt has also, out of her own blood and soil, made
important contributions to the history and achievements of the
Muslim world.
In the early period of Islam, Egypt was naturally of little
account. Arabs of pure birth were the protagonists of the first
controversies, the founders of the first doctrinal schisms and
schools of religious law. Until the advent of the Fatimids, the
Maliki and ShafTi rites were predominant in Egypt. The