If today there is a community of nations in which history has a prominent place, it is certainly in the Islamic countries. It is quite a recent phenomenon, hardly a century old, which arose as a reaction to increasing contact with industrial and colonial Europe, which caused the past to come alive again. Until then, history had not counted for much in the Islamic countries. It was always in the shadow of theology which saw it as a possible competitor and debased it. But contact with foreign conquerors revitalized history which now went through a renaissance, first of all in Egypt. It is true that the Islamic countries were predisposed to give history a high place, for Islam is a religion founded not only upon a holy book, the Koran, but also on the great deeds and historic acts of the Prophet. To know these is an essential part of the duties of a believer. Besides, Mahomet ascribed a historic role to himself and, from the lessons of the past, placed his own doings midway between Creation and Last Judgement. The doctrine Ijma makes the whole community, after

the Prophets, responsible for achieving his tasks. History is the realization of this mission: it is ‘God’s plan to save humanity’.