Unity and variety, consensus and conflict, continuity and change—the great themes of Islamic history are often described in these terms. They represent the aspects of the Islamic experience that must be understood and somehow, if possible, reconciled in any interpretation. The interaction of the elements of unity, consensus, and continuity with the factors of diversity, conflict, and change is the broad foundation of Muslim existence. It is also an important dimension in the perspectives of those people who try to interpret the Islamic experience.