THE TASK OF MODERN ISLAM
By MARTIN SPRENGLING
WE HAVE now arrived at the eschatological and apocalyptic sections of these discussions. Eschatology and apocalyptics have been a bête noire in my life ever since in my early youth I received a severely fundamentalist training in theology. To do any justice to my audience and my subject I feel that I must first make this confession.
There have been many times in my moderately long life when I felt myself in the position of a David placed over against a Goliath, and I did not always have even a sling and a stone handy. But no task has ever seemed quite so stupendous to me as the task of defining or saying anything worth while about the task of modern religion. I am by trade an Arabist, with a number of more or less closely related sidelines. The university has officially designated me Professor of Semitic Languages and Literatures, editor of the Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, and now Head of the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures. In all this I can find no qualification for any pronouncement on the task of modern religion.
The days when I was an active, orthodox preacher are too far back in an ever more swiftly receding past. The only consolation I have to fall back on is the fact that a president of this university, by the authority in him vested, granted me the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. If, therefore, as a Ph.D. I make some D.Ph. statements that disagree with your thinking, for the most part far better