would be an exaggeration to suggest that the two traditions have
always been at war with one another. For a variety of reasons, Sufi
Islam has generally been at a disadvantages and has had to
accommodate itself to orthodox Islam. Most Sufis, for instance, have
acknowledged that the Shariat is immutable and binding on them as
ordinary Muslims. Revivalist movements from time to time such as the
Wahhabis have reinforced these disadvantage; Wahhabis fought
bitterly against the saint cult which is the core of Sufi Islam.
Even so, till recent times there had not existed a social base for a
permanent victory of orthodox Islam over Sufi Islam.
Unlike earlier times, however, the
colonial and the post- colonial states have been sufficiently strong
to destroy the rural self-administration units or tribes that
provided the base for the personalized, ecstatic, questionably
orthodox,low Islam and thus provided the base for a
definitive, permanent victory of orthodox Islam over the other.
This, Gellner argues, is the great reformation that has taken place
in Islam in the last 100 years and in some ways made its hold on
believers even stronger than before.