This long period of reform throughout the 19th century gave rise to a unique and historically important debate on how the Islamic world should respond to this crisis of modernity in this sphere of ideas. Benedict Anderson has observed that in Western Europe, the eighteenth century marked not only the dawn of the age of nationalism but the dusk of religious modes of thought, which was superseded by rationalist secularism. But in the Middle East, it was not so. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we have an era of profound ideological ferment and Islamic reform as Western ideas such as secularism and nationalism dominated the local intellectual discourse. But in this region, in the Middle East, as opposed to Europe, the dawn of nationalism was never quite the dusk of religious modes of thought. Rather, the two continued to compete with each other, experiencing different periods of relative success in the marketplace of ideas. There is, of course, an inherent tension between faith, that is religious belief, and secularism. For centuries, it was believed amongst Muslims that society was legitimate only as long as it acted in accordance with Muslim religious law, the Sharia. But the essence of secularism, in addition to the separation of religion and state, is accepting the assumption that no one person or group has a monopoly over the absolute truth. Secularism means tolerance for difference and disagreement. For different perceptions, regarding the desired political order. And this is completely at variance with religious belief and the divine political order. The divine political order, as understood in the world of Islam, was a political order that could not be shared with others who did not belong to the same group of believers. And there is a clear distinction, or difference, between the divine order and the man-made order, shaped in accordance with man's will, and not God's revelation. There was in Islam always the difference, between the House of Islam, Dar al-Islam, that part of the world ruled by religious Islamic law and by Muslims. And Dar al-Harb, the House of War, that part of the world outside the world of Islam. And in this distinction between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, the House of Islam and the House of War, the House of Islam was self-contained and had its own legal and ideological system. But now in the modern era, we have the recognition of the inability to remain self-contained within the ideological content of Dar al-Islam. There is an understanding of the fact. But Western superiority was not only about knowledge and technology. This superiority had a theoretical and philosophical foundation, that had to be penetrated by the Muslims to understand the sources of Western power. This leads to a movement which became known as the Movement of Islamic Reform or alternatively, Islamic modernism. This was an effort by Muslim thinkers to find a compromise between these obvious tensions between faith and human reason, between tradition and modality. They attempted to show the compatibility of Islam and modern ideas of institution. Reason, science, technology, democracy, constitutions, and representative government, all these the Islamic reformers maintained did not conflict with Islam if correctly interpreted. There was a need to answer the European offensive against Islam. The attack made by Europeans on Islamic culture, that it itself was a cause for the stagnation of the Muslims. And this ideological offensive made by Europeans against Islam was, in the eyes of the Muslim reformers, more dangerous than an invasion and then occupation. An answer had to be found to this contention that Islamic culture was a cause for stagnation. The French philosopher, Ernest Renan, who was also a Middle Eastern scholar, is famous for his critique on Islam as being incompatible with modern civilization. This was part of a European feeling of superiority which was expressed in many ways, such as in Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden. Or in the French belief in what they call their mission civilisatrice, their need to civilize other peoples. And in the Middle East itself, significant openings were made to Western influence and Western cultural impact. The new education system that was created in the Ottoman Empire and in Egypt gave a new status to those who had received Western-style education. The spread of foreign languages, printing in Arabic, newspapers and journals in Arabic, which carried new ideas into the local discourse. The impressions gained of those who visited Europe as part of the student missions that were sent from the Ottoman Empire or from Egypt to Europe. One such student who visited Europe was the Egyptian Rifa'a al-Tahtawi who traveled to Paris during Muhammad Ali's reign and returned to Egypt with some very important impressions. Tahtawi noted that in France, even the common people know how to read and write...but among their ugly beliefs, he said, was this, that the intellect and virtue of their wise men are greater than the intelligence of the prophets. And the question was against this kind of intellectual background. The question was how was it possible to adopt the sources of European power in order to become a part of the modern world. Would it be possible to learn Western ways without dissolving the Islamic identity of the community? Could Muslims accept the ideas of the modern West without betraying their own past and their own identity? Of course, the Christians in the Middle East didn't have such a problem, and it was much easier for them to adopt and incorporate ideas from the West than it was for their Muslim neighbors.