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Eight years have passed since I first conceived the idea of writing this book, but it was not until about two years ago that I was able to find time to put together a first rough outline of the form I wished it to take. In the interval I have been obliged from time to time to lay it aside altogether; and, at the most favourable times, have never had more than a few hours a week to devote to it. I had just completed what I had intended to be the last chapter, when events occurred that obliged me to rewrite it, and, that I might do so fitly, await the issue of those events. As the book now stands it is at best but a mere outline. A larger volume than this might easily be written upon each of several of the subjects I have but glanced at, yet I hope I have succeeded in giving a connected and intelligible sketch and one sufficient for the attainment of the chief object I have had in view, that of presenting the Egyptian as he really is to the many who, whether living in Egypt or out of it, have but few and imperfect opportunities of learning to understand him. For over thirty years I have given of all I have had to give, for the promotion of two objects: first, that Pan-Islamism, which I conceive to be the true interest of the Islamic world; and, secondly, the development of friendly relations between the Moslems of the East and the British Empire. How much, or how little, I have been able to accomplish towards the fulfilment of my aims it is impossible for me to estimate, but from boyhood I have had an earnest faith in the belief that right and truth must in the end prevail, and that he who works for these, or for what he honestly believes these to be, never works in vain.
Knowing the Egyptian as I know him, I cannot but think that he is greatly misunderstood, even by those who are sincerely anxious to befriend him. His faults and his failings are to be found at large in almost any of the scores of books that have of late years been written about him and his country; but, though not a few have given him credit for some of his more salient good points, yet none that I have seen have shown any just appreciation of him as he really is.