Academic journal article Theological Studies

Muslims, Christians, and Jesus

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Muslims, Christians, and Jesus

Article excerpt

MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS, AND JESUS. By Mona Siddiqui. New Haven, Yale University, 2013. Pp. 285. $32.50.

Three distinguished Christian scholars, including Rowan Williams, provide glowing tributes on the dust-jacket of this new book by Siddiqui, a professor at Edinburgh University, a leading Muslim supporter of interfaith dialogue, and a gifted communicator noted particularly for her contributions to BBC Radio's Thought for the Day.

Certainly we can easily understand the appeal of this book to Christians committed to dialogue with Muslims. S. covers a number of topics at the core of the theological encounter between Christianity and Islam, such as the nature of prophecy, the identities and roles of Jesus and Mary, the relationship between law and love, and the cross. Throughout the volume it is apparent that S. has read much more widely in Christian theology than is common among Muslims, even Muslims who take part regularly in dialogue with Christians. She is able to present what Christians have written about Islam with a fair degree of objectivity, even when dealing with material that many Muslims would feel obliged to excoriate, such as Barth's dismissive account of the God of Islam in his Dogmatics, or the negative comments of missionaries like Samuel Zwemer (1867-1952). That S. has made the effort to listen with real empathy to Christians is most clear in her concluding "Reflections on the Cross," where she records the personal reflections from Christian friends on what the Cross means to them. Although she cannot share their perspectives fully, she is moved by their testimony and speaks of what she has learned from it. She thus sets an impressive example of attending to the account that Christians, past and present, have given of their own faith.

Reading the three positive Christian commendations, questions that occur to me are" Why is there no accompanying commendation by a Muslim? Does the book appeal more to Christians than to Muslims? That might well be so. It shows a refreshing sympathy for Christian beliefs and what these signify in the hearts of Christians that goes far beyond what is commonly found in Muslim writings on Christianity. But it is surprising that S. provides no balancing comments to show that the book also had the respect of one or two significant Muslim scholars. Therefore we might naturally ask, How representative of Muslim thought is this book? If it is not representative, perhaps that is because S. is mapping territory where few other Muslim scholars have gone. It will be interesting and important, however, to know what other Muslims make of S.'s approach, her account of Muslim positions, and also the responses to Christianity that she articulates.

However, while the very fact that such a book has been written by a Muslim scholar is to be warmly welcomed, I have to acknowledge that my expectations were not entirely fulfilled. …

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