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Spring 2016 · Vol. 45 No. 1 · pp. 86–96 

Recommended Reading

Islam and Christianity: A Classified, Annotated Bibliography

Vic Froese

This bibliography barely scratches the surface of the English works published on Islam over the last twenty-five years. Even before 9/11, interest in the 1,400-year-old religious tradition had been growing. Since 1990, the number of English monographs published annually on some aspect of the religion has consistently been near or over 1,000. 1 (In 2006 and 2009, the number actually exceeded 2,000.) I chose the few volumes listed below because they were recommended by scholars in the field, or because they received good reviews in academic journals or reputable websites, or because I ran across them in the CMU library and they seemed a good fit. With one or two exceptions, I have steered away from more sensational or polemical titles; the biases and suspicions they encourage only inhibit the inclination to give “the other” a fair hearing. Annotations have been provided to help readers to decide whether a particular book will have what they are looking for. 2

INTRODUCTIONS TO ISLAM

Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. Revised and updated edition. New York: Modern Library, 2002.

A popular and sometimes controversial author, Armstrong has produced a book that has been called “one of the best introductions to Islam available today for the educated lay reader and aspiring student-scholar.” 3 Not afraid to offer value judgments, this introduction is for readers who like their information to have an edge to it.

Braswell, George W. What You Need to Know about Islam and Muslims. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000.

Braswell, a professor of missions and world religions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, previously lived in Iran for twenty years. His deep respect for Muslims is quickly apparent in this straightforward primer to the Islamic faith tradition.

Cragg, Kenneth. The Call of the Minaret. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oneworld, 2000.

First published in 1956, the republication of this book is fully justified. Meticulous in his scholarship and spiritually discerning in his conclusions, the {87} late Kenneth Cragg (an Anglican bishop and scholar) has given educated readers an introduction to Islam and its relationship with Christianity that remains relevant sixty years after it first appeared. The Call is not the for the faint of heart but it will richly repay a close reading.

Esposito, John L., ed. The Oxford History of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

This hefty volume (749 pp.) consists of fifteen longer essays by a mostly American group of Islam experts. Along with well written essays, the book includes gorgeous images and maps, making it a feast for the eyes as well as the mind. It’s not for penny-pinchers, but any good academic library should have one.

Martinson, Paul Varo, ed. Islam: An Introduction for Christians. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1994.

Edited for an American audience, this English version of the German best seller adds a section on Islam in North America and replaces the German bibliography with an English one. The essentials of Islam are nicely summarized, and a chronology of Islamic history, holiday calendar, glossary, scripture indexes, and a list of Islamic and interfaith organizations are appended. Noteworthy is part 5: “Islam—A Christian Appreciation.”

THE QUR’AN

A copy of the Qur’an is only truly the Qur’an if it is in Arabic. But that doesn’t keep Muslims from translating it. There are dozens of English translations of the Qur’an. Below are just a few recommended by Muslim scholars or informed Muslim laypeople. Also listed are several introductions and companions.

Translations

Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Qurʼan: Translation. 5th U.S. edition. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qurʼan, 2015.

Though some are put off by its thee’s and thou’s, this translation (first published in 1938) is still regarded with great respect.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, et al. The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. First edition. New York: HarperOne, 2015.

This new English translation of the Qur’an, along with fifteen accompanying essays, is getting rave reviews from Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and other scholars. “A monument of religious literature,” “truly magisterial,” “a stupendous achievement,” “a major milestone” are just a few of the accolades heaped on it. If such praises are more than empty hype, this is the version to get. The e-book format may be preferred, since the 2,000-page tome will take up significant space on a book shelf. {88}

Pickthall, Muhammad Marmaduke. The Koran. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1992.

A British novelist, journalist, and religious leader, Pickthall (d. 1936) first published his English translation in 1930. It remains a favorite among English-speaking Muslims.

Introductions and Companions

Mattson, Ingrid. The Story of the Qurʼan: Its History and Place in Muslim Life. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

“The best introduction to the Qur’an for those who wish to know how Muslims read and interact with the Qur’an. A delicate balance of highly scholarly material and inviting anecdotes, bringing the Qur’an alive in ways only someone fully engaged with Islam and sensitive to twenty-first century realities can.” 4

McAuliffe, Jane Dammen, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Qurʼan. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Written both for students of Islam and for the seriously curious, this is a highly recommended work. The topics of its fifteen essays include the historical origins of the Qur’an, its literary genre, its “recitation and esthetic reception,” and womens’ readings of the book.

Rippin, Andrew, ed. The Blackwell Companion to the Qurʼan. Blackwell Companions to Religion. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.

An international team of scholars contributes thirty-two essays to this companion for students of the Qur’an. The current variety of perspectives and approaches to reading and interpreting the scripture is well represented, though the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches are not so clearly identified. Still, this is a comprehensive guide that can serve both advanced and beginning students well.

THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD

Cragg, Kenneth. Muhammad and the Christian: A Question of Response. London: Darton, Longman, and Todd; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1984.

Cragg’s wisdom suffuses this exploration of how a Christian might respond to the figure of Muhammad. Cragg sees his way to affirming Muhammad as a prophet of God, but observes that if one maintains that the mission of Jesus the Messiah took him along the path of suffering and defeat, then Muhammad’s choice of military means to further his mission will always strike a dissonant, even tragic note.

Lings, Martin. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. New York: Inner Traditions International, 1983.

Lings (d. 2005) was a British convert to Islam and a renowned scholar. {89} Muhammad is widely considered to be the best modern English biography of Islam’s prophet. It earned the author recognition from Muslims around the world and even prizes from the governments of Egypt and Pakistan.

Watt, W. Montgomery. Muhammad at Mecca. Oxford: Clarendon, 1953.

Described as “one of the best treatments of the life of the Prophet,” mostly on account of Watt’s determination to follow the primary texts closely and resist theories that could distort the portrait given there.

———. Muhammad at Medina. Oxford: Clarendon, 1956.

Watt’s second installment of the Muhammad biography, executed with the same exemplary scholarship as the first.

WAR, PEACE, JUSTICE

Augsburger, David W., and Mohammed Abu-Nimer, eds. Peace-Building by, between, and beyond Muslims and Evangelical Christians. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009.

Presentations made at consultations held in 2005 and 2006 and organized by faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary, the Salam Institute of Peace and Justice, and the Islamic Society of North America. This collection demonstrates that productive conversations between evangelical Christians and Muslims need not avoid thorny issues and can encourage them to work together for justice and peace.

Haile, Ahmed Ali, David W. Shenk. Teatime in Mogadishu: My Journey as a Peace Ambassador in the World of Islam. Christians Meeting Muslims Series. Harrisonburg, VA; Waterloo, ON: Herald, 2011.

David Shenk relates the compelling story of Ahmed Ali Haile, a Somali Christian with a calling to help warring Muslim Somali clans make their way to peace.

Huebner, Harry J., and M. Legenhausen, eds. Peace and Justice: Essays from the Fourth Shi’i Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue. Winnipeg, MB: CMU Press, 2011.

This volume of fifteen essays—eight of them by Muslim scholars—demonstrates how important peace and justice are to Islam. At the same time, it shows that the meanings Muslims attach to those terms do differ from Western meanings in important respects. Also included is a brief overview by the late A. James Reimer, of a decade of Shi’i Muslim/Mennonite Christian dialogue.

Van Gorder, A. Christian. Islam, Peace and Social Justice: A Christian Perspective. Cambridge, UK: James Clarke, 2014.

Van Gorder urges Christians and Muslims to find ways to work together “on shared ethical and moral convictions about pressing social justice {90} issues that we all can agree should be addressed with pragmatism and urgency” (209). Endorsed by David Shenk, who authors the book’s foreword.

Woodberry, J. Dudley, Osman Zümrüt, and Mustafa Köylü, eds. Muslim and Christian Reflections on Peace: Divine and Human Dimensions. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005. 

Twelve essays (each dealing with an aspect of peace from either a Muslim or a Christian perspective) make up this volume, which documents the symposium on “interreligious dialogue as a contribution to world peace,” held in Turkey in 2001. The five Christian contributors include Miroslav Volf (Yale Divinity School) and Dudley Woodberry (Fuller Theological Seminary); the seven other contributors are Muslim professors and a graduate student from Ondokuz Mayis University in Turkey.

ISLAM AND JESUS

Ali, Muhammad. Muhammad and Christ. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2010.

A reprint of Ali’s 1921 Lahore edition, this book is primarily a sharp polemic against Christian claims regarding Jesus’s divinity, but also, interestingly, against Muslim claims that he was special. Jesus (unlike Noah, Abraham, or Moses) was not perfect; his birth was not miraculous; he did not ascend to heaven or die on the cross. The Jesus of Christians is a fabrication and therefore cannot hold a candle to Muhammad. Ali claims to base his arguments on close readings of the Bible and of the Qur’an.

Cragg, Kenneth. Jesus and the Muslim: An Exploration. London; Boston: G. Allen & Unwin, 1985.

An excellent introduction to the New Testament, but tailored to address Muslim interests and concerns. Cragg’s study of the meaning of Jesus engages with the Qur’an, Muslim poetry, and Muslim devotional literature, while it remains faithful to the New Testament proclamation of Jesus’s lordship.

Khalidi, Tarif. The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Explores the Sufi/pietistic Muslim literature (but not the Qur’an) and finds that Jesus is an object of intense devotion, reverence, and even love.

Parrinder, Geoffrey. Jesus in the Qurʼan. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1965.

Parrinder, a Methodist missionary to West Africa for many years, examines the Jesus portrayed in the Qur’an. A careful scholar, he provides keen insights into the main points of commonality that pull Christianity and Islam towards each other, even as they push them apart. {91}

Peters, F. E. Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Peters’s study takes a comparative approach to the central figures of Christianity and Islam “in the hope that each of the parallel tracks might illuminate the other” (xxiii). Just as important, the book shows how the recorded stories shed light on the commitments and spirituality of the believers who continually return to them and make them models for their lives.

Phipps, William E. Muhammad and Jesus: A Comparison of the Prophets and Their Teachings. New York: Continuum, 1996.

Phipps compares Muhammad and Jesus in terms of their personal background, early life, later life, scriptures, personal conduct, social teachings, sanctions, and veneration. Although Muhammad is not to Islam what Jesus is to Christian faith (Jesus’s role is better compared with the Qur’an), the comparison gives the uninitiated an accessible introduction to the disagreements Muslims and Christians have, and to the remarkable individuals at the center of the two faiths.

Siddiqui, Mona. Christians, Muslims, and Jesus. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.

The author is a professor at the University of Edinburgh and practitioner as well as advocate of interfaith dialogue. Remarkably well-read in Christian theology for a Muslim, Siddiqui is also sensitive to Christian reverence, as is evident in her circumspect concluding thoughts, “Reflections on the Cross.” The book tacitly challenges Christians to lend an equally empathetic ear to Muslim piety.

Zahniser, A. H. Mathias. The Mission and Death of Jesus in Islam and Christianity. Faith Meets Faith series. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2008.

A bold book that addresses a question some conciliatory Muslims and Christians would just as soon avoid: Was Jesus crucified or not? Zahniser carefully examines the Islamic and Christian sources to determine precisely what they teach. He suggests that the conflict of views about Jesus may well be rooted in early interpretations of the Qur’an rather than in the Qur’an itself. This deduction, however, may itself be contentious.

ANABAPTISTS AND MUSLIMS

Bryant, M. Darrol, A. James Reimer, and Susan Kennel Harrison, eds. On Spirituality: Essays from the Third Shi’i Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue. Kitchener, ON: Pandora, 2010.

Mennonite and Shi’i Muslim scholars compare spiritualities in this collection of essays issuing from the 2007 dialogues in Canada. Some of the topics discussed are: spirituality and submission, spiritual formation and the requisites of faith, mysticism and religion, politics and religion, spiritual poverty, and the role of rituals in cultivating spirituality. {92}

Eby, Omar. A Whisper in a Dry Land: A Biography of Merlin Grove, Martyr for Muslims in Somalia. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1968.

The story of a Canadian missionary called to Somalia by the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions in 1960. Two years later in Mogadishu, Grove was stabbed to death by a mullah opposed to the Mennonite-run boys school of which Grove was principal. Leaving behind a wife and three children, Grove was only thirty-three years old when he died.

Haile, Ahmed Ali, and David W. Shenk. Teatime in Mogadishu: My Journey as a Peace Ambassador in the World of Islam. Harrisonburg, VA; Waterloo, ON: Herald, 2011.

David Shenk relates the compelling story of Ahmed Ali Haile, a Somali Christian with a calling to help warring Somali Muslim clans make their way to peace.

Hostetler, Marian. Algeria, Where Mennonites and Muslims Met 1955–1978. Elkhart, IN: M.E. Hostetler, 2003.

From 1961–1970, Hostetler served in Algeria under the Mennonite Board of Missions. Her book documents the challenges of her work and that of the many others who served in Algeria over the twenty-three years that MCC and MBM operated there. It includes significant correspondence from mission workers, offering insight into the joys and frustrations of their work.

Huebner, Harry J., and M. Legenhausen, eds. Peace and Justice: Essays from the Fourth Shi’i Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue. Winnipeg, MB: CMU Press, 2011.

This volume of fifteen essays—eight of them by Muslim scholars—demonstrates how important peace and justice are to Islam. At the same time, it shows that the meanings Muslims attach to those terms do differ from Western meanings in important respects. Also included is a brief overview by the late A. James Reimer, of a decade of Shi’i Muslim/Mennonite Christian dialogue.

Huebner, Harry J., and M. Legenhausen, eds. On Being Human: Essays from the Fifth Shiʼi Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue. Winnipeg, MB: CMU Press, 2013.

A few of the titles in this engaging volume are: “Man in the Qur’an,” “Human Nature and Destiny in Biblical Perspective,” “Religion, Culture, and Social Well-being from an Islamic Perspective,” “Islam and Human Rights,” and “Islamic Womanology.”

Kateregga, Badru D., and David W. Shenk. A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue. Updated ed. Christians Meeting Muslims Series. Harrisonburg, VA; Waterloo, ON: Herald, 2011.

Kateregga, a Muslim, and Shenk, a Mennonite, present their understanding of key doctrines (the oneness of God, Adam and Eve/Hauwa, sin, the {93} prophets, salvation/peace, worship, etc.). The other author provides a brief response, which might elicit a clarification from the first. This is a helpful introduction to the sort of issues that arise when Christians and Muslims converse with each other about their faith.

Krabill, James R., David W. Shenk, and Linford Stutzman, eds. Anabaptists Meeting Muslims: A Calling for Presence in the Way of Christ. Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald, 2005.

Fifty-six mission workers, mission and service agency leaders, and Anabaptist academics contribute to this collection of essays and reports. The papers and responses were originally presented at a 2003 consultation on Islam convened at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia. Topics include the history of Mennonite engagement with Muslims, dialogue and apologetics, and literature and media in the Middle East. Sixteen reports from mission workers in Africa and Asia fill out this substantial collection.

Nickel, Gordon. The Gentle Answer to the Muslim Accusation of Biblical Falsification. Mumbai: Bruton Gate, 2014.

Based on his PhD thesis, Nickel’s book “gently” answers the common Muslim charge that the Bible has been tampered with, hence falsified, and therefore presents a distorted view of God, of Jesus the Messiah, and of the prophetic expectation of Muhammad’s coming.

———. Peaceable Witness among Muslims. Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald, 1999.

Nickel provides those called to witness to Jesus in Muslim contexts with a kind of extended handbook. Underscoring the importance of a church-centered incarnational witness, an ethic of love, servanthood and nonviolent persuasion, and an understanding of the gospel as peace, he skilfully guides his readers through the maze of Christian-Muslim relations.

Ratliff, Walter R. Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2010.

Ratliff tells the story of how Russian Mennonites in the 1880s prepared for the Second Coming by embarking on a trek that took them to the kingdom of Khiva in Central Asia. The encounter of Mennonites with the Muslims of Uzbekistan became a story of friendship and cooperation which continued well into the Soviet era.

Shenk, David W. Christian. Muslim. Friend. Twelve Paths to Real Relationship. Christians Meeting Muslims Series. Harrisonburg, VA; Kitchener, ON: Herald, 2014.

This book won Christianity Today’s 2016 book-of-the-year award in the Missions/Global Church category. Mixing personal stories and wisdom gleaned from many years of working with and befriending Muslims in East Africa, Shenk offers much practical advice (and assurance) to followers of {94} Jesus who find themselves meeting Muslims, but unsure how best to share their faith or even interact with them.

DIALOGUE

Bryant, M. Darrol, and S. A. Ali, eds. Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Promise and Problems. 1st ed. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 1998.

Published before 9/11, these essays, presented at a conference convened in Waterloo, Ontario, testify to the already perceived need for Muslims and Christians to talk to each other. Especially helpful are the historical accounts of the beginnings of Muslim-Christian dialogue and the initial Muslim misgivings regarding such exchanges. Discussions of difficult subjects, like Jesus, Muhammad, and the role of women remind us that significant issues will not be resolved quickly, if ever.

Shah-Kazemi, Reza. The Other in the Light of the One: The Universality of the Qur’an and Interfaith Dialogue. Cambridge [England]: Islamic Texts Society, 2006.

“Shah-Kazemi’s work is an attempt to draw upon the resources of Sufi scriptural reasoning to produce a rigorous defence of Islam as a privileged and universal tradition that recognises others on their own terms whilst eschewing the three paths of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism. He argues that we need to move beyond polemics and diatribes because the Qur’an itself affirms the truth and message of other prophets.” 5

Troll, Christian W. Dialogue and Difference: Clarity in Christian-Muslim Relations. Trans. by David Marshall. Faith Meets Faith. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 2009.

A Jesuit and long-time scholar of Islam, Troll deftly identifies the sociological, ethical, and political dimensions of dialogue (part 1); moves on to distinctions in the beliefs of Muslims and Christians (part 2); and ends by examining theological assessments (part 3). Though the perspective is Catholic, non-Catholics will benefit from Troll’s expert knowledge and analyses of the main sticking points that arise in Christian-Muslim dialogues.

Volf, Miroslav. Allah: A Christian Response. New York: HarperOne, 2011.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Volf insists that they do, but that they offer “rival versions” of that God. After reviewing the history of disputes and the Christian doctrine of God’s triune nature, Volf considers how Christians and Muslims might make their way clear to working together for the common good and the political arrangements that might make this possible. {95}

Volf, Miroslav, Ghazi bin Muhammad, and Melissa Yarrington, eds. A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

An extensive discussion of “A Common Word,” an open letter sent by 138 Muslim leaders to Christian leaders via The New York Times in 2007, proposing that Muslims and Christians cooperate in working for justice and peace in the world. Both Christians and Muslims offer thoughtful reflections on the document and its possible impact on future relations between the two great religious traditions.

RECENT BOOKS

Ahmed, Shahab. What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.

Ahmed’s 500-page book aims to make the contradictions in Islamic belief and practice around the world comprehensible, but in such a way that variations can be appreciated as coherent and authentically Islamic. He proposes that Islam be conceptualized “as hermeneutical engagement with Pre-Text, Text, and Con-Text of Revelation to Muhammad” (363). Apart from hoping to dispel the confusion of outsiders regarding Islam, the author also seeks to promote greater recognition among Muslims themselves that Islamic variations typically emerge from thoughtful interpretation of the authorities, rather than from stubborn heresy.

Arjana, Sophia Rose. Muslims in the Western Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Every culture has a store of monsters symbolizing the anxieties of the age. Here, Arjana (Iliff School of Theology) examines the motif of the Muslim monster as it was shaped in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, early modernity, the age of colonialism, and as it continues to take form in post-9/11 America. Arguing that belief in monsters is often rooted in racial, ethnic, and sexual apprehensions, the author carefully analyzes theological texts, dramatic works, art, and film to trace the emergence and evolution of the Muslim monster in the collective imagination of the West.

Fernández-Morera, Darío. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2016.

In the reasonable belief that it is better to face unpleasant truths than embrace inspiring illusions, Fernández-Morera examines the evidence for the peaceful co-existence of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Islamic Spain. He finds it wanting. Contrary to popular opinion, “the best [Muslim] rulers of al-Andalus were autocrats who through brute force kept the peace in the face of religious, dynastic, racial, and other divisions.” 6 The stakes being what they are, critical reviews are sure to follow. {96}

NOTES

  1. This, according to WorldCat, OCLC’s online catalogue, http://www.worldcat.org. The number does not include the numerous Master’s or PhD theses on Islamic subjects.
  2. Some of these books have annotated bibliographies themselves. Among them is Gordon Nickel’s more focused bibliography in Peaceable Witness Among Muslims (Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1999), 143–49.
  3. Donna J. Maier, review of Islam: A Short History [first edition], by Karen Armstrong, Africa & the Middle East 29 (Spring 2001): 130.
  4. Joseph Lumbard, “Recommended Reading List of Dr. Joseph Lumbard,” A Common Word website, under “Reading Lists,” http://www.acommonword.com/docs/BL%20JKL.pdf.
  5. Sajjad H. Rizvi, review of The Other in the Light of the One: The Universality of the Qurʼan and Interfaith Dialogue, by Reza Shah-Kazemi, Journal of Qurʼanic Studies 11, no. 2 (2009): 130.
  6. Darío Fernández-Morera, “The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise,” The Intercollegiate Review (Fall 2006): 23.

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