Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Category: Islamic Studies
God - or Allah? - it seems can bring good out of even the greatest of evils. An ongoing consequence of Osama Bin Laden's crimes against humanity and God on September 11th 2001 is a renewed interest in Muslim-Christian relations.
From the Christian side a plethora of books have been reissued or published introducing Islam from a Christian perspective. This book looks at things from the other side: a Muslim writing specifically for Christians to introduce us to her faith, not necessarily to convert (though she'd clearly be delighted by this) but to enlighten and dispel a few myths.
The book was written before September 11th 2001 and does not address that particular horror directly - but the author pulls no punches in condemning terrorist activities as no more representative of true Islam than the evils of the Inquisition or of Northern Ireland are of true Christianity.
Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood knows her subject: she gained an honours degree in Christian theology at Hull University in 1963 then went on to work for over thirty years as the Head of Religious Studies in a state school, eventually converting to Islam in 1986, an experience that she describes as "the feeling of finding my place at last, of coming home." (p.141)
She presents her material in four sections, mostly in a question and answer format:
1) The Religious Beliefs of Islam Explained - amongst other topics: "Muslims are not the enemy - the Crusades are over!" and "Belief in God, His Unity - 'Tawhid'"
2) The Religous Duties of Islam Explained - What are the 'pillars of Islam'? What is the 'religious tax'? "What is that big black cube-shaped building?"
3) Miscellaneous Questions - questions such as "Are Muslims extremists?", "Are Muslim men allowed to beat their wives?" and "What about Israel and the PLO?"
4) Christianity and Islam - focusing primarily on the differences between the Islamic and Christian concepts of God and comparing our respective beliefs about Muhammad and Jesus, and finishing on a very personal note: "My mother's question - Why did my daughter, who I have always believed to be intelligent and in her right mind, choose to become one of these Muslims?"
In 146 pages this book can only skim the surface and it becomes clear that there are irreconcilable differences between our faiths - the concepts of incarnation and the divinity of Jesus perhaps being the most fundamental - but we should, at least, be able to differ peaceably. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest - but above all, enjoy a more enlightened dialogue with your Muslim friends and neighbours.
Phil Groom, May 2002
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.
Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.
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