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Excerpts -- Book God is One: The Way of Islam

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EXCERPTS From Chapter 1: “Why Is It Important to Know About Islam?”
By the Rev. Dr. R. Marston Speight

“In many respects Christians feel obliged to take Islam more seriously than ever before.  Muslims are telling the world that they, as well as Christians, are people who cross frontiers, that their faith is intended to be a blessing for the whole world, that they are called to spread Islam wherever it is not known.  So this modern encounter between two dynamic, missionary religions produces disconcerting reactions.

“Christians have usually felt that it was their role to take the initiative and to go forth into the world, and that those to whom they went would respond (with more or less receptiveness) to their witness.  But when modern Christianity meets modern Islam, we find two religions moving out into the whole world, both of them inspired by a vision of spreading their faith among all peoples.  How do we Christians respond to this situation?

“….I have given a five-fold answer to the question, ‘Why is it important to know about Islam?’  And in the process I have provided a short introduction to this book’s contents. Now I want to point out the ruling principle in my approach to Islam: it is founded on the Golden Rule, as expressed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12).  This precept of ethical behavior states that we should do to others as we would have others do to us.  In describing Islam, I shall try to present its ideals and standards, its history and development, while holding as closely as I can to the way in which Muslims themselves describe it.

“Of course I cannot do this completely, because I am writing as an outsider, albeit a sympathetic one, to the religion.   But I can abstain from picking at faults in Islam, casting it deliberately in a bad light and emphasizing the human weakness of some of its leaders.  That is the way I would like Muslims to present the Christian faith when they have occasion to describe it.   I would be disappointed if they chose to dwell on some of the petty and unworthy aspects of the church’s history.”

EXCERPTS From the “Afterword”

“As images of Muslims both in North America and abroad have become increasingly visible since the terrorist attacks of fall 2001, many people are trying to understand who these Muslims are, and in which countries they predominate.  What, exactly, is meant by ‘the Muslim world?’  Who are its ‘citizens?’  According to A World Religions Reader, edited by Ian Markham … Muslims number nearly a billion and a half, estimated at 1,147,494,000, or 19.6% of the world’s population …

“Bridging divisions of race and ethnicity, the religion of Islam is represented in virtually all the nations of the world.  Contrary to what many North Americans believe, not all Muslims are Arabs; only about one-fifth of the Muslim world is of Arab background.  (It is also true that some Arabs are Christian and have been so since the time of Christ.)

“…With such a large and rapidly growing population, the world of Islam is not monolithic but represents a great range of cultural variations, educational and economic levels, theological interpretations and ideological positions.   Americans often find it difficult to understand that while all Muslims hold the revelation of the Qur’an to be sacred, and revere the life and practice of the Prophet Muhammad, there are many things about which they have very different opinions.  While the world’s second largest religion is not characterized by denominationalism like Christianity, there are many, many ‘varieties’ of Islam.”

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