Teaching Christians about Islam : a study in 3. ADDRESSING ISSUES RELATED TO ISLAM AND OTHER FAITHS:

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Transcript of Teaching Christians about Islam : a study in 3. ADDRESSING ISSUES RELATED TO ISLAM AND OTHER FAITHS:






    A thesis submitted to the

    Faculty of Theology

    of the University of Birmingham

    for the degree of


    Centre for the Study of Islam

    and Muslim-Christian Relations

    Selly Oak Colleges

    September 1993

  • University of Birmingham Research Archive

    e-theses repository This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.

  • L.\


    Some of the major Issues Involved in teaching Christians about Islam are

    discussed on the basis of the author's experience of teaching in three

    different contexts: in work with Christian students in the Middle East, in

    an Anglican Theological College in Bristol, and in the Department of

    Mission at Selly Oak, Birmingham. Several other teaching programmes are

    described and evaluated. A rationale is then presented for the content and

    method of two educational programmes which have been developed to work out

    the author's approach in detail: a book entitled Cross and Crescent:

    Responding to the Challenge of Islam (to be published in 1994), and a

    training course with the same title (to be offered for use in British

    churches by the British and Foreign Bible Society from 1994), which uses

    some of the material from the book.





    2. FROM ALLAHABAD TO BIRMINGHAM: Autobiography and Context

    2.1 India. Scotland and Egypt. 1938 - 1973

    2.2 Birmingham and Beirut. 1973 - 1983

    2.2.1 Birmingham, 1973 - 1975 11 2.2.2 Beirut, 1975 - 1983 12 2.2.3 'You Go and Do the Same': Studies in Relating to Muslimsl3 2.2.4 Field-testing the material 16 2.2.5 The Message of the Tawrat. the Zabur and the In.111 19

    2.3 Bristol. 1983 - 1990

    2.3.1 Trinity College, Bristol 21 2.3.2 'Mission and Religion' in the 1983 CNAA Submission 22 2.3.3 Student evaluations 24 2.3.4 Revisions in the 1988 CNAA Submission 28 2.3.5 Introducing the Other-Faiths Dimension into Theological

    Education, and Facing the Challenge of Islam in Theological Education 31

    2.4 Birmingham. 1990 -

    2.4.1 'Christian Responses to Islam' 40 2.4.2 Presentation at the Graduate Seminar 44


  • 3. ADDRESSING ISSUES RELATED TO ISLAM AND OTHER FAITHS: Four presentations In different contexts 51

    3. 1 Going Soft on Islam? Reflections on Some Evangelical Responses to Islam. Lalng Lecture, London Bible College, 1988

    3.1.1. Introduction and Conclusion 54

    3.1.2. Appreciating the diversity of evangelical responses 57

    3.1.3. Pin-pointing basic issues 67

    3.2 Two Missing Disciplines in Evangelical Responses to Pluralism? Tyndale Fellowship Conference, 1991 85

    3.2.1. Introduction 86

    3.2.2. Theology and Mission 88

    3.2.3. Theology and religion 95

    3.3. The Study of Islam for Missionaries London, 1988

    3.3.1. The need explained 102

    3.3.2. Responses to questionnaire 104

    3.3.3. Some conclusions 106

    3.4. Training for Work among Muslims Holland, 1991 108

    3.4.1. Introduction 109

    3.4.2. What progress have we made in recent years? 109

    3.4.3. What weaknesses are there in the training programmes? 110

    3.4.4. What is involved in training for work among Muslims?? 112

    3.4.5. What needs to be done to improve the training? 115


  • 4. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES IN CONTENT AND METHOD; An Evaluation of Other: Programmes

    4.1 Ishmael My Brother ; Anne Cooper 118

    4. 1. 1. Outline 119

    4.1.2. Strengths 120

    4. 1.3. Weaknesses 122

    4.2 In the Family of Abraham. Anne Cooper 125

    4.2.1. Outline 126

    4.2.2. Strengths 126

    4.2.3. Weaknesses 127

    4.3 The Presence of Muslims in Europe and the Theological Training of Pastoral Workers. 'Islam in Europe' Committee of the Conference of European Churches

    4.3. 1. Outline 132

    4.3.2. Strengths 133

    4.3.3. Weaknesses 133


  • 5. RATIONALE FOR THE BOOK Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam 138

    5.1 Outline 139

    5 . 2 Introduction 1 40

    5.3 Opening pages and summary of each chapter, Parts 1-5 145

    5.4 Conclusion 157


    6. 1 Background 159

    6.2 Basic Principles 159

    6.3 Outline 162

    6.4 Outline for leaders 164

    7. CONCLUSION 169


    APPENDICES: 1. Evaluation form used at Trinity College i

    2. CNAA Submission, Trinity College, January, 1988 iii

    3. Christian Responses to Islam Outline of course taught at Selly Oak xxvi

    4. Questionnaire Concerning Preparation for Missionary Work among Muslims xxvii

    5. Draft manuscript of the book Cross and Crescent; Responding to the Challenge of Islam (printed separately)

    6. Draft of the Workbook for the Bible Society Course Cross and Crescent (printed separately;



    Why should Christians want or need to learn about Islam? The most obvious

    basic reasons can perhaps be summed up in the following words: curiosity,

    co-existence, mutual enrichment and mission.

    The first reason has to do with that basic curiosity which makes people

    want to know about other human beings. So whether they find themselves

    living alongside Muslims, or are simply becoming aware of the existence of

    Islam in the modern world, many Christians want to know about this great

    world religion which is 'so near and yet so far', so close in many respects

    to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and yet in others so different and even


    The second has to do with co-existence, and arises out of the complex

    history of relationships between the two faiths over fourteen centuries and

    the need for peaceful co-existence at the present time. In many countries

    today Muslims and Christians live together peacefully and with mutual

    respect and understanding. But one only has to mention countries like

    Yugoslavia/Bosnia, Sudan, and Nigeria to be reminded of situations where

    there are deep divisions between the different communities. Meeting

    Muslims face to face and learning about Islam will not by itself provide

    instant solutions; but it may at least help Christians to appreciate the

    complexity of the many different factors - historical, religious, racial,

    social, economic and political - which contribute to the tensions, and may

    perhaps enable the two communities to live together more peacefully.

    The third reason can be summed up as the need for mutual enrichment. This

    goes beyond the need for peaceful co-existence, since according to this

    view, Christians should welcome the opportunity of learning from Islam and

    from Muslims, and renounce the arrogance that claims that Christianity

    contains 'the whole truth 1 . Whether or not Muslims are open to learn from

    Christians and from Christianity in the same way, Christians often bear

    witness to the fact that in the process of dialogue with Muslims their own

    faith is deepened and enriched.

  • The fourth reason is related to the fact that we are dealing with two

    religious traditions which are 'missionary' by their very nature. Both

    religions have historically believed that the revelation they have received

    is final and absolute, and Is therefore in some sense for all humankind.

    da cwa is an invitation to non-Muslims to accept the religion of Islam, and

    is not significantly different In principle from the Christian concept of

    'mission'. Many Christians understand the Great Commission of Matthew

    28:18 - 20 to mean that they have an obligation to 'make disciples of all

    nations'. They therefore want to understand Islam better as part of their

    Christian mission. It is also very likely that they will find themselves

    from time to time at the receiving end of Islamic da'wa.

    Realism will of course alert us to the great gulf between the 'want' and

    the 'need 1 . Many Christians can put forward a host of reasons to explain

    why they do not want to learn about Islam: they have no friends, neighbours

    or colleagues who are Muslims, and do not have the time or the interest to

    learn about something that is so far outside their own experience; since

    the Christian Gospel is 'God's last Word 1 to humankind, they have nothing

    to learn from a religion that developed 600 years after Christ; or they are

    not strong enough in their own faith to get involved with another faith

    which they think, in one way or another, must be 'inspired by the Devil'.

    In these situations