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Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective


Bonnie Evans-Hills and Michael Rusk

Is it possible to bridge two faiths, to cross through myriad cultures, and to seek to understand some of today’s great global crises from the viewpoint of the other? With an estimated 5 million Muslims in the United States, Islam is a faith that invites attention. Beginning with the perceived dissonance of east and west, of Christianity and Islam, and working through the complexity of antagonistic worldviews that have been perpetuated over the centuries, Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective seeks to rediscover the deep interconnectedness between these two world faiths. The political upheavals experienced across North Africa and the Middle East and the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in north east Nigeria indicate the urgency and importance of establishing constructive dialogue. This book sets local dialogue in the wider context of the significant international conversations that have been taking place between the two faiths. The emergence of Scriptural Reasoning as a major tool of inter-religious dialogue is explained and illustrated. However, this perspective is balanced by a consideration of how dialogue can proceed while acknowledging the diatribe, hostility, and violence that in some parts of the world terrorize adherents of both faiths. Re-establishing a dialogue of trust, three areas are explored that reveal the potential radical outcomes of meaningful dialogue. An important corrective is given as to how women perceive themselves as Muslims; the question of whether one can be actively gay and Muslim is raised; and the complex issues surrounding inter-faith worship are sensitively explored. Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective offers the intriguing possibility that local conversation can bring about profound transformation to both faiths.
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I hadn’t known Michael Rusk long when he invited me to visit his home, providing me with lemon cake and a lovely pot of tea, and in his unnervingly subtle way asked me to write a book with him. How could I refuse? He has the gift of celebrating and bringing out the gifts of others, much of the time sitting back and allowing them the limelight. Oftentimes his own gifts of wisdom and gentle strength can go unnoticed, but not by me. He has an ability to filter all the memories, myriad notes and bits of information jumbling around in my brain, into a cohesive account told with deep sensitivity. How is it possible to express appropriate gratitude for the friendship of someone who has enabled you to feel you have a positive contribution to share with the world? Thank you, Michael.

My daughters, Zahra and Elva, walk alongside me in this journey of life. It has not always been easy for them, but they continue to encourage me to write and forbear their mother’s eccentricities with patient grace.

Two people who gave me a place in the Church, who took a chance on me and encouraged my ministry in interfaith dialogue are the Rt. Revd. Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Woolwich, and the Rt. Revd. John Hind, retired Bishop of Chichester. I hope their trust has been rewarded. ← XI | XII →

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