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Understanding Islam: An Introduction.

Understanding Islam: An Introduction. By C. T. R. Hewer. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006. xiv and 255 pages. Cloth. $35.00.

This is an interesting explication of Islam that manages to be not only detailed but also easily accessible, making it worthwhile reading for both the novice and the intermediate student of Islam. The book is aimed toward a primarily Christian, Western audience, which accounts for its two primary emphases.

First, the author attempts to correct some common misunderstandings of Islam and to offer a more nuanced and sympathetic portrayal than one often receives from the media and other popular sources. Second, he makes repeated helpful connections to Christian beliefs and practices, which facilitate for Christians thoughtful consideration of the similarities and differences between their faith and the faith of their fellow sons and daughters of Abraham.

One example will suffice. A point of contention between Christianity and Islam is the doctrine of the Trinity, with Islam refusing to recognize any form of plurality in God. After explaining the historical reasons for such a refusal, Hewer analyzes the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and suggests several ways in which Christians may actually find themselves closer to the Islamic position than is traditionally assumed.

Hewer organizes the book in ten chapters, each of which draws upon and expands the study of the previous chapters. However, he states in the introduction that it is possible, after reading the first three, which form the basis on which all subsequent chapters are built, to skip around according to one's interest. In any case, each chapter addresses both the historical and the contemporary contexts, examining what often are considered anomalies between practice and theory. So, for example, the question of suicide and suicide bombers is discussed, as well as the relationship between Muslims and Jews.

In summary, this is an excellent study of Islam and also a superior resource for any pastor or teacher who needs a one-volume reference on Islam on her shelf.

Kristin Johnston Largen

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
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Author:Largen, Kristin Johnston
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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