Printer Friendly

The challenge of Islamic fundamentalism for Christians.

A brief visit to Egypt in the late 1970s, en route to a WCC-sponsored meeting on Christian-Muslim dialogue, gave me the opportunity of visiting Coptic friends in el-Faiyum, a town some fifty miles southwest of Cairo where about a third of the population is Christian. Their quizzical interest in the conference I was about to attend revealed a measure of skepticism. Is there any possibility of dialogue with Muslims, they asked, when the skeikh of their local mosque was preaching fire and damnation against the Egyptian government, Christianity, and the West?(1) The name of this feisty preacher meant nothing to me at the time. But in recent months he has been bandied around the Western press an "Egypt's Khomeini...from Jersey City": Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, spiritual leader of the Al-Salam Mosque in Jersey City,(2) allegedly the ideologue behind the bomb outrage in New York's World Trade Center.

Since the early 1970s Sheikh Rahman has been an outspoken critic of successive Egyptian governments--likening Nasser to Pharoah, condoning Sadat's assassination, and condemning Mubarak as a pawn of U.S. interests. As an amir(3) of the radical Jama' at al-Muslimin group,(4) he justified militancy against Muslims whom he judged to be unbelievers.(5) He was arrested several times in Cairo, was refused permission to enter Saudi Arabia, and, after a year's haven in Sudan, finally came to the United States.

My Coptic friends' questioning of what kind of relationship they can foresee with Islam in light of the sheikh's fulminations is but one example of apprehensions widespread among Christians living in Muslim-dominated societies in the Middle East and in other parts of Asia and Africa. Similar questions are being asked by Christians in the West, nervous that what is termed "Islamic fundamentalism" will take root in Western societies where Muslim communities are growing.(6) The continuing Rushdie affair is a reminder that our "global village" is full of contradictions that make it at uncertain and dangerous place to live.(7)

It is the concern of this essay to wrestle with these questions in search for a sense of Christian relationship with Islam that will be realistic as well optimistic. In this regard the cautionary advice of an international group of Reformed Church Christians may help orientate our perspective: "Contemporary Christian stereotype of Islamization reflect three tendencies which militate against dialogue: sensationalism particularly in the mass media which oversimplifies complex realities; essentialism which tends to cast Islam as a monolithic religion and view all Muslims as the same; and extremism which regards all Muslims as fundamentalist with the implication that they are dogmatic, reactionary, and anti-modernist."(8)

Islamic Stereotypes in Recent Literature

Since the Iranian revolution of 1979 there has been a spate of journalistic-cum-academic literature on Islamic fundamentalism.(9) Critical appraisal of a selection of these books makes it abundantly clear that Christians have no monopoly on the stereotyping of Islam. The repertoire of conceptual interpretations has become standardized around the themes in the following sections.

Islamic Fundamentalism's Immanent Hegemony

An early example of prediction that Islamic fundamentalists are poised to take over the Muslim world is found in Militant Islam by the Indian-born British journalist Godfrey Jansen. Writing in the shadow of the Iranian revolution, he portrayed fundamentalism as the most potent force within the contemporary Muslim world, rooted in its Islamic past, successful in Iran and Pakistan, and "well placed to come to power ... in Egypt and the Sudan in the near future, and in Indonesia in the not too distant future."(10)

At the time of publication many people found these prophecies credible, but a decade of hindsight shows them to have been overstated. Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, remains committed to a constitution based on the pancasila principles of socioreligious pluralism.(11) Though Egypt is the home of the Muslim Brotherhood, arguably the strongest ideological force behind contemporary fundamentalism,(12) the government continues to proscribe its activities and has so far resisted falling prey to the more extreme groups spawned by the brotherhood.(13) The civil war in Sudan has in part to do with the constitutional future of the country's predominantly Muslim north and Christian south, but it is important to remember that the main advocate of Islamization, President Nimeiri, was removed from power in 1985. Pakistan's Islamization campaign, closely identified with the military government of Zia al-Haq, now seems caught between the contending programs of political parties in a restored democratic process. Even in Iran, where fundamentalism contributed to the successful Islamic revolution, the ideologically heady days of the 1980s are giving way to more sober and compromising counsels in the revolution's second decade. Iran, as we shall see below, is a special case and, along with the radical movements it protects in southern Lebanon, is unique among Muslim societies.

Fundamentalism as Islam's Wrath Against the West

If Jansen illustrates an element of extremism in much of the recent literature, there are abundant examples of sensationalism in the sense of reducing complex realities to single causes. Turning to the popular genre of travelogues, V. S. Naipaul, a Trinidad-born British novelist of Indian background, published his immensely readable Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (New York: Knopf, 1981). Through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia he introduces the reader to a panorama of contemporary Muslim contentions with a world that many feel is neither of the making nor of their hope. Anger against the West--its imperial history, its monopoly of resources, its political manipulations ensuring that Muslims' "half-made societies are doomed to remain half-made"--is Naipul's recurrent theme, and the prism through which he attempts to interpret Islamic fundamentalism. "Rage was what I saw."

Fundamentalism and Terrorism

Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam (Sussex, U.K.: Linden Press, 1985) is Robin Wright's journalistic foray into fundamentalism through the Iranian revolution.(14) She focuses upon terrorism as a particular manifestation of anger. Tracing the development of conflict between Iran and the United States before and after the Khomeini period, she shows how both sides proceeded largely on the basis of ignorance of the other. Critical as she is of U.S. failure to develop a consistency policy toward Islamic fundamentalism, she portrays the latter almost entirely in militant terms, falling back on the cliche of fanaticism. This is yet more crudely the case in John Laffin's Holy War, Islam Fights (London: Grafton Books, 1988).

Fundamentalism and Oil

A further example of single-issue sensationalism is to be noted in the perceived linkage between Islamic fundamentalism and oil. This thesis was first advanced by the American political scientist Daniel Pipes, who argues in a study entitled In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (New York: Basic Books, 1983) that the OPEC oil boom from the early 1970s fueled Islamic movements that opposed Western economic power. Tying Islamic fundamentalism closely to OPEC's fortunes, he predicted that the former could not survive the latter's decline. However, the actual politics of oil over the last ten years have seen a struggle between four major oil-producing states--Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran--whose mutually competitive socioeconomic policies (including wars between Iran and Iraq [1979-89] and more recently between Iraq and Kuwait/Saudi Arabia) have greatly weakened OPEC. Meanwhile the phenomenon of fundamentalism seems not to abate.

Fundamentalism as the Intrinsic Nature of Islam

These reductionist interpretations of Islamic fundamentalism are misleading in that they adhere to a single account of fundamentalism that, upon closer analysis, is shown to be untenable as a total explanation. They address symptoms more than causes. Does this suggest that fundamentalism is more deeply rooted in the very nature of Islam as a historic religious experience?

The case for an intrinsic fundamentalism has been argued by several scholars, for example, Bernard Lewis, who traces it to the traditional Muslim doctrine of the Qur'an as kalam Allah, the literal Word of God.(15) At a popular level Dilip Hiro's Holy Wars: The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism (London: Routledge, 1989) finds evidence of fundamentalism not only in Muslim attitudes to their sacred text but in the life of Prophet Muhammad and throughout the later developments of Islam.

With greater discrimination, however, the British doyen of Islamic scholarship, William Montgomery Watt, cautions that to assess Islam as fundamentalist by nature is to disregard the wide variety of religious, social, and political manifestation of Islamic identity throughout history.(16) It is, in fact, to play to the fundamentalists' own methodology and rhetoric, which seek to impose a particular view of Islam upon Muslims as a whole. Watt urges liberal scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim, to rectify this image by honoring the rich diversity of Islam's historic and contemporary experience.

Defining Islamic Fundamentalism: Egypt

Arabia has no equivalent for the English word "fundamentalism." We need to attempt a definition of the phenomenon through the concepts and actions of Muslims themselves, beginning with fundamentalist groups in Egypt.

Islamic Fundamentals of Religion

The concept of fundamentals certainly exists in Islamic thought, and centrally so in the importance of the usul ("roots," or "foundations") of religion. The roots of Islam lie in the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the shari'a. The Qur'an is held to be the very Word of God (kalam Allah). The Hadith, embodying the sunna, or inspired example of the Prophet Muhammad, serves to interpret and amplify the meaning of God's Word. Together, the Qur'an and Hadith constitute the sources of shari's, which, by a process of juristic discernment (figh), provides ethical instruction and guidance for Muslim communities and individuals. Traditional Islamic theology gives first place to these three fundamentals of religion, distinguishing them from everything else, which is derivative and therefore classified as "branches" (furu').

Islah as the Means of Renewal

Of the several Arabic terms that designate renewal, one that has enjoyed wide currency through the past century is islah--a word that has no precise English equivalent but that conveys the idea of making righteous. It was used particularly by Muslims from the second half of the nineteenth century who wanted to restore the identity of Islamic society (at the time largely controlled by European empires) by returning to the precedent of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions (salaf). Known as the Salafiya movement,(17) it eschewed anachronistic historicism by advocating a renewed use of reason 'agl) as the means of interpreting the fundamentals of religion over against centuries of imitative tradition (gaglid).

The classic exposition of this form of islah is found in the writing of the late nineteenth-century Egyptian Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), whose most systematic treatise is available in English translation under the title Theology of Unity.(18) It represents a milestone in the exercise of a modern ijtihad, or "personal reasoning" upon the usul of religion.

The Shari's as the Framework of an Islamic State

Abduh was a thinker who applied his ideas of islah to the development of educational and legal reform in Egypt. It fell to the next generation, inspired by his writing, to wrestle with wider issues of social renewal. Hassan al-Banna (1906-49) was not trained (as Abduh had been) in traditional Islamic learning. But in 1962 he founded a populist movement called the Muslim Brotherhood (al-ikhwan al-muslimun), largely in opposition to the secularizing nationalism of the political party (Wafd) that spearheaded the struggle for independence from Britain. He accepted the framework of a Western-originated nation-state but advocate the necessity of its being constituted according to the shari'a for the preservation of Islamic entegrity and order. the brotherhood streamlined their concept of shari'a into broad principles of public order (maslaha), within asocial ideology that preserved the unity of religion and public life against Western and nationalist distinctions between state religion.

After Egyptian independence the brotherhood quickly began to oppose Nasser, who in turn proscribed their activities. Their influence has nonetheless been widespread, especially among the social classes of the petit bourgeois shopkeepers and artisans and the young, mainly unemployed, intelligentia.

Generally considered to be the first "fundamentalist" movement in the Muslim world, the Muslim Brotherhood enables us to identify the phenomenon (1) as the social application of Islamic principles, (2) as a counterideology to the ruling elite, (3) with leaders emerging form outside the rank of religious professionals ('ulema), and (4) as attractive to people who feel themselves alienated from both traditional Islamic authority and secular rulers.

Jihad as the Means of Social Transformation

After Hassan al-Banna's death in 1949 at the hands of the secret police, ideological leadership of the brotherhood passed to Sayyid Qutb (1906-66). Two years' study in the United States (1949-51) left him profoundly disillusioned with Western society, and back in Egypt he devoted himself to the struggle to realize an Islamic alternative.

Central to his writing is the concept of jihad, the Arabic word for "striving," in which it is the duty of all Muslims to engage. The Prophet Muhammad taught that jihad is engaged at four levels: in the heart, as the place of spiritual striving; by the tongue, as the means of preaching anf teaching the message of Islam; by the hand, as the means of its social application; and finally by the sword, as the implement of its defense and confrontation against ungodly forces. This last meaning of militant struggle was exemplified in the Prophet Muhammad's strategy against pagan forces of Mecca from his home base in Medina. Sayyid Qutb drew an analogy between this and the situation in Egypt under the cold war pressures of Soviet and American influences. He declared Egypt to be in a state of pagan ignorance;(19) thus he justified the use fo force to bring about change.

The revived commitment to jihad is another defining attribute of Islamic fundamentalism. One of Qutb's contemporaries in the brotherhood, Muhammad al-Ghazali, referred to it as "the neglected duty," which is the title of a book devoted to the subject (see n. 5). But if Muslim fundamentalists all commit themselves to spiritual, propagandist, and socially active struggle for the faith, there are different answers to the question of when, and against whom, militant struggle is justified.

Militant Rebellion

Qutb was executed in 1966, having been found guilty of plotting armed rebellion against Nasser's government. The legacy of his more extreme teaching has been continued by clandestine groups that have adopted revolutionary strategies of change in contrast to the brotherhood's more evolutionary approach. Two main groups can be identified that have taken up acts of public violence: Al-Jihad, which traces its origins to a failed coup d'etat in the 1970s, some of whose members were responsible for Sadat's assassination in 1981; and Jama'atal-Muslimin, the group linked to the World Trade Centeer bombing and that claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Egyptian minister of religious affairs in 1977.

The difference between the two groups lies not in principle, for both justify the use of violence against those whom they denounce as unbelievers (kuffar), whether Muslim or not; they differ only in their judgement of who the kuffar are. For Al-Jihad they are the government, whereas the Jama'at al-Muslimin condemns the whole of Egyptian society for unbelief, regarding themsleves to have "migrated" spiritually and in some cases physically,(20) in order to create a pure Islamic community that can eventually defeat the ungodly nation.

Although we may take these groups as examples of extremist fundamentalism in Egypt, on the criterion of their justification of violence against other Muslims (whom they declare to be unbelievers), it is important to emphasize that they do not stand in the mainstream of Islam. Ideologically they represent a tiny faction that has effectively seceded from the much broader movement of the Muslim Brotherhood. Theologically they have crossed an ethical Rubicon that has few precedents in Islamic history, the Sunni mainstream having always maintained the doctrine that God alone is judge of a person who has testified the faith of Islam.(21)

The Case of Iran

The focus of so much media attention on Iran since its Islamic revolution of 1979 has linked the name of Ayatollah Khomeini with Islamic fundamentalism in the Western mind. The resulting generalizations ignore the specific characters of the Iranian situation in both religious and political terms and reduce the variety of Islamic fundamentalisms to a single model.

While factors of Persian history and culture contributed to the development of Shi'ism in the early centuries of Islam, it was not until the sixteenth century that Shi'ism was instated as the official form of Islam under the ruling dynasties of the shahs. It differs from Sunni Islam in its location of religious authority in the figure of the Imam, directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad's household, through the union of his cousin Ali with his daughter Fatima. As distinct from Sunni Muslims, the Shi'ites add the institution of the imamate of the trilogy of religious fundamentals described above.

Since the ninth century C.E. the majority of Shi'ites believes that the twelfth imam in succession to Ali exists in the invisible state of occulation (rayba), hidden from sight as the sun behind a cloud, but no less the source of light and spiritual guidance. The theory or Shi'ite religious leadership involves a hierarchy of "clergy" who receive and apply the guidance of the Hidden Imam as the infallible source of quaranic interpretation for the direction of the Muslim community. This will pertain until the coming messianic age, when the Imam will return to earth to establish a truly righteous society before the arrival of the Last Day.

At the head of this clerical hierarchy, for which Sunni Islam has no equivalent, stand the ayatollahs--the "signs of God" upon the earth. The most senior ayatollahs reside in the Shi'ite holy places in Iraq, associated with the martyrdom of Ali's son Hussain, killed by a Sunni army. It was during his exile in Iraq that Ayatollah Khomeini gave a famous series of lectures in which he developed his politicojuristic doctrine of the vilaya alfagih, or "authority of the religious jurist," in which he advocated the subordination of political leadership in Iran to the spiritual authority of the religious scholar (fagih).(22) His later success in marshaling Iraanian resentments in revolution against the shah returned him triumphantly to Iran in 1979, and the new Islamic constitution established this doctrine at its core.

Analysts of the Iranian revolution question the degree to which it was purely islamic in the sense of being motivated solely by religious factors. A potent variety of political and economic elements was involved. As the only major institution during the Pahlavi monarchy that successfully resisted state control, it was the clery, under Khomeini's uncompromising leadership, who were able to articulate popular grievances against the Westernizing trends of the shah's Iranian nationalism, eventually to the point of directing and "Islamizing" the forces of opposition.

Now into its second decade, and deprived of Ayatollah Khomeini's leadership, the Islamic Republic is moving into a new phase colored by ideological compromise, internal power sharing, and reconciliation with the United States. In terms of a descriptive definition of fundamentalism, this current status underlines two features: the strength of the fundamentalists lies in their defining, through religious symbols, the opposition to a ruling regime; the problem facing the fundamentalists is the difficulty of translating their religious generalizations into sustainable governmental programs.

Conclusions

If the foregoing analysis has helped developed a descriptive profile of the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism, it becomes clear that no simple definitions, as have been offered in much of the Western literature of the 1980s, are sufficient. The phenomenon is not monolithic. There are striking differences between the Iranian and Egyptian varieties, and within Egypt, where the phenomenon has a longer history than anywhere else in the Muslim world, we find a broad spectrum of theory and praxis.

This is why many scholars refuse to use the term "fundamentalism," deeming it too imprecise to identify the complexity of trends that are actually involved. If we choose to retain the term, we need to think of fundamentalisms in the plural and to avoid generalization from the perspective of any one of them.

Back to where this inquiry began. My Coptic friends in Egypt understandably expressed moral condemnation of the extremist violence of groups like the Jama'at al-Muslimin. They are condemned by mainstream Muslims as well. While the Muslim Brotherhood movement remains illegal, it continues to have widespread influence in that it addresses issues that concern many younger Egyptian Muslims, women and men alike: issues of religious identity, cultural destiny, economic disparity, and social organization. Raising such concerns from the 1930s, Hassan al-Banna sometimes addressed Coptic Christians as well as Egyptian Muslims, recognizing that Egyptian society of his utopian vision would rest on coexistence between the two religious communities, as it has in the past. Before him Muhammad Abduh had done the same, to the point of drawing favorable comparison between the self-reformist movements in Christianity and the Islamic islah.(23)

Christian dialogue with Islamic fundamentalists is not an a priori impossibility. It needs to be discriminating in terms both of partners and of issues. It will be pursued differently by Christians living within Islamic societies than by Christians meeting Muslims in the West. Conditions and priorities vary from place to place, but we need to be in mutually supportive communication. For example, the issue of the religious and human rights of Christian individuals and communities in relation to shari'a law is different from, but by no means unrelated to, issues and individuals in Euro-American. There can be no doubt that it is within the sphere of social ethics that Muslims put their priority in terms both of their internal religious discourse and for such dialogue as may be entertained with and by Christians.

Vigilance in matters of human rights was highlighted in the recommendations of the international group of Reformed Church Christians dealing with Christian-Muslim relations, already quoted in the introduction to this easay. The whole thrust of their recommendations was framed within an emphasis on the need to develop a theological understanding of power. Their paragraph on this issue is a fitting conclusion to the present discussion:

Islamization is deeply concerned with the social and political expression of religion in search of an Islamic society or state. The danger of religion becoming a tool of nationalism, or being exploited by a government or party for narrow political ambition is evident. Too easily, however, have Christians interpreted Jesus' teaching to "render to Caesar the things to Caesar, and to God the things of God" as implying an absolute separation between religion and politics. While this view is powerfully challenged by liberation theologians, many Christians have yet to develop a theological understanding of political power which enables them to critique Islamic as well as secular ideologies, while at the same time seeking to cooperate with Muslims in the struggle for justice and peace.(24)

NOTES

(1.) The Arabic word sheikh denotes one whose maturity qualifies him for leadership (sheikha in the feminine). Originally used of an Arab tribal leader, the term applies to leadership of various sorts, including, as in this case, religious leadership by qualification as a graduate from Islam's most ancient university, al Azhar in Cairo.

(2.) Arabic for "peace," salam derives from the same Arabic root (slm) as islam, a causative verbal noun that signifies "making peace" through obedience to God, the source of peace (al-Salam); cf. Surah 59:23.

(3.) Meaning "leader," a term derived from the Arabic word for "command."

(4.) Meaning "Society of Muslims," for discussion of which see below; the sheikh is also said to have been associated with the Al-Jihad group (discussed below).

(5.) See Johannes Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat's Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (London: Macmillan, 1986); Emmanuel Sivan, Radical Islam: Medical Theology and Modern Politics (New Haven: Yale Univ. Pres, 1985); Nemat Guenana, The Jihad: An Islamic Alternative in Egypt (Cairo: American Univ. Press, 1986).

(6.) Yvonne Haddad, ed., Muslims of America (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991); Jorgen Nielsen, Muslims in Western Europe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1991).

(7.) Lisa Appingnanesi and Sara Maitland, eds. The Rushdie File (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse Univ. Press, 1991); Dan Cohn-Sherbok, ed., The Salman Rushdie Controversy in Interreligious Perspective (Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen, 1990); Malise Ruthven, A Satanic Affair: Salman Rushdie and the Rage of Islam (London: Chatto and Windus, 1990); Daniel Pipes, The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1990); M. M. Ahsan and A. R. Kidwai, Sacrilege Versus Civility: Muslim Perspectives on the Satanic Verses Affair (Leicester, U.K.: Islamic Foundation, 1991/1412).

(8.) My Neighbour Is Muslim: A Handbook for Reformed Churches, John Knox Series 7 (Geneva, 1990), p. 100. The present author, being responsible for writing these lines on behalf of the conference, wishes to acknowledge that the emphasized words are quoted from Tariq Mitri, the Lebanese Orthodox secretary for Christian-Muslim relations in the World Council of Churches, Geneva Secretariat.

(9.) The most recent comprehensive review is found in the bibliographic eassy of Bruce Lawrence entitled "Religious Fundamentalisms: A Bibliographical Survey, Part 1: Islam--Khomeini and After," in Choice, February 1993, p. 923-32. For Lawrence's own contribution to the comparative study of fundamentalism, see his Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989).

(10.) Godfrey Jansen, Militant Islam (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), p. 198.

(11.) The five principles of pancasila are (1) belief in the one supreme God; (2) just and civilized humanity; (3) the unity of Indonesia; (4) democracy led by the wisdom of deliberation among representatives; and (5) social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia. It is to be noted that the 1945 Jakarta Charter, which contained a special proviso for Muslims (belief in the one supreme God with the duty for all Muslims to follow the syaria [= shari'a, or holy law]), has so far been resisted by the constitution makers.

(12.) The most authoritative study, though lacking contemporary perspectives, is Richard Mitchell, The Society of Muslim Brothers (New York: Oxfrd Univ. Press, 1969).

(13.) Including the Jama'at al-Muslimin (Muslim Society), linked to Al-Jihad, some of whose members have been on trial in Cairo for their alleged campaign of violence against foreign tourists.

(14.) Cf. her later book In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989).

(15.) See his Political Language of Islam (Chicago: Univ. of Cambridge Press, 1988).

(16.) See his Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity (London: Routledge, 1988).

(17.) The origins of this movement are associated with the religiopolitical activism of Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (1839-97). The British scholar of Islam Sir Hamilton Gibb identified al-Afghani as the major influence on "more recent popular movements which combine Islamic fundamentalism with an activist political program" (Muhammedanism [New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1949], p. 134). Bruce Lawrence suggests that this is the earliest use of the term "fundamentalism" in relation to Islam (Defenders of God, p. 272).

(18.) Muhammad Abduh, The Theology of Unity, trans. Kenneth Cragg and Ishaq Musa'ad (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966); the original Arabic title is Risala al-Tawhid (Cairo, n.d.).

(19.) For which he used the term jahiliyya, meaning "age of ignorance," the Islamic term for Arabia prior to the revelation of the Qur'an.

(20.) The original name of the Jama'at al-Muslimin group came from the Arabic words takfir, meaning "declaring someone an unbeliever," and hijra, meaning, "migration" from an ungodly place to create a righteous community (modeled after the prophet Muhammad's hijra from Mecca to Medina.)

(21.) Known as the shahada: "I bear witness that there is not god but God; and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." For discussion of the classic Islamic debate about the standingg of a grave sinner within the community of believers, see William Montgomery Watt, The Formative Period of Islamic Thought (Edingburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1973), pp. 126ff.

(22.) See Abdulaziz Sachedina, The Just Ruler (al-sultan al-'adil) in Shi'ite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988).

(23.) In particular his Islam Wa'l-Nasraniya (Islam and Christianity) (Cairo, n.d.), which has yet to be translated into English.

(24.) My Neighbour Is Muslim, pp. 98-99.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Overseas Ministries Study Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Kerr, David A.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Words:4697
Previous Article:The riddle of man and the silence of God: a Christian perception of Muslim response.
Next Article:Toward the Twenty-First Century in Christian Mission.
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters