Islam in Context

Past, Present, and Future

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"Timely and relevant. . . . Written in an accessible and highly readable style throughout, the text is both engaging and interesting. . . . A welcome addition to the ever widening library of books considering Islam, its history, and its situation in the twenty-first century."--Christopher Allen, Reviews in Religion and Theology

 

In recent months, scholars and popular analysts have paid much attention to Islam and the greater Muslim world. Some have been openly hostile, while others have offered overly simplistic analyses. Islam in Context goes behind the recent crisis to discuss the history of Islam, delineate its basic structure and beliefs, describe the current division between Muslim moderates and extremists, and suggest a way forward for Islam.

Drawing from sources such as the Qur'an, Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad, early Christian chronicles of the Crusades, and contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim writings, authors Peter Riddell and Peter Cotterell approach their topic with academic rigor. At the same time, they retain readability by avoiding the esoteric and obscure. The authors move beyond the stereotypes of Muhammad--both idealized and negative--and argue against the myth that relatively recent events in the Middle East are the only cause for the clash between Islam and the West. Rather, current events represent only one chapter in the saga of empires.

Riddell and Cotterell ask the non-Muslim world to attempt to understand Islam from the perspective of Muslims and to acknowledge past mistakes. At the same time, they challenge the Muslim world by suggesting that Islam stands today at a vital crossroads and the way forward is for them alone to decide.

Islam in Context is an ideal text for courses on Islam or world religions. Additionally, it will appeal to all those who are interested in an alternative to the easily packaged descriptions of the relationship between Islam and the West.


Endorsements

"Islam in Context is a must read for anyone who wants to better understand contemporary Islam in its various forms and especially the role jihad has taken in today's world. Incorporating historical, theological, and modern reflection, the authors offer an invaluable service to those of us who struggle to grasp the ideology and theology behind such horrible events as the September 11 attacks."--A. Scott Moreau, Wheaton College

"Riddell and Cotterell's Islam in Context carefully outlines the major tensions within the Muslim world and between that world and the West and gives us enough history to understand clearly how these tensions have arisen. This fair, balanced, and lucid book is good for the general reader and fills an important gap in the literature."--Paul Marshall, Senior Fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom and author of Islam at the Crossroads

"This book is a 'must' for anyone looking for a highly readable, balanced, scholarly overview of the history of Islam and its current manifestations. The authors address complex, sensitive, and controversial issues with integrity, providing an immensely valuable analysis of the role of Islam in today's world and of the challenges within Islam that Muslims themselves need to address. This outstanding book is therefore a timely and invaluable contribution to discussions of great contemporary significance, and I recommend it unreservedly."--The Baroness Cox, House of Lords, London

"I must confess that when I first saw the title, I groaned at the prospect of yet another simplistic effusion on Islam, targeting astoundingly parochial North American readers and capitalizing on our heightened paranoia and xenophobia in the wake of 9/11. I was wrong. Indeed, as I got into the manuscript I found it difficult to put down. In my opinion, Riddell and Cotterell have produced the most helpful book on Islam thus far appearing under the imprimatur of an evangelical publishing house, elucidating those key cultural and religious dimensions of Islam that have given rise to the present uneasy interface between that religion and the secularized West. The book is informative, irenic, lucid, and current, making for compelling reading. Despite its relative brevity, it will do much to dispel the fog of ignorance and misunderstanding that prevails among Christians in the West. If I were back in the classroom teaching world religions, this would be required reading."--Jonathan J. Bonk, executive director, Overseas Ministries Study Center

"Many books have been written on Islam, but this book surpasses all of them in its well-balanced treatment of Islam from historical, theological, and sociopolitical perspectives. The book traces the causes of the present-day tension between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world in general and between Israel and the Palestinians--as well as among the Muslims themselves--in particular. The authors have faithfully and candidly delivered the most comprehensive book on Islam, flavored with up-to-date information that makes it exciting, educational, and informative and reflects a sincere concern for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims."--Debela Birri, director, Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology

"In the aftermath of September 11, the question probably most often asked by Christians in the West was, 'Why do they hate us so?' Riddell and Cotterel have produced a clear and readable answer to that question, intermixing narrative and analysis to probe the developing relations between Islam and Christianity in a historical context. One message of the book is that concerned Christians need to build more bridges to moderate Muslims. This needs to be done with critical faithfulness to Christian beliefs, however, and without taking up a posture of mindless self-flagellation. In the shadow of war, this is an important message to spread."--William Gervase Clarence-Smith, professor of the economic history of Asia and Africa, School of Oriental and African Studies

"Islam in Context is a timely book addressing a crucial issue. It is very well written by those who know the Islamic context as well as Islam as a religion. The treatment clearly deals with historical development as well as theological distinctives. Written in an easy-to-read style, and with academic documentation, the book is one that will appeal to many. I appreciate the fairness with which they treat a rather heated issue."--Ken Gnanakan, president, International Council for Higher Education, India


The Authors

  1. Peter G. Riddell

    Peter G. Riddell

    Peter Riddell (Ph.D., Australian National University) is Director of the Centre for Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Relations at London Bible College. He is the author or editor of several books, including Islam: Essays on Scripture, Thought, and Society. Peter...

    Continue reading about Peter G. Riddell

  2. Peter Cotterell

    Peter Cotterell

    Continue reading about Peter Cotterell

Reviews

"Avoiding stereotypes and generalizations, Riddell and Cotterell . . . offer balanced summaries of different Muslim groups. . . . The authors also propose ways to resolve tensions between Christians and Muslims. . . . The information provided is well organized, accessible, and comprehensive. . . . Christians who desire a greater understanding of Islam and current events in the Middle East will find this lucid overview lends context to newspaper headlines."--Cindy Crosby, Christianity Today

"[Riddell and Cotterell] are expert witnesses in the case of Christianity and Islam. . . . Without being overtly provocative, the authors make many pleas throughout the book for a balanced presentation. . . . This book is excellent for anyone looking for an introductory textbook to the Islam-Christianity debate."--Brian L. Fargher, International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"This introductory text provides a solid groundwork for laypeople interested in the history, beliefs, and worldview of Muslims, especially in the modern world."--Missiology

"A relatively sophisticated evangelical Christian polemic on Islam. . . . Recommended."--P. S. Spalding, Choice

"This work goes behind recent crises to discuss the history of Islam, delineate its basic structure and beliefs, describe the current division between Muslim moderates and extremists, and suggest a way forward for Islam."--Ecumenism

"This excellent book, written in a popular and engaging style, helps promote a proper understanding of Islam, especially for the average church member bewildered by it complexity. . . . A 'must-read.'"--Dr. Anthony McRoy, Evangelicals Now

"The story is well told--the story of the many groupings within Islam, the contest with Christianity, radical Islamists and al-Qa'ida. . . . . This is a robust and serious account that a newcomer to the subject will find a pleasure to read."--Parish News

"The authors are trying to dispel stereotypes and common myths, both Western and Muslim. They want to make a serious presentation of the issues, which can also be read at a popular level. The result is quite impressive. . . . The ground is covered well, and almost everyone will find new perspectives presented for consideration. The material is well referenced in footnotes and a seven-page bibliography. The index is well done. . . . A valuable resource."--Dale F. Walker, Missiology

"A good resource for any minister or teacher seeking to promote understanding of the Muslim world."--John Crossley, Epworth Review

"Timely and relevant. . . . Written in an accessible and highly readable style throughout, the text is both engaging and interesting, and maps out a very particular history and understanding of the development of Islam. . . . A welcome addition to the ever widening library of books considering Islam, its history and its situation in the twenty-first century. . . . An interesting and informative read."--Christopher Allen, Reviews in Religion and Theology

"This is a wholly important book, a thoroughly genuine and serious treatment of the subject. Science and methodology were never abandoned for the sake of religious bias, although it was addressed to a single denominational audience. . . . This book presents a sharp, courageous analysis of messianism as it emerged in Western civilization."--Rami Arav, Review of Biblical Literature

"A scholarly but easy to read history of Islam, its beliefs and practices. . . . The authors turn to modern times and give a balanced view of recent events and what the future may hold for us all. A very worthwhile book." --thegoodbookstall.org.uk

"There is something very special about Islam in Context: Past, Present, and Future. Once you begin reading it, you are gripped by the relevance and timeliness of the historical facts that the authors relate and explain. This is not just another book on the history of Islam; it is a serious attempt to make sense out of an extremely difficult and complex subject that touches our daily lives. . . . We owe a special word of thanks to the authors of this timely book. Our gratitude goes also to Baker Book House for their efforts in making this work available to the public in such an attractive form. We trust it will have a wide circulation and many reprints in the future."--Bassam M. Madany, Calvin Theological Journal

"The authors present a fair and balanced summary of the theological and political development of Islam, and a reader who is not familiar with this history will find the description offered here to be both concise and accurate. . . . Highly useful for a westerner who wishes to understand one of the most important political and religious elements in today's world."--Glen Ebisch, Catholic Library World

"[The authors hope] that their book 'will appeal to readers raised in the broad Judeo-Christian tradition,' as well as practicing Christians, Muslims and Jews. It has every right to, and would benefit non-religious readers as well, for the insight it offers both on Islam, and also on a fair-minded critical engagement with Islam from a perspective traditionally hostile to it. . . . The authors have sought to strike a distinctive note by, amongst other things, deliberately tackling 'some of the hard questions.' This, I think, is much to be applauded-both in the aspiration and in its execution. . . . The manner of execution of a critique becomes a criterion of its legitimacy. Here the authors have proceeded admirably. The tone is never strident or polemical; the issues debated are central to a fair assessment of Muslim truth-claims and critical arguments are balanced by reflective counter-arguments. . . . This book is a helpful pointer in the right direction, and non-confessionalists should certainly not dismiss it because of its confessionalist source. Indeed, its source may mean its contents being taken seriously by some pupils (and teachers?) who might impugn the worth of many alternatives. For that reason, too, its purchase is worth consideration."--John J. Shepherd, British Journal of Religious Education

"[Islam in Context] is well written and would make a readable introduction to the subject for a minister or lay person. It will also benefit those already with some knowledge of Islam. . . . I would recommend this book."--Duncan Peters, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

"An excellent book dealing with the background and historical elements that have produced modern-day Islam. . . . The strengths of Islam in Context lie in the authors' abilities to go beyond common stereotypes to present a balanced view of the Islamic world and its many faces. The book is well documented and relies heavily on primary sources, yet it is readable at both the academic and casual levels. The book addresses many of the hard questions asked about Islam and the points of tension it has with the West. . . . This book has a wide range of uses because of its readability and its use of primary sources. The excellent historical background given to current issues is a helpful resource for readers who want to understand the background for present-day tensions. The book would also be useful as a college or graduate text for an introductory course to Islam."--Bruce L. Bauer, Andrews University Seminary Studies

"There is something very special about Islam in Context: Past, Present, and Future. Once you begin reading it, you are gripped by the relevance and timeliness of the historical facts the authors relate and explain. This is not just another book on the history of Islam; it is a serious attempt to make sense out of an extremely difficult and complex subject that touches our daily lives. . . . I owe a special word of thanks to the authors of this timely book. My gratitude goes also to Baker Academic . . . for their efforts in making this work available to the public in such an attractive form. I trust it will have a wide circulation and undergo many reprints in the future."--Bassam Madany, Reformation and Revival