Muslims Ask, Christians Answer – A Brief Review

Muslims Ask, Christians Answer. By Christian W. Troll, S.J. Trans. by David Marshall. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2012.

Useful for engagement with Muslims, this slender volume developed during 40 years of interfaith dialogue and study. Its primary aim is to help Christians understand and answer questions Muslims typically ask. Divided into twelve chapters, it covers topics like Scripture, Christ, salvation, the Trinity, and the Church. Each chapter begins with Muslim questions, and then gives both general and detailed explanations from an Islamic perspective. The author then responds with Christian perspectives and suggestions for answers.

Written from a Roman Catholic viewpoint (chapter 10 is on celibacy), the book seeks to be sensitive to Protestant differences. Furthermore, non-Catholics will find that Muslims often ask about distinctly Roman Catholic doctrines. Chapter 7, “The Holy Eucharist,” is illustrative. “Do you really believe that God is present in this bread and wine? You ‘eat’ God?” Understanding accurately both the Islamic question as well as the Catholic doctrine can lead to a more profitable conversation.

Some of the most difficult questions are addressed head on. For example Chapter 4 on “Muhammad and the Christian Faith” wrestles with whether or not Christians can recognize the Qur’an to contain a word from God and to what extent Muhammad can be recognized as a prophet.

Troll’s book has appeared in a number of editions and translations. A companion web site (www.answers-to-muslims.com) contains a digital edition in eight languages, along with additional questions and answers (244 to date).   This should not be confused with the evangelical and somewhat polemical site:   www.answeringislam.org.

Dense with insight on the most critical questions, Muslims Ask, Christian Answers merits careful study for engaging intelligently and sympathetically with Muslims. The volume has a helpful bibliography and detailed endnotes. There is no subject index, which along with an index of Islamic terms, would improve an already helpful resource.

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Learning to Listen

Listening to one another and understanding each other may not lead to agreement; but we do not reach a proper disagreement, if we do not first listen, and accurately understand each other.

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Buying into the Ideology of “the Terrorists”

“I will continue to argue that Islam is what Muslims make of it. If some Muslims are violent in its name, then Islam’s Scripture has the capacity to inspire violence. If other Muslims are peaceful and loving in the name of their religion, this means that the Qur’ān also has the capacity to inspire peaceful and loving behavior. The Scripture of any religion only finds meaning in the interpretation that its bearers give it. But once non-Muslims begin to insist that the only ‘true Islam’ is the one that manifests itself violently, they cannot claim objectivity. They have simply bought into the ideology of ‘the terrorists.’” Martin Accad

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The Essential Difference: Islam and the Gospel

A concise statement capturing the theological difference between Islam and the gospel:

“Broadly the Islamic dictum runs: ‘To know is to do.’ Ignorance, ‘jahilayyah,’ is the problem. Hence ‘huda,’ revelation is the answer. Humans are amenable to law: They can respond to ‘thou shalt’ and heed ‘thou shalt not.’ The New Testament knows that we can know and not do. We have a defiant ability, a recalcitrance that flouts what it quite well understands. It is this perversity which needs redemption. The world is not righted by good advice, but a love that suffers, that bears, and thus only bears away the wrong and can thus forgive. For Christian faith this redemptiveness characterizes the very nature of God as told in ‘the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ This is the ultimate theological issue between the Qur’an and the New Testament, the mosque and the church” (Kenneth Craig, d. 2012 at age 99).

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An Untold Story – Najaf takes in Christians displaced by Islamic State

NAJAF, Iraq — After Christians were forced to leave Mosul and other areas that fell under the control of the Islamic State (IS), Kurdish and Shiite dominated cities opened their doors to receive them. Religious authorities adopted stances supporting Christians, as they called on residents to host and help their brothers in the country.

The Imam Al-Khoei Foundation, one of the prominent religious institutions in Najaf, issued on July 30 a statement in support of Christians and minorities in Iraq. An excerpt of the statement reads, “We announce our readiness to receive the displaced Iraqi families, be they Christians or Muslims. We call on all Iraqis to offer aid for the displaced families and protect them from the aggressors, in accordance with the principles of humanitarian and national fraternity.”

http://www.oasiscenter.eu/press-review/2014/08/08/najaf-takes-in-christians-displaced-by-islamic-state

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Cultures of Islam

“The Muslim world is far from a monolith. Indonesian Muslims differ considerably from those in Nigeria, just as Chinese Uighurs differ from Yemeni Shi’ites….the world’s 2,157 distinct Muslim cultures and people groups could be reasonably grouped into nine affinity clusters that cohere around shared experiences of geography, language, and history. These affinity groups have traded with each other, warred with each other, faced geographical and climatic issues together and faced outsides together….West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, the Arab World, the Persian World, Turkestan, Western South Asia, Eastern South Asia and Indo-Malaysia.” (David Garrison). This does not address, of course, the nearly infinite array of family, and individual variety and diversity. Essentialism has no place among Muslims anymore than among other peoples.

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Oasis

It is easy to forget, when the media has shifted to another news cycle.  But real people continue to suffer in very difficult circumstances.  Here is some helpful material on Syria and Pakistan.

 

 

 

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