Humphrey’s colleague Kenneth Cragg wrote a fascinating book exploring
- how Islam views Jesus*, &
- explaining to Muslims how Christians see Jesus*.
I found it in his study whilst looking for the Sierra Leone Journals – for ages I’ve been looking for something that would tell me what the Qur’ān says about Jesus (may his name be blessed), and how he came to be such a loved and important figure in Islam .
The book is full of gems of wisdom to open up our understanding of each others cultures, including a beautiful Muslim Christmas carol written by Ahmad Shaw
“Kindness, chivalry, guidance and humility were born / The day Jesus was born … Like the light of dawn flowing through the universe / so did the sign of Jesus flow…”
Chapters include The Quranic Jesus; Jesus in Muslim Awareness – Gethsemane and Beyond; A Muslim Reader and the New Testament; Paul and the Qur’ān; The Abiding Spirit, and Islam and Jesus Now “… faith responding to secularity, the new pluralism and the new extremism (in 1981!); and truth and love according to the pattern of the cross”.
It’s worth going straight to the bits that interest you rather than starting at the beginning and plodding through, as the writing style is ” sometimes more elegant than helpful”, as Humphrey says in the peer review he wrote pre-publication!
Kenneth Cragg has worked in the UK, Jerusalem, Beirut, Cairo, Nigeria and the USA, so brings an understanding of the Aramaic and Eastern-ness of Jesus, something that Muslims feel that Western Christians often forget. So he gives his fresh translations of the Qur’ān; discusses many important Arabic terms e. g. contrasting “taqlid, the state of being hidebound” with “Sharh al-Sadr, the opening out of the heart”, and explores the deeper meaning of Greek words in the New Testament e.g. “makrohumia … not just a holding out, but a non-retaliation, a bearing away of evil” (often translated as patience, steadfastness or long-suffering) and praotes, quiet strength in the resources of Grace.
Both an academic and a Bishop, he was possibly the world’s greatest authority on Christian/Islam understanding at that time, as Humphrey also points out, and has also written a companion book Muhammed and the Christian.
As a Christian, this not only enlarged my world view, being introduced to many Arabic thinkers and concepts, but I unexpectedly also learnt a lot from the sections on Christianity, as well as from discussions about the different views on the crucifixion within Islam.
Do other people have newer books / resources on the important field of Muslim / Christian understanding? And indeed understanding across the three great Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Islam and Christianity?
* may his name be blessed – with Islam this is said after each mention of the name of Jesus*, as well as after the name of the Prophet; as the introduction to Praying with the Earth: a prayerbook for peace by John Phillip Newell says, Islam has much to teach Christianity about love and reverence for the name of Jesus*.
Praying with the earth incorporates prayers and readings from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, which I find very helpful when praying for peace.