Cover image for Islam in context : past, present, and future
Islam in context : past, present, and future
Riddell, Peter G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, [2003]

Physical Description:
231 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BP161.3 .R53 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BP161.3 .R53 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In recent months, much attention has been paid to Islam and the greater Muslim world. Some analysis has been openly hostile, while even more has been overly simplistic. Islam in Context goes behind the recent crisis to discuss the history of Islam, describe its basic structure and beliefs, explore the current division between Muslim moderates and extremists, and suggest a way forward.
Authors Peter G. Riddell and Peter Cotterell draw from sources such as the Qur'an, early Christian chronicles of the Crusades, and contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim writings. They 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.
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 only Muslims can forge the way forward.
Islam in Context will appeal to all those who are interested in an alternative to the easily packaged descriptions of the relationship between Islam and the West.

Author Notes

Peter G. Riddell (Ph.D., Australian National University) is director of the Centre for Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Relations at London Bible College
Peter Cotterell (Ph.D., London University) is associate senior lecturer at the Centre for Islamic Studies

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Written primarily for Christians, this overview of historical and contemporary conflicts of the Islamic world first briefly introduces Islam and Muhammad, and then portrays Islam as a movement containing coexisting strands of violence and pacifism from the very start of its existence as a political entity. The book's second section examines relations between Christianity and Islam, from Muhammad's early interactions with Christians to Western colonization of the Islamic world and contemporary strife between Christian and Muslim communities. The third section argues that Islam faces an important moment in its history, during which large swaths of the Islamic world must reject extremism and rigidly literal readings of the Qur'an or face dire consequences. The viewpoint throughout is, of course, decidedly pro-Christian, but the information Riddell and Cotterell relay is accurate and well organized. Christians interested in the history of Islam and its relationship to Christianity would do well to start here, though they should also read an equally well-argued history of Islam from a Muslim's perspective, such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr's Islam BKL Ja 1 & 15 03. --John Green Copyright 2003 Booklist

Choice Review

Riddell and Cotterell (both, London Bible College) offer a relatively sophisticated evangelical Christian polemic on Islam. They begin with a survey of Islam's origins that understands the Qur'an within the historical context of Muhammad's own experiences in seventh-century Arabia and adjacent lands, including encounters with Christianity and Judaism. They then delineate subsequent history, including Islam's continuing interaction with its sister faiths; the spectrum of overlapping Muslim traditions represented by the Kharijis, Sunnis, Sh'ia, Sufis, Mu'tazila, and folk Islam; the rise and fall of Muslim empires; and the modern conflict in the Middle East. A final portion focuses on the authors' debate with the radical Islamist and moderate worldviews. While Islam offers "quite positive" theological and ethical perspectives, they claim that "there can be no doubt that Islam was cradled in violence." They call for Muslims to engage in new intellectual struggle to interpret the sacred texts in historical context and to derive their contemporary significance in terms of peacefulness, religious tolerance, and human rights. The book contains a useful select bibliography and index. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers, undergraduates, and professionals/practitioners. P. S. Spalding Illinois College

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. 6
Introductionp. 7
Part 1 Looking Back
1. Beginningsp. 13
2. Caliphs and Confusionp. 32
3. Beliefs and Practicesp. 45
4. Qur'an and Christianityp. 58
Part 2 In Between: The Ebb and Flow of Empire
5. The Age of Muslim Empirep. 83
6. Empires Crumblep. 95
7. From Medieval to Modernp. 107
8. The Missionariesp. 118
9. Conflict in the Middle Eastp. 130
Part 3 Looking Around
10. The Muslim Masses and Westophobiap. 149
11. The Radical Islamist Worldviewp. 164
12. The Moderate Worldviewp. 182
13. Responses to Terrorismp. 195
Conclusionsp. 211
Select Bibliographyp. 217
Indexp. 225