‘Islam’

A Religion, A Culture, A Society

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society.” Bill Schwartz. Leicester, UK: Christians Aware, 2014. 133 pp.

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society.” Bill Schwartz. Leicester, UK: Christians Aware, 2014. 133 pp.

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society” (Christians Aware, 2014) by the Ven. Dr. Bill Schwartz, OBE, is intended to help Christians understand Islam on a personal level. Schwartz, who has lived among Muslims in the Middle East for more than 40 years, presents his perspective that studying Islam simply as a religion, or simply as a culture will result in a less-than-authentic understanding of Islam as Muslims themselves practice their faith. Unlike the way Western secular society segregates religion from other aspects of our culture, Islam, culture and society are all interrelated.

Schwartz writes about Muslims who are serious in their religious practice and who are greatly affected by religious trends in their midst. The text not only draws on sources of Christian scholars who have studied Islam, but heavily draws on Islamic sources beyond the Qur’an and Hadith to include books and journal publications by Muslims who themselves debate the true nature of Islam in modern society.

Christians, who too often know Islam only from tragic headlines and inappropriate stereotypes, are introduced to complex Islamic traditions through parallels and comparisons to Western culture. Subjects such as holy war, human rights and the nature of revelation are given clear and approachable explanations. This book provides much food for thought, and insight for those who hope to develop friendships or dialog with Muslims.

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society” can be ordered here.

“Written from his perspective as an American Christian of the Anglican tradition, [Schwartz] takes the reader beyond a discussion of the five spiritual foundations of Islam to grasp how Arab Muslims view their world, their religion and the influences of the secular world upon their approach to life. Through his conversational style, he helps the Christian reader to reflect upon the basic principles of our own thought and how that approach differs from how Arab Muslims see the world and one another. … Bill’s book is a welcome addition to helping to remove the very filters which cloud our vision.” — The Rev. Canon Robert D. Edmunds, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Middle East Partnership Officer

Comments

  1. Ann Ashworthy says:

    Excellent book! Accessible and relevant, should be required reading for any course touching on the Middle East, theology, and comparative religious studies, and any individual serious about developing an understanding about the region and prospects for peace.

  2. Pamela Shier says:

    For those who have done “Islam 101,” this is the graduate course. Bill Schwartz’s book is a succinct yet comprehensive look at the intricate relationship between Muslim culture, faith and identity. He provides valuable insights into contemporary Islam’s struggle to deal with both a changing world and a changing world view. The author has had a ring-side seat in the heart of this exciting and turbulent part of the world. I highly recommend this book to those who want greater understanding of the Muslim world and religion.

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