THE CROSS AND THE CRESCENT – book sample
About – The Cross and The Crescent
In this book, the author touches the lives of those Christians who have not been given the knowledge the author have gained both about Islam, from his direct contact with Muslims, and about Christianity from his seminary education. The author digs deep into the roots of Christianity to bring out obscure information that highlight what was once common between Christianity and Islam.
He tries to share with those Christians who are willing to listen – what is often known by their clergy and church leaders, but seldom finds its way into their knowledge of their own religion. Likewise, he also tries reaching out to the Muslims, in order to help them understand the religious commonality that they share with Christians.
Dr. Jerald Driks, the Author, is a former ordained minister (deacon) in the United Methodist Church and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School.
As recently as the late 19th century, it was not uncommon to find Christian men and women prefacing a book by invoking the name of God. Today, that is a rare occurrence, and often the cause of a raised eyebrow in what is becoming an increasingly secular world. Within Christianity, such a formal invocation of the name of God has become anachronistic and out of fashion.
In contrast, most publications by Muslim writers commence with the invocation “Bismillah AlRahman Al-Rahim, which reads “in the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful”. As such, one still finds within the Muslim world the continuation of a practice that was formerly quite common within the Christian world.
Similarly, in days gone by, Christians frequently interspersed a statement of their intentions or of their predictions by saying “God willing”. This served as an acknowledgment by Christian men and women that, in the final analysis, their intentions and predictions would be fulfilled only with the grace of God.
God willing among Christians and muslims Insha Allah – The Cross & The Crescent
Such Christian verbiage is now considered a relic of the past. However, Muslim men and women still constantly pepper their statements with the phrase “Insha ‘Allah”, meaning “God willing”. This manner of invoking the name of God, and of acknowledging the sovereignty of the Almighty God in all that we do and plan, serves to highlight the central tenet of this collection of essays, which draws close parallels between Islam and Christianity.
Further, as one investigates historical Christianity, and gets closer to the roots of Christianity, that shared commonality and the interrelationship between Islam and Christianity become ever stronger and more pronounced. Unfortunately, this close interrelationship between these two religions is often overlooked.
For many Occidental Christians, Islam is seen as being decidedly foreign, as being the religion of another place and of a foreign people, i.e., Arabia and the Arabs. In reality, this perception is far from being accurate. Islam, no less than Christianity, claims to be a universal religion, which cannot be appropriated by any national or ethnic group nor by any geographic area.
Arabs represent only a minority of the world’s Muslims, and Islam has spread far beyond the borders of the Middle East. Moreover, at present, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States, having approximately seven million adherents.
Clearly, the need for mutual understanding and appreciation between Christians and Muslims becomes ever more imperative. Unfortunately, for most Western Christians, differences in language and in certain literary conventions add to the perceived foreign nature of Islam. As one example, Western Christians are used to the word “God”, and typically find the word “Allah” somewhat mysterious and troubling.
Meaning of Allah
THE CROSS AND THE CRESCENT
They do not understand that “Allah” is nothing more than the contraction of two Arabic words, which mean “the God”, or by implication “the One God”. As such, it is not surprising that Arab Christians commonly use the word “Allah” when speaking of the deity. As a second example, Western Christians are often uneasy about the Islamic convention of conferring the phrase “peace be upon him” to the names of the prophets of Allah.
Yet, a third example finds Muslims typically objecting to the use of such dating conventions as BC (before Christ) and AD (annos domini, i.e., in the year of our Lord), since they maintain that none other than Allah is Lord. Obviously, such linguistic sensitivities need to be overcome, in order for Christians and Muslims to develop a proper appreciation of the commonality between their religions.
Having said the above, I find it useful to introduce the author to the reader, so that he may have some understanding of his qualifications to discuss the issues at hand. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, and was formerly an ordained minister (deacon) in the United Methodist Church.
His personal experience of the interrelationships between Christianity and Islam and their common roots covers a journey of many years that has evolved in depth and breadth with time. It began almost thirty years ago in a course at Harvard on comparative religion.
It developed further during the last two decades as he studied the history of the Arabian horse, and grew to fruition as he started moving within the Muslim communities in America and in the Middle East
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