Muslims and non-Muslims publish many books on Islam every day. Unfortunately the quantity of these books is not always matched by the quality of their content. Given the author’s Arab background, one might expect him to make a distinctive contribution to helping fellow Christians understand this world religion and relate adequately to its followers. This is not the case with this book which could have easily been written by a western Christian preferably living in the States (where the author had migrated).
The book is written for Christians to provide them with a basic introduction to Islam. The author makes a commendable effort to compare Islamic and Christian teachings. Such a task requires a sympathetic approach to Islam and a sound understanding of Christianity. Chedid undoubtedly shows a thorough knowledge of the Christian faith seen from an Evangelical Reformed perspective. However, he demonstrates no appreciation whatsoever for the Muslim faith. He has only criticisms for Islam, the Qur’an, the Prophet, Muslims and Islamic civilisation. He defines the concept of Jihad exclusively in terms of holy war: ‘From the beginning, dawah has been associated with military conquest’ (p. 50). The reality is that for twelve years (610-622) preaching was the only way Muhammad did mission, dawah, and jihad always meant striving for God personally as well as militarily (9:20, 88). The same bias appears when Islamic teaching about women is looked at (pp. 142-147); only negative texts are quoted whereas difficult passages in the Bible are completely ignored (e.g. Lev. 12:1-5; Eccles. 7:26-28; 1 Tim. 2:9-15).
The book contains numerous errors. Origen is wrongly described as ‘the most outstanding of the early church fathers’ (p. 28). The three goddesses mentioned in the Qur’an are in sura 53 verses 19 & 20, not in sura 3 verse 9 (as on p. 20). More importantly, fundamental theological questions are glossed over. ‘How can we know that certain revelation is genuine?’ asks the author. Genuine prophets, he writes rather simplistically, 1) work miracles, and 2) utter predictive prophecy (pp. 133-137). What about prophets who performed no miracles, such as John the Baptist (John 10:41), or false prophets who do work miracles (Matt. 24:24)? And what about genuine prophets whose message includes no predictions? Thankfully, the Scriptures provide us with more reliable criteria as to how to assess prophetic claims (Deut. 13; Matt. 7:15-23).