The strength of this book lies in its unique perspective. Very few books comparing Islam and Christianity are written by people who have been committed to both camps. If there are others, I’m not aware of any that are as well written as this one. It’s a wonderfully accessible read with the complex being made very simple.
Qureshi, an ardent Muslim before becoming an ardent Christian knows what he’s talking about no matter which perspective he’s coming from. And it shows. This is a man who has done his homework and done it well.
Working through all the major themes, Qureshi compares the Bible and the Qur’an, Mohammed and Jesus, theology and history, etc. and, importantly, why believers have the perspectives they do. More importantly, he also does an excellent job of taking apart the various arguments Muslims use both against Christianity and for Islam.
This is crucial and is what makes this a must read book for any Christian who has the slightest contact with any Muslim. In discussing Islam with Muslims, you can be forgiven for thinking they have a watertight case. A read of books like Qureshi’s and you wonder how any of them have a leg to stand on. Islam has many questions to answer and, increasingly, the traditional arguments are holding less and less water.
Take, for example, the historicity of Mohammed or the compilation of the Qur’an, or the claim that it has never been altered in any way. Each of these have serious problems and each of the arguments in their favour are becoming increasingly difficult to defend. Even Muslim scholars who dare stick their head above the parapet are admitting this.
The future looks fascinating for Islamic scholarship, particularly if it is allowed to be subjected to the same barrage of criticism that Jesus and the Bible have received in the last 200 years. For political reasons though, the field is currently very small and its a brave man (like Al Fadi, for example) who dares speak the truth in love.
If there’s one criticism of the book it’s that it’s not very well organised. That’s the fault of the editor, though. Many of the chapters have the same titles (Assessing the Response, for example) which means that if you want to look up footnotes, you’re confronted with not knowing which chapter you’re looking for.
As a result of the editing issues, the book has a bit of a piecemeal feel about it with lots of short sections. This is however also a strenght in that you can jump around and read sections that interest you rather than going from start to finish.
All in all, this is an excellent book, and it would be good to see an Islamic response that was as cogently argued.