"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, May 10, 2021

People of the Book

Much romanticized nonsense is talked by both Christians and Muslims about our individual and shared pasts. Too much history traffics in narratives of either "chosen trauma" or "chosen glory," to use the invaluable categories of Vamik Volkan. Too much of the history of Muslim-Christian relations becomes anachronistic and often tendentious as well. The writing of such histories is a case-study in itself of historiographical hazards to be avoided.

We shall have to wait to see if a book, set for September release, avoids these pitfalls or not: People of the Book: Prophet Muhammad's Encounters with Christians by Craig Considine (Hurst, August 2021), 232pp. About this book the publisher tells us this:

The Christians that lived around the Arabian Peninsula during Muhammad's lifetime are shrouded in mystery. Some of the stories of the Prophet's interactions with them are based on legends and myths, while others are more authentic and plausible. But who exactly were these Christians? Why did Muhammad interact with them as he reportedly did? And what lessons can today's Christians and Muslims learn from these encounters?

Scholar Craig Considine, one of the most powerful global voices speaking in admiration of the prophet of Islam, provides answers to these questions. Through a careful study of works by historians and theologians, he highlights an idea central to Muhammad's vision: an inclusive Ummah, or Muslim nation, rooted in citizenship rights, interfaith dialogue, and freedom of conscience, religion and speech. In this unprecedented sociological analysis of one of history's most influential human beings, Considine offers groundbreaking insight that could redefine Christian and Muslim relations.

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