We live in a generation where anyone who has the ability to watch any news media cannot escape hearing about Islam. Since 9/11, coverage of the “fastest growing religion” has been frequent and constant in our society with no end in sight. There is even a small group of Muslim’s who gather in the Moncton area as well and hence there is an opportunity for Christians to meet and share their faith with those of the Islamic faith.
It is tremendously important to know where we stand on the subject of Islam and how they differ from the Christian faith. We have often heard individuals ask “do not Muslims and Christians worship the same god?” The answer to that question is no but such an answer will not suffice since we need to give a reasonable explanation as to where they diverge.
There have been numerous volumes written on the subject of Islam especially over the course of the last 10 years or so. The vast majority of books are written as a general overview of the religion but very few get into any specificity. James White’s book “What Ever Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an” is a much more focused book dealing explicitly with the teachings of the Qur’an itself especially in regards to what it has to say about the Christian faith. The book is much more definite than your average “Islam 101” volumes and the average reader will appreciate the specific focus within the book on Islam’s holy scripture.
Dr. White has spent numerous hours examining the Qur’an and the hadiths, researching Islamic sources, debating many well-known Islamic apologists which truly gives him tremendous insight on this faith. The book is nothing short of a well documented resource for anyone wanting a closer look at what Islam has to say about the Christian faith.
The first chapter gives a historical account of Muhammad’s early years, his encounter with the angel Gabriel, how the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad was passed down, some important points about his life including his wives, his conquest of mecca and his eventual death. This is a general introduction that serves as a useful background to understanding the historical background of the Qur’an.
In the second chapter, Dr. White explores some relevant points regarding the Qur’an including some of its content, its language and how Muslims view their holy book.
Chapter three includes the primary tenets of the Islamic faith with a special focus upon tawhid (Unitarian monotheism) as well as the Islamic teaching of shirk, mithaq and fitra.
I truly enjoyed chapter four dealing with the Qur’an’s denunciation and unfortunate misrepresentation of the Christian doctrine of the trinity. Dr. White demonstrates that the writer of the Qur’an could not have truly understood the true doctrine of the trinity which places a big question mark on the claims that it was written in eternity by Allah.
Dr. White then moves on in the 5th chapter to go through the Qur’an’s teaching on Jesus Christ. He briefly addresses all 25 instances where the Qur’an speaks of “Jesus, son of Mary” (Isa ibn Mariam). This chapter also deals with the consequences of the Islamic Jesus in regards to the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus. Obviously a whole book could be written in regards to this topic however in the short space dedicated to it, Dr. White manages to give some compelling arguments against the Qur’an’s version of Jesus.
Chapter 6 deals with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus by presenting the historical evidence for this event and demonstrating the weakness of the Qur’an’s account of Jesus actually escaping death. This chapter reveals that the Muslim has no sin bearer in his place.
Dr. White continues in the next chapter with the subject of salvation in the Qur’an and the importance of the scales. He points out that in Islamic thought (much like many other religions) ones good works will be weighed in comparison of one’s evil deeds on a cosmic scale. Dr. White also addresses the confusing topic of free will/predestination from the Qur’an. Dr. White then spends a few pages explaining the repercussions of Islamic salvation in light of God’s forgiveness, atonement and justice.
Chapter 8 titled “Did the People of the Book Corrupt the Gospel?” is probably the most important chapter written in this book. The often and primary discussion that arises in a dialogue even with the most layman Muslim is that of how Jews & Christians have corrupted their respective scriptures. As Dr. White puts it:
This may be the most important question we will address in this work. In my experience, this is the topic to which the conversation most often turns; every Christian should be prepared to discuss it, and every Muslim should consider well what they are saying when they accuse the scriptures—Torah or Ingil, Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament—of being corrupted” (Page 171)
Dr. White deals with the Muslim means by “corruption”, when exactly did this corruption occur, does the Qur’an teach that the bible is corrupt and finally a look at Surah 5:42-48. Many Christians today are unfortunately misinformed or completely oblivious to this topic. Sadly this is not only a favorite of Muslims but also of skeptics in general hence a good knowledge of what it pertains is tremendously important.
Chapter 9 is a response to the Qur’an’s assertion that the bible makes specific prophecies about the coming of Muhammad. Dr. White examines the commonly used texts and the Islamic interpretation of these key scriptures to demonstrate that this is in fact not the case.
Dr. White moves on in the 10th chapter to deal with the claims Muslim’s make of the contradictions in the biblical text. He does this by allowing an honest examination of the NT and demonstrates that if we hold the Qur’an to the same standard that the Qur’an, being written on tablets by Allah in eternity past, has “contradictions” also if not greater ones.
The final chapter deals with the transmission of the Qur’an’s text
While the book can be technical at times, the bulk of the materials in this book can be understood by the average Christian who is willing to invest any time into the subject. The glossary at the end of the book gives of Arabic words that the reader can refer to in order to gain a better understanding of the Qur’an. I might even suggest giving the glossary a quick read prior to beginning the book in order to be introduced to some of the terminology. I appreciated the tone of the book as well in that it is an examination and short critique of the Qur’an done with respect and integrity towards those who hold the Qur’an as sacred.
If you are a Christian who is interested in knowing more about the Qur’an or if you are a Muslim who would like to know more about how a Christian views the Qur’an, I would definitely recommend this book. You can either purchase the book from Dr. White’s website or if you live in the Moncton area, feel free to drop by at Faithful Servant Books to order your copy.