Saturday, October 14, 2006

Book Review - Waging Peace on Islam

Publisher’s Description
How can caring Christians approach Islam? Relations between Islam and the West grow more polarized. At a personal level, many Christians are scared about meeting Muslims. We should start by seeing Muslims as people. "When Muslims are sceptical of our creed, confused by our message and wounded by our warfare, the most credible witness left is our lives” stresses Christine Mallouhi. “Muslims need to see Jesus, and the only way most of them will see him is in us."

About the Author
Christine A. Mallouhi is an Australian author, speaker and a Christian member of a Muslim family. She has lived in five countries in North Africa and the Middle East, and spent time with Muslims in Asia, Southeast Asia and the Arabian Gulf. Along with her husband, an Arab author, she directs an association that publishes Arabic books. The Mallouhis currently live in Tunisia and in Melbourne, Australia.
Christine Mallouhi writes from personal experience of her life and contact with many famous (some might say infamous) people and hence it is more biographical and subjective than a précis of Islam and even at a far stretch would not be classified academic. Mallouhi goes to extended lengths of reiterating the life and ministry of St Francis of Assisi. Some connections with Francis and Islam were clearly established with some pertinent messages conveyed. Although historically interesting it did seem to be more of a filler and slightly disjointed.

If you are looking for a balanced perspective between Christianity and Islam with their core beliefs explained and compared then another book may be more helpful. The basic tenets of Islam are explained basically but there is no real comparison with Christianity nor the major components of belief that are diametrically opposed. Mallouhi seems to concentrate on the similarities, the sincerities and the spirit of Muslims in their faith but fails to point out the one and only true path of salvation. Numerous times Christ is referred to as a prophet by Islam but nowhere was this challenged with the Incarnation.

From the appearances and information that the West glean of Islam through normal media exposure there are obvious discrepancies and incomplete information of truth, lies, and half-truths. Mallouhi goes to lengths to perhaps try and even out or balance the weight of blame. There are various examples throughout this book of what the Palestinians and Muslims have suffered at the hands of Israel and the West but without wishing to denigrate or invalidate their experiences Mallouhi has not provided a balanced outlook and borders on the biased approach. Mallouhi reports about her contacts with Arafat and his wife but fails to mention the known terrorist activities committed by Arafat and his followers. Mallouhi, defending her position, says “..the violence has not been one-sided and Palestinians have also perpetrated violent attacks on Jews. I have not related any of these stories because they usually made front-page news around the world and I believe this will continue to be so. I have told the Palestinians’ story because they are the oppressed whose voice is still not being heard.” Earlier she mentions an incident where some Christians were talking with Muslims and when discovered by local Police the local Muslims were told “We will tell you what you must believe and you do not need to know any more than that”. There is propaganda, pre-suppositions, personal perspectives and selective reporting on all sides influencing everyone's opinions. This book is no exception.

Mallouhi is critical of the Christian Wests’ ideological views on Islam and critical of the many verbal, written, displayed, and encouraged militaristic terminologies and expressions of warfare or battle against the scourge of Islam. Yet at the same time fails to see the irony of the militaristic connotations implied through the title of her own book.

Mallouhi correctly advises through the experiences of history that Muslims cannot be converted to Christianity by force but only through the example of following Christ in His love and His grace. “[The] militant approach causes offence to Muslims and does nothing to draw them closer to Christ.” As Francis prayed, “Almighty eternal, Just and Merciful God, grant us in our misery that we may do for your sake alone what we know you want us to do, and always want what pleases you, so that cleansed and enlightened interiorly and fired with the ardour of the Holy Spirit we may be able to follow in the footsteps of your Son and so make our way to you by your grace alone.”

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