Anne Cooper and Dr. Elsie A Maxwell have revised and updated their 1985 book, Ishmael My Brother. Although subtitled "A Christian Introduction to Islam," the depth and breadth of material do not make this a good introduction on Islam for the reader with a casual interest. In many ways this is more an introductory course of study on Islam for those interested in ministry to them than a mere introduction.
The editors divide the book into four sections: Preparation; Islamic Beliefs and Practices; Cultural, Historical and Political Development; and Islam at the Start of the Twenty-First Century. They break each chapter into subsections which culminate with a suggested activity. Chapters end with a bibliography of books referred to in the chapter and a list of books for further reading.
Since this is a collection essays, reading styles vary with writers and subjects. Some chapters drag, especially near the beginning of the book, where the writers use too many passive sentences. The first few chapters lay the philosophical foundation which may be part of the problem. In these the viewpoint wobbles between the Islamic and Christian views without clear transitions. I read some passages two or three times to clarify what is going on.
Theological viewpoints wobble in some early chapters as well. At some points I'm not sure for which Christian audience they are writing. For instance: "Some Christians, while holding firmly to the belief that the Bible is the divinely inspired and infallible word of God, would be prepared to concede that parts of the Qur'an, where it agrees with the Bible, or where it points to a biblical truth, are true and may therefore be used as a starting point in reaching out to Muslims.... If one goes further and accepts the present-day pluralist viewpoint that there are many revelations of the godhead, each one designed for a particular time and culture, then both the Qur'an and the Bible are but two of many religious books, seemingly different, but basically all pointing to an ultimate in which all will eventually be found to unite." (page 88)
Unfortunately, readers must trudge through several of these ponderous and sometimes confusing chapters to reach the more interesting sections, which contain much useful and interesting materials. The chapters on Shari'a law, the treatment of women in Islam, the Islamic culture, and popular Islam fascinated me. I have never understood the appeal of Islam to women, but the authors of these chapters explain the powerful influence of women within the family.
If you are interested in ministry to Muslims, have a family member married to a Muslim, or are in need of in-depth knowledge of Islam, consider Ishmael My Brother. The extensive bibliographies, glossary of Arabic terms, and index make this a great tool for reference as well. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
This book will open paths towards better communication and allow Christians to share their faith with Muslims. This book tries to answer the key question facing Christians all over the world: how can I love my Muslim neighbor?
First published in 1985, fully revised in 1993, this book has undergone a further comprehensive updating. The aim remains the same: to provide a full presentation of Islamic beliefs and practices, and an analysis of the Islamic world today. Several new aspects have been introduced. Students will find the exercises, glossary, bibliography and websites particularly helpful, and there is a comprehensive index.