Koran and the West

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Georgetown University Press, 2006 - Religion - 235 pages

For six decades Kenneth Cragg has been recognized and praised as one of the West's most gifted interpreters of Islam. In this latest, deeply insightful work, Cragg argues that the West must put aside a "spiritual imperialism" that draws on western prescripts alien to Muslims and "learn to come within" Islam. Only then can a conversation begin that can relieve the misunderstandings and suspicion that has grown between Islam and the West -- especially since 9/11.

Cragg makes clear that a misunderstanding of the tenets of a religion is a condition religions have suffered through the centuries and one to which Islam is no exception. He argues that the terrorists of 9/11 perverted the Qur'an's meaning and yet argues that fanaticism cannot be healed by being deplored or rebuked. Instead, the factors that induced it need to be resolved so that the "anxieties they shelter can be patiently allayed." The Qur'an and the West offers a means of study that reaches for a deeper knowledge of the Qur'an, engendering a new understanding of its holy teachings, and opening a means for a fruitful discourse.

Through close and thoughtful readings, Cragg reveals the difficulty that ensues through the Scripture's contradictory teachings on Islam's manifestation in the world -- teachings that have brought about a crisis for modern Muslims living in both the West and the westernizing worlds, where a Muslim's obligation to Islamicize is met with anxiety and distrust. He shows Christians' and the West's failure to appreciate the lack of any distinction between "secular" and "sacred" in Islam and argues that only by understanding this condition can Christians truly appreciate the form their support for Muslims should take -- encouraging Muslims to follow those Qur'anic teachings that champion humanity's cause. For Muslims, he urges an interpretation of the Qur'an that perpetuates the Islamic message rather than the Islamic regime.

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About the author (2006)

Anglican Bishop Kenneth Cragg is one of the foremost scholars of Islamic and Christian theology. His books on the Qur'an and Arab Christianity, including The Event of the Qur'an and The Tragic in Islam, and The Call of the Minaret have become classics in their field. Cragg has served in academic and ecclesiastical posts in Jerusalem, Beirut, Cairo, Nigeria, and the United States in addition to serving as the Warden of St. Augustine College in Canterbury.

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