(1) Robert Louis Wilken, "Saracens and Dominicans: A review of A Christian Prilgrim in Medieval Iraq: Riccoldo da Montecroce's Encounter with Islam, by Rita George-Tvrtkovic. Excerpt:
Riccoldo was not the first Dominican to live among Muslims for an extended period of time....
Though Riccoldo arrived in the Muslim world with customary Western views of Islam, he was a ready learner, and his book is filled with wonder at what he observed. One of his favorite words is “stupefied.” “I was stupefied by the Muslim devotion to prayer,” he writes....
He esteemed the Qur’an and treated it with reverence, even though he thought it morally lax, confused, obscure, mendacious, irrational, and violent (“their law began by the sword”), and he held that the law of Islam is not of God. He learned to read Arabic and was captivated by the Qur’an’s language: “The order of the words is grammatically and rhythmically very beautiful. . . . For the whole book is resonant and rhythmical.”
And in an even more striking passage he addresses Christ: “I beg you, read what [the prophet] says about your mother, and your apostles...."(2) Stan Guthrie, "Whose Submission? A Muslim-Christian Dialogue" (Books and Culture, March/April 2010). Excerpts:
It is November 22, 1963. Three luminaries—John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and Clive Staples Lewis—have just died and will soon commence a great debate about issues of ultimate significance. In the first line of Peter Kreeft's classic 1982 book, Between Heaven and Hell, JFK asks, "Where the hell are we?" Reading the prolific Boston College philosophy professor's latest work, Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims, I had a similar reaction.
I'm not sure where Kreeft is going with his treatment of Islaam, but his disposition reminds me a bit of Pope Francis. It can be a bit disorienting. Still, the reviews are worth reading, and perhaps the books too.This book seems to stand the earlier one on its head—or at least its spine. In Between Heaven and Hell, Lewis the Christian apologist asks penetrating questions and steers his nominal Catholic and liberal intellectual compatriots toward the truth of Christ. In Between Allah and Jesus, however, it is the Muslim protagonist who serves as the primary light-bearer in religious matters, who usually gets the last word and exposes the prejudices and logical fallacies of the Christians around him.
[Hat tip to JM]