The Past & Understanding Islam

Understanding Islam is imperative. Such knowledge is vital for stability in the Middle East and, with the spread of jihadist terrorism, it is now essential for the larger sphere of global peace. More importantly, such knowledge is vital for the great task that the Church has in our generation, namely, the planting of gospel churches among Muslim peoples. And as with other spheres of human insight and understanding, such knowledge must come from first-hand contact. Far too much so-called knowledge in the West about the Muslim world is sketchy at best and utterly untrustworthy at worst. Western Evangelical Christianity, confident that it is not influenced by the secular press, has become an unwitting perpetrator of far too many myths about the Muslims. Westerners, even Evangelicals, tend to adore the present and future, and look with disdain on the past. But such an attitude is fatal in any work seeking to be fruitful among Muslims, where the contours of the past are constantly being recalled. And so to understand Islam we must remember the past, and especially our past encounters with Islam.