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We have witnessed several atrocities that have been carried out in the name of Islam in the past year. It is both easy and wrong to blame Islam in general for these atrocities. The attacks were not only to Western non-Muslims but also to Muslims deeply shocking and repulsive.
It is the responsibility of both Muslims and Christians to find the reasons for such attacks in the name of religion and address them. We earlier placed a comparison between Christian Anabaptist violence in the 16th century with that of the so-called Islamic State online. Read this article here.
The Christian Reformed Church in The Hague, The Netherlands, asked me to write a text to provide a brief background about Islam for non-Muslims for a sermon “Muslims, Friends or Enemies” held on September 27, 2015. Also use was made of my sermon on the Good Samaritan for St, John’s the Baptist Church in Maadi, Cairo. Please read this sermon here.
The brief background was later expanded and serves to foster understanding between Muslims and Christians despite the atrocities that unfortunately have taken place in the name of Christianity and Islam. The recent November 13 attacks in Paris, France, are a grisly reminder of such atrocities. I have had the support of Amany Assem Sultan, an Egyptian Muslim friend of ours, and Dutch Arabist Eildert Mulder who have raised issues and questions that helped in formulating this text. Dutch scholar Rev. Dr. Jan Slomp described this text as a “nuanced, balanced, moderately critical” overview of Islam. Please read this text here.
The purpose was to address issues mentioned in the Western media, including reports of violence committed in the name of Islam since this is what a non-Muslim Western audience mostly reads. The contrast between what one reads in the Western media and what one experiences in daily life in Egypt is great. Understanding the differences requires a solid understanding of the historical context.