Middle East Resources

The Cross in Zwemer’s Writings

Bassam Michael Madany

Lately, books on Islam have been appearing rather frequently. Most of them deal with geo-political subjects such as “Islam and Political Poweri and “After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy.ii This is why “Islam and the Crossiii is a very welcome book as it reminds Christians, that the challenge of Missions to Muslims is greater than ever.  

Millions of Muslims have settled in Western Europe and North America. While some new works on missions to Muslims have been published, there is hardly anything that approaches the books of Samuel M. Zwemer. They breathe with Christian fervor coupled with solid scholarship. This fact earned him the title “Apostle to Islam.”

During his lengthy career both as missionary in the Muslim world, and Professor of Missions at Princeton Seminary, Dr. Zwemer authored more that fifty books, and was the founder and editor of the quarterly journal “The Muslim World.” He knew Arabic very well and was patient and understanding when Muslim inquirers came to see him and discuss the claims of the Christian faith. 

After reading his book, The Cross above the Crescent” back in 1950 while I was a theological student in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I wrote Dr. Zwemer expressing my deep appreciation for the contents of his book. I was delighted to receive a very warm response from him. He encouraged me to persevere in my interest in missions to Muslims and made a few suggestions that I have always cherished. Not long after that letter, “The Apostle to Islam” passed away on April 2, 1952. By the end of that year, J. Christy Wilson published, “Apostle to Islam: A Biography of Samuel M. Zwemeriv"

We are indebted to the labors of the editor, Dr. Roger S. Greenway, in providing us with these important selections from the writings of this great missionary in “Islam and the Cross: Selections from ‘The Apostle to Islam’ Samuel M. Zwemer

Part I, deals with the topic of Islam and Christianity with excerpts from “The Muslim Christ,” “Mohammed and Christ,” “Islam and the Holy Spirit,” “Christianity’s Stumbling Block,” and “The Way to the Muslim Heart.”

Part II treats the general subject of “Islam and Animism.”  The concluding chapter, “A Call to Prayer,” was published in 1923 in London.

Early in the 21st century, we witnessed the revival of Islam and of radical Islamist organizations that seek world domination. To balance that, ex-Muslims like Brother Rachid have appeared on the scene. His weekly TV and YouTube programs present the claim of the Christian faith to the Arabic-speaking Muslim world from Morocco to Iraq.v

Another phenomenon that is impacting the Muslim world, is the passionate work of ex-Muslims like the Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad; his books and lectures on YouTube and TV, offer a scholarly critique of Islam.vi

It is my fervent hope that more of Dr. Zwemer’s books would become available to a new generation of Christians who need to hear the call of Missions to Islam, through his inimitable style, and his contagious zeal.

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i https://www.e-ir.info/2011/10/25/islam-and-political-power/

ii https://wcfia.harvard.edu/publications/after-jihad-america-and-struggle-islamic-democracy

iii Islam and the Cross: Selections from ‘The Apostle to Islam’ Samuel M. Zwemer, edited by Roger S. Greenway. Phillipsburg, NJ 08865-0817: P&R Publishing, 2002.

iv https://www.abebooks.com/first-edition/APOSTLE-ISLAM-Biography-Samuel-M-Zwemer/22468345592/bd

v https://youtu.be/tWJp_kRe7VM

vi Hamed Abdel Samad,‏ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HdE--WnypE