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Islam and the Cross Zwemer Selections

May 05, 2023
By Rev. Bassam M. Madany

IslamandtheCross (Zwemer Selections)editedbyGreenway

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. Pp. xviii +165 Price: Unlisted

Beginning with the closing years of the twentieth-century, books on Islam have been appearing rather frequently. Most of them deal with geo-political subjects such as “Islam and Political Power” and “After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy.” This is why “Islam and the Cross” is a very welcome book as it reminds us Christians, that the challenge of missions to Muslims is greater than ever. Millions of Muslims have now moved to North America, and are to be found in every major city in Canada and the United States. While some new works on missions to Muslims have appeared lately, yet there is hardly anything that equals the books of Samuel M. Zwemer. They breathe with Christian fervor coupled with solid scholarship. This fact earned him the designation of “Apostle to Islam.”

During his long 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 Moslem World.” He knew Arabic very well, and was patient and understanding when Muslim inquirers came to see him to 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 continue in my special 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. Zwemer (Baker Book House)

It is not easy nowadays to find the many titles of the Zwemer legacy. This is why we are very 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. Part I, deals with the topic of Islam and Christianity where we find 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 originally published in 1923 in London. It remains relevant eighty years later, as we witness the revival of Islam as well as its offshoot, Islamic radicalism.

It is my fervent hope that more of the writings of Dr. Zwemer would be made 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.

Posted in Book Reviews