In todays world, Christianity and Islam are capable of dialogue. Neither faith has a single religious establishment or narrow belief system, both are rainbows of faith and practice. There is difference and there is delight for many believers in both traditions. Tragically, there is also some expression of institutional divergence. In Listening to Islam a devout Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, and a dedicated Sufi mystic, live in intimate prayerful relationship. Sayyid Qutb, a major ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a literary educationalist whose exposition of the Quran is justifiably famous, though his version of political Islam is offensive to many Muslims. Bishop Kenneth Cragg is a careful translator, expositor and analyst of the Quran and modern Islam. He has devoted much of his life to the Arabic language and its people. He speaks of himself and his Muslim interlocutors as those who believe in one God. Ziauddin Sardar, who describes himself as a sceptical Muslim in search of Paradise , writes with remarkable fluency on the current confrontation between the West and Islam. Through Praise, Reason and Reflection, these four dialogists provide compelling evidence of the complexities, differences and rewards of exchanging ideas and opinions on the development and necessity of Islamic-Christian interfaith understanding.
The Revd Dr John Watson is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. He studied Islam and Buddhism in the Far East, and has travelled extensively, exploring faith systems and lecturing world-wide. He works as an Assistant Priest in a Dorset village, writes the fortnightly Coptophile column for Cairo's Watani (the leading Christian newspaper in the Middle East), and contributes regularly to Kirche im Dialog in Mannheim, Germany. He is the author of Among the Copts (2000) and Christians Observed (2004), both published by SAP.