"Islam and America" Is Focus of Retired Prof's New Book
- Jerry Higgins Baptist Press
- 2005 12 Dec
WAKE FOREST, N.C. — In today’s society, people receive mixed messages about the Islamic world. They see televised images of protesters carrying guns, spewing hatred about the United States and Israel, then they hear soundbites from Muslims decrying unfair depictions of Islam, instead describing it is a religion of peace, love and understanding.
Which is correct? Is it somewhere in the middle?
George Braswell answers those questions in his latest book, “Islam and America,” published by Broadman & Holman, the trade books division of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Braswell, who retired last year from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary after 30 years as professor of missions and world religions, gives a simple, yet detailed and informative look at what Islam is all about and how it affects America.
Braswell looks at questions like:
- Why is terrorism associated with Islam?
- Is anyone protected from the violence of martyrs?
- Does political Islam have Allah as head of state?
- Does Islam have hatred toward Jews and Christians?
- What is Islam like in America and is it growing?
“These are the questions since Sept. 11, 2001, where I have spoken in Lions and Rotary Clubs, university campuses and church settings,” Braswell said. “Laypersons want to know.
“Christianity and the churches have basically either ignored or have been disinterested in Islam and Muslim peoples for the most part for the last 1,000 years-plus” during an era when “they have grown by leaps and bounds to 1.3 billion people, with majority Muslim populations in some 45 countries and gaining in Europe and America,” Braswell said.
Noting that Islam means “submission” and Muslim means “one who submits,” Braswell described Islamic as a religion which submits to Allah and the “truths” and practices enunciated in the Koran (the holy book of Islam) and in the Hadith (reports on the words and actions of the prophet Muhammad) as clarified by various legal systems and Islamic specialists.
Braswell places blame for the current world Islamic crisis and negative image on two people. Ayatollah Khomeini, who established the Islamic Republic of Iran, helped remove the Shah of Iran and encouraged the kidnapping of U.S. embassy personnel in the late 1970s, is seen by many Muslims around the world as a great revolutionary, Braswell said. The other is Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Quada terrorist organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
“Seldom does the American public see the life of a Muslim living in a city or small village who raises a family, provides food for the family, works for a living, yearns for the education of his children, tends to aging parents, says prayers daily and looks for a better life,” Braswell said.
“In the book, I note that when Islam has become political Islam with authority and power in a nation or state or larger community, the pattern in historical and classical Islam has been to: either convert to Islam; if not, then capitulate to Islam and become second-class citizens with restrictions; [or] thirdly, there is conflict.
“So the three Cs are convert, capitulate and conflict.”
Braswell devotes one of the book’s 13 chapters to 41 Islamic words used in the mass media about Islam and Muslims like Allah (“the God”), jihad (the concept of extraordinary effort or struggle in the belief and practice of Islam by Muslims), shiite (partisan) and sunni (those who follow tradition or reliance on the Koran and other Islamic teachings).
Braswell’s book also includes six appendices explaining to Westerners how Islam relates to North America, including the challenge posed by Islamic mission efforts.
“There is a pattern in Islam of dissimulation. That is, Muslims may say or act one way in order to gain another outcome,” Braswell observed. “The end may justify the means religiously.
“If Saudi Arabia, the premier Sunni Muslim nation, and Iran, the premier Shiite Muslim nation, act out Islam the way they do in their militancy and their understanding of relating to other religions and the world in general, then what are non-Muslim populations to think of Islam and its meaning?”
Braswell hopes his book will help answer those questions.
© 2005 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.