This is a very timely book, considering our world after the September 11 attacks and the recent uproar over the quote by Pope Benedict XVI of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor and the Pope’s call for dialogue. Deacon George Dardess has done research on the Qur’an, actually studying it at an Islamic center where he lives. His presentation is on the level of the general reader, neither overly academic nor dumbed-down. It is a great introduction into the comparison of the books and of Islam meant mainly for Catholic Christians to begin learning or even dialoguing on this question. Other Christians may also benefit from this book; Many of the questions used in the comparison are basic Christian beliefs from the Bible. This book is meant for discussion groups or for individual study.
Dardess’ introduction poses the question, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” He begins to answer by quoting Vatican II documents, Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) and Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions). From these documents, one arrives at the answer that, according to Catholic Christians, we do worship the same God - but there is a difference in what we believe about God.
Deacon Dardess uses the New Revised Standard Bible and his own translation of the Qur’an in this comparison. The first division of the book is only two chapters – one including an introduction to Islam and Mohammed, and the second an introduction to the Qur’an. In the first chapter, Dardess informs the reader about the Prophet Mohammed and the early days of Islam. In the second chapter introducing the Qur’an, Dardess relates that there is only one “official” version of the Qur’an, written in Arabic and from which many translations have been made. Dardess points out that, on the other hand, the Bible has several versions and translations; Christian tradition has the Bible being written under God’s inspiration by various people over a long period of time. The Qur’an on the other hand, was written solely by the Prophet Mohammed, a message he received over 22 years. The Bible contains many books or letters, while the Qur’an is only one book with many chapters called Suras. Some of what Dardess presents from the Qur’an looks very much like some Biblical texts, or at least bears similarities to them.
In the remainder of the book, Dardess compares the Bible to the Qur’an by comparing what Christians believe and what Muslims believe about various topics, quoting from the Bible and the Qur’an and providing discussion questions and commentary. The topics he compares are
Dardess follows with a conclusion and an index.
- What do we each believe about God’s creation of the universe?
- What do we each believe about God’s creation of human beings?
- What do we each believe about Satan?
- What do we each believe about Adam and Even in the Garden?
- What do we each believe about the Annunciation of Mary?
- What do we each believe about the birth of Jesus?
- What do we each believe about the Crucifixion and Resurrection?
- What do we each believe about Jesus’ relation to God?
- What do we each believe about the Holy Spirit?
- What do we each believe about prayer?
- What do we each believe about human blessedness?
- What do we each believe about the greater jihad?
- What do we each believe about the lesser jihad?
- What do we each believe about the judgment?
- What do we each believe about heaven and hell?
- What do we each believe about God?
This book is a great way for starting on one’s own or in a group to learn about Islam. Today Christians need to have a better understanding of what Muslims believe, and they also need to know what the Bible says on topics that are similar to the Qur’an’s. This book belongs in public, academic, and individual’s libraries.
Deacon George Dardess serves in the Diocese of Rochester, New York. He is the author of Meeting Islam: A Guide for Christians (2005) and co-authored Divine Inspiration (1997). He is a member of both the Muslim-Catholic Alliance and the Commission on Muslim-Christian Relations in Rochester. He gives retreats, lectures, and courses on Islam throughout the United States.