Pathways of Faith, Connected Histories

'Christianity and Islam' from Oxford Islamic Studies Online

About This Resource

This article explores the relationship between Christianity and Islam as background for F. E. Peters' The Children of Abraham and Maria Rosa Menocal's Ornament of the World. The article by Bert F. Breiner and Christian W. Troll is reprinted from The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World in Oxford Islamic Studies Online.


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the perception of Islam by Christians and non-Christians alike has been profoundly influenced by a number of terrorist events that have marked the beginning of the new millennium. There were, within a few years of each other, the attack on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and the attacks on public transportation in Madrid and London. It is necessary, however, to place modern Christian-Muslim relations in their historical and cultural context.

The history of Christian-Muslim relations begins with the biography of the prophet Muḥammad in the sixth and seventh centuries C.E. Muḥammad met Christians and Jews on various occasions. Ibn Isḥāq reports that a Christian uncle of Muḥammad's first wife identified Muḥammad's experience in the cave of Ḥirāʿ as divine revelation. On the other hand, Muḥammad later disputed with a Christian delegation from Najrān about the doctrine of the Incarnation, though this same delegation had been invited to pray in the Prophet's mosque. This ambivalence is reflected in the Qurʿān and the ḥadīth (traditions). The Qurʿān tells Muslims that they will find Christians “nearest to them in love” (5:85) but warns them (5:54) not to take Christians or Jews as “close friends” or “protectors” (awlīyāʿ). Sometimes the positive and sometimes the negative aspect has received greater emphasis in the history of Muslim relations with Christians.

The earliest Christian reaction to Islam, dating from the struggle between Muslim and Byzantine armies for control of Egypt and Syria, shows ambivalence of a different kind. Byzantine polemicists saw Islam as a “Satanic plot” to destroy Christian faith (Gaudeul, vol. 1, p. 65), and non-Chalcedonian Christians often saw Islam as “the rod of God's anger” intended “to deliver us from the Byzantines” (Sahas, p. 23).

The early development of dhimmī status gave non-Muslims, including Christians, some legal rights as subjects of Islamic government. Relations between Christians and Muslims (especially the Muslim authorities) were generally very good during this period. The Muslim empire originally used the existing bureaucracy to administer the empire, and this included Christians, especially in Egypt and Syria, and even included the use of Greek, rather than Arabic, as the first language of Muslim administration at Damascus. There is evidence of problems between Christians and Muslims in the general populace, for example, the Coptic uprising in Egypt in 829–830. During this period, Islam inherited the learning of the Hellenistic tradition. The caliph al-Maʿmūn (r. 813–833) founded an academy to translate works of science, philosophy, and medicine from Greek into Arabic; the Bible was one of the few religious works translated. Islam inherited the learning of the past and reached creative heights in architecture, science, technology, and philosophy. The concept of legal rights for non-Muslims became an integral principle of Islamic law. Islamic learning and Islamic legal tolerance survived the disintegration of political unity and became important elements of the medieval world.

The Medieval Experience.

The ninth century contained the seeds of major changes in Christian-Muslim relations. In the Muslim world, there were signs of the breakup of political unity. During periods of instability the rights of non-Muslim minorities were often threatened by popular discontent. This is often the lot of minorities at such times, and the phenomenon is not unique to Islamic history. The various Muslim governments struggling for stability usually sought to protect the legal rights of their minorities. The Byzantine empire was in a state of general decline and, in the eleventh century, shortly after the final schism of the Eastern and Western Churches, it had to petition Rome for help. In the West, the same century saw the beginnings of a long struggle toward greater political and social integration, heralded by the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne (r.  768–814). Western European history during this period paralleled Muslim history in that both were successions of competing dynasties. Western Europe, however, was struggling toward greater integration and stability, and the Muslim world was evolving toward greater disunity and instability (except for the remarkable period of Ottoman hegemony over the eastern Mediterranean).

These two worlds approached military parity well before they attained any degree of intellectual equality. The Middle Ages was the period of the Crusades and the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Also during this period, Muslim learning was passed on to the Christian West, which had been struggling self-consciously since Charlemagne's reforms to reclaim its own intellectual tradition. The translations of Arabic texts into Latin from the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries played a role in the development of western European civilization similar to that of the earlier translations of Greek texts into Arabic. Christians and Jews studied with Muslims at the universities of Córdoba (968) and Cairo (972), perhaps influencing the later development of western European universities (Paris, 1150; Bologna, 1119). The Middle Ages presented many apparent contradictions in Christian-Muslim relations: sometimes we find Christians and Muslims studying together, and sometimes we find them fighting each other on the battlefield. Sometimes the language of interreligious polemic verges on the obscene, yet in the fifteenth century, Nicholas of Cusa explored the idea of an ultimate unity of all religions, and John of Segovia and George of Trebizond actively campaigned for a Christian-Muslim peace conference. From the Muslim side, Ibn Ḥazm launched a scathing attack on the unreliability of the biblical text, and yet Ibn ʿArabī speaks of the presence of God in all religious experience.

Such a complex situation needs to be studied in terms of individual biographies and of social history. Some generalities are valid, however. The language of scholarship provided a common vocabulary in which the different traditions could speak to each other. Religious tolerance remained a part of Islamic law, although its application varied with social, political, and economic circumstances. Ibn Taymīyah, writing during a period of social unrest involving the combined threats of the Crusades and Mongol invasions, developed particularly harsh restrictions on the rights of dhimmīs. Nonetheless, when the Jews were evicted from Spain in 1492, they went to Muslim lands. The only Christian land to which many Jews emigrated was Italy. Today, communities speaking Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) survive only in the eastern Mediterranean lands which were under Muslim control at the time of the expulsion. The medieval period may be understood, in part, as the interaction of two great civilizations, the Christian and the Muslim, although this ignores important events such as Turkic and Mongol invasions of the Islamic heartlands.

As the Middle Ages began, Islamic civilization was in its prime, and western European civilization was still a child. As the intellectual, technological, and scientific development of western Europe reached its prime, however, Islamic civilization showed clear signs of weakness.

Radical Transformation of the West.

Al-Jabartī (1756–1825), the last great Muslim historian in the classical tradition, perceived Napoleon's occupation of Egypt in 1798 as “the beginning of a reversal of the natural order and the corruption or destruction of all things” (Hourani, p. 51). Napoleon was, however, a child of the French Enlightenment, which believed in reason rather than dogma and exalted not God's law but the human law of the state. In a telling gesture symbolizing the end of European Christendom, he refused to be crowned emperor by the pope but placed the crown upon his head with his own hands. In many ways, contemporary secular civilization challenges both Christianity and Islam as cultural systems and religious faiths. Some Christians and Muslims accept that certain values of the Enlightenment (such as tolerance and respect for human dignity) represent an authentic development of fundamental elements of the Qurʿānic and biblical vision of humanity. Other Christians and Muslims, however, make common cause against the challenge of secularism and irreligion.

In the West, the origins of the shift from Christendom to nation-states are to be found in the late Middle Ages. With this development, Christian identity (particularly in Western and Central Europe) no longer reflected a “Christendom,” but individuals belonging to a number of nation-states. This was bound to affect Christian-Muslim relations. The post-Reformation “wars of religion” focused European attention on internal problems. Islam tended to be viewed by Westerners as a threat. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, thanks to rapidly developing science and technology, modern means of transport and communication increased the interdependence of different parts of the globe. Internationally, industrial and commercial complexes began to eclipse the power of individual nation-states. Greater local and international mobility resulted in the spread of multiracial, multicultural, and multireligious societies both in terms of geographic area and intensity. Different social and mental structures and perceptions coexist, often in unreconciled tension. Muslims and Christians live increasingly in mixed societies, sharing a growing awareness of the multiplicity of religions, ideologies, and cultures on many different levels, local, national, and international.

Western political dominance and colonialism.

The Industrial Revolution in Europe ensured the military and technological supremacy of the Western powers whose colonial influence affected most of the Muslim world. The Peace of Carlowitz (Serbia, 1699) subjected the Ottomans to increasing European pressure and interference. France, Russia, and Britain benefited from the privileges (capitulations) granted by the Ottoman sultāns; these enabled their consuls to interfere in local affairs and to “protect” Christian minority groups. The European powers supported national revolutions; Greece became independent in 1832, Serbia and Romania in 1878. The Ottoman authorities were either powerless spectators or hidden organizers as some Christian minorities, whose discontent with dhimmī status was often encouraged by European powers, became victims of attempts at extermination.

Muslims in the Middle East regarded the Christians, with considerable justification, as pawns in the overall plans of the European powers to partition the Ottoman Empire. Following Napoleon's brief incursion into Egypt, European interference increased. Algeria became a French colony in 1830, Tunisia a French protectorate in 1881, and Egypt a British protectorate in 1882. European expansion halted the spread of Islamic states in West Africa. Following a revolt against British interests in 1857, India was placed directly under the British Crown, and repressive measures were directed particularly against the Muslims. In Southeast Asia, British and Dutch colonial rule expanded. World War I resulted in the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire into the Republic of Turkey (1919) and several smaller Middle Eastern countries under the colonial mandates of Britain and France. Ethnic identity, traditionally strong in this region, played an increasingly important role in the nationalism of the emerging nation-states when the former colonies and mandates gained independence. Muslim nations have played an important role in the movement of nonaligned countries that emerged from the Bandung Conference in Indonesia (1955). However, Western economic and military supremacy continued to grow, and disadvantaged populations envied the Western way of life, glimpsed through the mass media.

More importantly, perhaps, colonial policies also affected the religious institutions of Muslim societies. In particular, educational policy effectively marginalized—and thus alienated—the traditional religious establishment (ʿulamāʿ); today the majority of young people in most Muslim countries receive Western-style educations. Much the same happened in the sphere of law, to the extent that throughout the Muslim world constitutions of newly independent Muslim nations were modeled on European models. The Muslim world felt politically humiliated and threatened by these developments. Non-Muslims had taken control of Muslim societies and interfered with Islam, the final religion, intended by God to be successful and dominant (Qurʿān 3:110, 39:74, 21:105). The grievances of Muslims (and other Asians and Africans) against the colonialists reflect the dehumanizing aspect of much European colonialism. Of course, the reality of European colonialism was heterogeneous and complex, and a full analysis of its impact on the Muslim world is beyond the scope of this article.

The missionary movement and the clash of religious institutions and ideas.

Although the influence of secular rationalism often cost European churches the support of civil governments, a vigorous missionary endeavor spread Christianity throughout the world. Missionary preaching, education, and health care could generally depend on the colonial governments’ protection, although evangelization was not always encouraged. Fundamentally, however, the missionary movement grew out of a genuine spiritual revival—itself part of a complex Christian reaction to post-Enlightenment secularism—and a commitment to carry the gospel to all people. Anglican and Protestant missionary societies were founded in Britain and the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as were Catholic missionary orders such as the Society of Missionaries of Africa (the White Fathers), founded in 1885. Missionary activity among Muslims included the distribution of Bible translations, apologetic-polemical tracts, and public disputations. Karl G. Pfander, a German who worked in India with the Anglican Church Missionary Society, translated his polemical work on Islam, Mīzān al-ḥaqq (Balance of Truth), into Urdu. Mawlānā Rahmat Allāh Kayrānawī published a refutation of Pfander's work, the Iẓhār al-ḥaqq (Revelation of Truth) and led Muslim resistance to Christian activities. Later, in a public debate, Rahmat Allāh used the methods of European biblical criticism to refute the fundamentalist approach of his opponents. Still being reprinted, both books circulate as examples of Christian and Muslim apologetics.

By the end of the nineteenth century, many missionaries began to abandon this approach and to emphasize missionary service in education and health care. However, a strong emphasis on conversion, in the sense of an institutional change of religious allegiance, remained strong among certain groups of Christians and Muslims. On the Catholic side, Cardinal Lavigerie (1825–1892) believed the Church's mission to be a transformation of individuals and whole cultures and societies by slow impregnation, with priority given to a witness of disinterested love and service. He advocated a dialogue focused on common themes: God's majesty, our creatureliness, our need to repent and to be forgiven. He disapproved of the teaching of Christian dogmas to Muslims: only those already committed to Christ and actively seeking baptism should be taught Christian doctrines (Gaudeul, vol. 1, p. 313).

Recent Developments in Christian-Muslim Relations.

Western colonial domination placed enormous stress on Muslims. Muslims had faced many challenges over the centuries, but the sweep of Western civilization proved to be the most serious challenge to Islamic life. The traditional pattern of Islamic life based on sharīʿah was everywhere threatened by what Muslims perceived as Western aggression: political aggression leading to subjugation, economic aggression leading to poverty, social aggression disrupting family and society, intellectual aggression imposing Western thought and education, and religious aggression. “For, say what we will, Christian missionary work is frequently understood by the peoples of Africa and the East not as the sharing of an inestimable treasure, but as an unwanted imposition from without, inseparably associated with the progress of the colonial powers” (Neill, p. 250). Muslims often view Western scholars of Islam, usually termed “orientalists,” as serving, deliberately or not, the colonial and imperial designs of their home countries. How far this generalization is true is a moot point. The question is whether study of a culture and religion by an external observer should be entirely rejected because of a certain inevitable degree of misrepresentation. Christian scholars, on the other hand, have regretted that few Muslims have attempted to create an Islamic “occidentalism” (Watt, p. 116). Of course, these Christian scholars intend that such work follow methods of modern—that is, Western—critical scholarship to balance the work of orientalists and provide Christianity with a much-needed “critique” from without. Interestingly, there is a growing tradition of Islamic “occidentalism” using a level and type of scholarship that can engage in meaningful dialogue with the Western “orientalist” tradition. It includes such important thinkers as Jalāl Āl-e Ahmad (1923–1969), ʿAlī Sharīʿatī (1933–1977), Hamid Enayat (1932–1982) and Daryush Shayegan (b. 1935), whose Cultural Schizophrenia: Islamic Societies Confronting the West appeared in English translation in 1992.

One reaction to Western domination has been a struggle over the formation of a bewildering variety of Muslim movements reflecting the wide variety of Muslim thought. Some emphasize fundamental Islamic faith and practice, with minimal involvement in secular society; others adopt an approach more consonant with secular and European understandings of the role of religion in the modern world. A reformist trend seeks to reconcile Islam with the contemporary world, particularly Western civilization, Christian or otherwise. In spite of a widespread rejection of the West on the emotional level, Muslim societies usually depend on it economically. These issues have produced a religious revival or resurgence, as the Muslim community seeks to clarify the relationship between Islam and modern national identity. Often the process has been accompanied by revolution.

The Islamist trend, powerful in several Muslim nations since the second half of the twentieth century, advocates the integral implementation of sharīʿah, and some states have declared themselves Islamic republics. Since the events of 9/11, Christians have shown a much greater interest in and concern with Islamist movements. Some Christian writers have emphasized the inherent danger of Islamist (or otherwise politicized) Islam. This is, of course, not new. It has roots in the earliest polemics against Islam. In a subtler form, it has been assured a place in Christian discourse by the writings of some of the most widely-read Christian scholars of Islam. Islam's need to redefine its relation to political power has been a constantly recurring theme of Kenneth Cragg's prolific and influential output on Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. A more nuanced, and even sympathetic, Christian approach to the complexity of contemporary Muslim developments in this area may be found, for example, in the work of the Evangelical writer Christopher Catherwood.

The question of Islam and political power, made even more intense by a growing awareness among Christians of Islamist discourse and tendencies within the Muslim world, is a question which affects Muslim-Christian relations profoundly. This can be seen, for example, in the present situation in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan, and Malaysia. It is not only Western Christians who express concern over this aspect of certain strains of contemporary Islamic thought. Christians in Africa and Asia have, for decades, been expressing deep concerns about the politicization of Islam, claiming that only secularist states would assure them complete freedom to practice their religion. The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent displacement of the Palestinians have had a profound effect upon Muslim-Christian relations everywhere. Although evangelical Christians often support Zionist policies, many other Christians in the West have been moved by the plight of the Palestinians. Common bonds of language and culture often lead Arab Christians to support Palestinian rights, but because they share with Jews the experience of dhimmī status, they desire more equitable arrangements within a modern democracy.

The Muslim world is searching for effective, modern ways to achieve cohesion and growth for the ummah (the Islamic community) in order to play a decisive role in global affairs. The aims of the Rābiṭat al-ʿĀlam al-Islāmī (Muslim World League), founded in Mecca in 1962, include the propagation (daʿwah) of Islam in Muslim and non-Muslim countries among Muslims and others. It defends the rights of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries and, since 1976, has sponsored the research and publication of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (Jiddah and London). Once the rights of the minorities have been secured in a given country, the second phase of the League's strategy is aimed at transforming the minority into a ruling majority through proselytization. The secretary-general of the League has publicly stated that the organization wishes all its activities to proceed in the spirit of dialogue and collaboration with Christians (Nasseef); the Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs has published research on the treatment of Christian minorities in Muslim countries. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), founded in 1962, set up the Islamic Solidarity Fund in 1974 to support religious, cultural, and charitable work in Muslim communities everywhere. The Islamic Call Society, funded by Libya, was founded in 1970 to spread Islam and to provide educational and medical services as integral elements of daʿwah. These and other organizations have sponsored meetings of Christians and Muslims. This work also takes place on national and regional levels. The Islamic Foundation in Leicester, United Kingdom, for instance, promotes daʿwah among Muslims and non-Muslims through printed and audiovisual media and by training workers “to successfully face the challenge of the West.” Of course, since 9/11 in particular, much more attention has been paid to Islamist discourse and particularly to the more violent and aggressive aspects of it. There have been several important and insightful analyses of the Islamist phenomenon by both Christians and Muslims (e.g., Makris, and The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 2003).

At least one-third of Muslims today live in minority situations and represent a wide range of understandings of Islam. This situation impresses upon Muslims the urgent need for intra-Muslim ecumenism and for developing interreligious ties with other faith communities. The problems of Muslim minorities among Christian majorities cannot be solved without the principle of reciprocity in the freedom of religious expression and movement. Christians and Muslims collaborate in international and national organizations on global problems like international trade, economic underdevelopment, hunger, and migration. No longer can Christian-Muslim relations be perceived in terms of relations between Islam and the West, not least because today the centers of Christianity and Islam have shifted to Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The Vatican II declaration Nostra Ætate of 1965 prescribes for members of the Roman Catholic Church “esteem” for Muslim faith and practice and “urges” Christians and Muslims “to strive sincerely for mutual understanding” and “to make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom.” These themes are important elements of contemporary Christian-Muslim dialogue both at the Office for Islam within the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and in the work of the World Council of Churches (WCC). In 1971 the WCC, representing Anglican, Protestant, and Orthodox churches, established an Office for Dialogue with People of Living Faiths. Both the WCC and the Pontifical Council have sponsored many meetings between Christians and Muslims. These central initiatives and offices also exist on regional and national levels. Although some politicians seek to replace the Iron Curtain with a “Christian-Muslim Cold War”—an understanding often reflected in the mass media—only determined worldwide efforts to address the divisive issues that have separated Muslims and Christians can achieve significant reconciliation. Muslim daʿwah and Christian mission are being redefined in terms of constructive coexistence, respecting each others’ differences and being for one another a source of righteous emulation and challenge.

There has been, however, an important change in Christian-Muslim relations in the last few decades. Most noticeable, perhaps, has been an increase in the institutionalization of Christian-Muslim cooperation in working together for peace, justice, and the relief of human suffering. In some cases, these are multireligious organizations including Christians and Muslims together with members of other faith communities. Such groups include the World Conference of Religion and Peace and the International Association for Religious freedom. In other cases, these have been specifically Christian organizations such as the Roman Catholic Communità di Sant’ Egidio. All of these organizations have been instrumental in helping to broker important peace agreements in different parts of the world (Valkenberg).

A final change that must be noted is the role of the Internet. The Internet has served as a means for Christian and Muslim groups to spread their views more widely and more easily than has previously been possible. The Internet has also made available a great deal of serious scholarship on both Christianity and Islam. Many of the classic texts of both religions are readily available there. The Internet has also been a major venue for Islamist groups to express their beliefs and for Christian (and non-Christian) individuals and groups to spread their views of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations, and it will be increasingly important in the development of Christian-Muslim relations in the future.


  • Ahmad, Khurshid, and David Kerr, eds. “Christian Mission and Islamic Daʿwah.”International Review of Mission, 65 (1976): 365–460.
  • Catherwood, Christopher. Christians, Muslims, and Islamic Rage. Grand Rapids, Mich., 2003. A thoughtful insight into the complexity of contemporary Christian-Muslim relations by a careful Christian Evangelical scholar.
  • “Christian-Muslim Relations into the Twenty-First Century: A Round Table Discussion.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 3, no. 1 (1992): 5–39.
  • Courbage, Youssef, and Philippe Fargues. Chrétiens et Juifs dans l’Islam arabe et turc. Paris, 1992. Perceptive sociohistorical essay with extensive, relevant demographic information and analysis.
  • Cragg, Kenneth. The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East. London, 1992. Traces the history of the Arab Christians from their beginning through the birth and growth of Islam to the present, as well as pondering the agenda—and enigma—of the future.
  • Ellis, Kail C., ed. The Vatican, Islam, and the Middle East. Syracuse, N.Y., 1987. Presents a wide spectrum of intellectual and practical insights into contemporary Catholic-Islamic relations, including essays on selected countries of Asia.
  • Gaudeul, Jean-Marie. Encounters and Clashes: Islam and Christianity in History. Vol. 1, A Survey, and Vol. 2, Texts. Rome, 1984. Detailed analysis of the apologetic, polemical, and irenic efforts and texts placed in their changing historical contexts. Written from a Roman Catholic, post–Vatican II perspective for informed nonspecialists. Most of the selected texts are presented in the original and in translation. Crucial German studies in the field have not been considered.
  • Hagemann, Ludwig. Christentum und Islām zwischen Konfrontation und Begegnung. Altenberge, Germany, 1983. Solid survey of the premodern phases.
  • Hamidullah, Muhammad. The Muslim Conduct of State. Reprint. Lahore, 1963. Originally published in 1935.
  • Hourani, Albert. Islam in European Thought. Cambridge, 1991. Masterly critical survey, balancing Edward Said's work.
  • Islamic Movements: Impact of Political Stability in the Arab World. Abu Dhabi, 2003.
  • Islamochristiana, 1975–. Annually published by the Pontificio Istituto di Studie Arabi e d’Islamistica, Rome. Contains a wealth of primary sources and analyses and reports concerning the past and present of Islamic-Christian relations.
  • Joseph, Suad, and Barbara L. K. Pillsbury, eds. Muslim-Christian Conflicts: Economic, Political, and Social Origins. Boulder, Colo., 1978. Highlights the need for taking account of the complexity and diversity of the causes of conflict.
  • Khoury, Adel Theodor, and Ludwig Hagemann. Christentum und Christen im Denken zeitgenössischer Muslime. 2d ed. Altenberge, Germany, 1994. Based on a wide selection of Arab authors.
  • Lewis, Bernard. The Muslim Discovery of Europe. London and New York, 1982.
  • Makris, G. P. Islam in the Middle East: A Living Tradition. Oxford, 2007. A lucid presentation of the reality of Islam in the Middle East, providing a very readable introduction to its complexity.
  • Moubarak, Youakim, ed. Les Musulmans: Consultation islamo-chrétienne entre Muhammad Arkoun, Hasan Askari, Muhammad Hamidullah, Hassan Hanafī, Muhammad Kamel Hussein, Ibrahim Madkour, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, et Youakim Moubarak. Paris, 1971. Responses by outstanding Muslim scholars to questions regarding the ancient controversies, the present, and possible points of convergence in the future.
  • Nasseef, Abdullah Omar. “Muslim-Christian Relations: The Muslim Approach.”Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs7, no. 1 (January 1986): 27–31.
  • Neill, Stephen. A History of Christian Missions. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1964.
  • Powell, Averil. Muslims and Missionaries in Pre-Mutiny India. London, 1992. Pioneering and penetrating study of the momentous Christian-Muslim controversies, placed firmly in the context of Indian-Muslim history.
  • Sahas, Daniel J. John of Damascus on Islam: The “Heresy of the Ishmaelites.”Leiden, 1972. Important study of one of the earliest Christian responses to Islam which also provides much valuable background information.
  • Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York, 1979. Brilliant and seminal, yet controversial, critical essay.
  • Schacht, Joseph, and C. E. Bosworth, eds. The Legacy of Islam. 2d ed. Oxford, 1974. Especially relevant contributions by Bernard Lewis and Maxime Rodinson.
  • Southern, Richard W. Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, Mass., 1962. Classic work on the subject.
  • Valkenberg, Pim. Sharing Lights on the Way to God: Muslim-Christian Dialogue and Theology in the Context of Abrahamic Partnership. Amsterdam, 2006. This attempt to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue also provides a readable and insightful history of the dialogue movement, of current trends, and possible directions for the future.
  • Vander Werff, Lyle L. Christian Mission to Muslims: The Record: Anglican and Reformed Approaches in India and the Near East, 1800–1938. South Pasadena, Calif., 1977. Thorough historical account from a Protestant insider perspective. Detailed listing of the primary and secondary source material.
  • Waardenburg, Jacques. Muslims and Others: Relations in Context. Berlin, 2003. An excellent and very readable presentation of this complex area covering the whole Muslim world, not just the Middle East.
  • Watt, Montgomery W. Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions. London and New York, 1991. Succinct and brilliant account of central aspects and phases of the historical interaction of the two religions.



Breiner, Bert F. , Christian W. Troll and Bert F. Breiner. "Christianity and Islam." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford Islamic Studies Online,

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #198: 'Christianity and Islam' from Oxford Islamic Studies Online", May 18, 2024


, , ,