Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Facing Islam: Orthodoxy and the Religion of Muhammad

Considering the recent unrest in the Middle East causing such turmoil for the Christian faithful, I thought it best to highlight a book providing an Orthodox look at Islam. Facing Islam by Ralph H. Sidway, which is described as "What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad." In addition to the book, a blog of the same name is available here.

I recently picked up a copy, and the Introduction outlines the text's material thus:

Briefly summarized, therefore, we shall address the following in this book:
  • the assertion of a need for “true religious dialogue” with Islam, and what pitfalls that presents for Christians,
  • the claim that “Muslims and Christians worship the same God,” and what that means for Christians,
  • the implied assumption that “Islam is a religion of peace” with which we ought to partner,
  • the vague presupposition that Muhammad was divinely inspired, and therefore “an apostle, a man of God,”
  • the notion that Christianity and Islam have “sizable ar- eas of common ground,” and should therefore unite in “new models of co-existence and cooperation,”
  • and, in general, the sunny view that Islam is a wonder- ful, lofty religion and has so much in common with Christianity as to be in many ways revered and even emulated by us (while any differences are due to “mis- understandings” which may be easily cleared away by “true religious dialogue”).

Do considering picking up a copy here.


  1. Excellent book! I highly recommend it.

  2. I recommend "The Sword of the Prophet" by Serge Trifkovic.

  3. Next year, God willing, I have a book coming out from Routledge Press entitled "Eastern Christian Encounters with Islam." Part of what motivated me to write it was a book like Sidway's, which I cannot join in unreservedly recommending here. (My longer review is here: While the aims of the author are very commendable, and while he has some good points, and while I am loathe to criticize anyone doing the lonely work of challenging politically correct whitewashes of Islam, nevertheless it must be said that the book suffers from a massive lack of attention to recent and serious scholarship, and evidences an unhelpfully relentlessly polemical interpretation of Islam and events. I am not at all an apologist for Islamic atrocities against Orthodox Christians, but I am a scholar committed to finding out the truth as "serenely and objectively" as possible (to use Robert Taft's phrase). Books like Sidway's are in fact in my estimation counter-productive: while he wants, rightly, justly, and commendably, to draw attention to Orthodox suffering, his treatment of it is sufficiently polemical, simplistic, and often anachronistic that he makes it that much easier for Islamic apologists to dismiss and refuse to engage the whole area. The reason he self-published it (I assume) is that he made it far too easy for scholars and reputable publishers to dismiss a book as simply the disaffected ravings of a pamphleteer. In the end, that does not serve Eastern Christians well in the very steep uphill battle of getting attention to their sufferings, never mind political action to mitigate the same.