A History of Muslim-Christian Relations
Relations between the Muslim world and the West dominate the international news. The events of 9/11, ongoing war in Iraq, developments in Afghanistan, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Danish cartoon crisis, Pope Benedict's remarks on Islam, countless other lower-profile events—all reflect the fact that Muslim-Christian and Muslim-Western relations stand among the defining issues of our age. This situation compels serious followers of Jesus to consider precisely what Christ is calling us to concerning our Muslim neighbors—and our Muslim enemies.
Christians today are not the first to face this challenge. Since the sudden emergence of a vigorous and growing Muslim community in the Arabian Peninsula in the early seventh century, Christians and Muslims have been forced to negotiate the realities of face-to-face interactions in everyday life, in political relations between Christian and Muslim nations, and in all-too-common violent conflicts.
Unfortunately, violence has shaped Muslims' and Christians' views of each other and generated shame and anger on both sides. Marching under the banner of the cross, medieval Crusaders slaughtered thousands of Muslims, justifying their behavior in part as a response to Islamic aggression against Christians in the East. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Mongol warlord Tamerlane and his armies left great heaps of skulls across Asia as a symbol of their grisly ventures in the cause of holy war. More recently, European colonial powers have pilfered Muslim lands and subjugated their peoples in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond. And today, murmurings of an impending "clash of civilizations" mingle with the din of violent confrontations involving Muslims ...