The world’s second-largest religion, Islam has long exercised the minds of Christians. Dating to A.D. 610, when Muhammad is said to have received his first revelations from God, the faith quickly conquered Christian lands in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, establishing the two faiths on an adversarial basis that has continued through eras of caliphates, crusades, and colonization.

Muhammad originally viewed his communications with God as a continuation of the message received through the biblical tradition, calling Jews and Christians “People of the Book.” But though the treatment of non-Muslims cycled through periods of peace and persecution, the teaching of the Quran ensured theological distinction. Islam esteems Jesus only as a human prophet and denies his crucifixion.

Yet there is much that unites Christians and Muslims. The five pillars of Islam espouse monotheism, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage. Certain expressions desire mystical communion with God, while others pursue pietistic fidelity to his law. Both religions seek to spread the faith and care for society, anticipating the judgment to come. And while adherents to each faith debate the place of militancy, history clearly testifies to the blood shed in the name of God.

While Islam has not experienced the same levels of schism as Christianity, Muslims debate within—and divide asunder—what they call the umma, the worldwide community of Islam.

Muslim diversity is also cultural. Though Islam was birthed in present-day Saudi Arabia and is generally associated with the Arab Middle East, the most populous Muslim nation is Indonesia, and its greatest rate of growth is in Africa. Nearly 50 nations boast Muslim majorities, while large minorities exist in India and China, with Islam established through migrating communities and individual conversion in Europe and the Americas. Each region has put its unique imprint on the religion, and Muslims encounter the same popular tendencies toward syncretism and secularism as experienced by Christians.

In the series of book lists that follows, CT has asked regional experts to select the best resources for evangelical Christians to understand and learn about Islam, both from Muslims themselves and from Christians who have devoted years to building relationships with the community.

The selected books not only offer paths of evangelism but also encourage cooperation for the common good. They reflect the diversity of Islam and, to some degree, the diversity of evangelical approaches toward Islam. While none bear the stamp of our full endorsement, we offer them—to Muslim and Christian alike—in the hope of better understanding, peace, and love between our two communities. Read well, pray, and discern.

Expert bios:

Peter Riddell (Southeast Asia) is professor emeritus of the London School of Theology, senior research fellow of the Australian College of Theology, and editor and author of 17 books, including Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World and Islam in Context. Peter is currently preparing a history of Christian-Muslim Relations in Southeast Asia for Oxford University Press.

Godwin O. Adeboye (Africa) currently serves as the African regional coordinator at the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life’s undergraduate department, where he is also conducting his doctoral work, researching a theological model for the survival of Christian missions in Islamic political contexts.

Martin Accad (Middle East) is associate professor of Islamic studies at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon. He is the author of Sacred Misinterpretation: Reaching across the Christian-Muslim Divide and coeditor of The Religious Other: A Biblical Understanding of Islam, the Qur’an and Muhammad.

Biswajit Patra (South Asia), a scholar with the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, has lived and served the Muslim community for over 25 years in West Bengal, India.

Colin Edwards (Europe) is a lecturer in missions in the UK whose dissertation and ministry focus on Muslim/Christian relations, with special attention to sociocultural aspects, interfaith dialogue, and mission.