Christians & Muslims: Christian History Interview - Justice and Peace
For all the Western media talks about the "Arab street," most of us can scarcely imagine what that world is really like. Fuller Seminary professor J. Dudley Woodberry knows. Since 1957, he has studied, taught, and ministered in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, and he has visited 35 other predominately Muslim countries. We asked him to describe how Muslims view history, society, and the West.
This issue looks at turning points in Christian-Muslim relations from a Christian perspective. How might a Muslim history read differently? Would Muslims focus on the same events?
Their history would be similar in many ways, although obviously what might be an "up" for us might be a "down" for them. It would depend on the type of Muslim, because that which creates hostility would be a "down" for many Muslims as well as for Christians. Both groups are looking for good relations without giving up their evangelistic mandates.
There would, however, be significant differences. For example, last summer I was asked by a Muslim theological faculty in Turkey to gather a group of Christian scholars for a dialogue on topics including the Crusades. Most of us don't feel at all responsible for the Crusades. We're very individualistic in the West, and we just weren't around back then. But we apologized twice for what the Crusades did not only to Islam, but also to the region that is now Turkey. And we practically got a standing ovation for that. Quite obviously, with their sense of group responsibility and trauma, that's a much a bigger issue for them than for us.
Then there's the colonial period, which most Westerners would not think of as a Christian invasion. With our sense ...