This is a reflection paper written 2002 in by Dr. Mark Swanson, associate director of our Center, and professor of Christian-Muslim relations at LSTC. What it proposes about Christian-Muslim relations remains as pertinent now as it was then.
Through” is a tricky preposition when its object is one of the great faiths of humankind, claiming the allegiance of about a fifth of the world’s people. I need not go farther than my mailbox or a few clicks away on the internet to find evidence of zealous Christians attempting to “see through” Islam, looking (they believe) beyond and beneath superficial pieties and apologetic constructions in order to comprehend the essential nature of Islam—to prepare for Christian evangelism, perhaps, or simply to affirm the superiority of their own Christian faith. This is not my intention with the expression “‘thinking through’ Islam.” To “think through” is not a matter of the other becoming transparent to my all-knowing gaze. While it does not exclude analysis and criticism carried out with the requisite humility, it has to do especially with ways by which that other may become notonly an object of reflection but also a conversation partner and teacher.