Perceptions of God in Christianity and Islam

Authored by: David B. Burrell

Routledge Handbook on Christian–Muslim Relations

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138818712
eBook ISBN: 9781315745077
Adobe ISBN:


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To offer a way of celebrating how far people in the West have come in appreciating Islamic and Christian traditions and their fruitful interaction, this essay will deliberately eschew a comprehensive account of each tradition by instead attending to the way a few notable figures have set the pace. For the last quarter of a century has seen remarkable scholarship in French, German and English, paving the way for those in their wake to come to a vital appreciation of the traditions long denied them. Moreover, much of the same scholarship has been intent on undoing the ravages of a colonialism which proceeded by endemic Western presumptions to result in a mode of inquiry eager to learn from others while critical of itself. We know the names of western thinkers: Louis Massignon, Roger Arnaldez, Georges Anawati, Louis Gardet, Edward Said and their contemporaries, who broke so much ground in comparative studies. Their trail-blazing led a new generation of inquirers into the rich tapestry of Islamic life and practice: Serge de Beaurecueil, Gerhard Böwering, Anne-Marie Schimmel and others whose students are still active. In a similar yet different vein, Said Hossein Nasr and Abdulaziz Sachedina have opened the reaches of Sh??? philosophical theology, notably Mulla Sadra, whose comprehensive grasp of those before him offers a synoptic and interior taste of wrestling with philosophy. Again, their students, trained in the thought-forms and languages of Islam, are able to present their own and their mentors’ grasp of traditions hitherto considered opaque. Their legacy peers through the synoptic view that follows.

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