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Christianity and Islam

by C. H. Becker

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Text extracted from opening pages of book: CHRISTIANITY AND ISLA. M BY C. H. BECKER, PROFESSOR OF ORIENTAL HISTOKV THE COLONIAL INSTITUTE OF TRANSLATED BY REV. H. J. CHAYTOR, M. A. HEADMASTER OF PLYMOUTH COLLEGE LONDON AND NEW YORK HARPER & BROTHERS 45 ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 1909 TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE The subject from different points of view : limits of treatment I The nature; o. the subject: the historical points of connectidn betwe& i Christianity and Islam . . 2 A. Christianity and the rise of Islam : 1. Muhammed and his contemporaries . . 9 2. The influence of Christianity upon the de velopment of Muhammed . , . n 3. Muhammed's knowledge of Christianity . 14 4. The position of Christians under Muham medanism 28 B. The similarity of Christian and Muhammedan metaphysics during the middle ages : 1. The means and direction by which Christian influence affected Islam , . 34 2. The penetration of daily life by the spirit of religion; asceticism, contradictions and influences affecting the development of a clerical class and the theory of marriage 39 3. The theory of life in general with reference to the doctrine of immortality. . . 55 4. The attitude of religion towards the State, economic life, society, etc. ... 64 5. The permanent importance to Islam of these influences : the doctrine of duties . , 77 vu TABLE OF CONTENTS 6. Ritual 80 7. Mysticism and the worship of saints . . 83 8. Dogma and the development of scholasticism 89 C. The influence of Islam upon Christianity : The manner in which this influence operated, and the explanation of the superiority of Islam 94 The influence of Muhammedan philosophy . 98 The new world of European Christendom and the modern East 104 Conclusion, The historical growth of religion . . 105 Bibliography . . . . , . . . no CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM A COMPARISON of Christianity with - fx Muhammedanism or with any other religion must be preceded by a statement of the objects with which such comparison is undertaken, for the possibilities which lie in this direction are numerous. The missionary, for instance, may consider that a knowledge of the similarities of these religions would increase the efficacy of his proselytising work: his purpose would thus be wholly practical. The ecclesiasti cally minded Christian, already convinced of the superiority of his own religion, will be chiefly anxious to secure scientific ^ proof of the fact : the study of compara tive religion from this point of view was once a popular branch of apologetics and is by no means out of favour at the present B I CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM day. Again, the inquirer whose historical perspective is undisturbed by ecclesiastical considerations, will approach the subject with somewhat different interests. He will expect the comparison to provide him with a clear view of the influence which Christianity has exerted upon other religions or has itself received from them : or he may hope by comparing the general develop ment of special religious systems to gain a clearer insight into the growth of Christian ity. Hence the object of such comparisons is to trace the course of analogous develop ments and the interaction of influence and so to increase the knowledge of religion in general or of our own religion in particular. A world-religion, such as Christianity, is a highly complex structure and the evolu tion of such a system of belief is best under stood by examining a religion to which we have not been bound by a thousand ties from the earliest days of our lives. If we take an alien religion as our subject of CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM investigation, we shall not shrink from the consequences of the historical method : whereas, when we criticise Christianity, we are often unable to see the falsity of the pre-suppositions which we necessarily bring to the task of inquiry : our minds follow the doctrines of Christianity, even as our bodies perform their functions in complete unconsciousness. At the same time we possess a very considerable know le


it will be educative


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