Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs. By Ergun Mehmet Caner & Emir Fethi Caner. Grand Rapids : Kregel Publications, 2002. 251 pp. Paper. $12.99.
As the title suggests, the authors (who are brothers) were raised in a Muslim home, which gives this book an authentic flavor. In fact, the strength of this book is the assurance the reader has that the writers, both of whom have earned doctorates, present authoritative revelations about Muslim theology and way of life from both detailed research and eyewitness testimonials.
The authors are very thorough in their coverage of Islam’s key theological areas, in terms of both the topics addressed as well as in the detailed research presented. These topics include politics and jihad, the violent history of Islam, the Qur’an, Sunnah and Hadith, Allah, the five pillars of Islam, the Islamic view of women, salvation, Islamic holy days, sects of Islam, Jesus, and how Muslims view Christianity. The Caners also present a valuable chapter on how to evangelize Muslims, along with helpful reference appendices which include a topical index to the Qur’an and a comparison of the beliefs of Christianity and Islam.
Unfortunately, the gospel is anything but clear in this presentation. In sharing about their other brother receiving eternal life, it is stated that he “accepted Christ” (p. 19); and regarding others in the family, we are told that they “made a profession of faith” (p. 20), but their father never “accepted Christ as Lord” (p. 20). Then, later, an even more obscure presentation is given via the testimony of another former Muslim whose declaration of entering into “an intimate, personal relationship with God” consisted of Christ, in a dream, announcing to him that He loved him (p. 37). Other than quoting Rom 3:24-26 and Eph 2:8-9 in Appendix C, that is as clear as the gospel is presented in this book. However, the writers give a humorous lesson regarding the importance of clarity and accuracy of presentation when they cite a preacher who “repeatedly spoke of ‘accepting Jesus in your heart.’ When he asked why so few people had accepted the invitation, he learned that many of his listeners assumed the invitation was to agree to surgery—to place Jesus in the ventricle chamber” (p. 228).
But with that aside, this volume accomplishes its quest of enabling Christians “to understand Islam more clearly” (p. 20). For example, the background of Muhammad as “the militant messenger” (pp. 39-65) gives the reader great insight into the actions of fundamentalist Muslims today, while chapters 3, “The Story of Islam: A Trail of Blood,” and 13, “The Bloodshed of Jihad,” cause one to strongly question the propagation in the media today that Islam is a religion of peace.
However, it is chapter 6, “Allah: Names of Terror, Names of Glory,” that may be the most valuable discussion of all for the average Christian. For in it, the authors clearly and convincingly demonstrate that Allah is not simply another name for God; it is a false god that has absolutely no relationship with the God of the Bible.
The book closes with a practical and insightful look at how to reach a Muslim with the gospel. Instead of giving the reader a specific gospel presentation to use, the Caners give us a better understanding of how typical Muslims think and how we can be more effective in evangelism with them.
Though the GES reader will be disappointed with the authors’ obtuse slant on the gospel, there is much to be recommended in this book. In fact, this reviewer heartily endorses Unveiling Islam for accomplishing what its title suggests.
Cypress Valley Bible Church
Marshall , TX