- Publisher: Multnomah (2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1576739899
- ISBN-13: 978-1576739891
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 717 g
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #469,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Light in the Shadow of Jihad Hardcover – 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
I tend to agree with most of what Zacharius says. But from the title I thought I might learn something about Islam here. I did not. The book is primarily about relativism. Zacharius is from India, but he seems to know more about Western philosophy than about non-Western religions, which is a pity, because Americans do need to learn about other religions from a prophetic, rather than uncritically affirming or denying, perspective. If that is what you are looking for, I recommend Paul Fregosi (Jihad), Maxime Rodinson (Mohammed), Bernard Lewis, V.S. Naipaul, or Peter Partner (God of Battles) for an honest and more informed look at Islam. I also highly recommend the works of Vishal Mangalwadi, another Indian Christian who writes with passion, but also it seems to me broader knowledge of other religions. If you want an eloquent sermon on the errors of relativism, this book may meet your need, however.
Chapter 2: The Struggle Between Good & Evil investigates relativism with reference to Alan Dershowitz amongst others. The author looks at the arguments of atheists like Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell and Kai Nielsen and shows from their own words that reason alone cannot lead to morality. America functions within the moral framework of Judeo-Christian assumptions: Life is intrinsically sacred because God created and sustains it. He discusses George Washington's farewell address and two major points in it: morality cannot be maintained without religion and if religion is excluded, reason and experience forbid us to expect morality to prevail.
In Chapter 3: The Struggle Between Truth & Falsehood, he looks at the history of Islam including the Sunni/Shia split, the sources of authority in Islam like the Qur'an, the Hadith, Sira and Tafsir, the doctrine of abrogation and the persecution of Islamic scholars questioning the primary sources. Recent history of the religion is explored with reference to Hasan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Farag and his book The Missing Religious Precept, and intolerance in Muslim countries.
Chapter 4 deals with prophecy as the author recounts the story of Daniel and in particular the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. He contrasts the goals of Islam and Christianity: the one aims at world domination through geographical extension and the other seeks to bring the rule of God into the human heart. He then points to the root of the conflict in the story of Abraham and the contest between Isaac and Ishmael. Events in the Middle East are being played out on an ancient historical template centred on the city of Jerusalem. The prophecies about the nation of Israel are being fulfilled with the establishment of independent Israel in 1948 representing the dawning of the world's salvation.
The problem of the "hiddennes of God" or divine hiding is discussed in chapter 5. There is a purpose behind God's visibility or invisibility, based on the fact that mankind is not only mind/intellect but spiritual essence too. Here the author refers to Blaise Pascal, Anthony Bloom and CS Lewis in identifying the importance of communion with God. The only real safety is found in the presence of God.
Chapter 6 includes discussions of God and culture, culture and country, and country and history. He dissects and criticises the author Andrew Sullivan's failure of logic and equivocating statements expressed in the article This Is A Religious War in the New York Times Magazine of October 7th, 2001 where Islamic extremists and Christian fundamentalists are indiscriminately lobbed together. This is the Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle. It explains that just because 2 things have one thing in common, it doesn't mean that they have everything in common. This chapter closes with a discussion of God's hand in history and some comforting words from Isaiah.
In the Appendix the author recounts his personal experiences upon getting the news of 9/11 and how the supportive words and actions of various individuals meant so much to him in that dark hour. He observes here that democracy and Christianity share a fundamental tenet: that of self-determination. The beautiful Psalm 74 is reproduced here and this section concludes with a moving poem based upon the comforting words of Isaiah 4:10.
Life In The Shadow Of Jihad is a beautifully written, informative and measured look at the issues confronting us at the start of the 21st century. For further reading, I recommend The West And The Rest by Roger Scruton, The Dream Palace Of The Arabs by Fouad Ajami and Oriana Fallaci's furious screed The Rage And The Pride. These three books explore the same issues from different angles and complement this inspiring and informative work by Ravi Zacharias.
But, don't stop there. Be sure to read the appendix, which is entitled, "Steadying the Soul While the Heart is Breaking." It is a very touching postscript.
In many ways I feel inadequate in writing this review. I wish that I could easily boil down Dr. Zacharias' thoughts, but this book is just not like that. It is a book that came from his soul-searching, and it made me search my soul as well. If, as a Christian, you are willing to peer into your soul, as you prepare for the years ahead, then I would highly recommend that you get this book.