Monday, October 8, 2018

Introducing our New Book | Margins of Islam: Ministry in Diverse Muslim Contexts

On behalf of Gene Daniels, I’m excited to introduce our new book Margins of Islam: Ministry in Diverse Muslim Contexts. Here is the book description:

What do you do when “Islam” does not adequately describe the Muslims you know? Margins of Islam brings together a stellar collection of experienced missionary scholar-practitioners who explain their own approaches to a diversity of Muslims across the world. Each chapter grapples with a context that is significantly different from the way Islam is traditionally presented in mission texts. These crucial differences may be theological, socio-political, ethnic, or a specific variation of Islam in a context—but they all shape the way we do mission. This book will help you discover Islam as a lived experience in various settings and equip you to engage Muslims in any context, including your own.

One of the most succinct and descriptive endorsements comes from Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary:

In a marvelous tour de force, Margins of Islam exposes the widely held, but false assumption that the house of Islam is a monolithic religious entity which either resists or responds to missiological strategies. Collectively, these authors offer up case studies and rich and textured “on the field” experience which reflects the true variegated diversity of Islam. This book is contextual missiology at its finest.

The project was the brainchild of Gene Daniels. I vividly remember sitting next to him on a bus discussing it with him on our way to a conference center from a hotel a couple years ago. His big idea was to gather missionary scholar-practitioners serving in various Muslim settings to explain how they take context seriously and how they deal with the phenomenon that we call “Islam.” I was genuinely surprised and honored when he asked me to be his coeditor!

We immediately started networking and looking for contributors. Gene already had several people in mind. My job was to help edit each chapter and then to produce a concluding chapter that explained the themes of the book. It was a rich learning experience. As I researched for the book, I found myself often disagreeing and pushing back on evangelical treatments of Islam.

My criticism began to take shape and eventually became an introductory chapter—most evangelical missiological treatments of Islam are reductionistic with what I call a “top-down” approach, meaning that Islam (and subsequently, Muslims) can be adequately understood by addressing the Qur’an, hadith, and history of Islam. From this textual understanding, it is assumed that Muslims believe what Islam teaches, and thus there is a “Muslim worldview” and strategies on how to engage it. In this framework, Muslims are often simplified as cultural and spiritual clones of one another.

Many workers have read books based on this top-down approach, but when they begin to engage Muslims in their context, they quickly discover that the Muslims they are working with believe very different things from what “Islam” teaches. While the top-down approach is incredibly valuable, it can also distort our understanding of Muslims if it is our only lens. We also need a “bottom-up” approach that explains the historical evolution of the Islamic phenomenon and the sociological perspectives that accounts for the diversity of Islam today. Ergo my chapter two: How Muslims Shape and Use Islam: Towards a Missiological Understanding.

As I was editing the chapters (which do a wonderful job of combining the top-down and bottom-up perspectives) and after I wrote the introductory chapter, I started to reflect on how recent developments in postcolonial theory, anthropology, and religious studies have influenced mission to Muslims. Gene and I later decided that I would write a theory piece again for a concluding chapter which I titled Adaptive Missiological Engagement in Islamic Contexts. Gene then did a masterful job tying the themes of the book together in the final chapter, “Conclusion: Learning from the Margins.”

Here are the contents of the book:

Foreword, David Garrison

Introduction, Gene Daniels


1 Who Represents Islam?, Evelyne A. Reisacher

2 How Muslims Shape and Use Islam: Towards a Missiological Understanding, Warrick Farah


3 The Donkey and the Straw: Reaching South Asian Sufis with the Gospel, Kevin Higgins

4 Secular Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ted Esler

5 Egalité, Fraternité, and Cous-cous: Ministry to Muslims in the Context of a Resurgent Islam and French Laïcité, Rick Kronk

6 Biblical Approaches to the Nurcu Gülen Movement in Turkey, Yakup Korkmaz

7 Magical Mystical Muslims: Sufi-oriented Islam and African Traditional Religion, Robin Dale Hadaway

8 Ordinary Muslims in Pakistan and the Gospel, Warren Larson

9 Ministry to Hui Muslims in China: An Approach to Dual-layered Cultural Settings, Enoch Jinsik Kim

10 Context as Flypaper: The Island of Java in Indonesia, Michael A. Kilgore

11 Liberating Liminality: Mission in the North African Berber Context, Patrick Brittenden

12 Russified Muslims of the Former Soviet Union, Gene Daniels

13 The Queen’s Muslims? Muslim Identities in the UK, Phil Rawlings

14 In the Shadow of a Buddhist Temple: Muslims in Thailand, Alan Johnson

15 Uyghurs of the Tarim Basin: Muslims in Northwestern China, CG Gordon

16 Muslim Youth in a Glocal World, Arthur Brown


17 Adaptive Missiological Engagement with Islamic Contexts, Warrick Farah

18 Conclusion: Learning from the Margins, Gene Daniels

As our endorsements were rolling in, one from JD Payne stood out in particular that helped us identity the biggest potential takeaway from this book:

Margins of Islam takes readers on a global journey revealing the multiple expressions of the Islamic faith… We no longer have any excuse to train others to reach all Muslims in the same way.

I want to thank Gene for this incredible opportunity, and also for our excellent group of contributors who have taught me so much about the variety of Muslims and the varieties of biblical mission in the world today. Go ahead and buy the book on Amazon, and please help us spread the word—you can easily share this from the button on the bottom of the post on the blog. Thank you for considering! We feel this volume represents a significant encouragement for the mission of the church.

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