A debut book compares the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad.
The often inflammatory arguments between ideological partisans of Christianity and Islam are rarely conducted by way of sober textual analysis. The complex doctrines of the two religions—as well as the prohibitive nature of the foreign languages in which their primary sources were written—make such comparisons less than accessible. St Michael aims to dismantle that barrier to understanding by supplying an impressively comprehensive catalog of the utterances of Jesus and Muhammad, grouped thematically and presented, as the subtitle of the book notes, helpfully side by side. The work begins with some introductory commentary: a glossary of key terms within both religious traditions as well as concise histories and timelines of Jesus’ and Muhammad’s lives. Some of the themes chosen are doctrinal—topics like forgiveness and repentance are covered—while others are more directly related to what the author calls “daily living,” like finances, diet, and marriage. One section is titled “Distractions” and seems almost like a catchall, including subjects like Satan and disagreement. St Michael clearly wants the texts to speak for themselves, and so with the exception of a brief editorial comment here and there, the quotations are presented without any accompanying interpretations: “This book is not meant to present information for judgement of the faithful of either religion, but rather to elucidate the foundations of the faiths.” Even the histories provided are minimal, and much of the work is presented in an efficient, bullet-style format. For readers of either faith, such a lucid and unbiased record of the points of commonality and disagreement between Jesus and Muhammad is sure to be educational. And the entire book is scrupulously sourced, adding to the general air of transparency and scholarly rigor. But additional commentary would actually have been quite useful—the quotes are furnished without any discussion of the context within which they appear, and so their meanings often remain obscure. For this reason, the offering is better understood as an encyclopedic preliminary to more in-depth study, because any serious comparison between Jesus and Muhammad would require an exegetical framework.
An exhaustive compilation of immense theological value, especially as a prologue to future study.