Book Reviews

The Unseen Face of Islam

Bill Musk London 2004-10-25

Many Christians are aware that Muslims worship a god called Allah, fast during the month of Ramadan, pray five times daily while facing Mecca, and read the Qur’an. But as Musk, a former missionary in Egypt, points out, this view of “official Islam” is only part of the picture. A vast majority of Muslims are “folk Muslims,” that is, they follow the practices cited above but they are also animistic. Musk recounts numerous incidents in which Muslims in various countries of the Islamic world practice divination, wear amulets to ward off the power of the “evil eye” and of spirit beings called jinn, touch the tombs of saints to receive blessings, cite the names of Allah in a magical way for protection, consult fortunetellers, chant incantations, contact witch doctors for healing, or seek healing by various magical means, use divination for interpreting dreams, make vows at a saint’s tomb, and pronounce curses.

Felt needs in popular Islam, as Monk carefully documents, are not met by official Islam. These needs include fear of the unknown, fear of evil spirits, fear of the future, fear of sickness, helplessness in times of crisis, and meaninglessness of life. “The God of Islamic theology would appear to be so far removed from humans’ lives that substitute focuses of power are sought in and through the practitioners of popular Islam” (p. 114).

This book presents a side of Islam (an “unseen face”) of which most Westerners are unaware. By exploring and explaining the beliefs and practices of “ordinary Muslims,” as Musk calls them, he seeks to help Western Christians have a deeper understanding of Islam, to be more empathetic toward Muslims, and to be better equipped to share Christ with them. Musk addresses the fact that believers must help Muslims see the power of Christ over the powers of evil and sense the comfort, love, and peace that Christ offers to troubled souls. (This book is distributed in the States by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids.)

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Roy B. Zuck
Roy B. Zuck, was senior professor emeritus of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary and editor of Bibliotheca Sacra.
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