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A Guide for Jews and Christians

Princeton UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Even to begin to understand Islam, go back to Muhammad and the Quran, both ancient revelation and reading for our time.

Editorial Rating



  • Background
  • Eloquent


F. E. Peters should be respected as a writer and thinker willing to journey across perilous ground. He has spent most of his life and career writing and teaching about the three great Middle Eastern religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Trying to be objective about three religions that often have been locked in mortal rivalry is hardly a safe route to the destination of political correctness. Perhaps the most valuable thing about Peters’ book is that it is essentially non-polemical: it does not appear to reflect any particular religious point of view. Certainly, it is very well researched. Peters sheds a wealth of light on conflicts that are central to the events unfolding on the world stage, although he focuses more on historical development than on contemporary issues. While the degree to which objective analysis can accurately or successfully explain the conflicting passions of contrasting religious faiths remains questionable, Peters deserves credit for this impressive achievement. In part due to the critical nature of the issues that he addresses, gives his work a high recommendation.


Islam’s Roots

Islam was part of the great religious competition that stretched across many centuries among the people near the Mediterranean region, from Asia into Africa. The three great religions lived and worked side-by-side down through the generations. To understand Islam, you simply must pick up the Quran and read it. The Quran is essentially Biblical, in the sense that Adam and Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all important characters in its pages, as are David, Solomon, John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. The obvious difference is that Muslims believe that the Quran, the Muslim scripture, is a compendium of revelations that God gave Muhammad during the last 22 years of his life.

In The Beginning

The Quran’s story of creation is similar to the Bible’s in many respects. But rather than a single narrative, the Quran is an assemblage of revelations said to come from God to Muhammad. The Quran makes frequent allusions to Old Testament teachings, almost always by way of illustrating a point.

Who Is Allah?

Allah, the Muslim deity, was well known in pre-Islamic Mecca before Muhammad. Among Arabs who worshipped many gods, Allah...

About the Author

F.E. Peters is the former chair of the Middle Eastern Studies and Religion departments of New York University, where he now serves as Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Religion. His previous books include The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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