CHENNAI: Craig Considine, author of ‘The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View’, on Sunday, spoke to members of the Islamic Forum For Moderate Thought regarding what brought about his interest in Muslim-Christian interactions and the contents of his book.
The book, published this year, explores how the Prophet of about 1/4th of the world’s population is denigrated without basis and his engagement with the Christian community. Consodine, a devout Christian based at Rice University in Houston, said that when 9-11 happened, he was 16 years old trying to make sense of the ‘buzzwords’ that flashed across the media including ‘Jihad’ and ‘Taliban’.
As someone who had no social interaction with Muslims at that point, he found himself harbouring Anti-Muslim sentiments himself. His view towards Islam began changing since his sophomore year where he took the course ‘ World of Islam’ under one Professor Ahmed who explained to him the importance of knowledge in Islam. While in the USA, religious tolerance may be deemed a satisfactory state of mind, Considine said that tolerance wasn’t always enough.
“There is something iffy about tolerance which is standoffish, we don’t put in effort,” he said. To elaborate, he cited an example of when the Christians in the ancient city of Najran (present day Ukhdud) met with Muhammed during the Medina period. Although the two parties did not necessarily agree with each other on their own religious views, Muhammed not only tolerated them but went on to invite them to pray in his own Masjid.
“That’s not tolerance, that’s pushing it even further,” he said. He also said that his book also explores Muhammed’s views on race. He was not merely ‘non-racist’ but also anti-racist. He talks about Muhammed’s interaction with Bilal ibn Rabah, considered to be an enslaved black man in Mecca. When he was tortured on the streets, Muhammed went on to buy his freedom. He also quotes Muhammed as saying that to be racist is to not be Muslim.