Islam and Protestant African-American Churches, Responses and Challenges to Religious Pluralism
by Marsha Snulligan Haney
San Francisco: International Scholars Publications, 1999. 304 pp. $78. 95.
Reviewed by Robert Dannin
New York University
Middle East Quarterly
Haney sets out to "provide a means and a model for the mission of evangelization and re-evangelization within the religiously plural African American community"—code for Christians doing something about the apparent surge of blacks converting to Islam, a trend that church elders view with alarm.
Her central focus is the theological and practical appeal of Islam and its self-portrayal as a religion of racial equality. Islam, she asserts, has scored big gains at the expense of traditional Protestant denominations that once condoned slavery and racial discrimination. Issues that concern her most are the growing alliance of African American converts and immigrant Muslims and the grassroots methods of African-American imams who proselytize "in context," thus lending a sense of purpose to ghetto life.
To stanch the hemorrhaging and recover lost souls, Haney advises prospective missionaries to learn and respect the Qur'an's formidable theology. Her key point for those desiring to "witness" among African-American Muslims is that Christ is part of the Qur'anic narrative. Though blacks may have rejected the historical church, they have not strayed altogether from Christ's word. In order to save them, she calls for an informed, conciliatory discourse.
Haney is so anxious to analyze the popularity of Islam that she unfortunately accepts many unproven yet aggrandizing facts, for instance the undocumented mass conversion of African-American GIs stationed in Somalia or the irrepressible canard of Islam as the "fastest growing religion in America. " While the book contains some valuable insights into black anger at the moral failures of the church, its tone is marked by a confusion of voices. One belongs to a motivated scholar, the other to an evangelist who denies humanity any chance at redemption without Jesus Christ.
Related Topics: African-American Muslims | Summer 2002 MEQ
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