Beyond the Beards and Burqas

Martin Goldsmith is well qualified to write a book on Christian/Muslim relationships having worked for OMF in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand and visited Afghanistan. He has been on the staff of All Nations Christian College for twenty- four years.

This book is a documentary of his travels to Islamic countries and the discussions he has had with Muslims, both in the Middle East and in this country. As the book title suggests, the author seeks to explain the culture and mindset of Muslims and to show not only why some British Muslims struggle with the permissiveness of the British way of life but why some, even third generation British Muslims, are drawn to extremism as seen on the streets of London and at Glasgow airport.

Goldsmith shows great respect and sensitivity towards the Muslims he has met but demonstrates and argues uncompromisingly for the superiority of knowing Christ as Lord and Saviour.

There are some fascinating insights into the hang-ups Muslims have towards Christianity, especially in terms of the Trinity and knowing God in a personal way. He also makes clear the extent to which faith is woven into the fabric of everyday life for Muslims. This all poses a challenge to British Christians in that our faith can become diluted and polluted by the secular society in which we live. Also, many churchgoers would struggle to explain the essentials of their faith to people from a different culture and faith group whereas Muslims tend to have a degree of certainty about what they believe, even though it may not have been thought through.

I was particularly taken by the chapter on Sufism. Not only did the author discover among them those who secretly followed Christ but he also shows how they had more of a grasp of a personal relationship with God, unlike other Muslims who see God as distant and unapproachable.

This is an excellent book that many will find helpful in their multi-cultural and multi-faith contexts.