Dr Richard McCallum
This paper examines how contemporary British Christian literature presents the sharī‘a, and in particular the dhimmī rules, in relation to non-Muslims.
Apart from terrorist atrocities perpetrated by those claiming to be Muslims, no other single issue is as damaging to the image of Islam in the minds of British Christians as the situation of Christian minorities living under Muslim majorities.
Christian advocacy groups regularly report on the abuses and persecution experienced by “the suffering church” in such lands and these are often presumed to be part of a sharī‘a-mandated discrimination against non-Muslims.
Books and articles written by Christians frequently refer to the traditional rules governing dhimmī citizens; magazines catalogue specific cases of abuse from Morocco to Indonesia; and conference speakers warn of the dangers for non-Muslims of the imposition of sharī‘a law around the world.
Not all parts of the church would share such pessimistic assessments but in some, particularly the fastest growing evangelical and Pentecostal churches, these issues serve to confirm their worst fears that Islam is anti-Christian.
In many cases this is the only education that these Christians will receive about Islam and it inevitably colours their views. It has even developed into a theory of “Christianophobia”. The paper explores the traditional Islamic sanctions against apostasy and the current conversations within Muslim communities on this topic. It finishes by reflecting on possible signs of hope in the trajectory of Muslim-Christian relationships.