Living in Christian Oxford as he did and dying in 1963, C. S. Lewis never directly witnessed the growing scale of Islamic immigration to the United Kingdom in the years after World War II. His exposure to Islam was more literary and intellectual than personal and actual.
Daily interactions between Muslims and Christians in Britain (and throughout the West) have increased vastly since Lewis’s time, yet mutual understanding has not grown with the same rapidity. Particularly now, as Islamic extremism threatens the West with yet another holy war, Christians must understand Islam apart from polemical analyses. Samuel Huntington argues in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) that both of these world religions grew markedly in the twentieth century in large part because many tried to escape modernity and secularity in tradition-dependent claims to truth. Given that so many settled within these traditions, it would be interesting to examine what a major religious thinker of the time thought about the other religion.
Lewis, as one of the greatest Christian thinkers of the twentieth century and somewhat ahead of his time in his familiarity—albeit literary and intellectual—with things Islamic, may assist us in understanding Islam from a Christian perspective.
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”#CSLewis pic.twitter.com/81PkQrsw6f
— Jack Levison (@spiritchatter) February 22, 2019