*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Hospitable ideal

by
11 March 2016

Simon Ross Valentine on Islamic values

Hospitality and Islam: Welcoming in God’s name
Mona Siddiqui
Yale £20 (978-0-300-21186-3)
Church Times Bookshop £18

 

HOSPITALITY is something we can all enjoy, either as recipients or providers. But what exactly is hospitality, especially in a theological and spiritual sense?

In this book, Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies at Edinburgh University, comparing Christian themes with Islamic (for example, the story of Abraham accepting guests in his tent, as found in Genesis 18 and Qur’an 51), considers hospitality in the Muslim (mainly Sunni) faith.

Siddiqui reminds us that hospitality is a “moral imperative and ethical command”, and that the Qur’an “often aligns hospitality with charity”, “welcoming and offering space”, and the idea of “reaching out with one’s wealth”.

Presenting hospitality as “a multi-layered concept [and] a combination of virtues”, she rightly affirms that hospitality goes beyond giving, but involves valuing the other and welcoming the stranger — which can often mean taking risks, and becoming vulnerable.

But hospitality is also a form of worship. Looking in detail at both Christian and Muslim teaching, Siddiqui explains how, in providing hospitality, we participate in the actual life of God, because, just as God is al-Razzaq (the provider), we manifest God by providing for others.

Drawing on the Sufi, mystical idea of God as the host waiting to provide for those who approach him, Siddiqui makes the interesting point that, in both Islam and Christianity, in looking forward to the heavenly banquet, “we anticipate God’s forgiveness” and “the heavenly welcome”.

The book, far-reaching in scope, considers gender issues and feminism, and presents marriage as “a form of hospitality . . . a form of welcoming another both physically and emotionally, letting otherness in”.

Although this is interesting, some readers may find it difficult to reconcile the Islamic image of respecting the stranger with the harsh treatment of Christians and other minority groups in Muslim-majority States (particularly Saudi Arabia), where the “other” is often condemned under blasphemy laws simply for practising another faith.

This book, however, is both informative and relevant, particularly in its emphasis on the need for inter-religious hospitality as “a primary task of our time”.

 

Dr Simon Ross Valentine is a specialist in Islamic Studies presently living and researching in Iraq.

 

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)