Books Theology

The Owl or the Bee: Lamin Sanneh’s “Summoned from the Margins: The Homecoming of an African”

Among Abrahamic religions, Islam stands in a sea of its own while straddling the seas of Hebraism and Hellenism.  Islam’s lineage is that of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and as the Catholic Catechism states, “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God.”[1]  Yet Islam takes the form of the bee: collective, strong, and together, moreover than the individualistic owl that takes flight only at the setting of the sun.  The dynamic between obedient submission and inquisitive curiosity has long been a tension within Islam,[2] and Lamin Sanneh’s autobiography testifies to this heart-wrenching dialectic so powerfully and poignantly in the same way that the old debates between Al-Ghazali and Rumi Sufi capture the same dialectic struggle at work.

In Metaphysics, Aristotle famously stated that “[a]ll men by nature desire to know.”[3]  This claim that a fundamental aspect – if not the fundamental aspect – to human nature is the inquisitive quest for wisdom is also a central aspect to Christianity.  It is restated by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [to God]” (Rom. 12:2), and perhaps most eminently by St. Augustine when he states that our restless pursuit of “the wonder of contemplation [so] we may see all things clearly”[4] will not “find…rest [until] in [God].”[5]  Islam, on the other hand, takes a more peculiar approach – finding happiness and piety in the act of reverent obedience rather than “the wonder of contemplation.”  It is not off-putting to claim that Islam’s idealized image of itself is a collective of arduous and laboring bees committed to a common good cultivated by habit of doing rather than an image of the wise owl taking flight at the setting of the sun having observed and dwelt upon all that had transpired.

Islam and the Way of Bee

Prayer and mosque go together in the Islamic world.  While prayer takes its institutional precepts from the Qur’an the development of prayer into the mosque has become a central aspect to Islamic religious practice.[6]  In-of-itself prayer is the centering call of Islamic religiosity and identity.  Prayer is seen as an act of obedient piety, and therefore, submission.  This is why, as Kenneth Cragg makes clear, there are strict guidelines for prayer.  “The form [(Salat)] must be followed if the prayer is to be valid.”[7]  Prayer is not merely individual but also institutional.[8]  This is part of the idealization of the Islamic religious system more foundationally rooted in orthopraxy than anything else.

While one is an individual, called to struggle to be in fidelity (submissive) to God, one is also bound up as a member of the community following the same path and journey – aiming for the same goal through the same practices – as all others.  As Cragg aptly states, the impetus of surrender (pious submission to God’s will) “implies the revelation of the will to which obedience is rendered.”[9]  Therefore, there is a collective nature to Islamic religion that is reminiscent of a colony of bees; each have their role to play but it is for the betterment of the whole and it is when everything is brought together that the colony flourishes in all of its intended glory.  That prayer follows a set guideline continues this imagery of understanding Islam as the way of a beehive colony: closed, tightly intertwined, all working like clockwork for the betterment of the whole rather than just the individual.

The importance placed on the institutionalizing of pious obedience is best seen in in Sura XXXIII, “And it is not for a believer, man or woman, to have any choice in their affairs, when God and His Apostle have decreed the matter: and whoever disobeyeth God and His Apostle, erreth with palpable error.”[10]  The emphasis on obedience to God, as an act of piety, is even seen in the expulsion of Eblis (the Devil) from Paradise when he refuses to prostrate before Adam (Sura VII: 10-13), for it was Eblis’s refusal to remain obedient to God’s command to prostrate before Adam which amounted to his expulsion.  What becomes evidently clear from Qur’anic injunctions, along with the history of theological tension within Islam, is the cultivated nature of what the religion ought to be from Islam’s self-conscious perspective.  Undoubtedly the many divisions within Christianity likely influenced the attempts within Islam to codify an institutionalized code that one might call “legalistic” to ward off the problem of “do it yourself religion.”

 Thus, the codification of religious practice as a form of institutionalization takes shape through Islamic jurisprudence.  Interpreting the Qur’an, so as to have valid religious practice, becomes the imperative of the Islamic religion moreover than “the mind’s road to God,” as St. Bonaventure described in his brief magisterial medieval work.[11]  As Joseph Esposito states very clearly on the functionality of Islamic religious life, the sources and interpretation of Law is of the upmost important in establishing “[the] straight path to be followed” for practicing Muslims.[12]  While there are four primary means of legal interpretation: the Qur’an itself, teachings of the Prophet, analogical reasoning or “ijtihad,” and the consensus of the community which influenced the primary schools of fiqh (interpretative understanding),[13] all aim at establishing that “straight path” to follow.  Even though Esposito is also clear that the diversity of interpretation is something Islam has historically celebrated,[14] the reality remains that the many interpretations of the Qur’an, its legal prescriptions contained therein, and codification of religious rites, all aim at achieving a unitary expression of the faith.  Hence why, “The form [(Salat)] must be followed if the prayer is to be valid,”[15] and “to be accused of innovation—deviation from the law and practice of the community—was equivalent to the charge of heresy in Christianity.”[16]  Likewise, as Cragg states, the revelation of only divine will “is a revelation…of law, not of personality.”[17]

This mentality of revelation of will as law and obedient submission has led, as Cragg highlighted, to a tension between the so-called “mystical” tradition within Islam and the normative practices hitherto described.  “The mystic, being always suspect to the custodians of dogma, seek the attainment of divine knowledge by a contrasted attitude to the deeds or documents of the historical faith.”[18]  In this passage Cragg acknowledges that the “custodians of dogma” have always viewed the mystics in a negative light; that the mystics’ supposed “deviation from the law and practice of the community”[19] is tantamount to heresy or unbelief (though Cragg highlights the mystical tradition within his work as a legitimate tradition with Islam without the polemical conflict historically associated between Sufis and non-Sufis).[20]  Al-Ghazali, for instance, accused certain groups he has come across of unbelief and tracing, “The source of their unbelief is in their hearing high-sounding names such as ‘Socrates,’ ‘Hippocrates,’ ‘Plato,’ ‘Aristotle,’ and their likes and the exaggeration and misguidedness of groups of their followers in describing their minds.”[21] 

What is visible in the statement by Al-Ghazali is the tug-of-war between collective uniformity and the lone wanderer who threatens to collapse the tightly interwoven collective by venturing off alone.  Furthermore, Al-Ghazali’s statement also shows the difficult relationship between formal Islamic practices and ideals when intermixing with Greek philosophy.  While it is true that Islam helped preserve and translate many of the great Greek literary and philosophical texts, there was always a fractious relationship between Greek philosophy and Islamic theology.  As Al-Ghazali’s quote implies, the roots of apostasy and unbelief are found in the acceptance of the Greek philosophers over and against the Qur’an as the revealed word of the Most High God.  “The status of ‘abd makes the meaning of islam, ‘submission,’ the only appropriate relationship with God.”[22]  If collective submission and the orthopraxy therein are threatened by the philosophers – as Al-Ghazali charged – then those who embrace the “incoherence of the philosophers” are not in that appropriate relationship with God.

The collective and uniform identity and orthopraxy of Islam is best highlighted by the Five Pillars of Islam.  One must make the declaration of faith, proclaim the shahada: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”  All Muslims, whether in Europe or North America, Africa or Asia, or anywhere in the world for that matter, will make the same declaration of faith; there is no variation of the shahada which captures an individualistic flavor to one’s statement of faith.  Likewise, the five daily prayers occur at specific injunctions of the day which call all members to partake in.  One will be praying at dawn, noon, afternoon, evening, and night, with hundreds of millions of other Muslims all in unison.  While charity (zakat) is universal to all religions and encouraged to Muslims who have the means of giving to the less fortunate, fasting (sawm) is also something universally practiced by all Muslims (especially during the holy festival of Ramadan) in which all are called to steadfastly abide by like a collective unit.  Finally, all are encouraged to make the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) at least once in their lifetime.  Even in the final pillar every Muslim (ideally) will have partaken in this journey and bound themselves to the practice of all who came before and all who will come after.  Thus, the Five Pillars embody the very collective orthopraxy of Islamic faith.

An Owl in the Beehive

The struggle between being an owl or bee is captured, rather poignantly, by Lamin Sanneh’s childhood and young adulthood as described in Summoned from the Margin.  Lamin Sanneh described his childhood struggle between his father wanting him to receive a good education (something that all humans desire naturally according to Aristotle), but also in his father struggling with the fact that he perceived Western education was perceived as “atheistic propaganda.”[23]  While Lamin’s father wanted him to receive a good education he did not want it to come at the cost of unbelief.   This tension between the desire for a good education for a son, Lamin’s natural appetite for learning and general inquisitiveness, and the pious submissive orthopraxy of Islam were all coming together as a perfect storm during his childhood and young adulthood.

In this crisis of education Sanneh describes, the old worries of traditional Islam, and the worries of Al-Ghazali, are manifestly present.  If the will of God is that all Muslims share in a customary and uniform rite of religious practice[24] and the goal of Islam is to place oneself into the submission of the will of God, then there is a crisis of identity along with religious fidelity as to whether one is being true to themselves or to God if one is breaking away from the “accustomed way of doing things.”[25]  (And there is a larger issue as to whether “being true to self” is also in accordance with being in submission to God.)  To be true to self, in this zero-sum dichotomy, seems to imply disobedience to God.  To be disobedient to God is reject the orthopraxis end of Islam – which would then threaten to upend the rest of the community.

This crisis of Islamic self-confidence, in part a result of colonial subjugation as Sanneh suggests,[26] was also exhibited toward the attempt to Christianity away from the Muslim majority population.[27]  It is this reality of keeping young Muslims sheltered from Christianity that Sanneh takes the title “Margin” from – “Margin refers to the fact that Christianity lay for out on the dim borders of the world of Islam that was the center of my universe.  There was no church in town when I was growing up…there was no mention of Christianity in the books we read at school.”[28]  But “school [was] the will of God.”[29]  And if school was the will of God, then education – which aims at cultivating and refining that natural appetite for the flame of knowledge, albeit with the deliberate exclusion of Christianity from the curriculum – was something that could not be curtailed for Sanneh (which would have later ramifications in life).  Therefore, it was unsurprising to learn that Sanneh was thrilled upon hearing the news of having passed his entrance examination for entry at Armitage High School.[30]

Lamin Sanneh’s nature desire for knowledge – growth and expansion – came into a headlong conflict with the orthopraxy of mandatory worship at the high school at the same time.  While he recalls being “determined to finish top of [the] class,” he also notes that “worship was mandatory.”[31]  While meeting other students, Sanneh describes that none could overturn his decisively “introspective disposition,”[32] something exceedingly Augustinian and Christian, which later came to weigh on him and brought forth questions and struggles.[33]  Like St. Augustine,[34] Sanneh had become a question to himself for his restless heart could not be satiated by menial tasks and the mandatory daily worship proscribed by the school.

The relentless quest for knowledge and concerns over the divine merit of punishment (for failing to properly say prayer) led “the owl in [Sanneh] shiver”[35] over the concerns and questions that could be raised through the strict promulgation of Qur’anic legal orthopraxy.  That owl inside of Sanneh, which represents individualistic flight and wisdom, was quintessentially an “exile at home.”  The two, flight and wisdom, go together insofar that Sanneh’s quest for knowledge led to an instinctive curiosity and contrarianism among his classmates; for without the drive for greater knowledge Sanneh could have easily have just accepted everything prima facie.  But the owl could not be contained and chained down.

As a result, Sanneh recalls the many questions posed to classmates and teachers alike.  In one such incident, with his liturgy and ritual teacher Séringe, Sanneh’s questioning as a way to a new light – or out of the Cave, so to speak – was met with “an accusatory stare.”[36]  Sanneh’s question of theodicy: “[i]f God is good, why are we bad?” was simply met with a brushing aside of the question.  “How dare we interrogate God?” Sanneh recounts as Séringe’s response.[37]  This very brief, albeit memorable, episode highlights this tension between the owl and the bee, between the collective hive and the individual and relentless desire for knowing.  It was innocent enough for Sanneh to ask his teacher a question that has been routinely extrapolated on throughout history, but Séringe’s reply embodied a certain Ghazalian spirit.  It is no coincidence that Séringe “turned to fear” to explain “the great motivating impulse of religious life”[38] – much in the same manner that Al-Ghazali defended fear of God as the basic foundation of the Islamic faith.

This small exchange doubles down on the importance of submission, or that pious and willful surrender to God, that is at the heart of Islam.  While there is a certain beauty and deep reverence to be found in this idea of willful surrender leading to pious obedience, it is nevertheless disconcerting and unfulfilling for others – Sanneh being case and point for someone who fell into the latter.  With his questions unanswered from school, Sanneh left Armitage ripe with uncertainties and restlessness that he hoped would be assuaged by retreating from Georgetown’s supposed intellectual atmosphere through his return to Bajul.[39]

The Owl Takes Flight

But leaving behind Armitage for Bajul did not bring about the rest in Sanneh’s heart.  It was in Bajul, the center of the small Christian missions, that he came to meet the Thompsons, a Creole Anglican family.[40]  Through open dialogue with them, along with a man named John T., Sanneh recalls that he subsequently “began reassessing the Christian religion.”[41]  If his Islamic teachers could not satisfy the yearning for knowledge and answers that weighed down on him, perhaps some of the Christians he was coming to know in Bajul could.  After all, what cursory and brief understanding of Christianity that Sanneh did receive from his education cast “Christianity [a]s a corrupted faith, endowed with the truth but unfaithful to it.”[42]

Whereas his former teacher, Séringe, dodged and deflected the questions that Sanneh wanted to have answered, the questions brought to John T. opened a new path of learning, inquisitiveness, and confusing simultaneously.  While Sanneh had initially come to him with questions, it was John T., who openly and willingly discussed matters of Christianity to Lamin that turned the tables on him.  Now it was John T. who had “unleashed a torrent of questions that shook [Sanneh’s] moorings and scrambled [his] landscape.”[43]  As Sanneh famously questioned after meeting him, “Had God sent him [me]?”[44] 

Through Sanneh’s encounter with John T., which “left [him] reeling and clamoring for an answer,”[45] what is pertinently visible is the owl in Sanneh was beginning to finally spread its wings and take flight.  But while the flight itself was not perfect by any means,[46] the landing was.  “I had to follow Jesus as the crucified and risen One,” Sanneh states after a period of fumbling, questioning, and a solitary walk on the beach, leading to his conversionary experience which left him “bound and confused no longer.”[47]  The questions that were, just years earlier, stumbling blocks that were cast aside as unnecessary “interrogations” of God, had finally found a path to possible satiation.  It is equally the case that John T., and others’, who were willing to answer and push Sanneh in these moments that also led to his change of heart concerning his understanding of Christianity.  But as Sanneh also says in being led to Christianity, “I was [not] abandoning Islam, but…I had learned as a Muslim to honor God, and now I wanted to love God.  Islam had not repelled me; only the Gospel had attracted me.”[48]

Lamin Sanneh’s statement that Islam, in a way, had helped pave the road to his reception into the Christian church – despite the problems concerning his want for baptism within the Methodist and Catholic churches – has a longstanding history within Christianity itself.  St. Augustine said that “all truth belongs to God” regardless of where it is found.[49]  And with regards to Catholicism proper, “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in [other] religions.”[50]  As Sanneh himself wrote about his movement from Islam to Christianity, “I was to the church because I was raised to value the truth that God was not owned by any tribe, class, or rank, making me aware that truth was not our possession alone.”[51]  (This becomes especially true and daunting in Sanneh’s desire to be a formal church member in which he recounts journeys with Methodists, Anglicans, American fundamentalists, Episcopalians, and Catholics; Sanneh was eventually received into full communion with the Catholic Church after meeting Fr. Jerry and having Avery Dulles as his sponsor.[52])

Thus, Sanneh’s statement that it was through Islam that he had learned to honor God, but now it was time to move from honoring to loving God, one sees the progression of his flight from the beehive – not as a complete cutting off, but as the fulfillment that he was being pushed toward all along.  Sanneh’s friends may have been angry at his conversion,[53] but his newfound wisdom and understanding led him to conclude that Islam played an integral and important role in moving him to Christianity.  In this sense Sanneh embodied the famous Gospel dictums of having eyes to see and ears to hear; the signs of truth in Islam were, ultimately, pointing him toward Christianity.

While the initial encounter with the Christian church was not what Sanneh was expecting, the incident painted a great inversion of an earlier episode in his childhood where he witnessed a Christian convert to Islam shave his head and receive a new name – thereby erasing an old identity to receive a new one.[54]  By contrast, Sanneh’s initial encounters were met – in part, by stunned disbelief – with the opposite: there was no need to change his name, receive a new hairstyle, or even a profession of long term fidelity.[55]  There is, in the images of the two receptions, a recapitulation of the emphasis of interiority (Christianity) and outward surrender (Islam), and it seems like Sanneh was expecting from his Islamic background that his reception into Christianity would play out along the same lines as he had grown accustomed to within the Islamic faith.  And in Sanneh’s conversion, something which he writes is strongly discouraged (and sometimes with the power of force) within Islam,[56] one once again catches the foundational importance of the orthopraxy that undergirds the Islamic faith in encouraging conversion to but not conversion away from.  From conversion to reception into the Catholic Church – which took many years – the interplay between inquisitive owl and the submissive, collective, and work-oriented bee was on full display in Lamin Sanneh’s trials, tribulations, growth, and eventual reception to the Catholic Church under the sponsorship of Avery Dulles.

The Struggle for the Soul of Islam

Lamin Sanneh’s story captures the struggle for the soul of Islam – along with the supposed uniqueness of the Christianities.  As Sanneh bluntly states to his colleagues, Christianity as a missionary religion relies on translation which gives it great flexibility.[57]  Islam, by contrast, has the divinely revealed language of God: Arabic.  Islam, wherever it is practiced, is recited in the Arabic tongue of Muhammad and the original believers.  In fact, not only is the “embrace of the local name of God…a vital difference between Christianization and Islamization,”[58] the issue of a divinely revealed language was among one of the earlier off-putting, and puzzling, aspects of Christianity during Sanneh’s childhood.[59]

Sticking to the theme of submission, surrender, and the collective beehive, it makes sense that Islam would seek to preserve the Arabic language as the universal language of Islam.  By having a single, universal, and therefore uniform, language of prayer, reading, and meditation, all Muslims are bound together not merely in practice – but right practice with language being the glue that links Muslims near and far together as a whole unit.  The “inimitability of the Qur’an,” when paired with the orthopraxis end that Islam seeks to cultivate and maintain, is what leads to the Arabic language being codified as the revealed, and perfect, language of the Divine.[60]  While non-Muslim observers have long noted the serenity of the Islamic call to prayer, it is nevertheless the same call to prayer whether in Turkey, Morocco, the Gambia, or Indonesia.

 Additionally, Sanneh’s struggle to be baptized into a Christian church while in his native Gambia also speaks volumes to the famous dictum that one should not “disturb the bee’s nest.”  One of the problems that Sanneh painfully recounts was his desire for baptism in a predominately Muslim country.  The Christian churches were always marginal and on the periphery and neither the Methodists nor Catholics wanted to cause an uproar in baptizing a Muslim into the Christian faith.  Even when Sanneh returned to the Gambia to speak to the Catholic bishop – who had earlier “parried [his] advances and barred [his] way to the church” – the bishop simply restated that he would not risk the church’s good relationship with the local Muslim population for one individual’s conversion and baptism.[61]  This story indicates the gripping fear that certain Christian communities have in majoritarian Muslim environments.  As Sanneh bluntly states, “Muslims want inferiors.”[62]  The beehive that is Islam, then, should not be disturbed – even if it meant losing (temporarily in Sanneh’s case) a prospective new, energetic, and desiring individual.

 Summoned from the Margin encapsulates, in vivid and poignant detail, the struggle within Islam and its relationship to other religions.  It also crystalizes, in its own unique way, the academic presentation of Islam as being a faith guided by strict (though pious and often beautiful) forms and struggle between uniformity and diversity.  (Diversity being both celebrated but also looked at with deep suspicion.)  While the zero-sum dichotomy in orthopraxic Islam is not necessarily what all seek to stress when discussing the Islamic faith, that tension between pluralism and the striving for orthopraxy (which is necessarily monistic in application – at least within Islam) is esoterically embedded through Sanneh’s autobiographical sketch.  In Sanneh’s schooling there are the mandatory prayers and other rites and rituals demanded of a Muslim student.  While in school, Sanneh’s inquisitiveness led to questions that brushed aside by his teachers for straying into territory that the pious and submissive Muslim does not venture into.  Through his conversion, which terrified and reviled some of his classmates, there is a literal attempt by his classmates to beat him back into submission with sticks and stones.[63]  Sanneh’s journey is not only a journey of an individual through the planes of the secular and spiritual; it is also a journey into, and out of, the inner-workings of Gambian Islam (which is structured in accordance with Sunni Islam elsewhere around the world).  Thus, it is not merely a journey into, and out of, Gambian Islam but of Islam as generally structured and practiced across the globe.

But Sanneh’s story, and homecoming to Christianity and reception into the Catholic Church, by no means belittles or demeans the profundity of Islam.  As he stated to his classmates, it was the reverence and appreciation for God that he had learned and cultivated in Islam which helped point him to Christianity.  In doing so Sanneh exemplified and embodied the Alaika tawakkaltu: “Lord in Thee have I trusted.”[64]  Sanneh’s trust in the Lord may not have kept him in the honeycombs of Islam, but that trust led him to a fuller and more meaningful participation with God in accordance with his own desires and needs.  The growth in trust that Sanneh exudes throughout the narrative, which – in a way – is an alternative means of surrender to God, is seen through his trials, concerns, and tribulations.  In a way Sanneh never abandoned that core idea within Islam.

Indeed, it is the emphasis on trust – or surrender – within Islam that is so powerful and captivating; something that embraces a timeless and eternal truth moreover than a “do it yourself” mentality that has sunk its teeth into many contemporary Christian denominations and movements.  In this manner, as Sanneh rightly acknowledged and realized, it was his fidelity to the hitherto aforementioned precepts within Islam that had thrust him into the arms of Christianity.  Christianity did not take Sanneh away from Islam; it was Islam that pointed him to his natural home which was Christianity.  That richness found in trust, pious surrender, and even fear of God – all things that Al-Ghazali defended as essential to religious faith and piety – guided Sanneh home in the end.  (And it would do Christianity well not to lose those elements within its own religious identity and practice even if it is not as acute as it is in Islam.)

Sanneh continues to relate his early experiences of “transcendent stillness” while attending worship at Mosque.[65]  The ability to capture “the awe of the litany”[66] is one of the most important achievements, and preservations, of Islam.  Those experiences of the transcendent, rather than shallow emptiness, along with the inculcation of trust in God, ensured that Sanneh “never [felt] alone.”[67]  And this is the crux that the upscale liberal Protestantism and the agnosticism of academia could never provide for Sanneh.  Religion needs the transcendent, a sense of mystery, awe, and even fear.  Insofar that Islam retains all of that, it will be a powerful force for humans in search for something more than themselves – something more than being a speck of dust in the infinite darkness of the cruel Cosmos “condemned to be free” as Jean Paul Sartre maintained. 

That obsessive, even defensive, transcendent mentality in Islam – which manifests itself in the orthopraxis ends of Islam religious life and practice – is what Sanneh captures most powerfully, and heartbreakingly, in his story.  Ultimately, the way of the bee was never going to be conducive for the owl inside Lamin Sanneh.  But the way of the bee nevertheless provided the sustenance, drive, and branch, for him to take flight. May that owl now rest in peace.

Author’s Note: Lamin Sanneh was my teacher while a graduate student at Yale. He passed away 6 January 2019.

Lamin Sanneh
Summoned from the Margin: The Homecoming of an African
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Press, 2012; 304pp


Hesiod, Paul Krause in real life, is the editor of VoegelinView and a writer on art, culture, literature, politics, and religion for numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers. He is the author of The Odyssey of Love and the Politics of Plato, and a contributor to the College Lecture Today and the forthcoming book Diseases, Disasters, and Political Theory. He holds master’s degrees in philosophy and theology (biblical & religious studies) from the University of Buckingham and Yale, and a bachelor’s degree in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University.


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[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 841.

[2] See E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1984), Vol. 1, 1413, where “Islam” can be understood as meaning, “He became submissive to God.”

[3] Aristotle, Metaphysics, trans. W.D. Ross (New York: Modern Library, 2001), 1.980a.

[4] St. Augustine, Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin Books, 1961), 13.18.

[5] Ibid., 1.1

[6] Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret (London: One World Books, 2012 reprint), 96, 113.

[7] Ibid., 96.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., 40-41.

[10] I am quoting from the Bantam Classics translation of the Qur’an, translated by John Medows Rodwell.  Future in-text citations from the Qur’an are taken from this edition.

[11] Cf. St. Bonaventure, The Mind’s Road to God, trans. George Boas, (New York: Macmillan Press, 1953).

[12] John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 102.

[13] Ibid., 103-109.

[14] Ibid., 109.

[15] Refer back to supra note 7.

[16] Esposito, 109.

[17] Cragg, 41.

[18] Ibid., 123.

[19] Esposito, 109.

[20] I am not making any judgment as to my own thoughts on the merits of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, merely quoting Cragg’s statements that they have been historically been perceived with suspicion.

[21] Al-Ghazali, “The Religious Preface,” 2.  Transcribed text provided by Dr. L. Sanneh.

[22] Cragg, 40.

[23] Lamin Sanneh, Summoned from the Margin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012), 8.

[24] Ibid., 12.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 9.

[27] Ibid., 19.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., 10.

[30] Ibid., 64.

[31] Ibid. 64-65.

[32] Ibid., 65.

[33] Ibid., 65.

[34] Augustine, Confessions, 10.33.

[35] Sanneh, 69.

[36] Ibid., 74.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid., 82-87.

[40] Ibid., 86.

[41] Ibid., 87.

[42] Ibid., 88.

[43] Ibid., 97.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid., 99-102

[47] Ibid., 102.

[48] Ibid., 103.

[49] Augustine, Confessions, 7.9-10.

[50] Nostra Aetate, no. 2.

[51] Sanneh., 104.

[52] Ibid., 250-251.

[53] Ibid., 103.

[54] Ibid., 77.

[55] Ibid., 104.

[56] Ibid., 105.

[57] Ibid., 222, 233.

[58] Ibid., 233.

[59] Ibid., 88

[60] Esposito, 22.

[61] Ibid., 252-253.

[62] Ibid., 253.

[63] Ibid., 103.

[64] Cragg, 126.

[65] Sanneh, 273.

[66] Ibid., 274.

[67] Ibid., 275.

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