Past, Present and Future
By Hans Kung
ONEWorld Publications, Hardcover, 9781851683772, 767pp.
Publication Date: July 14, 2007
For more than two decades the world religions have been a central topic for Hans Kung. In books which have inspired millions throughout human society, he has pioneered work towards a new dialogue between cultures. In this extraordinarily comprehensive book, he gives an in-depth account of Islam, the second largest world religion after Christianity. Describing paradigm shifts in its 1400-year history, outlining the various currents and surveying the positions of Islam on the urgent questions of the day, few present-day theologians could have written such a complete analysis. As in Kung's earlier studies on Judaism (1991) and Christianity (1994), he focuses on the central principles in the faith and seeks to show the parallels between the monotheistic world religions. With detailed analysis of the contents and meaning of the Koran, he challenges the notion that people of different religions are intrinsically opposed. Indeed, in the introduction of this thought-provoking and powerful book, he explicitly presents its message as being the antithesis of that of the influential Clash of Civilisations (1993), by Samuel Huntington. Instead of presenting Islam as the new enemy in a post Cold War world, and regarding the current international situation as a call for further rearmament and hatred, he suggests that a "peace between religions" is a prerequisite for "peace between nations." Informative, opinionated and exceedingly well-constructed, this is a masterpiece by the foremost scholar in his field. In a world where understanding of global politics requires a knowledge of Islam, there is no better place to start. Dr. Kung is President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic (Weltethos). From 1960 until his retirement in 1996, he was Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tubingen. He is a scholar of theology and philosophy and a prolific writer. He was recently named among Foreign Affairs One Hundred Public Intellectuals.