Clinton Bennett's Home Page

Publications and comments.

Victorian Images of Islam (London, Grey Seal: 1992; Piscataway, N.J. : Gorgias Press, 2009)

Derived from my PhD thesis.

From Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations: 'This illuminating study sheds light into an overlooked corner of Victorian religious history'.

Dr. Avril Powell of SOAS in an article published by the Henry Martyn Centre, Cambridge (2003) wrote: 'in an important comparative study ... Clinton Bennett categorised six major British scholars as either "conciliatory" or "confrontational" in their approach to Muslims and Islamic societies.'

From the Journal of Islamic Studies: 'This book is a valuable contribution to the debate on the important question of Islam and the West ...the Baptist Minister complements the work of three Muslim writers, M. A Anees, Syed Z. Abedin, and Z. Sarder, Christian-Muslim Relations published ... by the same publisher ...'

From Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, "This is a fine study, lucid and thoughtful ... it takes the increasingly tragic story ... into an area beyond the arguments of Norman Daniel, Albert Hourani and other noted scholars ... Clinton Bennett displays an individual approach ... This book could well serve as a model for others producing books on kindred topics ..."

In Search of the Sacred: Anthropology and the Study of Religions (London, Cassell: 1996). This book builds on research and teaching at Westminster, where I developed a major interest in methodology.

 From Theological Book Review:: 'This book cuts through a dense thicket ... it will be useful in many fields ... the study of religion, theology, inter-cultural-studies, and missiology'.

From Journal of Religious History: 'Clinton Bennett has written a gentle, generous and self-effacing book tracing the genealogy of his own and the more general discourse on religious studies. It is a book born of his experience as part of team teaching at Westminster College, Oxford ...'

Researching into Teaching Methods in College and Universities

(London, Kogan Page: 1996) co-written with two colleagues. My contribution draws on my M.Ed research.

In Search of Muhammad (London, Continuum: 1998). This book combined textual/historical research with an attempt at fieldwork.

 From Publishers Weekly: 'this ambitious study ... all adds up to an accessible and thorough glimpse into the identity of Muhammad.'.

From A. G Noorani's Islam and Jihad, 'Clinton Bennett's book, In Search of Muhammad is an earnest effort by a devout Christian to understand Muhammad, and places him in the ranks of others whose services Minou Reeves acknowledges in her survey of Western writing on Muhammad.' (p 53, London, Zed Books, 2002)

Rollin Armour writes, 'Bennett's book ... surveys a variety of issues in the study of Islam and is notable for the author's sensitivity to the religious aspects of Islam' Islam, Christianity and the West: A Troubled History (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2002 p 183)

See Dr Ahmed Shafaat's review on

n Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images

(London, Continuum: 2001)

In this book, I examine Christian, humanist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu views of Jesus.

From Religious Studies Review: 'This book is an enjoyable read and would be valuable for the general reader interested in a trustworthy presentation of the "dazzling galaxy of Jesus images"'.

Michael James McClymond descibes the book as 'a valuable survey of Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim responses to Jesus' (Familiar Stranger: An introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 2004).

Muslims and Modernity: An Introduction to the Issues and Debates (London, Continuum, 2005)

Against the background of Islam's encounter with liberal modernity, this book provides an introduction to Muslim thinking on gender equality, minority and human rights, the nature of the Islamic state, peace and war. This research was supported with a grant from the Spalding Trust.

  Morris M. Mottale "Clinton Bennett's Muslims and Modernity contributes to the themes by introducing the reader to the ideological debates among Muslim intellectuals in Europe and the Islamic world, addressing the relationship between Islam and its response toward Western civilization, minorities, secularization and the separation between religion and state ...  (Canadian Journal of Political Science).

In Understanding-Christian Muslim Relations Past and Present (London, Continuum, 2008) I analyse key texts representing what I call confrontational and conciliatory approaches to relations between Christianity and Islam by contributors from both sides. Discussion is set in the wider context of civilizational, geo-political and economic interaction.

Mike Jones wrote, "Bennett has written a book that is detailed, informative, balanced and touches on both the politically correct and incorrect . He talks abut the issues that affect both Christians and Muslims. He raises questions about issues such as Mohamed and morality. He discusses people and situations that have contributed to the conflicted world in which we currently live. There is a wide variety of people who will find this a helpful book." (Christian Book Reviews, Calgary University, CA).

Douglas Pratt wrote, "Without doubt, this work is magisterial in
scope ... Bennett’s confrontation and conciliation category division provides a useful heuristic device even if, as his cross-category exemplars indicate, categories are not always as fixed or rigid as their definitions suggest. This book will undoubtedly repay careful reading and would make a most useful foundation text for a course in the history of Christian–Muslim relations." (Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations).

In Search of Solutions: The Problem of Religion and Conflict (London, Equinox, 2008)

This book explores three conflict contexts in which religion is generally acknowledged to be at least a factor, although some minimize religion's role while others identify it as a major cause of violence. The book evaluates what role religion does play (or has played) in the Northern Ireland, Bosnian and Israel-Palestinian conflicts including the contribution of the women's movement in Ireland. I argue that scriptures can be used to justify conflict, so an alternative interpretative paradigm is needed if this tendency is to be reversed. I call this the "higher principle."  War has sometimes been necessary but  is immature. Peace is a mark of human maturity, God's ultimate ideal. With justice and greater solidarity between all people, the planet and other species, peace is the end goal of history.

"Offers brief but useful insight into the discussion around the question of whether religion lies at the root of the problem of conflict or can be part of the solution ... Bennett draws us to literature on the psychology, sociology and diversity of religions, arguing throughout that religion has a valuable role to play in championing peace building ... while this book may be short on an array of solutions ... by tying the discussion to hermeneutics and a theology of history, the book fills a useful place in the religion and conflict literature." (Rodney L Petersen, The Expository Times 122 (11).

"On the whole, In Search of Solutions is thought provoking, combining ideas from
theology and a variety of sources not normally linked together in the academic literature
dealing with religion and violence. As a result, Bennett is able to at once deconstruct
reductionist notions of the roles of religion in conflict, while also acting as an internal
voice that challenges people of faith to provide an indication of the continuing relevance
of their religious traditions by affirming the value of diversity, nonviolence and justice
for all peoples. This particular combination of analysis and argument alone makes In
Search of Solutions
worthwhile reading." (Christopher Hrynkow, Studies in Religion, 40 (4) 2011.)

"Informed by his university teaching, doctoral training in Islamic studies, NGO work, theological training for the Baptist ministry and experience as a peace activist, Bennett's In Search of Solutions fully acknowledges that religion has been mobilized to fuel animosity correlated with destructive violence, most especially when the "Other" in any given conflict is demonized with supposed divine sanction. Following on this acknowledgement,and wishing to affirm a revealed element to religious scriptures, Bennett suggests that believers should read all sacred books with the 'hermeneutical key' of the Golden Rule as a lens to discern the manner in which, 'scriptures, correctly understood, point to a peaceful and just world as the only future that is wholly consistent with God's plan' ..." (D. Creamer & C. Hrynkow, "Religion, Peace & Violence: Tensions & Promises," in Thomas Matyók, Maureen Flaherty, Hamdesa Tuso, Jessica Senehi, Sean Byrn (eds) Peace on Earth: The Role of Religion in Peace & Conflict Studies Plymouth, Lexington, 2014)  

Interpreting the Qur'an: A Guide for the Uninitiated (London, Continuum, 2009)

“This book introduces students to the Qur'anic text by relating it to the life of Prophet Muhammad and the development of the first Muslim community in the early seventh century. An interesting and relevant approach that will help the uninitiated make sense of this extremely complex text.” – Abdullah Saeed, Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies and Director of the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia"


"Bennett (SUNY at New Paltz) introduces readers to the Qur'an by insisting that they view the text within the context of the Prophet's life. History, for the author, is a central category. By the very nature of things, it must be the central frame of reference for anyone who seeks to make sense of the Qur'an, either in part or as a whole. In the four principal chapters of the book, the author leads readers through key passages of the Qur'an and establishes the historical setting for each. He begins with the Prophet's call and proceeds to identify crucial events in his life from the early Mecca period to the end of the Prophet's life in Medina. This is a carefully conceived work, sensitive to Muslim perspectives on the Qur'an, although as a matter of principle Bennett always offers his independent judgment when questions of interpretation are involved. This volume can be commended especially to newcomers to the Qur'an and to those who have found it a difficult text. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic and public libraries, lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers, general readers. -- M. Swartz, Boston University" CHOICE, v.48, no. 01, September 2010.


 Studying Islam: Critical Issues (London, Continuum, 2010).

This book is part of  Studying Religion series, which I am also editing. The series suggests how critical issues, including those that insiders find problematic, can be explored  without causing needless offense.

 “Bennett provides an insightful and incisive analysis of trends in approaches to the teaching of Islam. He deal frankly with the problems that emerge with both the "faith sensitive" and the "critical" approaches and illustrates ways in which the positive elements of both trends can be integrated. Using an innovative structure mirroring a descriptive analysis of religion in human life, Bennett demonstrates how the study of Islam does not need to side with either polemic or apologetics and how it can and must integrate the tough questions that are asked today if it is to have intellectual rigour. This work provides a summary of scholarship on Islam that will be helpful to students in the development of their analytical tools and to teachers in their search for a classroom stance that is faithful to the principles of religious studies as an academic discipline.” – Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria, Canada.

 Muslim Women of Power: Gender, politics and culture in Islam (London, Continuum, 2010)

"This is a book I would have wanted to write myself … The question of Muslim women leaders’ impacting the lives of ordinary women is an undeniable fact, although the world stage remains dominated by men. These women have inspired a generation of women not to give up, even when facing the strongest prejudice long held in western society, the backlash of Islamaphobia, as well as the rise of the extreme Right and zealots. We have much to learn in the West from these women leaders about mobilisation of women in countries where the primary duties and obligation for women are to survive the degradation of poverty and need for survival. We can and must judge their leadership in the context of their political and social achievements. Having been in politics in the west and seeing first hand the level of prejudice and discrimination at the heart of mother of democracy, I salute these amazing leaders."– Pola Manzila Uddin, House of Lords, London.

"Bennett is to be congratulated for his painstaking research. This book must be high on the reading list of everyone who wishes to understand the Islamic position on women". The Muslim World Book Review 31: 4.

South Asian Sufis: devotion, destiny and deviance (London, Bloomsbury, 2012)

In editing this volume of essays, I collaborated with a former student at Baylor University, Charles Ramsey (Director of University Institute Center for Islamic Studies, New Delhi, India). Contributors from Europe, North America, South Asia and New Zealand (women and men, Muslim and non-Muslim) survey contemporary Sufism in South Asia, with an emphasis on the continued vitality, adaptability and  relevance of Sufi orders, including those of recent origin.Ethnography features prominently.  Analysis includes discussion of the accusation of deviancy (innovation) and of Sufism's relationship with Islamism. 


The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies (London, Bloomsbury, 2013) is a comprehensive one volume reference guide to Islam and study in this area. A team of leading international scholars - Muslim and non-Muslim - cover important aspects of study in the field, providing readers with a complete and accessible source of information to the wide range of methodologies and theoretical principles involved. Presenting Islam as a variegated tradition, key essays from the contributors demonstrate how it is subject to different interpretations, with no single version privileged. In this volume, Islam is treated as a lived experience, not only as theoretical ideal or textual tradition.

Featuring a series of indispensable research tools, including a substantial A-Z of key terms and concepts, chronology and a detailed list of resources, this is the essential reference guide for anyone working in Islamic Studies.


 "Bennett's superb opening essay delineates the history of Islamic studies from medieval translations and polemics to today's complex, multifaceted discipline...Readers will find useful gems, e.g., a straightforward academic guide to traditional hadith science, ways to analyze a kalam argument, and hypotheses about why Qur'an, Sufi studies, and other subfields today are distinct from previous generations...Written for graduate studies, this book will also be useful for faculty mentoring them or merely keeping up with multiple facets of the field. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and above." – S. Ward, University of Wyoming, CHOICE.

Sufism, Pluralism and Democracy (Sheffield, Eqiuinox,,2017). This volume provides a composite of contemporary Sufi involvement in politics using a range of approaches and disciplines. It explores the role of Sufi-related parties where they exist or are emerging. It also examines how parties that condemn Sufism have adopted aspects of Sufi organization and practice. Changes in views within the academy on politics and Sufism are discussed. Perspectives on Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia are included as are overviews of Sufism’s political dimension across various regions.

Contributions in the volume seek answer questions such as: Where Sufi related parties exist, what policies do they propose, and how do they differ from those of Islamist parties? How would “law” be understood? What is the relationship between secular and Sufi ideas about the role of religion in society? How do Sufi views about how to structure the state in Muslim majority space differ from alternatives? Are Sufis more likely to support democracy?

Sufism, Pluralism and Democracy succeeds in exploring the often-sidelined political contribution of Sufism. The chapters clearly answer questions such as what role Sufism plays in promoting pluralism, secularism, and democracy. The book examines Sufi teachings for ensuring human rights and gender equality. ... this book works well for those looking to get a basic idea about the political engagement of Sufis in modern democracies.
Reading Religion

For calling our attention to examples of Sufis in Turkey, Albania, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia who bring the resources of the Sufi tradition to bear on modern questions of governance and social cohesion, Bennett and Alam are to be commended.
Journal of Church and State


 In Search of Understanding (Eugene, OR, Wipf & Stock, 2019) Clinton Bennett reflects on four decades of engagement with Muslims and Christian-Muslim relations as a missionary, scholar, and interfaith activist. Set in the context of his personal story, chapters discuss a series of critical questions to the Christian-Muslim relationship reprising earlier writing. Bennett asks: can Christians appreciate the prophet Muhammad as a genuine messenger from God or is this theological treason? How might Christians respond to the Muslim claim that Jesus was a prophet and is not God incarnate? Can Christians with integrity regard the Qur’ān as a word from God, and is there any possibility of rapprochement on the issue of whether Jesus died on the cross? Focusing on the United States, Bennett also describes church-sponsored Christian-Muslim initiatives and offers suggestions on how Christians can rethink their ideas about Muslims and cooperate with them in peace and justice advocacy, and socil and community development. Exploring some of the causes of Islamophobia, Bennett set out to challenge Christians to keep the commandment not to bear false witness against their Muslim neighbors.

Clinton Bennett's book surveys a lifetime's experience in Christian-Muslim relations. He writes wisely about many important and controversial issues, with insight and helpful suggestions. As important is the spirit of generosity and openness he shows, much needed in our divided and fractious world. --Martin Forward, Professor of History, Aurora University