View Book

Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love

ID: 2869 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

This book seeks to elucidate the concept of justice, not so much as it is expressed in law courts (retributive and procedural justice) or in state budgets (distributive justice), but as primary justice – what it means and how it can be grounded in the inalienable rights that each human being possesses qua human being. It draws inspiration from two recent works of philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff, but also from the groundbreaking Islamic initiative of 2007, the Common Word Letter addressed by 138 eminent Muslim scholars and clerics to the Pope and all Christian leaders. This document affirmed that the two highest commandments in both Judaism and Christianity are also at the heart of the Islamic tradition – love of God and love of neighbor. In a style that lends itself to the classroom and beyond, the book’s seven chapters all begin with a case study of justice, so as to emphasize that justice must also be embodied in righteous social, political and economic practices. Along the way, leading contemporary scholars and activists from both traditions urge the reader – Muslim, Christian, or whatever – to look afresh at an age-old conundrum: how do justice and love interact so as to create a world in which everyone finds his or her rightful place?

Published: Mar 20, 2020


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction David Johnston
Racial Justice in the United States David Johnston
Justice as Respect for Human Rights David Johnston
Justice as Shar’ia’s Central Purpose David Johnston
Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Shari’a’s Objectives and Social Justice David Johnston
Justice and Love: Prince Ghazi and the Common Word David Johnston
Justice and Love: Christian Perspectives David Johnston
Justice and Love: Muslim-Christian Synergy David Johnston
End Matter
Bibliography David Johnston
Index David Johnston
Biblical References David Johnston
Qur’anic References David Johnston


It is a cliché, but not an egregious one, that the most foundational concept in Christianity is “love,” whereas in Islam it is “justice.” Yet in this brilliant book, David L. Johnston shows not only how these two different traditions can be bridged, but also this very act can create a synergy that can make the world a better place. Highly recommended for any comparative theologian, and any other reader with an open theological mind.
Mustafa Akyol, author of The Islamic Jesus

David Johnston sets himself two important, interconnected, projects in this book, and brings them off superbly. One is to show that both love and justice are fundamental in both Christianity and Islam, contrary to the common stereotype that Christianity is all about love and Islam is all about justice. The other is to show that love and justice are not in tension with each other, as is commonly assumed, but, when rightly understood, are in harmony. I anticipate that the eyes of many readers will be opened, as were the eye of this reader, to Johnston’s demonstration of this fundamental affinity between Christianity and Islam. A valuable feature of Johnston’s presentation is that each chapter opens with a description of systemic injustice in some part of the world. The scholarship is impressive; but this is not just about scholarly texts, it’s about the real world.
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University and Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia