The Rt Rev Kenneth Cragg
March 8 1913 to November 13 2012
Kenneth Cragg was a man ahead of his time in recognising the importance of ecumenism for world peace…
Besides a long teaching ministry in universities, he was the author of some 40 books, two of which, The Call of the Minaret (1956) and Sandals in the Mosque (1959), became classics. In these, Cragg concentrated on Muslim prayer and spirituality, showing the rich treasury of devotion available to the devout Muslim and its affinity with the Christian tradition.
His later books, written after the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism on to the world stage, were particularly concerned with the question of whether or not violence is an integral element of the Muslim faith. He believed it to be unhelpful to deny the existence of such an element, which had developed during the period when Mohammed was living in Medina and creating through political and military strength the conditions favourable to the spreading of his message.
But Cragg pointed out that during the preceding period, when the Prophet was virtually a prisoner in Mecca, he received his original revelations, which emphasised the central importance of promoting harmony and peace. Cragg urged today’s Muslims to recover this emphasis and abandon all forms of militarism, though he recognised that for many in the Arab world religion and politics are inseparable.
His knowledge of that world was profound, and his sympathy for both Islam and Judaism took on an added significance when it was realised that he had been nurtured in an evangelical tradition which believed that there was nothing to be learned from other religious faiths, and that the sole purpose of Christian encounters with their adherents was to bring about conversion.
This view became abhorrent to Cragg, who was an assistant bishop in the Anglican Church’s Jerusalem archbishopric from 1970 to 1974, and had many Muslim and Jewish friends. He instead counselled Christians to approach members of other faiths with humility and openness. In this way, he said, there would be a true sharing of insights into the divine disclosure and the possibility of growth in faith by those involved in dialogue.
Albert Kenneth Cragg was born on March 8 1913 in Blackpool and went from the local grammar school to Jesus College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. After two further years at Tyndale Hall, Bristol, he was ordained in 1936 to a curacy at Tranmere, Birkenhead.
Full obituary in The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9678724/The-Rt-Rev-Kenneth-Cragg.html
Obituary in The Anglican Communion News Service: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/11/14/ACNS5247
Obituary on Islam and Christianity: http://islamdom.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/kenneth-cragg-rest-in-peace-some-great.html
Wikipedia on Kenneth Cragg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Cragg