Clinton Bennett's Home Page

Resources in Cultural/Religious Studies, Islam/Christian-Muslim Relations.

Welcome (Bangla: Shagotom)

Westminster's Chapel

Sunset in Bangladesh

Dr Bennett: at his PC


BIO DATA: My Interests and Background

I am currently History and Biography editor for an on-line encyclopedia and (from Fall 2008) teaching Religious Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. van den Berg Hall (built 1930) is pictured to the right. The College's foundation dates from 1823. During 2007 I was an accredited representative of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (which is in special consultative status with ECOSOC) at the United Nations in NY. Between Oct 1998 and May 2001 I was an associate professor of religion at Baylor University, TX, USA where I taught world religions with a specialist focus on Islam and South Asia. For several years I also worked in education administration for the City of Birmingham Learning and Culture Directorate, attaining the rank of Principal Officer. Between 1992 and 1998 I was Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies and an Assistant Chaplain at Westminster College, Oxford (now the Westminster Institute of Education of Oxford Brookes University). 1987 to 1992 I was Executive Secretary for Inter-religious Relations at the British Council of Churches. I am an ordained Baptist Minister. I hold a BA in Theology from Manchester University, the MA and PhD from Birmingham University, and the M.Ed from Oxford University. I am a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (FRAS), of the Royal Anthropological Institute (FRAI) of the American Biographical Institute (FABI) of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and a Member of the American Academy of Religion.

For more career information, see see my curriculum vitae.

My geographical focus is on the Indian Sub-Continent, where I have lived and worked. I served with the Baptist Missionary Society 1979 � 1983 and have regularly travelled and lectured in India. Click here for a map of the Sub-Continent: Large Map of Sub-Continent.

My wife, Rekha Sarker Bennett, is originally from Bangladesh. She holds a BA from Dhaka University, a Dip.Ed from Birmingham, a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from Wolverhampton University and a Master of Science in Development Practice from Oxford Brookes. She has also completed the P.Q.S.W. (Post Qualifying Award in Social Work) and is an Approved Mental Health Practitioner under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Rekha is currently employed as a Qualified Mental Health Social Worker with Birmingham City Council. Our son, George is an engineering undergraduate at Loughborough University.

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My publications include:

Victorian Images of Islam (London, Grey Seal: 1992)

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 ...'

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.

Click here to see some of the many Universities that recommend and/or use this text

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

In 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.

See this review in the Church Times Feb 2006 by Dr.Peter G Riddell, professor of Islamic Studies at the London School of Theology Dr Riddell's review,

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.

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid writes, "Dr Bennett tells us the story of Christian-Muslim relations with a view to improving our understanding ... This study is useful for anyone interested in the wider concerns of conciliation and dialogue in relations between Muslims and Christians." (back cover)


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My Research and Projects

My PhD research was on Western (six British Christian) images of Islam in the nineteenth century. (There is a picture of Birmingham University's Great Hall, where I graduated, below right). I argued that writers' a priori assumptions about the status of Islam tended to determine how they saw Islam. They constructed a self-serving image.

My own approach has been greatly influenced by the work of Edward Said (1935-2003) and Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916 - 2000). Said draws our attention to the relationship between the colonial enterprise, and how Western scholars constructed images of their colonial subjects. The scholars' constructs were used to give moral justification to imperialism's concept of the "white man's burden" - the West was intellectually and morally superior! See the Edward Said Archive Smith defined the task of the outsider scholar, writing about Others, as to write an account that will elicit their approval. Too often, insiders have failed to recognise themselves in these accounts. We all write, he said, for a global community. For Smith, see W. C. Smith. Of course, insiders as well as outsiders tell different stories, depending upon their status and interests - so no account is likely to attract everyone's consent. Nonetheless, fascinated by the degree to which outsiders can understand other religions, cultures, worldviews from an insider's perspective, I started to use ethnographic participant observation as my main research tool, striving towards collaborative insider-outsider research.



Click here Village Mosque for a picture of me outside a village mosque in Bangladesh during fieldwork research for my book on Muhammad (see above for my publications). The test of a collaborative account is: are those involved in the research process willing to concede that it has an authority, a truthfulness, even if it conforms exactly to none of their individual stories? My interest in Christian-Muslim dialogue raises the problematic of rival theological truth claims. While I believe that people should enjoy the right to inform others about their beliefs, even to persuade people to change them, I am convinced that polemic and debate is bankrupt.

I am interested in post-colonial literature, and debates about "multiculturalsm"/identity in the modern, pluralist world we inhabit. I have an on-going project, originally inspired by Salman Rushdie's fiction, working on themes addressing belonging, identity, the migrant condition - see my article. I also use film and literature (especially colonial and post-colonial) in my teaching. Some examples of this can be found on my Lecture Page.

I would like to hear from other academics, or from anyone, who shares my interests.

Article based on my PhD thesis.

Honours and Awards:- In 1995, I was named on the American Society of Missiology Reviewers Roll of Honor.

August 4 2003 I was appointed an Ambassador for Peace by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.


I am writing a book on understanding the Qur'an (for Continuum). My aim is to explore the contents of the Qur'an in the context of the life of Muhammad and the development of the Muslim community with reference to classical and modern exegesis.

In Search of Solutions: Religions and Conflict
I am contracted with Equinox for a book on religion and conflict in a series edited by Rosemary Reuther and Lisa Isherwood. Click here for more details of this project Synopsis of In Search of Solutions.

My 'work-in-progress' page, FUSION THEOLOGY on citizenship, pluralism, culture e.t.c.

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* My Lectures and Notes in the Study of Religions. I am especially interested in methodology and use of literature and film to aid the study of religion. Post-colonial literature features prominently.

* My Resource Page in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations

* My Reviews in Study of Religions/Islam/Christian-Muslim Relations/Religion and Politics

* My Survey of Christian-Muslim Encounter

* Some papers presented at various conferences


* Serious Links - Religion

* The Po-Mo Page: Postmodern, Postmodernism, Postmodernity

* Jewish-Christian Relations: Home

* Religion Religions Religious Studies Page

* Citizenship and Democracy (UK) site

* Best Indian Sites

* A site dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi

* Notes on Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses by Paul Brians

* Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature: An Overview

* Bangla Net

* Award winning Virtual Bangladesh

* News From Bangladesh

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copyright Clinton Bennett 2008