Cragg, Albert Kenneth (1913-2012)

British Christian interpreter of Islam

Educated at Oxford, Cragg was ordained to the Anglican priesthood in 1936. His lifelong association with the Middle East began with service under the British Syria Mission in Lebanon, where he taught during World War II at the American University of Beirut. After the war, he returned to Oxford to write a doctoral thesis, “Islam in the Twentieth Century: The Relevance of Christian Theology and the Relationship of Christian Missions to Its Problems” (1950). Cragg then crossed the Atlantic to become professor of Islamic studies at the Hartford Seminary Foundation, where he taught missionary candidates and edited The Muslim World as a forum of intellectual debate about Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. His most influential book, The Call of the Minaret (1956), was based on American lectures in which he elaborated an irenic Christian approach to Islam through ministries of understanding, service, social action, interpretation of the gospel, and “retrieval” —a term that expressed his vision of a renewed relationship with Muslims in Christ.

Cragg returned to the Middle East in the late 1950s to begin his long association with St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem. There, and later as a faculty member (1959) and principal (1961) of St. Augustine’s College, Canterbury, he developed two major missionary study programs, Operation Reach and Emmaus Furlongs. Three years on the faculty of Ibadan University, Nigeria (1967-1970), preceded his appointment as assistant bishop of Jerusalem residing in Cairo. When Egypt gained its own diocesan status within the Anglican communion, he relinquished his post in favor of an Egyptian bishop and returned to Britain, briefly to a university lectureship (Sussex) and then to pastoral ministry in Yorkshire, an area settled by large immigrant Muslim communities. After 1981 he lived in retirement in Oxfordshire, where he continued to write on Islamic and Christian themes.

David A. Kerr, “Cragg, Albert Kenneth,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 157. [This article was slightly modified. Past tenses were inserted to indicate that he died in 2012, after the publication of the original biographical entry was published.]

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.



Cragg, Kenneth. The Call of the Minaret. New York; San Francisco: Oxford; Collins, 1956; 1986.

_____. Sandals at the Mosque: Christian Presence Amid Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959.

_____. The Dome and the Rock: Jerusalem Studies in Islam. London: S.P.C.K., 1964.

_____. Counsels in Contemporary Islam. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1965.

_____. Christianity in World Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

_____. The Privilege of Man: A Theme in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. London: Athlone P., 1968.

_____. Alive to God: Muslim and Christian Prayer. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.

_____. The Event of the Qur’an: Islam in its Scripture. London; Oxford: G. Allen & Unwin; Oneworld, 1971; 1994.

_____. Life is Commitment: Religions in Diversity. Cambridge: University Church, 1971.

_____. The Mind of the Qur’an. London: Allen and Unwin, 1973.

_____. The Wisdom of the Sufis. New York: New Direction Books, 1976.

_____. “How Not Islam?” In Religious Studies 13 no. 4 (December, 1977): 387-94.

_____. The Christian and Other Religions: The Measure of Christ. London: Mowbrays, 1977.

_____. Muhammad and the Christian: A Question of Response. London; Maryknoll, NY: Darton, Longman, and Todd; Orbis, 1984.

_____. Jesus and the Muslim: An Exploration. Boston; London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1985.

_____. The Pen and the Faith: Eight Modern Muslim Writers and the Qur’an. Boston; London: Allen & Unwin, 1985.

_____. The Christ and the Faiths: Theology in Cross-Reference. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1986.

_____. Readings in the Qur’an. San Francisco; Brighton: Collins; Sussex Academic Press, 1988; 1999.

_____. The Arab Christians: A History in the Middle East. Louisville, KY; London: Westminster/John Knox Press; Mowbray, 1991; 1992.

_____. Troubled by Truth: Life Studies in Inter-Faith Concern. Edinburgh: Pentland Press, 1992.

_____. Faith and Life Negotiate: A Christian Story-Study. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1994.

_____. Troubled by Truth: Biographies in the Presence of Mystery. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1994.

_____. Defending (the) Faith: The Matter of the Article. London: New Millennium, 1997.

_____. Palestine: The Prize and Price of Zion. London; Washington, D.C.: Cassell, 1997.

_____. The Secular Experience of God. Harrisburg, PA; Leominster, Herefordshire, England: Trinity Press International; Gracewing, 1998.

_____(ed.). Common Prayer: A Muslim-Christian Spiritual Anthology. Oxford: Oneworld, 1999.

_____. The Weight in the Word: Prophethood, Biblical and Quranic. Brighton, U.K.; Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 1999.

_____. With God in Human Trust: Christian Faith and Contemporary Humanism: A Meeting of Minds. Brighton, England; Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 1999.

_____. The Education of Christian Faith: Critical and Literary Encounters with the New Testament. Brighton, England; Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2000.

_____. “Being Made Disciples–The Middle East.” In The Church Missionary Society and World Christianity, 1799-1999, edited by Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley, 120-43. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub., 2000.

_____. Muhammad in the Qur’an: The Task and the Text. London: Melisende, 2001.

_____. Am I Not Your Lord? Human Meaning in Divine Question. London: Melisende, 2002.

_____. Faiths in Their Pronouns: Websites of Identity. Brighton, England; Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2002.

_____. The Christian Jesus: Faith in the Finding. Brighton; Portland, OR: Alpha Press, 2003.

_____. A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures: Biblical and Quranic. Brighton; Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2004.

_____. “A Strange Half-Absence: Reflections on a Faithful Presence.” In Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 15 no 3. (2004): 317-29.

_____. The Tragic in Islam. London: Melisende, 2004.

_____. Semitism: The Whence and the Whither, “How Dear are Your Counsels.” Brighton; Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2005.

_____. God’s Wrong is Most of All: Divine Capacity. Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2006.

_____. The Order of the Wounded Hands: Schooled in the East. London: Melisende, 2006.

_____. The Qur’an and the West: Some Minding Between. London; Washington, D.C.: Melisende; Georgetown University Press, 2006.

_____. A Christian-Muslim Inter-Text Now: From Anathemata to Theme. London: Melisende, 2008.

_____. The Iron in the Soul: Joseph and the Undoing of Violence. London: Melisende, 2009.

_____. Dying Daily: Quotidian Living. London: Melisende, 2010.

_____. The Breaking of the Bread. London: Melisende, 2010.

Cragg, Kennth and Owen Chadwick. Stephen Charles Neill, 1900-1984. London: British Academy, 1986.


“A Bibliography of Kenneth Cragg.” In The Muslim World 83 (1993): 177-91.

Braswell, George. “The Encounter of Christianity and Islam: The Missionary Theology of Kenneth Cragg.” In Perspectives in Religious Studies 8 (1981): 117-27.

D’Souza Andreas. “Christian Approaches to the Study of Islam: An Analysis of the Writings of Watt and Cragg.” In Bulletin of the Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies 11 (January-June 1992): 55-87, and 11 (July-December 1992): 33-80.

Griffith, Sydney. “Kenneth Cragg on Christians and the Call to Islam.” In Religious Studies Review 20 (1994): 29-35.

Jones, Richard. “Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Kenneth Cragg on Islam as a Way of Salvation.” In International Bulletin of Missionary Research 17 no. 3 (1993): 105-10.

Lamb, Christopher. “The Call to Retrieval: Kenneth Cragg’s Christian Vocation to Islam.” Ph.D. diss. Birmingham University, 1987.

_____. The Call to Retrieval: Kenneth Cragg’s Christian Vocation to Islam. London: Grey Seal, 1997.

Maeland, Bard. Rewarding Encounters: Islam and the Comparative Theologies of Kenneth Cragg and Wilfred Cantwell Smith. London: Melisende, 2003.

Slomp, Jan. “Meeting of Church and Mosque: Introducing the Work of Dr. Kenneth Cragg.” In Al-Mushir 14 no. 1/2 (1972): 1-8.

_____. “Kenneth Cragg and the Qur’an.” In Ihr Alle Aber Seid Bruder, edited by L. Hagemann, 167-89. 1990.

Tebbe, James Allen. “”Kenneth Cragg in Perspective: A Comparison with Temple Gairdner and Wilfred Cantwell Smith.” In International Bulletin of Missionary Research 26 no. 1 (2002): 16.

_____. Christian Scriptures in Muslim Culture in the Work of Kenneth Cragg. Milton Keynes: Open University, 1997.

Wood, Nicholas J. Faiths and Faithfulness: Pluralism, Dialogue and Mission in the Work of Kenneth Cragg and Lesslie Newbigin. Milton Keynes, UK; Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster, 2009.


History of the Diocese 1839-2000.” Includes photo of Kenneth Cragg when assistant Bishop in Jerusalem, with Archdeacons Ishaq Mussad (Bishop, 1974-1981) and Adeeb Shammas, taken circa 1972.

See a more recent photograph of Cragg in this photo-chronology of all the bishops of the diocese of Egypt.