Realistically, post-Chapel Hill (like pre-Chapel Hill) there is no substitute for the more immediate, more relational, more personal knowledge that only comes via proximity. In January 2012, on a travel-study program in Oman, Douglas Leonard, who directs Al Amana Centre in Muscat, Oman, told me, "Experiential and relational interfaith education is what it will take to transform people's understanding of the other."
Notwithstanding our own inevitable baggage, weaknesses and deficiencies, I strongly believe that relationship—in particular, friendship (whether Christians with Muslims or Muslims with Christians)—is still that barrier-breaking thing most needed in the face of violent hatred or simmering hostility. Anything less than genuine relational knowledge, well, we might as well call it "tolerance" from a distance. And, in truth, this distance whereby we tolerate each other is only slightly shorter than those distances known as outright ignorance or willful disengagement.
That being said, there are books—and, some of them are more knowledge-helpful than others.
Because of Peace Catalyst International's concerted peacemaking work in Christian-Muslim relations, occasionally I get asked—especially in moments plagued by considerable violence, death and fear—for bookish recommendations. Without further ado, then, here are Three Book Recommendations. To be straightforward and candid, these recommendations are best suited for those American Christians who are genuinely seeking to better understand Islam and to better love their Muslim neighbors in the way of Jesus.
Full disclosure: I actually have read each of these books.
Also, for the sake of my tribe, who I love and with whom I often quarrel, I highly recommend these books with American evangelicals particularly in mind.
The second selection is by Peter Kreeft, a Catholic professor of philosophy at Boston College.
The third selection is by David Shenk. Shenk is a global consultant for Eastern Mennonite Missions, a prominent evangelical voice in Christian-Muslim relations, and a member of the Advisory Board of Peace Catalyst International.