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What Can an Old Quranic Parchment Really Show?

Birmingham University has announced that it possesses what could be the world’s oldest fragments of the Muslim Holy Quran. We cannot be certain yet whether it is the oldest, as we have other sets of old Qur’anic manuscripts, such as those investigated by IRCICA in Turkey and the palimpsest ones found in the Great Mosque of Sana’a, Yemen, in 1972. But using radiocarbon dating, the Birmingham researchers suggest that this parchment fragment, written on sheep or goat skin, may date to sometime between 568 and 645. This could place this parchment within the first three decades of Islam, taking us back to the days of Muhammad or his immediate followers. Continue Reading »

Can Islamists Reject Violence?

In the 1970s, the radical Islamist organization al-Gamāʿah ­al-Islāmiyah (Islamic Group) stormed onto the scene in Egypt, calling for Egyptians to return to the correct form of Islam by waging jihad and applying Shari’a. However, on July 5, 1997, the Gamāʿah did something extraordinary in the history of radical Islam. It issued “Initiative to Stop the Violence,” a formal statement declaring its renunciation of all violence. Continue Reading »

Interviewing Christian Sahner on Syria

At the Center for Law and Religion Forum today, I interview historian Christian Sahner about his recent book, Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present. In the book—the subject of a First Things event last winter—Sahner recounts his time as a student in Syria before the Arab . . . . Continue Reading »

Mary, Mary's Son, and Islam

Does Islam worship the one God of Abraham, like Jews and Christians, or some other god? Many strident voices insist Allah is a different god. Inconveniently, though, the three great monotheistic faiths claim Abraham as their patriarch and resulting from that, each claim Abraham’s one God as their . . . . Continue Reading »

St. John Paul II and the “Tyranny of the Possible”

The reputations of the great often diminish over time. Ten years after his holy death on April 2, 2005, Karol Wojtyla, Pope St. John Paul II, looms even larger than he did when the world figuratively gathered at his bedside a decade ago: tens of millions of men and women around the world who felt impelled, and privileged, to pray with him through what he called his “Passover”—his liberation through death into a new life of freedom in the blazing glory of the Thrice-Holy God. Continue Reading »

American Islam

read recently that some young Muslims in the United States are complaining that what goes on in their mosques is not “American” enough. They say that the patterns of worship and religious education seem designed to preserve the connections to the countries from which their Muslim communities emigrated, while these young folks want their faith to guide them in their lives in America. Continue Reading »

Famous Communists and Islam

For some time, an argument has been made that the liberal left, in refusing to examine the problems of Islam, has betrayed its Enlightenment roots. That is, while secular, feminist, and protective of free speech in dealing with its Western peers, the liberal left has been accused of abandoning its heritage in its quest for political correctness regarding Muslims. Continue Reading »

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