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Islam's Origins

In the Shadow of the Sword The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire by tom holland doubleday, 526 pages, $29.95 Islam is widely understood by both Western and Islamic scholars to have substantially engaged with the intellectual traditions of the late antique Near East’s . . . . Continue Reading »

The Qur’an and historical criticism

In response to a well-known examination of the historical problems of The Koran, written before 9-11 by Toby Lester in The Atlantic, Seyyed Hossein Nasr said The acceptance of the Koran as the word of God suggests that the so-called historical and textual study of the Koran is tantamount to . . . . Continue Reading »

Is the Qur’an Analogous to Christ?

One of the central tropes of Islamic responses to Christianity is that the Qur’an is not the Muslim equivalent of the Christian scriptures, but of Christ. Thus Mahmoud A. Ayoub says:The Qur’an is, for Muslims, the literal and timeless divine Word which entered our time. It became a book . . . . Continue Reading »

Fr. Samir’s 111 Questions on Islam

Samir Khalid Samir, S.J. has devoted half a century to Islamic studies, and the English translation of his 2002 interview book on Islam is a welcome reminder that the subject of Islam can elicit more than shrillness. As an introduction to the subject and as an antidote to anodyne apologies, 111 . . . . Continue Reading »

Fighting the Good Fight

God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by christopher tyerman belknap, 1,040 pages, $35 Not too many years ago, single-volume histories of the Crusades were a rarity. Bookstores were crowded with volumes on the Civil War or World War II, but there was little on medieval battles fought in . . . . Continue Reading »

When Worlds Collide

Snow by Orhan Pamuk Knopf. 426 pp. $26. Two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk published an essay in the New York Review of Books (titled “The Anger of the Damned”) in which Pamuk, who is often mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize, tried . . . . Continue Reading »

Last Testament

On May 24, 1996, a group of Islamic terrorists announced that they had “slit the throats” of seven French Trappist monks whom they had kidnapped from the monastery of Tibherine in Algeria and held as hostages for two months. Prior to the kidnapping, the superior of the monastery, Father . . . . Continue Reading »

Islam and Modernity

As Communism loses its menacing posture and its threat recedes globally. Western concentration is beginning to focus increasingly on an old and inscrutable foe: Islam. The vast natural resources of the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam, coupled with the inherent political instability of the . . . . Continue Reading »

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