Filed under Religion

Must the Muslima Wear a Headscarf?

Must the Muslima Wear a Headscarf?

Identity politics are dangerous. Unfortunately Muslims have long been swept up into the fray. Sometimes willingly. In many traditional and conservative societies, women have covered their heads. This is not exclusive to Islam, whatever the Quran says about it. But a time came also when Muslims were mobilizing on the basis of faith, using it … Continue reading

Secondary Separation, in Islam

Secondary Separation, in Islam

In fundamentalist Christian circles there is an approach to the world known as ‘secondary separation’. While the Bible notes Christians are not of this world, there is tension when Jesus says they are also in this world, and should not expect to be removed. Fundamentalism is one expression of this tension, that leans in the … Continue reading

How Do Copts Endure their Martyrdoms?

How Do Copts Endure their Martyrdoms?

From my article published at Providence Magazine: “On a day like today,” Fr. Samaan Shehata was murdered in Cairo. The day was October 12, but he likely read those very words in mass just one day earlier, introducing the lives of the saints. Hunted down and stabbed repeatedly by a Muslim extremist, his name now … Continue reading

Can Polygamy be Curbed in Islam?

Can Polygamy be Curbed in Islam?

Islam grants a man the right to take up to four wives, as long as he can provide for and treat them equitably. As it has been explained to me, the original allowance came early in Muslim history when the male population was greatly reduced by warfare. Some Muslims argue the original reason for revelation … Continue reading

Wisdom and Foolishness in Abrahamic Faith

Wisdom and Foolishness in Abrahamic Faith

“Knowledge is power,” is an oft-repeated saying. In an information economy this makes perfect sense, and our educational system is geared to develop know-how. Wisdom, on the other hand, sometimes seems a neglected virtue. It is the realm of philosophers, maybe, who have little to do with practical life. Or religion, often considered a private … Continue reading

Did the Muslims Conquer Jerusalem?

Did the Muslims Conquer Jerusalem?

Did the Muslims conquer the Middle East? History says they did, from both the Western and Islamic perspectives. Much of the self-understanding of modern civilization has been built upon this premise, the resulting Crusades, and eventual colonization by European powers. Some fear there are signs of a renewed animosity between the Western and Muslim worlds, a … Continue reading

Is Sex Slavery Legal in Islam?

Is Sex Slavery Legal in Islam?

In my recent post about al-Azhar and the doctrine they spread around the world, one reader offered this question in the comments: Someone I know wrote an article about Islam recently and made the statement that, according to his knowledge, official Islam has never condemned the action of ISIS soldiers in raping Yazidi women. He … Continue reading

The Coptic Church in Japan

The Coptic Church in Japan

There may be three million Christians in Japan, one percent of the population. They now have a Coptic Orthodox Church among their options. Egypt’s Pope Tawadros arrived on August 26 to consecrate Japan’s first Coptic Orthodox congregation, the Church of St. Mary and St. Mark. Tawadros hailed the cooperation between Japan and Egypt, especially the … Continue reading

God in the Little Things, For Us

God in the Little Things, For Us

For the first time in my life, I locked the keys in the car. Worse, it was borrowed. All the movie tricks with wire hangers came into my mind, but none seemed like they’d work. I was stuck. Stuck an hour away from home. With two of my kids, picking them up from camp. One … Continue reading

A Primer on Salafism III

A Primer on Salafism III

Salafism is often wrongly criticized. But it can be rightly criticized also. The first post in this series emphasized how it is often a popular (meaning of the people) expression of Islam. The first essay here shows how this happens, though I think it errs in conclusion. The second doesn’t even err, because it doesn’t … Continue reading

A Primer on Salafism II

A Primer on Salafism II

  If you have been introduced to Salafism in the news or in often critical analysis, two figures are generally named. The first is Ibn Taymiyya, who you won’t likely know much about but may understand he is the source of all Muslim things violent. The second is Mohamed ibn Abdel Wahhab, and you may … Continue reading

A Primer on Salafism

A Primer on Salafism

Muftah recently published a special collection of essays on Salafism, under the premise that the popular, conservative, and terrorism-linked interpretation of Islam is often misunderstood and unfairly judged. I agree, though there are certainly aspects to judge thoroughly. Six essays were provided –  most helpful, some mixed, and one awful. I’ll provide excerpts to save … Continue reading

What the Azhar Believes

What the Azhar Believes

I recently attended a gathering at al-Azhar University, where the World Organization of Azhar Graduates presented with Egyptian Radio about the work and need to spread “Ashari, Wasati” Islam, and define the parameters of true religion. This is done, they said, to help combat terrorism and extremist interpretations of Islam. That is all well and … Continue reading

A Coptic Poem to ISIS

A Coptic Poem to ISIS

After the latest atrocity against the Copts perpetrated by the Islamic State – killing 30 in an ambush of a church outing to visit a monastery – the following poem was circulated on social media. It is entitled ‘A Message to ISIS’, written by Kiro al-Masry. The translation is mine and the Arabic original is … Continue reading

Islam and the Bigotry of Conviction

Islam and the Bigotry of Conviction

The Muslim World (TMW) is one of the leading academic journals covering Islam worldwide. Strange it would call its own history “bigoted”. It was founded in 1911 by Samuel Zwemer, a founding father of Protestant missions in engagement with the oft-rival monotheistic faith. Now published by Hartford Seminary, like much of the Protestant mainline its … Continue reading