Filed under Religion

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

Pope Francis, Islam, and Peace-Building

Pope Francis, Islam, and Peace-Building

This interview was first published at Informed Comment. Dr. Kamal Boraiqa is a lecturer at al-Azhar University and a member of al-Azhar Center for Dialogue, the al-Azhar Observer for Combating Extremism, and the Egyptian Family House. With a PhD from al-Azhar in Islamic Studies, he has served as an imam at the Santa Rosa Islamic … Continue reading

Is Sufism the Answer to Extremism in Egypt?

Is Sufism the Answer to Extremism in Egypt?

This article was first published at al-Monitor. If the Egyptian government wants to combat the spread of radical religious ideology, it would do well to return to its Muslim roots. At a conference held at the headquarters of the Azamiyah Order in Cairo on April 21, which Al-Monitor attended, presenters argued that Sufi Islam is the … Continue reading

What Jesus Can Teach Muslims Today

What Jesus Can Teach Muslims Today

The New York Times carried a very Christian op-ed recently, penned by a Turkish Muslim. Mustafa Akyol is one of Turkey’s leading journalists, and argues that the crisis in the Muslim world today can be solved by turning to Jesus as example. But first, a primer for those who don’t know the basics: While Muslims … Continue reading