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Islam: The Arab Religion

A few months ago, I immersed myself in a kind of reading that I wish was available to me and my teachers when I was in high school in Tangier…

Islam, Arabs and the Hijra

The traditional account of Muhammad’s life tells us that in June of 622, upon getting wind of an assassination plot against him at Mecca, he escaped with some of his…

Distribution of Arabic alphabets

The Language of the Koran

When we look at Late Antique Syro-Palestine and Arabia in the early seventh century, the time when Islam is said to have become a religion, an interesting yet complex mosaic…

Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount Jerusalem

Jerusalem and the Emergence of Islam

If there is any place in the world right now that sits at the heart of the clash of religions, it surely must be Jerusalem, known in Arabic as al-Quds….

Islam: The Chinese Connection

After reading Jonathan Bloom’s splendid book Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World, published more than a decade ago, I now think that there…

Arab Constitutions and American Freedoms

The deeply contentious referendum on Egypt’s new constitution last December 2012 gave me some hope that not all is lost to Arabs and Muslims in the aftermath of the revolutions…

The Tyranny of Religious Scholars

As any observer will have noticed, the debates that are consuming many Arabs right now have to do with the place of religion in their societies. Most Muslims want freedom…

The Specter of Salafism

Many people in the Muslim world are scrambling to get out from centuries (not just decades) of tyranny and build a good future for themselves and their descendants. They want…

Obama, Romney and Islam

The 2012 U.S. presidential election was most intriguing for what was relatively absent from the debates.  We didn’t hear much about President Barack Obama’s hidden Islamic faith, although an exchange…

Fury Unbound

The French are in trouble. The publication Charlie Hebdo has just published cartoons of Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, and now the French government is taking measures to protect its citizens in…