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Joan of Arc - Miniature from the 15th century (detail)

Terrorism and the Failure of Patriotism

Many people are asking what, exactly, is causing Muslims to be behind so many acts of terror and whether something could be done to change the situation for the better….

Headline on the cover of Charlie Hebdo after attacks

Murderous Fictions

The terrorist massacres in Paris on January 7th, and now the complaints about the portrayal of Islam’s prophet Mohammed on the surviving cover of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, are…

Gérôme_-_L'entrée_du_Christ_à_Jérusalem

Jesus Was Not Christian

Not long after I reviewed Reza Aslan’s work on Jesus, I came across Geza Vermes’s excellent study, Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea (2013), that shows how Jesus’ iconoclastic but…

Moulay Hicham Ben Abdellah El Alaoui

The Impossible Dreams of a Moroccan Prince

A few years ago, I wrote a review/commentary on The Road from Morocco, a thrilling account by Wafa Faith Hallam, a young, modern Moroccan woman who leads a truly quixotic…

Islam by country (2015)

The New Fitna

According to official Muslim history, when the Prophet Mohammed died in 632, his followers quickly split into two main camps—those who wanted Ali, the Prophet’s cousin, the first boy to…

The Past and Future of Israel

The moment I heard about Ari Shavit’s book, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, I hastened to get a copy, then another one when I joyfully shared…

Map of fertile crescent

Whence the Koran?

Much of what Muslims believe is unique to the faith—such as Mohammed being the seal of prophets or besieged believers falling asleep for centuries in a cave—are ideas taken from…

Koran Redux (2)

In “Koran Redux (1),” I noted how the work of John Wansborough made it clear that the Koran doesn’t make sense without the exegetical literature (Tafsir and Hadith) that developed…

Koran Redux (1)

It is clear now that the outburst of the Arab Spring was a mere mirage in a sky full of expectation of change in the Arab world. Nothing has changed,…

Fresco from the Vardzia monastery depicting Christ, 12th-13th centuries

Jesus and the Fate of Civilizations

The image of Jesus that emerges, somewhat hazily, from Reza Aslan’s new book, Zealot, reminded me of an annotated headshot of Osama bin Laden that appeared in the December 2001…