Saints of clay

There's an intriguing report on the website of the Chabad-Lubavitch, the most prominent branch of Hasidism (a Jewish mystical movement with much in common with Sufism). A stop-motion animated film has been made for kids telling the story of Israel ben Eliezier (often called the Baal Shem Tov, or "Master of the Good Name"), the Lubavitch movement's founder who lived in 18th century Poland. One of the most unhealthy developments in modern Western … [Read more...]

A beastly crime of anti-Semitism in France

Ilan Halimi, 23, was kidnapped, tortured over a period of 2 weeks and left for dead, naked, by a gang of French kidnappers-- a young, multi-ethnic group of Muslims and non-Muslims that, with great understatement, refered to themselves as "the Barbarians"--in Bagneux, France.  (See WSJ article ) Halimi was Jewish and the perpetrators' behavior leaves little doubt that anti-Semitism played a major part in this truly ghastly crime.  As more details come out, the … [Read more...]

The Quran, Jews & the Bible

Since I figure it might interest some people, I'm going to reproduce a comment I made on another blog (which I highly recommend) in reaction to an insightful posting by the Velveteen Rabbi on the Quran.  My contribution wasn't particularly erudite or articutle.  I was just trying to throw some light on how the Quran treats Jews and how there is an interesting interaction within Islam with the Tanakh (i.e., the Hebrew Bible) and Jewish tradition.  Since the audience is presumably … [Read more...]

The Grinch: A Misunderstood Mujahid

Growing up a Muslim in Boston in the 70s and 80s and with little contact with the broader Muslim community, I had BIG issues with Christmas.Unlike a lot of Muslims, my beef with Christmas wasn't theological.  I don't accept the line that to joining Christians in celebrating their holiday is to engage in or condone  shirk (idolatry), as do many Muslims.  Nor was it philosophical or ethical.  To the contrary, I always liked Christmas in principle, finding it a noble and inspiring holiday that r … [Read more...]

A Lost Tribe is found in India

The world is peppered with peoples that claim descent from the "Lost Tribes" of Israel (see  this link for the seemingly never-ending parade of contenders) that were exiled over two and a half millenia ago by Assyria's King Nebuchanezzar.  As one site puts it:Scholars have claimed to discover their descendants in North and South America, England, China, Japan, Burma, Africa, Arabia, Persia, Central Asia, and Siberia, among other places. And then there are the various New Age … [Read more...]

The joys of interfaith (and intra-faith) dialogue

No irony or sarcasm is meant by that title.  When it works, it really is a joy. Last night, I participated in an interfaith dinner between local young Muslims and young Christians enrolled in a pastoral studies program at The Falls Church, a beautiful Episcopal church that happens to be right next to  one of the nexi  of Muslim life in northern Virginia, Halalco.    An aside:  Halalco is the first modern, professionally-run Islamically themed department store--as … [Read more...]