Why the Qur’an might not be what you thought, and why it matters

quranOn the face of it, it’s a little unlikely. But not long ago, what may be the oldest copy of part of the Qur’an was discovered in the Cadbury Library at Birmingham University.

The two parchment leaves had been bound together with leaves of a similar Qur’an manuscript, which is datable to the late seventh century. These, however, are earlier. Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment – prepared animal skin – on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645. Mohammad himself is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632, raising the intriguing possibility that it could have been written in his own lifetime.

The fragment contains parts of suras (chapters) 18-20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi. So far, so fascinating: it’s like finding a copy of one of Paul’s letters from 40 AD, or a Matthew’s Gospel from 80AD. From a historical point of view, it sends goose-bumps up the spine – and for a Muslim, even more so. The chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque is reported to have said: “When I saw these pages I was very moved. There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes. And I’m sure people from all over the UK will come to Birmingham to have a glimpse of these pages.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

The Republican Attack on Muslims

23wed1-blog427The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is drawing criticism over the bigoted comments he has been making recently about Muslims. It is well deserved, and is not a matter of “P.C. culture,” as Mr. Carson has claimed. Nor does Mr. Carson represent some minor fringe element in the Republican Party.

This latest sordid mess to arise from the G.O.P. nomination contest touches on bedrock American values, constitutional principles and American history. It reflects a pernicious habit among the leaders of the Republican Party to play with fire by pandering to an angry, disaffected and heavily white base by demonizing selected minorities. Muslims are just the current target.

Mr. Carson declared Sunday on ”Meet the Press” that Muslims are unfit to run for president because a president’s faith should be “consistent with the Constitution.” Later, he told the newspaper The Hill that Islamic Shariah law isn’t consistent with the Constitution because “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Leave aside for a moment the unintentionally funny spectacle of a member of the current Republican Party declaring that religion should be kept out of public life, and that Mr. Carson, as an African-American, is a member of a much belittled minority. The freedom of religion embedded in the First Amendment rules out the very idea of a religious test for public office, as John F. Kennedy so eloquently argued and then proved by becoming the first Catholic president.

As for Shariah law, Catholicism has canon law and Judaism has the Halakha and nobody is painting them as threats to the republic — at least not this year.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Why I want Pope Francis on my team

immigrantsHaroon Moghul is a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He is an author, essayist and public speaker. Follow him @hsmoghul. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)I’d like to invite His Holiness Pope Francis to convert to Islam. I hope the world’s Catholics don’t misunderstand me. In fact, I hope they see my overture as a compliment — we’d love to have him on our team, even though it’s a desperate concession. I mean, have you seen who’s on our team?

There’s no Muslim figure cHaroon Moghulomparable to Pope Francis, and certainly none with the kind of platform he enjoys. We Sunni Muslims used to have a Caliph, but not since 1924. Of course, we do have leaders who aspire to similar authority, including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, whose official titles include that of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

Sounds nice, right? Virtuous, humble, devotional: He leads by serving. And leads who? Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Christianity’s largest denomination. Saudi Arabia claims to be, and is often described as, the principal Sunni Muslim power, leading the world’s more than 1 billion Sunnis, though its government isn’t even chosen by its own citizens.

Ben Carson Campaign Responds After Outrage Over Comments on Islam

MYRTLE BEACH, SC - JANUARY 18:  Dr. Ben Carson speaks at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition convention on January 18, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A variety of conservative presidential hopefuls spoke at the gathering on the second day of a three day event.  (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

Amid calls from a national Muslim civil liberties group that Ben Carson should withdraw from the race after his comments on Islam in America, a top campaign official said Carson will likely reach out to members of the Muslim community.

The campaign official said Carson’s interview on “Meet the Press,” in which the Republican said he would not support a Muslim as president, should be “watched or read carefully.”

“He did not say that a Muslim should be prevented from running, or barred from running in any way,” Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts said.

Watts said the people would ultimately decide. “He [Carson] just doesn’t believe the American people are ready for that,” Watts said.

Responding to a question in the interview that aired Sunday, Carson said, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Asked if a candidate’s faith should matter to voters, Carson said, “I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.” Asked if he thought Islam is consistent with the Constitution, Carson, “No, I do not.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NBC NEWS 

Josh Earnest: Trump’s Muslim Answer Is Just Part Of Larger Problem With The GOP

During a press briefing, Earnest noted that people who believe the President, a Christian, is a secret Muslim are the base of Trump’s formidable support.

“Mr. Trump himself would be the first to tell you he’s got the biggest base of any Republican politician these days,” he told reporters. “Now, it is too bad that he wasn’t able to summon the same kind of patriotism that we saw from Sen. McCain, who responded much more effectively and directly when one of his supporters at one of his campaign events about seven years ago raised the same kind of false claims.”

Earnest faulted other GOP presidential candidates for failing to call out Trump’s “cynical strategy” of sympathizing with “birthers” to win their votes. Without mentioning him by name, Earnest singled out House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) for similar pandering.

“Other republicans who successfully used this strategy as well,” he said. “You will recall one Republican congressman told a reporter that he was ‘David Duke without the baggage.’ That congressman was elected by a majority of his colleagues in the House of Representatives to the third highest ranking position in the house.”

The press secretary then lit into Congressional Republicans over racially charged issues like voting rights and the Confederate flag.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TALKING POINTS MEMO