Nicholas Kristof writes today about a conference just held at Notre Dame, "The Quran in its Historical Context":

Were experiencing right now in Koranic studies a rise of interest analogous to the rise of critical Bible studies in the 19th century, said Gabriel Said Reynolds, a Notre Dame professor and organizer of the conference.

The Notre Dame conference probably could not have occurred in a Muslim country, for the rigorous application of historical analysis to the Koran is as controversial today in the Muslim world as its application to the Bible was in the 1800s.

Muslim scholars who are unable to speak on this subject in their home countries were able to discuss their work at the Notre Dame conference.It's interesting that such a gathering was held in the United States. I think that someday, Muslims in America will significantly influence Islam in general, much as the experience of American Catholicism was influential at Vatican II (in the decree on religious freedom). Mosques in the U.S. bring together a very diverse congregation of people from many nationalities, exhibiting a universality that is important in Islam but not often seen elsewhere. The experience of American Muslims can set an important example.

Paul Moses is the author, most recently, of The Italian Squad: The True Story of the Immigrant Cops Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia (NYU Press, 2023). He is a contributing writer. Twitter: @PaulBMoses.

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