Recently the Jewish Journal carried an article by one of my teachers, Rabbi Dr. Reuven Firestone, Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College (HUC). It reminded me that he has written books and articles that are quite accessible and might interest some of you.
I first met Dr. Firestone in the context of a class in which he taught me how to read Mikraot Gedolot – the traditional commentaries on Torah, all neatly bound together in a few volumes. I enjoyed learning with him, and when I finally reached the point that I had the option of elective courses, I took every class on Islam that he offered.
I had many good teachers at HUC, and a few great ones. Dr. Firestone is among the greats. I admired the courage of his scholarship, because he did not just sit in Los Angeles reading about Islam. He spent a sabbatical in Cairo (this was before the revolution) He took his whole family with him. Even then, it was not a friendly place for Jews, and he has a realistic view of Jewish-Islamic relations.
Much of the information about Islam that we get from the news media and politicians is sadly ignorant. Talking heads quote the Quran and hadith literature without any understanding or context, much the way antisemites quote snippets of Talmud. These pundits don’t read Arabic, haven’t studied the literature, and don’t understand what they are quoting.
So if I have tantalized you, if you would like to learn more about Islam from a reliable source, let me suggest these articles and books by Dr. Firestone:
“Heads of the Hydra” (Jewish Journal article)
“No, Pamela Geller, the Quran is not Anti-Semitic” (The Forward)
An Introduction to Islam for Jews
JIhad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam
Lehrhaus 360 Lecture “War and Peace, Jewish Perspectives” (VIDEO)
8 thoughts on “Meet An Expert on Islam”
Thank you so much for an excellent resource, very needed to educate and debunk islamophobic discourse that is becoming sadly perversive.
Thank you, Otir! Islamophobia is a scourge in this world, for sure. Shabbat shalom!
How timely! And also feels beshert, I was just yesterday recommending Rabbi Firestone’s book, Children of Abraham, an introduction to Judaism for Muslims, to a Muslim gentleman who wanted to learn more about Judaism. I was so thrilled a few years ago to discover this book as I think it is important to come at religion in a way that is accessible for the reader.
Thank you for this terrific list to help people get a better understanding of Islam — beyond the headlines.
And this is why I read you faithfully. You frequently offer good for-the-student-who-wants-to-learn more follow-on information from sources I haven’t previously seen. Your tone is always calm and reassuring.
Thank you, Diana! That’s what I hope to accomplish, in a nutshell. Shabbat shalom!
the above link to ‘heads of the hydra’ took me to a Britannica article, so here is a link to the Jewish Journal article: http://www.jewishjournal.com/cover_story/article/heads_of_the_hydra
Meredith, thank you. I will repair it as soon as I can get to my computer.