Raisins and terrorism. The Globe's Sunday Ideas section has an interesting profile by Lee Smith of Ibn Warraq, the pseudonym for an agnostic critic of Islam who is the author of a 1995 book called Why I Am Not a Muslim.
An anecdote: during Easter weekend in 2002, I covered the annual convention of American Atheists, which was being held in Boston that year. Warraq -- who spoke at the convention -- got off one of the best lines of the weekend. He noted that recent scholarship suggests the Koran promises holy warriors "white raisins of crystal clarity" rather than 72 virgins. The lesson, he said, was obvious: terrorists should "abandon their culture of death and concentrate on getting laid 72 times in this world."
Smith enlists Khaled Abou El Fadl, a scholar of Islamic law, to critique Warraq. El Fadl participated this past April in a roundtable-style piece on the future of the US role in Iraq, which you can read here.
El Fadl also wrote a cover essay for the Boston Review this past spring titled "Islam and the Challenge of Democracy."
Warning to Mac users: for some reason the piece displays in Zapf Dingbats if you try opening it up in Safari. Mozilla seems to work fine.
Everybody's Fair and Balanced (TM)! A weblog called Blah3.com is compiling a list of blogs that have adopted the "Fair and Balanced" label since Fox News sued Al Franken over the title of his new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. (Via Joe Conason; sub req.)