Recently I got an email from one of the most revered and hallowed academic institutions in America, offering help. Intrigued by the prospect that the Middle East Studies Association (or MESA Nostra, as Hugh calls it) may not have the stranglehold on the academic study of Islam and jihad that it endeavors to have, of course I followed up.
Benjamin Green remembers reading about Islam as a boy, perhaps for the first time in a “Kid’s World Almanac of Records and Facts,” where Islam was said to align closely with Judaism and Christianity. His interest was intensified in graduate school after encountering an otherwise congenial and pleasant American Shi’ite who expressed a desire that, if he had the courage and opportunity, he would kill Salman Rushdie.
This otherwise friendly gentleman followed up with “wouldn’t you do the same to someone who insulted the Virgin Mary?” Benjamin responded that Jesus taught him to love and pray for his critics rather than killing them. This encounter helped open Benjamin’s eyes to what might obvious to some — that the content of one’s beliefs has practical implications. Different beliefs can lead to vastly different results with potentially devastating consequences.
After teaching religion at the college and university level for several years, Benjamin re-donned his student cap to pursue advanced studies in Islam at one of the world’s top universities. He began following Jihad Watch, he tells me, after reading books by our old friend Gregory M. Davis and by me, and he says that he “was attracted to Robert’s attempt at ‘Islamo-realism.'”
Benjamin is interested in Islam both theoretically and practically, addressing its full range of teaching and practices: good, the bad, and the ugly. He thus supports Islamic reform, including the right of Muslims to abandon Islam without reprisal, and honest and frank engagement with tough issues.
And so I am now pleased to introduce Benjamin Green, a scholar of religion who has taught multiple classes in his field at the university level. An attempted practitioner of Islamo-realism, Benjamin is presently pursuing advanced studies relating to Islam at a place that would surprise you if I named it, and whose officials would be surprised, unpleasantly so, by Benjamin’s new side gig. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.