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About those 72 Virgins...

One scholar...has raised eyebrows and hackles by suggesting that the “houri” promised to martyrs when they reach Heaven doesn’t actually mean “virgin” after all. He argues that instead it means “grapes,” and since conceptions of paradise involved bounteous fruit, that might make sense. But suicide bombers presumably would be in for a disappointment if they reached the pearly gates and were presented 72 grapes.

Nicholas Kristof, writing about an international conference at the University of Notre Dame that took place in April. The participants are taking an intellectual look at the Koran using the latest analytical tools and scholarship.