Muslim Oz and Jewish Nichols have common ancestor

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The Harvard Crimson reports on Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s DNA genealogy project that will be featured on a PBS series:

While working on the program, Gates learned that television personality and cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet C. Oz ’82, who is Muslim, and Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-award winning director Michael I. Nichols, who is Jewish, have a common ancestor.

“It’s sort of like the biblical story of Abraham,” said Gates, referencing the father of the monotheistic faiths and his two sons—Isaac, the founder of Judaism, and Ishmael, the founder of Islam.

Gates described this discovery as emblematic of the purpose of the project.

Writes my Muslim tipster: The vast differences posited between Muslims and Jews always annoyed me. My parents did almost keep a kosher kitchen. We loved books. In a strange rite derived I believe from Indian Muslim tradition, we were not allowed to step on a piece of paper or a book. It was considered blasphemous. It was described as stepping on the back of our mother. Today many Muslims and Jews argue for vast differences between the two on religio-political ideological grounds. Maybe one day Moshe and Mohammad can argue over who has the best hummus or how the semitic cousins have so much in common.

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