Re: Examining Islam, letter to the editor, Jan. 24.
Letter-writer Jonathan Usher’s seeming rejection of the Qur’an (Letters, Jan. 24) because of some suras in it, looks like a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Yes, the Qur’an has problematic passages, but it remains the basis of belief and the foundation of faith for a billion-plus people. It inspired tolerant, inquiring and prosperous cultures like Muslim Spain in the past — cultures where original ideas and transmitted truths were passed on to us and are part of our heritage today.
Isolating passages does not do justice to the whole of any scripture. One must look at context and circumstance. Fanaticism has a flair for fine-tuning specifics but ends up with a bunch of trees instead of a forest. Thus, interfaith understanding requires seeing the Qur’an through Islam, more than Islam through the Qur’an. Islam, like every world religion, is more than its scripture.He's right, of course. Islam is more that its scripture. Islam is also the law--sharia--which, as Islam sees it, is supposed to rule uber alles.
Doug A. Couper, Milton, Ont.
As for "seeing the Qur'an through Islam"--that's an absolute crock. Why should non-Muslims see it that way when, clearly, that's not how practicing Muslims see it?
And re the alleged "tolerance" of "Muslim Spain": that's a function of ignorance and good PR. Here, for instance, is a more truthful account of those "golden" times, as cited by an expert on the subject, Andrew Bostom:
Expanding upon Jane Gerber’s thesis about the “garish” myth of a “Golden Age,”  the late Richard Fletcher (in his Moorish Spain) offered a fair assessment of interfaith relationships in Muslim Spain and his view of additional contemporary currents responsible for obfuscating that history: One might say the same of the NatPo letter--that it is little more tha a self-indulgent fantasy that has next to no basis in reality.
The witness of those who lived through the horrors of the Berber conquest, of the Andalusian fitnah in the early eleventh century, of the Almoravid invasion — to mention only a few disruptive episodes — must give it [i.e., the roseate view of Muslim Spain] the lie. The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility. … Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later). … In the second half of the twentieth century a new agent of obfuscation makes its appearance: the guilt of the liberal conscience, which sees the evils of colonialism — assumed rather than demonstrated — foreshadowed in the Christian conquest of al-Andalus and the persecution of the Moriscos (but not, oddly, in the Moorish conquest and colonization). Stir the mix well together and issue it free to credulous academics and media persons throughout the western world. Then pour it generously over the truth … in the cultural conditions that prevail in the west today the past has to be marketed, and to be successfully marketed it has to be attractively packaged. Medieval Spain in a state of nature lacks wide appeal. Self-indulgent fantasies of glamour … do wonders for sharpening up its image. But Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.