Reshma Khan's well-written piece on Jan. 15 in this paper, (“Dhul-Hijjah is the `Seasons of Sacrifice' for Muslims,” Page C3) reminds us of the tolerant face of Islam. Reza Asian's, “No God but God,” 2005, also does exactly that. Asian is not an Arab; he is Persian, immigrating to the United States after Shah Reza Pahlavi's fall. He has a master's in theology from Harvard and is a doctoral student at Santa Barbara. He travels extensively, including return trips to Iran. He keeps up a demanding speaking tour, including presentations to Unitarian churches throughout the United States.
By focusing on the Seventh Century, Asian emphasizes the parts of the Quran where the Prophet says he comes not to revoke the work of the other prior prophets such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and yes, Jesus, but rather to extend their teachings into his own age. Muhammad regarded Jews and Christians as protected peoples of the Book. Jihads were not to be conducted toward these protected peoples. How this relatively mild posture of Islam got twisted into the present intolerant manifestations we see today in Iraq and Iran constitutes the balance of the book.
A part of the present intolerance found in Islam can be laid at the doorstep of the Wahabi, a fundamentalist reform group that made a deal with Ibn Saud after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In return for Saudi military protection, the Wahabi gave the Saudi special religious positions by which they eventually became the keeper of the keys to the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. After the discovery of oil, Saudi Arabia became fabulously wealthy.
The irony of all this is that much of this wealth now flows into the coffers of Islamic terrorists throughout the world, including terrorists who seek to overthrow the Saudi royal family itself.
G. Alan Hickrod