Confused no more
A few weeks ago I began learning about Islam at my public high school. My teachers left me quite confused as to what Muslims truly believe, with statements like, "Islam's Allah is Christianity's God." Then your Sept. 27 special issue on Islam and terrorism arrived in the mail, and I read it cover to cover. I now feel that I have a realistic view of Islam in general and the threat of terrorism posed by its extremists. I am very grateful for your clear and decisive reporting from a Christian perspective, without which I would have been very confused. - Abigail Hostetter, Dacula, Ga.
I have seen pictures involving young boys being brainwashed in training to be suicide bombers, the forced genital mutilation of young girls, and the cutting off of hands as a punishment for stealing. But not until I saw the photo of the proud Shi'ite Muslim mother, holding a symbolic knife and her bleeding baby, did the full depth of the horror come together. - Doris Dennis, Oakland, Ore.
Your special issue was outstanding. Thank you for being a certain voice in a time of increasing uncertainty. - Madelyn Higby, Towaco, N.J.
In love and truth
I just read "Tolerance vs. pluralism" and I say, "Amen." I think there is a similar form of thinking among Christians that says we should all set aside our differences and be unified. That leads to about the same thing as pluralism and waters down Christianity. Rather, what we need is love for our fellow man when speaking the truth. - Mike McKinley, Decatur, Ga.
I found your summary of world terrorist events over the last few decades very interesting, but was astounded that in all that time you could mention only two IRA atrocities, the first of these only in 1979 ("Appetite for evil," Oct. 27). The IRA has been the prototype for terrorism through most of the 20th century, intensifying its activities after 1968. Even bombs that devastated large sectors of the city of London, or the appalling Omagh bomb of three years ago, are ignored in your summary, let alone the steady procession of sectarian killings and murders of innocent people and security forces. The American people, with whom I stand wholeheartedly in the present "war" on terrorism, bear a dreadful responsibility (shared with British governments, especially this one, in their determination to show that terrorism pays) for financing the Irish terror machine, which has provided such an example to the world. This is in great measure down to ignorance: It is a pity to see this ignorance unaddressed. - Dugald Barr, London, England
I think your "30 Muslim leaders worth knowing about" in the Oct. 27 issue is an invaluable scorecard in keeping up with some of them who now appear on television with such increasing regularity. - David W. McCullough, Asheville, N.C.
Writing into their hands
I was very disappointed by "Twin-engine terror?" (Oct. 13). While terrorist attacks from small planes are a concern, such articles promote the fear and paranoia that terrorists want to spread. - Kyle S. Smith, Jackson, Calif.
Andre Seu is unable to call the war on terrorism "Good vs. Evil" ("True patriotism," Oct. 13). To those who object, I ask, Osama is evil but are we good? Forty million abortions, homosexuality promoted in public schools and in media, materialism driving our society, and we call ourselves good and Osama evil? Does political and religious freedom or oil and profits define our relationships with China, Northern Sudan, Saudi Arabia? Were we "good" when, at President Bush's urging, Congress abandoned the legislation to oppose the genocide, famine, and religious persecution in Sudan? - Barry Dean Williams, Eugene, Ore.
Your special issue on Islam did much to dispel the misconceptions that many of the media have been spreading since the War of September 11 started. You highlighted the vast differences between a Christian and even a "moderate" Islamic worldview, differences other media have chosen to miss. We do not seek a conflict between Western and Islamic civilizations, but I fear that we have been slow to realize that many Muslims are seeking one with us. As in Cold War I, there are too many on our side who, falsely believing in the innate goodness of mankind and therefore the general benignity of Islam, would weaken our resolve to contain, and when needed, fiercely combat Islamic totalitarianism. Likewise, while it is true that some of the Islamic complaints about Western society are justified, what your issue points out so well is that in terms of freedom and compassion, a corrupted and fading Christendom is still far, far superior to anything the Islamic worldview even wants to produce, much less has. On this score, the comparison of Islam and Communism is apt indeed. - Chris Hutchinson, Statesboro, Ga.
Too large, too graphic
Your special issue containing the photo of the bloodied baby and mother with a ceremonial knife was so disturbing that I closed the magazine and simply cannot open it again to try and read any of the articles. WORLD usually sits on our kitchen counter where any of our children (ages 7-17) can see it. It is no longer there. I understand your desire to accurately portray the extreme nature of Islamic fundamentalism, but this was too large, too graphic, and sabotaged your efforts to educate, at least in our home. - Katharine C. Olsen, Oaks, Pa.
Thank you for the excellent column, "Tolerance vs. pluralism" (Oct. 27). I was preparing my election sermon and this answered a key question that Christians need to understand. I only wish more pastors had the spiritual guts to speak out about political issues that have their roots in biblical morality. - Bruce Speer, Monroe, Wash.
Bookends of truth
Kudos to Joel Belz for his excellent commentary on "Tolerance vs. pluralism." His column and "Hate and tolerance" by John Piper served as great bookends of truth in a culture in desperate need of the One who is "the way, the truth, and the life." - Mike Horan, Inman, S.C.
Same word, different God
Thank you for the excellent issue on Islam and terrorism. As one who has lived in the Arab Muslim world, I appreciated Marvin Olasky's column ("Coalition, sure," Oct. 27). However, it is a disservice to Arabic-speaking Christians to treat the term Allah as belonging only to Islam; it is the Arabic term for God. The book of Genesis in the Arabic Bible begins, "In the beginning Allah created ..." The Old and New Testaments in Arabic are replete with the word. Whether Orthodox, Coptic, evangelical, or Reformed Arab Christians, they worship Allah. If we are to differentiate knowledgeably, we should refer to the Muslim or Islamic concept of Allah and not to Allah himself. After all, many Westerners have a false concept of God, but we don't cease to use the term when we worship or praise Him. - Helen Louise Herndon, St. Louis, Mo.
Give it a rest
I was a Christian until I was left behind by a modernized and protestantized Catholicism that left me with no sense of any spiritual dimension. I found a beautiful religion to take its place: Islam. In it God has perfected the religion of Adam all down through the history of mankind. Muhammad was a jewel among men and God's prophet. I don't go around disparaging Christianity, so why should you go around disparaging the most beautiful Islam? If some who call themselves Muslim are aberrant in their practices, that is a result of the deterioration of our entire world, not just one religion. You can't see through Muslim eyes, but I have seen through Christian and Muslim eyes and I tell you that it is time for you to give it a rest. - Cynthia Maurer, Wales, Mass.
Worse on the way
I read Joel Belz's "Preaching can wait?" of Oct. 13 before reading the column that caused such a disturbance ("Sinflation," Sept. 22). After reading them both, all I can say is I found absolutely nothing wrong with his tone in the first. Some friends and obviously well-meaning people have spoken out against what Mr. Belz so eloquently and appropriately said regarding this tragedy, and it is only too sad that they have missed the greater tragedy behind 9/11. Evil men are prone to do evil deeds. That is tragic. What's even more tragic is how America has abandoned her rich, godly heritage and is too blind to see that we have been under remedial judgments that began before the tragedy of 9/11. These judgments meant to correct our path have been ignored, but we shouldn't be so foolish to think that God will just let our sin and pride slip through now. I fear it will get much worse before it gets better. - Sam Greene, Palm Bay, Fla.
Dick Gephardt is the House Minority Leader (Oct. 27, p. 28). - The Editors