In an article titled “Lesson from Saudi Arabia ” (Dec. 9), Bates professor Loring M. Danforth asserted that many Americans harbor “dangerously inaccurate” ideas about Islam. But in light of the ideas he presented, I feel compelled to reply that his report is a dangerously false depiction of the religion, a politically correct whitewash.
Danforth states that the adherents of Islam, Judaism and Christianity all believe in what he is pleased to regard as “one God” and that they share a common religious tradition that includes the Torah, the Old Testament and the New — a notion that suggests that the differences dividing these theisms are ultimately unimportant.
In fact, the differences are all-important and ineradicable; and of the three religions, surely none is more insistent on this than Islam, which excludes all but Muslims from paradise and is determined to bring the whole world into subjection to Allah, whose hatred of non-Muslims undeniably permeates the Koran.
And yet Danforth doesn’t shrink from asserting that “Allah is the God of everyone, even people who don’t believe in him.” Insofar as Allah is regarded as the creator, that’s certainly true. But it’s obvious that Danforth means to suggest something more: that everyone is acceptable to him, irrespective of their beliefs — an idea perfectly alien to Islam proper.
“Islam is the religion of freedom,” Danforth dares to maintain — as if the Koran, hadith and 1,400 years of Muslim history didn’t decisively prove the contrary: that Islam is the religion of bondage and intolerance par excellence.
William LaRochelle, Lewiston