Understanding Islam

Fazlur Rahman, living in the West and reading about events happening in the Islamic world, is upset about the effect these facts have on the attitudes and behavior of people who become aware of them. ("Muslim faith, misunderstood," opinion page July 11).

I am living in Iran and have seen many events take place, all under the banner of Islam. These events have taken place under the supervision and active support of the ayatollahs, who, as everyone in the Muslim world knows, are men whose knowledge of Islam is complete. These ayatollahs are running Iran under Islamic law. Under this Islamic law I would like to share the following:

1. Minorities are treated like fourth-class citizens, according to Islamic law. Mr. Rahman should study them so he can know whether the clerics have understood the Muslim faith.

2. Members of the weaker sex are in all respects treated as second-class citizens. Laws regarding dress code, inheritance, blood money, marriage, divorce, and a myriad of other regulations, if Rahman should study them, would convince him that all are not born equal. There is a whole chapter in the Koran that details rights of women. The ayatollahs have followed every written word.

3. The situation is not better in other Islamic countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc.

In this age of technology, information travels fast and spreads wide. The problem is that a Bangladeshi or an Afghan or an Iranian living in the West does not like reports of what is happening in his home country under the name of religion, especially if what is happening is in contrast with the culture of his host country.

What happens is that individuals like Rahman come up with explanations trying to convince the audience that the reality is what it is not.

I personally think that all are born equal of whatever race, religion, or color, and that in this modern world all should go by this principle even if the Koran says otherwise.

Farhang Abrishami Tehran, Iran

Regarding "Muslim faith, misunderstood": The Taliban episode should be seen though the prism of Afghan culture, its history, and world politics.

Certainly, there is no denying the mistakes of Islamic zealots. They react to non-Islam retrogressively. To a few, it is fearful to lose one's identity. To some extent it is the desperate attempt of the radicals to carve an ideological niche for themselves, conjuring a rigid image of Islam.

It reminds me of the Muslim reaction to English education when the British colonialists first came to India in the 18th century. The then-recently dethroned Muslims rejected English education while the Hindus gladly accepted it, spearheading a Bengal renaissance after a few decades.

The time has come to review our worn-out outlook and to embrace a new vision about Islam in the changing world.

Monirul I. Khan Professor of Sociology, Univ. of Dhaka Bangladesh

Many men not taught to dominate

While it is great that Latino Americans want to strengthen their ties to their families, it is unfortunate that in so doing, they are apologizing for being male. That is the impression given in your July 16 article "Latinos redefine what it means to be 'manly.' "

Many men have never been "taught to dominate women and children." Nor are we all abusers, as one in the Latino movement suggests by saying that most of his compadres were beaten by their fathers.

Drew Long Memphis, Tenn.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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