SALMA Shah's letter (Write Back, August 3) is very misleading. But this is to be expected as no one likes to say bad things about their cherished beliefs.
Her statements that the "Koran forbids all forms of terrorism" and Islam is "the religion of peace" do not fit well with lines like "strike terror into their hearts, strike at their necks" (8:12); "fight those who do not believe in Allah" (9:29); "slay the unbelievers wherever you find them" (9:5), and many others that insult unbelievers, threaten them with hell, or incite violence against them. Islam's other texts, the Hadith, are no better, containing gems such as "I have been made victorious with terror" (said Mohammed, Bukhari, 4:52:220), and Mohammed himself personally participated in what would today be called war crimes.
Mohammed was a failed preacher who turned to violence. He began by teaching peace, then defensive actions, and then, with armies, going on the offensive.
Passages reflecting all these stages are in the Koran, but the latest (ie violent) ones cancel and replace the earlier peaceful ones. They are the ones that apply now.
One has to ask why if Allah is so great he did not foresee the trouble that would follow and invent a religion that would avoid these problems and be readily and rapidly accepted by all, instead of by just a fifth of humanity after 1,400 years - and even then often only after violent conquest and with schisms and internecine fighting.
This problem vanishes if one views Islam as the personality cult of a seventh century warlord. Then the terrorism, intolerance and misogyny all make sense.
Finally, Mrs Shah is misleading in another respect. Her religious leader is the head of the Ahmadiyya sect, the following of which she inflates about tenfold.
To give them credit, they are a peaceful bunch, but they are to Islam as the Mormons are to Christianity: a fringe offshoot, rejected as heretical by the mainstream. They do not represent Islam.
DR STEPHEN MORETON