First Published in the National Post, May 11 2012 

Re: The Problem With Calling The Koran ‘Anti-Semitic,’ Jonathan Kay, May 8.

While I appreciate Jonathan Kay’s attempt to clarify the charge against the East End Madrassah, I disagree with his analysis of Islamic teachings. He conveniently declared that “Islam’s traditionally negative take on Jews is troubling” and drew analogies between the Christian view of homosexuality and Islam’s view of Judaism. This juxtaposition implies that Islam inherently preaches anti-Semitism and considers the Jewish faith a moral vice. The Koran uses the honorary term “People of the Book” to refer to the Jews due to the shared scriptural and prophetic heritage of the two faiths. It recognizes Judaism’s dietary laws and allows interreligious marriage with the faith too. The Prophet Muhammad had Jewish in-laws as well. Stories of generosity and good will between him and the Jews are too many to recount here.

The Koran is not anti-Semitic because calling it such would have to mean declaring the Bible homophobic also. It isn’t anti-Semitic because it doesn’t preach hate. Yes, it has phrases that reprimand ancient Jews for worshipping the Golden Calf, 7th-century Jews for breaking treaties and contains commandments relating to war. These are criticisms which are time restricted and don’t formulate an absolute moral judgment on the Jewish people. The problem lies not with Islam but those that teach it. The challenge for religious institutions is to be able teach scripture academically with its historical context, without projecting one’s own prejudices through it.

Waleed Ahmed, Mississauga, Ont.

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