Thank you for publishing Judith Gunthorpe's letter (July 27 and 30) drawing attention to factual errors in a recent talk by Pastor Mujahid El Masih on Islam and Christianity. I too attended that talk and also was concerned about his approach and conclusions.
Many in the audience had hoped to hear his personal story of conversion from Islam to Christianity, but he glossed over it in favor of a speech about the Truth of Christianity and the Falsehood of Islam. He invited questions from the audience yet left them largely unanswered and was dismissive of any challenge to his viewpoint.
Like Ms. Gunthorpe, I don't claim expertise in Islam and the Quran, but I have lived alongside many peaceful Muslims, and I had hoped to come away from the talk with a sense that the common elements of the Christian and Muslim faiths could provide hope for the future. Instead, I left with a heavy heart from the doomsday scenario the pastor painted of violent Islamic domination of the world, and with frustration that he had compounded the sense of fear of Islam yet offered no solution.
I do not doubt for one moment the persecution Pastor El Masih and his fellow Christians suffered as a minority in his native Pakistan, and I admire his passion for his Christian faith and his missionary work. I do believe, however, that the greatest threat to peace is not from any one religious faith, but from fundamentalism and extremism in any form, be it Muslim, Christian, Jewish or of a political rather than spiritual ideology, and from those who seek to impose their version of "The Truth" on others, whether they accept it or not.
It is interesting that Pastor El Masih emphasized the Jihadist aspects of Islam, yet he did not explain his own name, which in Arabic means "Warrior of Christ," and therefore draws on the very vocabulary of war that he condemned in Islam.