The Rev. Thomas Parrish (Readers Write, March 1) claims to be a scholar of the Qur’an and the hadith, yet he claims that “later” passages calling for “war and killing” abrogate “earlier” passages requiring “peace and justice.” He may have studied the text, but not the context of the religious writings.

The Qur’an was codified during the reign of the Third Caliph, Uthman. The verses of the Qur’an are not arranged in historical sequence, but rather by length. The longest Sura (chapter), The Cow, is first, and the shorter chapters come at the end. Thus “earlier” and “later” have very little meaning if Parrish is referring to the order of passages in the Qur’an.

There is a great deal of scholarship regarding the probable historical order of Qur’anic passages, with no general agreement. However, the passages relating to “war and killing” most certainly referred to the historical period when the forces of the prophet, then in exile, were battling the animist believers of Mecca — a battle that they eventually won. Generalization to the whole of the religion is ahistoric, and inaccurate.

William O. Beeman, Minneapolis

STATE BUDGET SURPLUS

Use it wisely. (Dare you to define that.)

As a taxpayer and small-business owner, I beseech the Minnesota Legislature to not try to send the budget surplus back. Instead, learn the lesson from the late 1990s. You cannot see the future, and given the mounting gridlock and fighting at the national level, we can fully expect the federal government to be shut down one or two times before the economy is fully crashed leading up to the 2016 elections. That may sound pessimistic, but as a business owner, I have to look out and plan on how to keep my company running and employees paid when the next downturn arrives. You need to do the same for the state. So spend some, save some, tweak some, but do not make the major changes that will leave the state unprepared for a not so rosy future.

Craig S. Wilson, Arden Hills

• • •

Some legislators say the state should run its finances like families do. When families are working, they spend money on clothes, cars, appliances, etc. The governor’s plan for spending the current surplus on our roads and bridges (putting more people to work while improving our safety) and on education to close the achievement gap makes a lot of sense.

As for raising the gas tax to raise additional funds for our highways, index it to the statewide average cost of gas. As the cost of gas goes up, the amount of the tax goes down. That’s a win-win situation for all.

Luther Schmidt, Bloomington

• • •

The photograph of Dayton that accompanied the Feb. 28 headline announcing the state’s $1.9 billion budget surplus shows a man grinning broadly. But why is this man smiling? Does this extra cash in the bank mean our state government suddenly became more productive? More efficient? Did the state do anything to earn this extra money such that there would be a reason to celebrate? Of course not! It simply means our governor’s tax policies took nearly $2 billion more out of our pockets than it needed to run an already bloated state government. Rather than offering smiles, we should have been given an apology — and some of our money back.

Chuck Spevacek, Minneapolis

• • •

I just read in the Star Tribune that House Speaker Kurt Daudt supports using the state budget surplus for “unspecified tax relief.” Let me make myself perfectly clear: I do not want your “tax relief,” specified or unspecified. The “tax relief” passed by the last Republican governor is how we got into the gigantic budget hole that we’ve now just barely climbed out of. Do you guys ever learn? Do you have no new ideas whatsoever? When the economy is down, your answer is “tax relief.” When it’s up, your answer is — wait for it — “tax relief.” In either case, your one brilliant idea, which hasn’t changed since about 1980, inevitably forces you to do things like steal money from the public schools to close the deficits you create. Maybe you are counting on voters to forget that sort of thing, but I don’t think they have. So please, let’s have no more pandering talk of “tax relief.” Invest the money wisely, and if anything’s left over, do what every sensible Minnesota family does: save it for a rainy day. This isn’t rocket science.

Michael Kidd, Northfield

• • •

I think it’s interesting that Dayton’s Minnesota state budget has a surplus of $1.9 billion after a slight tax increase for the top 1 percent and Scott Walker’s Wisconsin state budget is in a $2 billion deficit after giving tax breaks to the top 1 percent.

Also, Walker is trying to break the unions in Wisconsin, giving residents the right to work for less and turning the place into a cold Mississippi. Minnesota is not and has the best economy in the region.

Matthew Nelson, Bloomington

 

NETANYAHU’S VISIT

A propagandist or an alert statesman?

I disagree with the Feb. 28 letter writer who claimed that the people of Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District are not being represented by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison because of his refusal to attend the speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress on Tuesday. As one of the vast majority who voted for Ellison, I feel his absence sends the message I’d like to deliver to Netanyahu for all the reasons articulated by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (“Why I won’t go to Netanyahu’s speech,” Star Tribune.com, Feb. 27) and also because the speech is apt to be false propaganda, as indicated by the contradiction by Netanyahu’s own spy agency, Mossad, of claims he made about Iran (with the cartoon bomb) to the United Nations in 2012.

Paul Oman, Brooklyn Center

• • •

We have heard from the appeasers, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, the reincarnations of Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax, of the Munich Agreement from the pre-World War II era. On Tuesday, we will hear from another voice, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the voice will be that of a statesman from that era, Winston Churchill.

Dan Cohen, Minneapolis

 

FOSSIL FUELS

You can try to quit them, but good luck

A March 1 letter ended with the statement: “Unless we stop burning fossil fuels, the people, critters and plant life on this planet will be in peril. Do you want the deniers deciding for you?”

We need more information! After putting in solar panels and getting the thermostat at 40 at night and 50 during the day and wearing coats most of the time in the house, we found that the solar doesn’t provide enough energy, so we still have to rely on electricity part of the time. Would the letter writer please let us know how she avoids using electricity or gas for heat and light and where she finds a car that is powered by solar? Does she make sure that the grocery store gets its groceries via a solar-powered truck? She is amazing; I know of no one else who avoids using energy derived from fossil fuels. Would she please let us know how she was able to achieve that?

Gil Anderson, Eden Prairie