SPECULATION about the Magi is always delightful and Charterhouse allows us to carry the magic of Christmas into the New Year with his article on their "peculiar gifts" (January I I). It is thought by some that these gifts were the tools of the trade, materials which tiny competent soothsayer would carry around with him. The surrender of these gifts to Our Lord indicated that the Magi realised that, in the Christian era, there would be no need for further magic or augbries.
Both frankincense and myrrh were often worth more than gold, — valuable presents which may well have paid for the Holy Family s journey to warm and welcoming Egypt. Incidentally, Charterhouse must realise that the Muslims did not "destroy" Zoroastrianism! How harsh he is in his judgments of Islam! Many Zoroastrians may have converted to Islam, but there is still a Zoroastrian community in modern Persia. I remember meeting some Of them there.
Diana Richmond Durham City IN HIS reference to the destruction of Zoroastrianism by the Muslims, Chartcrhouse (January 11) seems to be implying — not for the first time — that Islam is always and by nature a destructive force. This is wrong. Zoroastrians were allowed by the Muslims to retain their belief, even though they rejected as heretical the former's ditheism. In this tolerance Zoroastrianism was treated on a par with Christianity and Judaism.
Conversion rather than coercion seems to be the cause of the waning importance of Zoroastrianism. But it is by no means destroyed: the figures show that there are perhaps as many as 60,0(X) still living in Iran. Until the recent revolution, the head of Shiraz University was a Zoroastrian, Finally. it might be added that if Zoroastrianism has a lofty morality and teaches charity, truthfulness and purity. So too does Islam.
Duminic Asquith Mel's, Frome, Somerset.