While I agree with Muhammad Taheri-Azar that the Quran ordered Muslims to fight against aggressions and against those who fight Islam, Mr. Azar-Taheri, who used a rented Jeep to hit students at UNC-CH last month, is misguided on at least three counts: (1) who to fight, (2) where to fight, and (3) interpretation of Quranic injunctions.

(1) When the followers of Quran fight, they fight only against aggressors. Muslims were ordered not to fight women, children, elder people, as well as any non-combatants. They were ordered not to destroy the land or disturb a man in worship. They were even ordered not to wage war at night so they would recognize the fighters from the non-fighters. Even when the current American administration continues to wage wars in which countless innocent Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine die daily, we are taught not to retaliate by killing innocent civilians.

(2) If today’s Muslims are to fight those who kill Muslims in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., they should declare their intention and fight them where the battle is taking place, i.e. Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan not UNC-CH!

(3) If Muhammad Taheri-Azar has read the Quran 15 times and still does not understand it, then there is a problem. The Quran is self explanatory once verses are properly understood in their context. If someone reads “half a verse” or a verse without linking it to the previous one and the following one, then misinterpretation is conceivable.

This is not a condition for the Quran only, but rather a condition for all other readable materials as well.

I would love to hear exactly which verses have inspired Mr. Taheri-Azar. I would love to show him and the world how he misunderstood these verses. It is very ironic that extremist Muslims and the extremist enemies of Islam have agreed on the same thing: misunderstanding Quran and/or abusing the Quran. While billions of Muslims read the Quran everyday and benefit from its purpose of directing their lives to fairness, justice and kindness, we find very few misguided individuals trying to justify their unjustifiable behavior and exercising their neurosis that leads to unreligious extremism.

Waleed Elhentaty

President, Muslim American Public Affairs Council