Andy McIntosh (“Islamic history, words at odds,” Community Forum, Aug. 24), posed questions to Muslims, and I am more than happy to respond, in efforts to dispel myths about Islam and counter ignorance and Islamophobia.

The Quran, like other scriptures, cannot be understood except within its context. A verse in the Quran that Mr. McIntosh quoted specifically refers to Muslim armies involved in a defensive battle.

Similarly, one verse in the Bible can easily be taken out of context. It says, “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep…” (1 Samuel 15:3)

Islam forbids aggression and, like Christianity, has rules for a just war. Those rules are limited to self-defense or protecting people who encounter injustice, as stated in the following verses in the Quran:

“Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loves not aggressors.” (2:190)

Additionally, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not kill women or children or noncombatants and do not kill old people or religious people. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees and do not poison the wells of your enemies.”

Just as the Bible has been abused by fanatics to justify the Crusades, slavery and the Holocaust, so have fanatics abused the Quran to further their murderous agenda.

Islam, like other religions, teaches respect, peace and tolerance for everyone. I also wish peace on Mr. McIntosh and followers of all faiths.

Hussam Ayloush
Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Southern California


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