In our world today Islam has come under the scrutiny of the Media like never before and it is important that an information campaign is lunched and executed to counter the disinformation and misconceptions about Islam that are being propagated by people sharing “insight” and analysis from a non Islamic bias. It is outside the scope of this short article to cover all or most of the negative misconceptions about Islam, but here a few we hope you can learn from and help spread the truth about about Islam.
#1. Islam does not preach violence
The holy book of Muslims, the Quran states clearly that: “Whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he has killed all of humanity” (Quran 5:32). Just because some people kill and abuse people in the name of Islam does not mean they are following the teaching of the religion. Islam holds life sacred and as thus, it is not to be taken lightly.
#2. Muslims love Jesus(PBUH) (called Prophet Isa in the Quran)
Although Muslims do not believe that Jesus is God or God’s son, they believe that he was born of the Virgin Mary and he was he prophet sent to the Jews. They believe that Jesus will come at the end of times and he is honoured by many. Muslims must believe and love all the messengers and Prophets sent by God and believe in the final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The holy Quran states: “Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have surrendered.” (Quran 2:136)
#3. ISIS does not represent Islam
The so-called Islamic State and Levant have taken over the media, claiming to represent Islam and Muslims. They claim that God commanded them to establish an Islamic state and by so doing, kill anyone who stands in their way. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Their claim is blasphemous, and they represent only themselves. Most Muslims are totally against what they do- the barbarism and violence they preach, is not the true Islam. Unfortunately, their actions have made lots of non-Muslims to have a wrong perception about this religion, leaving millions of innocent peaceful Muslims to face the consequences of their actions.
#4. Allah is not the Islamic God
Another misconception I often hear is that Muslim have their own God called ‘Allah’. This is wrong. Allah is simply the name for God in Arabic. Just like other people call God ‘Jehovah’ or even ‘God’ in English. It’s simply a matter of language. The Muslims believe and worship the same God that the Jews worship as well as the Christians.
#5. Arab does not mean Muslim
Many non-Muslims surprisingly think that all Arabs are Muslims, or that all Muslims are Arabs. That is quite ridiculous believe me. Here’s the statistics- Out of the 1.6 billion Muslims living worldwide, over 60% of them are from South and South East Asia, with Indonesia being the most populous Muslim country, followed by Pakistan and India. Saudi Arabia has only the sixteenth-largest Muslim population. From this, you can see that the countries with the highest Muslim populations are not even Arabic! In fact, many Arab countries have very large and historic Christian and Jewish populations.
#6. Muslims value education and are not ignorant
There are lots of Muslims with degrees in various fields of academy. Let us look at some great Muslims from the 13th or 14th centuries, who have contributed to science. Consider that the great Ibn Sina (popularly known as Avicenna, 980–1037CE) produced a medical text called ‘The Canon of Medicine’ that was used as a standard reference work in Europe well into the seventeenth century, Or that the painting that adorns the top of the central reading room in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress of the United States associates Islam with physics, likely a nod to the contributions of al-Kindi, Ibn al-Haytham, or al-Farabi, all important contributors to modern thinking about optics, physics, mechanics, and astronomy.
The list could go on and on, but point is, being a Muslim does not make one stupid or narrow minded. In fact, from the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sunan Ibn Majah, we find that the Messenger of Allah said: “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim”.
7. Islam does not oppress women
As opposed to the popular believe that Muslim women are oppressed, Islam uplifted the status of women. Historically, we see that women have generally been treated with little or no regard. Women in the West had the right to vote only a little over 60 Years ago. When Islam came to the Arabic people, it changed this. Back then, women were treated like objects. Islam gave women respect, and raised them. So much so that Islam says a man’s paradise lies at the feet of his mother. Of course the ‘hijab’ (that is covering of a woman’s body) is termed oppressive by non-Muslims. Truth is, the hijab is to give women respect and to save them from being sexually assaulted or abused. Muslim women are treated like jewels. Why do we hide our money in our wallets? Because we value it. That is the same principle. When you value something, you protect it because not everyone is worth seeing it. And in fact, Muslim men also have rules guiding their dress code.
Additionally, it’s important to realize the difference between cultural influences and religious policy. Many countries across the world, including Muslim countries have patriarchal cultures (in which men assume the role of the leader). Islam gives both men and women their rights and responsibilities, and there is no room for oppressing one another no matter who you are. Women have the right to learn, work, drive, inherit and so on.
#8. Muslims do not starve for an entire month every year
The holy month of Ramadan is a month in which Muslims all around the world observe fasting from dawn to dusk, pray more, give out charity and observe other acts of worship. They do all this to gain the pleasure of their maker. But no, it’s not starvation. Muslims eat early in the morning, and break their fast in the evening. They also cook very delicious meals for fast break, and it is always merry. At the end of the month, they have a feast during which they celebrate by eating very well, visiting one another, sharing love, being kind and charitable.
#9. Muslim men are not encouraged to practice polygamy
Although Islam permits a man to marry more than one wife (a maximum of 4), it does not encourage it. There are strict conditions a man must meet in order to marry more than one wife. The Quran says: “but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one…” (Surah an-Nisaa, 4:3).
#10. Muhammed (PBUH) is not the founder of Islam
The word ‘Islam’ means total submission to the will of God. That means, worshipping God and obeying all his commands. That being said, all the Prophets and messengers that came before Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) were followers of Islamic doctrine. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) therefore simply revived this believe, but did not invent it.
I recommend that before we draw conclusions, we should first endeavour to hear from different sides of the story. The media may report what they like, but it is up to us as individuals to be more open minded. No matter the wrong deeds Muslims commit, they are just human and imperfect. Islam is perfect.