Top 10 Misconception about Islam
All credits to Islamgate
Muslims are violent terrorists and/or extremists.
Perhaps currently, this would be the biggest misconception about Islam. Inappropriate media hype and bad journalism, based on subjective stereotypes, are the root cause. When a gunman attacks a mosque in the name of Judaism, a Catholic IRA guerrilla sets off a bomb in an urban area, or Serbian Orthodox militiamen rape and kill innocent Muslim civilians, one must be careful not to use these random acts of violence to stereotype an entire belief system. The media often suggest the acts are a result of the perpetrators religious beliefs; however, this is seldom true. It has become commonplace for media outlets to pair the description of an Islamic or Muslim fundamentalist with violent acts, creating a false perception that all Muslims or followers of the Islamic faith are violent.
Often dictators and politicians will use the name of Islam for their own perverse purposes. It is important for readers and those who consume media reports to consider the information source and recognize that Islamic teachings promote peace, contrary to what many media reports may imply. Islam literally means ‘submission to God’ and, ironically, given the subjective, stereotypical media hype, is derived from a root word meaning ‘peace’.
While it is true that to the ignorant Islamic teachings may seem exotic or extreme to those unfamiliar with its basic tenets who are rooted in the modern world; it does, in fact, promote peace and tolerance. In contrast with Islam, Christianity and Judaism generally do not have the same prominence in the day-to-day activities of those living in the West. Islam is embraced as a ‘way of life’ for Muslims and there is no division between the secular and the sacred in their lives. Similar to Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or for those who have been forcibly expelled from their homes. That said, it prescribes strict rules of combat, which prohibits the harming of civilians and destruction of crops, property, trees and livestock.
Islam does not permit the killing of innocent people.
The Quran says:
“Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors.”
“If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that hears and knows all things.”
War, therefore, is regarded as a last resort, and is subject to rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law.
The term ‘jihad’ literally means ‘struggle’. Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. External combat and the inner struggle of the soul, which everyone wages against egotistic desires as they seek inner peace.
In terms of war ethics, there is historical evidence that suggests treated those they defeated humanely. In La Civilization Arabe, French historian and sociologist Gustav Le Bon affirmed that the world had never known a conqueror more merciful than Muslims.
Islam oppresses women.
Many of these countries do not follow Shari’ah (Islamic law) and have introduced their own cultural interpretation of gender equity.
Islam, on the other hand, acknowledges that men and women have distinct roles and equity between the two is laid down in the Quran and through the actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Islam regards a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A Muslim groom offers a marriage gift to his bride for her own personal use and she keeps her original family name rather than taking her husband’s. Both men and women are expected to dress in a modest and dignified manner. The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said:
“The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and kindest to his wife.”
Violence of any kind towards women is not tolerated in Islam, and Muslims are forbidden to force a woman to do something against her will. In Islam, marriage is viewed as a legal agreement that enables either partner to define conditions. Marriage customs vary widely from country to country. Divorce is not common, although it is acceptable as a last resort. According to Islam, a Muslim girl cannot be forced to marry against her will; however, her parents may suggest young men they deem suitable as suitors.
Muslims worship a different God.
Allah is the Arabic word for God. Allah, for Muslims, is the greatest and most inclusive of the Names of God, it is an Arabic word of rich meaning, denoting the one and only God and ascribing no partners to Him. It is exactly the same word which the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh) and the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God.
In fact, God has an identical name in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Allah is the same God worshiped by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Muslims believe that Allah’s sovereignty is to be acknowledged in worship and in the pledge to obey His teaching and
Commandments, which were conveyed through His messengers and the prophets sent at various times, and in many places, throughout history. However, it should be noted that in Islam God is the One and Only. He, the Exalted, does not get tired, does not have a son (i.e. Jesus) or associates, nor does He have human-like attributions as found in other faiths.
Islam was spread by the sword and intolerant of other faiths.
Many textbooks depict an image of an Arab horseman, carrying a sword in one hand and the Quran in the other, conquering and forcibly converting followers. However, this is not an accurate portrayal of history since it is well-documented that Islam has always respected the right to freedom of religion. The Quran says:
“God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loves those who are just.
Freedom of religion is laid down in the Quran:
“There is no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam). The right direction is distinctly clear from error”.
Christian missionary, T.W. Arnold claimed the spread of Islam was unstoppable: “Of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs (Islamic rulers of early days) chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism …”
Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws designed by the minorities themselves. The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether the person is Muslim or not.
Racism is not a part of Islam, the Quran speaks only of human equality and how all peoples are equal in the sight of God.
“O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in Piety. God is All-Knowing, All- Aware.
All Muslims are Arabs
The world’s Muslim population is estimated to be roughly 1.5 billion. That means, one out of three or four people in the world is Muslim. There are a vast range of races, nationalities, and cultures around the globe from the Philippines to Nigeria that are united by the Islamic faith.
Only about 13 per cent of the world’s Muslims live in the Arab world, with Indonesia serving as home to the world’s largest Muslim community. Most Muslims live east of Pakistan, 30 per cent live in the Indian subcontinent, 20 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17 per cent in Southeast Asia, 13 per cent in the Arab world and 10 per cent in Russia ,CIS countries and China. Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan make up 10 per cent of the non-Arab Middle East. Although there are Muslim minorities in almost every area, including Latin America and Australia, they are most numerous in Russia and its newly independent states, India and central Africa. There are about 6 million Muslims in the United States.
In the next article we will discuss five more misconception which are widely spread among people especially in the west such as the concept of polygamy, until then I welcome your questions or comments”
The Nation of Islam is a Muslim group
Islam and the “Nation of Islam” (NOI) are separate and distinct concepts. The NOI is a political organization and its members are not limited to a single faith. Many Muslims believe this group is one of many cult-like organizations, using the name of Islam for its own gain. While they may share the same language and jargon, they are radically different concepts. Many would suggest that the Nation of Islam is a misnomer and it would be more accurate to refer to this belief system as Farrakhanism, after the name of its propagator, Louis Farrakhan.
Any serious student of Islam has a duty to investigate and find the true Islam. Muslims believe there are only two authentic sources that bind Muslims – the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s Hadith. Teachings that contradict, or are at variance with the direct understanding of fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam based on the Quran and authentic Hadith are those of pseudo-Islamic cults. Baha’ism, which is an off-shoot of Islam, does not claim to be Islam, nor do its followers consider themselves Muslims.
All Muslim men marry four wives.
The religion of Islam was revealed to different societies at different times and accommodates a wide range of social practices. It acknowledges that some circumstances may warrant the taking of more than one wife but the right is not absolute; according to the Quran, it is acceptable on the condition that the husband is scrupulously fair in the treatment of his wives. No woman can be forced into this kind of marriage if they do not wish it, and they also have the right to exclude it in their marriage contract.
Polygamy, while permitted, is neither mandatory, nor encouraged. Images of sheikhs with harems are not consistent with Islam: a man is allowed, at most, four wives and only if he can fulfill the stringent conditions of treating each fairly and providing each with separate housing etc. Permission to practice polygamy is not associated with mere satisfaction of passion. Rather, it is associated with compassion toward widows and orphans. Historically, the Quran limited and put conditions on the practice of polygamy among Arabs and other nations at a time when it was not uncommon for men to have ten or more wives which they considered their “property”.
It is both honest and accurate to say that Islam regulated and limited this practice, and made it more humane by instituting equal rights and status for all wives. Taken as a whole, the Qur’anic decrees discourage polygamy unless a necessity for its practice exists. In fact, while a small percentage of Muslims do practice polygamy, generally Islam promotes monogamy. Islam’s acceptance of polygamy is consistent with Islam’s realistic view of the nature of man and woman and of various social needs, problems and cultural variations.
Islam is inherently flexible in marital matters; it is also frank and straightforward in dealing with practical problems. Rather than requiring hypocritical and superficial compliance, Islam delves deeper into the problems of individuals and societies, and offers legitimate, sound solutions which can be more beneficial than ignoring the realities that demand such flexibility. A second wife that is legally married and treated kindly is better off than a mistress without any legal rights.
Muslims are a barbaric, backward people.
The relative simplicity of Islamic doctrine is partially responsible for its rapid and peaceful spread. Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet (pbuh),
‘Seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman’.
(The prophet Hadith)
The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thoughts with old, generated significant advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature and history. Many crucial systems, including algebra, Arabic numerals and the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. The development of sophisticated navigational instruments, which enabled European voyages of discovery including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps, can also be attributed to Islamic scholars.
Muhammad was the founder of Islam and Muslims worship him.
He used to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near Mecca. At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad (pbuh) received his first revelation from God, through the Angel Gabriel. The revelations he received, which continued for 23 years, are known as the Quran. As soon as he began reciting Gabriel’s words – preaching the truths that God had revealed to him – he and his small group of followers were bitterly persecuted. The persecution grew so fierce that in the year 622 God commanded them to emigrate.
This event, the Hijra ‘migration’, during which they left Mecca for the city of Medina, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Mecca, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet died, at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China. He died with less than five small possessions to his name.
While Muhammad (pbuh) was chosen to deliver the message, he is not considered the “founder” of Islam, since Muslims consider Islam to be the same divine guidance sent to all peoples before. Muslims believe that God provided all the prophets, including Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus and others were provided divine guidance to lead their peoples. Every prophet was sent to his own people, but Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to all of mankind. Muslims believe Muhammad is the last and final messenger sent to deliver the message of Islam and they revere and honor him (pbuh) for all he went through and his dedication, but they do not worship him.
“O Prophet, verily we have sent you as a witness and a bearer of glad tidings and a Warner and as one who invites unto God by His leave and as an illuminating lamp.
Muslims don’t believe in Jesus or any other prophets.
The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows:
“Behold!” the Angel said, “God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in elderliness, and shall be of the righteous.” She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?” He said: “Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be!” and it is”
Jesus (u) was born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam (u) into being without a father:
“Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, ‘Be!’ and he was.”
During his prophetic mission Jesus (u) performed many miracles. The Quran tells us that he said:
“I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breath into it and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God’s leave.”
Neither Muhammad (pbuh) not Jesus (u) came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it.
In the Quran Jesus (u) is reported as saying that he came:
“To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey Me.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“Whoever believes there is no god but Allah, alone without partner, that Muhammad (pbuh) is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven.”
(Hadith related by Bukhari).