10 Misconceptions About IslamFebruary 3, 2020 2023-11-26 12:54
10 Misconceptions About Islam
10 Misconceptions About Islam
10 Misconceptions About Islam
Monday, March 30, 2020
Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, boasting just under two billion adherents. It also holds the distinction of being the fastest growing religion in the world. Studies suggest it will have surpassed Christianity as the leading faith by 2070. But despite the ever-increasing number of Muslims, Islam remains arguably the most misunderstood of all religions. This is particularly true in the West, where Islam has been wrongly associated with terrorism and other heinous crimes.
Even in Middle Eastern countries, where Islam is more often than not the national religion, the laws and teachings of the Quran are sometimes misunderstood. They are misinterpreted, if not intentionally maligned, to justify the questionable antics of the country’s leaders. In this article, we’re going to be looking at common mistakes made by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Here are ten misconceptions about Islam.
1. Muslims Worship Muhammad
Most non-Muslims assume that Islam follows a similar pattern to Christianity, with Jesus swapped out for Muhammadﷺ. While it is true that Islam and Christianity share a number of beliefs, Muslims do not worship anybody other than Allah. This includes Muhammadﷺ. Islamic doctrine teaches that Muhammadﷺ was a prophet of Allah, just as Moses, Noah, Abraham, and many other Biblical figures were prophets of Allah. Muhammadﷺ was greatly favored by Allah, which is why he was chosen to bring forth the Quran over all other men of his time. As great as he was, however, Muhammadﷺ was a mere mortal. He was not the Son of God or the earthly embodiment of God and, as such, should not be worshiped. As the Quran tells us time and time again, Allah is the sole being worthy of praise and should not be overlooked in favor of His prophets.
2. Muslims Don’t Believe In Jesus
As mentioned in the previous section, many non-Muslims assume that Islam simply replaces Jesus with Prophet Muhammadﷺ and completely disregards the former. This could not be further from the truth. All Muslims accept Jesus as a messenger of God–and, moreover, one of the five great Prophets of Resolve. But Muslims don’t share all of the beliefs of their Christian brothers. While Christianity teaches that Jesus was the Son of God, as well as being God Himself, Islamic tradition states that Jesus was another in a long line of prophets. Indeed, He was born of a virgin, but He was not the Son of God. Rather, He was sent here by Allah, as all prophets were, to spread the message of monotheism and help guide souls towards eternal salvation. Muslims accept most reports of Jesus’ ministry as outlined in the New Testament. They do not, however, believe that Jesus was crucified and later rose from the dead. Instead, Muslims believe that another was crucified in Jesus’ place and this prophet of God ascended into Heaven unharmed.
3. Islam Is Sexist
One of the heaviest accusations thrown against Islam that it is sexist. Anti-Islam propaganda claims that the Quran describes women as second-class citizens who have no purpose beyond catering to every man’s every whim. As anybody who is familiar with Islamic doctrine will tell you, this is incorrect. In Surah 3, ayah 195, Allah clearly states: “Be you male or female, you are equal to one another.” Later in the Quran, we are told that believing men and women will enter Paradise “without the slightest injustice.” Many supposedly Islamic countries also believe the Quran to hold men in higher regard than women. These are the countries which force female Muslims to entirely cover their body, including their face, using a burqa. Despite the burqa’s close ties to countries at the center of the Islamic world, most Islamic scholars agree that it is not mandatory wear for women. In reality, the Quran encourages women to wear a simple headscarf and modest clothing- known colloquially as a “hijab” – in order to conform with its teachings on modesty. At no point in the Quran or the hadith are women commanded to cover their face. It is important to remember, however, that while Islam recognizes men and women as being equal, it also assigns each specific roles. Men and women have different tasks to execute in order to ensure Allah’s divine plan comes to fruition.
4. Prophet Muhammadﷺ Had An Ailment of the Mind
When the Prophet Muhammadﷺ first began sharing stories of his meetings with the angel Gabriel and the revelations which would eventually make up the Quran, people were quick to brand him as a lunatic. This was a tactic used by them to undermine his message and even himself. Indeed, it seems as though Prophet Muhammadﷺ himself doubted his senses at first. It is for this reason that the Quran contains several verses directly reassuring the Prophetﷺ that he was not being deceived. When the Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ message began to have a following, the ruling parties of Mecca grew concerned. They came to view him as a political threat who had the potential to overthrow them with his teachings. In an attempt to stifle the growth of Islam, they began to circulate stories of Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ mental instability. These stories ultimately proved ineffective, but their failure was not enough to prevent the Vatican from employing a similar tactic. As Islam spread across the Middle East, Christian forces attempted to discredit Prophet Muhammadﷺ by branding him as a fraud and a charlatan. Even Jewish writers took to referring to him as “ha-Meshuggah,” meaning “The Madman.” According to those who had direct contact with Muhammadﷺ, however, these tales of his mania are entirely unfounded. Even his family and friends, who had been concerned for his mental health at the beginning of his ministry, came to accept him as a messenger of Allah. The evidence, they said, was just too great to ignore. Additional proof of Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ soundness of mind and body can be found in his successful commanding of Muslim troops in the Conquest of Mecca. How could an individual plagued by mental illness lead a relatively small army in battle against far more powerful figures and emerge victorious? But not only victorious, but just, wise, dividing the spoils of war in a way to soothe the hearts of the conquered and speaking to those who were his loyal army with sincerity and deep love to comfort their unease. It is inconceivable that a mentally unstable individual could achieve any of the great things achieved by Prophet Muhammadﷺ during his lifetime.
5. Muslims Want To Bring Shariah Law To The West
Shariah law is certainly one of the more controversial aspects of Islam. Formed over hundreds of years, it dictates everything from how often a Muslim should pray to how family disputes should be settled. In many areas, traditional Shariah law is quite diplomatic. In others, however, it is not. Certain punishments under Shariah law can seem quite barbaric, especially in Islamic countries which have lost touch with the true meaning of the religion. These hadd (corportal penalties) are only enacted in a society in which there is economic, social and political justice–where crime is purely out of mischievous and evil intent. Not from the disenfranchised, marginalized, politically beaten down, economically oppressed people. In the midst of a socially, politically, economically just system with equal access to prosperity and utter absence of racism, sexism, and injustice, crime has a completely different face and corporal punishments are swift and no stigma accompanying the person thereafter. No place on earth has this type of society and, therefore, is not capable of meting out these penalties. It is these seemingly barbaric penalties that critics of Islam turn to when spreading their anti-Islamic propaganda. They tell anybody who will listen to them that Muslims living in the Western world want to bring Shariah law to America and the United Kingdom and anywhere else they can. In reality, of course, this is not the case. In 2016, ICM conducted extensive research into how British Muslims viewed Shariah law. Less than 25% expressed an interest in implementing any aspect of Shariah law into the United Kingdom’s legal system. To the contrary, the vast majority of Muslims polled expressed a great love for the Western world’s way of life. A staggering 78% even went so far as to declare their intention to fully integrate into British life!
Despite this misconception, Islam is fast growing in the west, especially in some countries more than others. Check out this article on Muslim Population Trends in the West.
6. Muslim Men Can Take As Many Wives As They Like
In a way, this point goes back to our earlier discussion about the Quran’s alleged sexist views. Critics of Islam often point to Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ multiple wives as evidence Islam does not care for women. They generally go on to say that even a modern Muslim man is permitted to take as many wives as he likes under the laws of Islam. This is blatantly incorrect. While Islam does allow a man to take multiple wives, he is subjected to strict rules and regulations if he does not wish to fall out of favor with Allah. For starters, a Muslim man may not be married to more than four women at any one time. Furthermore, he may only marry multiple women if he is capable of providing all of them with an equally comfortable life. He is not permitted to display any favoritism towards a particular wife and thus must ensure all enjoy the same amount of food, gifts, and love. It is important to note that even though Islamic law technically permits plural marriage, most modern Muslims do not partake in it. Contemporary Muslim marriages the world over consist of one woman and one man. Polygamy – the official name for a man taking more than one wife – is rare, and not at all widespread. In fact, it has been straight-up outlawed by many majority Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Tunisia. Other Muslim countries, such as Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait do not flatly reject polygamy, but do allow a woman to include a clause in her marriage contract which prohibits her husband from taking any additional wives.
7. The Quran Encourages Violence
The events of September 11th, 2001 marked a major shift in the West’s attitude towards Islam. The heinous terrorist attacks carried out on the World Trade Center left 2,977 innocent people dead. The perpetrators claimed to be acting in the name of Allah, fulfilling their Jihad duties as outlined in the Quran and the hadith. This began something of a public relations nightmare for Islam. People across the Western world began to view Islam and terrorism as one and the same. Muslims were accused of supporting the terrorists’ acts, while mosques were destroyed in misguided attempts at retaliation. This Islamophobia persists to this day. The most ardent critics of Islam justify their disdain for Muslims by pointing to passages in the Quran and hadith that they claim inspired the September 11 attacks and attacks like them. However, Muslim and non-Muslim theologians agree that the belief that the Quran encourages violence is unequivocally false. Throughout much of Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ prophethood, Muslims were subjected to extreme violence, being driven from their homes and even murdered for their beliefs. For a long time, they were commanded to refrain from retaliating. They feared any violence on their part would put them in violation of Allah’s law. After all, nothing had been revealed to the Prophet Muhammadﷺ which condoned violence, while multiple passages had been revealed to condemn it. Finally, word was sent down from the Heavens that Muslims may defend themselves against their persecutors. Led by the Prophet Muhammadﷺ, the Muslims were ever God-conscious in battle, sometimes making mistakes, but always being taught by the Prophet the proper way to fight under the just ways of Islam. No innocent woman or child was ever to be touched or harmed, no property taken that was not war booty, no enemy to be struck on the face, nor any tree cut for any reason but necessity (for warmth or food). War was not for riches or prestige, not were Muslims commanded to be aggressors. When the Prophet Muhammadﷺ conquered Mecca and claimed it for themselves, it was the most peaceable transfer of power in history–from the hostile people of Mecca to the conquering army of the Muslims. Once the Muslims had claimed the Ka’bah, Prophet Muhammadﷺ allowed any idol worshiper who did not accept the message of the Quran to leave Mecca unharmed. He warned them, however, that if they were to return seeking vengeance, his people would be forced to defend themselves. With this in mind, it can be said that the Quran does not encourage fighting, but permits it with regulation. If a person instigates violence towards anybody – be they a Muslim or otherwise – the targeted individual is entitled to defend themselves.
8. Islam Condemns Other Religions
Non-Muslims often believe that Muslims view them as something of an enemy. However, this could not be further from the truth. The Quran teaches us not to ridicule other religions, even the false idols of Arabia. This extends to all religions. No Muslim should be derisive towards any religion or creed. Islam does not teach that those who do not accept the message of Islam are bound for Hellfire. While it does talk about “unbelievers” and the unpleasant fate that awaits them, most scholars agree that this is in reference to the idol worshippers of Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ time who actively sought to discredit and destroy him. Not only did they not believe Prophet Muhammad’s revelations, they also did not believe that Muslims should be granted any rights in their society, including the right to live. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Quran and hadith condemn them so powerfully. Muslims believe that no one knows the fate of any individual but Allah and what He chose to reveal to mankind. While we are taught what to do to gain Allah’s pleasure and reward in this life and the next, we do not know how people will be judged by Him. When it comes to non-violent members of other religions, Islam has long been kind and courteous. Today, leading Islamic scholars seek to focus on the similarities between Islam and other religions rather than dwelling on the differences. For example, they highlight Prophet Abraham عليه السلام, the founding figure Islam shares with other monotheistic religions, such as Christianity and Judaism.
9. Muslims Are Unhygienic
Certain parts of the Middle East are lacking in basic amenities, including clean drinking water and even bathrooms as we know them. This, however, is the result of failing governments, famine, and war. It has nothing to do with the fact Islam is the prevailing religion in many Middle Eastern countries. Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped Islamophobes from branding Muslims as unhygienic. Even Muslims living in the Western world have reported being questioned about their grooming habits by ignorant critics hoping to raise a reaction. The reality is that Islam is the only religion which actively promotes personal hygiene. Muslims are encouraged to bathe regularly and are also expected to wash their hands and feet (including other areas of the body) before prayer. This is known in Islamic tradition as “wudu.” Those who buy into the anti-Islamic propaganda regarding the cleanliness of Muslims will also be surprised to learn that Islam has made mammoth contributions to grooming in the west. In fact, it is Islam that we have to thank for the toothbrush. Early Muslims practiced oral hygiene at a time when most of the world gave little thought to it. This they did by cleaning their teeth with a twig from the Meswak tree, which had the ability to dislodge food from the gaps between teeth while simultaneously freshening the user’s breath. This was a practice many believe to have been pioneered by Prophet Muhammadﷺ himself. Musilms make regular ghusul (ritual bathing), clean themselves properly after going to the bathroom; they are commanded to trim their fingernails and toenails regularly, remove hair from under their arms and pubic area, and to keep their clothes washed and clean. Moreover, the Prophetﷺ said, “Cleanliness is half of one’s imaan (faith).”
10. The Quran Is Nothing But Fiction
Most non-Muslims, even those who aren’t critical of Islam, take the stance that one cannot accept any of the Quran’s content without being a Muslim. Therefore, they believe that the Quran is nothing but fiction. However, even non-Islamic scholars who are familiar with the Quran concede that the book contains a high number of known truths. These include scientific facts which were not known to the Prophet Muhammadﷺ, or, indeed, anybody during his lifetime. For example, the Quran provides clear and concise information on human embryonic development, the composition of ocean water, and even the formation of clouds. Also present in the Quran are several accounts of historical events which have since been accepted by secular historians and archaeologists. As such, even those who are not prepared to accept the spiritual messages of the Quran have a great deal to gain from reading it. One thousand, four hundred years later, no human being, in any language, has answered the challenge Allah has put forth in the Quran–to bring a single surah like it.
Muslims have been forced to endure discrimination since the earliest days of Islam. Those who accepted Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ message during his lifetime were subjected to hateful violence, with many paying for their beliefs with their life. Contemporary Muslims face a different kind of discrimination, battling cruel mockery and unfounded accusations from those who aren’t willing to even try to understand what Islam is really about. It is a testament to Muslims now and throughout the ages that they have managed to remain unwavering in their faith even in the face of such relentless persecution.