Common Misconceptions About Islam

Today in the age of the internet and mass media It is incumbent upon us as Muslims to define ourselves and our faith or others will do it for us. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world and people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds are entering Islam. Sadly, people have a negative image of it in mind and perceive it to be a religion that is dark, violent, unjust and promotes violence. This is nothing but a false projection of Islam and people need to know about it without any biases. Allah says:

 

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

 

“Whoever does righteous deeds whether male or female while he (is) a believer, then surely We will give him l a life good, and We will pay them their reward to (the) best of what they used (to) do.” (Surah An-Nahl 16:97)

 

Non-Muslims due to various political and social motivations are also learning about Islam, therefore, it is more than imperative that they are aware of the basic facts about Islam so that they can have a real sense of the religion on contrary to the contemporary projection. Islam is probably the least understood and most demonized religion today.  The critics of Islam have created this persona-based primarily on misconceptions, ignorance, and malice. Allah says:

 

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَقْدِرُوا عَلَيْهِمْ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

 

“Except those who repent before that you overpower [over] them, then know that Allah (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ma`idah 5:34)

 

There are numerous misconceptions about Islam that are propagated by biased people. It doesn’t matter whether a non-Muslim is learning about Islam for converting or not, he or she should have an objective approach towards the preaching of Islam and weigh them on the bases of what they are and not what other people think them to be. Allah says:

 

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

 

“Allah (does) not forbid you from those who (do) not fight you in the religion and (do) not drive you out of your homes that you deal kindly and deal justly with them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Surah Al-Mumtahinah 60:8)

 

The key to understanding Islam and Muslims is to resist stereotypes and examine each situation according to Islamic teachings and authentic sources. God did not create humans to simply wander. The test of one’s faith is in using one’s intellect, free will and reasoning abilities to contemplate and recognize God’s signs – one of the greatest signs being The Quran.

 

There is some common misconception about Islam:

  1. Propagation of Islam is the result of force
  2. Religion and science are not compatible
  3. Islam forces people to become Muslim
  4. Islam is intolerable to other religions
  5. Allah is exclusively the God of Islam
  6. At least four wives for Muslim men
  7. Sharia law is archaic and cruel
  8. Jihad is an offensive Holy war
  9. Forced marriage is allowed
  10. Children have no rights
  11. Islam promotes honour killings
  12. Islam was spread by the sword
  13. Muslims don’t believe in Jesus
  14. Jihad Means Killing Non-Muslims
  15. Islam is intolerant of other religions
  16. Punishment for Apostasy in Islam is a death
  17. The crescent and star is the symbol of Islam
  18. Muslims are savages and barbaric during a war
  19. Slavery is acceptable and slave females have no rights
  20. Muslims are Savages with no Regard for Culture and Civilization

Islam is one of the world’s largest religions. The key to understanding Islam and Muslims is to resist stereotypes and examine each situation according to Islamic teachings and authentic sources. Some people allege that Islamic values are somehow incompatible with decent “Western” values. Such claims could not be further from the truth. Muslims are required to contribute positively towards society and to always conduct themselves with the highest of morals and best of actions.

 

Pillars Of Islam:

The structure or building of Islam stands on five pillars. These pillars are rudimentary to the existence of Islam and if any of the pillars are not followed or practised, the building of Islam might collapse for a Muslim. A “Muslim” is any person who submits to the one true God and believes that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His last messenger.

  1. The first pillar is the declaration of Faith: In which a Muslim proclaims Allah being the only God and Muhammad (PBUH) being His Prophet.
  2. The second pillar of Islam is the Salat: It is the daily prayers which a Muslim has to perform five times a day. The prayers are a sign of the submission of a Muslim to Allah and when it comes to offering prayer, there is no excuse accepted from a Muslim and it has to be offered under any circumstance.
  3. The third pillar of Islam is Sawm: Which is the obligatory fasting which Muslims undertake in the month of Ramadan. During the whole month Muslims fast from dawn till dusk and refrain from all sorts of eating, drinking and sexual activity.
  4. The fourth pillar of Islam is Zakat: It is an obligatory charity that the Muslims have to give an annual basis, only if they have sufficient wealth that makes them eligible for offering it.
  5. The fifth pillar is the Hajj: It is the pilgrimage to the House of Allah that a Muslim is to perform. It is obligatory on Muslims who have the health and wealth of performing the pilgrimage.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

 

“O you who believe[d]! Enter in submission/Islam completely, and (do) not follow footsteps (of) the Shaitaan. Indeed, he (is) for you an enemy open.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:208)

 

Muslims are required to contribute positively towards society and to always conduct themselves with the highest of morals and best of actions. Some aspects of Muslim culture have been universally accepted as the de facto standard such as four wives for Muslim men.  Most westerners believe that every Muslim has a ‘harem’ with at least four wives.  First of all, it should be clearly understood that it is an option, not a compulsion.

 

The Quran has very high regard for a person’s life and only accepts the taking of a life in very limited circumstances:

  • “If they seek peace, then seek you peace.” (Quran 8:61)
  • “There is no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam).” (Quran 2:256)
  • “…and do not kill the soul which God has forbidden, except injustice… (Quran6:151)
  • “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error.” (Quran 2:256)
  • “Verily the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-conscious.” (Quran 49:13)
  • And be “patient over whatever they say, and depart from them in a good manner.(Quran 73:10)
  • “Not equal are the good and bad response. You shall resort to the better one. Thus, the one who used to be your enemy may become your best friend. (Quran 41:34)
  • “We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you, and our God/Allah and your God/Allah are the same; to Him, we submit.” (Quran 29:46)
  • “…when you hear the revelations of God being rejected and mocked, then do not sit with them until they move on to a different narrative… (Quran 4:140)
  • “Travel in the earth and see how He originated the creation, then God creates the latter creation; surely God has power over all things.” (Quran 29:20)
  • “And if you divorce the women, and they have reached their required interim period, then do not prevent/hinder them that they marry their partners if they mutually agree between themselves in a kind/equitable manner… (Quran 2:232)
  • “Do not prostrate to the sun or the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if you worship Him.” (Quran 41:37)
  • “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.” (Quran 16:125)

There are strict conditions that must be met such as equal treatment of the wives. It surprises me that the people who make a huge fuss about polygamy in Islam, have no issue with promiscuity in western cultures where extra-marital relationships and children born out of wedlock are accepted with open arms. Islam is a religion that stands for purification and cleanliness – both physical and spiritual. Allah says:

 

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَقْدِرُوا عَلَيْهِمْ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

 

“Except those who repent before that you overpower [over] them, then know that Allah (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:34)

 

It is a common misconception even among Muslims that the crescent moon and star is the official symbol of Islam.  However, in the days of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Muslims did not have a symbol and they used solid-coloured flags.  The crescent was adopted as a symbol by the Turks during the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Constantinople. Thus, Islam is peace, it loves peace and it wants to spread peace in the world.

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