common misconceptions about islam islam today is a religion that is highly misunderstood, highly misinterpreted and highly misrepresented

, especially by the western media. there are many issues today that dwell in the minds of people who seek to know the real truth about islam, yet the avenues that depict islam give them a very bad impression of this way of life. let us embark on a quest to share the truth of many of these misconceptions that are in the back of the minds of many people from all parts of the globe. • all muslims are arabs • the muslim population around the world is approximately 1.4 billion and it is still growing since islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. muslims range from black in africa, to chinese, to arabs and asians from the indian subcontinent, actually from all over the world. only 18% of the muslims are arabs. the largest muslim community is in indonesia. there are 30% in the indian subcontinent, 20% in africa, 18% in the arab world, 17% in south east asia, 10% in russia and china. there are 8 million muslims in the us alone. so we can see that muslims are not all arab; far from it.

all muslims marry 4 wives. • most definitely not. most muslims have only one wife; only a tiny percentage of muslims worldwide practice polygamy. islam did not bring about polygamy; rather, it regulated it. before islam, men had as many women as they wanted and there were no laws as to how they were treated, as they were considered “property”. if we look back in history, according to the bible abraham had three wives: sarah, hagar and keturah. some can call them concubines if they wish, but they were married to them. jacob had two wives, while david and solomon had hundreds. islam just brought the rules on how to go about it, that a limit of four was set, with conditions of fair treatment of each one. it is not a free for all; it is only the permission given to have more than one wife, but not necessarily four, and only as long as he can guarantee to be fair to each one. the permission was given in order to make a better society, to help widows and orphans. since there are more women than men, and as the world goes due to wars more men are getting killed, islam brings about a solution to the problem. which is better? a second or third wife that is treated fairly and equitably, or mistresses without any rights and children who are illegitimate?

muslims are violent, extremists and terrorists. • this is the biggest misconception that is a result of the media’s islam bashing. when catholics of northern ireland bombed tube stations in britain, or gunmen attacked mosques in the name of judaism, or serbs

killed and raped innocent bosnian women and children, their acts were not attributed to the christian religion. but in the case when a muslim does the same act, we hear a “muslim fundamentalist or extremist”. many actions are perpetrated by muslims in the name of islam for political or personal gain, which have nothing to do with islam or its teachings. islam condemns the killing of civilians and in the quran permission is given to fight in self defense, or to drive out those oppressors who have driven you out of your land • allah says in the quran: • chapter 2 • 190. and fight in the way of allâh those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. truly, allâh likes not the transgressors. [this verse is the first one that was revealed in connection with jihâd, but it was supplemented by another (v.9:36)]. 191. and kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. and al-fitnah is worse than killing. and fight not with them at al-masjid-alharâm (the sanctuary at makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. but if they attack you, then kill them. such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

it is not a license to kill every one but strict rules are attached to combat in islam. one has no right to cut down trees, to kill old people, women and children. allah says clearly above in the quran that he does not like transgressors. the other misconception attached to this is the misunderstanding that because islam is the religion of peace then muslims should not fight back when being attacked but rather turn the other cheek. all over the world muslims who are being attacked and resist are in turn called terrorist and a vow is made to exterminate them. in all fairness any nation that is attacked will defend itself from oppression and occupation, but muslims are expected to give in and not resist and hand over the keys. the term jihad is highly misunderstood, a jihad is a struggle and can take shape of a military struggle or a struggle in owns self. muslims standing firm on their faith is a big struggle too.

islam oppresses women. • one of the first things shown to women in the west is that islam oppresses them, by forcing them to wear the veil. what is not perceived is that islam in covering women protects them from the evils of the society, since in islam a woman is treated with utmost respect. i am sure one cannot

disrespect the womb that bore him. islam treats women with gentleness that needs to be protected. this veil is protecting her (married or unmarried) from the evils of man. islam actually gives rights to women, when a woman marries in the west she becomes her husband’s property. she takes her husbands name and loses her family name. her property is passed on to her husband. whereas in islam the woman retains her maiden name and her property is hers to do what she pleases. obviously she would do best to take her husband’s advice on the matter. woman in islam is the full equal partner for man as allah says in the quran that the spouse is a garment for one another, because they are supposed to be a comfort for each other • chapter 2: • • 187 permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. they are your garments and ye are their garments

chapter 7 • 189 it is he who has created you from a single person (adam), and (then) he has created from him his wife [hawwa (eve)], in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her.

the prophet mohamed (peace be upon him) taught that “the best amongst the men are those who are best to their wives.” there are if not thousands, but tens of thousands of muslim men who help their wives, who cook and clean and nurse their wives when they are sick. if islam oppressed women, we should as ourselves why mainly women are coming to islam. well educated women not uneducated ones. the dress code in islam is modest for both men and women. in islam a girl has the right to refuse a marriage proposal.

muslims don’t believe in god or worship a different god. • allah is the name for god in arabic. so even an arab christian would say allah when he is referring to god. allah for the muslims is the only one god who has no partners, no sons and daughters and wives unlike the ancient pagan gods. he is neither born nor does he give birth. allah is exactly the same word which the jews in hebrew use eloha. islam, christianity and judaism worship the same god, and the prophets they believe in are the same too. the same messengers brought the same messages at different time to different people. islam believes in jesus and moses and all other prophets. islam reveres jesus as one of the greatest porphet sent to mankind and his mother mary is revered too. more than a whole chapter of the quran is devoted to mary and prophet jesus (peace be upon them all).

islam was spread by the sword and is intolerant of other faiths.

the usual picture of a muslim shown to people especially in the west is an image of a muslim with a sword or a gun in one hand and a quran in the other. conquering and forcibly converting nation after nation. this is a total distortion of the truth. islam has always respected and given freedom to all faiths. non muslim nations have lived together with muslims in muslim countries in harmony for centuries. allah says in the holy quran: • chapter 60: • 8. allâh does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. verily, allâh loves those who deal with equity. 9. it is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that allâh forbids you to befriend them. and whosoever will befriend them, then such are the zâlimûn (wrong-doers those who disobey allâh). i think this is fair in all accounts that one who is at peace with you, that you be at peace with them too and those who attack you, and yours and kill you and help others or support others who do so then they cannot be friends.

islam is tolerant of other religions too since in the quran allah says: • chapter 2 • 256. there is no compulsion in religion. verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path. whoever disbelieves in tâghût and believes in allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. and allâh is all-hearer, all-knower. there are thousands if not millions of non muslims working and living very comfortable lives in muslim lands, earning very good wages and living in harmony with muslims and are not forced to come to islam. non muslims in muslims are shown islam in order that they understand it but in under no circumstances are they forced to accept the faith. in countries like the united arab emirates, iraq, palestine, syria and lebanon just to name a few, non muslims are free to practice their faith and even have churches. racism is not part of islam in the quran allah says how he made all man equal:

chapter 49

13. o mankind! we have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. verily, the most honourable of you with allâh is that (believer) who has at-taqwa [i.e. one of the muttaqûn (pious - see v.2:2)]. verily, allâh is all-knowing, all-aware.

there are many other misconceptions and distortions about islam that may be we can look at them on another occasion. who are muslims muslims are those who worship the one god. those who submit themselves totally to the will of god. muslims have to follow the above pillars and pre requisites. muslims all over the world share one brotherhood and as malcolm x aka malik shabbaz said about islam after he returned from the hajj pilgrimage in mecca: every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for jeddah, was dressed this way. you could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. some powerful personnages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing i had on. once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out "labbayka! (allahumma) labbayka!" (here i come, o lord!) packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair -- all together, brothers! all honoring the same god, all in turn giving equal honor to each other ... there were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. they were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned africans. but we were all participating in the same ritual displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in america had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white .. america needs to understand islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. throughout my travels in the muslim world, i have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in america would have been considered white -- but the "white" attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of islam. i have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color. (malcolm x, a muslim perspective as told by alex haley) see reference. muslims bow down 5 times a day facing mecca. there are also some photos of muslims men and women, falling on their faces and praying. all of prophets, including the prophet jesus, prayed the same way. • • ge 17:3 and abram fell on his face: and god talked with him, saying, le 9:24 and there came a fire out from before the lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. nu 14:5 then moses and aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of israel.

jos 5:14 and he said, nay; but as captain of the host of the lord am i now come. and joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, what saith my lord unto his servant? {captain: or, prince} jud 13:20 for it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the lord ascended in the flame of the altar. and manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. ru 2:10 then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, why have i found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing i am a stranger? 1sa 20:41 and as soon as the lad was gone, david arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until david exceeded. 2sa 9:6 now when mephibosheth, the son of jonathan, the son of saul, was come unto david, he fell on his face, and did reverence. and david said, mephibosheth. and he answered, behold thy servant! {mephibosheth: also called meribbaal} 2sa 14:4 and when the woman of tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, help, o king. {help: heb. save} 1ki 18:7 and as obadiah was in the way, behold, elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, art thou that my lord elijah? 1ki 18:39 and when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, the lord, he is the god; the lord, he is the god. 2ki 1:13 and he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. and the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, o man of god, i pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. {fell: heb. bowed} mt 26:39 and he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, o my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as i will, but as thou wilt. mr 14:35 and he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

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muslims all over the world follow the same concept of god, mohamed (peace be upon him) was just a messenger of god who like other prophets brought a message to the people. muslims do not worship the prophet mohamed (peace be upon him). conclusion to the best of my ability i have tried to give you the proper picture of islam, which i hope has been informative and beneficial to you. i hope it has cleared any misconceptions you

had in your minds about islam and muslims. from all the information gathered above will it be fair to say that all the prophets sent to mankind, even prophet jesus (peace be upon him) were muslims. i leave it up to you to decide. aboo mohammad {article published with author's permission}

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