The Top 5 Misconceptions About Islam
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Politics and Activism

The Top 5 Misconceptions About Islam

Is Sharia Law Barbaric? Does Islam Oppress Women? What exactly is Jihad? Let's find out!

The Top 5 Misconceptions About Islam

Yes. Islam. That "barbaric" religion that you might've heard about on Fox News. Or that you might've researched on your own with the right sources realizing that it's not about how the media portrays it at all. Now, before I delve into my list, this is a very sensitive topic, and I understand why people may possess a certain perspective about Islam. Heck, if I wasn't Muslim and the news channels were my main outlet of information, I would've probably had some type of antagonism towards Islam myself. However, this is what writing is for.

This is what the broadcasting of information is for, and I am here to give you appropriate information about Islam from the right sources. This is not an article that takes hits at any particular group, or any particular news channel. It is an article that aims to clear misconceptions so we can live together as a more peaceful unit - and that is all. Let’s begin!

(housekeeping rule: is sallallahu alayhi wasalim in arabic - which means peace and blessings be upon him. Muslims are obliged to use it when referring to Muhammad)

1. All Muslims are terrorists

Granted, if you watch the news frequently, you may be tempted to believe this. However, it is important to keep in mind the statistics of the situation. If we assume that there are 16,000 suicide bombers in the world (which is a false number, by the way), that is 0.001% of the Muslim population. What about the other 99.999%? These are all questions we must be asking ourselves.

2. Sharia Law is barbaric

Alright, this one here ticks me off a lot, and personally, I actually believed this for a bit myself until I researched the topic. Sharia Law takes methods of prevention, not methods of cure. What that means is Sharia Law is merely implemented to protect the people of the state, and it is not there to allow those in power to meticulously search for people to stone. As a matter of fact, whenever someone came to Muhammad) to confess adultery, he would turn his cheek the other way and would tell them to sincerely repent. In addition, the witness requirements for someone to be stoned are very precise and strict, so it is very difficult to even get someone who has actually committed adultery stoned. It is very clear that politically motivated Islamic countries are using this law to their advantage. Sharia Law is not out there to seek people out in order to stone them!

3. Islam oppresses women

The hijab is a personal decision, based on internal faith. One can be advised to wear the hijab but it cannot be forced upon anyone, and women who wear it choose to wear it. That being said, a woman who wears a hijab must not be judged for her actions either. It is a decision based on taqwa, or personal consciousness of God, and that is a decision that deserves to remain in privacy. The status of a woman is so high in Islam that there is an entire chapter called Surah An-Nisa, or chapter of the women - there is no chapter of the men. The first person to accept Islam was a woman by the name of Khadija bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of Muhammad . The first martyr in Islam was a woman by the name of Sumayyah bint Khayyat. Islam prohibited the Arabic tradition of burying your own daughters by raising their ranks. As recorded in Sahih Muslim ( a book of hadith - a collection of the sayings of Muhammad ), "'The one who brought up two girls till they attained their maturity, will appear along with me on the Resurrection Day' ... Saying this the Holy Prophet jointed and raised his fingers." In Islam, women are treated as individuals with their own set of rights.They have the right to own property without any guardianship, and there is a marriage dowry given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use. She also has the choice to keep her own family name rather than that of her husband’s.

In Islam, a woman is not allowed to get married without consent. It is extremely heart-breaking how countries that claim to be Islamic have cultures that allow the marriage of a woman without her consent. It is important to keep Islam as a religion a separate entity from the culture in Islamic countries. The rank of a mother is undoubtedly the highest rank in Islam. Muhammad has stated, “Your Heaven lies under the feet of your mother (Ahmad, Nasai). A man once came to the Prophet Muhammad and said, “O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?” The Prophet said: "Your mother." The man said, “Then who?” The Prophet said: "Then your mother." The man further asked, “Then who?” The Prophet said: "Then your mother." The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet said: "Then your father" (Bukhari and Muslim).

4. Islam encourages polygamy

Although this statement is correct, it is misunderstood in context. This does not mean that Muslim men can marry freely without the consent of their wives and are obliged to do so. As a matter of fact, the Holy Qur’an is the only religious book in the world that has the words, “Marry only one”, and obliges its followers to marry only one. "But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one…” [Qur’an 4:3]. Polygamy is only allowed under certain conditions, and all parties must be informed and must be pleased with it. A perfect example of the logic behind it is the idea of concubinage. The context of this ayah, or excerpt of revelation, deals with many concepts, including concubinage, which has been misinterpreted as well. The culture in Arabia was that after a victory in battle, the women of the enemies were taken in as concubines. Islam introduced the idea that if these women are taken in, they must be taken in as wives. Their ranks must be elevated. They must be treated as the great and respectable women that they are. The following video also greatly expand on the concept of polygamy in Islam:

5. ‘Jihad’ is violence

Jihad refers to both internal and external conflict. The external conflict aspect is the one that is misunderstood the most. External conflict means military action, but it is only necessary when one’s faith is being threatened, and the use of force is a last resort. Legal and diplomatic means are the primary ways of communication, and Muhammad has also stated that if a Muslim is living under a set of laws that hinder his or her ability to practice Islam, the Muslim should not retaliate. Rather, it is better for the Muslim to migrate, because it prevents conflict.

Jihad also means internal conflict, or an internal struggle to please Allah. Muhammad has stated, The Most Excellent Jihad is the Conquest of One’s Self.” When a Muslim strives to be a better Muslim by not lying, not cheating others, treating everyone equally, and strives to achieve that spiritual balance in his or her life, this is also jihad, but an internal struggle.

I have touched on a number of very relevant topics, and it would not be efficient to expand on each topic in detail. There are misconceptions that I did not mention - the list is based on only those misconceptions that I find apparent. However, I encourage anyone who is interested about learning more about these misconceptions, or any misconception in general, to contact me. I am always open to healthy discussion and to learning from others as well. I also encourage those who still possess antagonism against Islam to study the life of Muhammad . Remember, if you choose to learn more about Islam as a religion, please know where you are getting your information from, and make sure you are getting your information from the right sources. Islam is an all-encompassing religion - it addresses violence as well as peace and prosperity - it is a book that addresses reality, and not theory. Hence, it is very easy to cherry-pick a quote from the Holy Qur'an and misinterpret it. I sincerely thank everyone who chose to read this article and I hope my readers have benefited from this.

We can all live in peace and prosperity with the right knowledge and the right mindset!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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