By Huma Ahmad



Muslims are violent, terrorists and/or extremists.


This is the biggest misconception in Islam resulting from the constant stereotyping and bashing the media gives Islam.  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, these acts are not used to stereotype an entire faith. Never are these acts attributed to the religion of the perpetrators. Yet how many times have we heard the words ‘Islamic, Muslim fundamentalist. etc.’ linked with violence.

Politics in so called  “Muslim countries” may or may not have any Islamic basis.  Often dictators and politicians will use the name of Islam for their own purposes. One should remember to go to the source of Islam and separate what the true religion of Islam says from what is portrayed in the media. Islam literally means ‘submission to God’ and is derived from a root word meaning ‘peace’.

Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion doesn’t dominate everyday life in the West, whereas Islam is considered a ‘way of life’ for Muslims and they make no division between secular and sacred in their lives.Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes.  It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and  livestock.



The Quran says:

Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits.God  does not love transgressors.”     (Quran 2:190)

“If they seek peace, then seek you peace.  And trust in God for He is the One that heareth  and knoweth all things.” (Quran 8:61) War,

therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the  sacred law. The term ‘jihad’ literally means ‘struggle’. Muslims believe that there are two kinds of  jihad.

The other ‘jihad’ is the inner struggle of the soul which everyone wages against egotistic  desires for the sake of attaining inner peace.



Islam oppresses women.

The image of the typical Muslim woman wearing the veil and forced to stay home and forbidden to drive is all too common  in most peoples thoughts. Although some Muslim countries may  have laws that oppress women, this should not be seen as coming  from Islam.  Many of these countries do not rule by  any kind of Shari’ah (Islamic law) and introduce their own cultural standpoints on the issue of  gender equity.

Islam on the other hand gives men and women different roles and equity between the two  is laid down in the Quran and the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Islam sees 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 marriage gift is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband’s.

Both men and women are expected to dress in a way that is modest and dignified.

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 hiswife.”

Violence of any kind towards women and forcing them against their will for anything is not allowed. A Muslim marriage is a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions…Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to another.

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: her parents simply suggest young men they think may be suitable.



Muslims worship a different God.


Allah is simply 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), the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God.

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, conveyed through His messengers and prophets who were sent at various times and in many places throughout history.

However, it should be noted that God in Islam is One and Only. He the Exalted, does not get tired, does not have a son  Jesus or have associates, nor does He have human-like attributions as found in other faiths.



Islam was spread by the sword and intolerant to other faiths.


Many social studies textbooks for students show the image of an Arab horseman carrying a sword in one hand and the Quran in the other conquering and forcibly converting. This though is not a correct portrayal of history.  Islam has always given respect and  freedom of religion to all faiths.

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 loveth those  who are just. (Quran 60:8)


Freedom of religion is laid down in the Quran itself: “There is no compulsion (or coercion)  in the religion (Islam).The right direction is distinctly clear from error”. (2:256) Christian missionary, T.W. Arnold had this opinion on his study of the question of the  spread of Islam: “.. 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 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 Protestanism …”

It is a function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why  non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world.  History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths:

when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the  year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives, and property were safe, and that their places of  worship would never be taken from them, he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to  accompany him on a visit to all the holy places. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which  implement family laws drawn up 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! Wecreated you from a single soul, male and  female, and made you intonations 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“.                         (Quran49:13)




All Muslims are Arabs


The Muslim population of the world is around 1.2 billion.  1 out of 5 people in the world is a  Muslim.  They are a vast range of races, nationalities, and cultures from around the globe–from the Phillipines to Nigeria–they are united by their common Islamic faith.

Only about 18% live in the Arab world and the largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. Most Muslims live east of Pakistan.

30%of Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent, 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17% in Southeast  Asia, 18% in the Arab world, and 10% in the Soviet,Union and China,Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan make up 10% 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

 Stay tuned ……….


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