TOP TEN MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ISLAM
Muslims are violent, terrorists and/or extremists.
is the biggest misconception in Islam, amplified to an extreme by the events af
recent years. It is in no doubt worsened by 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 we make no division between secular
and sacred in our 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
NOWHERE DOES ISLAM ENJOIN THE KILLING OF INNOCENTS.. The Qur'an says:
"Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress
limits. God does not love transgressors."
-- Qur'an al-Baqara 2:190)
they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that
heareth and knoweth all things."
-- Qur'an al-Anfal 8:61
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 Qur'an 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 his wife."
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 country. 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
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 (aloha), 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 i.e.
Jesus or have associates, nor does He have human-like attributions as found in
Islam was spread by the sword and intolerant of other faiths.
Many social studies textbooks for students show the image of an Arab horseman
carrying a sword in one hand and the Qur'an 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 Qur'an says:
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 t who who are just.
-- Qur'an al-Mumtahina 60:8
Freedom of religion is laid down in the Qur'an itself:
"There is no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam). The right
direction is distinctly clear from error".
-- Qur'an al-Baqara 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
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
Racism is not a part of Islam, the Qur'an speaks only of human equality and how
all peoples are equal in the sight of God.
mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into
nations 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. "
-- Qur'an al-Hujraat 49:13
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 Philippines 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
The Nation of Islam is a Muslim group.
Islam and the so called"Nation of Islam'" are two different religions. NOI is
more of a political organization since its members are not limited to a single
faith. Muslims consider this group to be just one of many cults using the name
of Islam for their own gain. The only thing common between them is the jargon,
the language used by both. "The Nation of Islam" is a misnomer; this religion
should be called Farrakhanism, after the name of its propagator, Louis
Farrakhan. Islam and Farakhanism differ in many fundamental ways. For example,
Farrakhan followers believe in racism and that the 'black man' was the original
man and therefore superior, while in Islam there is no racism and everyone is
considered equal in the sight of God, the only difference being in one's piety.
There are many other theological examples that show the 'Nation's teachings have
little to do with true Islam. There are many groups in America who claim to
represent Islam and call their adherents Muslims. Any serious student of Islam
has a duty to investigate and find the true Islam.
The only two authentic sources which bind every Muslim are 1: The Qur'an and 2:
authentic or sound Hadith. Any teachings under the label of "Islam" which
contradict or at variance with the direct understanding of fundamental beliefs
and practices of Islam form the Qur'an and authentic Hadith should be rejected
and such a religion should be considered a Pseudo-Islamic Cult. And those
differences between existing schools of thought and the major divisions in the
faith Islam must always refer back to the true source… the Qur'an.
In America there are many pseudo-Islamic cults, Farrakhanism being one of them.
An honest attitude on the part of such cults should be not to call themselves
Muslims and their religion Islam. Such an example of honesty is Bahaism which
is an off-shoot of Islam but Bahais do not call themselves Muslims nor their
religion, Islam. In fact Bahaism is not Islam just as Farrakhanism is not Islam.
(It is worth noting that Imam W.D.Muhammad led the bulk of the membership of the
old Nation of Islam away from this belief and towards true Islam (Alhamduillah)
see: W.Deen Muhammad. This is remarkable as he is the grandson of the NOI
All Muslim men marry four wives.
The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so
accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant
the taking of another wife but the right is granted, according to the Qur'an,
only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair. No woman can be forced
into this kind of marriage if they do not wish it, and they also have the right
to exclude it in their marriage contract. Polygamy is neither mandatory, nor
encouraged, but merely permitted. Images of "sheikhs with harems" are not
consistent with Islam, as a man is only allowed at most four wives only if he
can fulfill the stringent conditions of treating each fairly and providing each
with separate housing etc. Permission to practice polygamy is not associated
with mere satisfaction of passion. It is rather associated with compassion
toward widows and orphans. It was the Qur'an that limited and put conditions on
the practice of polygamy among the Arabs, who had as many as ten or more wives
and considered them "property".
is both honest and accurate to say that it is Islam that regulated this
practice, limited it, made it more humane, and instituted equal rights and
status for all wives. What the Qur'anic decrees amount to, taken together is
discouragement of polygamy unless necessity for it exists. It is also evident
that the general rule in Islam is monogamy and not polygamy. It is a very tiny
percentage of Muslims that practice it over the world. However, permission to
practice limited polygamy is only consistent with Islam's realistic view of the
nature of man and woman and of various social needs, problems and cultural
question is, however far more than the inherent flexibility of Islam; it also is
the frank and straightforward approach of Islam in dealing with practical
problems. Rather than requiring hypocritical and superficial compliance, Islam
delves deeper into the problems of individuals and societies, and provides for
legitimate and clean solutions which are far more beneficial than would be the
case if they were ignored. There is no doubt that the second wife legally
married and treated kindly is better off than a mistress without any legal
rights or permanence.
Muslims are a barbaric, backward people.
Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity
of its doctrine-Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. It
also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and
observation. Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were
flourishing, for according to the Prophet (pbuh), 'seeking knowledge is an
obligation for every Muslim man and woman'.
The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought
about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography,
architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as
algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero (vital to the
advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam.
Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of
discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good
Muhammad was the founder of Islam and Muslims worship him.
Muhammad(pbuh) was born in Mecca in the year 570. Since his father died before
his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from
the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his
truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his
ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and
meditative. Muhammad (pbuh) was of a deeply religious nature, and had long
detested the decadence of his society.
became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near Mecca .
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad(pbuh) received
his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation,
which continued for 23 years is known as the Qur'an. As soon as he began to
recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had
revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter
persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the
command to emigrate.
event, the Hijra 'migration', in which they left Mecca for the city of Medina ,
marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, the Prophet
and his followers were able to return to Mecca , where they forgave their
enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet saw dies at the
age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his
death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China. He died
with less than 5 possessions to his name. While Muhammad (pbuh) was chosen to
deliver the message, he is not considered the "founder" of Islam, since Muslims
consider Islam to be the same divine guidance sent to all peoples before.
Muslims believe all the prophets from Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus etc. were all
sent with divine guidance for their peoples. Every prophet was sent to his own
people, but Muhammad(pbuh) was sent to all of mankind. Muhammad is the last and
final messenger sent to deliver the message of Islam. Muslims revere and honor
him (pbuh) for all he went through and his dedication, but they do not worship
Prophet, verily We have sent you as a witness and a bearer of glad tidings and a
warner and as one who invites unto God by His leave and as an illuminating
-- Qur'an al-Ahzab 33:45-6
Muslims don't believe in Jesus or any other prophets.
Muslims respect and revere Jesus, upon him be peace, and await his Second
Coming. They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind.
A Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase 'upon
him be peace' (abbreviated as (u) here). The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth
(a chapter of the Qur'an is entitled 'Mary'), and Mary is considered the purest
woman in all creation.
Qur'an describes the Annunciation as follows:
"Behold!" the Angel said, "God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you
above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from
Him whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world
and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the
people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous." She
said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?" He said:
"Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it,
"Be!" and it is"
-- Qur'an al-E-Imran 3:42-47
Jesus (u) was born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam
(u) into being without a father:
"Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created
him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was."
-- Qur'an al-E-Imran 3:59
During his prophetic mission Jesus (u) performed many miracles. The Qur'an tells
us that he said:
have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it
were, the figure of a bird, and breath into it and it becomes a bird by God's
leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God's
-- Qur'an al-E-Imran 3:49)
Neither Muhammad (pbuh) not Jesus (u) came to change the basic doctrine of the
brief in One God brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In
the Qur'an Jesus (u) is reported as saying that he came:
attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was
forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and
-- Qur'an al-E-Imran 3:50
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "Whoever believes there is no god but God, alone
without partner, that Muhammad (pbuh) is His messenger, that Jesus is the
servant and messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating
from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into
Heaven. "(Hadith related by Bukhari).
(Islam: A Brief Introduction, Islamic Circle of North America , Jamaica , New
(Understanding Islam and the Muslims, The Islamic Affairs Department The Embassy
of Saudi Arabia, Washington DC, 1989.)
(Badawi, Jamal, Polygamy in Islamic Law, The Muslim Students' Association of the
United States & Canada ,)
(Islam and Farrakhanism Compared, The Institute of Islamic Information and
Education, Chicago , Illinois )
(Jihad Explained, The Institute of Islamic Information & Education, Chicago ,