There’s a growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the West, mostly fueled by fear-mongering politicians who often misrepresent the facts for their own agendas. No one is suggesting that atrocities committed by extremist groups and terrorists aren’t abominable, but those perpetrators don’t represent the vast majority of Muslims – just like the many white, male American shooters and bombers who have wrecked havoc in the US over the years don’t represent Christians. Radical ideology is a dangerous thing, whatever the religious source. So, in an attempt to dispel some of the common misconceptions out there about the Muslim community, here’s a video outlining 8 lies you’ve been told about Islam.
Terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS may claim to be rooted in Islam, but they are not to be equated with Islam. Beyond the points outlined in the video, here are some other misconceptions about this oft-misunderstood religion.
Muslims Live in the Middle East
Wrong! Most Muslims actually live in Asia, mainly in south and southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. About 300 million more Muslims live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Others live in north Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and southwest Asia, which generally is referred to as the Middle East, but this is only approximately 20% of all Muslims.
Muslims Are Arabs
Wrong! It should go without saying, but the terms Arab and Muslim are not interchangeable. Arab refers to a person who speaks Arabic as a native language, and only 20 percent of Muslims are in this category. Today there are around 300 million Arabic speakers in the world today, and millions of them are actually Christians.
Muslims Support Violence and Terrorism
Wrong! The overwhelming majority of Muslims are moderate, pious, family-oriented, peaceful people who suffer at the hands of violence and terrorism way more than non-Muslims. You often hear people quote passages from the Quran that seem to insight violence, yet most scholars and clerics say these are misinterpretation of the words. Have a flip through the Christian Bible and you’ll see plenty of passages inciting stonings, slaughters, death by burning and brutal executions of men, women and children. Taken out of context and misinterpreted, one might think Christianity is a violent religion, too.
Muslims Are Engaged in a Jihad (Holy War) Against Us
Wrong! Despite what the media tells us, the Arabic word jihad actually refers to a metaphorical struggle, such as the inner struggle between one’s soul and one’s sinful desires. It’s about striving, applying oneself, struggling and persevering, predominantly in spiritual matters. The word jihad is also used in social campaigns to end hunger and poverty. The Arabic word for war is actually al-harb.
Islam Oppresses Women
Wrong! Well, there might be some aspects of it that seem oppressive (such as women not being permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia) but these are more a factor of local customs and traditions rather than a firm decree from Islam (other Muslim-dominant countries permit female driving). In fact, the oppression of women is a global issue, not just in the Muslim world. Remember, Muslim women have served as presidents and prime ministers in countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kosovo, Senegal and Turkey – something the US can’t say yet.
Muslims Never Speak Out Against Terrorism
Wrong! The media just doesn’t focus on their outcry much. Many leading Muslim scholars and groups consistently and vehemently denounce extremism, radicalism and violence perpetrated in the name of Islam. Type “Muslims against terrorism” into Google and you will see that plenty of Muslims have spoken out on this terrible issue. Are you open to hearing them?