With a sad heart, I answer the aforementioned question with yes. Islam is viewed unfavorably by many people in this globalized world. Sometimes, it is often dubbed as the religion espoused by the terrorists o extremists. But not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims. The media magnified and somewhat vilified the image of Islam more after the September 11 event.
But are these accusations and perceptions all true?
Misconceptions about the religion continue to generate fear, resentment and judgment among uninformed minds. This paper aims to shed a little light on the three common misconceptions about Islam involving women, Jesus Christ, and the alleged use of sword in spreading the religion. It aims to convey the message to the country’s non-Muslim population.
Firstly, non-Muslims thought that Islam degrades women by classifying them as properties or as second-class citizens. The notion is wrong. The Qur’an upholds and esteems women; they are not regarded as evil temptress. Women’s rights were guaranteed by the Islamic Law over 1,400 years ago. Islam allows women to own properties, operate a business and receive equal pay for work. History tells us that about 50 years ago, women in both England and America were not allowed to acquire any property without the consent and signature of their husbands or father. Likewise, Islam women can’t be forced to marry against their will.
Islam women are not confined under the veil, as many see it. The clothes serve as protection against any malicious intention stemming from a man’s sight. Flaunting a body invites rape and harassment; it is therefore logical for a Muslim woman to wrap herself with cover. Many Muslim women around the world are in top positions. Consider the late Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan. Isn’t she the embodiment of Muslim woman empowerment? Women are highly-valued, cared for and esteemed in Islamic society. In addition, Islam stopped the ancient Arab practice of killing newborn daughters. Such is the premium given by Islam on women or young girls. Under Islam, both sexes are treated fairly.
Secondly, other people view Islam as against Jesus Christ. But to a Muslim, Jesus Christ is a great prophet. Muslims respect and love Jesus. Muslims call him as Nabi Isa – the Arabic term for Prophet Jesus. The Qur’an speaks about him and admonishes Muslim to believe in his virgin birth and miracles. It must be remembered that Muslims are not attacking Jesus Christ when they speak against the Bible or Christianity. Muslims are just criticizing some claims of Christians. However, Muslims reject the idea of Trinity and the theology of Incarnation. In a Muslim’s heart, Jesus Christ remains the great prophet who performed good deeds and miracles to many people.
Lastly, non-Muslims were taught that Islam spread through the use of sword. It must be noted that Muslims are educated by the Qur’an on non-compulsion in religion. If Islam was spread by the sword, then most of India, China and even more than half of the world should be under Islam by now. India remains a predominantly Hindu country and China, a communist republic. Islamic traders went through different places to bring business but did not kill or force people to be converted to Islam. The people were impressed by the traders’ life that they adopted the religion which they have. In contrast, history attests to the violence and brutal killings by other religions, such as the Crusades, in vain attempt to convert people.
Furthermore, according to the Reader’s Digest, for a period of 50 years, from 1944 to 1984, more people converted to Islam than in any other faith. Now, were they threatened to be killed or forced to be converted? Islam means submission and those who chose to be a Muslim, did so volitionally, out of their free will.
The above-mentioned are just a few among the many misconceptions about Islam. Still, much of the world’s humanity has animosity towards the religion or its followers. For someone to understand Islam, one has to open his or eyes. Judgment must be suspended first to see that Islam is more than a religion, but a way of life. It is a life of submission to the will of God. Muslims are not enemies. Like us, they are also humans in need of acceptance and belonging. Like any other religions, Islam must be respected, too. If one would take the time to study and understand its teachings, only then will he o she would be able to correct the misconceptions on the religion.
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