As a Muslim and Arab myself, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Generally, the media tends to show Arabs/Muslims in an unattractive light and just us Arabs/Muslims knowing the truth is not enough. Here are three things the media doesn’t always tell you about Arabs/Muslims:
1) Arab Does NOT Equal Muslim.
This might come as a shock to some but being an Arab does not automatically mean you are a Muslim, and vice versa. Islam is a religion just like Christianity and Judaism and is followed by people from many countries and ethnicities. Even though most Arabs are in fact Muslim, East Asia has the highest Muslim population in the world. On the other hand, there are a lot of Arabs that follow other religions and it is widely accepted as the norm in Arab communities.
2) Muslim Women Are Not Oppressed.
The Western media never fails to paint Muslim women in such a way that makes them look as if they are victims of relentless oppression by their religion when in reality Islam honors women. Islam has given women the right to an education, the right to work, to own land and to be an upstanding member of society just like any man. The only reason Muslim women, like all other women, face oppression and sexism is because misogyny is a universal issue, rather than a religious one. It is also believed that the hijab is forced upon women because Islam is obsessed with the idea of purity and virginity, when in reality most women wear the hijab because they are faithful to their religion and intend to reflect their personal devotion to God.
3) Muslims/Arabs Do Not Support Violence and Terrorism.
It is extremely ironic that groups like ISIS commit heinous crimes in the name of Islam when the Prophet Muhammed himself instructed his followers to help their Christian neighbors and to go so far as to help them rebuild their churches. It is important for the world to understand that Islam is a religion of peace. As children we are taught to be as kind as can be to people of all different races, religions and genders. 5:32 in the Qur’an says “…whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” The Qur’an equates the soul of one to all of mankind, and to take one soul is to kill all of humanity. The Prophet Muhammed told his followers to do good by everyone, regardless of how they treat them. Kindness, generosity and peace is a fundamental aspect of Islam. Even in times of warfare there are Islamic laws that forbid the barbaric terrorism of groups like ISIS.
Islam perpetuates and instills clemency, compassion and humanity in its followers and it would be beneficial to all parties involved if the media stopped stereotyping Arabs/ Muslims in such harmful ways.