Dispelling Misconceptions About Islam — With A Muslim

About a day or two ago, my coworker and I got into a rather “heated” conversation over Islam and its teachings, stereotypes, and his overall bigotry. He is firm in his stance that all people who are of Arab descent and follow the teachings of Islam are terrorists, they are violent and so on. To this, I responded how most normal people would, politely disagreeing with that completely incorrect assumption. Although I am not Muslim, I have been taught that Islam is a religion of peace and one of the main teachings in the Quran is the message of peace. With that being said, I thought it would be better to get my answer from a primary source, a Muslim named Kadija Osman, who just happens to be a writer here at Affinity. In today’s article, you will be reading an interview I did with her about common misconceptions pertaining to Islam and people who practice its beliefs.

So the first misconception, Muslims don’t believe in Jesus and are not interested in him.

“Okay so that is false, we do believe in Jesus, he is one of our top 5 prophets but we call him Isa Ibn Maryam which translates to Jesus, son of Mary. Regarding him being relevant in Islam, he very much is because Muslims believe that Jesus is of a virgin birth and that he is the prophet and messenger of God. In our teachings that he never dies on the cross, but rather he was lifted up to God himself. He is the Messiah and will return to restore order and peace to the world.”

So not only do you believe in Jesus, but he is an important figure as well?

“That is correct.”

Okay then. Next misconception I’ve seen thrown out there a lot is all Muslims are Arab and come from the Middle East.

“That is most definitely not true. There are millions of Christians who are Arab. One of the first people to become Muslim was a Black Ethiopian by the name of Bilal so that alone debunks the theory that all Arabs are Muslim”

And isn’t it true that a large portion of the world’s Muslim population lives in Asian countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh?

“Absolutely! Africa has a large Muslim population as well.”

Millennial #MuslimGirls Having Fun
Muslim Girl / Getty Images

Okay, here’s the biggest misconception in my opinion, ‘Muslims support violence and terrorism.’

“That is incorrect, as the Quran states in chapter 5 verse 32, ‘Whoever so kills an innocent soul, it is as if they have killed all of mankind and whoever so saves an innocent soul it is as if they have saved all of mankind’. Also, there are Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet) such as ‘A Muslim is he whose hands and tongue people are safe from’. What people have to understand is that Islam is a way of life and therefore it encompasses every aspect of life, including warfare. What ISIS and so-called groups are doing completely goes against the doctrines of warfare. Islam is not a pacifistic religion when it is time to defend yourself, you have to defend yourself. If someone were to break into your house in the middle of the night and kill your wife and children, it makes sense that you would defend your rights, your family, and your wealth. Christianity has a saying that ‘if you get slapped on one cheek give the other’, Islam, however, teaches ‘If you get slapped on one cheek then you have a right to slap back but it is better to forgive’. Also, in Islam there is no concept of ‘collateral damage’, it is forbidden in war to kill innocents, period. The rules and regulations set down by our Prophet during war are as follows:

2. ‘Do not practice treachery or mutilation.'(Al-Muwatta)
3. ‘Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees.'(Al-Muwatta)
4. ‘Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food.’ (Al-Muwatta)
5. ‘If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam.’ (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
6. ‘Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship.’ (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
7. ‘Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle.'(Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
8. ‘Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience.’ (Sahih Muslim)
9. ‘No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire.’ (Sunan Abu Dawud).
10. ‘Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and to not do wrong even if they commit evil.’ (Al-Tirmidhi)”
So with all that being said, would you say that Islam is a religion of peace?
 “Yes. I would”
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So onto another common assumption, Islam oppresses women and Muslims place little value on women, family life, and children.
“Islam gave women rights way before any other religion. Islam was the first religion to give women inheritance over 1000 years ago. Although the women in the family will get a little less of the inheritance opposed to the men, this is only because the men have to care for the family with his inheritance, whereas the woman can do what she wants with hers. Also, when it comes to family life, it’s a must that the husband must care for his wife and children. As a matter of fact, let’s say the husband is making $50,000 a year and the wife is making one million a year, the man must use his money pay bills and care for the family. If the wife works and earns millions, the husband is prohibited from ever touching her money because it is her’s, whereas the wife can take the husbands money whenever she likes. There is a saying by the Prophet, ‘ the best of you are those who are good to their wives.’ Regarding children, there is a Hadith where a man came to Muhammad and said ‘I have ten children and I have never kissed one of them’ to which he replied, ‘The one that does not show mercy will not be shown Mercy from His Lord.'”
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 As we come closer to the end, I want to bring up a weird one that I’ve heard recently, which that Muslims don’t value education.
 “Muslims were the first to establish universities and we made major contributions to math and science.  A Muslim man actually created the concept of Algebra. If you look at Iraq from the 1970’s, it was very technologically advanced, so much so that Americans were going Iraq to study. Obviously, times have changed a lot of these Muslim countries many of them are now war-torn. All I am going to say is, you can’t bomb a country into the Stone Age and expect them to have high literacy and higher learning.”
And since this word is thrown around a lot, define ‘Jihad’ and explain its true significance versus what it is perceived as.
“Jihad in the English translates to “To Struggle.” Arabic speaking people use the word in their day to day dialect if they’re struggling with work, school or anything else for that matter. That word existed long before Islam. The greatest Jihad or struggle in Islam is to struggle with one’s own self. So an example of that would be that someone has to struggle with his or her own greed and making themselves give to the poor. When people see the word nowadays they see in their heads, a bunch of radical Muslims chopping off heads, because this is what the media portrays.”
Miriam Alster/FLASh90
Lastly to wrap up everything, do you any closing remarks? Anything you want the people reading this article to know?
 “Overall Muslims are not terrorists. When someone believes that, it and marginalizes more than one billion people. Not only is it ridiculous, it’s hurtful. And also like I mentioned earlier, Islam respects women and values peace.”
 So a lesson I believe we can gain from all this is just to not make assumptions, never be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know or fully understand something. Knowledge is power, my friends.

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