Islam is Allah’s message for mankind. And around it for several centuries of existence, a large number of myths have formed, as well as around other religions of the world. Many of these misconceptions have long been debunked, although some still act as a tool for manipulating destructive organizations.
Fortunately, we live in the era of new technologies and open information space, we don’t have to always be victims of somebody else’s ignorance and reinforce incorrect stereotypes. Misconceptions can be overcome only by one means – knowledge.
Here are the 10 most common misconceptions about Islam:
1. All Muslims are Arabs
Of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, more than 60% live in South and Southeast Asia, and Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country. In the United States, the largest Muslim group is African Americans and South Asians. In addition, not all Arabs are Muslim, and some Arab countries have large Christian and Jewish communities.
2. Islam oppresses women
This is definitely one of the hottest topics to discuss. It is important to be aware of the difference between the influence of culture and tradition and the prescriptions of religion. In many cultures around the world, including Muslim countries, Patriarchy reigns, on the basis of which society is built and its rules, traditions, and the roles of men and women in society. Islam is a religion that preaches gender equality, not the same rights, different, but equally important roles for both men and women.
3. Muslims don’t revere Jesus (AS)
Muslims revere, respect and love Jesus (AS) the son of Maryam(AS). Many Muslims name their sons after him and their daughters after his mother. Jesus is considered as one of the great Prophets of Islam, who, by the Will of Allah, performed such miracles as raising the dead, talking in the cradle and reviving clay birds. We believe that Jesus (AS) was a Messenger to his people and taught the same teaching that all the Prophets before him came with – worship no one or anything but the One Allah. According to Islam, the main task and Message of Jesus (AS) was to correct the debauched Jewish society, remove some burdensome religious obligations from them, and preach the good news of the coming of the next Messenger from Allah to all nations. A Muslim cannot be considered a Muslim if he denies Jesus (AS) and believes that he was not a Prophet of Allah. There is an entire chapter in the Quran named after the mother of Jesus, Maryam (AS).
4. Muslims worship the Moon
The traditional Crescent is not a canonical symbol of Islam, such as the cross of Christians or the star of David of Jews. The Crescent became popular during the Ottoman Empire in countries such as Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan. But this is more a symbol of political power, rather than a religious attribute of Islam.
5. Muslims worship the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Muhammad was a Prophet of Allah (PBUH), just as Moses (AS), Noah (AS), Abraham were Prophets of Allah. He was favored by Allah, that is why he was chosen to bring forth the Quran over all other men of his time. As great as he was, however, Muhammad was a mere mortal. He was not the Son of Allah or the earthly embodiment of Allah and, as such, should not be worshipped. As the Quran tells us time and time again, Allah is the sole being worthy of praise and should not be overlooked in favor of His Prophets.
6. Muslims worship the Ka’bah
None of the Muslims do not worship neither the Ka’bah nor the Black stone.
In fact, the Black stone only serves as an indication of where the circumambulation around the sacred House should begin, no more.
The Ka’bah also tells Muslims which way to turn in order to perform Salat.
When Hz Umar, one of the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), walked around the Ka’bah and kissed the Black stone, he said: “I know that you are only a stone, and you do no harm or good. And if I had not seen the messenger of Allah kiss you, I would never have done it” (al-Bukhari).
Thus, Hz Umar kissed the Black stone only because he saw the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) include this action in the rites of the Hajj. Following the example of the Prophet, Hz Umar made the pilgrimage as the Prophet (PBUH) himself did.
7. Islam promotes terrorism
One of the most powerful misconceptions about Islam. The result of the cliches and flagellations of Islam imposed by the mass media. The media is very biased against Muslims when it comes to terrorist attacks. They paint a Muslim as a terrorist. But the real picture is that Islam does not allow anyone to destroy even a single plant or kill an animal unnecessarily. Islam is based on a policy of peace, love, compassion, unity and brotherhood. Read more about Islamophobia in Mainstream Media here.
8. Muslim men should marry more than one wife
This misconception must have a historical context. 14 centuries ago, at the time of the rise of Islam, social structures did not grant women any rights, marriage for her meant protection, home and rights. The right to marry multiple wives was introduced to help widowed and divorced women maintain social well-being. Moreover, a man is not recommended to take more than one wife if he is unable to provide for both of them and treat them equally fairly. In most Muslim countries and communities, this practice is perceived as an outdated tradition.
9. Shariah is cruel
It is a set of rules and regulations of the Almighty designed to protect and benefit humanity. Yes, it contains the criminal code and the legal system, but this is only one side. Because Shariah includes specific moral, ethical, social and political norms of behavior. It allows each person to form a permanent relationship with the Allah. And its laws give people the guidance they need to overcome good over evil.
10. Allah is a God exclusive to Muhammad
Some people believe that Allah is a special Islamic deity, but in fact, Allah means The One God in Arabic. Christian Arabs use the word Allah when they pray to God. Muslims believe that Allah-God is the only deity worshiped by believers, who was worshiped by Isa (Jesus)(AS), Musa (Moses)(AS) and other biblical Prophets.