Common Misconceptions About Islam
It is a common notion among western and other parts of the world that Islam is full of wrongful and wicked things. Due to increase in biased use of internet from Anti-Islamic camps, and growing number of international electronic media who are involved in spreading propaganda by associating so called terrorist attacks with Muslims, and an ordinary person tends to believe in whatever they read, see, or listen against this religion.
Unfortunately, they are not the only ones who are taking part in blemishing the face of Islam; rather we Muslims too are partners in this crime. Allah Almighty has not just revealed His teachings for Muslims alone, but they are for the entire world population, and it is our duty to clarify all delusions of non believers by depicting true essence of our religious convictions in front of them.
Let us discuss some of the universal myths associated with Islam by non believers and how we can respond to them.
Misconception #1 – Islam Discourages Women Rights
Muslim world is targeted for being too strict in their behavior towards women. It is believed that females are only ordered to remain in their limits by wearing veil, when actually Allah SWT has also ordered men to behave rightfully. The following Quranic verse explains it well.
Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is acquainted with what they do. [24:30]
The meaning & concept of Hijab is misunderstood in general. It means more than just covering body parts, which is the first step but the second and most important part of it lies in actions. Islam does not discriminate between genders; rather it has raised the status of women by taking them from dark ages when they used to be buried alive by Arabs after birth. Veil is also meant for their protection from men who look at them with bad eyes, e.g. whenever a girl is teased in public place, obviously she would hate it if she is brought up well. On the other hand, lady who does not care about herself would rather enjoy it. Same is the philosophy of Islam, that it gives pious females to protect themselves from immorality by covering their body except face and hands. Veil does not necessarily means that typical long outfit, but it could be any dress which does not exhibit female body parts which could attract men.
Misconception #2 – Islam is Spread by Use of Force
It is believed and debated that Islam has always been increasing by sword. Non believers argue that Muslims conquered many parts of the world using violence; however, reality is quite opposite. Every battle that our Prohpet (PBUH) fought was in reaction to non believers for many of their oppressions on those who would embrace religion of peace. And in the end, when Muhammad (PBUH) won last fight that is of Makkah, He (PBUH) forgave each and every one of them. Later on, when Sahaba Karaam (R.A) fought battles, they were also meant for making peace and against the cruelty of enemy rulers against common people. If Muslims ever had used force, there would not remain a single Arab Christian or Jew.
There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. [2:256]
The above mentioned Ayah is the proof that Allah has never directed His followers to employ power against weak to widen His religion. For more on this topic, check out article discussing how Islam is a religion of peace, justice, and equality.
Misconception #3 – Marrying 4 Women is Compulsory in Islam
Anti-Islamic propaganda says that Islam is discriminative towards men and women, where former is allowed to marry four females, and latter with only a male. In pre Islamic times, women used to be treated as property and a man would keep as many women as he wanted. But Islam gave them higher and most deserved status by ordering Muslim males to have at least one female. There is compulsion on having four wives at time, rather it is advised to marry two or three more in case a man can treat them justly, otherwise it’s not allowed.
And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]. [4:3]
This Ayah also shows that Muslim men are not only directed to keep wives rightfully, but also that they should only marry more than one in case of orphan females, who have no one to take care of them.
Misconception #4 – Zakah is only for Muslims
There is a common idea that charity should be given to other poor Muslims only. This problem is very common among nowadays, and due to lack of knowledge of awareness, many of us spend most of their time in finding other needy Muslims when even non believers are living nearby. Allah says in the Holy Book:
Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. [9:60]
It can be seen in above Ayah Kareema that one can give its Zakah to every deprived person, irrespective of their social status or religion.
Miscoception #5 – Slavery is allowed in Islam
Islam teaches us to treat everyone equally, no matter what the societal rank of a person is. Non Muslims argue that Quran repeatedly mentions slaves in its verses, and it shows that servitude is allowed in Islam. But it is not true. The interpretation of those verses in done wrongly, as it was time of battles with Kuffars (non believers) and those who were captured were treated as slaves, and eventually freed when they had paid their payment. They used to be treated justly, and there was no discrimination done to them. Even, the prisoners of the battle of Badar were ranked as teachers who were freed for educating Muslim children as a source of ransom.
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. [2:177]
The beauty of Islam lies in equal treatment of all human beings, as seen in the above stated verse of Quran.
Misconception #6 – Terrorism and Jihad are same
The widely spread misunderstanding about Islam nowadays is that it has and always does promote violence and intimidation against non Muslims. But in reality, they are directed to fight those who tyrannize other people and do not let peace prevail.
Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. [2:193]
It can be observed in above mentioned Quanic verse that Muslims should only kill the ones who are tormenters, and leave the ones to live who are innocent. Terrorism and Jihad are two different things, the former is killing of everyone and the latter is fighting and killing oppressors. Islam preaches peace to the extent that the biggest Jihad is fighting against inner self to become a better Muslim.
These are some of the most common misconceptions regarding the teachings of Islam, who we Muslims should all speak about eloquently to remove the doubts of those who use them as basis of their argument to tarnish the face of Islam.