Islam is the second most populous religion in the world, comprising more than 1.8 billion adherents world over, second only to Christianity which has 2.3 billion followers. The religion of Islam and the Islamic way of life is based on pure monotheism. Islam means to be at peace with one’s self and spirit, peace with other people, peace with other ways of life, peace with the universe, peace with God, and being at peace in life and after death. A misconception is referred to as a view or opinion that is incorrect based on faulty thinking or understanding. Islam is a religion often seen with suspicion and complexity. So here is a list of top 8 misconceptions you need to clear before next time you talk about Islam:
Misconception #1: ISLAM OPPRESSES WOMEN
‘Verily the most honorable to you in the sight of Allah is the most god conscious’
This is a verse taken from the Quran, the holy book of the Islam religion. Many of us think that Islam oppresses women and their rights. But in real Islam believes that real honor and status are not acquired on the grounds of caste, color, rich or poor, and male or female. It is achieved through faith, religion, and devotion. Unfortunately in some Muslim-dominated countries, women are deprived of equal rights. Such countries follow certain cultural practices and tradition that has nothing to do with Islam. Islam always allows equal rights for both men and women. This could be the right to pursue education, the right to divorce, and the choice of spouse.
Misconception #2: MUSLIMS DO NOT SPREAD GOOD AND NOBEL IDEAS
The building of Islam rests on five pillars:
(i) Shahadat (testimony of faith)
(ii) Prayers in the form of namaaz are held 5 times daily facing towards the west where it is Mecca
(iii) Haj- every Islamist chief wishes to go on pilgrimage to the holiest place for Islam
(iv) The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting or Roza. In Ramzan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, every mature and healthy man and woman fast. The main aim of fasting is to avoid ‘disobeying God and avoid sins’
(v) ZAKAT, i.e. distribution of their income for ‘dan’ to poor people. Islam is a religion of peace, compassion, mercy, love, and brotherhood.
Misconception #3: ISLAM ALLOWS TERRORISM
This is one of the biggest and the most common false thoughts about Islam. This is the result of constant stereotyping and bashing that the media gives Islam. Islam does not permit anyone to even destroy a plant or to kill an animal unnecessarily. Islam establishes equality and brotherhood amongst all mankind. The term ‘jihad’ literally means ‘struggle’. According to Muslims, there are two kinds of jihad. The other ‘jihad’ is the inner battle of the soul. But some small fringe groups (though in minority) are tasked to spread hatred against other religions treating the latter as ‘kafirs’ and inferior defaming Islam as the terrorist brand. War, is the last resort and is subject to the rigorous circumstances laid down by the sacred law.
Misconception #4: HIJAB IS OPPRESSIVE
To practice hijab, Muslim women are required to cover every part of their body with clothes that do not allow their body to reveal in front of an unknown male. These women observe hijab as the command from Allah. They believe Allah knows what is right or wrong for his procreation. Hijab allows and empowers a woman to show her inner intelligence and beauty than dramatizing her physical elegance.
Misconception #5: ISLAM FORCES TO BECOME MUSLIM
No one can force any individual to eat, sleep or study. Similarly, no Muslim can force Islam on anyone. The duty of a Muslim is to spread Islamic ideas and teachings but cannot force anyone to accept Islam. For accepting Islam voluntarily one has to be both mentally and spiritually ready to believe and obey God.
Misconception #6: ISLAM FAVORS FORCED MARRIAGE
Arrange marriage is still a concept followed by many countries be it Muslim dominant or not. Islam gives equal justice to both males and females to choose their spouse, and in fact, the marriage will be canceled if the woman’s approval is not granted before the marriage.
Misconception # 7: ALL MUSLIMS ARE ARAB
Islam is the second most populous religion of the world, comprising of more than 1.4 billion disciples the world over, second only to Christianity which has 2 billion followers. Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims. India has the second-largest population of Muslims. Pakistan is behind. Muslims are preachers of Islam whereas Arabs are an ethnolinguistic group of people most of whom are Muslim in religion but many of whom are not.
Misconception #8: ISIS MEMBERS ARE MUSLIMS
The cruel members of ISIS unashamedly ignore the concepts, the ideology, and the main essence of the Quran. Quran is completely against the unwanted killing of plants, animals, and human life existing on this planet. ISIS members target the poor people who live in poverty and are improvised and desperate. These are the people who disrespect the Quran thus are not Muslims.