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Top 10 Misconceptions in Islam MISCONCEPTION #1: Muslims are violent, terrorists and/or extremists.

This is the biggest misconception in Islam, no doubt resulting from the constant stereotyping and bashing the media gives Islam. When a gunman attacks a mosque in the name of Judaism, a Catholic IRguerrilla sets off a bomb in an urban area, or Serbian Orthodox militiamen rape and kill innocent Muslim civilians, these acts are not used to stereotype an entire faith. Never are these acts attributed to the religion of the perpetrators. Yet how many times have we heard the words 'Islamic, Muslim fundamentalist. etc.' linked with violence. Politics in so called "Muslim countries" may or may not have any Islamic basis. Often dictators and politicians will use the name of Islam for their own purposes. One should remember to go to the source of Islam and separate what the true religion of Islam says from what is portrayed in the media. Islam literally means 'submission to God' and is derived from a root word meaning 'peace'. Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion doesn't dominate everyday life in the West, whereas Islam is considered a 'way of life' for Muslims and they make no division between secular and sacred in their lives. Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. NOWHERE DOES ISLAM ENJOIN THE KILLING OF INNOCENTS.. The Quran says: "Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors." (Quran 2:190) "If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things." (Quran 8:61) War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term 'jihad' literally means 'struggle'. Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. The other 'jihad' is the inner struggle of the soul which everyone wages against egotistic desires for the sake of attaining inner peace. MISCONCEPTION #2: Islam oppresses women. The image of the typical Muslim woman wearing the veil and forced to stay home and forbidden to drive is all too common in most peoples thoughts. Although some Muslim countries may have laws that oppress women, this should not be seen as coming from Islam. Many of these countries do not rule by any kind of Shari'ah (Islamic law) and introduce their own cultural standpoints on the issue of gender equity. Islam on the other hand gives men and women different roles and equity between the two is laid down in the Quran and the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Islam sees a woman,

God has an identical name in Judaism. in Hebrew. from dealing kindly and justly with them. Allah is the same God worshiped by Muslims. it is an Arabic word of rich meaning. though. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. According to Islam. MISCONCEPTION #4: Islam was spread by the sword and intolerant of other faiths. denoting the one and only God and ascribing no partners to Him. A Muslim marriage is a simple. Muslims believe that Allah's sovereignty is to be acknowledged in worship and in the pledge to obey His teaching and commandments. of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population. does not get tired. and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband's. Both men and women are expected to dress in a way that is modest and dignified. with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. MISCONCEPTION #3: Muslims worship a different God. 60:8) Freedom of religion is laid down in the Quran itself: "There is no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam). This. However. The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said: "The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and kindest to his wife. He.. or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion. Christianity. The right direction is distinctly clear from error". and Islam. a Muslim girl cannot be forced to marry against her will: her parents simply suggest young men they think may be suitable. Arnold had this opinion on his study of the question of the spread of Islam: ". it should be noted that God in Islam is One and Only. Allah for Muslims is the greatest and most inclusive of the Names of God. legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Allah is simply the Arabic word for God.W. T. (2:256) Christian missionary. with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes.whether single or married. does not have a son ie Jesus or have associates. use for God (eloh). the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God. the Exalted. Divorce is not common. although it is acceptable as a last resort. Christians and Jews. Many social studies textbooks for students show the image of an Arab horseman carrying a sword in one hand and the Quran in the other conquering and forcibly converting. as an individual in her own right. The Quran says: "God forbids you not. nor does He have human-like attributions as found in other faiths. for God loveth those who are just. conveyed through His messengers and prophets who were sent at various times and in many places throughout history. is not a correct portrayal of history. A marriage gift is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use. It is exactly the same word which the Jews. we hear . Islam has always given respect and freedom of religion to all faiths." Violence of any kind towards women and forcing them against their will for anything is not allowed.

The Muslim population of the world is around 1. which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The only thing common between them is the jargon. nationalities. they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain... "The Nation of Islam" is a misnomer. "O mankind! We created you from a single soul. and property were safe. There are about 6 million Muslims in the United States. 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa. they are most numerous in Russia and its newly independent states.nothing. 18% in the Arab world. this religion should be called Farrakhanism. after the name of its propogator. Racism is not a part of Islam. 30% of Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts. male and female. The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether the person is Muslim or not. God is All-Knowing. and this is why nonMuslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. . Although there are Muslim minorities in almost every area. or Louis XIV made Protestanism . MISCONCEPTION #6: The Nation of Islam is a Muslim group. 17% in Southeast Asia. They are a vast range of races. and cultures from around the globe--from the Phillipines to Nigeria--they are united by their common Islamic faith. India and central Africa. Louis Farrakhan. (49:13) MISCONCEPTION #5: All Muslims are Arabs. Only about 18% live in the Arab world and the largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. the language used by both. the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. so that you may come to know one another. NOI is more of a political organization since its members are not limited to a single faith. and that their places of worship would never be taken from them. he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him on a visit to all the holy places. Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives. Muslims consider this group to be just one of many cults using the name of Islam for their own gain. the Quran speaks only of human equality and how all peoples are equal in the sight of God. 1 out of 5 people in the world is a Muslim.Aware. Islam and the so called "Nation of Islam'" are two different religions. and made you into nations and tribes." It is a function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities. Iran and Afghanistan make up 10% of the non-Arab Middle East. Most Muslims live east of Pakistan. Truly. and 10% in the Soviet Union and China. Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action. All. including Latin America and Australia. Turkey.2 billion.

What the Qur'anic decrees amount to. the Quran and 2. made it more humane. Polygamy is neither mandatory. the only difference being in one's piety. Islam. . while in Islam there is no racism and everyone is considered equal in the sight of God.Islam and Farakhanism differ in many fundamental ways. No woman can be forced into this kind of marriage if they do not wish it. nor encouraged. Any teachings under the label of "Islam" which contradict or at variance with the direct understanding of fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam form the Quran and authentic Hadith should be rejected and such a religion should be considered a Pseudo-Islamic Cult. Any serious student of Islam has a duty to investigate and find the true Islam. The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Permission to practice polygamy is not associated with mere satisfaction of passion. There are many other theological examples that show the 'Nation's teachings have little to do with true Islam. It is a very tiny percentage of Muslims that practice it over the world. problems and cultural variations. For example. and instituted equal rights and status for all wives. It is rather associated with compassion toward widows and orphans. It is both honest and accurate to say that it is Islam that regulated this practice. An honest attitude on the part of such cults should be not to call themselves Muslims and their religion Islam. as a man is only allowed at most four wives only if he can fulfill the stringent conditions of treating each fairly and providing each with separate housing etc. such an example of honesty is Bahaism which is an off-shoot of Islam but Bahais do not call themselves Muslims nor their religion. and they also have the right to exclude it in their marriage contract. However. It is also evident that the general rule in Islam is monogamy and not polygamy. according to the Quran. limited it. who had as many as ten or more wives and considered them "property". Images of "sheikhs with harems" are not consistent with Islam. In fact Bahaism is not Islam just as Farrakhanism is not Islam. The only two authentic sources which bind every Muslim are 1. It was the Quran that limited and put conditions on the practice of polygamy among the Arabs. In America there are many pseudo-Islamic cults. MISCONCEPTION #7: All Muslim men marry four wives. authentic or sound Hadith. Farakhan followers believe in racism and that the 'black man' was the original man and therefore superior. permission to practice limited polygamy is only consistent with Islam's realistic view of the nature of man and woman and of various social needs. only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair. There are many groups in America who claim to represent Islam and call their adherents Muslims. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife but the right is granted. taken together is discouragement of polygamy unless necessity for it exists. Farrakhanism being one of them. but merely permitted.

It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. for according to the Prophet (pbuh). Rather than requiring hypocritical and superficial compliance. however far more than the inherent flexibility of Islam. and also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics). and his mother shortly afterwards. MISCONCEPTION #8: Muslims are barbaric. which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate. This event. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near Mecca. As he grew up. and history. and provides for legitimate and clean solutions which are far more beneficial than would be the case if they were ignored. the quadrant and good navigational maps. The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old. Muhammad(pbuh) was born in Mecca in the year 570. Many crucial systems such as algebra. generosity and sincerity. and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him. literature. After several years. There is no doubt that the second wife legally married and treated kindly is better off than a mistress without any legal rights or expermanence. including the astrolabe. the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Mecca. Islam delves deeper into the problems of individuals and societies. brought about great advances in medicine. physics. 'seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman'. Muhammad (pbuh) was of a deeply religious nature. he became known for his truthfulness. Muhammad(pbuh) received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. architecture. were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Before the . astronomy. marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.The question is. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed. geography. the Arabic numerals. where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. the Hijra 'migration'. MISCONCEPTION #9: Muhammad was the founder of Islam and Muslims worship him. it also is the frank and straightforward approach of Islam in dealing with practical problems. As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel. Within a few years. art. in which they left Mecca for the city of Medina. At the age of 40. mathematics. backward people. Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrineIslam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution. so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. Since his father died before his birth. great civilizations and universities were flourishing. The historians describe him as calm and meditative. and had long detested the decadence of his society. while engaged in a meditative retreat. This revelation. he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. which continued for 23 years is known as the Quran.

"(33:45-6) MISCONCEPTION #10: Muslims don't believe in Jesus or any other prophets. God creates what He will." (3:59) During his prophetic mission Jesus (u) performed many miracles. upon him be peace. and one of those brought near to God. He created him of dust. Muslims believe all the prophets from Adam. he is not considered the "founder" of Islam. He died with less than 5 possessions to his name. A Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus'. the greater part of Arabia was Muslim. verily We have sent you as a witness and a bearer of glad tidings and a warner and as one who invites unto God by His leave and as an illuminating lamp. the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. Jesus etc. When He decrees a thing. but to confirm and renew it. The Quran tells us that he said: " I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay. honored in this world and the Hereafter.Prophet saw dies at the age of 63. 'Be!' and he was. The Quran confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Mary'). "O Prophet. "Be!" and it is" (Quran 3:42-47) Jesus (u) was born miraculously through the same power. and purified you. but they do not worship him. Jesus son of Mary. and shall be of the righteous. Moses. While Muhammad (pbuh) was chosen to deliver the message. They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. He says to it. but Muhammad(pbuh) was sent to all of mankind. The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows: "Behold!" the Angel said. since Muslims consider Islam to be the same divine guidance sent to all peoples before. and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. and chosen you above the women of all nations. the figure of a bird. were all sent with divine guidance for their peoples. and breath into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave. Muhammad is the last and final messenger sent to deliver the message of Islam. Noah. God gives you good news of a word from Him whose name shall be the Messiah. but always adds the phrase 'upon him be peace' (abbreviated as (u) here). He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity. which had brought Adam (u) into being without a father: "Truly. and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China. O Mary. and then said to him. and I raise the dead by God's leave." She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?" He said: "Even so. And I heal the blind. "God has chosen you. Every prophet was sent to his own people." (3:49) Neither Muhammad (pbuh) not Jesus (u) came to change the basic doctrine of the brief in One God brought by earlier prophets. Muslims revere and honor him (pbuh) for all he went through and his dedication. and await his Second Coming. Muslims respect and revere Jesus. as it were. . and the lepers.

The fire of hell in this world is hotter than that of the hell in the world-beyond. (3:50) The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "Whoever believes there is no god but God. . But in many other planes of existence inhabitants have less chance for this realization. decay. In certain places there is more suffering than pleasure while in some other places there is more pleasure than suffering. People can burn the entire world with some of these fires of mental discord. According to the Buddha. alone without partner. 'The idea of one particular readymade place or a place created by god as heaven and hell is not acceptable to the Buddhist concept.In the Quran Jesus (u) is reported as saying that he came: "To attest the law which was before me. as the human realm is a mixture of both pain and happiness. From the Buddhist point of view. Thus the Buddhist conception of heaven and hell is very reasonable. 'When the average ignorant person makes an assertion to the effect that there is a Hell (patala) under the ocean he is making a statement which is false and without basis. His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him. and that Paradise and Hell are true. so fear God and obey Me. the easiest way to define hell and heaven is that where ever there is more suffering. Buddhists do not accept that these places are eternal. we are burning from eleven kinds of physical pain and mental agony: lust. shall be received by God into Heaven. pain(physical and mental). From a Buddhist point of view. Hell is a temporary place and there is no reason for those beings to suffer there forever. The Buddha's Teaching shows us that there are heavens and hells not only beyond this world. I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. worry. There is no fire equal to anger. "(Hadith related by Bukhari). The Buddhist concept of heaven and hell is entirely different from that in other religions. However. lamentation. either in this world or any other worldly existence. And where there is more pleasure or happiness. For instance. The Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell The wise man makes his own heaven while the foolish man creates his own hell here and hereafter. but in this very world itself. that place is a heaven to those who enjoy their worldly life in that particular place. that Muhammad (pbuh) is His messenger. hatred. It is unreasonable to condemn a man to eternal hell for his human weakness but quite reasonable to give him every chance to develop himself. the Buddha once said. either in this world or any other plane. illusion sickness. The word 'Hell' is a term for painful sensations. those who go to hell can work themselves upward by making use of the merit that they had acquired previously. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you. human beings experience both pain and happiness and will be able to realize the real nature of life. that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God. There are no locks on the gates of hell. that place is a hell to those who suffer. melancholy and grief. death. lust or greed and ignorance.

In Christian belief. which originally referred to any spirit but came to be associated with only evil spirits. if the predominant thought reflects meritorious action. This future existence is conditioned by the last thought-moment a person experiences at the point of death.Buddhists believe that after death rebirth can take place in any one of a number of possible existences. Buddhists can practise their religion without aiming at heaven or without developing fear of hell. and became demons. Whether a daemon was benevolent or malevolent. He is identified with the serpent who tempts Adam and Eve in Genesis. There is a description in the Book of Revelation 12:7-17 of a battle between God's army and Satan's followers and their subsequent expulsion from Heaven to earth to persecute humans. determined by another dominating 'kammic' energy. In Christian teaching. There is no god behind the scene of heaven and hell. But that state is temporary and when it is exhausted a new life must begin all over again. Hell is another temporary place where those evil doers experience more physical and mental suffering. This last thought which determines the next existence results from the past actions of a man either in this life or before that. and scholars debate the time in which first century usage by Jews and Christians in its original Greek sense became transformed to the later medieval sense. angels were created good but were endowed with free will just as humans were. angels In Christian belief. 11) is ambiguous as to whether daemons had become 'demonized' by the early 5th century: . then he will find his future existence in a happy state. Heaven is a temporary place where those who have done good deeds experience more sensual pleasures for a longer period. Each and every person experiences according to his good and bad kamma." Saint Augustine's reading of Plotinus. the Greek word most meant something different from the later medieval notions of 'demon'. all related to the idea of a spirit that inhabited a place or accompanied a person. In Luke 10:18 it is mentioned that a power granted by Jesus to control demons made Satan "fall like lightning from heaven. Hence. This repetitious process goes on endlessly unless one arrives at 'Right View' and makes a firm resolve to follow the Noble Path which produces the ultimate happiness of Nibbana. daemon had a number of meanings. Their main idea is character building and mental training. the leader of the rebellious angels was Satan. In New Testament times. were banished from heaven. who has became humanity's chief adversary. Some of them rebelled against God. It is not justifiable to believe that such places are permanent. The English word "demon" derives from the Greek daemon (δαίμων). Buddhist never try to introduce Buddhism by frightening people through hell-fire or enticing people by pointing to paradise. in City of God (ch.

An indefinite time later. Christian mythology built upon later Jewish traditions that Satan and his host declared war with God. ."He (Plotinus) also states that the blessed are called in Greek eudaimones. authorized to be performed only by bishops and those they designate.-Of the Opinion of the Platonists. these angels. now called demons. but Michael was given the honor of victory in the natural order. this being the worst possible punishment. the Catholic Church unequivocally teaches that angels and demons are real personal beings. good demons. God then cast his enemies from Heaven to the abyss of the earth. Their defeat was never in question. or by prayers of deliverance which any Christian can offer for themselves or others. According to popular tradition. when God created the earth and humans. This pain is not all physical. demonically afflicted persons can be effectively healed and protected either by the formal rite of exorcism. This rebellious angel was named Satan (lit. would be deprived of the sight of God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Building upon the few references to demons in the New Testement. Christian writers of apocrypha from the 2nd century onwards created a more complicated tapestry of beliefs about "demons" that was independent of Christian scripture. who subsequently drew her husband Adam into her crime. 11. defeated the rebels. the fall of Satan is portrayed in Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14. One of these angels desired to be as powerful as God. Satan and the other demons were allowed to tempt humans or induce them to sin by other means. or be cast apart from him. he offered them the same choice he was to offer humanity: follow. John Corapi's article). not just symbolic devices of literature and myth (see Fr. but God's army. into a newly created prison called Hell where all his enemies should be sentenced to an eternal existence of pain and misery. According to Christian mythology. instead choosing the path of evil." (City of God. commanded by the archangel Michael (archangel). especially the visionary poetry of the Apocalypse of John. who teach that demons attack humans and that Christ came to deliver us from Satan's evil rule by power in this fashion. the permission granted to Satan and his demons to tempt the first humans away from their Creator will now last until the end of this world for all people. that the Souls of Men Become Demons When Disembodied) In any case. and seduced a host of his companions to follow him against their ruler. "adversary"). When God created angels. as part of the punishment. The first time Satan did this was in the earthly paradise or Garden of Eden to tempt Eve. Upon their failure. for their crimes. According to the Catholic Church. Some angels chose not to follow God. ch. because they are good souls. The Catholic Church has a cadre of exorcists. confirming his opinion that the souls of men are demons. to become himself the new sovereign. that is to say.

the souls of the dead that were condemned to Hell. arose during the 6th century. It seems quite certain that these were the sins that caused Satan's downfall (Ezek. Augustine and John Chrysostom.") as indicating that instead of being satisfied with the dignity once for all assigned to them under the Son of God. he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. and God are not part of Christian demonology or literal scripture but the theory of the Unification Church. giving rise to a race of half-human giants known as the Nephilim. this view. 28). There are still others who say that the sin of the angels was pride and disobedience. championed by Origen.According to Christian demonology demons will be eternally punished and never reconciled with God. "estate" or "principality" in Deuteronomy 32:8 and Jude 6 ("And the angels which kept not their first estate. If this be the true view then we are to understand the words. Other theories alleging the reconciliation of Satan. the fallen angels. demons are generally considered to be angels who fell from grace by rebelling against God. the primary sin of fallen angels was considered to be that of mating with mortal women. However. Origen. as it is mentioned in the Bible. Jerome and Gregory of Nyssa mentioned this possibility before it was generally accepted that the fallen state is eternal. Prior to that time. . In contemporary Christianity. they aspired higher. but left their own habitation.