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Myths About Islam

Myth: Majority of Muslims are Arabs.

Truth: There are an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today. More than 80 percent of the world Muslims is not Arabs. Indonesia, with its population of 300 million, is the most populous Muslim country in the world. Its population matches the total of all the Arab countries combined.

There are also tens of millions of Muslims in China, former Soviet Union and India, and millions more in South Africa, Albania, France, and Great Britain. Today, an estimated 8 million Muslims live in the United States. They are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, business owners, etc. Muslim Americans are law-abiding, family oriented, tax-paying citizens who live in peace with their neighbors and co-workers, and contribute to the betterment of our nation. It is interesting to note that some twenty percent of Arabs are Christians.

Myth: Islam was spread by the sword and is intolerant of other faiths.

Truth: Let’s go to the source of Islamic teaching and see what it says. The Qur’an teaches, "If God did not check one group of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is remembered much, would have certainly been destroyed." (22:40) "There is no compulsion in religion." (2:256) In an article famous author James Michener wrote for Readers Digest, titled "Islam: The Misunderstood Religion" we read, "No other religion spread so rapidly as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge was made possible due to the sword. But no scholar accepts this idea, and the Koran is explicit in support of freedom of conscience."

Karen Armstrong wrote in Muhammad, “After Muhammad’s death Jews and Christian never required to convert to Islam but were allowed to practise their religion freely in the Islamic empire. Later Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs were also counted among the People of the Book. It has never been a problem for Muslims to coexist with people of other religions. The Islamic empire was able to play host to Christians and Jews for centuries.”

Jews and Christians have lived in peace for centuries under the Muslim governance. You find some of the oldest churches and synagogues still preserved and protected in the Muslim land. The Jews who were persecuted throughout Europe for centuries had always found the Muslim world accepting them and giving them refuge with open arms. Not long ago, Jews in Turkey celebrated 500 years of Judaism in Turkey. When the Muslim Spain was overran by Christians, Jews who had prospered under the Muslim rule for centuries were faced with conversion or extinction. They sought refuge from the Muslim Ottomans and have lived there and other Muslim countries in peace for centuries.

Myth: Men and women are not equal in Islam and women are oppressed.

Truth: According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, the majority of Americans accepting Islam are women. Would liberated American women become Muslims if it meant lack of equality and oppression?

Qur'an teaches, "For Muslim men and women, for believing man and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves,  for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and men and women who engage much in God's praise for them God has prepared forgiveness and great reward." (33:35)

Dr. Annie Besant wrote in her book, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, "The law of Islam in relation to women was until lately-when parts of it have been imitated in England- the most just in the world. Dealing with property, dealing with rights of succession and so on, dealing with cases of divorce, was far beyond the law of the West in respect which has been paid to the rights of women."

Myth: Muslims worship a desert god called Allah.

Truth: Muslims worship the One who created all things. The Qur’an say, "Praise be to Allah the Lord, Nourisher, and Sustainer of the universe." (1:2)  The same God who created Adam and was worshipped by him, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (Peace be upon them). Every nation has given a name to the Creator, such as God, Dios, etc. In Arabic this word for God is "Ilah." But the personal name that God has chosen for Himself is Allah. Thus the Islamic creed: There is no Ilah (god) except Allah.

Myth: How can we expect people to live based on Islam, which was meant for seventh-century Arabs? Is there any room for Islam in today’s technologically advanced world?

Truth: Did you know that the concept of democracy is more than 2,500 years old? Should we discard it because it is an ancient ideology? Is there any room for democracy in today’s technologically advanced world? Democracy is a manmade ideology with limitations that come with anything manmade. Islam is based on God’s knowledge, which is perfect and timeless. Need I say more!

In fact, science and technology as we know it today came from Muslims. Historian Dr. Robert Briffault wrote in The Making of Humanity: “It is highly probable that but for the Muslims, Modern European Civilization would never have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution. For although there is not a single aspect of human growth in which the decisive influence of Islamic culture is not traceable, nowhere is it so clear and momentous as in the genesis of the power which constitutes the paramount distinctive force and the modern world and the source of its victory—natural sciences and the scientific spirit…What we call science rose in Europe as a result of a new spirit of inquiry: Of new methods of investigation, of the method of experiment, observation, measurement, of the development of mathematics in a form unknown to the Greeks. That spirit and those methods were introduced into the European world by the Muslims.” John Hayes states in The Genius of Arab Civilization: Source of Renaissance, “It is an undisputed fact of History that Islamic civilization was the source of renaissance in Europe and this again was due to the teaching of Islam which encourages learning and scientific inquiry.” Need I say more!

Myth: Muslims want to take over the world and eliminate all non-Muslims.

Truth: Muslims already took over most of the known world and ruled it for more than one thousand years. So what happened to all those non-Muslims who lived under Islam? They lived in peace and prospered. Please see the answer given earlier on this matter for more detail.

There are many other myths and misconceptions. However, I believe the above explanation gives you an idea that they are not founded in facts.