Islam is a monotheistic religion like Christianity and Judaism. It is the world’s second-largest religion with over 1.9 billion followers or 24.4% of the world’s population. People who follow the teachings of Islam are generally known as Muslims.
As a Christian myself, I admire the Muslims’ sincerity and a strong passion for their religion. Islam itself means ‘submission to the will of God’ and ‘Peace.’ It makes me sad that many non-Muslims take them as dangerous people or communities. Islamophobia has even emerged globally.
I’m so grateful that God allowed me to experience living a life with our brothers and sisters in Islam in the middle east. I can attest that Islam is way unlikely from what we see in the news or social media. Here are the eleven myths which illustrate Islam and Muslims way differently.
Eleven Myths about Islam and Muslims which I learned!
1. Muhammad as their god
A complete myth! Muhammad (PBUH) was a prophet, a messenger of God to humanity. In Islam, he was sent to confirm the monotheistic teachings spoken previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and other prophets. Muhammad said that he was sent to humanity to inform us that we need to worship God alone (Surah-Hud 11:02).
Islam also teaches that Allah is the Creator of all things: He is the One, the Supreme and Irresistible (Surah Ar-Rad 13:16). So, saying that Muslims worship Muhammad is not correct.
2. Muslims are only Arabs or Middle Eastern
While many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where Islam originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. Most of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, and Turkey.
I belong to one of the far-east countries. In addition to Indonesia, we have Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, home to Muslims. In the west, there are also American and European Muslims! So, saying that Muslims are all Arabs because they have a beard or wearing abaya or hijab is a myth.
3. Islam promotes terrorism
It is a highly sensitive topic! But I say that Islam does not promote terrorism or any aggressive act. Not at all! You will probably strongly disagree because of the word ‘jihad,’ which we connote to ‘holy war.’ And the fact that we see terrorism in the news or social media, which all links to Islam. But that is incorrect. I suggest reading this phenomenal book called ‘The Supreme Jihad.’ It is authored by Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Canadian-Pakistani Islamic scholar. The book has taught me the true meaning of Jihad, which is self-war.
Self-war means to fight against your inner lower-self. It connotes us to conquer and control the violent lusts and desires of our lower self. Self-war means to remember God always and let our heart shines glorifying Him. I learned that Islam promotes peace, security, and tranquility. Terrorism is not Islam.
Without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.Surah Ar-Rad 13:28
Allah’s object also is to purge those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing Those that resist Faith.Surah-Imran 3:141
Regardless of whether a person believes or does not believe in Islam’s faith, Islam teaches that respect and love should be thereupon that person because God rejects killings and oppression to all.
4. Quran is the only holy book
Previously I thought that’s how Muslims teach it. But I learned that in Islam, there are four holy books.
- Quran – is the heart of the teachings of Islam. This was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by God through Angel Gabriel (Jibril in Islam).
- Tawrat or Torah – this was revealed to Prophet Moses (Musa in Islam).
- Zabur – is interpreted as being the Book of Psalms. As being the holy scripture revealed to King David (Dawud in Islam).
- Injil or Gospel – was the holy book revealed to Jesus (Isa in Islam). For us Christians, like me, this is our Bible.
So, saying that Islam teaches that Quran is the only holy book is a myth.
5. Islam oppresses women
It is somewhat like myth number three. We see Muslim men as dominant over women. But Islam teaches us to be loving, respectful, and to have a soft heart. Quran has a whole chapter dedicated to Women (Surah An-Nisa).
To those weak of understanding Make not over your property, which Allah hath made a means of support for you, but feed and clothe them therewith, and speak to them words of kindness and justice.Surah An-Nisa 4:5
Islam promotes kindness and justice for women!
6. Muslims don’t believe to Jesus
Previously I thought the same, but I learned that this is a myth. Islam believes that there are four holy books, and Injil (Gospel) is enough proof of the myth. In Quran, Jesus’ life was narrated, and a chapter dedicated to Mary (Surah-Maryam), mother of Jesus, was revealed.
“…O Mary! Behold, God gives you good news of a word from Him, who shall become known as the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary…”Surah Al-Imran 3:45
7. Muslims worship the moon
I find this funny because this is not true. Islam has strong teaching to worship God alone. As a monotheistic believer myself, I love this part of the Quran – Al Ikhlas 112 (The Unity).
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him.
So, there’s no way they worship the moon. In history, the star and crescent are iconographic symbols used in various historical contexts. They are also best known as a symbol of the Ottoman Empire. At times it is considered as a symbol of Islam by extension. Most likely because following the Islamic calendar, Muslims need to look at the moon to confirm dates.
8. Muslims are the same
I grew up knowing that there is only one type of Muslim. I thought that there is only one sect, unlike Christianity. In the Christian world, we have Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, and many others. But I found out that Islam has two main sects, which are Sunnis and Shia. There is also Kharijite and other denominations and sub-sects. I also learned about Sufism. It’s an Islamic mystical-ascetic dimension and is represented by orders known as Tasawwufī-Ṭarīqah. Sufism teaches the purification of the inner self. So, this is like a higher level of ‘Jihad,’ I would say.
I was really surprised! There is more a lot to learn!
9. Muslim men have long beard
Okay, another myth! I worked with many Muslim men, and not all keep their beards. Most of them trim their beards too. I think Muslims who has long beard are Imams – an Islamic leadership position. Also, Muslims want to be noble in all ways of life. So, they seek to follow the moral example of the Prophet of Islam. The growing of beards is also linked with piousness and manhood for thousands of years across many cultures and civilizations. It is common in many religions. So, that explains.
10. Muslim men always wear turban
It is like number nine, though not all the time Muslim men wear turban or Taqiyah. Usually, they wear this during prayers and when they are in the mosque. Unlike women, they are required to wear hijab not only during prayers but also outside their home. There are numerous debates about women’s requirements of wearing jihab and abaya. Still, I think the essence of hijab and abaya is sanctifying a woman in the external aspect.
11. Muslims are arrogant and aggressive
To be honest, regardless of what religion a person is into, if he is an A-hole, it’s unfair to link his character or attitude toward his religion. I have been with many Muslims, and they are some of the humble and kind people I have met. I have read and watched Islamic lectures, and the common denominator is to promote tolerance and humility.
There you have it. I hope I was able to shed light on our dear Muslim brothers and sisters. My take on this? Let’s encourage one another to educate ourselves in terms of one’s faith. To understand and blend, we must be tolerant and obtain openness to one another regardless of what faith or religion one has. The Quran and the Bible teach us one common ground, to love one another in remembrance and honor of our Almighty God!
“And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loveth those who do good.”Al Baqara 2:195
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