As a Muslim who lives the life according to the fundamental Islamic teachings, I find it strange that there are still misunderstandings about my religion. The level of dispute amongst the majority of the global population is real, but more often, purposely if not glaringly put forward into the discussion as a fictional version of Islam.
The media, which is controlled by those who have the capitals (or easily translated as money), can sometimes provide falsification facts with a twisted explanation to support their illogical arguments. The discussion about Islam from far left to right is not going to end easily until the Muslims follow what the Non-Muslims believe as the correct version of a religion.
Allah says in the Holy Quran: “And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say; “Surely Allah’s guidance, that is the (true) guidance”. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper (2:120).”
So, let’s dive down to 10 most glaring misconceptions about Islam which I have full intention to counter argue using the intellectual instruments of logical thinking and facts, on top of mainly using the miraculous wisdom from the Holy Quran.
10. Islam Promotes Humbleness (Zuhd) to the level of becoming Wealthy is like committing a Sin.
First and foremost, becoming wealthy through valid means and according to the Islamic principles is not a sin, but moreover, is an instruction from Allah s.w.t. for all Muslims to work hard and become successful in this world and hereafter. That means Islam encourages Muslims to be wealthy through legitimate means.
Abdul Rahman Auf r.a. is an example of a productive and successful Muslim who had been guaranteed a place in Jannah or Paradise. Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) had said that Abdul Rahman Auf r.a. was amongst those who have been promised a ticket to heaven as he donated almost all of his wealth to the cause of Islam.
Not only that, there were previous Prophets before the time of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) in the Islamic history who were bestowed by Allah s.w.t. with the Kingdoms, Power and Wealth such as Prophet Sulaiman a.s. (King Solomon) and Prophet Daud a.s. (King David).
And most of us failed to recognize that Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) himself was a successful business person and came from a noble and pious family background. He frequently traveled to Sham and other places during the era of pre-Islamic to trade together with his beloved wife, Saiyadatina Khadijah r.a.
They remained resourceful with adequate funds and assets during the early years of Islam.
The misconception that becoming wealthy is haram in Islam should be corrected. Instead, Muslims should work harder to become pious and a God Fearing wealthy person or even a billionaire.
9. Wearing A Hijab is a Prove of Iman (Attestation of Faith)
Most people, Muslims included believe that wearing a Hijab is equivalent to becoming a good Muslim. It is a very fashionable headgear nowadays, and even there are hijab swim-suits for Muslim women selling in the store.
I find it strange as there are no specific fashionable clothes and headgear or customized wear for Nuns and Monks. Perhaps they do not have much freedom to choose what to wear, and the Muslim population is much bigger than the community of practicing Christians and other religionists. Therefore businesses in the Muslim World have encouraged these misconceptions about protecting the Muslim Women’s honors.
Due to this false understanding of Hijab, the fashion designers have designed many types of Hijab where it does not meet the original purpose of Hijab.
In the Quran, Allah s.w.t commanded all Muslims including men to cover their most private parts, and to women, to close more parts of their body including the head. It is because of Allah s.w.t. says that some men, not all, have the disease or sickness in their hearts as they cannot control their gaze.
Unfortunately, we are living in the era of social media where personal ideas and interpretation of Islamic understanding can influence others.
Recently, we hear news of some celebrities who takes off her hijab, and some even wear the hijab in a more sophisticated manner, strange to the level that they wear the hijab while showing their necks and shoulders.
In my personal opinion, if they cannot wear the hijab properly such as controlling their actions while wearing the hijab, and cover all sensitive parts of their body adequately, they might as well take off the hijab and be free. In that sense, it won’t create any confusion about Islam in the eyes of non-Muslim or those who are trying to understand this most sacred and beloved religion in the sight of Allah s.w.t.
8. Islam Promotes Conversion or Reversion to the fold of Islam through compulsion methods.
We first have to understand that Hidayat or the signs are from Allah s.w.t. alone. Only Him alone who can show us the straight path, and without His guidance, we will go astray.
Apart from promoting people towards Islam, the religion also encourages Muslims to practice religious values according to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and the Quran. This is supposed to be the correct way, promoting the real sense of Islamic understanding which is very fundamental to the success of all Muslims.
However, no one, even an ulama (scholars) can forcefully ask another person to accept his or her views of Islam. They can simply tell the truth, and pray to Allah s.w.t. so that the audiences would be granted the blessings and guidance from Him.
However, Islam allows those who have the authority to force the people under their watch to obey and follow their directions. This is important in all aspect of the successful management of an organization or a state. That is why a father or mother has every right to teach and tell their children what is right or wrong from their perspective and understanding of their religion. They will have to answer to God when the resurrection day comes, and those who have neglected their role as parents will be penalized heavily for their own mistakes, regardless of any religion.
Therefore, it is vital for us to understand that every Muslim has their rights. And so every other person, living or dead. We all have our right to think, to decide for ourselves, and that is why, in the hereafter, Allah s.w.t. will only judge us all based on what we had done in the world when we lived our life. We will not be answerable to the actions of others, except to those who have the knowledge but did nothing while seeing others around him do wrongs.
7. Islam is a very rigid and hard religion to practice.
Islam is very easy. All you need to become a Muslim is just profess with the conviction that “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger and Servant.”
Then, of course, you need to do a lot of other things, but most religion would require you to worship God, to do some extra things like fasting and donate some from your wealth, or even perform a pilgrimage if you are capable. Apart from that, all you need is to be kind and gentle, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of The Worlds.
We have to understand that becoming a follower to a belief is very simple, but to be the best, of course, is not easy. This is the same in anything we do in our life.
Let say if I decided today to follow the people who have just form a marathon running club, and these people encourage me to join the club and say that, all I need to do is to pay a fee, register and then run. Sound simple. But it is up to me whether I really want to run, or perhaps just sit back and enjoy my junk food at home while watching movies.
But the one who runs the fastest and the fittest runner in the club would feel that you are a failure and a disgrace to the name of the club. Some other runners might just see you and persuade you to join their activities, or some even suggest that you have to be expelled from the club!
So, taking the above spirit into the context of religion, it is not strange for Islam and Muslims to strive to become the best member of a Muslim club. Anyone is welcome to the club. Some maybe have an automatic membership because their parents are members, but they can either choose to be the best member or just a mediocre. They can judge their own performance by themselves.
6. Islam is too strict, and those who are very strict are close to extremism.
First and foremost, Islam promotes peace and freedom. You are free to choose and act, but you must be responsible for your own doings. The scholars, for example, have their own obligatory job to remind us of the consequences for some of our actions. They teach us how to become a better Muslim and the more good things we do following the Quran and Islamic Traditions, the more wholesome person we will become.
Islam also promotes peaceful actions in our daily life. We do not penalize people for nothing, but we do punish those who have wronged others such as in murder and bribery. This is also considered a crime in any other religion and even the rule of law of any country or state.
Perhaps, the freedom that all people want in their life is defined as that they can do whatever they like such as adultery, drugs, entertainment, and method in worshipping God.
Human is designed by God to be free (of course not like the angels who have been created as the most submissive to God) and at the same time, actions must be within specific guidelines.
Free within a guideline you say?!
Yes, you are free, but there are laws! Otherwise, the world would be in chaos. If you say that with laws then you feel that you are not free, then live in Mars or Amazon jungle then, where there are no other human beings.
Freedom is about you who control your own actions, have a free will of choosing your ultimate actions. However, laws such as in committing adultery is a sin and to be whipped a hundred times, is to save people from living in a chaotic society. You can debate the method of penalizing the criminals, but having a law in place is a must. The best law, of course, is the law from God.
That is why we can see that those who are living a free life not obeying the commandments of Allah would find themselves that their life is not peaceful and happy. Some would go to the extent of suicidal and commit more serious crimes.
Indeed, Allah, as our Lord, knows better about ourselves than we do. We can say whatever we like, but logically speaking, we have to admit that only our creator knows what is best for us.
5. Muslims are arrogant, selfish and lack of discipline.
First, we have to differentiate between those who follow and believe in the Islamic article of faiths and those who are called Muslims but do not support and fully understand the articles of Islamic faith.
Second, there are millions if not billions of type of Muslims worldwide. There are races, tribes, countries, states, governments, scholars, sects, and many more in Islam. So, just to associate one action as representative of one whole Islamic faith is unfair.
Third, Islam is a religion of 1400 years old. Despite that, the fundamentals of this religion remain intact according to the Quran and Hadiths, the Prophet’s traditions. However, within this period of 1400 over years, we cannot guarantee that all Muslims would be practicing the original version of Islam; moreover, we are living in the modern world where Azan (Muslims’ calling for prayer) is executed using a microphone and loudspeakers. What more Dakwah is done through social media and many other strange things can happen during this era of trials and tribulations.
So, Islam as a religion that teaches all of us to be humble, kind, polite, disciplined and to strive for success in this world and hereafter. In fact, Islam is amongst the most successful religions which converted an illiterate tribe of Arab from nothing to one of the biggest superpowers in recent history.
Therefore, we cannot just associate certain individuals actions as Islamic teachings. We should read and investigate this beautiful religion by ourselves. Please come to Malaysia and Indonesia, and see the impact if this religion to these people here in term of their actions, working style and wealth.
4. Islam promotes violence and wages war against the infidels.
Islam did not go to war, and religions do not enter any war. Only people that go to war. Even animals go to war or perhaps we can say that they go hunting.
Mankind goes to war for many reasons, but people with faith go to fight for their own beliefs. Some want to protect their religion, some want to force others to accept their views.
These are the actions of people and not the works of religion. What religion can only do to people is to guide them when they live their life in this world.
Islam is not new to us. This is because Muslims believe that Allah created Prophet Adam a.s. as our father and Eve as our mother. Therefore, Islam exists since Adam until now. This same religion is called Islam in the Quran only 1400 years ago, but other than that, the one who worships God alone and believes in all Prophets are also the people who submit to God. Islam means, submission to God, in the state of peaceful mind and soul, and believe all of His messages through His appointed Prophets and Messengers.
Having said that, Islam is a religion with colorful individuals professing it. You could come across people like Kublai Khan from the Mongols who embraced Islam but before that attacked and ransacked an Islamic empire.
You could also possibly meet an Al Farabi who was not only a scholar but also good at arts and music.
3. Biggest sins in Islam are eating pork and drinking alcohol.
I have non-Muslim friends who ask me about why are the Muslims very strict in eating and drinking but still do kinds of stuff like bribery and abuse of power?
I told them that these Muslims are a bit confused. They probably think that bribery is less sinful than drinking alcohol. Or perhaps they are misinformed or do not want the people to know what they eat or drink.
Islam prohibits all type of wrongdoings that can harm oneself, others and humanity. Islam also makes it very clear that the primary purpose of our creation is to submit to God alone and worship Him. That is why scholars have summarized the 70 major sins in Islam which associating Allah with false God(s) is positioned as the most massive sin ever committed by a person. In Arabic, the terminology is defined as Shirk, which includes believing in Trinity and rejection to belief in one or more Prophets.
Amongst all of these sins, those who bring the heaviest penalty are (those) related to faith and beliefs such as shirk, rejecting Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), uttering the words of disbelief and committing suicide.
Then followed by those affecting the other people such as bribery, murder, slander, adultery, robbery, stealing, terrorism, tyranny and so on, so forth.
The next is followed by the sins affecting oneself such as drinking alcohol (which also can lead to harming others), eating pork and eating stolen food.
The last type of sins are those only committed due to desires but happened without anyone’s knowledge, except Allah s.w.t. These sins are related to feelings and actions leading to satisfying the desires but not affecting others such as playing computer games excessively, wasting time, watching porns and many more.
The main reason for the scholars to identify the type of sins and rank these sins according to its importance and the gravity of consequences is because Allah is the Most Merciful and loves to pardon His servants. Islam is not a religion that penalizes people, but it guides the humankind to act correctly so that we all can live happily in peace and harmony.
If a person sees another person who drinks alcohol, he or she can choose to advise or to keep quiet. The one who advices is closer to the truth. The one who ignores probably want to pray and hope, and let the sinner discover truths by himself or herself.
2. Islam promotes backwardness
Islam is the religion that supports the quality of life in this world and hereafter. There is no reason for any religion to promote backwardness in life. Islam is the only religion that asks people to marry, have a good family life, become wealthy, learn and read (study) until it led to the emergence of many great Islamic Civilization in the past. Therefore, it is nonsensical to say that Islam promotes backwardness.
Unless, if you want to say that, certain countries or cultures that inherently backward. But, that is not due to them professing Islam as religion, but due to their own choice and actions.
Therefore, it is not Islam that makes someone rich or poor, but it is due to one’s actions that lead to their actual fate in this world.
1. All terrorists are Muslims
This is the most tragic accusation against the Muslim ummah. The word terrorist means, someone who terrorize others through killing innocent people. The main method they use to commit to this scrupulous act is usually through a suicidal approach. This is clearly not an act supported by Islam, and surely against all the principles of Islam.
First, suicidal act even if the doer did not die at the end of the whole process, is considered as the heaviest crime and sin. A Muslim who died due to suicidal causes would automatically be sent to Jahannam or hellfire.
Second, killing innocent people, such as women, the elderly, children, and all other people during a peaceful time is an act of crime and sinful. Even murdering a person is already an enormous crime which in Sharia Law would send the criminal to the gallows or by other methods of heavy penalties. What more if a mass killing is committed. This is totally against the Islamic principles of peace and submission to Allah s.w.t. alone.
Third, tyrannical actions including fearmongering, terrorizing, propagating war and all sorts of criminal acts are against the Islamic principles. This includes even with an intention to hurt others, regardless if the other has already caused hurtful feelings towards yourself. In Islam, patience and steadfastness will grant a Muslim with a great reward. Unless if the whole Ummah or a Muslim country is entering into a war, then it is an entirely different context altogether.
Finally, any actions that have not been sanctioned by a majority of scholars and Muslim leaders are considered as an act of crime. This is because, the Quran and Al-Hadith have directed Muslims to obey Allah s.w.t., Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and the Muslim leaders amongst them, provided that the leader is also following and obeying Allah and the Prophet.
We are living during the era of Fitna (trials and tribulations). It is not easy to digest all information with just a single click of the “subscribe me” or “follow me” button as social media brings you all kinds of information. You have to refer to the best source of knowledge and information for you not to go astray.
And that source is the Quran and Al-Hadith (the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h.)
May Allah guide us all to the straight path.