3 Common Misconceptions about Islam

What you should know about this massive, worldwide religion

Recent political events have made it easy for Westerners to be confused about Islam. Individuals who have never studied the religion suddenly hear everyone from political figures to news commentators discussing the religion. Because of this, some misconceptions about Islam are treated as facts. Understanding that these three misconceptions about Islam are just that — misconceptions — can help you on your way to learning all about Islam.

Misconception: Islam advocates the unfair treatment of women

According to Global Exchange, many areas of the world in which Islam is often practiced have laws that treat women unfairly. Some of these laws do not allow women to drive, leave the home without covering their entire bodies or choose their own paths regarding education and marriage. However, Global Exchange suggests that this is not a result of traditional Islamic teaching; instead, it is based on human interpretation of the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

According to the Center for Sufism and Islamic Studies, the Quran does not consider women to be unequal to men. Referring to a commonly misunderstood passage regarding witnesses, the center writes that the Quran does not specify gender, suggesting witnesses of either gender are acceptable. In addition, Global Exchange suggests that many scholars of Islam advocate a reinterpretation of the religion to consider modern values of gender equality.

Misconception: Islam advocates terrorism and intolerance

According to Global Exchange, the political climate has greatly impacted many Westerners' views about Islamic religion and terror. Because of Osama Bin Laden and Sept. 11, Americans tend to associate Muslims with terror and intolerance of anyone who does not subscribe to their views. However, just like the issue of women in Islam, there is a difference between what the Quran stipulates and what some Muslims do.

Just like some members of other faiths have formed extremist and fundamentalist groups that have interpreted their religious beliefs to condone violence, certain sects of people who subscribe to Islam believe in terrorism and intolerance. However, many do not. Global Exchange argues that the Quran considers life to be precious and bans killing non-military people while respecting those with other beliefs.

Misconception: Islam forbids pictures

Many people think that Islam forbids pictures, especially pictures of living things. The Center for Sufism and Islamic Studies, however, suggests otherwise. The Center writes that passages from the Quran only forbid pictures that are used in non-Muslim worship. More specifically, pictures that are used to advocate polytheism are not allowed. According to the Center for Sufism and Islamic studies, pictures were often used in non-Muslim forms of worship during the writing of the Quran. This can explain the restriction. However, Muslim people can still have pictures of their friends and families.

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