By Hanan Sofiyyah binti Khairul Anuwar
Religion is the belief and a particular system of faith and worship.
As stated by The World Religion Database, there are 18 major religious categories in the world together with atheists and agnostics. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism are the most influential religions while Christianity and Islam are the most widely spread religions.
According to one of the articles in theregister.com, if all non-religious people unite together and form one religion, they will form the third-largest religion in the world whereas the largest one is Christianity, followed by the second one, Islam.
By 2015, about 1.8 billion of the world’s population are Muslims, believers of Islam, and there are about 2.3 billion Christians, but this gap is predicted to narrow down by the year 2060. The Pew Research Centre expected there will be 3 billion Christians and nearly 3 billion Muslims at that time. This is due to the fact that Muslims, on average, are younger and they have more children than Christians do.
Islam is a religion in which the believers worship only one god (monotheism) and have a strong belief that Prophet Muhammad is His final messenger. In this religion, God, Allah, is viewed as the creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world. Stated in Surah Al-An’am 6:163, “لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَاْ أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ”.
According to Imam Iskender Ali Mihr, in this verse, Allah said, “He has no partners. And of this I have been commanded. And I am the first of those who is submitted (Muslim)”. The verse emphasises the idea that there is only one god that they should believe; He is the most powerful and the believers must submit to Him.
Muslims love peace, and just like believers of other religions, they are seeking a just and peaceful world. Allah asked all Muslims to stay away from hatred and to have tolerance with everyone around them. In Surah Ash-Shura 42:37, Allah asked His messenger, and all Muslims in general, to be forgiving; He loves the people who can keep his/her patience under all circumstances, have a high tolerance with everyone regardless of race and beliefs, be forgiving and not hold grudges.
Many non-Muslims have wrong conception towards Islam, most misunderstandings stemmed from the belief that Muslims hate non-Muslims, do not believe and abhor Jesus, and Muslims support violence and terrorism, and that Islam oppresses women.
Muslims hate non-Muslims, do not believe and abhor Jesus
This conception has been in non-Muslims’ minds for a very long time. These people should know the fact that all Muslims believe in the existence of Jesus in this world. Muslims acknowledge Jesus as one of God’s messenger and they really respect him and his teachings. An interesting fact that there are many Muslim parents who named their newborn child with Jesus’s name, which they called Isa.
Besides, Jesus’s name is mentioned in the Quran 93 times, telling about his existence as a miracle and also about the returning of Jesus before the Day of Judgment to restore justice and defeat al-Masih. With the statements mentioned above, it is proven that Muslims do believe in Jesus, only not to the extent of believing him as a son of God, but instead, they consider him one of the greatest of God’s messengers to mankind.
Muslims support violence and terrorism
When people hear the word “Muslim”, they always associate it with terrorism. Not all Muslims are terrorists. True believers of Islam, the pious and moderate Muslims, will not commit any type of violence and crimes. As a matter of fact, majority of Muslims suffered more from violence and terrorism than non-Muslims.
The French Terror Victims Association (AFVT) said that nearly 80 percent of terrorism victims are Muslims. In addition, the article of trtworld.com stated: “Muslims are the first to suffer the consequences of terror attacks”; which clearly opposed the misunderstood idea that “those who conduct terror attacks are Muslims and the victims are non-Muslims.”
The most recent terrorist attack is the gruesome beheading of a history teacher, happened in the street of a Paris suburb. As a result of this incident, French President Emmanuel Macron urged the nation to stand united against extremism and denounced this incident as an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
The effect of this incident is not just for the non-Muslims. Most of the Muslims do not agree with the act of beheading or any form of violence; as mentioned in the Quran, Surah An-Nahl 16:90, “Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition”.
Islam oppresses women
This idea rises when non-Muslims thought that all Muslim women are forced to wear their veil, also known as “hijab”. Other than the veil, the fact that many people thought that Muslim women are forced to stay at home and are forbidden to drive.
The non-Muslims have the conception that all Muslim women have no freedom and have no right to do the things they like; their life is controlled by men. There are a few countries that have this kind of rules but the blame should not be put on Islam. These countries are not using the shari’ah law but instead, they came out with their own rulings based on what they want which is related to gender equality.
In Islam, both men and women have their own roles and rights. Women in Islam have their own rights to own and dispose of their own properties and earnings. Muslim women keep their own family name after marriage and there is no such thing as changing the family name to her husband’s. Allah asked both women and men in Islam to dress modestly and be dignified.
Any kind of violence or forcing them against their will is strictly not allowed. In fact, Prophet Muhammad really respects and honours women; as stated in one of the Hadiths, “Treat women nicely.” (Sahih al- Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
To say that Muslims oppressed and committed violence against women is not true. As stated in the article in encounteringislam.com, “Prevalence of abuse of women is not higher among Muslims than among non-Muslims.” ***