Ask a Muslim
Islam is one of the world’s largest religions yet it is also one of the most misunderstood. For various reasons – be they political, economic, biased media or fear of the “other” – mistruths and misconceptions have been spread about Islam. The key to understanding Islam and Muslims is to resist stereotypes and examine each situation according to Islamic teachings and authentic sources.
Are you interested to know more about Islam and Muslims? Please take a look at the questions and answers given below related to the misconceptions about Islam. If you want to know more, then you can ask a Muslim about Islam via email or telephone.
The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry.
Muslims respect and revere Jesus, and await his Second Coming. They consider him one of the greatest of God’s Messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as ‘Jesus’, but always adds the phrase ‘upon him be peace’. The Qur’an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur’an is entitled ‘Mary’), and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Qur’an describes the Annunciation as follows:
Behold!’ the Angel said, ‘God has chosen you, and purified you,
and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives
you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah,
Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and
one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people
from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous.’
She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has
touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so; God creates what He will. When He
decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be!” and it is. (Qur’an, 3:42-47)
Jesus was born miraculously through the same power which had brought Adam into being without a father:
Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. (Qur’an, 3:59)
During his prophetic mission Jesus performed many miracles. The Qur’an tells us that he said:
I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out
of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and
it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind, and the
lepers (Qur’an, 3:49)
Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In the Qur’an Jesus is reported as saying that he came:
To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me (Qur’an, 3:50)
The Qur’an says:
Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Qur’an, 60:8)
It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.
Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine-Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet, ‘seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman’. The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Qur’an. As soon as be began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, ‘migration’, in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.
Muhammad was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative. Muhammad was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jaba al-Nur, the ‘Mountain of Light’ near Makkah.
The Prophet said:
‘God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others’.
‘None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself’.
‘He who eats his fill while his neighbor goes without food is not a believer’.
‘A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well he descended into it, drank his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he had felt so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this action’. The Prophet was asked: ‘Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?’ He said, ‘There is a reward for kindness to every living thing’.
‘Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger’.
‘God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He scans your hearts and looks into your deeds’.
From the Hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi
Simply by saying ‘there is no god apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.’ By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God’s messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
The Ka’abah is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam. God commanded Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say ‘At Thy service, O Lord’, in response to Abraham’s summons.
Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shari’a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.