Yet another tragedy has fallen upon us, this time at Nice, France and Würzburg, Germany. I was on Facebook when the news was coming out about France, and I started getting notifications saying “___ was marked ‘Safe’ at the Attack on Nice”. I looked it up and I hoped, foolishly, that this would not be labeled a “terrorist attack”, but it was. The body count increased and we soon found out Americans were victims of this attack as well.
In Germany, a 17 year old Afghan refugee went on a stabbing spree, severely injuring three, and sending 14 others to the hospital to be treated for shock. The 17 year old allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he was gunned down by police.
These instances are only two examples of the many terrorist attacks being carried out by Muslims in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. However, these recurring attacks are also reinforcing stereotypes about Muslims. These are the most common stereotypes I have seen for a while now, and I’m debunking them all:
1. Muslims hate Jews and Christians
Let’s get this one out of the way. Many people think Muslims are an exclusive, extremist group that has a holier-than-thou attitude towards non-Muslims. This idea perpetrates another idea that Muslims are instructed to believe that Jews and Christians specifically are to be hated and killed in the name of Islam and/or in the name of God. This is false, and there are multiple chapters in the Quran that mention non-Muslims:
You will never enter Paradise until you believe. And you will not believe until you love one another. Certainly, I shall guide you to something that, if you do it, you will love one another: Spread the greetings (of peace) among yourselves. (Muhammad)
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.(Quran 2:62)
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. (Quran 60:8)
“O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous. (Quran 49:13).
For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (Quran 109:6)
While the gory videos all over the Internet show ISIS members brutally beheading Arab Christians and other Christians, Muslims are not encouraged, taught, or instructed to partake in any sort of violent behavior, or self-harm. While you can analyze every verse and phrase in the Quran and find examples of violence, the same can be done with the Bible’s Old Testament. The most important thing to remember, however, is the Quran is the Quran and there are no old and new parts. It was written over a thousand years ago, and the political situation in Mecca over a thousand years ago was taken into account.
2. Muslims hate LGBTQ
Like Christianity, homosexuality is considered a sin in Islam. Interestingly, the Golden Age of Islam had almost no punishments for homosexuality. It was illegal for men to have any type of sexual relations with other men, but without four eye witnesses, they could not be punished. Modern Muslim countries have completely outlawed homosexuality; homosexuals are killed with or without evidence. However, the five Muslim countries that have not outlawed homosexuality are the five Muslim countries that were not colonized by the British. Today’s Islamic view on homosexuality is one that is veiled by cultural stigmas, rather than religious ones. The most important thing in Islam is to love one another; this was proven through the imam at Omar Mateen’s mosque who spoke out against the Pulse nightclub killings.
While it is true that many Muslims are against homosexuality, they are supposed to treat everyone the same. Additionally, transgender people in Pakistan are slowly being recognized.
3. Muslims don’t believe in Jesus Christ or God
This is usually something people don’t know, but Jesus (Isa, in Arabic) is actually mentioned more times in the Quran than Muhammad. Muslims do believe in Jesus, but only as a prophet, not as the son of God. Additionally, Muslims do believe in God, but call God “Allah”, which is the Arabic word for God. Many Arab Christians also refer to God as Allah.
4. Muslims wear turbans
This seems foolish to point out, but Sikhs wear turbans. Muslim women wear hijabs, and some Arab Muslim men wear a headpiece called “keffiyeh” or “shamagh” or “ghutrah” depending on your location in the Middle East.
5. Islam promotes groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS
ISIS most closely follows the ideals of Wahhabism and Salafism, which are extremist and radical branches of Islam. “By best estimates, 87-90 percent of Muslims are Sunni and 10-13 percent are Shi’a, with small numbers belonging to other sects” (Demographics of Islam). If we go with these statistics, it’s safe to assume that Salafism and Wahhabism are less than five percent of the global Muslim population, and most likely does not represent the beliefs, thoughts, opinions, or actions of other Muslims. Additionally, Islam was not meant to have sects. However, Islam does not promote, nor does it encourage, joining radical groups. If you see stories of how people get radicalized, it’s usually through ISIS members themselves on radical jihadist forums.
I truly hope that one day we won’t have to worry about the safety of the world, and for each other. However, it is important to stand strong and stay strong against forces like ISIS, and be kind to one another.