Although Islam is the world’s second-largest religion, many in the West have huge misconceptions about what it actually professes. Many Muslims face confusion and ignorance from people around them, and an alarming number report outright discrimination and violence.
This ignorance is particularly damaging when it’s endorsed by the president of one of the most powerful nations on Earth. Donald Trump has frequently spoken out against Islam and has several times attempted to pass bills baring people from Muslim majority nations from entering the United States. Again and again, Trump has used national tragedies like the recent Manhattan terrorist attack to condemn an entire religion on the basis of one or two people’s actions.
While such Islamophobic tactics have proven to be politically successful, they are rooted in complete ignorance. Few who proselytize against Islam have even a basic understanding of the religion or its followers. And in the age of the internet, where millions of people are just a click away, it’s easier than ever to correct these misconceptions, if you’re willing to learn!
“When we eat pork… nothing happens it’s just really bad. Seriously I get asked this on the daily or whenever I and a few friends order a pizza. It’s like, “Hey you can’t eat like, pork right?” “Right” “Well what happens if you do?” “Lightning strikes me and I turn into Charlize Theron.” “Heck, really?” “No dude, I just feel guilty for a few hours.” It’s haram or whatever, yeah, and I don’t eat pork—but I’m not gonna explode unless you put dynamite in the darn thing.” (Redrapper) While foods like pork are haram (meaning that they’re forbidden by Islamic teaching) the prohibition isn’t fatal or extreme. Stories like the one President Trump referenced recently, where deceased general John J. Pershing allegedly dipped bullets in pigs’ blood to send his Muslim opponents to hell, are completely ridiculous.
“Allah is the same as the Judeo-Christian God, not some other deity. Arab Christians worship Allah. On a similar note, Muslims revere Jesus Christ as not only one of the greatest prophets, but as the Messiah, and we believe in the second coming. When it comes to Jesus, we are functionally the middle ground between Christians and [Jewish people], affirming his status as the Messiah, but rejecting that he is divine.” (kingoflint282)
Misunderstandings about Islam are so widespread that even the most simple facts about the religion remain unknown to many in the West. One common misconception is that “Allah” is a strictly Muslim God. In fact, “Allah” is just the Arabic word for “God,” and so a non-Muslim Arabic speaker might refer to “Allah” just as easily.
This misconception has taken hold in part because of the belief that Muslim = Arab. In fact, the majority of the world’s Muslims aren’t even Middle Eastern! A 2017 Pew Research study found that almost two-thirds (62 percent) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region. And just as not all Muslims are Arab, not all Arabs are Muslim. In many Middle Eastern countries, Arab Christians are a substantial minority.