The propaganda juggernaut has achieved its success, and although one must consider that it is nearing election time in the United States and fear is an incredible vote attractor, the barrage of false notions being attributed to Muslims across the world will resonate for many years. From Qur’an burning parties to neoconservative candidates proclaiming “Shari’a Law is trying to take over the US”, and the passing of complete city ordinances in order to prevent the building of Mosques in cities across America, the anti-Islam fervor rivals and exceeds that of post-9/11 America.
The image of Islam in America and the Western World has been reduced to Islamophobic sound bites: the incorrect threat of Mosques invading “sacred American land” and the supposed influx of Shari’a law into otherwise democratic and free countries. From newspapers to radio shows and countless websites, Islam is increasingly dehumanized and Muslims cast as the atrocious “other”, unprivileged to any rights in these free and pluralistic societies. The daily attacks on Islam in the media take place in both subtle and not-so-modest fashions as Islam is cast in a primarily negative light and the public is taught to engage it with overt tones of distrust and disdain.
The propaganda juggernaut has achieved its success, and although one must consider that it is nearing election time in the United States and fear is an incredible vote attractor, the barrage of false notions being attributed to Muslims across the world will resonate for many years. From Qur’an burning parties to neoconservative candidates proclaiming “Shari’a Law is trying to take over the US”, and the passing of complete city ordinances in order to prevent the building of Mosques in cities across America, the anti-Islam fervor rivals and exceeds that of post-9/11 America. The consequences of the tirade against Islam are found in increasingly alarming statistics: Muslims make up close to 2% of the American population but they account for one quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Public opinion of Islam in the US reveals the perception of Americans towards the religion and its adherents: 30% say they have a favorable opinion of Islam while slightly more (38%) have an unfavorable view, 35% of Americans believe Islam does encourage violence more than other religions, and another 25% believe local cities have the right to block the building of Mosques (PEW Center).
The same tired allegations against Islam and Muslims have only fueled the fire and allowed more misunderstanding and conflict to take place. Below is a refutation of the top attacks and myths perpetuated daily against Islam and Muslims by the media, politicians, and lobbying interest groups:
Muslims Are Not Educated
The mainstream media narrative about Muslims finds itself describing a group of extremist, cultural followers who have no respect or regard for education. Islam has placed a high emphasis on education and made it obligatory on its adherents, and the numbers show this fact: 67% of American Muslims have a Bachelor’s degree or higher while only 44% of Americans do.
But Wait…Muslims Are against Female Education!
Not quite. Despite being incessantly told Muslims are the worst thing that’s happened to women’s rights, the reality is much different and more positive for Muslim women. A large concentration of women’s rights in Islam is based off Islam’s unprecedented reforms of female education and its demand of knowledge from both genders of its followers. This equal opportunity allocation of education is reflected in the social standing of Muslim women in the US, where – according to the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies – Muslim women are unique from their global counterparts and women from other religious groups in the US since statistically they are as likely, if not more than, their male counterparts to have earned a university degree or higher. Muslim women also tend to earn as much as their male counterparts do on both ends of the pay scale.
It is of intense irony that the west laments the plight of Muslim females at the hands of cultural enclaves in the Islamic world (and usually in isolated cases) but refuses to acknowledge the growing inequality women in the West must face in employment and wage disparities compared to men. Any injustice dealt to Muslim women goes against Islamic teachings and is a product of an ignorant society’s refusal to respect Islamic teachings. However, in the US is no equal wage law to ensure that a male and a female working the same position with identical qualifications must make the same amount of income.
Islam Is All for Violence
Why don’t more Muslims condemn violence? Where are the moderate Muslims?! Despite conflicts raging all over the world, Islam has been consistently associated with violence and terrorism. It is imperative to state that many regions with significant Muslim populations have been witness to decades of neocolonialist exploitation and influence. As is with many former colonies, these regions tend to be plagued by poverty, internal strife, and a peculiar black market for weapons usually supplied by the democratic West. Subsequently, it is ignorant to claim these regions are engaged in warfare because they are Muslim, when there are many blatant mitigating influences taking place.
Fatwa after Fatwa has been issued condemning terrorism and violence from practically every Islamic institution for religious studies. Every major Islamic organization, association, or body has publicly condemned acts of violence in the name of Islam, but many times these press conferences have not been given air time. The terrorist tactics of Al-Qaeda and others have caused fatalities among Muslims far more than they have among non-Muslims, and from 2006 to 2008, 98% of the victims of their attacks were Muslim. Time and time again, national Muslim organizations such as CAIR and hundreds, if not thousands, of Mosques across the country have condemned violence in the name of Islam and attacks against innocent civilians by those who have disgraced the peaceful nature of Islam. However, the media has refused to acknowledge this condemnation even as protests were held by Muslims against extremists who are intent on hijacking their religion. This brings us to contemplating: are Muslims condemning onto deaf ears?
Doesn’t the Qur’an Encourage Violence?
“…You shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, the livestock, and everything in the town – all its spoil – and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy which the LORD your God gives you.” (20:14-15)
“…You shall not let a soul remain alive.” (20:17)
The above quotes are from the Old Testament which is considered holy to both Christian and Jewish people. However, how many times has Glenn Beck claimed the Torah sanctions and encourages violence? A very divisive and powerful claim is made by many politicians and critics of Islam who state Islam that condones violence against non-Muslims. However, in almost all the cases, the verse is quoted out of context and the meaning is not constructed in an accurate light. Almost universally, the Islam detractors will quote the fourth chapter of the Quran, verse 74 which states those who fight in God’s way will be victorious, but the quoting stops there and conveniently no one seems to mention verse 75 which succeeds it and explains the criteria in which war can take place. The criteria are that Muslims can only fight from a defensive stance when their land is invaded and occupied and their weak oppressed. If this sounds familiar, that is because it is very similar to the beliefs held by international law where an occupied territory can defend itself against attacks. The other verses being thrown around are also quoted out of context and those using them have shown absolute disregard to the science of Tafsir, or explaining the Qur’an.