Written by Theresa Corbin
A lot has been said/written about the misconceptions non-Muslim have about Islam. Most of these misconceptions have been created by the Western media or by non-Muslims themselves *cough* orientalism *cough*.
But I think it is time to talk about how Muslims themselves create misconceptions or confusion about Islam. Yes, it happens! Not surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Confusion Muslims create:
1. Muslims are always angry, therefore this must be Islam
Yvette Sanchez*, a Muslim convert, a scientist, and mother of three, says:
Muslims propagate the myth that we are aggressive, angry, & emotional.
There is a group of Muslims that take themselves too seriously. They scowl all the time. They riot over every insult that any other faith community would just ignore. They are ALWAYS offended by something. These people have anger-management issues that have nothing to do with Islam.
We need to get over ourselves, folks. Have a laugh at yourself once in a while. The Prophet (PBUH) smiled, joked, played, and withstood insult with grace. Check out Humor in the Muslim Heritage for more about the sense of humor of the Prophet. If your Islam doesn’t make you generous, friendly, and smiley; you are doing it wrong!
2. Islam is a culture
I hear this all the time, whether it is someone speaking about Islamic culture or someone asking me about my Muslim culture. Muslims who are very insular in their part of the world and then migrate to the West often bring with them the idea that somehow their culture IS Islam. But the thing is that there is religion and their is culture. sometimes they intertwine. Sometimes they don’t.
I am a Muslim by faith and an American by culture. I eat red beans and rice without pork and with a nice cold beer … a root beer. I wear denim in a modest way. I say “salam, y’all” way too much. I’m an American Muslim and am not in need of any other culture in order to practice my faith.
Janice Jan, a Latina American Muslim convert, says that Islam is misrepresented by:
Those Muslims who follow their culture as if it is real Islam. Those Muslims who practice caste system.
This practice can be very confusing to the onlooker because Muslims come from a variety of cultures: Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Indonesian, Chinese, Western European, American. Any culture you can think of, Muslims come from and participate in. Check out my post, “What is the Islamic World” for more on this topic.
However, this cultural confusion isn’t a huge problem until a Muslim, who is in direct contradiction to Islam, practices a cultural “quirk” and then turns around and calls their un-Islamic habits- Islam.
Cultural example: Saudi’s restriction on women drivers. It’s a cultural thing that many Saudis themselves believe to be Islamic.
But what is actually Islamic is that all the women in The Prophet’s (PBUH) day rode camels, and he never said boo about it. Seeing as how camels were the mode of transport back in the day, it is safe to say riding a camel is equivalent to driving a car.
We need to learn the difference between religion and culture and stop confusing the two. And stop confusing the world with our confusion.
3. Muslims believe that women are not equal to men
Speaking of women, this is another myth about Islam that Muslims propagate.
Asif Balouch, from philasify101.blogspot.com, says that one myth Muslims propagate is that of
Women being lesser. This is perpetuated most heavily via the mosque. The barrier that is placed, the women’s area being less accommodated, roomy and whatnot. Women practically being ostracized. Having to write in questions at Q&A rather than speak, etc.
In Islam women and men are EQUAL!! End of story.
Women need not be marginalized. The Prophet (PBUH) interacted, visited, and even sought counsel from women on a regular basis. He did not bar them from the Masajid (plural for masjid or mosque). He did not send them away when they approached him. He never treated them as or said they were less than men.
What he did say was that:
Men and women are twin halves of each other. (Narrated in Bukhari)
We are in a sad state if we cannot honor women. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
The most perfect of believers in belief is the best of them in character. The best of you are those who are the best to women. (Narrated in Tirmidhi)
Discrimination against women is prolific in the Muslim world and in direct contradiction to Islam. Women are having their genitalia mutilated, being forced to marry their rapist, being forced into marriage period, barred from education, barred from the workplace, and the list of un-Islamic treatment of women goes on.
It is a mark of arrogance that some men think themselves superior when Allah (SWT) tells us directly that no one has superiority except by righteousness, something earned and not innate or gendered.
4. Muslims are obsessed with hijab
Kiara Shank, a Muslim who observes hijab, says:
Muslims have an obsession with the hijab. I find it rather sad that we have reduced our religion to covering and not much else. There are more dire issues facing our ummah [community] than if a sister is wearing hijab correctly or not.
Hijab is a small part of Islam. More about hijab in my Hijabology post. But it is something external. So, many Muslims focus on it as a determining factor of faith. And while it is obligatory for women and men to dress modestly in respect to what is prescribed by Allah (SWT), many times Muslims will place the burden of modesty on women.
A Muslim woman could be the best she can in her worship of Allah (SWT), but her only failing (we all have at least one) is that she does not dress observe hijab, and she will be chastised and ostracized by those Muslims who may not do any acts of worship except dressing modestly.
We need to know that if faith is in the heart it cannot be seen, it cannot be judged, the connection with Allah (SWT) is invisible. Hijab does not define Islam, and it certainly doesn’t define someone’s faith.
5. Muslims are untrustworthy
Deen Stewart says:
So many times I have dealings with other Muslims in business and I know that when they use the word InshaAllah [God Willing], it means that whatever has been inshaAllah-ed, won’t get done. As a Muslim myself, I find this behavior and misuse of InshaAllah really gross.
I like to call this the InshaAllah Paradox. Some Muslims think that by saying InshaAllah they can get out of doing anything they have promised to do, acting as if their lack of effort in doing things promised was Allah’s (SWT) will. This is just laziness and a manipulation of faith. There’s a difference between Allah’s will and our own effort in seeking the means.
It has gotten so bad that most non-Muslims think that inshaAllah means NO! When it actually means that you will do everything in your power to do what you agreed to. And if God’s will prevents you, you know you still did everything in your power.
Muslims, we need to take these things seriously. Creating confusion about Islam is a serious matter. In fact, we could be misguiding people by our actions. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be responsible for that.
*Name changed for privacy.
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36 thoughts on “Confusion Muslims Create”
Salam 3leykoum sister,
LOVE this post, mach’Allah! Definitely keep up the good work!
Walaikum Asalamu, thanks for reading and for following me in pinterest 😉
Haha so you recognized me! Did I spell that right by the way? Anyway, love both your posts and pins! And thank YOU for following me on pinterest, you’re definitely one of my fave pinners!
Agreed on all points. Have you been to Side Entrance? FB page and blog, regarding the prayer spaces for women. One of those activists trying to fix a few issues with the Ummah 🙂 Btw, Kiara Shank is a friend. StL represent!
Thanks for reading, Elena! I have not seen the Side entrance, I most definitely have to check it out. It is about time we did something about this issue in the Masajid. It’s a small world. Tell Kiara thanks for the input!
Great article Sis Theresa. Muslims need to stop pointing the finger at others and whining about being held down and demonized and attacked when we practically hand opponents and skeptics of the deen with loads ammunition just from the cruddy ways we act which contradict the principles of Islam. Once we get it together, only then can we be respected, only then can we be seen in a positive light. Oh and thanks for the mention by the way. *air high five* 🙂
Great article, Sis Theresa. Muslims whine and complain about all the hate that gets shoved our way but we are blind to the fact that we give our opponents a loads of ammunition to use against us because of how cruddy and contradictory to Islam we act. Thanks for the shoutout by the way. 🙂
Agree totally! Thanks for reading. You are most welcome for the shout out! I enjoy your blog. Keep up the awesome work.
Very on point- but expect the “How can you talk about this?!” crowd to send you something nasty- you know where the trash bin is so….lol. I enjoyed it Theresa and will be sharing – thanks!
The “how can you talk about this?!” crowd needs to know that the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. Thanks for enjoying and sharing! You kinda rock, momma!
(Wow I did not think a Muslim lady would be reading cracked…haha!)
There are plenty of things I disagree with this article, but let’s leave them aside for another day; most of them to do with the fact of “Equality”. Muslim men and women, ideally speaking equally spiritually, but social responsibilities, actions and obligations differ and they should be readily recognized.
>> Yes there are plenty of Muslims that live the night life including Muslim girls. I have seen girls in hijab making out with their boyfriends or whatever and ironically if a girl is not wearing a hijab, she is automatically considered a bad person. You could be talking to girl and soon as you hear she is a Muslim without her hair covered, the thought pops into your mind “why o sister”. As boy I can affirm that. Yes, yet if she is wearing a hijab, personally I do feel a bit more cognizant of her “accepting her religion openly”.
>> Hijab is certainly NOT an option, but it is foolish to think a women’s religion is wholly dependent if she wears a scarf on her head.
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Diffing social responsibilities does not mean that we are not equal. I readily recognize this. I never said hijab was an option. I agree it is without a doubt mandatory. Just disagree with it being focus of the entire religion as some folks make it out to be. Please by all means state your case about what you disagree with. I am listening.
Well sister Corbin I agree a piece of scarf should not be the factor in “piety”: and of course I agree with equal spirituality, but women and men are not same , right ?
For example I was looking into the Side Entrance idea, and i found myself agreeing until, I saw Asra Nomani name on the list. The things became utterly useless. To have an adulteress tell me about how Muslim women should be treated in a mosque is stupid. If you were to tell I would readily listen, but let not people who poison the arrows against Islam teach us about Islam.
Check out patheos.com. Would like to see you you write back to the responses.
1- No, we are not the same, the genders. I think what I have written in the past affirms my position on this. But many Muslim men take our different strengths and weaknesses to mean that women are lesser creatures than they are, and therefore are to be treated as such. We do have differing social responsibilities. But many Muslims men take this to mean that women are not as important as men and women can be oppressed at their whim.
I don’t understand how differences and differing responsibilities make us unequal. In terms of semantics, not equal translated to inequality, i.e. one will always be deemed “better” than the other, when this is not true. Different does not mean unequal. We are equal in terms of value to society and in the eyes of Allah.
2- Why does a women of ill repute joining a cause invalidate the cause? It is still a real and present problem. I will give you an example oh what my experience has been in a Masjid that will remain unnamed … Sister’s side 300sq ft (and 1 bathroom) meant to hold 200 +/- sisters AND all of their children. Brother’s side 900 sq ft.(and 1 bathroom) meant to hold 200 +/- brothers. Money was raised to expand the Masjid. It went to the brother’s side. Money was again raised to expand the masjid. It went to adding 2 bathrooms and a wudu station to the brother’s side. All the while us sisters where asking (getting a petition signed to show the need) to have some of the money spent on expanding our accommodations. We got new carpet b/c all the kids in there had destroyed the flooring. That was it (Imagine praying in a room the size of a small hotel room with on average 50 other sisters-those brave enough to come out and put up with the accommodations- and their children).
During dinners the man would have their pick of food and would send over to the sister’s side what was left, if anything was left. (Imagine getting nothing for iftar)
3-On my way to pathos.com right now.
1. Quite right Cajun Sister. Most of the abuses piled against women come from stupid imbecilic Muslim men with ego problems. I would go to a far as to say it may have something to with being “grounded” masculinity wise from the European Masters, where to exert their manliness they have to abuse women.
2. Asra The Adulteress Nomani is well funded by the islamophobia industry, and besides if women have so many problems in the masjid, why don’t they just stay home….JUST kidding….not make light of subject at hand, but you are right I have seen some ugly things when it comes to women. For example perhaps the men can take care of the children for night and see what it feels like ?
Personally it is an ugly world without women, but at the same time, as long as women behave like women and men behave like real men, not chauvinistic little babies (I have walked out of lectures where the Imam started haranguing how women are stupid and idiots— tad bit difficult to call women stupid if she has a PhD, while your dumbass barely graduated high school).
It is indeed an ugly world. But you are making it a little less dark by walking out on a lecture where women were being slandered. And yes, when are the men going to take some responsibility in watching their own progeny?
“I would go to a far as to say it may have something to with being “grounded” masculinity wise from the European Masters, where to exert their manliness they have to abuse women.” The abused will often find someone deemed weaker to abuse and that person will in turn find another “weaker” victim . Perhaps it does go back to colonialism. European overlords abused daddy who then abused mommy who then abused children who grew up modelling this behavior and so on down the generations. hmmm something to think about. Or maybe it is a residual inferiority complex that the Muslim world has from being made to feel “less evolved” than the white Europeans. Inferiority complexes are no joke and a plague in society. Another thing to think about.
“why don’t they just stay home” women ARE staying home from the masjid and we are eating all the desert, using all the hot water, and pinching the babies so they are crying by the time the men get back! 🙂
End Boys Will Be Boys syndrome and everyone will fall in place. But also start taking shots at those stupid annoying western women who probably never care doodly do about Islam in the first place but to create an issue come running in the masjid to start problems.
Don’t get me started on “sisters” who come to the masjid just to start fitnah. It happens all the time. Men and women need to change for the better.
Amazing article!!….Thank u!
I too have always been disturbed, that men dont give us space in d masjid, while in their defence say it causes fitnah!
I mean come on thats so ridiculous!!!
Nuha, Salam. They think giving us room in the Masjid causes fitnah? That’s weak sauce! Thanks for stopping by and reading ❤
Really ? Can I hold a girl’s hand and still pray ?
No, and I don’t recall anyone advocating that. am I missing something?
@Sister Corbin…though what is stopping that from happening ?
I think you may misunderstand me. From what you say about holding hands with a sister while praying, I gather that you have inferred from what I have written that I believe men and women should pray side by side. I do not. I wouldn’t want to, boys are icky! All I am saying is that men and women should be given the same amount of luxury in terms of masjid space, comfort, and wudu-ing/restroom-ing (not the same space i.e. side by side, and even if we are in the same room the women should be praying behind the brothers for obvious sexual distraction reasons and leaving directly after salah to perhaps retreat to a luxurious oasis in another room?).
I will now cut and past a fb discussion I had a few moments ago, after I posted an article I found on the patheos site you recommended.
Craig: “It makes me question the segregation of worship. History has shown that separate but equal is never equal.”
Islamwich: “Craig, separating the races cannot be compared to separating the sexes. Using the phrase “Separate but equal” makes people think that women are being segregated b/c we are thought of a second class citizens. But this is not the case. (And the separate rooms is mostly meant to keep the men out of the women’s side of the masjid and not the other way around). When you separate the races it is only out of ignorance, hatred, and a false sense of superiority. While separating the sexes serves a practical purpose of being able to focus solely on worship. This is one reason some schools still are solely for girls or solely for boys, students need to concentrate on their studies instead of spending class time trying to impress the opposite sex. The separate rooms for Muslim men and women serve this purpose. It is meant for women and men to feel comfortable and at ease during worship, and to build sisterly and brotherly bonds while not feeling ogled or any pressure to impress any member of the opposite sex. That being said, human being do have a hard time giving equal accommodations to those deemed different than themselves (people are stupid). And since most of the masajid being built are built by men the women’s room is an after thought. But this is un-Islamic and Muslim women are fighting for change.”
If I am wrong in my assumptions of what you inferred, by all means correct me. But the above is my stand on men and women’s place of worship.
The Modern world has given us so many uglies that one often can’t find a black and white answer. For example knowing the what the word “segregation” means in the American parlance, as soon as you mentioned, in my mind a negative connotation was attached to it, nonchalantly of course.
I mean I agree with everything you said of how majids are supposed to run except perhaps the oasis part lol.
The photo caption is misleading sister.
Malala Yousafzai was not shot for going to school or wanting education, in a sudden incident. She was already a child advocate for children’s education and blogger for BBC since 2008 while being in SWAT and Northern province going to school.
It was her sheer heroism of being a local activist and her fan following by thousands of Pakistanis children and elder that SCARED THE TALIBAN who decided to shoot her as a message to both Pakistan and the globe.
The caption says nothing about it being a sudden incident. I understood her to be a blogger who worked for advocacy and agency in the lives of Pakistani girls. Was she not an advocate for education? Is that the misleading part? Should I change it to girls’ instead of women’s? Yes, her popularity was terrifying to the Taliban, but what about her message scared them?
The part ” for speaking out for women’s education” is incorrect, because she has been a child advocate for years on women/children education” but no Taliban, no cleric ever said or did anything to her considering SWAT her home district is full of them.
What really triggered to this shooting, is something only they can answer 100 correctly. However, it was not her message about girl child education that scared them, because nothing really does, trust me on that. Malala’s educational advocacy is basically peace and militants don’t WANT NO PEACE, but to dismantle Pakistan.
Whoever of us talks of pro-peace, this is usually the response but western media distorts the events to package Malala’s story to suit the western agendas.
Thank you for correcting me. I am nothing if not open to being wrong. As I do live in the West, I understand that I will from time to time fall victim to the false narrative of the media. And even though I seek out news sources outside of the West and do a lot of research, it can be difficult. Jzk for correcting me, I am not interested in furthering a false narratives.
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You are one excellent example of a western level headed women I have met ( well for now virtually) and I know how hard you work on researching content. Infact, I am always here to also add on to that information base, if needed.
I don’t want you to feel bad with my comment and its not about taking cheap shots, I said this because you are receptive and have an important mission to correct those narratives that exist within your society and overall for Muslims.
Jzk, that you are my ally and sister in this journey.
JZK. I greatly respect your mission to correct the false narratives. It is a greatly important mission. I will indeed take you up on your offer to use you as a source of information. I do not take your comment personally or as a cheap shot. I know you have much more important things to do with your time. It is my pleasure to be your ally and sister in this journey. 🙂
JZK, what a mutual admiration society we are turning into.. 😀
Thank you, we are both doing what we can and its great to share this solidarity. Btw: I have sent another installment your way for the mission!!!!
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I would like to make the point more clear about saying ‘InshaAllah’. Agreed with author that we simply say, ‘InshaAllah’ without having clear intention to do some work / take any action.
InshaAllah is said when things / actions are going to happen in the future. We can segregate these actions in TWO types;
In the FIRST type, those future things / actions which are solely in the hands of Allah and beyond humans’ control. e.g. if someone says, ‘it seems that there will be a rainy day tomorrow’. In response, we should say, ‘InshaAllah’ and that is perfectly OK.
In the SECOND type, those future things / actions which human can do (or has ability to do). In such cases, our clear intention (niya’h) is necessary to do things and since future is not in our control we say, ‘InshaAllah’. e.g. If I say, ‘InshaAllah, I am going to attain a Lecture with you day-after-tomorrow’. Here I should have clear intention to attain a lecture and I said ‘InshaAllah’ since lecture is going to be held in the future and I am not aware what is going to be happen until that day (I can die / natural disaster can come across / lecturer may cancel the lecture etc.) It is completely wrong (OR a sin) if I don’t have clear intention to attain a lecture and if I said, ‘InshaAllah’ just to keep the heart of my friend for time being.
Yes, thank you for adding these points so that the word and concept can be understood in its proper way.