Today, there are numerous misconceptions, doubts and reservations in the West regarding Islam and Muslims. In many parts of the world, other than the West, these misconceptions are also spreading rapidly. In fact, Media has generally played a negative role in this regard. But it is also an undeniable fact that some objections and reservations need a serious attention on the part of the Muslims and they should be analyzed positively and sincerely.
West is almost stable in perspective of its social and political life. Democracy, Nationalism, Secularism and Welfare state are unanimously followed as the basic ideals in the West. As far as the social values are concerned, the Western society is fully intact to honesty, merit, human rights, equality of men and women, equality before law and justice within national boundaries. On the contrary, the situation in Muslim societies is very deplorable. There is no political stability all over the Muslim world. The social values are not regarded, as they are required. Therefore it is very much essential that the true teachings of Islam and the existing state of the Muslim world will have to be taken separately for analysis. The current analysis of the situation of the Muslim world has been discussed in detail in my book, “Jihad and Qital: some basic issues. In this book the misconceptions and misunderstandings about Islam have been discussed briefly. In this regard some misconceptions of the Non-Muslims, Particularly the West is as follows:
- That there is no democracy in Islam. There is no proper system of election and no way to remove a ruler from his office once assumed that charge whether through objectionable means. The real power lies with a faction of “Mullas” strong enough to change anything and anyone under the pretext of their being against religion. The masses are mere subjects.
- That there is no freedom of opinion in Islam. Nobody is allowed to give vent to his conscience in any form. No one is allowed to criticize whatsoever the brand of Islam be practiced at some place. No Islamic state affords real freedom to a newspaper, a journal, or a book. Those expressing the voice of their conscience are frequently penalized. Islam has dual standards in this regard. A non-Muslim is persuaded to embrace Islam but a Muslim desiring to change his religion is sentenced to death.
- That Islam teaches expansion of its boundaries through war. Muslims think it their religious duty to dominate other nations by force and enforce Islamic law upon them. They call it “Jihad”. They don’t accept other nation’s right of self-determination. They also believe in terrorism for the promotion and fulfillment of their objectives and therefore explode bombs, play havoc with the lives and property of innocent people and create an atmosphere of fear.
- That Islam considers women as second rate citizens and puts undue restrictions on them. They are made dependent upon men. A woman has to depend upon her father and brothers before marriage and her husband after marriage. She is not allowed to appear before any male person with her face uncovered except before her very close relatives. She cannot step out of the premises of her house without the prior permission of her male custodian. As such she is deprived of all rights. She lives just for the service of men. Moreover a man is allowed to keep up to four wives at the same time. The witness of a woman is considered to be half as compared to that of a man in the court of law. The ransom paid for a murdered woman is also half to that of a man.
- That the non-Muslims are treated as second rate citizens in a Muslim society. Undue taxes are levied on them. They are denied the right of vote. Infact they lead the lives of untouchables.
- That Islam, on the whole discourages Fine Arts. Music and Painting are strictly forbidden in Islam. Life in an Islamic society is boring, dull and unlovely, and there in no room for entertainment and amusement in it. Every one is subjected to strict rules and regulations.
- That Islamic law is extremely harsh, inflexible and impracticable. The brutal punishments like lashing and amputation of hands are inflicted upon the individuals according to this law.
- That Islam fails to offer solutions to the problems of the present era like pollution, crimes against children and inadequacy of health and educational services.
- That Islam has certain principles contradictory to the modern society. Islam, for example, admits and allows slavery, prohibits drinking, and ordains beard, as if it is the responsibility of the state to force men to keep beards.”
The above mentioned are some of the most important reservations of the Western mind about Islam. It is also noteworthy that some modern Western intellectuals do not realize the difference between Islam and the Islamic history and culture. They take it for granted that all that was practiced by the Muslims in the past was in accordance with the teachings of Islam. They also confuse culture with Islamic teachings. They mistake a particular aspect of society for Islam while it might have been a display of culture.
The credibility of Islam has been put to doubt for the Western mind due to the baseless and wrong answers to these and several such like other questions.
The modern Western intellectual is afraid of the misconstrued response to these questions which relate to the one fifth of the world population. Such questions are the natural outcome of the correlation between diverse nations. This must be kept in mind that many educated people also feel the force and depth of these questions.
It is essential that we must look towards the origins of Islam for an appropriate reply to such queries. The misunderstandings must be segregated from the real doctrinal differences. Is it possible to adopt an attitude of tolerance and reaching a compromise through dialogue? This book has an answer to this question.
This book does not deal with the typical religious matters like the credibility of Muhammad (SWS) as the Prophet of God, the nature of revelation, the respective beliefs of Islam and Christianity about the concept of Doomsday and eternity and the differences between the Quran and the Bible. This book is not meant for these questions. There are a lot of other books that offer sufficient response to suchlike questions. The focal point of this book is the theme whether there is a possibility of a peaceful co-existence in spite of the differences between Islam and the Western civilization.