There have been lot’s of offensive remarks going around about the religion of Islam by the Western media, but it’s important to note that RELIGION DOESN’T EQUAL CULTURE. It is very important to understand that there have been lot’s of injustice in the Middle East, as I have recently have reported about Women’s rights being taken away in the Arab world, but it doesn’t excuse Islamophobia, and the hatred of Muslims. Islam is the religion of justice and peace, and there are many verses in the Quran and Sunnah (Hadiths) about human rights and equity.
While you could say most Arabs are Muslims, but most Muslims aren’t Arab, in fact the country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia. I would also like to point out (as a Muslim woman myself), that there have been many issues in the Middle East as well as every part of the world that go completely against Islam and the holy Quran and Sunnah.
Women’s Rights and Equality
While you will hear many Muslims admit the fact that Islam advocates for equity and not equality, lot’s of Muslims (including myself) have also acknowledged that the movement of Feminism is actually about the equity and just treatment of women, and when they refer to “equality” they are actually talking about human equality. Islam is the first religion to give women their due rights 1400 years ago that includes independence and reproductive rights. In the Arab world, as well as western countries and every other part of the world there has been domestic violence against women, Honour killings, and sexual assault. It is crucial to note that the Quranic texts advocate for the kind treatment of women. A few examples of verses would be “ And for women’s rights over men are similar to men’s rights over women (2:226). A Hadith narration from Imam Ali AS states “If the eyes of a female cry over a man who oppressed her, angels will curse him with every step he walks.” Another Hadith narration in Sahih Bukhari and Al – Tirmidhi states “the best of you are those who are best to your wives.” These are clear indications that Islam advocates for women’s justice, and the verses that are deemed unfriendly are the ones that are taken out of context. One of the verses in the Quran that is taken out of context is in Surah an Nisa verse 34. This verse started major controversy. It states “ Those (women) who’s nushuz you fear admonish them, abandon them in bed, and strike them.” This is very important to know that you can not fully translate the Arabic to english. The Arabic word Daraba has two translations one is to strike and the other is to turn the other way. The Quran is not translated in modern English either, so words have different meanings. General interpretation of this verse is that it is not to be taken literally it is a symbolic verse what it means by strike is that it is very light the equivalent would be to take a feather and to lightly tap on the wife’s wrist. However, again it could mean something else. Only god knows best.
Racism and Racial Equality
This isn’t a topic that has been talked about much within Islam and Arab culture as much as the Gender equality topic, but people should definitely shed some light onto it. Just like how no gender should deem themselves superior to the other, no race should deem themselves superior to the other. It’s a well known fact that People of Colour face oppression and less opportunities than Non – People of Colour, especially African and African-American people suffer the most. It has been quoted an an authentic Hadith that “There is no superiority of an Arab over a Non-Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.” (al-Tirmidhi). Arabs in the modern day are expressing hatred and bigotry against Africans, Northern Africans, and African Americans in the Middle East. It’s truly devastating that American and European colonizations have caused issues with both racism and misogyny in the Arab world. God (Allah SWT) has created people from different colours to show diversity, equality, and unity. It is mentioned in a verse “And among his wonders is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours. For in this, behold there are messages indeed for all who are possessed of innate knowledge.” (30:22). As you can see Islam preaches the rights of all races to not be discriminated against. There have also been wrongful speculations that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) allowed slavery, that could not be further from the truth because the prophet actually wanted to free people from slavery it’s one of the many thinks disliked by God.
Religious Rights and Freedom (including lack of religion)
Islam holds respect in high regards to other religions. Some Christians will try to compel you into following their religion and push their beliefs onto you, there are Christians who are also very peaceful and will respect you. In Islam there is a rule that you cannot compel them into becoming Muslim, while some Muslims don’t follow this and try to impose their view onto others, most practicing Muslims will adore you and treat you with respect and dignity, especially since Christianity and Judaism (Original Testament) are considered the neighbours of Islam, and are People Of the Book. In the Quran it states “ There is no compulsion in religion, the right direction is clearly distinguished from the wrong.” (2:256). So regardless wether they are Atheist, Polytheist, Christian, Jew, etc, you cannot make them a Muslim unless they choose to become one, nor can you make them follow the practices or traditions. You may find a verse or passage in the Quran or Hadith that you may think talks about killing non Muslims or tell you that all non Muslims are disbelievers, that is not true. Disbelievers are people who try to change and corrupt Islam, and destroy nations so Muslims had to defend it, nowhere in the holy Quran or Sunnah will you find that it is okay to kill people unprovoked, it’s totally wrong and against God (Allah’s) words. Any Arab or Muslim country that follows Islam correctly will allow you to practice your faith (even lack of faith) freely.
This is quite a sensitive topic for people who are apart of Abrahamic religions, especially for the Conservatives of the Muslim community. In the scripture it states that “And remember Lot when he said to his people: Do you commit the worst sin such as none preceding in the Alameen (mankind and Jin)? Verily, you practice your lusts onto men instead of women. Nay but you are a people transgressing beyond bounds” (7:80-81). Let’s review this verse as it clearly states that sodomy (homosexual acts) are prohibited in the Quran, but it never said anything about identifying as homosexual or having homosexual feelings, as not everyone in the LGBTQ is attracted to the same gender exclusively. Generally Muslims are not to encourage anything that is sinful and sodomy is no different, it would be the same as heterosexual adultery and fornication. However let’s look at how sinners should be treated, “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbour for what he loves for himself.” (Sahih Muslim 45). God loves the sinners but hates the sin, if a person repents then people aren’t allowed to judge them or expose them after all everyone is human, despite them being gay they are still human beings and should be treated as such. There is the option for capital punishment which can only be at most 100 lashes if there are 4 witnesses, but no one in the right mind will commit these acts in public and it is highly discouraged. God (Allah) encouraged forgiveness and repentance. This is also important to understand that being a part of the LGBTQ is not sinful if you don’t act on it, and it does not disqualify you from being a Muslim, that is what extremists take it as. The end.