To misunderstand a human or a group of people is the worst thing on the earth. That happens with Islam and Muslims in the western countries.. According to Richard Ferraris (2012), Stereotypes are the main plate of our age, they ca n be found everywhere and the western view of Arab women is an example of that. Arab women are always seen as shackled women restricted from their freedom. Most of the time men in the Middle East and the gulf region all seem to dominate the women living with them in the very same society. The Middle Eastern men are known to always love control and with the example of Saudi Arabia, where women are not even allowed to drive their own car or travel without their husbands, it`s believed that even Arab countries favor men over women and thus not a lot of women can become leaders in the Arab world. Thanks to the example of Saudi Arabia and some other places in the gulf region, the west believed that the Arab women are oppressed beings because of men and even because of religion.
What is the most misunderstood concept in Islam?
1- Wrong Concepts about Hijab:
Hijab is an expression of what a woman feels about herself and it is not a tool for oppression nor will it ever be. The veil that hijab women wear when they walk around has a very different meaning in the Islamic religion that what is believed for it to be. Islamic women view the veil as a protection for them and not as an obstacle, which prevents them from socializing. The role of the veil in the Islam is just protecting the woman wearing it from the inappropriate looks of men who see women as an object.
Hijab is a means of protection. However, it is not a means of oppression. A woman should be able to do anything she wants, whenever she wants to while wearing hijab. The western society mostly has a stereotypical image of women in the gulf region. They see the hijab as a symbol of oppression and sometimes even a symbol of underdevelopment. Hijab for many western people appears to be a forced dress code that Arab women have to wear and that to the west means an oppressed life for the Arab women. A lot of people see the hijab as a freedom restriction tool for women and because not a lot of hijab women have leading roles in their countries the west is rarely reminded that hijab is just a dress code that women in Islam love to wear and they can still do everything they want wearing it.
2- Media and the Distorting Islam:
Media is the biggest tool that can be used to influence people and control over their minds. These means of media can be radios, TV channels, social media websites and all other means to which the public people can have access. When people listen to the same words and ideas in channels that start to have rooted thoughts that these repeated things are right and correct. At first, they may not believe the repeated words but with time, these words would be believed as if they are facts. The matter happens a lot with Islam and Muslims. The number of Muslims in the world is estimated with the quarter of the people in the world.
However, there are some very few bad examples of people claiming that they are Muslims, doing many bad and wrong deeds. The media takes this image and import it to the world that all Muslims are the same and they all are bad people with backward and retroactive thinking. Almost all people get their information from the means of media and when they see this image, they believe it, especially if they did not visit the Middle East before. Many people believe that Muslims live in ignorance, murdering, suppression and theft. In most of the foreign movies, the Arabic woman is depicted as forced by the Arabic man not to go to schools, universities or work.
3- The Western Ignorance of Islam
Islam has different customs and different cultures. These things are from what people in the west are used to and being different always creates barriers with other cultures. People in the west see Islam as a foreign religion that they want nothing to do with because of the image they see in front of them and because of how different they see Muslims act around them. Europe and The USA all have a large amount of Muslims living in them, however, they mostly live together away from the people of the countries because they are different and because the people treat them differently because they do not and cannot understand them.
The ignorance of the west towards Islam starts thanks to the lack of information that the people have about the religion and its customs and that lack of information is usually born thanks to the fear that people feel when they think about the religion. People in the west feel alienated from the Islamic religion thanks to the difference they feel when they see Muslims pray or wear something totally different from what they wear what those people do not understand however is how close Islam is to the other religions.
Islam is one of the few religions in the world with very good ties with other religions like Christianity and Judaism. The Quran asks the Muslims to take care of the other religions and calls them “the people of the book” but many people do not know about that. People in the west have had a chance to be introduced to Christianity and other religions calmly and understand them, but that did not happen with Islam and because of that, they conceived their ideas about the religion from the media and the behaviors that they do not understand about Muslims and their customs (Alshammari, 2013, p.178).
4- Islamophobia Spread:
Islamophobia is the fear of Muslims and it is a concept that appeared only after the attacks of 9-11 and the effects they had on the world. Islam is the religion of almost 1.2 billion people in the world and that number continues increasing yearly. Because of the attack of 9-11, many people in Europe and the United States started fearing the ideas and objectives of Islam and because of that Islamophobia was created. There are various reasons behind the appearance of Islamophobia in the world. The first reason that everyone agrees with is that the attack of 9/11(Bazian, 2012, p.167). The image of the plane as it went through the world trade center building was inscribed in peoples` minds after the attacks as one of the images that terrified the world and because Al-Qaeda performed this attack in the name of Islam the image of Muslims after the attack got affected a lot . The image of Muslims changed from the image of normal people to people with criminal minds and a bad religion.
While 9-11 might have contributed the most to the misunderstanding the west got about Islam and the appearance of Islamophobia in the west, the media coverage of the attacks and of Muslims and Islam in general played a very important part in the misunderstanding as well. People misunderstood everything about Muslims because they always appear as terrorists in movies, people always attack them on TV and whenever a Muslim commits a crime, people relate and stick his name to Islam. All this and the fact that most terroristic groups start in the Arab world some way or another or consist mostly of Muslims contributed the most to the appearance of Islamophobia.
Many people who hate crimes appeared in the west because of the 9/11 attack. Muslims were abused due to their religion, some people were fired from their jobs because of their religions and others faced humiliation from their friends. People estranged Muslims from their discussions and meetings and a couple of incidents happened where the headscarves that Muslim women wear in public were pulled out of their heads by force because of the fact that they are Muslims. Islamophobia contributed the most to the misunderstandings people got about Islam in the west and that is because generally people never try to know more about anything they fear. Recently, Governments in the Unites States and other European countries have recently started tackling the problem of Islamophobia and some even started speaking against the rise of hate crimes against Muslims in the last couple of decades.
5- The Bad Deeds of Some Muslims
The bad deeds of the people that belong to Islam make many people misunderstand Islam and think that these deeds are done with an Islamic motivation. In reality, deeds speak louder than words and all people in the west build on provisions on the deeds of the few people who misrepresents the Islamic religion. The biggest example of groups that do this is ISIS. This group that is killing, slaughter and torturing people claiming that they are Muslims and Islam has ordered them to do this. The bare fact is that Islam says that the Muslim person is the one who does not harm anyone by his hand or his tongue.
These people make others hate the religion and its followers in spite of the beauty and peacefulness of it. These bad and misguided groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda kills any kind of good understanding of the religion. In reality, these groups see killing the way of development although all nations are built with great efforts and work. Killing a human being or even an animal is very awful and the people who do this should be severely punished. The reason that make the people do this is unknown, as no natural human can do this, and described as a sane person. The lack of full security in the region can be the reason for the appearance of these groups. Another reason can be drafting of people, trivializing their dreams and neglecting their requirements.
6- The Stereotyped View of Muslim Women:
A lot of western countries and communities seem to think that the oppression of women in the gulf region is because of the Islamic religion that forces them to wear hijab. They claim that there is a dominance of men over women, however the truth is it is a cultural problem that has nothing to do with religion. Unlike what the western society thinks about the Arabic woman that she is oppressed, many women in the Middle East and in the gulf region currently hold power in various places in the Arab world. The western view of an Arab woman is mostly that of oppressed women who can`t express herself. They see Arab women as just decorations beside their husbands and many people think that the Arab women cannot express themselves or lead people because of their upbringing and their society. There are many reasons for misunderstanding Islam like the bad concept about hijab, the biased means of media, ignorance of Islamic values, islamophobia and the criminal groups in the Islamic countries like ISIS.
In conclusion, Islam is a misunderstood religion in the west and
the circumstances and the political situation in various countries helped
people in the west stay away from really trying to understand the religion of
Islam. The attacks of 9-11 contributed the most to the misunderstanding people
in the west acquired about religion. The media coverage of the incident made people in the west hate Muslims and
Islam and thus helped in creating a barrier between the west and Muslims and
helped in manifesting the misunderstanding between the West and Muslims.
existence of extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS also contributed vastly to
the misunderstanding the west have about Islam. ISIS just recently bombed a
part of Paris and created chaos in Europe thanks to that and various
organizations have also done a lot of criminal acts in various parts of the
world, thus, giving the west more reasons to believe that Islam is a religion
Other than the extremist groups, the different customs of Islam
and Muslims created a barrier between the west and Muslims and the vast space between
the Islamic countries and Europe made it hard for the west to interact more
with the real Islamic culture. Thus, a certain sense of ignorance about Islam
was born in the west thanks to the fact that Muslims are so different from the
norm in the point of view of various countries and various people around the